Friday, February 26, 2010

Course I Attended on Periodization For Sports

Today I just wanted to write a short review / summary of a course I attended last weekend called "Sports Specific Training and Periodization Training for Sports". I know, it's a mouthful. Periodization is the manipulation of training techniques over yearly plans. To some of you this content may seem a little dry, but I thought it was worth posting because you may find some of the information useful or interesting.

Overall I was pleased with the course, although there were areas that could have been improved with the presentation (ie- audio/visual).

Much of the information presented was simply review for me, which was encouraging to receive confirmation of some of my training philosophies. I did learn a couple of new things as well, and I may adjust my long term training schedules based on ideas presented. However, I didn't necessarily agree with everything that was being taught. I won't get into the details of how we looked at periodizing a training program over a yearly plan, but I'd like to summarize some of the key points that stood out for me:

  • The text for this course was Periodization Training for Sports by Tudor Bompa and Mike Carrera. Bompa endorses a linear model of periodization which has become popular with Western athletes and coaches, whereas for my own needs and the goals of most of my clients I have found a conjugated (or "concurrent") model of periodization more effective in the long term... especially when there are several competitions during the year, or a trainee wishes to maintain optimal strength and power all year round. Although there was alot of great ideas discussed regarding microcycles and macrocycles, I would still choose to apply these to conjugated periodization.
  • One great point that was brought up was that when training to increase power for sports, one should not simply try to mimic the sport activity in training.  For example, training for power using weighted implements (such as baseball bats, tennis rackets, or golf clubs that are heavier than normal) will actually make the athlete SLOWER rather than more explosive! In part this is because it teaches the athlete to focus on decelerating the heavy implement to control it at the end range rather than moving it faster.  It may also disturb the normal movement pattern that is developed.  The main goal in training for power is to increase the ability to contract muscles faster, not to simply mimic the sport movements.

  • We got into Energy System Training as well, which I enjoyed.  The use of ATP during Alactic, Lactic, and Aerobic energy system training.  The focus was on training for power rather than endurance or hypertrophy in this course.  We looked at how to incorporate Max Effort training (heavy load, low reps, more rest) to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers and maximize force generation, then how to use Dynamic Effort training (lighter loads, faster reps) to active additional fibers and increase the rate at which muscle fibers were "discharged" (ie- recruit more fast twitch fibers and fire them off faster). 

  • 20 minutes of light cardio post workout can help to flush out lactic acid build-up and speed up recovery.

  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Training: CNS training is the synchronization of movements through repetitive training / learning of those movements.  The purpose of CNS training is to reduce the inhibition on muscle contraction (reduce the influence of the Golgi Tendon Apparatus) so that greater force can be generated.  Long term training results in a more efficient CNS with less GTO inhibition and more powerful contractions.  However, fatigue should be avoided in training for this goal.  For example, training for max strength involves fewer reps and more rest between sets, as opposed to training for hypertrophy (growth) which requires a fatigued state to be reached using more reps and less rest.

  • Training Economy: Stick with compound, multi-joint exercises targeting majority of muscles involved in the sport to make most efficient use of time.  Small isolation exercises and accessory movements should only be considered if time allows.

  • Multi-lateral training for youth: Studies have shown that youth who engaged in specialized training for sport early on played best at 15 years old, but those who focused on building their foundation early on (ie: multi-lateral development including physical activities for fun, bodyweight exercises, etc) became better athletes later on.  This should encourage parents and coaches not to push their children into high-performance training too early in life.  Let them develop their athletic foundation first, then consider specialization training for 15 to 18 year olds.

  • Super-Compensation: I learned something new on this topic. As most athletes and trainers should know, it is favorable to aim for a training program to "peak" just before a competition, so that the athlete has reached a state of fatigue (close to over-training). Then they can rest and recuperate for several days before the event, allowing their body to "super-compensate", causing an increase in performance.  What was new to me was that they suggested still including some form of light training right up to a couple of days before competition to prevent "involution" (basically "decompensation").  This can simply be light aerobic activity or technical training (ie: movement rehearsal) with very light loads.  According to the resources presented, active recovery was superior to complete rest in most cases, even pre-competition.

  • Stability Training: I was pleased to hear that the current research out there also indicates that training on BOSU balls, stability boards, stability balls, and those little "whoopie cushion" things will reduce athletic performance, increase risk of injury, and decrease the amount of force and power you can develop in training.  Thank you! I've been arguing this point with trainers for too long.  These stability training implements certainly have a place in the rehab setting, but they've become a fitness industry fad and are being used WAY out of context!

  • Flexibility Training: I was also encouraged by the fact that this course explained how static stretching before and during training can reduce performance and increase risk of injury.  I have been saying this for years.  Again, another point of contention for many trainers, who still insist on stretching their clients out before a workout, despite the current research.  Active stretches such as a dynamic warmup should be performed pre-workout, then passive / static stretches can be performed after IF NEEDED.

  • Yoga is not a complete workout, and may even hurt you!  Yep... that's what I've been tryin' to tell people, but I feel like one man against a Yogic Cult.

  • Core Training: after the initial adaptation stage of training, minimal isolation work is needed for core strength, as long as you are doing big, compound exercises that involve core.

  • Deep Squats: OK, I do not agree with the the argument they presented on this topic.  The instructor explained why they believed that one should not squat below 90 degrees of knee flexion.  I disagree, and I can present resources to support the fact that deep back squats performed with good technique are healthy for your knees and provide favorable training results.  Provided a safe progression is used over time, and the trainee has no knee or lower back injuries, deep squats are a terrific exercise!  To be fair, the instructor did acknowledge that he does use deep squats for some athletes, depending on sport requirements. 

  • Overspeed Training: we looked at how overspeed training and resisted speed training differ, and how some studies show that this type of training (using straps, bands, parachutes, or sleds) may interfere with an athletes contact time with the ground and negatively affect their running technique.  Sled dragging still has great applications in training, however.

Well, those are some of the topics that I found interesting in this course.  As I mentioned, most of the information presented was not new to me, but it's also important to review as well as to learn something new.  Overall, I would consider pursuing further education on the subject of periodization and training for sport.

I hope you found something of interest in this post.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them below... I always like to hear from my readers!

I have an interesting article on growth hormones to post next time... watch for that one!

Until then, Stay Fit!


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