Applying the Acute vs Chronic Workload Ratio to Combat Sports: Part 3


In the previous post we discussed calculation of training load using training minutes and RPE ( Whilst this works well as a base, it is possible to be even more detailed with our quantification of training load using some slightly more advanced methods.

As discussed in the last post, compared to sports involving primarily cyclic activities (e.g. running), training load in combat sports training is significantly more difficult to calculate. However, with the advent of recent technologies, it is possible to gain a fairly accurate reading of both number of punches thrown, as well as the power and velocity of these punches, using in-glove tracking systems. The most popular of these commercially-available products is the hykso punch tracker: Obviously this only applies to boxers, as at present we don’t have the technology to measure kicking volume, however it is likely that this technology is not far away.

In regards to our other training modalities (resistance training and energy systems work), we can record our training volume in terms of the amount lifted, and the distance covered.

Quantifying Resistance Training

Basic resistance training may be quantified simply in terms of the amount lifted, and this works well for basic compound movements. Below is an example of a basic resistance training session using compound lifts. You’ll see that the number is doubled for unilateral exercises.

Power clean 100×5, 110×5, 5, 100×5 (total 2,800kg)

Med ball supine ball toss 10×8, 8, 8, 8 (total 320kg)

Barbell back squat 140×5, 160×5, 5, 5 (total 3,100kg)

Landmine press 40×5, 5, 5 (x2) (total 1200kg)

Romanian deadlift 130×8,8,8 (total 3,120kg)

Single arm dumbbell row 40×8, 8, 8 (x2) (total 1,920kg)

Reverse lunge 60×8, 8, 8 (x2) (total 2,880kg)

Total load = 15,340kg

This figure could be multiplied by an RPE of 7 to give a total load of 107,380AU

It is also possible to add a conversion factor to resistance training exercises based on their difficulty in comparison to other exercises. For example, if we use a basic compound lift such as a pull up as a base on which to compare other pulling exercises, when using an inverted row we could multiply the number by 0.75 to account for the fact that the exercise is easier that the chin up. The exercise appendix in The Science of Striking provides examples of conversion factors for all resistance training exercises (in addition to technique guides, description of progression and regression, as well as links to youtube clips via QR code or hyperlink).

Quantifying Resistance Training

Cyclic energy systems training (e.g. running/swimming) is perhaps the easiest to quantify, simply using the distance covered. For non-cyclic modalities (e.g. metabolic circuits involving bodyweight exercises), the task is a little harder, and the periodization chapter in The Science of Striking goes in to detail on how to calculate this.

Equating Training Loads.

Obviously using minutes (e.g. 90min for a training session), weight lifted (e.g. 15,340kg), and distance covered (e.g. sprint intervals totaling 2,500m), will give very different arbitrary units of load, making comparison difficult. For this reason, it is useful to have a conversion factor, to equate these different metrics.

Let’s say that the numbers for each of the different training modalities above represents an average training session for a particular athlete. We can then divide the skills training load by the strength training load (90/15,340) to give us a strength training conversion factor (0.0059), and divide skills training load by the energy systems training load (90/2,500), to give us an energy systems conversion factor (0.036). Obviously different conversion factors need to be used for different modalities (e.g. running will be different to swimming or rowing, etc.), but these conversion factors only need to be calculated once, after which they can be entered into an excel spreadsheet and used for training metrics going forward.

For those whom which mathematics is not a strong point, the hard work has been done for you in the form of the Science of Striking training worksheet, a free downloadable resource.

Applying Training Load Quantification to the Training Plan

Having these metrics and quantification means in place allows us to see trends in training load that may be leading to an inappropriate training stimulus and possible injury. We can use this system to plan the training interventions we do, and also modify training loads if we see inappropriate trends occur.

Whilst training load quantification and the use of the acute vs chronic workload ratio has not been explored in relation to combat sports, I believe they are important aspects for fighters and coaches to consider when attempting to optimize performance and avoid injury.

A full framework of training load quantification is featured in the science of striking, available in both hard-copy and kindle formats (

#injuryreduction # trainingload # planning #thescienceofstriking #boxing #kickboxing #karate #shinkyokushin #kyokushin

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert