What're we really doing when we train?
This is just a brief note about a training method used by some strength and power athletes with some success, not a full examination of the issues etc.
Traditional training models generally work like this :
Base - Low intensity, high volume
Peak - High intensity, low volume
Take the athlete from base to peak, taper for a few days or a week, and they'll be right. That's what all the books on cycle coaching say. They talk about varying training loads such that when volume increases, intensity decreases and visa versa.
That's how it's done, right?
To work it out, it's helpful to go back to the fundamentals every now and then. What happens when we train?
Hans Seyle's adaptation syndrome kicks in. Roughly paraphrased this is "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger". Or at least, that's one way to look at it.
So what? What happens when we train? What are we trying to achieve?
We're trying to ride our bikes faster. Trite, I know .. and simplistic. For how long? Sprinters, around 10-30 seconds, enduros, 2 minutes to 10 hours or more, but we're all trying to go faster.
When we train, we disturb our bodies. We stress them. They respond to stress by adapting to it, and supercompensating if we get it right, so we improve at what we did to stress the body. How?
Hormonal fluctuations and tissues opening to the hormones present.
Essentially when we train, we stress the body, it releases hormones into the bloodstream which then get taken up by the stressed tissues and they change accordingly. The greater the stress, the greater the hormonal response. Strength athletes have been using exogenous tricks to do this for many many years. Common exogenous tricks include drugs like nandrolone and the like (the anabolic steriods), EPO (blood boosters) and so on. They're illegal, so we can't use them, but we can learn from them.
There's been some very interesting work done recently in the US concerning training methods that focus more on hormonal levels and less on conventional wisdom when it comes to designing training programs. Increasing both volume and intensity at the same time and then a big back-off period is one of the methods being discussed. I'll write more on it next week. For now, have a read if you can find it :
Pendlay, G. and L. Kilgore (2001). Hormonal fluctuation: A new method for the programming of training. Weightlifting USA 19(2): 15.
It's time I hit the 'Haus and then went to Blackburn to bust some legs on ergos!