Competitive performance and training

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by blessed_samurai, May 24, 2005.

  1. blessed_samurai

    blessed_samurai Valued Member

    Warning: This is a fairly long read, it's also fairly indepth, while just skimming the surface of training related to competitive performance. This is something I did for Theories of Coaching Wrestling for my final paper. Hope y'all enjoy-

    Athletes depend upon their training for maximum performance in competition and wrestlers (grappler, martial artists) are no different. They depend, like all athletes, on a fairly complicated structure of training goals to maximize competitive conditioning. Various aspects of training need to be taken into consideration when discussing the process of maximizing performance. I will cover two things—the first being the maximizing of training for peak performance without overtraining to reach supercompensation and the second is proper condition and periodization of training.

    Generally coaches want their wrestlers stronger and faster. The problem lies in how to get there. To often the erroneous thinking is more is better; however, sometimes more is not better but will lead to overtraining and this is anything but productive to build a successful athlete. Overtraining is defined as a systemic deficit resulting from the stress of excessive training or the body is being destroyed faster than it can rebuild or recover. Training is an interesting thing—we use training to increase athletic performance but athletic performance decreases during and immediately after training. Resting is key here, because rest leads to recovery and “with further rest one then enters into the supercompensation phase, where the mind and body perform better than they did before the training. The Stress Response Model illustrates this—

    “Figure 1: Athletic response to training, including recovery and supercompensation stages.
    If the training is too severe, or the time for recovery is too short, then the effect of workout after workout is a cumulative loss of capacity, leading to overtraining. Supercompensation never gets a chance to occur.


    “Figure 2: Diagram of overtraining, in which recovery is insufficient and supercompensation never occurs.
    To increase athletic capacity, training stimulus must follow training stimulus at the correct interval. If the recovery period is too short, or the training too severe, then overtraining results. If the recovery period is too long, however, the base level of capacity never actually increases. The correct approach to cumulative supercompensation is shown below. In this process the athlete's baseline level gradually increases over time.


    “Figure 3: Gradual increase of athletic baseline capacity in response to training, recovery and supercompensation.
    Supercompensation is vital for tapering prior to competition. Following a vigorous training regimen it is almost inevitable that some there will be some sort of overtraining. If the taper is correctly executed then the athlete will rebound, his body and mind

    supercompensate, and he will find himself at a new capacity level by competition time” (Kesting).

    Recovery depends upon the amount of force used in training, which is dependent upon the specifics of the lifting or training methods. In terms of recovery, the ballistics method generally requires 2-3 weeks, the strength-speed method requires 10-14 days, and the maximal method may require 9-18 days depending on the lifting percentages used. Recovery is of the utmost importance because it allows for super compensation. Ballistics refers to a projection of resistance; the resistance can be either from an outside source or from bodyweight. The ballistic method is beneficial to wrestlers as they “have a great potential for power improvement, they produce good results very fast, they’re stimulating to perform,” (Thibaudeau 37). However, Coach Thibaudeau also points out that the high intensity movements are very demanding on the nervous system and that the improvements in the capacity to produce power are best seen 2-3 weeks after the last stimulation. An example of power for wrestling would be the ability to take that last second shot with extreme explosiveness to win the match. The strength-speed method is a combination of high acceleration with a moderate/heavy mass to be moved. Olympic lifting is an excellent example of the strength-speed method. The wrestler can benefit from this method because these lifts improve coordination, increase the effectiveness of the nervous system, and typically engage the body as a whole. The combined effects lead to a better competition performance. The maximal method while being of benefit to the wrestler must be planned carefully. The maximal methods includes lifting loads of 85-100% of the lifter’s one-rep-max and is commonly referred to as absolute or limit strength. Absolute or limit strength is thought to be the basis for all other forms of strength and can lead to functional hypertrophy but as wrestling has very strict weight classes, hypertrophy is not always a beneficial addition.

    Besides these guidelines, there are a few important rules regarding the wrestler lifting: train the core, high school athletes should not train like college athletes, don’t train like a bodybuilder, don’t overtrain, train the entire body, and build a strong posterior end and hamstrings. Typically a stronger athlete is a better athlete, or as Dave Tate puts it, “get stronger and the rest will take care of itself.” The strength training of an athlete should be carefully constructed as certain exercises should be preferred over others. A wrestler would do well to include these movements in his training: Turkish getups, bench press, Olympic movements, squat, deadlift, push press, jerks, barbell rowing, overhead squats, abdominal rotational movements, jump squats, box jumps, and chin ups. Coach Joe DeFranco has his wrestlers during off-season performing farmers walks for greater grip and upper body strength and keg throws for lower body explosiveness. While this is not the limit of exercises a wrestler should prioritize in his training over others, it is example enough that would build a successful strength training mesocycle. Of course given the exercises and methods of training, the task can be daunting to structure. If the “big picture” is not realized, an athlete is not training, they are working out. It would behoove a coach to get an understanding of using pendulum training or periodization.

    An athlete can use two ways to increase performance: sport specific training or a combination of sport specific training and supplemental training. While the wrestler will do well in increasing his wrestling skills especially by wrestling a larger or heavier opponent, the advanced or skilled wrestler will need more than this. Besides needing to continue their wrestling techniques, they may need to address weaknesses of strength, development of endurance, increases of speed. The coach that has asked “how do I arrange all this into a functional structure” is not alone. It would be a counter-productive and nearly impossible task to try and incorporate all the training methods, skills work, and training goals into one grand training program. The human body can be compared to a machine in which it can only perform so many tasks; this is where periodization comes into play because “ . . . fitness gain decreases if several motor abilities are trained simultaneously during one workout, microcycle, or mesocycle . . . The (athlete) cannot adapt to so many different requirements at the same time . . . when the training targets are distributed over several mesocycles in sequence, the fitness gain increases” (Zatsiorsky 112). For clarification, a macrocycle can be seen as the training year, the macrocycle is then broken down into mesocycles (training months), and the mesocycles are then divided into microcycles (a training week).

    Zatsiorsky further notes that training “ . . . is a trade-off between conflicting demands. On the one hand, an athlete cannot develop maximum strength, anaerobic endurance, and aerobic endurance all at the same time. The greatest gains in one direction (for instance, maximum strength) can be achieved only if an athlete concentrates on this type of

    training for a reasonably long time—at least one or two mesocycles. This way, strength will be improved more effectively than if a more varied program were pursued . . . one should train sequentially—one target after another.” There is no right or wrong way in incorporating periodization, it is usually an individualistic planning process and rarely will two coaches go about the process the same way. Regardless of how the athlete or coach uses periodization, it is important that it is used. Coach Charles Staley brings up several good points when he states “non-periodized training would have no planning aspect; there would be no variation of training intensity, volume, or content. Athletes who did not periodize would be in relatively the same condition. There would be no conscious integration of conditioning with technical or skill training. Decisions about how and when to incorporate various training components would be made in a ‘seat of the pants’ manner. When training is not periodized, positive training effects are not well exploited, and negative adaptations occur more often than necessary” (Staley 15).

    The second aspect of conditioning is the cardiovascular system. Simply put, wrestlers give their all for 6-7 minutes and therefore are in a high need of anaerobic endurance. It’s important for the athlete to train respectively to his sport. Wrestlers who spend a lot of time running long distances will do little to improve their performance and will often ‘gas out.’ It perplexes my mind why coaches still have their wrestlers running mile after mile in hopes that their cardiovascular conditioning will improve their endurance on the mat. What they fail to realize is they’re training the wrong energy system. The two types of endurance that should commonly be trained are anaerobic- endurance and strength-endurance. Anaerobic-endurance refers to the maximal energy expenditure up to the first 90 seconds of all out effort. Strength-endurance refers to the ability to continually use strength over a prolonged period of time; if an individual is strong but cannot use his or her strength after a short amount of time, then the strength does the individual no good.

    Training a wrestler to compete at peak performance can be an enormous task where many facets have to be taken into account; nevertheless, seeing the athlete succeed can be a very rewarding experience, one that makes the entire process worth it. The complexities of the human body are what creates the need for both complex and intelligent program designs or as the British SAS put it-“Proper planning and preparation prevents ****-poor performance.”

    Kesting, Stephan. Perfect Peaking: Tapering and Peaking for MMA and Grappling Competition.

    Staley, Charles. The Science of Martial Arts Training. Multi Media Books: CA, 1999.

    Thibaudeau, Christian. Black Book of Training Secrets. Canada, 2003.

    Zatsiorsky, V.M. Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics: Champaign, 1995.
  2. Nick K

    Nick K Sometimes a Valued Member

    That's a great post. The difficulty lies in knowing how long to cycle through strength/speed/stamina and how to increase skill as well for a given athlete. In MA it's even more complicated as there is high level of complex motor movments compared to say, sprinting or long jump.

    Let me check one thing. If you are doing squats - say the usual 5x5x80% - your post seems to suggest leaving at least 9 days between training sessions on this particular movement. Is that right? I do hope so, cos then I can do them less often!
  3. Colucci

    Colucci My buddies call me Chris.

    A great paper. I especially like that quote from Tate!! :D

    What people need to remember is that, even though this discusses wrestlers in particular, is equally applicable to any competitive martial artist.
  4. blessed_samurai

    blessed_samurai Valued Member

    You're absolutely right, BeWater! :)

    Nick, yes, I would give yourself 9 days between competition and your last lift with those parameters.
  5. jean da best

    jean da best New Member

    with regards to the resting, im just confused, because when doing weights, the "48 hour max" rule always seems to be the rule of thumb at the gym..
  6. blessed_samurai

    blessed_samurai Valued Member


    There's a difference between recovery before a competition and resting between workouts. Each muscle group has a different recovery rate, so it's not always 48 hours between workouts (but that's an entirely different subject).
  7. Colucci

    Colucci My buddies call me Chris.

    Yeah, well, lat pulldowns and tricep pressdown are generally "rules of thumb" too, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to maximize athletic performance.

    One could argue that each person has a different recovery rate. If Samurai and I do the same workout, rep for rep, weight for weight, we'd recover at different rates based on our training experience, nutrition/supplementation, even things like out-of-the-gym stresses become a factor (maybe he got into a "discussion" with his woman into the early morning hours).

    As an aside, one good "rule of thumb" regarding commercial gyms: If more than 3 people are doing any given exercise at the same time, it probably won't make you a better athlete.
  8. blessed_samurai

    blessed_samurai Valued Member

    You just want to flip my tire. :D

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