Daily readiness: are you ready for your next workout?
Assessing daily readiness enables you to adjust your next workout, based on how ready you are to perform that workout. This article covers 3 ways to assess daily readiness and what to do with the findings. You’ll learn that movement velocity is an important measure and that velocity based training is a type of training that is based on the athlete’s readiness.
- What is daily readiness
- The importance of measuring daily readiness
- How to measure daily readiness
- How to implement daily readiness score in training
- Factors affecting training readiness
- How to improve daily readiness
What is daily readiness
Daily readiness is the state of preparedness for exercise or training on a given day. Physical readiness and mental readiness are two important components of daily readiness.
There are many similar terms used for daily readiness in the field of exercise. Some examples are:
- Athlete readiness
- Training readiness
- Exercise readiness
- Workout readiness
- Performance readiness
When you’re about to start a workout, it’s important to check whether this workout matches with your readiness and recovery. If not, you could be pushing yourself too hard on days at which you would be better off with a more moderate training stress.
Or as scientists Helms and his colleagues say in their scientific publication about regulating and monitoring resistance training:
“The primary goal of monitoring and regulating resistance training is to more closely match the intended training stress with readiness and recovery to optimize adaptation on an individual basis.”
The importance of measuring daily readiness
Daily readiness is best assessed pre-training. Such pre-training assessment of readiness enables you to modify the planned session for that day, to match training load with daily load capacity.
A simple pre-training assessment of readiness can play a big role in preventing overtraining. It can also prevent injuries, which are often related to a lack of recovery, focus, physical- or mental readiness.
When simply sticking to a prescribed training program, even though it doesn’t match with the readiness, you’ll actually impair performance. You’re not ready for the workout (readiness to perform) and will not adapt afterwards (readiness to adapt).
It’s often better to take it easy on days when you’re not ready to do the hard work. As a result you are better recovered the next day, which enables you to do the hard work after all.
Daily readiness education video:
How to measure daily readiness
There are 3 ways that coaches can easily measure readiness:
- Measure movement velocity of the day’s first movement or a standard movement such as a hang clean pull. These lifts look closer at the readiness of your peripheral nervous system.
- Measure Reactive Strength Index (RSI), which is a depth jump with a look at height divided by ground contact time. The RSI gives a better look at the central nervous system.
- Subjective surveys (daily questionnaires).
My entire thesis was about these 3 daily readiness measurements. I looked at athlete readiness by comparing the movement velocity of the first movement with the daily RSI and the results of a questionnaire.
Let’s dive deeper into each measurement separately.
Movement velocity as a marker for readiness
Movement velocity is the easiest way to measure daily readiness. If you are using velocity based training (VBT) already, it doesn’t require anything extra. You might already use movement velocity to autoregulate your workout, by monitoring velocity changes during a set. Or maybe you already implement velocity loss thresholds, to prevent doing more reps than necessary.
While these are techniques you use during exercise. You can also use velocity to measure athlete readiness before exercise.
Here are 3 simple steps to measure readiness with movement velocity:
1. Pick an exercise
The exercise doesn’t really matter, but it makes sense to pick a core exercise that is frequently performed in your training program. For example: clean, squat, deadlift, or trap bar pulls. It’s up to you whether you test multiple or just one exercise.
I personally recommend the hang clean pull. I like it due to the counter movement present in a hang pull: you and the athlete get a better look at the neuromuscular system. The lengthening experienced during the initial eccentric contraction preceding the dynamic concentric pull of the barbell activates the neural mechanisms of the muscle spindles and golgi tendon organ (GTO) which are types of encapsulated proprioceptive sense organs used to make up the stretch reflex that is so commonly discussed amongst coaches.
2. Pick a load (weight)
When picking a load, consistency is key to get reliable results.
Use a load somewhere between 80-85% of their 1RM weight. Anything lighter than this can lead to false results due to the perception of the central nervous system on lighter loads being slightly different than the higher loads of 80%+ (Werner I, Szelenczy N, Wachholz F, Federolf P., 2021). It’s mainly because athletes don’t have to expend as much force on lighter lifts, so subconsciously they might not. This could throw off the readings.
3. Measure movement velocity
Test your athletes on a day where they are fresh mentally and physically. Instruct them to move the bar/weight as fast as possible. Use a velocity based training device like the GymAware RS or GymAwareFLEX to measure (bar) velocity.
You now have the base velocities as a measure for daily readiness. Jump to this section if you immediately want to know how to use these velocity readiness measures in practice.
Measure reactive strength index (RSI) as a marker for readiness
With the GymAware RS, the Gold Standard velocity based training device, you can also measure daily readiness with a Reactive Strength Index (RSI). RSI is a measurement gathered from a depth jump. The score equals the height of the jump (measured in inches) divided by the ground contact time (measured in seconds).
Surveys to assess readiness
Lastly, you can also use a daily questionnaire to better understand the athlete’s readiness.
The daily questionnaire gives the coach clues into the cause of movement velocity or RSI measurements. A simple questionnaire that a coach might choose to use could look like this:
As you can see from this questionnaire, the athlete is trending downward in regards to bodyweight, sleep, and nutrition quality. Therefore, if this athlete’s velocity measured out at 8% lower than normal, you could take a look at the questionnaire with the athlete showing them potential reasons that are within the athlete’s control to alter.
How to implement daily readiness score in training
Remember this one important suggestion: measuring is worthless without an action plan for response. So once you have a measure for daily readiness, it’s time to implement it in training.
A bad day
Here’s what I recommend based on the movement velocity tests. If an athlete comes in and tests at a velocity 5% less than normal, you will want to consider lowering volume and intensity 10-20% each.
The long-term and short-term benefits of this intervention could potentially increase the life-span of an athlete, improve overall health, and more certainly prevent injuries improving performance without disruption (Lavallée L, Flint F., 1996.).
At 10%+ less than normal, my recommendation is to scrap what you have planned. Instead consider having your athlete perform some bodybuilding that is high in metabolic stress and low in muscle damage. In layman’s terms, I recommend picking a couple of movements for your athletes to catch a pump, and then sending them home to recover.
Some examples of bodybuilding movements that would be permissible are dumbbell lateral raises, leg extensions, leg curls, machine rows, triceps pushdowns with bands, and/or front deltoid raises. As you can see, I am avoiding movements like Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) or dumbbell flyes. These movements increase in intensity as the muscle is lengthened, which causes maximum muscle damage.
Muscle damage is fine under normal circumstances for bodybuilding and general strength, but the goal here is to create a hormonal response to aid in recovery. The bodybuilding session should be no more than 20-30 minutes in length. Then I have my athletes go home and get some rest.
A good day
Of course, the opposite end of this scale is demonstrating a velocity higher than normal. If our athletes perform an initial movement at 5% greater than normal, we often increase volume or intensity slightly, possibly 5-10%.
If our athletes register 10-15%+ greater than normal, we normally move to add to daily load or use the day to test for progress. Remember, you can test in multiple ways. Here’s how Strength Coaches can use Velocity Based Training to monitor progress.
If you have any other question about implementing daily readiness scores, feel free to email me at travis@GymAware.com
Factors affecting training readiness
You would expect that training readiness is mostly affected by previous workouts. Although this can be the case, the problem nowadays is also that stress in all kinds of forms is coming at athletes at a rate and volume never experienced before.
Therefore, we must adjust our view on programming and periodization. This is why, today we will focus on key factors that contribute to the rising importance of assessing daily readiness. Watch the video presentation here:
Most of us work with athletes that are consumed by their smartphones, social media, laptops, wearables, and the list goes on and on. In addition, information is accessible 24/7 causing overload.
Due to the rampant increase in these factors, it is now common knowledge that social media alone has created all new issues for young athletes in the forms of fear of missing out (FoMo), bullying, fatigue, stalking, and online social comparison.
We also know that chronic exposure to low-intensity blue light before bedtime may have serious implications on sleep quality, circadian phase and specific sleep cycle durations. When you add in the stress of everyday life that athletes have been experiencing for decades in the forms of school, testing, wavering relationships, and possible jobs…you have a recipe for stressed out and fatigued young athletes.
Let’s take a closer look!
Social media effects on readiness
Stress is coming at athletes in ways unlike any other time in history. Tandon, Dhir, Talwar, Kaur, Mäntymäki (2021) took a close look at fear of missing out, social media stalking, online social comparison, social media fatigue, social media envy, and frequency of posting updates.
FoMo is the apprehension and concern felt by some social media users that they might be missing some important bit of news or happening in the world that is being experienced by a family member, friend, or peer. Twitter and Facebook have taken over the evening news as the source for current events except the consumer doesn’t have to wait until 5pm.
Social media stalking is the voyeuristic tendency of users to engage in persistent monitoring of social channels to gather information without an intent to do harm. Social media envy can be a bit more malicious if the user has a tendency to lean towards negative gossip that might damage the person or place of business. However, social media envy most often turns into unpleasant feelings of envy due to pain, resentment, and feelings of inferiority. This is because of messaging suggesting different groups or people possess something that the viewer lacks and longs for such as money, fame, good looks or talent.
Frequency of posting social media status updates is something (Tandon, et al. 2021) looked at in determining the cause of social media fatigue. Frequency of posting refers to the number of times a user creates an update of his or her home page or timeline on Facebook or Twitter. In this context, fatigue is defined as the unpleasant feelings or mental exhaustion of users to technology, communication, and information overload due to time spent on social media channels.
However, FoMo had a significant association with fatigue, social comparison, and stalking. Tandon, et al.(2021) findings imply that social media users who fear that their friends and acquaintances have more rewarding experiences on social media suffer from a constant degree of anxiety if they are unaware of what their friends are up to on social media at all times. Once again showing that student athletes are experiencing fatigue and anxiety at all new levels.
Effects of blue light on sleep and recovery
Problematic cell phone use is evident from the research performed by Tugtekin, U., Barut Tugtekin, E., Kurt, A. A., & Demir, K. (2020). The amount of time spent on a cell phone is directly correlated to social media fatigue, problematic cell phone use, and depression. There’s something else that is worrisome about increased cell phone use that is even more related to athletic performance, and that is blue light waves at night.
Gradisar, Wolfson, Harvey, Hale, Rosenberg, & Czeisler (2013) found that nine out of ten Americans reported the use of technology within an hour before bed with television being the most popular. As you will see, any light can cause disturbances, but blue light waves as from a cell phone are dramatically worse. Interactive blue light devices like laptops, cell phones, and video games used in the hour before bed caused more difficulty to fall asleep and led to more un-refreshing sleep. All of these can be linked to fatigue, depression, and even the performance of athletic movements. (Gradisar, et al. 2013).
How to improve daily readiness
Once you start measuring daily readiness, you also start to learn what affects the readiness score. What improves your exercise readiness? What has a negative impact on your workout readiness?
“You can’t improve what you can’t measure” also applies to readiness.
We’ve learned that readiness is affected by physical readiness and mental readiness. This means that your strategies to improve recovery and readiness should at least focus on those two aspects too.
Start with measuring movement velocity during warmup, to get a clear picture of your readiness to perform. Learn more about the devices to measure readiness or dive into many more applications of velocity based training.
Being a World Champion in powerlifting, Travis competed at a world-class level in Olympic weightlifting and has coached professional Olympic weightlifters alongside Don McCauley and Glenn Pendlay at Team MDUSA. Now Travis coaches the most successful weightlifting team in the USA.
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