The Hare or The Tortoise? What is best for your training?
This topic is always an interesting one and can often divide opinion. There is generally two popular philosophies here. The "Old School" train of thought has mainly been one of lay it all out there. "The New School" methods focus more on a slow and steady wins the race approach. Personally I favour this, and I will explain why.
Training at a lower intensity over a longer period of time, with consistency, is generally more beneficial than constantly training at maximum effort, but with less consistency. Consistency is key to making progress and achieving long-term fitness and sports performance improvements. Consistent training allows your body to adapt gradually and reduces the risk of injury. It helps develop muscle memory and improves technical skills. On the other hand, incorporating periods of high intensity training can challenge your body to adapt to increased demands, leading to gains in strength and performance.
1. Sustainable Progress: Training at a lower intensity allows for better recovery and reduces the risk of injury, enabling you to consistently train over weeks and months.
2. Avoiding Burnout: Constantly training at maximum effort can lead to burnout, risk of injury and mental fatigue. By training at lower intensities, you give your body and mind a chance to recover and stay energised.
3. Skill Development: Training at lower intensities allows you to focus on refining your technique and form, which is crucial for not only preventing injuries and maximizing performance, but getting you ready for the higher intensity sessions in the future.
4. Cardiovascular Health: Longer, consistent training sessions at lower intensities can improve cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall fitness and sports performance.
5. Periodization: Proper periodization involves varying training intensities over time. Incorporating lower-intensity phases that allows for active recovery and prepares your body for more intense training sessions in the future.
Both consistency and high intensity play important roles in improving your sport and training performance. However, finding the right balance between the two is crucial. Consistency ensures you make steady progress over time, while higher intensity can be beneficial for pushing your limits and building strength, power and performance.
In most cases, a well-rounded training program includes a mix of both consistent practice and occasional high-intensity phases to optimize performance and avoid burnout. It's essential to listen to your body, work with a coach or trainer if possible, and design a training plan that suits your specific goals and abilities.
One of the biggest misconceptions that I have seen and heard over the years is that many people believe their sporting hero's all train at maximum effort every workout. This is often fueled by things like social media. We all see the cool pictures and clips where they may be doing something really intense, or something a bit crazy and fun. But do they really train like this every session?
The quick answer is "No". Training at maximum effort every session can lead to overtraining, increased risk of injury, and burnout. The last thing as a coach that any of us would want is our athletes injuring themselves during training, or experiencing burnout and having to take time off from both training and their sport. Professional athletes follow periodization programs, which involve planned variations in training intensity and volume over time. This periodization allows athletes to cycle between different training loads, including lower-intensity sessions for recovery, moderate-intensity workouts for building endurance, and higher-intensity sessions for strength and power development. The goal is to optimize performance while managing fatigue and promoting recovery. Properly structured training programs help athletes peak at specific times and avoid constant high-intensity training that could be detrimental to their performance and well-being.
The percentage training load for professional athletes will vary depending on their specific training program and individual needs. Typically, during steady-state work, athletes may be working at a lower percentage of their maximal effort, around 60-70% of their one-repetition maximum (1RM). In heavy overload sessions, they may increase the load to around 80-85% of their 1RM. However, these percentages can be adjusted based on the athlete's goals, fitness level, and periodization plan. It's essential for athletes to work with qualified coaches or trainers to tailor their training load effectively.
Please feel free to get in touch if we can help you take your training up a notch with some well designed, focused and purposeful planning.