Heart Rate is Heart Rate – Whether you are running your athletes, doing a circuit, riding bikes or just doing super or giant sets – as heart rate responds to the workload, fitness (work capacity) is being trained. Can you be in great shape running but not in doing agilities? Yes! Doing distance work but unable to maintain tempo in executing a giant set workout (legs, push, pull)? Yes! In post season – general physical preparation (GPP or working to work) is very acceptable. Even in very early off-season it is OK. But, with time becoming such a cherished commodity, special fitness / work capacity training focused on the energy systems of the competition is the key to elite performance preparation.
How Much Fitness is Enough? – Aerobic Base is a waste of time. Distance in virtually every sport has NO place in the preparation plan. A recovery run for soccer or basketball in the post season around campus wearing your gear to have fun and look good is great. But the other 11 months of the year distance is compromising speed and power. Building the intervals of training, be it short burst agilities or long intervals of 1:30 – 2:30 in order to train the energy system to work and recover is critical. What is the rest interval? It can be heart rate (recover to 121) OR just watch the quality of the work. The quality MUST remain high or you are doing crap reps. A competent coach would never load a bad squat pattern, so why continue to do reps when the speed, turnover and quality is less than optimal? To make them tougher. . . . ? On occasion, yes. I think that if you want tough people, recruit tough people.
Frequency and Dosage of Training – Physical preparation is like medicine. It must be the correct amount, taken in the correct timing for the optimal period of time. Training fitness and work capacity is easy. More is better in terms of volume. Less is more in terms of rest. However, what if you are training speed, acceleration and power? Then the QUALITY of the rep is the MOST important factor of training. How do I increase quality? Rest longer or break the reps up into sets. How do I rest longer when sport coaches are watching? Make the groups bigger, add planks, or insert shoulder body weight alphabets or stretching between work bouts. The athletes are “working” but are recovering the energy system and nervous system for the next rep. Muscles and fitness take more reps and fewer sets while the nervous system (speed/power) require more sets and fewer reps.
Training Effect – It takes about 6 weeks to effect a training effect that will be a long-term change in the status and abilities of the athlete. Anything less tends to be temporary. Recovery is critical to the training effect. If the athlete is not allowed to recover, the rebound effect to the training stimulus is muted and the results of training are dampened. This in turn will create less buy in as testing results will suffer. And, of course the sport coaches will not think you know your stuff if your numbers are not outstanding!
Rest – In training volume, once the volume goal is attained in terms of distance, loads, sets/reps, etc. the next step is to begin to shorten the rest bouts. In sport, it is generally not who can dothe most work in the shortest time (crossfit, cross country, distance racing) but rather who can do the highest quality work and recover in the time allotted in order to be ready to perform again at an elite level (this is also the definition of work capacity).
Running – Most sports are based on running and sprinting. The nervous system must be re-set after a heavy leg session to be elastic and dynamic in the run/sprint pattern. If the athlete is allowed to do nothing after a heavy leg session, the next days workout is compromised and over time, the athlete will begin to lose the elasticity required to run, jump, start, stop and change direction in a fluid, dynamic and explosive ability. So, run what after a heavy leg day? 6-8 x 50m, 6-8 x 100m or something in that volume range (300 – 800m). Run, walk, run walk and as the athlete loosens up, the speed will come to them and make their last one their fastest one and look like a sprinter again.
Running II – If you are working with an older population and doing interval ladder sprints (50-100-150-200) or pyramid interval sprints (50-100-150-200-150-100-50) always go from long intervals to the short interval in order to protect the calf from strains and pulls. If you want to work on speed and turnover, start short in terms of distance and go up because when you prescribe the workout this way, the athlete will maintain the faster turnover through the longer intervals. When the workout is prescribed from long to short, the athlete will tend to run rather than sprint the shorter distances.
Special Strength – Special Strength is loading an athlete so that the rep is above 90% of the best effort in terms of speed, power and quality. Hill sprints and agilities, loaded jumps, sled and parachute sprints, resisted starts. The load is usually 10% or less of body weight.
Volume – Many injuries are a result of volume. Generally, only in competition will accidental injuries occur (getting rolled up, shoved, tripped, etc.) or catastrophic non-contact injuries happen (the dreaded ACL). Training injuries are almost always volume related. Volume is training age and sexual maturation age related. A novice emerging athlete that is a late maturing child will need much less volume than a child with a training age of 3 years and is an early maturing child.
These are some of the things I have learned over the years in training athletes of all ages. I hope it helps! Robb
WOD Circuit 1 Dakota Meyer
MB Scoop Toss
Feet Up Push Up
MB Chest Pass (off floor)
Tubing Speed Pulls Horizontal
DB Push Up + 2 Rows
2:00 Cardio (Row-Run-Bike-Etc)
Recover for 2:00
All Reps are 10
Do 3 – 4 Rounds
WOD Circuit #2 Paul Ray Smith
Plate Chops Rt/Lft
Plate Overhead Lunges Rt/LFt
Plate Squat Jumps
Plate Sit Ups
DB Hang Snatch
DB Push – Up + 2 Rows
1 DB Turkish Get – Up Rt/Lft
MB Push – Ups
MB Twist Toss Rt/Lft
Pull – Ups
Reps are all 10
Rest is 2:30
Do 1 – 2 Rounds
WOD Circuit #3 Michael A. Monsoor
TRX Push – Ups
TRX Pull – Ups
TRX Curl Unders
KB Cln+ Sqt+Prs Rt/Lft
KB Turkish Get Up Rt/Lft
MB Scoop Toss
MB Twist Toss RT/Lft
All Reps 10
Do 3-4 Rounds
Triangle Circuits is an excellent tool to use in order to build your circuit and control the volume of exercise that is prescribed. Steve Myrland (the inventor of the agility speed ladder) first introduced me to this training design concept. It is very simple in concept but can be very complex in the application. The first exercise (1) has the highest priority since it will be executed the most times during the circuit. The second exercise (2) has the second highest priority and so on. Below is a schematic drawing of this type of circuit design.
2) 1 2
3) 1 2 3
4) 1 2 3 4
5) 1 2 3 4 5
6) 1 2 3 4 5 6
7) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
This is an example of a 10 series circuit that builds up to 10 exercises or drills. It is easy to teach as the athlete builds one exercise/drill upon another, but always begins at the start which is always exercise/drill one. Exercise/drill one will get 10 sets, exercise/drill two will get 9 sets, exercise/drill three will get 8 sets, etc. So for instance if core is my main emphasis, followed by single leg strength, upper body pulling and pressing then the circuit with exercises/drills might look something like this.
2) Lateral Plank Hold
3) Prone Plank Hold
4) Lateral Lunge Squat
5) Inverted Pull – Ups
6) Single Leg Balance Squat
7) Push – Ups on Medballs
8) Alternate Step – Ups w/a weight vest
9) Alternate Tubing Pulls with Feet Staggered
10) Alternate Tubing Punches with Feet Staggered
This type of circuit can be time driven or rep driven in order to control either the total time of the workout or in order to increase the quality of the repetitions. I have found that time creates a sloppiness in reps but can also increase the mental stress of the work bout as the athlete does not know exactly how many reps are left to execute. If it is timedriven, I have an excellent chart in my “Power Conditioning Handbook” that details exactly how long any timed circuit will take in order to complete. An example from this table is below.
Number/Exercises Work Bout Recovery/Exercises Recovery/Sets
2 sets 3 sets 4 sets
4 :15 :30 2:00 7:00 11:30 16:00
6 :15 :30 2:00 11:20 18:00 24:40
8 :15 :30 2:00 13:00 20:30 28:00
10 :15 :30 2:00 16:00 25:00 34:00
4 :30 :30 2:00 9:00 14:30 20:00
6 :30 :30 2:00 13:00 20:30 28:00
8 :30 :30 2:00 17:00 26:30 36:00
10 :30 :30 2:00 21:00 32:30 44:00
4 :45 :45 3:00 13:30 21:45 30:00
6 :45 :45 3:00 19:30 30:45 42:00
8 :45 :45 3:00 25:30 39:45 54:00
10 :45 :45 3:00 31:30 48:45 66:00
This chart is designed to be utilized in conjunction with the old style straight circuits that we are all used to using. In order to construct a triangle chart, it would need to look something like this:
Time :15 on and :15 off
Time :30 on and :30 off
Number of Total
Time 1:00 on and 1:00 off
Here is another tool to use in order to develop and implement workouts for your clients.
A special thank you is in order to Steve Myrland for sharing his expertise with me concerning the development of this topic.