(Today’s post is Part II of a research paper on using data to program workouts — and the necessity of a coach and athlete working together to achieve results. You can find Part I here.)
What Should I Change?
The structure of using macro-, meso-, and microcycles allows frequent check-ups to verify that the athlete is on pace to reach their goal. But what should the coach change if the athlete is not on track?
The coach has three main variables to manipulate:
- Volume (length of each session).
- Intensity (the load of each rep or how difficult each set was).
- Frequency (# of sessions).
However, the coach must also consider three additional dependent variables that certainly have an effect on a training program’s efficacy:
- Recovery: How primed is the body to take on additional stress?
- Sleep: How is the sleep quality and quantity?
- Frequency: The # of sessions
Conventional wisdom shows strength coaches modifying volume, intensity, and frequency variables throughout different cycles. As technology improves however, certain fitness wearables like the Whoop Band can provide invaluable data on these dependent variables.
The Nitty Gritty
For those involved in coaching higher-level athletics, it is easy for one to get caught up in the details of creating the optimal program. To stay consistent with the purpose of this article, we will briefly cover the commonalities shared between winning programs in Russia, China, and Bulgaria (arguably the strongest countries every four years at the Olympics).
Remember that the best program is the one that works – and periodization over the past 20 years has proven to be the most effective.5 Although periodization seems similar to the three main cycles, they occur within each of the cycles. Here are the basics you should know about periodized training programs:
- Sequential/Phasic: Do the workouts build on each other?
- Variety: Does the routine change? Main thing to remember here is that “the body becomes increasingly resistant to an incessant stimulus.”6
- Goal: Does the program lead to peak performance on a certain date? 7
Periodization can be implemented in many different ways throughout a training program. Below are three modalities in which it can be used simply.
Under the periodization umbrella, three different versions have been shown to lead to weightlifting gains. They all simply modify the independent training variables of volume, intensity, and frequency.
- Linear: Training volume progressively decreases over time as the training intensity increases.
- Undulating: Similar to linear periodization, but the oscillation between training volume and intensity occurs more frequently. One will typically see a complete fluctuation between training volume and intensity within a few days or weeks (as opposed to an entire mesocycle).
- Block: Follows the linear method in which the volume progressively decreases with time and intensity increases, however the frequency of these oscillations happens daily.
Different training programs call for different periodization methods. However, undulating periodization has been shown to yield the greatest gains within weightlifting.7
This short-section is intended to help the athlete improve on body-weight movements, not the sport of gymnastics. Again, the same three independent variables are controlled in a format that is supplemental to the overall program. Below is a representation of a periodized cube model:
The term monostructural refers to any metabolic effort traditionally referred to as “cardio” (i.e. running, swimming, rowing, biking, etc.) Scientific literature has long stated that to improve your VO2 max, the athlete would need to train long, aerobic efforts on a consistent basis. However, more recent literature is showing that “improve[d] aerobic fitness… is likely found at the anaerobic end of the metabolic spectrum.”9
For this reason, we recommend programming intended work-to-rest interval ratios into your monostructural workouts. Below is an example:
A standard workout program may work for untrained athletes, but as the athlete progresses, customized workouts must command priority.
This customized program should begin with a one-on-one meeting where the coach and athlete clearly identify what success will look like. Then, KPI’s are set to objectively benchmark weaknesses of the athlete and set tangible goals. As the coach then puts in motion the program, certain independent and dependent variables must be considered as time goes on. These variables can and should be modified if the athlete is not progressing at the desired rate.
Only in this way can the coach and athlete yoke themselves into a synergistic relationship so that the outcome is greater together than it would’ve been alone.
- Tudor O. Bompa, Carlo Buzzichelli. 2015. Periodization Training for Sports. Champaign: Human
Kinetics. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/[SITE_ ID]/detail.action?docID=3012038.
- Bickman, Benjamin. 2018. The Plagues of Prosperity. Anonymous (BYU Speeches Podcast).
- Nuckols, Greg. “Periodization: What the Data Say.” Stronger By Science., last modified January 8, accessed October 20,
2019, https://www.strongerbyscience.com/periodizati on-data/.
- https://assets.crossfit.com/pdfs/seminars/SMERefs/Gy mnastics/GymnasticsCourse_SeminarGuide.pdf
- https://journal.crossfit.com/article/the-paradox-of- the-aerobic-fitness-prescription-2
- http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/56_07_Rest_Recov ery.pdf
Other Works Consulted
“The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test : A Useful Tool for Evaluation of Physical Performance in Intermittent Sports.” 2008.Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 38 (1): 37-
Afonso, José, Pantelis T. Nikolaidis, Patrícia Sousa, and Isabel Mesquita. 2017. “Is Empirical Research on Periodization Trustworthy? A Comprehensive Review of Conceptual and Methodological Issues.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 16 (1): 27-
Archibald, Desdin. “Squatting and Deadlifting: Their Correlation with the Olympic Lifts.” Breaking Muscle., accessed October 19,
2019, https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/squatting-and- deadlifting-their-correlation-with-the-olympic-lifts.
Bompa, Tudor O. and Michael Carrera. 2018. Conditioning Young Athletes Human Kinetics.
Brito, João, Fabrício Vasconcellos, José Oliveira, Peter Krustrup, and António Rebelo. 2014. “Short-Term Performance Effects of Three Different Low-Volume Strength-Training Programmes in College Male Soccer Players.” Journal of Human Kinetics 40 (1): 121-128. doi:10.2478/hukin-2014- 0014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25031680.
Buchheit, Martin and Paul Laursen. 2013a. “High-Intensity Interval Training, Solutions to the Programming Puzzle.” Sports Medicine 43 (10): 927-954. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0066- 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832851.
———. 2013b. “High-Intensity Interval Training, Solutions to the Programming Puzzle.” Sports Medicine 43 (10): 927-954. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0066-
Dawson, Brian. 2012. “Repeated-Sprint Ability: Where are
we?” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 7 (3): 285-289.
doi:10.1123/ijspp.7.3.285. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p ubmed/22930690.
de Hoyo, Moises, Oliver Gonzalo-Skok, Borja Sañudo, Claudio Carrascal, Jose Plaza-Armas, Fernando Camacho-Candil, and Carlos Otero-Esquina. 2016. “Comparative Effects of in-Season Full-Back Squat, Resisted Sprint Training, and Plyometric Training on Explosive Performance in U-19 Elite Soccer Players.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 30 (2): 368-377. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001094. http://ovidsp.ovid.co m/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&NEWS=n&CSC=Y&PAGE=fulltext&D= ovft&AN=00124278-201602000-00010.
Feito, Yuri, Wade Hoffstetter, Paul Serafini, and Gerald Mangine. 2018. “Changes in Body Composition, Bone Metabolism, Strength, and Skill-Specific Performance Resulting from 16- Weeks of HIFT.” PloS One 13 (6): e0198324. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0198324. https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/29906290.
Gianzina, Elina and Olga Kassotaki. 2019. “The Benefits and Risks of the High-Intensity CrossFit Training.” Sport Sciences for Health 15 (1): 21-33. doi:10.1007/s11332-018-0521-7.
Javier Raya GonzÁlez and Javier SÁnchez SÁnchez. 2018. “Strength Training Methods for Improving Actions in
Football.” Apunts. Educació Física i Esports (132): 72-93. doi:10.5672/apunts.2014-
0983.es.(2018/2).132.06. https://search.proquest.com/doc view/2060914487.
Kilgore, Lon. “The Paradox of the Aerobic Fitness Prescription.” CrossFit Journal., last modified November 28, accessed October 15, 2019, https://journal.crossfit.com/article/the- paradox-of-the-aerobic-fitness-prescription-2.
Mann, Theresa, Robert Lamberts, and Michael Lambert. 2013. “Methods of Prescribing Relative Exercise Intensity: Physiological and Practical Considerations.” Sports Medicine 43 (7): 613-625. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0045- x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23620244.
Morrison, Scot, Patrick Ward, and Gregory R. duManoir. 2017. “Energy System Development and Load Management through the Rehabilitation and Return to Play Process.” International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 12 (4): 697-
Williams, Tyler, Danilo Tolusso, Michael Fedewa, and Michael Esco. 2017. “Comparison of Periodized and Non-Periodized Resistance Training on Maximal Strength: A Meta- Analysis.” Sports Medicine 47 (10): 2083-2100. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0734-