Load Monitoring With Moxy and Infrared Thermography
Some training myths just won't go away. One of the prominent ones I see touted is that more work or training more often is the single best way to break through a training plateau. Your squat isn't going up? Increase your frequency. Biceps aren't growing? Take your weekly set volume up a notch.
The problem with this blanket advice is that it does work some of the time, for varying lengths of time.
If your squat strength has stalled for an extended period, you have a stubborn muscle group that won't grow, or your performance isn't improving in the gym no matter what you do it's unlikely that the simple fix of 'do more work' will solve your problem. If it did you, probably wouldn't have stalled out in the first place.
Often times a lagging body part or lift we can't improve requires more thought than just adding volume. For example, if you're not using your back musculature when doing horizontal rows then, maybe doing more back volume isn't going to solve your problem.
Over the past few months, I've become increasingly interested in the use of infrared thermography as a part of my sports science tool kit.
A thermogram is a representation of heat radiating from the body. Skin temperature regulation is a complex system that is impacted by blood flow, SNS activation, muscle recruitment pattern, inflammation. and injury. Humans are thermally balanced, but injuries or specific pathologies can lead to thermal asymmetries. These asymmetries show potential injury risk from workload mismanagement, biochemical faults, or tissue pathologies.
The picture above shows an athlete who tore their left ACL in the past. The average temperature difference between his right and left patella is ~1.5 degrees Celcius, which indicates reduced metabolic activity in the left quadriceps. If a Moxy Monitor was used in conjunction, with thermography, we would see that these muscles are incapable of utilizing oxygen as well as the uninjured side can.
This issue manifests as what appears to be a muscle imbalance between the left and right sides. The left quad is smaller, rarely feels a pump when doing strength work, etc. This athlete can take the age-old approach of just slamming more volume for this underdeveloped muscle group, but understanding this specific pathology that is unlikely to result in the desired outcome.
When we are doing everything 'right' in training and not getting the expected response, we need to figure out why that isn't working. Sometimes it means doing more volume, other times it means addressing underlying limitations.