Things You Can’t Learn in Books
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
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