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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

too many reps can keep
you out of the game.

If you don't know it, BSI has assembled an impressive group of capable athletic specimens. Warriors. Mentally tough MFr.s for the Tough Mudder April 15!! We recently had a collective meeting on Mudder logistics. I was a few minutes behind but what I saw as I approached the group was an overwhelming sense of being in the presence of  physical prowess all under one roof.: Edie, Brad, Zera, Jason, Chris, Brian, Don, Greg, Nobel, and of course Me.

Yet as I listened to each one one of them discuss lodging, training, gear to wear, obstacle strategies and stuff, I could not help being concerned about how we are training not just at the THE MECCA but when the group is training outside of BSI. So this is a perfect time to discuss the dreaded 'overreaching syndrome'.

Overreaching, [monotone training, over training] is common when training for competition. The drive to be sure that all weak areas are covered and that you preserve the strong ones.  It is a science and easy to do. Unfortunately, the psychological component of not wanting to lose or get injured, looms heavy. This can lead into unnecessary volume increases, unperiodized training cycles and inappropriate techniques that have no performance 'carry-over.  When getting ready for a competition there are stages or cycles that define a training program. There are 4 cycles. However for the practicality of this topic I will briefly describe three: 1) Microcycle, 2) Mesocycle and 3)Macrocycle.

Microcycle (short cycle) is where the dynamic changes occur in a weekly period. This is most noticeable when someone starts a training program and becomes more challenging as one improves their strength and conditioning. This challenge comes in the form of increased time, frequency, intensity and volume(resistance). This is the most basic fundemental of any program.

Next, Mesocycle (medium cycle) involves 3-6 microcycles. This is when the training begins to broaden in scope and intensity and parameters become more refined on how to best prepare for competition. Think improving your 40yd times by focusing on the first 10 yds, perfecting the 'catch' in the 'clean and jerk', increasing vertical jump, improving overall power in a short amount of time; the list is endless. Basically, this is the time to 'detrain' bad habits and make room for new ones! We like to call this 'de-constructing' the athlete.

Lastly, the Macrocycle (long cycle) consists of 3 mesoccyles that involves the total preparation for competition. This is where the training is most demanding. Recovery from intersessions become more critical and should be monitored closely. Injuries are most likely to occur here therefore it is strongly encouraged you find alternative training methods to reduce joint stresses. Swimming, yoga or some other limited joint stress training is a great idea during this cycle.   Eating the proper amount of calories, good calories, is paramount and managing increasing training volume helps prevent training plateaus.

I mentioned injuries happening in the previous cycle. This occurs:
  •  when there is an abrupt increase in volume 
  • use of an unfamiliar training technique. 
  • Normal stresses become excessive. 
  • Scheduled training days are difficult because the discomfort reduces scope of learning more advanced techniques. 

Rest and recovery are key in the last mesocycle  leading up to the 'big party'. In fact, in events like the Mudder it is easy to overdue the strength portion especially if you already possess plenty of strength for the task at hand.  The key in this situation, though,  is mobility, slow twitch muscle potentiation, anaerobic as well as aerobic conditioning and the all important mental stamina. So :

  •  maximize your recovery as you get closer to competition. 
  •  address any minor soft tissue injuries,
  •  reduce training volume
  •  maintain functional stability
  •  be sure you acclimate to your competitive environment by duplicating it in your training. Doing   this will enhance the competitive experience and improve mental acuity which improves performance efficiency. ...In short, you will get in the 'zone' quicker! GO GET'EM!!!

"Rule #1 Create an environment for optimal healing
Rule #2 Above all else, do no harm.
Rule #3 be as aggressive as you can without breaking rule #2"
Gary Gray

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