Wednesday, May 3, 2017

You Need LESS High Intensity Training

Back in January of this year I did a post titles "Watch the Player, Not the Game" that discussed the differences between the pace of the game and the pace of the actual player.

Far too many coaches and players continue to train the "game" instead of the "player".

The biggest issues is L/A teams watching AFL, and training to play an AFL type game which is fast and continuous.

We don't play AFL.

Some of us can't play fast because we aren't.

Some of us can't play continuous because we can't.

We definitely can't play fast AND continuous, or we would be playing AFL instead of watching it.

The L/A game is a completely different game style.

It's slower and more contested.

The skills aren't as good.

The players aren't as fit.

This is no secret here.

I will use myself as example.

I'm 38 and a half (old), but I'm fast with a moderate tank - it's just the way I'm built.

I play deep forward.

My running patterns pretty much consist of short acceleration bursts with some up and back running when needed.

I don't need to train like a full time midfielder and doing so would pretty much destroy all I have going for me - my speed - because doing so might "run the speed out of me".

We're 4 weeks into the the season right now and the games will start to hit players about now as the body continually adapts to the demands of games in regards to collisions, faster sprinting speeds (99% of players don't sprint anywhere near what they need to in a game which is a shame and a huge injury risk factor as well), the unknown and unpredictable demands of game (will i need to sprint once or 5 times in the next 5 minutes?) and increased arousal all result in far greater output then training.

It's why it's so hard to mimic games at training but we try our best.

This increased output requires more recovery - far more recovery.

I follow literally hundreds of footy teams on my social platforms and I forever see posts on teams heading off to HIIT type classes to "get smashed", placing even more stress on an already overly stressed system.

Getting smashed does not make a footballer.

I can make granny down the street tired but will she play on Saturday? Probably not.

The thought process of "how much can I do" is ridiculous.

Let me take a different angle.

Training increases stress.

When stress reaches an a relatively high level for you, then you activate what's called the sympathetic nervous system.

The SNS puts your body and mind in "fight" mode which is fine, when your about to be tackled by a 100kg dude coming at you full pace, that's a good thing.

Life as we know it these days is far too busy and it tires us as much as physical activity does.

This also activates the SNS.

So you finish footy and your SNS is high.

You have a few beers afterwards so your SNS remains on high alert as alcohol is regarded as poison in the body, so you work hard to process it.

You continue long into the night.

You have a crappy sleep because that's what a big night does to you which again maintains the SNS on high alert.

You roll up to footy training training on a Tuesday and because you haven't done anything since Saturday, you think you're recovered and ready to go.


Your not recovered until your SNS is overridden by the parasympathetic nervous system - the one that turns on once your body has shifted itself back to baseline in regards to heart rate, blood pressure etc.

Getting back to the SNS, when stress is high the body needs to become more efficient to deal with the stress.

Some great things it does here is to down regulate breathing and movement.

OK, not so great, especially as it's footy training night and you probably need to breath and move at some point.

It down regulates breathing by altering your breathing mechanics, shifting the duties from the almighty diaphragm to the chest, neck and shoulders resulting in shallower breathes, essentially decreasing your running power right there.

No injury - just your brain and NS doing it to you and you have no idea.

It also wants to free up energy to deal with this high stress by decreasing movement which it does by putting the brakes on movement/range of motion which you'll think of as "tightness".

You don't get tight for no reason and simply trying "stretch it out" does NOTHING, because a lack of flexibility isn't your issue.

You're pretty much on the road to injury as tense muscles result in torn muscles, unless you decrease your stress.

How do I do that I hear you ask?

Solid question mate, solid question.

What needs to happen for the body to get back to baseline is for your heart rate to return to it's regular resting rate as soon as it can.

This why AFL teams do recovery - to get their bodies back to baseline because recovery will not begin until you get there, so AFL players are actually "recovering to start recovery."

So if we now know that more high intensity activity will simply feed the SNS and keep us in fight mode, then it stands to reason that low intensity methods will get us back to baseline the fastest.

The activity you do doesn't really matter but the most important thing is that you keep your rate of perceived exertion at a 4 - 5 out of 10.

This is the complete opposite of what you normally do - I'm telling you to go slow...very slow.

To give you an idea of how slow it should be let's say you can sprint 100m in 15secs.

At a 4 out of 10 you'd now cover that distance in 37 - 38secs.

Have a go at that and you'll see that it's barely a jog but that's how low intensity training is done.

I do 3 of these sessions a week using a mix of off legs cardio machines, circuit training and tempo running.

Your ability to recover between bouts of sprints during a game, between games and training and between training sessions, relies almost exclusively on your aerobic energy system.

If you train high intensity all the time, you rarely touch on the aerobic system and this means that as soon as you ramp up training intensity, you go straight into the lactic zone, blow up and you're done very early on.

Don't worry, you'll battle on and finish training and games, but it comes at a huge cost believe me.

This used to be me.

My endurance training focused on lactic based work (I didn't know at the time obviously) and I was the exact guy described above.

I had 5 fast efforts (if that) then I just battled for the rest of the game and building up huge amounts of fatigue.

If I hadn't done so much gym work in my days there's no way I could have avoided getting injured - no way.

If that sounds like you, or some players you coach then give low intensity training a try when you think they need it, instead of the endurance sprint work you had planned - especially during the season.

Even better on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you're "low" stress days of the week, you'll recover a million % better from doing some restoration aerobic capacity work then nothing at all.

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