Two questions to make your training plan work

Posted: April 20, 2015 in Strength and Conditioning for Performance
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Training for performance for top level athletes requires them to train full time. But there are some great athletes who also have to work and look after their families. How do they manage to perform well given the time constraints? Many top level athletes are gifted physically. They are born with qualities that make them good in their sport like a good height, ideal muscle fiber type, advantageous limb & torso length for their sport, etc. Aside from having the right genetic traits, they were able to express those genetics potential because of other factors like very good work ethics and attitude- they train even when it does not feel “fun” anymore. They train because they understand that it will make them better. And their training works because it is done consistently and most of all it is well planned and efficient. They train not just for the sake of training but with a lot of purpose. A good plan in preparing for competitions does not need to be very complicated. It just has to work for the person who is training. Let’s try to make it simple and general, and then you can add some details later as you establish some fundamental ideas.  

Make a simple training plan so that it can fit your schedule. A simple training plan also makes it flexible enough to adjust to unplanned circumstances. Answering these two questions may help in your planning:  

First: What performance related fitness component do you need to improve that would enhance your performance? Examples are strength, agility, explosive power, mobility and stability. Assuming you are an athlete who have good skill levels, what performance related fitness component has to be emphasized for you to have your best performance? Identify what area/s you need to improve on that has the biggest effect to your performance. It helps if you can measure and record it. Then re-assess after some time. Usually, there would be more than one. But if you realize that your skill level is not that good, work on it more. Strength is a very fundamental component to work on since it supports the development of most other components. Strength training and Conditioning can only support your skills for your sport but it won’t directly improve them.splitsnatch

Second: When do you need to be in peak condition? It is not possible to be in peak condition all year round but through a progressive and monitored training program, it is possible to influence the body so that it will be at its best condition on the most important competitions. After the competitions, the mind and body needs to recover so as not to burn out. The news about professional boxers preparing for their fight like the much anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is a very good example. Even though this is the fight of their lives, the boxers only started their training for this particular fight only a few months prior. Their skills are very well developed already. What they need is to make sure that they can sustain their game plan and be able to recover after giving out and absorbing a flurry of punches. They also need to recover in between rounds. Fine tuning their skills and conditioning their body to be able to deliver and absorb very powerful punches requires actual sparring. Athletes also want to have a long career and enjoy life after retiring. The intense training to achieve peak form is physically, mentally  and emotionally demanding that getting in peak form too often and too earl, as well as trying to maintain that top form would eventually be too much stress. The outcome would be overtraining wherein there would be an eventual drop in performance.

It is important to understand the concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome so as to be able to plan your training better (Read related article). That is why training comes in stages and the intensity gradually increases as the body adapts to it. Training intensity cannot be high nor low all the time if improvement is to be expected.  After knowing your particular “weakness” and knowing when you have to be in your peak condition, then you know how much time you have to prepare. Having too much time may actually work against you if you are not disciplined enough. Having too little time won’t get things done well enough. But then again, time is relative. It depends on your current condition. Well conditioned athletes who are coming back after a few months of rest will need a few weeks to get back into peak form. Others may need a more gradual, but longer approach.  

After answering these questions, then you can choose how to prepare. Different sports would require different ways of preparation. And mostly it would be sports specific- which means practicing the sport itself. There would be supplemental training too, which enhances and supports the improvement of your perceived “weakness”. Understand how the body adapts to training stress and other training concepts before focusing on too much details since the details would be dependent on each person’s circumstance. It would be better to try to make the training plan simple but effective rather than so complicated but is impractical. Train Better, Live Better!

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