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PEAKING AND WEIGHT TRAINING
HERE'S PART OF AN ARTICLE I WROTE ON HOW YOU CAN USE WEIGHT TRAINING TO PEAK AN ATHLETE.
It’s possible to peroiodise and peak for competitions not only via the mainstays of training but also via strength and conditioning.
There are a number of ways in which to achieve peak performances using S&C. The first and most well-known way is to enable your body to recover from the adaptation to a S&C regime (and other training inclusions). So, this would mean reducing the load of the weights, plyometrics and other S&C means in the period/periods of training leading up to a competition.
The second way is to actually use S&C to create a heightened response from your S&C training – this can include specific sessions in the days prior to a competition. Within this second method are the potentiating effects of specific S&C activities and tonus (muscle tone) outcomes.
Let’s take a look at these “peaking” options in turn.
Using S&C via reducing volume to achieve a peak
In order to achieve a peak the body must be in an adapted and recovered state. This does not mean that training loads need to be significantly reduced – although the prior intensity and volume of training will have a large effect on the extent of any reductions – that’s to say, the more training mature an athlete is in terms of volume and intensity the lower the percentage reduction of these variables needed to achieve a peak.
On the other hand, a young training immature athlete will not have the wiggle room to reduce training load in the same way and they may simply benefit before competitions from taking a day or two off.
Research exists which shows how manipulating S&C training variables can achieve a peak. Sports scientists in Sports Medicine who considered field eventers and sprint athletes noted:
“... findings indicate that to maximize the speed-strength in the short term (peaking), elite athletes should perform strength-power training twice per week. It is possible to perform a single strength-power session with the method of maximum explosive strength actions moving high-weight loads (90% 1 repetition maximum [RM]) at least 1-2 days.”
So, this conclusion is referencing speed/power athletes as indicated with a high level of specific training maturity. Why the emphasis on the “high weight loads”? Much further research indicates that lifting heavy and safely fast recruits the biggest and most powerful bundles of fast twitch fibres and the motor units which control them. The residual effect is the priming this can have on the central nervous system and what known as potentiation - another factor identified in the S&C peaking approach, of which more later.
In order to make sure that the heavy weight training is of the right intensity and volume, some trial and error will be required and the training maturity and “history” of peaking specific to the athlete must also be factored in.
If S&C is consistent over a number of years and the athlete/coach knows that certain S&C parameters are met (closeness to 1rep max and other rep max tests, distances achieved for specific plyo tests) then it will be easier to reduce S&C loads whilst keeping an eye on those peak S&C levels known to bring about peak performance.
It will also be easier to “top up” again, if as in the research quoted, specific S&C sessions are maintained throughout the season.
It’s crucial for training mature athletes and those with known peak performance producing S&C “base-line” levels that specific S&C is continued throughout the competition periods. Failure to do so, although potentially leading to an early season peak will usually result in performances dropping off in the latter part of the season when the major competitions inevitably are. So, coach and athlete need to maintain to gain and cycle their S&C accordingly (along of course with the other training variables).