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17.07.2012.

Optimizing training: a model


All well-designed training programs incorporate the principle of progressive overload. This principle holds that to continue to accrue the benefits of training, the training stimulus must be progressively increased as the body adapts to the current stimulus. The only way to continue to improve with training is to progressively increase the training stimulus. When this concept is carried too far, the training may become excessive, pushing the body beyond its ability to adapt, producing no additional improvement in conditioning or performance, and can lead to performance decrements. Conversely, if the volume or the intensity of training is too low, optimal performance will not be achieved. Thus, the coach and athlete face the challenge of determining the optimal training stimulus for each particular athlete, recognizing that what works for one athlete might not work for another.
Figure below provides a model demonstrating the continuum of training stages that a competitive athlete might go through during a full year.



 This model is based on the principle of periodization.



 In this model, undertraining represents the type of training an athlete would undertake between competitive seasons or during active rest. Generally, physiological adaptations will be minor, and there will be no improvement in performance. Acute overload represents what might be considered an “average” training load, whereby the athlete is stressing the body to the extent necessary to improve both physiological function and performance. Overreaching is relatively new term that refers to a brief period of heavy overload without adequate recovery, thus exceeding the athlete’s adaptative capacity. There will be a brief performance decrement, from several days to several weeks, but eventually performance will improve. Finally, overtraining refers to that point at which an athlete experiences physiological maladaptations and chronic performance decrements. This generally leads to the overtraining syndrome. Excessive training, not shown in the model, refers to training that is well above what is needed for peak performance but does not strictly meet the criteria for either overreaching or overtraining.

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