WORKOUT PLANNING

By TUDOR O. BOMPA, PhD

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    Planning is not a novelty, and neither is it a Russian discovery as some enthusiasts proclaim. In simple forms, planning has existed since the ancient Olympic Games. Flavius Philostratus (A.D. 170-245) wrote several manuals on the planning and training of the Greek Olympians, most of which have been destroyed. His surviving manuals, Handbook for the Athletics Coach and Gymnasticus, teach how to train for competitions including the importance of recovery. He also mentioned the type of knowledge a coach should have: "He should be a psychiatrist with considerable knowledge in anatomy and heritage."
    This is why I have said that planning is not a novelty. The expertise we have represents the progress from ancient times to today. Many authors, sport scientists, and coaches from several nations have contributed to this evolution. They all deserve credit for what we know now.

Importance of Planning
    The planning process is a methodical, scientific procedure to help athletes achieve high levels of training and performance. It is the most important tool a coach has in conducting a well-organized training program. A coach is only as efficient as his or her organization and planning.
    An organized, planned training program eliminates the random, aimless approach still used in some sports. A well-structured plan gives guidance, direction, and scope to everything done. Good planning removes any relevance from those who still proclaim "no pain no gain" and "intensity all the way." Replace such rhetorical claims with intelligent training. Why? Because planning is the art of using science to structure a training program! In training nothing happens by accident, but by design.


    In training, you don't plan work, you plan the physiological reaction to your training plan. You should not be concerned with what you plan for today or tomorrow. Rather you should predict what the body's reaction will be to what you plan. Will the athlete be maximally challenged and be in a state of fatigue? Will he or she replenish the energy sources and supercompensate for the next training session? View the process of planning as a medium for manipulating the athlete's training, according to the specifics of the sport, to reach the highest performance possible.

    A coach must have a high level of professional expertise and experience for planning endeavors to be effective. A plan reflects methodical inference and knowledge in all areas of physical education. It must consider the athlete's potential and rate of development, and the facilities and equipment available. A training plan must be objectively based on the athlete's performance in tests or competitions, progress in all training factors, and consider the competition schedule. A training plan has to be simple, suggestive, and flexible, so you can modify it according to the athlete's rate of progress and your improvement in methodical knowledge.

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Planning Requirements

    When an instructor develops a training plan, he or she must follow certain requirements, the foundation of the planning process.


Long-Term Plans

    Blend long-term plans with current plans. A long-term plan is an important requirement of the training process. The coach uses it as an objective means to guide the athlete's training. Such a plan requires that skills and performance are continuously improving. The coach must consider the improvement rate, foresee levels the athlete will achieve, and direct the athlete's programs toward these objectives. After forecasting future developments, the coach elaborates the appropriate means to accomplish the athlete's performance and training objectives.


    The objectives of a long-term plan rely on the parameters and content of training included in the annual plan's macro and microcycles, providing a continuity between the present and future. This continuity also reflects the index of performance and test standards, which the coach must plan and achieve progressively. This approach, although desirable for elite athletes, is especially important for children and teenagers as a guarantee of appropriate guidance.

Establish and Emphasize the Main Training Factor
    During training, always emphasize equally, or according to the athlete's needs, each training factor and the underlying importance of volume or intensity. However development is seldom proportional. Often an athlete will improve more rapidly in skill mastery or in certain biomotor abilities. During competitions and testing, assess the athlete's improvement and compare the achieved levels with the objectives planned for that phase. This process allows conclusions about gains in a training factor, and more important, areas in which the athlete did not gain or may have lost ability. Training factors that fall behind the mean development rate are the weakest links in training. After establishing the weakest links, readjust the training program, shifting more emphasis to the appropriate areas in the following training phases. Often technical improvements (Le., in gymnastics) depend on a high degree of strength development. Should a coach realize that a gymnast cannot perform a technical element because of inadequate strength, then emphasize strength (the weakest link) in the following phase of training.
 

Periodical Achievement of Plans
    At the beginning of every training phase, note the performance objectives or test standards to achieve during or at the end of that cycle. Accomplish the objectives of each phase periodically. This indicates a gradual increase of training level and performance ability and ensures the continuity of a sound, qualitative training program.
Establishing performance objectives, training factors, and test standards for each training phase eliminates the random approach still used. It is not uncommon to find some coaches ignoring this important component of an organized training program, proceeding to dramatically increase the volume or intensity of training. Such actions may decrease an athlete's performance ability and well-being. Coaches must, therefore, employ the concept of periodical achievement and strive for set standards or performance objectives to maximize the potential for success.

Types of Training Plans
    A coach's effectiveness reflects his or her ability to organize and employ appropriate planning tools. An organized coach may use all or some of the following training plans: training lesson plan, microcycle, macrocycle, annual plan, and the quadrennial (4-year) plan. Longer plans (8-16 years) are often also necessary for children who aim for high performance.
    Plan terminology is not the same allover the world. The terminology used in this book is shared by several countries, including Germany and a few other Anglo-Saxon countries. The Russians call an annual plan a macrocycle, and a training phase of 4 to 8 weeks a mesocycle. Because of my deep admiration for Philostratus' work on yearly planning. I have decided to use the term "annual plan" to describe a yearly training program.
    In my opinion, the most important, practical, and functional plans are microcycles and annual plans. An instructor understanding these plans will be efficient. I do not emphasize the Russian mesocycle because such a plan is a formality.
    A coach usually begins by setting up long-term training parameters to achieve by the end of a long cycle, such as the quadrennial plan. In a quadrennial plan, the coach sets performance and training factor objectives for each year of the plan, then prepares the annual plan for the current year. The objectives of the annual plan and the competition schedule establish macro and microcycles. The shortest term plan is the training lesson. Though this approach is methodically sound, for simplicity and progression I will reverse the description of the planning chapter, starting with the training lesson.

Training Lesson
    Methodically, the training lesson is the main organizing tool used. The coach shares knowledge with the athletes, whose task it is to develop one or more training factors. In the methodology of training, training lessons are classified based on the tasks and form of the lesson.

Types of Lessons
    Based on its tasks, training lessons types are learning, repetition. skill perfection, and assessment. The main task of a learning lesson is to acquire new skills or tactical maneuvers. The coach organizes this lesson simply: after the coach explains the objectives and warm-up, the remaining time is used for skill acquisition. The last few minutes will include remarks about whether the athlete achieved the task. A repetition lesson refers to further learning, during which the athletes try to improve their skills. Learning and repetition lessons are more frequent for beginners, whose limiting factor of improvement may be technique.
    Plan training lessons for skill perfection only for athletes who have reached an accepted skill level. Such lessons prevail in high-performance training, in which athletes strive to master technique, tactical maneuvers, or physical preparation. According to your plan, conduct assessment lessons periodically. Either test athletes or have an exhibition competition to estimate the preparation level achieved in a training phase. The tasks of such a lesson may be to make final team selections, homogenize it, or simply test one or more training factors.

Forms of Lessons

    The coach may organize training lessons in several forms to accommodate groups of athletes and individuals.
 

Group Lessons
    The group lesson is organized for several athletes, not necessarily in team sports since athletes from individual sports may train together. Although such a lesson may disadvantage individualizing training, the main attributes are developing team spirit (effective especially before important competitions) and psychological qualities.

Individual Lessons
    Individual lessons allow the coach to stress and solve individual physical or psychological problems. During such a lesson, the coach may rate the workload individually, adjust skills according to the athlete's characteristics, and give room for individual creativity. Such workouts are best during the preparatory phase; before competitions the coach may also use other forms.


Mixed Lessons
    As the term suggests, mixed lessons combine group and individual lessons. During the first part, athletes warm-up together, after which, they pursue individual objectives. At the end of the lesson, athletes gather for a cool-down and the coach expresses his or her conclusions.

Free Training Lessons
    Limit free training lessons almost exclusively to advanced athletes. Although such a lesson minimizes a coach's control over the athlete's training, it develops a common trust and confidence between coach and athlete. Such a lesson develops the athlete's conscientious participation in training and stimulates the individual's independence and maturity in solving training tasks which is extremely beneficial during competitions when the coach is not available.
    Lessons commonly last 2 hours, although they could run 4 to 5 hours. There are short (30-90 minutes), medium (2-3 hours), and long (more than 3 hours) training lessons. Individual sports have the most length variety; team sports generally have greater consistency. The duration of a lesson depends on its task, type, kind of activity, and the athlete's physical preparation. For type of training, for example, during the competitive phase a sprinter trains approximately 1 hour and a marathon runner 3 hours. If training was broken two or three short training lessons per day, the sum of all lessons would be longer than 2 or 3 hours. The length of a lesson also depends on the repetitions the athlete performs and the length of the rest between repetitions.

Structure of Lessons
    According to methodical and physio-psychological rationales, a training lesson is divided into smaller parts, allowing the coach and athlete to follow the principle of progressive increase and decrease of work. The basic structure consists of three or four parts. In three parts, the lesson is divided into preparation (warm-up), the body of the workout, and a conclusion. A four-part lesson includes an introduction, preparation, the body, and the conclusion.
    Use of these structures depends on the training task and content, the training phase, and the athlete's training level. For group lessons during the preparatory phase and for beginners, the four-part structure is advisable. In the introduction, the coach explains training objectives and how to achieve them. The three-part method is used mostly for advanced athletes, especially during the competitive phase. Such athletes need less explanation and motivation; the coach can condense the introduction and preparation into one part. The only major difference between the two structures is that the four-part structure has an introduction.

Introduction
    Begin training lessons by gathering the athletes, taking attendance (especially for team sports), and explaining the objectives. Detail how the objectives should be accomplished (Le., the means and methods to use). Try to increase the athletes' motivation for the challenging portion of the lessons, because a higher degree of excitement may assist in fulfilling the objectives. Next, organize the team into small groups according to each athlete's specific goals. The introduction should last 3 to 5 minutes (often a little longer for beginners), depending on the length of the explanation. As the athletes' knowledge or expertise improves, you may reduce the duration.
    The coach should always be well prepared. While explaining the objectives, use the training lesson plan or audiovisual aids. Post the plan so that the athletes become acquainted with it. Often a coach may have small handouts regarding portions of the plan, outlining what the athletes should do on their own. This enhances training organization and shares the responsibility of the lesson with the athletes. Similarly, the athletes may feel that the coach has confidence in their ability and maturity, assisting them to develop dependability and willpower. 

 

Preparation
    The warm-up is a physiological and psychological preparation for the training tasks to come. Asmussen and Boje (1945) were among the first to study the merits of a warm-up; following investigators often yielded questionable conclusions. Inconsistent investigation methods, type, duration, intensity, and the subject's levels of physical preparation makes comparing results difficult. Most investigations, however, seem to conclude that a warm-up facilitates performance, which is what practitioners have adhered to for a long time. Ozolin (1971) claims inertia and the efficiency of the athlete's functions may not elevate immediately. There is a certain time required to reach a state of high physiological efficiency. The purpose of a warm-up is to reach or approach this state before training or competing.
    A warm-up raises body temperature, which appears to be a main factor facilitating performance (Asmussen and Boje 1945; Binkhorst, Hoofd, and Vissers 1977; Kaijser 1975; Martin et al. 1975). A warm-up stimulates CNS activity, which coordinates the athlete's systems (Gandelsman and Smirnov 1970), reduces the time of motor reaction, and improves coordination (Ozolin 1971), improving motor performance. During the warm-up, the athlete either self-motivates or is motivated and encouraged by the coach to overcome challenges and be psychologically ready. A good warm-up also helps prevent injuries.
    Although the warm-up appears to be an integral whole, it should consist of two parts, the general and special warm-up. During the general warm-up, progressively increase the working capacity by increasing the functions of the body, following which the whole metabolic process occurs more rapidly. Blood flow increases, elevating body temperature. This stimulates the respiratory center, leading to an increase in oxygen supply. The increased oxygen and blood flow augment the working potential, assisting the athlete to perform more effectively.
    Physical activity is the most common means of warm-up, in which the athlete performs several exercises, preferably wearing a dry, warm uniform. The most effective warm-up seems to be of low to moderate intensity of long duration. To determine optimal duration, measure the body temperature. Usually, however, the beginning of perspiration, which signifies an increase in internal body temperature, marks the termination of the warm-up. Most athletes perform an adequate warm-up, especially those in endurance sports, but figure skaters, divers, fencers, and ski jumpers often perform only a partial one.
    The warm-up should be 20 to 30 minutes or longer, with the final 5 to 10 minutes dedicated to specific warm-up activities. Physical preparation, general
endurance, and environmental temperatures can influence the duration. For athletes in long-distance events, a 10-minute warm-up run is not demanding enough, but for a sprinter, a 10-minute warm-up run might suffice. The temperature of the environment affects warm-up duration, its intensity, and certainly the time required for the individual to perspire. Perspiration may commence after 12 to 13 minutes of uninterrupted work when the external environmental temperature is 8° Celsius, 9 minutes at 10° Celsius, 6-1/2 minutes at 14° Celsius, and 5-1/2 minutes at 16° Celsius. An intensive, uninterrupted warm-up may yield the same results after 2 or 3 minutes but may not ensure that functional potential has reached an adequate level.
    Consider guidelines and progression during a warm-up. However, it is more important for the performance speed to be lower than that of training or competition and for most exercises to be specific (similar or identical to the skill the athlete will perform). Adjust the frequency and repetitions according to environmental temperature, specifics of the sport, and the athlete's level of physical preparation. A warm-up should always start with slow running of various forms (sideways, backward, but mostly forward). This accelerates blood flow, generating a higher temperature in the whole body as well as in the muscles. Such an approach is also suggested by Barnard, Gardner, Diaco, MacAlpern, and Hedman (1973), who claimed that strenuous exercises at the beginning of a warm-up may be associated with inadequate blood flow. Although Mathews and Fox (1976) share this reasoning, their recommended sequence starts with stretching, apparently contradicting this physiological reality. Stretching exercises would hardly be regarded as generating blood flow. The athlete should perform exercises that pull the muscle toward the end of the warm-up because a warm muscle stretches more easily.
    Following 5 minutes of slow-paced running (skating, skiing), the athlete may perform calisthenic exercises starting with the neck, then moving toward the arms, shoulders, abdomen, legs, and back. By now the athlete may be ready for more strenuous exercises. The next group can be flexibility exercises, and if the sport requires it, the athlete can follow these by some light jumping or bounding exercises. A few short sprints (20-40 meters) may complete the whole range of exercises for general warm-up. Include resting and muscle relaxation (shaking the limbs) between all these exercises to ensure a quiet and un-taxing warm-up. During this phase, athletes prepare psychologically for the main part of the lesson or competition by visualizing the skills and motivating themselves for the difficult aspects.
    The objective of the special warm-up is to tune the athlete to the predominant type of work he or she will perform during the main part of the lesson. Tuning does not refer only to mental preparation or coordination of certain exercises. It also refers to CNS preparation and elevating the body's work capacity. The athlete realizes the latter by repeating technical elements and exercises of a certain intensity. Selecting exercises for the special warm-up depends strictly on the type of exercises the athlete will perform in the main part of the lesson or competition. A gymnast, wrestler, figure skater, thrower, or jumper may perform certain technical elements or parts of a routine. A swimmer, runner, or rower may repeat starts, or wind sprints, with rhythm and intensity close to what they will perform later. Using this approach for average-class athletes may reduce the intensity of the critical phase of the adaptation processes (accumulating lactic acid that can impede performance). This, in turn, would facilitate the second wind, a sudden feeling of release following the distress of the early part of a prolonged exercise or race.
    Every athlete must perform the tuning phase of the warm-up, especially those whose sports require complex skills. The more complex the skill, the more repetitions of technical elements included. As a rule, the higher the volume of work or the longer the duration of the competition, the longer the warm-up should be (long-distance athletes warm up for 45 minutes). To warm up properly, the athlete requires good physical preparation and endurance. Only fit athletes can perform a 20to 3D-minute warm-up. Athletes use long warm-ups especially during the preparatory season to develop general physical preparation.
    Active, natural athletic means and passive means, such as hot showers, heated sleeping bags, electric infrared rays, chemicals, and massage have been used elevate body temperature. Although there are claims that local heating, electrical means (Ozolin 1971), and massage (Bucur 1979) elevate body temperature, their effect on performance is limited. An active warm-up, sometimes preceded by local massage, seems to be the most beneficial for the athlete.
 

Main Body of the Lesson
    The objectives of the training lesson are fulfilled during the main or third part. Following an adequate warm-up, an athlete learns skills and tactical maneuvers, develops biomotor abilities, and enhances psychological qualities.
    The content of the main body depends on many factors, dominated by the degree of training, kind of sport, sex, age, and training phase. Interval training is widely used. The coach may stress technique and develop specific biomotor abilities and psychological traits at the same time. Lesson content for less advanced athletes should follow this succession:

  1. First the athlete should exert movement to learn and perfect technical or tactical elements.
  2. Next, the athlete should develop speed or coordination.
  3. Then, develop strength.
  4. Finally, develop endurance.

    Include technical and tactical elements first in the main part of the training lesson because learning is more effective when the nerve cell is still rested. Should the athlete learn or perfect a technical element after speed, strength, or endurance exercises, fatigue would impede retention. The reference here is to CNS fatigue, a loss of the capacity to respond to a stimulus. For the composition or sequence of learning or perfecting technical and tactical elements, I advise that the athlete consolidate elements or skills acquired in previous lessons, perfect technical elements or skills of utmost importance for the sport, and apply skills in competition-like conditions.
    If perfecting technique requires heavy, fatiguing work, the athlete may perform these exercises later in the lesson, usually following speed exercises. Use this approach in throwing events in track and field and in weightlifting.
    Exercises to develop and perfect speed are usually high intensity, though short duration. Such exercises require the athlete's full potential; the athlete must perform them while fresh or relatively rested. This is why they have to precede strength and endurance exercises. When developing maximum speed is the lesson's main objective (Le., sprinting or starts with full velocity in other sports), such exercises should follow the warm-up. When coordination is the prime objective, place such exercises at the beginning of the main body because a rested athlete can concentrate more easily on his or her tasks.
    In an organized lesson, all strength-developing exercises follow movements for developing or perfecting technique and speed. It is not advisable to reverse this sequence because exercises employing heavy loads impair speed development in that particular lesson.
    Plan exercises for developing general or specific endurance for the last part of the lesson. After these demanding exercises, an athlete would hardly be in a position to acquire skills or develop speed. Do not confuse this sequencing with practicing certain drills at the end of the main part with a certain level of fatigue, or occasionally even residual fatigue, typically for team sports. In this situation, the goal is not learning but training under specific game conditions.

    Because learning is often the dominant objective, training lessons for beginning athletes should always follow this sequence: technical, speed, strength, endurance. The training sequence for elite athletes should be more flexible, although this sequence should prevail. Researchers discovered that a few strength exercises of a moderate load (40-50% of maximum) increase CNS excitability, enhancing the ability to perform speed work. Van Huss, Albrecht, Nelson, and Hagerman (1962) and Ozolin (1971) referred to this effect, although de Vries (1980) suggested that it may be psychological. Whatever the reason, explore the potential for each athlete and apply whatever yields the best results.
    Plan the objectives to achieve during the main part before each training lesson. Do not plan more than two or three objectives per lesson, no matter how varied, because they would be difficult to accomplish effectively and would slow the athlete's improvement rate. Link objectives with the micro and macrocycle plans, the athlete's performance level, and his or her potential. Although it may be advisable to plan objectives derived from different training factors (technical, tactical, physical, which also have a psychological component), choose them according to the needs of the sport and the athlete's abilities.
Following the achievement of daily objectives, plan 15 to 20 minutes of supplementary physical development, often called a conditioning program. Consider this for less-demanding training lessons that do not exhaust the athlete. Supplementary physical development must be specific in accordance with the dominant biomotor abilities of the sport and the athlete's needs. Usually, you should emphasize the limiting factor of the athlete's improvement rate.
 

Conclusion
    Following strenuous work in the body of the training lesson, progressively decrease the workload to approach the athlete's initial biological and psychological rest state. At the end of the main part, most if not all the athlete's functions are operating at close to maximum capacity, and a progressive return to less demanding activity is necessary for two main reasons. First, an abrupt interruption of work may lead to negative physiological and psychological effects (dissatisfaction). Second, the cool-down enhances the recovery rate and rapidly decreases accumulated lactic acid in the blood. Unfortunately, most coaches and athletes do not organize this part of the lesson and fail to optimize the recovery processes. This means that the athlete may not maximize the rate of improvement and efficiency in training.
    The structure of the fourth part is simple. Initially, the athlete decreases
physiological functions. This can be assisted by 3 to 5 minutes of light exertion, depending on the nature of the sport. For cyclic sports, this takes the form of a low-intensity performance of the skill (run, walk, row, or ski). During this time, the presence of more oxygen than during a passive rest accelerates the elimination of burned foodstuff. For other sports (wrestling, boxing, gymnastics), often a short, low-intensity game of basketball or volleyball has good relaxation benefits. Organize such a game only when the athletes did not experience high emotions during the lesson.
    As soon as body's functions decrease, athletes should relax the prime movers, the muscles mostly involved in performing the dominant skills. Only athletes who performed strength exercises during the main part of the lesson should do light stretching. Such exercises artificially bring the muscle heads close to the resting length, during which all metabolic functions are at their highest efficiency. By stretching the muscle, which normally takes 2 or 3 hours to reach its anatomical length following heavy strength training, athletes enhance their physiological recovery rate.
    In the last few minutes of the fourth part of a training lesson, conclude whether the athletes achieved the objectives. Although the coach may not state the conclusions every time, they should be an integral part of a lesson. They may make important contributions to solving technical, tactical, physical, and psychological factors of training.

Duration for Each Part of a Lesson
    An average training lesson lasts 2 hours (120 minutes), which I will use as a reference point for the duration of its parts. The parts of a lesson and the duration for each part, depend on many factors including age, sex, level of performance, experience, type and characteristics of the sport, and phase of training. Regard the following suggestions as a guideline.
    For a four-part training lesson, the allotted time may be the following:
    Introduction-5 minutes
    Preparation-30 minutes
    Main body-75 minutes
    Conclusion-l0 minutes
    Total-120 minutes
 

    The time allotted for a three-part lesson may be the following: Preparation-25 to 35 minutes
    Main body-75 to 85 minutes
    Conclusion-l0 minutes
    Total-120 minutes

 


Fatigue and Methodical Guidelines for Lessons
    After a demanding session, fatigue causes a decrease in working capacity. Recent research indicates several possible causes of physical fatigue, of which energy depletion and CNS fatigue are most commonly accepted. When un- der severe stress for long periods, the CNS reacts by increasing the amount of stimulation needed to elicit muscular contractions. An individual is less reactive to internal or external stimuli, which deregulates normal nervous function.
    Each sport has different physiological characteristics that disproportionately stimulate the CNS causing uneven fatigue. Fatigue is often seen from the beginning of a lesson (when both O2 intake and gaseous exchanges reach high levels), but the well-trained athlete can cope with it as long as it does not exceed his or her physiological or psychological limit. Only if these limits are exceeded will the body's working capacity decrease.
    According to Gandelsman and Smirnov (1970), fatigue has two phases: latent and evident fatigue. During the early part of the lesson, functional changes occur although work productivity and energy production are not affected. All functions are elevated, and often the nervous system's excitability and metabolism are intense. If this is the case, the athlete has reached latent fatigue. If activity is prolonged at the same level, the athlete may maintain working potential for a while but at the expense of higher energy consumption. Should the athlete still maintain the same intensity to the point that he or she experiences a high degree of tiredness, evident fatigue results. Consequently, the athlete's ability to perform maximum work will progressively decrease.
    Diminish latent fatigue by alternating rest intervals; however, do not forget that latent fatigue does have its benefits. Training under conditions of latent fatigue prepares athletes of cyclic-endurance sports for conditions that exist at the end of competitions and enables them to command a stronger finish. Evident fatigue is more easily overcome through an appropriate training lesson conclusion and recovery techniques.
    The power with which a stimulus acts on the CNS is determined not only by its intensity and duration but also by its novelty. New, unfamiliar elements stimulate the CNS to a greater degree, intensifying the excitation of the nervous centers and increasing muscular work and energy consumption. This places additional stress on cardiorespiratory functions. During the learning and training processes, therefore, carefully apply a systematic and methodical approach. Nervous system activities require limitations be set on tasks and objectives in a training lesson. Usually, the more intense an activity, the more difficult even simple problems become. Exercises or activities requiring maximum effort necessitate a simply organized training lesson. Habitually, such a lesson would have an adequate warm-up and conclusion, and the athlete would maximally use working and willpower capacities during the main part. On the other hand, if the training lesson is of lesser intensity, the coach could plan two or even three objectives, provided that each focused on a different training factor (Le., perfecting a technical element, incorporating it into the team's tactical scheme, and doing tactical drills with a high endurance component).
    Design training lessons to alternate between exercises aimed at achieving each training objective and between muscle groups. The former minimizes monotony; the latter allows regeneration. In addition, alternation elevates the total volume of low-intensity training lessons. High-intensity training should have a restricted number of objectives. It appears, therefore, that the intensity of training influences the duration of the lesson and its structure. Furthermore, all three parameters influence the physiological changes in an athlete. The easiest way to discover the athlete's reaction to a stimulus is by measuring heart rate. Heart rate varies from the beginning until the end. Its dynamics are a function of the intensity, duration, and character of a stimulus, which when represented in a graph, illustrate the physiological curve of a training lesson (figure 6.1). The heart rate curve often elevates slightly from the normal biological rate an athlete experiences before the lesson, mostly due to psychological factors (excitation, challenge).

 

Figure 6.1    Dynamics of the physiological curve of the training lesson


    Cardiovascular function rises progressively during preparation. The shape of the curve fluctuates during the main body, according to the rate of training stimuli, intensity, duration, and rest intervals. Heart rate drops progressively during the conclusion, illustrating a decrease in the athlete's workload. In the post lesson phase, it is slightly higher than the normal biological level because the body's functions need time to completely recover. Recovery rate and duration are direct functions of the lesson's intensity and the athlete's fatigue and physical preparation.

Supplementary Training Lessons
    When every athlete is trying to maximize free time for training, supplementary training lessons are one of the most effective ways of elevating training volume and, thus, improving the preparation level. Supplementary individual training close lessons and special group training lessons (i.e., camp) are often organized for the early morning, before school or work. The athlete usually trains before breakfast; however, if the duration exceeds 30 minutes then a small quantity of light food may be desirable. The duration of these lessons varies depending on each athlete's time. If an athlete can afford 30 to 60 minutes each day and accumulate 150 to 300 hours of extra training a year, this volume can influence his or her degree of training and athletic potential.
    These training lessons are performed at home, indoors or outdoors. However, they must be part of the training plan the coach makes. The coach suggests the content and dosage of each lesson according to the athlete's objectives, weaknesses, and training phase. Supplementary training lessons of 20 to 40 minutes may improve an athlete's general endurance, general or specific flexibility, and even general or specific strength in certain muscle groups. One goal might be to improve the athlete's weaknesses to accelerate the improvement of certain abilities.
    A basic, supplementary lesson consists of three parts, with the time allotted per part as follows: (1) preparation 5 to 10 minutes, (2) main 20 to 45 minutes, and (3) conclusion 5 minutes, which amounts to 30 to 60 minutes. The goal and format of each part follow the same concept as regular training lessons. The main part focuses on no more than two objectives. One objective only is the most realistic and desirable considering the time available.


Sample Training Plan
    Training lesson plan format should be simple and functional, meaning that the plan has to be an important tool for the coach's training endeavors. The date and location are at the top left side, and objectives and equipment for the lessons are on the right side (figure 6.2). The coach will briefly specify all exercises or drills to use in each part of the lesson in the first column. The second column shows the dosage; duration of each part, exercise, or drill; distance; and number of repetitions per exercise. You can also specify the intensity and load in this column (figure 6.2, part III). The formation column is for the coach, especially in team sports, to draw the most difficult drills the athletes will perform during the lesson. The last column is for brief notes, remarks that the coach wants to emphasize throughout the lesson.

 

Figure 6.2    Training lesson plan for a sprinter


    The length of a plan differs from sport to sport according to the coach's experience. Inexperienced coaches should be as specific as possible, writing down everything they intend to do with the athletes. They must then follow the plan closely to ensure that they miss nothing. A general training lesson outline will suffice for experienced coaches.
    The coach can briefly present the plan to the athletes during the introduction. If the coach chooses and the facilities permit it, he or she can post the plan in advance, enabling the athletes to become acquainted with it before training. One advantage of such an approach is that the athletes have time to prepare psychologically for any demanding lessons.

Daily Cycle of Athletic Training
    The daily training schedule is heavy, especially in a camp situation. To maximize time, organize the daily schedule carefully and effectively. Athletes want to train hard but also need free time for their own purposes, relaxation, and fun. Training programs and other activities from the daily regimen must be extremely well organized and adhered to. Following are activities for three and four daily training lessons, applicable to elite athletes in a camp situation.
    In a camp situation, some coaches and athletes prefer only two lessons per day of longer duration, often 3 to 4 hours. However, based on personal experience and considering the practice most East European specialists use, it seems that the breakdown of 5 to 6 hours of training into 3 or 4 training lessons is more effective. Training lessons of longer than 2-1/2 hours seem to be less effective because of acquired fatigue, which hinders learning and limits the development of certain biomotor abilities.

 

Summary of Major Concepts
    This chapter (and chapters 7 through 9 to follow) emphasize the benefits of organization and planning. Training effectiveness depends on planning, from a workout to a long-term plan.
    Although a workout plan is not difficult, a well-structured plan can help you reach all your goals. The warm-up is important, though often neglected or superficially done. In preparing athletes for a workout, nothing replaces a good, properly sequenced warm-up. Try two or three types of warm-ups, but never de-emphasize the cardiorespiratory system, before choosing the one that is most effective and works best for your athletes.
    Equally important for training effectiveness is to always set goals for the workout, and constantly tell your athletes whether they achieved these objectives. The feedback you give is essential for training motivation, especially if you turn everything into a positive experience.

 

FROM: PERIODIZATION by TUDOR O. BOMPA, PhD

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