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April 22, 2014 posted by

When To End Your Training Block

When To End Your Training Block

My block of power training is complete, slightly ahead a schedule. I made great improvements in only six workouts, so why, you might ask, would I shut it down midway during the seventh? By examining the block’s progression, you can easily see why. Using this analysis can help you decide when it’s time to alter your training, even when it’s going well.

The pic is a mess. In addition to the workouts we’re looking at, you’ve got part of a different workout and a route description (the holds on my wall have names). It doesn’t matter, as the pic is simply to reference how I record my workouts. The numbers in the pic were one of two workouts I was alternating. This one, being more easily quantified, was my litmus test for the block.  If you haven’t been reading, scroll back through this month’s posts (arrows at the bottom of the page), as most of your questions will (hopefully) get answered.

I will post both of these workouts later this week. First, it will help to understand how they progressed and why I stopped using them (for now). This was my first power block in a few years. I wanted it to be both short, and safe--in line with these rules. The workout to workout progressions, even though I often felt a bit worn down, was outstanding. Through six workouts, spaced just under thee weeks (usually two days off between sessions), my strength improved an average of more than 20%. I progressed to more sets and harder to hang holds a couple of times, so the numbers aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t matter. I was improving. Fast.

Keep in mind that I basing things on something were there is some technique involved. These workouts were based around hangs and campus movements. While technically very simple, you still get better at them. Mainly in how you focus your mind on the holds. This is only important to realize if you’re promoting numbers to others. I didn’t increase my contact strength more than 20% in 3 weeks. I did, however, increase my ability to hang onto small holds. But, whatever, right? Why would I stop? Shouldn’t I keep going until I’m 100% stronger?

As stated here, power training is hard on the central nervous system. Even though my training volume has been far lower than I’m used to, I’ve been both tired and irritable. My body often feels stiff and creaky. This is due to increased hormonal cascades the high intensity work is inciting. While it’s mainly good, and exactly what I’m after, too much of a good thing happens quickly, especially the older we get. Therefore, I’m always on alert about when to shut a training block down and move on.

Workout #6 was excellent. The best workout in the block. I’ve felt bad ever since. Listless, brain function lacking, body even worse. Simple hiking with the dogs was laborious. I rested an extra day before beginning workout #7 and, after warming up, felt good with renewed psyche (I’ve mentioned it before, but power training is fun). If you can read the pic, see that the numbers on the first exercise are way off of the previous workout (follow the arrows). The next two were closer, so I kept going, thinking, perhaps, I was just working though cobwebs and warming up slowly. Then another big crash, along with a tightening feeling in my forearms, meaning things were feeling laborious (power training should never hurt). When two holds in a row totaled below the previous session, I shut the workout (and the block) down.

If this were earlier in the block I would not end it. I’d just take an extra rest day and continue. But it’s near my planned end anyway. Couple that with signals of stress (feeling shitty between workouts) and it’s a no brainer. Time for a short break to transition into power-endurance.

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