Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Questons regarding conditioning work?

I had this question in my inbox this morning:

One thing that left me curious was the way you organized some of your training(all?)

Energy system work
weights
energy systems
weights
...

Do you always prescribe your programs like this? If so, what advantages do you think this gives the athlete?
What about if a soccer(or other sport,during the season) comes to train with you, do you still have him do some form of cardio?This probably depends on how much playing time does he get but i'd like to hear your opinion.

Thanks and keep up the good work


Firstly, I'll answer absolutely any training related question in this blog and I'll give you an example of it in practice...I'm not going to talk about what I've read or what I've researched or what I think people will think is cool...I am only going to talk about what we do. So if you have questions....ask them...if you want me to be specific and or more detailed....ask specific and detailed questions because I am going to make an effort not to just crap on for the sake of it.

So...conditioning work.

You'll see that a fair bit...especially with the fatties....usually 10 minutes of 'metabolic work' then resistance training work. I'll have them jack their heart rate up and then while they're still huffing and puffing and sweating buckets do there resistance work...which could be either straight sets or paired antagonistic work. It really tends to have very little impact on the 'actual' performance of the strength work...I say 'actual' because the 'perceived' effort always seems much greater but for all the whinging and moaning they tend to perform almost exactly as well. Then they get back on the bike or rower for their next training block. Logistically it doesn't hurt either...because as you can see from the photos of the gym...our place isn't huge and every single piece of equipment pretty much gets used every session so I can pair athletes on similar programs or stagger their training so as one is finishing their warm up or prehab work as another is finishing their first block of conditioning and then slot them together from there.
What I tend to do with athletes is 'band' them with regards to body fat. AS for example is putting on lean muscle mass to get his playing weight up and he'll bulk all the way up to 20% but that's his ceiling...over that and it's on the bike or rower he goes for either steady state work or some intervals...as long as he stays under 20% he can just laugh at guys like JM who is training as hard in the gym but is also doing metabolic work on the bike and the rower until he gets down to 20%.

Oh....and I forgot to add...it works...try it...the thing about it is that your elevated heart rate from the conditioning block is kept somewhat elevated during the strength component...you don't see any athletes doing this who look like their heart rate has returned to normal during the resistance training block...does that make sense....I'm told it is all about getting your heart rate up and burning calories or some nonsense like that...I basically do it just to torture my athletes and because I like watching them work while I walk around drinking chocolate milk and eating whole nut blocks of chocolate.

Does that answer your question?

11 comments:

Ben said...

will, 3, maybe 4 questions on this...

1. do you factor in how much conditioning they may be doing outside of the gym sessions with you ie: at sports training etc

2. do you have any say over what gets done there? ie: can you tell the other coaches to back off their conditioning coz they are doing enough with you?

3. depending on answer to number 2. If you had no say, would you still make them do your conditioning sessions anyway?

4. As their conditioning improves would you still 'torture' them? ie" say someone is getting 150m in under 30 sec fairly easily for their intervals which is where you want them, would you still try to get more out of them anyway? (if that makes sense - im thinking of the nazi type trainers who just keep pushing you to breaking point no matter how much you have improved or how well you are doing)

thanks
Ben

Ben said...

oh and a fifth...

5. How much drop off in weight room performance would allow for initially before you (if you would) reduce teh conditioning/energy system stuff?

thanks

Will Heffernan said...

Ben,
Ask as many as you like mate.
1. Yes, I absolutely do. I've a really mixed group of athletes...makes and females, young to older, different sports...some of them...the majority of them I have complete control over. The rest I either just do rehab with or just their strength programs so I have to design those with their 'outside' needs in mind.
2. Yes and No...sometimes I want or need to but other times I'm happy to be told what 'they' want as in what the 'coaches want'. I am not a sports coach...I'm a strength and conditioning coaches...lots of the athletes I get come to me as pretty much finished products and it's their hard work and their coaches training that got them there. I always give my opinion and to be honest I can't remember the last time it was a issue with a coach.
3. No, of course not...I'm trying to make good athletes....my goal is the same for everyone in every single sport...make them balanced...enhance their strengths, minimise the impact of their weaknesses and keep them injury free...simple as that...get the job done.
4. I should let DG answer this one as we were discussing it last night...he's on week 3 of his current program which is a 'transition' program from In Season to his Off Season program and it has a lot of conditioning work in it...anyway...he absolutely crushed his intervals last night...he hammered into them and did them easy. I'll drop him an email and see if he has the chance to come and give you his opinion.
I don't break anyone...I take a lot of athletes right up to the edge so they can have a peak over the edge...but I don't really try to shove them over it.
5. I've never seen any real drop off and if I have seen it I haven't cared about it. As in...with every block of training we have a goal...if that goal is conditioning orientated then the strength component is appropriately planned to take that into account and vice versa.

mimo said...

Yes it does,Will.

Thanks

Will Heffernan said...

Mimo...keep the questions coming mate. The programs are there to be commented on...whether you think they're garbage or great or could do with some tweaking...I want everyone to say their piece.

Ben said...

thanks for that Will,

to take 4 and 5 a little further... in the case where someone reaches their goal during a training block say half way in, or is ahead of where you expect them to be (which sounds like DG) would you push further than you inteded to go over the next sessions or just try to consolidate where you are? or something else entirely?

Will Heffernan said...

DG is testing on Saturday morning so he'll finish off this week as is and then we'll just putting up through the gears in his next cycle. We are going to strip a bit more fat off him and then start pushing his strength up in the following cycle. He a big unit and actually getting bigger will hinder his performance hence all the conditioning work he is doing currently.

october_red said...

Hey Will,

Where do you come up with this 20% bodyfat figure? That seems high. Is it rugby specific, or is this some athleticism thing I'm not familiar with. I can see being higher than that just being excessive unless you are an NFL linebacker, but 18-20% for most athletes must be pretty high. So, what the hell? I think I'm missing something, or maybe I've just spent too much time reading bodybuilding-type training.

Will Heffernan said...

october_red,
Sub 20% for forwards and sub 15% for backs and I'm happy with that. I think some athletes actually train to get lean....and that is just plain stupid. Let me put it to you....what's the benefit of the guys being say 10%?
Don't be discouraged...I've got plenty more to say on the subject...I'd be interested in what others thought.

mimo said...

Sure. i have one question that has been in my mind since when you helped me with my paper, but i'll save it for last.
I didn't know if i should e-mail them to you or post here because they are kind of not related to any of your posts. But here goes:

1-Is that you in the black wife beater? And if so,what the fuck!

2-What kind of warm-up do you have your athletes doing(nothing exotic,i know)?It's something that has been on my mind lately.

3-You said something the other day that has been on my mind alot.You said that if one of your athletes is able to do all the "tests", then you send him/her back to their sport coaches.What kind of maintenance work do they do?None?

4-You actually think i know enough to criticize your plans? I don't! I'm here to get better;) I've never seens this kind of work done for athletes,so at least, i've been thinking about it alot.

5- The "reverse periodization" comment is very interesting

mimo said...

Oh, and the BF issue, IMO,is pretty simple, but i can be wrong.
The 20% and 15% values are pretty abrbitrary and the ideal BF% is judged by performance.
Obviously, guys who have to run more/faster, will have lower bodyfat levels.
But you have to draw the line somewhere and your years of experience may mave given you these guidelines