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TRAINING PROGRAM

            6.1 Periodised Plan

The annual periodised plan has been adapted from Bompa (1999)18 with certain aspects of it altered to suit our athlete’s needs.  It is a bi-peaking plan with two competition phases, as Isaac has, firstly his trials, and then the actual meet a number of months later, for which he also needs to be at his best. The yearly plan is basically divided into preparatory, competitive and transition phases, each lasting different amounts of time and occurring twice, as seen in Table 6.1.

The preparatory phase includes general, specific, and pre-competition time periods for which different macrocycles are employed for. During general period, anaerobic/aerobic endurance, along with anatomical adaptation (AA) is the primary focus and it is used to get the athlete ready for the gruelling specific and pre-competitive phases where the athlete will be pushed to his maximum in order to facilitate large performance gains and get him ready and peaking for the


trials. The AA precedes the maximal strength (MxS) phase because AA’s main objective is to involve most muscle groups and prepare them along with ligaments, tendons, and joints for the tasking periods to come. The MxS phase is a crucial step in developing that highly regarded attribute of any athlete, power. Immediately following the maximum strength would be power training where the strength achieved during the MxS phase would be utilised in providing a foundation for the power training and subsequently improving athlete aspects like block starting, acceleration, vertical jump, etc. The running would also deviate from aerobic/anaerobic endurance and mainly focus on maximum speed, right prior to the competition phase. Power cannot reach high standards without a high level of maximum strength because “power is the product of speed and strength”(p.210).18 Our program therefore focuses on this phase of the cycle as maximum strength is crucial to sprinting performance. 57,58

During the specific phase, more focus is shifted towards sport specific exercises and drills, building maximum speed, increasing power, and maintaining anaerobic endurance. During running sessions, less emphasis will be placed on aerobic and anaerobic endurance work, and more drills which incorporate 100m sprint specifics will be incorporated to increase that maximal speed as mentioned previously. The power phase will be an integral part of achieving this increase in maximum speed as power measures such as the vertical leap are excellent predictors of sprint performance. 39,53,57,59,60 As the focus moves from MxS, the next 4 weeks will be spent undergoing power training through several different avenues like plyometrics, speed-strength training, Olympic lifting, etc.

The next phase of the preparatory cycle is the pre-competition where a lot of the focus is on getting the athlete up to the highest level of performance without overtraining. Focus is still on developing power and MxS but the athlete will begin to taper down in order to be fresh and at the top of his/her game come competition time. Towards the end of the pre-competition phase, the conversion of power stage is implemented in order to convert maximum strength gained into power, and subsequently into sprinting performance.

As the competitive season begins, Isaac will move towards maintaining his level of performance and strength/power depending on competition load. Towards the end of the 1st competitive period, after all trials have been completed, it’s time for Isaac to have some rest. This phase is called the transition phase and will incorporate recreational activities in order to keep him “fit” and yet also provide ample amount of recuperation before his second preparatory phase for the main competitions that are coming up in a few months. Even though this phase is used as a recovery period, MxS and Power training will still be maintained in order to keep his hard earned gains and provide a solid foundation for the upcoming preparatory phase.  The transition phase will last for one month.

6.2 Macrocycle

The month long maximum strength macrocycle that we are following within this program consists of four microcycles or weeks of training. Each microcycle follows a distinct protocol of loading which sees the first week starting out with a lower volume of total training, increasing over the subsequent two weeks, and finally decreasing in volume to just above week 2 loads in the last week in order to prevent overtraining and allow the athlete to recuperate, while still maintaining the strength levels (Figure 6.1). Running load during the first week is significantly
higher then subsequent weeks due to the higher amount of aerobic training, which modified the work index. It did not however affect the total combined weekly loading, which is the main aspect of the periodisation cycle we are focusing on. Since the first two weeks of the macrocycle fit into the general subphase of the preparatory cycle, more aerobic/anaerobic endurance is incorporated into the workouts to increase the levels of aerobic fitness before the specific phase of the sprinting programs begings where more specific sprinting drills are utilised.

6.3 Microcyle

The weekly schedule of this program sees the athlete training on 5 consecutive days, with the weekend used as a relaxation period. Main workout days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with low intensity and/or technical practice sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays (Table 6.2).
The main workouts follow a constant protocol of weight training in the morning and sprint/technical training in the afternoon/night. This is used to split the two workouts into two separate sessions as combining them together would put a lot of strain on the athlete and completion of the workout could not be carried out intensely as needed, particular y as it is a sprint training program. Similar outlines have also been implemented regarding weight training in other studies looking at sprint training. 10,11,13 The main aim of the strength sessions is to improve lower body maximal strength while also making sure not to neglect the upper body. Olympic lifts are used in aiding traditional strength exercises like the squat and the deadlift in order to promote a more sport specific muscular response and also provide some carryover for the next phase of the strength cycle (power) as they also evoke very quick muscular contractions and are used quite extensively by athletes to promote power increases. The afternoon sprinting sessions are used to primarily increase running speed through, technique correction, increase in stride length and frequency and developing a better block start through various low, medium and maximal intensity drills.
Tuesday and Thursday workouts are used for active recovery from the previous days and also to introduce some extra technical practice and aerobic endurance, particularly within the first week of this Macrocycle, as after this first week, the focus will shift towards more anaerobic and maximal sprinting to coincide with the maximal strength phase and the subsequent power phase.


Each strength training session begins with a warmup that incorporates several different static sprint drills, jumping rope, and 5min stationary bike ride plus a several different core exercises. The running sessions begin with a more vigorous and subsequently longer warmup protocol which incorporates general warmup techniques and more specific technical drills to facilitate proper running form. At the end of every session, active warmdown takes place after which stretches are implemented to facilitate improvement in functional range of motion which is crucial during running67 and also to limit the potential risk of injury that is associated with limited flexibility.65 For full explanation of the warmup and cooldown, stretching and core work, please see Appendix Twelve.
The days follow a loading protocol which sees Monday being the medium day, Wednesday the light day, and Friday the heavy day of the week. The two active recovery sessions can be seen on Figure. 6.2 as grey bars.

6.4 Sets, Reps, Loads, Resting periods

 

Regarding the resistance training protocol, the program follows a 3-4 sets per exercise protocol which is more than sufficient to elicit strength gains.13 Three to 4 sets allows for sufficient effect of each exercise to takes place and the correct technique to be learned, particularly for the Olympic lifts. Repetitions range from 8 all the way down to 2 reps, especially for the main compound exercises. These relatively low reps are crucial in developing maximum strength as they recruit the maximum amount of muscle fibres and have a very large effect on the neuromuscular system.10 The loads will correspond with the %RM of each exercise, which will be tested during the first week following the 1RM testing protocol found in Appendix Seven. Finally, the resting periods during the resistance training sessions will be 2-3min to allow for
sufficient recovery between sets and exercise, in order to fully stimulate the muscles, particularly the type II muscle fibres, with maximum amount of force. Each exercise should begin with a few repetitions of fairly light weight to properly warm up the specific muscles used.
The sprinting sessions will follow similar set structure as the resistance training sessions, however some certain drills will require different amount of sets, for example, the Flying Starts Drill will have 6 sets of 1 repetition 20m sprints. This is where the sprinting sessions differ to resistance training, as certain sets will only have one repetition at a certain distance. The loading will be percentage of maximum sprinting speed during each drill (%Max), for example, the Hurdle Run and Sprint drill requires the athlete to run at 90% of Max pace, which means that it will be quite intense, but not absolute maximum. The resting times between each sprinting drill also differ in that some, like the Distance Drill, may be used more so to train anaerobic endurance, where the resting periods would be lower than during all out sprinting drills. The Block Starts for example might have quite a longer recovery between sets (3min) in order to facilitate appropriate recovery for the athlete to be able to sprint at 100% pace successfully as they are an “all-out” drill.

Figure 6.2. Session load variations for the microcycle

6.5 The Program

General warm up and cooldown, along with core training and stretching is implemented along with the program below.
Warmup and Core Training: Please select one of the corresponding sessions from Appendix Twelve as there are two available to offer variability, for each resistance as well as sprint training sessions.
Cooldown and Stretching: Please select one of the corresponding sessions from Appendix Twelve.

Download the program here.

6.6 Program Monitoring

6.61 Work Index

The work index is used to gauge the appropriate relative load of each training session so the intensities, volumes, and sprint distances can be quantitatively modified to keep true to the periodisation principles. Periodisation is the division of time into distinct blocks for a particular period. In this case, it is the division of different training periods over a span of 12 months. The work index will be used over all of those training phases to make sure the athlete is training accordingly without overtraining and that peak level of performance is achieved prior to competition.


The weight training work index is measured by multiplying the weight lifted during each set of the exercise by the number of repetitions and also by the average % Repetition Maximum (%RM) of each exercise, which is in decimal points. For example, during a bench press exercise, Isaac has to perform 6 repetitions of 74.8kg, 5 repetitions of 79.2 and 4 repetitions of  85.8, which means that total amount of weight lifted was 1188kg (6x74+5x79=4x85.8). The average %RM for the 3 sets was 73% or 0.73 ((%6RM+%5RM=%4RM)/3=0.73). Finally, the work index can be calculated by multiplying the total weight lifted by the average %RM (1188x0.73=867.24 units). The total session load is then calculated by adding the work index of each exercise together. For example, in Figure 7.1, the total session workload for this session (Monday) was 4384.05 units.


The running index however, uses distance instead of weight and the work index is obtained by establishing the levels of running intensity. Full out, maximum sprints are classified as 100% or 1.0, sub-max sprints may be classified as 90% or 0.9 for example, and aerobic training may be classified as 30% or 0.3 of maximum, and so on. So, on Monday night, Isaac has to perform sprint training and he completes the Hurdle run and sprint drill for 4 sets of 1 repetition for 20m at sub-max sprint pace, focusing on technique first over the hurdles and then forcefully accelerating through to the 20m mark, which is at 90% or 0.9. Therefore, the load for that particular drill would be (4x1x20x0.9= 72 units). The total load for the session is calculated the same way as the resistance training protocol, by adding all the drill loads together. For example, the load for this particular session is 972 units and can be seen in Figure 6.2. Even though it uses the same units, it cannot be directly compared to the weight training one as they contain different aspects. However, they can be added together to compare the total day loads as they would be compared with another day, which contains the same measures.


Figure 7.1. Microcycle Periodisation

6.62 Psychological / Physiological Effects

In addition to using the work index to monitor the program, it is also critical to gauge the physiological and psychological effects of the program. In terms of monitoring any physiological effects of the program a 100 metre sprint will be performed at the cessation of the Friday afternoon session. Times will be recorded at 5 checkpoints throughout the sprint with timers stationed at the 10, 30, 50, 70 and 100 metre points with times compared each week. This will enable the analysis of several integral phases of the sprint including the start, acceleration, maximum speed and speed endurance. Within our four week macrocycle times are not expected to show dramatic improvement, but any minor improvement will be a positive result. Additionally, after each macrocyle, the subject will be tested according As a measure of psychological effects as well of overtraining, the Profile of Mood States (POMS) will be administered. This is a test designed to measure certain psychological traits and is common tool used among sport psychologists who have used it to compare the prevailing moods of elite athletes. 80 Subjects are given a score for each trait tested according to their responses to certain statements. The six mood states used in POMS include tension, depression, anger, vigour, fatigue and confusion. Elite athletes tend to score below average for negative states such as tension, depression, fatigue and confusion whereas above average scores are expected for vigour.80 If the subject was to register high scores where low scores were expected, then overtraining needs to be considered. An additional monitoring tool for overtraining that can be utilized is Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale (see Appendix Fourteen). RPE is an effective tool to monitor progress towards maximal exertion during exercise testing.25 In this particular instance, the subject will be exposed to the RPE scale at the end of each session to monitor how exerting each session was perceived to be. The higher intensity work outs would be expected to be graded between 16 and 20 whereas the more lighter intensity workouts between the ranges of 12-16. If any abnormally high grades are consistently registered, overtraining needs to considered.

 

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