If your training hard you probably aren’t getting optimal results

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by icefield, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    What I mean by the title is that after reading allot of stuff from the likes of Stephen Seiler I came to the conclusion a while ago that it wasn’t just endurance athletes that could benefit from the 80 20 polarized model of training, all mixed endurance sports athletes could, so rugby MMA, grappling etc.

    From what I have seen and experienced most combat athletes make the same mistakes Seiler talks about when referring to endurance athletes: most spend too much time in the middle ground of training, where its too hard to actually help them recovery, but not hard enough (because they aren’t fully recovered) to actually have the benefits they want.

    They don’t have intensity discipline and would rather be working hard all the time, trouble is without the discipline needed to make certain training days very easy, they aren’t fully recovered enough to actually go hard enough in the tough sessions to make the adaptions they are looking for.

    What I didn’t expect was that a very clever coach working with the most anaerobic and explosive athletes on earth (sprinters) had already figured out the same thing about 40 years ago.

    I give you Charlie Francis and his high low approach to training.

    He was adamant he wanted to keep his students out of the the training black hole.

    The training black hole is when you’re not performing at a high enough intensity to produce optimal power, speed and strength gains.

    Yet, not a low enough intensity to increase aerobic fitness and aid recovery.

    You’re stuck in fatigue, mediocre training, and mediocre results.

    Francis was adamant on excluding moderate intensity training activities out of his training. The problem with these activities is that they aren’t intense enough to stimulate the CNS, but are too intense to recover from within 24 hours, so we essentially get all of the fatigue with none of the benefit.

    This is exactly what Seiler discovered when talking to, and reading the training logs of the best endurance athletes on the planet, they followed exactly the same ideas as francis.

    One of the issues I encounter when mentioning the 80/20 polarized system Seiler talks about is people always point out its endurance athlete specific so doesn’t work for other sports, so finding a man who trained the most explosive athletes on the planet used a similar system is interesting, indeed during a clinic when asked how much time his athletes spent in the high cns taxing zone Francis replied about 25%, which is eerily similar to what sailor found with the top endurance athletes.

    Its also interesting that some of the top mixed energy system coaches are starting to use the hi low approach to training, one is notaciably having great results with it with MMA fighters.

    So next time you are planning your weekly training schedule, have a think are you planning in enough easy less CNS taxing sessions in order for you to be fully recovered to go as hard as you want?
  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    One of the first things I do when examining a client presenting with pain is to record his or her training programme during the history taking. You would probably be astounded to know how many athletes I meet, especially those competing at a high level in combat sports, who do not factor sufficient periods of reduced volume of training work into their training cycles; or, more accurately, athletes whose "coaches" fail to do so. It is common for chronic musculoskeletal pain to be accompanied by concomitant chronic fatigue syndrome (the latter being a common cause in adaptive acute sporting injuries).

    Lack of correct periodisation is a clinically significant risk factor in sporting injuries. A misconception about periodisation I find prevalent when treating BJJ players is the belief that 2-3 days rest immediately prior to a competition offers all the deloading time an athlete needs. This is absurd.

    Any properly educated strength and conditioning coach will know that for nearly 50 years research has proven the relationship between the volume of training (the sum of physical efforts performed by an athlete during any period of time) and an increase of ability is not a straight-line one. As training volume goes up, the rate of increase of trained ability (skill) is relatively decreasing. This constantly decreasing ratio of increase of ability to volume of work is best highlighted by a parabolic curve as shown below:


    It is absolutely fundamental that a coach programmes enough rest into the micro and macro training cycles. This provides the athlete with the time his or her body needs to make physiological adaptations to the demands of training, so that risk of injury and chronic fatigue is minimalised and athletic ability peaks in time for important competitions.

    There exists a ridiculous notion that attending every scheduled training session or class in a gym's calendar makes the athlete better. Often, these sessions are performed at high intensities with little to no reduction in volume. Again, in my clinical experience, this oversimplified attitude of cumulative mat time equating to increased athletic skill is more common in BJJ than other combat sports.

    Coaches must understand that low intensity/high volume training leads to slow but steady progress and consistent performance. High intensity training brings quick but unstable progress because it can strain the involved bodily systems, and even if it does not, the total volume of work done with high intensity is nearly always lower than the total volume of work done with low intensity (the athlete usually is forced to stop training due to chronic injury or chronic exhaustion well before high intensity total volume exceeds low intensity total volume).

    High volume is needed for big enough changes in the athlete, and low intensity ensures that the stimuli are developmental and not destructive. The increase of intensity should happen at the expense of volume and vice versa. A high intensity of training work, based on a foundation of previously done high volume of work, prepares athletes for high sports results. Even recreational martial artists who do not actively compete should familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of overtraining and take regularly scheduled breaks from training.
  3. Arcaderat5

    Arcaderat5 Member

    Sorry about this but im feeling brain dead today...am I correct to say...
    A simplified explanation is:

    Dont train heavy (weights/skill) and train at a moderate pace as high intensity work for long periods screws your cns?

    And say a deload week every 4 weeks is sufficient?

    Sorry about this. Just not on the ball today.
    Van Zandt likes this.
  4. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    I think he is pointing out that bjj suffers from a total lack off an off season, for instance most team sports have at least 3 months off season where players will rest, training volume is tapered down, training is geared towards recovery and building muscle and then work starts on strength and conditioning. Also in season training volume is cut, and sessions are geared towards recovery and maintaining the gains made during the off season. Bjj is basically in season year long, so you have no time off to rest and recover, classes usually don't change to reflect a comps coming up other than to actually become harder in most cases.

    Most other sports will taper training as a big comp comes up, and afterwards programme in recovery sessions

    Deloading is good, but you need to DELOAD your training not just your s and c work, but periodising your training for blocks of less intense work, is also a good idea, as is understanding your basically in season all year round so don't train like your favourite rugby or NFL players do when they are in their off season
    axelb and Van Zandt like this.
  5. Arcaderat5

    Arcaderat5 Member

    Thank you so much.
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  6. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Ha, sorry. I'm buried in postgraduate textbooks most days so get a bit academic sometimes. Plus it was gone 2am when I wrote that :rolleyes:
  7. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    @icefield nailed it.

    Just yesterday I was doing an initial screening of a competitive BJJ purple belt. He trains upwards of 20 hours per week not including accessory S&C sessions. He was displaying symptoms of chronic overtraining, so I advised him to scale back his training for several weeks initally, and then incorporate regular deload weeks. His response was that he had not lifted weights for several weeks.

    As @icefield elaborated, deloading means a reduction not only in intensity, but total training volume. A "light technical drilling session" does not count as a day off, and can impede recovery and increase injury risk just as much as trying to smash your power clean PR.
    axelb and icefield like this.
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Sorry for the multiple posts but something popped into my head that I wanted to address as an adjunct to the great reply by @icefield

    Skill and strength (weights) can be trained in the same workout but skill work should always be done before strength exercises. This is because pre-fatiguing the neuromusculoskeletal system can lead to faulty sport technique and significantly elevate the risk of injury.

    High volume/low intensity work should form the bulk of the training macro cycle (usually an annual training programme). This is especially true for white belts, when the focus should be on developing correct sport technique instead of intense conditioning or sparring drills. I am seeing a lot more BJJ gyms adhering to this principle these days, by not allowing white belts to participate in sparring or "rolling" classes until they have attended a number of "fundamentals" classes.

    And yes - long periods of high intensity training will cause chronic fatigue and chronic injury

    The frequency, duration and volume of deload periods depends on the athlete's total training programme. A recreational student who trains 2-3 times a week and never competes will be fine sustaining that schedule probably indefinitely; a competitive student preparing for the Worlds will probably need to reduce his or her volume and intensity by as much as 50%, for a week, every 4-6 weeks, depending on his or her reaction to training (these are purely arbitrary examples and should not be taken as instruction).

    Balancing a proper strength and conditioning programme is as much art as it is science. Becoming an accredited S&C coach (ASCC in the UK, CSCS in the USA) takes an incredible smount of education and training, usually to postgraduate level. The problem is that many gyms don't have a resident accredited S&C coach, relying instead on a high level belt who has attended a 6-week personal trainer course. A loose comparison would be like having a taxi driver operating an emergency response vehicle with blue flashing lights.
    Fish Of Doom and Dead_pool like this.
  9. Arcaderat5

    Arcaderat5 Member

    Thank you for clearing that up mate.
    Van Zandt likes this.
  10. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    As Van Zandt said the chances of your gym having access to someone with good knowledge is pretty remote, but there are certain things you can do to help yourself, train smart using the high low approach, don't put two CNS intensive days back to back put easy low days between them, don't train more than 3 high CNS intensive days in a week.

    Build your training week around off days, plan them in first and make sure you have at least two.

    Use simple daily tests such as resting HR and grip strength to see how ready you are on any given day to train, and if your tests show you aren't in a position to train hard that day be smart and take the day off or train low intensity.
    Dead_pool likes this.
  11. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    I <3 this thread.

    Not much to add beyond what's been said already, other than to always keep in mind that stresses that tax your ability to recover include non-training sources as well. All the people I've seen who even remotely approached what could be called overtraining got in that state due to life stresses from work, family, relationship, etc, even while training at at levels that were for the most part completely sustainable (and had been up until the point where their non-training lives took a nosedive), so when they were supposed to relax, rest, and recover, they were basically sweating bullets 24/7, training hard the next day to try to escape from those stresses, accumulating MORE fatigue, then still not recovering, stressing themselves out more, training hard again to deal with it, etc, and what had the most impact on getting them back to their normal state was putting their business in order outside of the gym (the training usually automatically downregulated itself as lack of recovery impeded anything remotely resembling good performance, and this in turn made it a mental stressor that they progressively avoided).
  12. VoidKarateka

    VoidKarateka Valued Member

    I've got zero to add to this thread other than my thanks and respect for someone putting some good information out to people. I've always followed a fairly similar approach after reading some material when I was at college (blimey, I'm getting old now thinking about it). It was referenced as 'greasing the groove'. The basic premise was that you should train but never to the point of failure or overload; basically this would ensure you would be ready to train again the next day or push the body to its limits should any situation require it.

    Interestingly enough when I went through basic they seemed to follow the same approach (albeit with a distinct lack of sleep anywhere in the day lol).
    Dead_pool likes this.
  13. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Great thread!
    (Im mostly commenting so I can find it again!)
  14. inthespirit

    inthespirit ignant

    Saw this the other day, they discuss this subject quite a bit, as I understand the guest Andy Galpin works with athletes etc., lots of interesting stuff about training, recovery, worth a watch:


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