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Block insights (Foundation) - March 9th - April 5th 2020
Block insights (Foundation) - March 9th - April 5th 2020
Jami Tikkanen avatar
Written by Jami Tikkanen
Updated over a week ago

Brief insight into our programming philosophy

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.

Training structure 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.

On the Foundations plan, we offer a core program and various different optional sessions. This give you the opportunity to bias your training to eliminate your limiters and to work towards your goals. For best results, we recommend you stay with one option for at least 4-weeks.

Each week consists of 4 training sessions, one optional session, one full rest day and one active recovery day. If needed, you can even choose to do multiple optional sessions each week (as long as you can recover). 

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 a 12-week cycle after this one).

As we are moving into the “Build” block, you will see an increase in intensity across various types of (optional) sessions while we still maintain a fair amount of volume as well. Expect this to be a hard 4-weeks of training (eat, sleep and recover accordingly).

Conditioning sessions

We have four (4) types of conditioning sessions in this block. They each serve a specific purpose and with multiple options you can choose to adjust the session #2 conditioning (from 40:20s) to another session if it better suits your needs.

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.

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. If you’re using an HR monitor, the target for these sessions is time spent on Z2 (or at around 60-72% of your max HR). If you’re unsure about your max HR, you can make a rough estimate using the following formula: 

Max HR (estimate) = 211 - (Age x 0.64), e.g. 30 years old = 211 - (30*0.64) = 192bpm
= 192bpm * 60-72% = 115 - 138bpm). 

LT (Lactate Threshold) intervals

We are increasing the interval length for the LT sessions in this block. 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).

Your muscles can utilise lactate as fuel during exercise. 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 adaptations from the Aero sessions). 

LT+MAP (Max Aerobic Power) intervals

These sessions are a blend between lactate threshold and MAP (maximal aerobic power) intervals. You’ll be working at a hard but sustainable pace with short bursts of high intensity mixed in. The goal is to work anaerobically and accumulate lactate, then recover and flush that lactate while still moving at a moderate pace. 

These sessions will improve your performance by increasing your ability to recover within a workout. This is important, especially when there are more taxing movements like barbell or dumbbell cycling combined with less taxing ones like rowing for distance (as you’ll develop your capacity to recover during these movements).

 Short high intensity intervals (40:20)

These short “40:20” intervals are a progression/variation of the 30:15 intervals (from last block) that 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.  

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

We are moving onto “Build” 4-week block, the emphasis on strength training will shift towards increasing intensity while still keeping a good amount of volume (in separate days). We will also progressively shift away from the Sumo deadlift to the conventional one. 

The main sessions cover the fundamentals: snatch and clean & jerk variations, back squat and deadlift. You can use the optional strength sessions to bias your strength training to anything from upper or lower body to strong(wo)man work to more weightlifting as needed. 

Sports specific training

The skill sessions for these 4-weeks will focus on improving your barbell/DB cycling (squat and hang variations), upper body pulling (rope climbs, bar muscle ups, chest to bar pull ups..) as well as handstand walks and HSPUs.

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

Gymnastics (optional)

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

Week schedules

Here is the week schedule for this block (this will be the same across the weeks)

WL = Weightlifting
STR = Strength work
SPP(C) = Sport specific workouts
SPP(S) = Skill work/practice
GYMNASTICS = Gymnastics fundamentals (strength, position, mobility)
COND(MAP) = 40:20 conditioning intervals, you can swap these with an optional conditioning session based on your needs

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