June 6, 2011 posted by

Maintaining, Transitioning, and Play

I was just answering a question on the Message Boards about maintaining results that leads right into what I’ve been doing since my last training cycle ended: playing, tactically, which can be just as important as the program itself.

Without breaks any training program will get stale. Your results will plateau, your enthusiasm will wane, and you’ll increase the risk of overuse injuries. For most of us life itself creates plenty of opportunity for breaks, but they should be scheduled regardless. And if you plan these breaks well they can lead to improvement that’s almost as rapid during your program, especially if you’re training for sports.

Here’s a very simple overview of why, without going insanely nerdy on you:

Training almost always targets certain energy systems in your body. Beachbody programs generally target those that will lead to rapid body composition change because that’s what most of us are after. But whenever you actively target one area of fitness others are being left out. If you know what your training program isn’t covering then it can be easily to fill this in later. If you don’t it’s harder, however, it’s not all that tricky to figure out what your training has been lacking because, basically, it’s stuff that’s the opposite of what you’ve been doing.

For example let’s use P90X because it’s the most inclusive program we offer (meaning that it concurrently targets the broadest range of energy systems). Because every workout has you training at your maximum for about an hour, simple math lets us guess, correctly in this case, that we probably aren’t targeting things that are much shorter or much longer; which are the energy systems concerning muscle cell motor unit recruitment (or power) and aerobic efficiency (aerobic endurance). While these areas aren’t too important for body composition change they can be extremely important for athletes. If you’re an athlete who values one or both of these areas they are best trained during your breaks from the program.

Furthermore, specific sports always require some amount of more simple body adaptations, such as getting used to the elements your sport is played in. These play periods should focus on lots of time doing your activity. For example, in almost any sport skin is vital and can only be prepared specifically by doing the said sport.

Finally, sports all require specific neuro-muscular patterns (often called engrams) that, while somewhat retained, need to be refined if you plan on continual improvement. Again, these are gained by doing the actual sport. Also, if you’re training is sound you’ve gained fitness (strength, endurance, mobility) which must be taught how to perform. Play time, through specific adaptations of your training gains, will help you get stronger while you aren’t doing any actual training.

If you look at the calendar of my month “off” (top), you’ll see that I’m spending as much time, or even more, doing exercise as I was when I was training (below). The only difference is that there are no real workouts. But there’s a plan, which is, well, no real plan because taking a mental break is vital to build-up enthusiasm for structured training. But within my “no plan” I’m still playing in areas that weren’t targeted during my last round of training, while also building up skin, making environmental adaptions, and refining my engrams. The goal of which is to have me mentally and physically ready to progress further during my next round of training.

key: boulder, climb, coop = some form of climbing; 4 x 10 means 4 5.10 routes, etc; mtb = mountain bike; RUKE = run/hike, which is an aeorbic-level hike (ultra pace); FWU = a variation of the X2 functional warm-up, which i don’t usually record; NIS = neuro-integrated stretching; brick = run and bike workout; trainer = rode my bike on a trainer indoors; RACE = duathlon nationals

1 Comment

  • Is it possible to target those different systems at the same time? For instance, I'm building up to this program next year – it safe and or smart to tackle a program that targets strength and endurance like this? Especially over 6 months? I'm taking 8ish months to build to it (P90X/Insanity hybrid, Asylum, P90X2 in that order plus swim training the whole time).

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