Now that we have given you an overview of the different methods we use to develop an athletes all round conditioning, in this final post we will discuss how we fit it all together. Very few athletes have the time and energy to use every method of conditioning we have mentioned to develop aerobic and anaerobic conditioning all year round, and even if they did we wouldn’t advise it!
To fit the pieces together into a productive and non-exhausting jigsaw we must first think about when an athlete wants to peak for a competition. From here we can work backwards, and determine at which point we will focus on which aspect of their conditioning. Doing this is something which is commonly referred to as periodisation. Dividing the training period up into smaller blocks called meso and micro cycles with each block having a focus. There are two main methods of doing this, block periodisation and undulating periodisation.
Block periodisation involves an entire training block, usually 4-6 weeks, having a specific and consistent focus, for example spending 6 weeks developing your aerobic conditioning. Undulating periodisation is different, using this method the focus of the training may vary on a day to day basis, for example day 1 may be aerobic, day 2 may be HIIT and day 3 may be SMIIT. Both methods have their merits, and which one to use can vary depending on the athlete and their season.
As well as this we must also consider restitution periods. This is the period we would maintain a given level of a particular component of fitness if we were to stop training it, such as aerobic conditioning, before it would start to decline. The restitution period for aerobic conditioning is typically around 30 days with some individual variation. However, the restitution period for your most intense anaerobic conditioning is only 5 days. So already, bearing in mind on competition day you are going to be working at the highest intensity you are capable of, you can see how the pieces begin to fit together. At the furthest point from competition we would focus on aerobic conditioning, and as we get closer we would begin to focus more on anaerobic conditioning.
As opposed to using a classic block or undulating periodisation method, I like to use a hybrid of the two. By this I mean that whilst each block may have a focus, such as aerobic conditioning, that focus isn’t exclusive. Instead I use the 70/30 rule, whereby in an aerobic training block, 70% of the training is aerobic and 30% is anaerobic. As the athlete gets closer to competition that ratio will switch. Using this method, whilst the majority of the adaptation to training will be in favour of the predominant training method, it also prevents the non-predominant training method being left to decline, particularly when the length of the training period exceeds the restitution period of that adaptation to training.
Having said that, every athlete is different and knowing your athlete, their competition schedule and training schedule will influence how their training looks. It is important to plan in advance, determine when your athlete is looking to peak and work back from there, to effectively bring everything together when it really counts.
In summary –