Saturday, March 30, 2013

Training for Sport & Performance

Training for Sport & Performance

“Training” implies the pursuit of a well-defined goal or set of goals.  Faster, higher, stronger.  People Specifically Adapt to the Imposed Demands (SAID Principle)… and those demands can be mental, emotional, structural, metabolic, etc.  Therefore, coaches and athletes must analyze their sports/activities in order to design training regimes that are both effective and efficient.

A few definitions:

Weight Lifting (two words) … any time someone purposely lifts implements … usually consisting of metal … for example, lifting barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, of using selectorized machines… this is also known as Weight Training.

Weightlifting (one word) … this specifically refers to the sport of Olympic Weightlifting … the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch are the two lifts involved in this sport … this sport requires much POWER … that is an explosive expression of strength.

Resistance Training … a more global term that involves purposeful effort against a variety of forms of resistance …thus, weight lifting and weightlifting are both forms of resistance training ... BUT calisthenics like push ups and pull ups are resistance training as well.  Medicine balls, stretch cords, and hydraulic equipment represent resistance training too.

Powerlifting … a sport consisting of three lifts … The Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift … although this sport is called “powerlifting,” it is really a sport that requires great strength and not power … the lifts are all “slow and grinding” … they are not explosive … powerlifting is, therefore, misnamed.

Basic Principles of Training

Safety is First …. Do No Harm!
Adherence is 2ndif they don’t stick to the program, the other principles don’t matter.
Progressive Overload is required
Progressive Overload + Variety may be viewed as “Fluctuating Overload” … FRITTO Variables
Specificity (SAID) … think metabolism & biomechanics & psychology.
Law of Diminishing Returns … the closer you get to perfection, the harder it is to improve… the more sophisticated the training must become.

Rest & Recovery

Nutrition is critical … “It is not the horse that draws the cart, it’s the oats.”

Stress Management

Individuality … “You can’t train all people the same way at the same time.”

Use it or Lose it or Reversibility

When it comes to training, more is not always better … we should strive to work smarter, not harder.  Undertraining and overtraining are not desirable ….optimal training is desirable.  Rates of development vary among athletes and within the same athlete.  Development is a combination of physical growth and
functional maturation.

On Development

A small boy approached a karate master and asked him how long it would take to earn a black belt … the master replied “five years.”  The boy, who was used to immediate gratification, was disappointed … he thought a moment and asked, “What if I train twice as hard and twice as often as all the other kids?  Then how long will it take?”  Now the master thought for a moment, he smiled, and calmly stated “ten years.”  The boy went away perplexed.

Too much intensity and/or volume in the training leads to either overreaching or overtraining.  Both overreaching and overtraining are reflective of situations in which the person’s mental and physiological capacity to adapt has been exceeded …. it’s tantamount to burn out.  When too much intensity or volume is present for a relatively short period of time, then overreaching occurs …. overreaching results in short term decrements in performance, and usually recovery, with adequate respite, comes quickly. Periodic overreaching is probably necessary to optimize performance … following the recovery period, physiological functioning is usually improved.   Overreaching is tricky, however, because if one overreaches for too long, overtraining may result.
Overtraining is much more serious and results from chronic, long term exposure to training protocols that are too intense or voluminous … decrements in performance and chronic fatigue are evident … and recovery, even with rest, can take months.  Overtraining is not desirable and must be avoided … it represents the failure of the mind and body to positively adapt.   Unfortunately, at this time, there is no easy way to assess when an athlete is approaching overtraining … often when overtraining is detected, it is too late.

Signs of Overtraining

Inexplicable decrements in physical performance
Inability to recover, even with adequate rest and nutrition
Inability to focus
Sleep disturbances
Reduced motivation
Changes in physiological parameters such as RHR & RBP
Elevated cortisol & catecholamines
Decreased testosterone
Depressed Immune system functioning

Training paradigms that include active rest periods and variation are used to reduce the prevalence of overtraining … Periodized Programs are a good example of this.

Excessive training is a little different.  When a person trains more than
he or she needs to in order to optimize performance, but does not suffer from decrements in performance or chronic fatigue, then the person has trained excessively.  This may seem like no big deal … just a little extra training for good measure.  However, it is inefficient.  Training takes energy, time, and mental focus … excessive training wastes the athlete’s energy, time, and mental focus … ultimately, it infringes upon quality of life.

What is “tapering?” 

            Tapering involves the purposeful reduction of intensity and duration of training prior to a competitive event in order to allow the mind and body to fully recover, thus rendering the person better able to perform.  Some coaches are afraid to allow athletes to taper because they fear they will lose some of their training effect.  This is unwarranted.   Maintenance of training capability can easily be achieved with reduced volume … especially if intensity is maintained.  Even when intensity and duration are both reduced, significant decreases in performance do not occur for five or six days or longer.  Much of the research has revealed increases in strength during the tapering period.  Thus, tapering for two to five days prior to a competitive event should, in almost all cases, be viewed as ergonomic and not ergolytic. 

What is “detraining?”

            This is a direct consequence of the “use it or lose it” principle.  Training induced adaptations are lost when training ceases.  How long does it take to detrain?  How long can I go without training before I lose it?  The answers to these questions are particularly important when one is designing active rest periods.

General Findings Regarding Detraining

Immobilization results in decreases in
strength & power & and size quite rapidly … days…
probably due to the cessation of neural input

Stopping resistance training results in decreases in
strength & power & size … but significant losses take four to six weeks…
Thus, there is no need to panic if two to three weeks rest is required

During periods of muscular inactivity, muscular endurance
decreases noticeably in two weeks
                                    - Oxidative enzymes decrease
                                    - Muscle glycogen is reduced
                                    - Disturbance of the Acid-Base balance
                                   (ex: lactate threshold is lowered)
                                    - Decreased blood flow to the muscles may be a factor

Speed & agility are less trainable and, thus,
gains during training and losses due to detraining
are considerably smaller

Flexibility is lost quickly

Cardiorespiratory endurance is lost quickly…
roughly 25% losses in Q & Vo2 max
result from three weeks of bed rest
                                    - large reductions in plasma volume are seen
                                    - this reduces venous return, EDV, SV, & Q
*** Interestingly, if intensity is maintained, volume
 can be reduced by two-thirds … and VO2 Max can be maintained

What is “retraining?”

Recovery of conditioning status, in a previously trained individual, that has been lost due to a period of inactivity.

Regarding Retraining

Depends on initial conditioning status, length of inactivity period,
and any residual problems

Generally, is quicker than the initial training period

If immobilization occurs, then neural stimulation attenuates
 losses and expedites retraining … so light work &
contralateral limb work are desirable.
Classical/Traditional Periodization
(often erroneously referred to as “Linear” Periodization)
Periodization is a training paradigm in which progressive overload is applied so that progressive development is maximized and regressive development is minimized.  In other words, periodization involves the deliberate manipulation of the acute program design variables (FRITTO) so that performance peaks just prior to the competitive season, but overtraining, burnout and staleness are minimized.

            In classical periodization schemes, training is divided into macrocycles, mesocycles, and microcycles.  Granted, definitions vary, but basically, the macrocycle is the period of time from one competitive season to the next.  The macrocycle is broken further into mesocycles, which last weeks or months … I like to think of these as phases … Transition Phases (active rest), Hypertrophy Phase (sometimes called Strength-Endurance), Basic Strength Phase, Explosive Strength (power) Phase, and Maintenance Phase (In Season).  Each mesocycle can be further broken down into microcycles, which last days.  The microcycles are used to employ variation in programming, but still the essential goal of the mesocycle is preserved.

            The underlying objective of this periodized model is to ultimately develop a powerful athlete just prior to the season, and then to maintain this power throughout the season … while minimizing injury and overtraining.

Basically, a base must be established with new athletes.  Extensification training involves high volumes of work done with low intensities.  Intensification training involves low volumes of work with high intensities.  The macrocycle is designed so that extensive methods build a base for later intensive methods.  Thus, new athletes do large volumes of work at low intensities and then as the macrocycle progresses the volume of work decreases as the intensity of work increases.

Season Ends>>>> Extensification >>> Intensification >>>> Season Starts
                     AR > Hypertrophy >AR> Strength> AR> Power

                        intensity       >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>        intensity
                   volume                                             volume

Example for Strength/Power Development of a Football Player

Hypertrophy Phase

Purpose: the promote tissue growth and to build metabolic muscular endurance, thus preparing the athlete for the upcoming Strength Phase

Length of time: 10-14 weeks

Frequency of Training: 3-5 times per week
Rest Intervals between sets: short > 1 -2 minutes
Intensity: low/moderate > 65% – 80% 1RM or 8 -15 reps
Time or Duration: repetitions: “to fatigue”
                               sets: 3- 5 sets per exercise
Type: Compound exercises – squats, deadlifts, BPs, Rows, 4-way neck, ab work, spinal hyperextensions – use dumbbells where possible

Hypertrophy Phase is followed by 1 week of Active Rest (allows for mental and physical recovery)

Basic Strength Phase

Purpose: to train the nervous system to better control this newly formed muscular tissue so that maximum force development is realized.
Length of time: 6-8 weeks

Frequency of Training: 3-5 times per week
Rest Intervals between sets: moderate > 3 - 4 minutes … more recovery for the nervous system
Intensity: moderate > 80%-90% 1RM or 4 - 6 reps
Time or Duration: repetitions: “to fatigue minus 2” – we don’t want to exhaust the nervous system
                               sets: 3- 5 sets per exercise
Type: Compound exercises – squats, deadlifts, BPs, Rows, 4-way neck, ab work, spinal hyperextensions – use dumbbells where possible; introduce power exercises such as hang clean, power clean, snatch, push jerk and low level plyometrics … the purpose of this introduction is NOT to develop power at this point, but to allow the athlete to become familiar with the techniques … so that these lifts might be employed in the explosive strength mesocycle.

Basic Strength Phase is followed by 1 week of Active Rest (allows for mental and physical recovery)

Explosive Strength (power) Phase

Purpose: to train the neuromuscular mechanisms in order to bring about high force development in short periods of time … explosion

Length of time: 6-8 weeks

Frequency of Training: 3-5 times per week
Rest Intervals between sets: long > 6 - 8 minutes … most recovery for the nervous system
Intensity: high > 90% - 105% 1RM for 1 - 3 reps to work on force development
                When the exercises performed are the power exercises … then we
     have strength-speed development
     moderate > 50% - 70% 1RM for 3 – 4 reps done as fast as possible to
     work on velocity of movement
     light > using medicine ball and body weight … exploding rapidly…this        
     is referred to speed-strength development    

NOTE: power = f X v … maximal power occurs at about 30% - 40% 1RM and at about one-third max velocity.

Time or Duration: repetitions:
                               sets: 3- 5 sets per exercise
Type: Compound exercises – squats, deadlifts, BPs, Rows, 4-way neck, ab work, spinal hyperextensions – use dumbbells & kettlebells where possible; power exercises such as hang clean, power clean, snatch, push jerk and moderate/high level plyometrics. 

Explosive Strength Phase is followed by 1 week of Active Rest (allows for mental and physical recovery)

Maintenance Phase (In season)

Purpose: to maintain the power that has been developed … to attenuate regression … this is accomplished by maintaining intensity and cutting back on volume … remember the athlete will need energy to practice and play.

Length of time: 12-14 weeks

Frequency of Training: 2 times per week
Rest Intervals between sets: long > 5 - 8 minutes … most recovery for the nervous system
Intensity: high > 90% - 105% 1RM
Time or Duration: repetitions: 1 - 3 reps …we don’t want to exhaust the nervous system
                               sets: 2-3 sets per exercise
Type: Compound exercises – squats, deadlifts, BPs, Rows, 4-way neck, ab work, spinal hyperextensions – use dumbbells & kettlebells where possible; power exercises such as hang clean, power clean, snatch, push jerk and moderate/high level plyometrics. 

Maintenance Phase is followed by 3-4 weeks of Active Rest (allows for mental and physical recovery)

During each of the above mesocycles, short periods involving moderate alterations of the program can be included … these I think of as microcycles.  For example, if dumbbell bench presses are a part of the hypertrophy mesoscycle, then for one week, incline bench presses might be substituted.  If squats are performed, then front squats can be substituted for a week.  If seated rows are performed, then lat pulls can be substituted.  If standard deadlifts are performed, then sumo deadlifts can be substituted for a week.  Also, the order of exercises might be switched for a week.  These microcycles provide variation within the mesocycles.

Problems with Classical/Linear Periodization

            - What happens if the athlete plays two or more sports?
            - What happens when athletes disappear for the summer?
            - What happens to the veteran athlete who has been through three or                                                             
             more years of this paradigm, does, he or she really still need 12 weeks of
             hypertrophy training?
            - What happens if the athlete does not have a clearly defined competitive
             season? … like a body builder, power lifter, judoka, karateka, boxer, or
             track & field athlete?
            - What if the competitive season is really long … like professional baseball             or basketball?  Gains will be slowly lost …. Even if intensity is maintained       or at the very least, during a long season, opportunities for increased                          gains are lost with classical periodization.

Undulating Periodization

            Undulating periodization is similar to traditional periodization in that its goal is to provide adequate stimulation leading to progression with sufficient variety and rest to avoid overtraining.  Manipulation of the acute program variables occurs much more frequently, however.  Changes typically occur weekly or even daily.  Thus, there are “heavy” days and “light” days; there are long days and there are short days; sometimes ascending pyramid training is used and sometimes descending pyramid schemes are used; some days power exercises are performed and some days strength exercises are performed … you get the idea.  Undulating periodized programs are highly specific to the individual athlete and are tailored according to need.


Rippetoe, . Starting strength. 3. Witchita, Texas: The Aasgaard Company, 2011. Print.

Baechle, T. R., R. W. Earle, and R. W. Earle. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 3rd. 3. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers, 2008. Print.

Power, Scott K., and Edward T. Howley. Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. 8th. 2011. Print.