Be progressive. Not necessarily in political terms but for training. Many of the programs I’ve inherited or asked to advise have failed to be progressive with loading the athlete. For athletes to adapt something must change. For those adaptations to be beneficial, the changes should be progressions of what was done before. Other than perhaps poor exercise (in the broad sense of the word…not just weight room) selection, failure to overload is one of the most common denominators I’ve seen in failed programs. And even if you’ve started off with the perfect set of workouts and exercises, if you fail to make progressions on those training plans the good results from the initial plan will be short-lived. Many people see progression in terms of a simple overload of volume and / or intensity but there are other, often looked means of progression that fall in to grey areas of training theory. While the most obvious progressions might come in the form of volume and intensity (especially in the weight room), also consider the following:
- Frequency: how often are you performing a given training stimulus.
- Density: how close together are you packing a given training stimulus…this relates closely to the rest interval.
- Speed: at certain points of the year you may want to make things slower, at other times you may want to make things faster. You could for instance, keep set / rep schemes exactly the same with the expectation that the speed of movement is what progresses.
- Time: an extrapolation of volume…how long are you doing an exercise.
- Specificity: generally, in quantitatively assessed performance oriented sports, you want to progress from things that are lower in specificity to higher specificity.
- Complexity: similar to specificity, you want to progress from things that are lower in technical complexity to higher complexity.
There are other variables, but the point is that something needs to progress for athletes to continue to adapt. All of these can be applied in terms of a macro, meso, microcycle as well as within a session and the interaction between all of them, while an inexact science, is something that must be taken in to account.