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Training Block Insights
Block insights (Advanced Competitor) - Feb 10th - March 8th 2020
Block insights (Advanced Competitor) - Feb 10th - March 8th 2020
Jami Tikkanen avatar
Written by Jami Tikkanen
Updated over a week ago

Overview

We divide the training on The Training Plan into 4-week training blocks that are parts of longer 12-week cycles with structured progressions through each cycle. While each stream (SPP, strength, engine) have their own emphasis, they are also designed to work together, so you could transition from one to another between the blocks.

This will give you the freedom to structure your training to work on your goals while following the key conditioning, skill and strength progressions on the plan. For best results, we recommend you stay with one plan for 8 to 12-weeks. 

Regardless of the stream you choose, each week consists of 10 training sessions spread over 5-days, one full rest day and one active recovery day. If needed, you can also choose to reduce the training to 8 or 9 sessions/week by purposefully skipping a session or two to allow for better recovery for your key training sessions (especially if you have just transitioned to twice a day training).

Training themes

You can think of the 4-week blocks in the 12-week cycle as follows:

1) Base - WKs 1 to 4

2) Build - WKs 5 to 8

3) Integration - WKs 9 to 12

Each of these blocks builds on one another without being dependent on each other (while progressive, you don’t have to have done the Base block to start on the Build block. There is always another 12-week cycle after this one).

Our philosophy is to first create what can be called a Minimum Viable Program (MVP) that covers the key areas of training for our sport to ensure that you’re never too far from your competition day performance. This also means that whichever stream you choose, you’re always following a complete program that’s compatible with the other ones. 

The concept of MVP extends to the bias of each stream (e.g. priority on the Engine stream is to improve your conditioning, recovery and overall work capacity). This means that each stream has its own structure and priorities to help you make progress in a specific direction. Here’s where you see variations in the week plans, training sessions, movements, strength progressions etc. between the streams. 

Once we are happy with the MVP, and confident that it alone would help you make significant progress in your training, we add in the final touches to each stream (a sprinkle of fairy dust, a few unicorn tears and sometimes a dragon tooth or two). These are based on our on-going research of training methods both within and outside of our sport to bring in new ideas and concepts into our programs.

Conditioning sessions

We have four (4) types of conditioning sessions in this block. They each serve a specific purpose and are distributed across the streams based on the priorities of each training bias. 

Aero(bic) sessions: 

These long conditioning sessions help build your aerobic base conditioning. We are teaching your body to operate at higher fuel efficiency as we develop your aerobic fitness. This allows you to go longer, recover faster and handle heavier training loads.

If you’re using an HR monitor, the target for these sessions is time spent on Z2. The effort should feel almost too easy to a point where you could hold a conversation or maintain nose breathing for the duration of the session. 

LT (Lactate Threshold) intervals:

During exercise, your muscles utilise lactate as fuel. As the intensity reaches a certain threshold, the mitochondria in the muscles can no longer keep up with the lactate production and we’ll start to see rising levels of lactate in the blood. This threshold is considered to be a marker of intensity that is sustainable only for a limited amount of time. 

The LT intervals help increase your work capacity at this threshold by developing your ability to transport the lactate from the fast-twitch fibers to slow-twitch fibers where it can be cleared (which is supported by the Aero sessions).

The pace for these sessions is “comfortably hard” or “tough sustainable”. You’re working hard but the pace is sustainable well beyond the interval length. Your breathing will get louder through the sets (especially the exhale as your body is trying to control the CO2 levels).

Aero + LT intervals:

These sessions are a blend between the aerobic and lactate threshold intervals. You’re developing your aerobic base and ability to work at, then recover from your threshold. 

The pace is a mix of easy with nose breathing (aero) and tough, sustainable efforts (LT). Your goal is to return back to aero pace and breathing (nose) as soon as you can after the harder efforts.

Short high intensity intervals (30:15): 

These short “30:15” intervals have been getting a lot of attention in the research over the last 5-years for their success in improving well-trained athletes VO2max and work capacity at LT. We’ll be working through different variations through this and the following 4-week block. 

The key physiological driver for adaptations in these sessions is time spent at HR > 90%VO2max (meaning your HR should and will be high). You can think of the pace as “repeatable/recoverable red zone”. These sessions will be challenging but you should leave knowing that you could have done one more interval in each set if needed.

Strength and weightlifting

As we are in the Base 4-week block, the emphasis on strength training is more on accumulating high quality repetitions rather than lifting heaviest weights possible. We are also doing a few movements (on all streams) that are more general (vs sport specific), such as bench press and sumo deadlift. 

The engine stream offers options for Saturday’s strength training to allow you to focus on anything from snatch or clean and jerk to upper or lower body strength. Choose one option and stay with it for at least the full 4-week block. 

The SPP stream has slightly more sports specific lifting on Saturdays for the first two weeks (3rd week features the Game day on Saturday). 

The strength stream of course offers the most amount of time dedicated to getting you stronger and more division between upper and lower body training to distribute the training load across the week. 

Sports specific training

The skill sessions for these 4-weeks will focus on developing your barbell cycling and exploring the overhead squat in detail to give you more tools for competitions and workouts. You will also get a chance to improve your muscle ups as well as your capacity in typical competition movements such as wall balls, toes to bar and burpees. 

The sport specific conditioning sessions are structured so that you get to put your work from the skill sessions to a test, especially on the last 2-weeks of the block.

Gymnastics

The gymnastics will focus on the ring muscle-ups for 2-weeks, then on the handstand push-ups for 2-weeks (as well as other fundamental gymnastics work alongside these). 

How do I choose which plan to follow?

Here’s a short overview of the purpose of each plan:

Engine - We are focused on developing your aerobic power, aerobic capacity, breathing, muscular endurance, and resilience. In short, we are building you a bigger, more efficient engine (and teach you how to use it) to make you capable of enduring gruelling workouts in competitions and in training. Choose this stream if conditioning is your biggest limiter or if you need to improve your recovery and general work capacity.

Strength - We are focused on developing your strength and building more muscle mass so that you can handle those heavy weights both in competitions and in day-to-day training. Choose this stream if big weights and heavy workouts are your biggest limiters 

SPP - We are focused on your competition readiness, skill work and sports specific training. If you already have a strong base, have a competition that is approaching and/or want to get in as much practice as possible on competition style events then this plan is for you. 

Week schedules

Here are the schedules for each stream (these are subject to change based on program demands):

WL = Weightlifting
STR = Strength work
SPP(C) = Sport specific workouts
SPP(S) = Skill work/practice
GYMNASTICS = Gymnastics fundamentals (strength, position, mobility)
COND = Various conditioning intervals

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