The Weekly Training Schedule: General Recommendations for Training Elements

Athletes of all levels of preparation will be using various means of training to address the physical requirements of their sport.  While characteristics of the means will vary based on sport demands, most forms of training will be included in an athlete’s training.  Components of the physical preparation process include:

1.  Skill Development

2.  Injury Prevention

3.  Strength Development

4.  Power Development

5.  Energy System Development

6.  Speed Development

7.  Multi-directional abilities (depending on the sport)

Depending on the time of year (or the length of time until competitions) athletes will be looking to address all or some of these areas in their training.  It is of vital importance that the individual in charge of the physical preparation of athletes strategically manage training in an effort to both develop the athlete, while at the same time not risking injury or overtraining.  Many sport coaches make the mistake of implementing a training schedule based on the concept of “working hard” by implementing high stress elements on a daily basis, with maybe one day “off” or “light” during the week.  It is important to recognize the impact of the training elements on the central nervous system (CNS) to determine how the athlete will recover from said training element.

As discussed in previous posts, the works of Charlie Francis (2012 & 2008) discuss the High/Low system of training, which manages stresses of the CNS over the week.  New trends in fitness have lead to athletes haphazardly implementing low-quality, high-intensity training on a daily basis in an effort to get athletes “in-shape” or “mentally prepare” themselves for the rigors of sport participation.  This mismanagement of training tends to go much more harm then good, even if short-term benefits appear to be occurring.  The High/Low System separates elements into high or low categories based upon stress to the CNS.  While there are elements that are deemed Medium intensity, Francis includes them in high intensity training since you cannot recover from this type of training in 24 hours.

Examples of High and low components are as follows (Francis 2012 & Francis 2008):

High

Sprints above 95%

High intensity Jumps

Strength Training (Efforts above 80%)

Explosive MB Throws (Note: some individuals will place these in a “medium” category, but as stated earlier, medium stresses will get considered high for recover purposes)

Low

Tempo Conditioning (Extensive <75%)

Assistance Strength Training Exercises/Abdominal

Low intensity MB Throws

Sport skills can fall into the same categories based upon the intensity in which they are performed.  When looking at a week of training, one should determine where different elements may fit in order to optimize training outputs and recovery.   When a training approach is to utilize all training variables at different volumes over the week, one needs to make sure that the organization of different modes of training are performed in an appropriate order.  While volumes of each of the components will change, here is a basic template for placing them over the course of a training week for an athlete in the offseason  (note: this does not include warm-up activities that would precede training sessions):

Day 1

Sprints

Jumps

Throws

Strength Work

Day 2

Strength

Extensive Tempo Conditioning

Abdominal Training

Day 3

Off or Extensive Tempo or Cardiac Work (HR 100-140 beats per minute)

Day 4

Repeat Day One

Day 5

Repeat Day Two

Days 6 & 7

Off or Extensive Tempo or Cardiac Work (HR 100-140 beats per minute).  It would be suggested to take at least one day totally off for passive recovery (i.e. massage, passive stretching, etc.)

It is important to manage training stressors over the course of a week, and to make sure that you are utilizing methods that match the demands of the sport.  One must make sure that outputs are optimal on high CNS stress elements to make sure that adaptations to the training will yield the desired results.  While the schedule above may be reflected of many different training options, one needs to also consider the time of the year for the athlete (i.e. off-season, in-season, etc) when designing weekly training schedules.

References

Francis, C (2012).  The Charlie Francis Training System.  (Kindle edition).

Francis, C.  (2008).  The Structure of Training for Speed.  Charliefrancis.com.  (Kindle edition).

Preparation Considerations- Combat Sports

Combat sports represent a wide-ranging set of activities where success is dependent upon general preparation and skill development specific to the demands of energy system development, strength and power development, and skill development of a given discipline. One needs to consider these variables when designing the training regimen based upon what a given discipline calls for. These demands can vary greatly within a discipline, for example, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), or can be more focused in disciplines such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing. The purpose of this post will be to examine the general structure of training for combat sport disciplines, while simultaneously discussing some of the misdirected efforts which hinder the preparation process.

Energy System Considerations

Probably one of the most common misdirected efforts in the training of most combat athletes involves the overuse of lactic energy system development (Smith, nd). For many combat disciplines, this results in repeated efforts of low quality, which in the end does not support what should be the end result of the preparation efforts. Smith (2013) stated that, “Fights consist of the generation of high quality outputs repeatedly.” Lactic-based energy system training does not provide the high quality output needed for many of the skills involved in training combat athletes, particularly those involved in striking or short contact disciplines.

It is well-known that many combat/martial art facilities implore lactic-based efforts due to the fact that they make people feel they are “training hard”.  They increase the intensity and volume of their “cardio” in an effort to enhance their conditioning levels, at the expense of the outputs required for activities such as striking.  This is done through the inappropriate application of equipment such as battle ropes (which can be used in the general preparation of fighters, but are usually applied wrong) and through misdirected activities such as rapid punching activities (punching with low power for greater than 20 seconds making the arms feel heavy or have a “pump”).

Another misuse of training time for combat sports involves the use of long-duration runs or “road work” to enhance conditioning.  While this is a time honored tradition in the development of fighters, it does not provide an optimal medium for the development of the oxidative system as needed for combat sports. Various other modes of training exist that can address the oxidative requirement for fighting at a much higher output and much lesser structural cost that long distance running.

Lack of Explosive Power Development

This area of training usually goes hand in hand with what was described above.  Due to the emphasis on the “cardio” or “conditioning” done by many participating in combat sports, there is a lack of emphasis on the force-velocity characteristics of movement during various skills in fighting.  Skill elements in fighting (in particular, striking skills) require explosive power development, which can only be enhanced by high quality efforts.  This requires appropriate application of work:rest ratios that allow for appropriate recovery between work bouts (See: Development of the Alactic System).  Jumps, medicine ball throws, and short sprints with full effort and appropriate rest durations will assist in developing necessary traits for fighting.

Organizing training weeks:  The High/Low System

The late Charlie Francis, a former track and field coach from Canada, designed training around a high/low construct based on individual training modes influence on the central nervous system (CNS).  The use of this system involves alternating training days of high and low CNS stress in order to allow for appropriate recover and long-term athletic development.  While having a low day may not suit well with the athletes or their coaches, in the end the cumulative effects of this form of training will result in the most optimal results, due to the fact that the athletes are able to sustain maximal outputs on their high days without residual fatigue from previous training sessions.  I would recommend readings on this structure of training from the works of Charlie Francis (Francis, 2012).

While much of what is done during the preparation of fighters is done with the intent of working hard to achieve success, much can be done in this area to create a optimal environment for training to truly match the required demands of a fight.  Athletes of lower preparation should not concern themselves with what is done by high-level fighters, and should build an appropriate base of training and work towards appropriate energy system development and outputs based on force-velocity demands of the discipline they participate in.  High/low sequencing should be considered, along with examining drills and exercises to make sure they are allowing athletes to develop the necessary traits for their competition.

References

Smith, J.  (2014).  MMA Preparatory Considerationshttp://www.globalsportconcepts.net.

Francis, C.  (2012).  The Charlie Francis Training System.  Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

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