Sunday, December 17, 2017


This will ruffle all sorts of feathers but here goes.

We've discussed speed and endurance a fair bit of late so piggy backing off that I want to give you a look at the high low system which was actually developed by sprint coach Charlie Francis.

It refers to splitting training days of high and low intensity training methods.

High intensity training methods include:

- Max Effort Sprinting @ 90% of your top speed
- Max Effort Lower Body Gym Lifts @ 80%+
- Intensive Plyometrics
- Max Effort Agility/Change of Direction
- Any Activity Performed with High Arousal (games)
- Power Endurance Work (for the most part)

Low Intensity training methods include:

- Aerobic Work @ 65% or less of your max aerobic speed
- Dynamic Warm Ups
- Recovery Circuits
- Extensive Plyometrics

High intensity activity is fueled by how strong your central nervous system is and how long it can be powerful for but it is crucial that you stress it just enough to get an adaptation to what you're doing, and then let it rest.

Once your nervous system gets fatigued then it's all down hill from there as sped will drop, strength will drop, reaction time will drop, skill level will drop, decision making will drop - it's gets quite messy but unlike metabolic stress from a hard running session, it takes longer to recover and if you train again before that recovery has taken place, then you're headed to a bad place.

This level of fatigue is hard for most local/amateur players to reach as we don't heavy, hard or long enough consistent enough to reach this point - plus you'll probably get sick prior to then forcing you to take a rest to get that recovery (there's no fooling the body).

Low intensity training methods don't even register to the central nervous system, it's like the puppy dog playing with the adult dog trying to bite it's leg off and the big dog not even waking up.

Why is this important and what about "the middle' you speak of I hear you say?

The middle is all where all submaximal activity is performed which is needed for footy no doubt but is overdone like your drinking on a footy trip.

There are 2 main issues with submaximal training:

1 - The speed of the activity is not fast enough to gain any speed benefits from


2 - The aerobic activity is too intensive to gain any aerobic benefits from

Do you see the problems here?

You're not getting faster and you're not getting fitter so what's happening?

Well a whole lot of fatigue in fact.

One of the coaches I'm doing pre-season fitness programming for sent me yesterday "so I know myself and the squad are normally expecting to get smashed with cardio" which is the thought process of every L/A associated player and coach in the world.

Hard running drills such as those expected from the comment above exist only in "the middle" so they aren't all they are cracked up to be.

Look at it this way.

You have a drill of 20 x 50m sprints every 30secs and without any other training under your belt you head out to do them and what benefits do you get?

Did you get any speed benefits? Not really because you aren't even fast yet plus the fatigue of 20 sets of sprints slowed your speed down so much the last 5 sets could no way be classed as sprints, but sub maximal sprints.

Did you get any aerobic benefits? Again no because you trained way above your anaerobic threshold and once you exceed it in training, you cease training to improve it and build it higher.

You've essentially gone for a drive in a car with no engine and the petrol light on.

What you've also done is built up a shitload of fatigue which might feel great and that you've done a whole heap of good training but when you look at it deeper it's no so grand.

The fatigue induced from those types of running sessions is the kind where you're still hurting from 2 nights ago and trying to train again but if you're still feeling it then you can't b fully recovered can you.

So if you're not fully recovered and you throw another bout of hard running into the mix what will happen?

Stress Overload.

Fatigue Overload.

Injury Overload.

And for what?

So when should I train in the middle I hear you say?

The middle isn't the bad twin you hide in the attic like the Simpsons did, but you do need to know when to bring it out for it to have it's greatest benefit.

Most, if not all skill drills are performed smack bang in the middle which accounts for all the middle action we need right up until 4 - 6 sessions before your first practice game.

Yep, you don't need to get hard running until late Feb depending on your practice match and training schedule.

And you only need 4 - 6 sessions with this type of training included in it before the benefits start to drop off.

Too slow for speed and too fast for aerobic - remember that saying before doing any drill is my tip.

Getting back to the high/low system, the trick is to schedule in high days alternated with low days.

The high days are the quality days with speed probably being the main thing to focus on here so we're looking at Mon/Wed/Fri for most of us right now.

The low days are essentially recovery based days that serve to assist recovery from the high day yesterday, but because everything is of low intensity you can still train with decent volume and gain some aerobic benefits. This extra volume adds up over a full pre-season too.

Here's what the week looks like:

Mon - High (team training)
Tue - Low
Wed - High (team training)
Thu - Low
Fri - High (tam training homework session)
Sat - Low
Sun - Off

By the schedule above you train 6/week which will result in a nice amount of volume per week - something that is needed to drive your fitness up to levels you've never been at before and a great mix of fast and slow activity.

The player above who's still sore from the Mon session will have a week that looks like this:

Mon - High (team training)
Tue - Off (too sore)
Wed - High (team training but still sore)
Thu - Off (2 lots of soreness lying on top of each other)
Fri - Off
Sat - High (was too sore to do anything during the week so now feels like they need to do another big session to make up for it)
Sun - Off (soreness again)
Mon - High (team training and repeat the cycle)

Schedule 1 allows for the greatest volume and quality of training by a long way.

As a player doing outside training, make sure you are doing no more then 3 high days per week but also organise your training and yourself enough to get some low work in on the off days to bump up training volume and assist with recovery.

As a coach don't start training in "the middle" in regards to specific running drills (skills drills is fine but back off when you think the players need to) until late Feb, then hit it every session x 4 - 6 sessions and you'll have done enough work to take into practice games where you'll do that type of work even more so there's no to overload it prior to then.

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