Monday, August 20, 2012

’Non-periodized programs’: are they really non-periodized?

’Non-periodized programs’: are they really non-periodized?

Recent blog post regarding the Percent-reps chart and the talk with the Donnell Boucher and Brijesh Patel on the topic of „relative intensity“ got me thinking about the post I did in June, 2011 -  Random Thoughts from the Training Camp. It is funny how things go round-n'-round: I have been looking for the practical solution of the conceptual problem and it was all the time in front of my nose (relative intensity). Sometimes when we go back to the basics we see how much stuff we overlooked.

When it comes to scientific literature, there is a lot of papers comparing Periodized vs. Non-periodized strength training programs with different conclusions. I don’t want to provide overview of the literature (neither is that the aim of this post), but it seems that periodized programs are winning. Yet, again a lot of results depend on the subjects, duration of the study, design etc. I really like Dan Baker’s paper Periodization: The Effect on Strength of Manipulating Volume and Intensity, especially since the conclusion was:

Over a short training cycle, non-periodized strength training results in the same gains as does linear and undulating periodized strength training, when training volume and relative intensity are equated

Please note that I am not saying that the programs should not be ‘periodized’ (whatever that means), but rather to warn regarding the ‘bucket’ we call ‘non-periodized’ programs. If it is not periodized it doesn’t work? Think again.

I wrote extensively about what the periodization is (click HERE and HERE) and how to plan the strength training taking into account the level of the lifter, goals and context (click HERE) so I won’t repeat myself again.  Long story short – periodization is planning process that involve taking into account athletes’ characteristics, goals, context and time frames.

When we speak about periodization a lot of coaches/athletes do not differentiate between different levels of periodization: (1) annual plan periodization, (2) periodization on biomotor abilities and (3) periodization of training load. I warned about this in linked articles above. Again, this is the sole reason why we call ‘non-periodized’ program non-periodized: because they don’t involve (what they consider to be) periodization of intensity/volume/frequency and/or goals (anatomic adaptation, hypertrophy, max strength, power, etc) in linear or non-linear (undulating) fashion.  Luckily, these are not the only parameters that could/should be ‘periodized’.

Is 5x5 periodized program? You never change number of reps or set, but you still build up intensity over time, reach platoue, deload for 10-20% and re-start the cycle. Or in worse case you pursue PRs, reach some of them, continue pursuing them, get injured, unload and start over. If that doesn’t sound periodized to you I don’t know what does.

The point of this short post was to make a connection between relative intensity concept and non-periodized programs. Even if you do 5x5 for a month, your sets will progress in intensiveness (relative intensity). I talked about this as one of the main principles of strength training design in Random Thoughts from the Training Camp.

There are numerous parameters that could be ’periodized’ in the load planning, like:
  • Exercise selection & specificity
  • Intensity/Reps
  • Volume
  • Tempo
  • Recovery duration 
  • Intensiveness (relative intensity)
  • Etc, etc...
And my point is that researchers usually overlook this progression in relative intensity as a ’periodization’ element. Is this the sole principle responsible for the training effects? For sure it is not, but it is one of the key ones. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Percent-Repetitions Chart

Percent-Repetition Chart

I was looking to create a neat percent-repetitions table for the quick reference when I compare various percent-based and auto-regulatory programs out there. This could help with judging and evaluating the ‘buffer’ of each set or proximity to failure, hard-medium-easy days, weekly progression and differences in intensity, intensiveness, volume and frequency program designs. 

I combined data from works of Dan Baker, Cal Dietz, Mike Tuchscherer, Joe Kenn and Prilepin. I needed to fit their data to the table format, thus some of the percents and reps are slightly modified.

As you can see there is a difference between authors. Of course certain guidelines are used for different purposes – Prilepin is used with weightlifting, Tuchscherer with powerlifting – and that creates a difference. Hence the purpose of the table: to have everything at one spot. Thus, if you are looking for high quality reps you can use Prilepin or RPE8-7 of Tuchscherer.

Please note that these are just guidelines and the relationships changes in certain situations: (1) men vs. women (women are generally able to do more reps at the same percentage), (2) advanced vs. beginners (beginners are generally able to do more reps at the same percentage), (3) fast twitch vs. slow twitch individuals (slow twitch athletes can usually do more reps at the same percentage), (4) muscle mass involved in the exercise (more muscle mass involved, less reps at certain percentage – for example squats vs. military press) and many others. So take this only as a guideline. 

Donnell Boucher just gave me a heads up for his presentation he did last February. From the 31min mark Donnell expands on the concept of Relative Intensity. Very interesting to watch since it is very tied to the table above.
Thanks Donnell!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mike Young’s Soccer Fitness: A Science Based Approach

Just a quick heads up for the presentation slides by Mike Young who is a strength and conditioning coach for Vancouver WHITECAPS FC and the owner of the EliteTrack website.  His Fit for Futbol  blog is a must follow for all coaches interested in physical preparation of soccer players.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Strength in Motion - Seminar review

Just a quick heads up and short review of the Strength in Motion seminar by Joel Jamieson, Patrick Ward and Charlie Weingroff. 

I guess the title is not adequate, since this seminar deals very little with strength or strength training, but rather it covers advanced concepts of training individualization, monitoring, rehab and prehab strategies, HRV, work capacity, etc.  I haven’t seen that area covered in one seminar in this degree. 

The seminar starts with theoretical presentation, followed by practical presentation by Charlie Weingroff, each lasting around 50 minutes. Charlie is speaking „How to make a monster„ . Funny title, but serious talk mostly about his traing = rehab, rehab = training concept. Charlie is very knowledgeable coach and therapist and he covers a lot of different but inter-related topics, so I end up losing him couple of times. He goes into such details and that is amazing. Some of his concepts are very interesting when it comes to movement assessment (Charlie is big fan of FMS). So, anyone who is not convinced about the benefits of screening should take a look at this presentation. 

Patrick Ward presentation dealt with concept that he calls “Physiological Buffer Zone” (in my mind that is very similar to my definition of Work Capacity) and how to enhance it. This presentation was done in two parts each lasting around 50 minutes. I was really pleasantly surprised by Patrick, his knowledge and presentation. Long story short, Patrick talks about stress, autonomic nervous system,  over-reaching, over-training, HRV, inflammation, work capacity development,  monitoring and individualizing training. Sounds much, but Patrick created very easy to follow and understand presentation. 

Joel Jamieson presentation “Managing the training process” was very much in line with Patrick talk and it was basically a review of his HRV book. As usual, Joel presents very complex issues in concise manner and ready to use and apply, especially if you are the owner of the BioForce HRV. I haven’t seen such information anywhere before if we don’t take his HRV book into account of course.

Joel’s presentation “Building a performance model” is worth the price of the whole DVD. I wish I have seen it a year or two before. It gives you step by step instructions how to use Excel to create athlete profiles and performance models by using percentile scores (if you have a medium-large group of athletes) or ‘ideal athlete’ scores in testing battery.   By using “performance model” one is able to identify weak and strong points in physical preparedness of the athlete based on the sport demands which allows better individualization of the training needs/goals that need to be addressed. Along with HRV this gives a coach extremely useful tool in individualizing training goals and training workloads
In a summary, if you are interested into topics such as individualization of the training, monitoring, stress, corrective exercises this DVD is a must see! 

The Strength in motion will soon be available so keep your heads up for it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog re-design...

I decided to give my blog a new look, since the old one looked like a 'spiritual' site rather than sport (science) blog. You may notice that I change the templates over time until I find one that fits in terms of colors and readability. If you have any input on this please let me know.

Besides this I received a copy of Cal Dietz and Ben Peterson's  Triphasic Training e-book and a new book by Kelly Baggett  - Vertical Jump Bible 2.0 Deluxe. Kelly's book is not yet available, thus I consider myself lucky. Since the weather here in Stockholm is really bad (especially for someone who grow up on Mediterranean) at least I will have a lot to read besides watching Olympic Games.

I am also working on one planning/programming template for one Serbian MMA fighter. It is going to be a distant consultations, not perfect I know, but it is a learning opportunity for both of us. And I get the chance to systematize and organize the physical preparation knowledge for fighting sports. When it comes to this I try to 'combine' scientific approach of Joel Jamieson and practical solutions of Ross Enamait using the system I outlined in Periodization Confusion by utilizing Bondarchuk exercise classification. This also might result in one article, but I won't promise anything.

When it comes to soccer, I am reviewing different periodization schemes, their pro's and con's and I am trying to build a potential solution. For now I know the problems. The recent book by Joel Jamieson along with the presentation by Dan Pfaff got me thinking on some of the issues. Hell, I may actually write about these problems like I did in Problems of Periodization in Mixed Sports a year or so ago. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Athlete Guide to Chronic Knee Pain

 I have contacted Anthony Mychal asking for an advice regarding my crepitus in my right knee, since I know he struggled with the similar knee issues and actually wrote a book on the chronic knee pain. Although I don’t have any pain (but I have crepitus) I was interested to hear his opinion since he is the guy who walks the walk. 

When I told him that my problem might be related to hypermobility problems I have (I have a drawer syndrome in both of my knee and my ACL is more than good; I can put my left thumb to my forearm; I can put both palms to the ground; I can pull that thumb with traction and see the sulcus in the skin; my skin is VERY elastic ... It seems I have fu**ed up collagen all around) he honestly said that his experience doesn’t extend to hypermobility and explained that he managed his crepitus by adjusting  his body and its function to get rid of it (his crepitus was associated with pain), mostly by using his hips differently.

He offered to send me his book, which I wholeheartedly accepted.  First time I saw his book was in Kelly Baggett’s article  (I am also waiting for his Vertical Jump Bible 2.0) and if Kelly thinks it was good, then it has to be good.

Lately I have been reading opinions on stretching, foam rolling, trigger points and muscle imbalances (mostly through work and links by Bret Contreras – HERE and HERE – including Paul Ingraham and Greg Lehman) and my head was exploding with conflicting viewpoints. I know it is wise to question and evaluate everything we know, everything we use, our biases and claims, but sometimes lack of scientific evidence, or worse yet conflicting evidence can paralyze you. Yeah, paralysis by analysis. Thank you Bret for paralyzing me :)

Anyway, I wanted to check what have Antony been using for his knee problems.   We can discuss all day if the foam rolling is stretching fascia, removing adhesions, treating trigger points or doing jack s*it. Whether stretching elongates the muscles and reduces stiffness over time, or only increase the stretch tolerance. Whether glute activation actually does anything. Whether corrective exercises and posture actually make a difference. Whether muscle imbalance cause pain, or pain causes imbalances. Whether the tissue abnormalities actually cause pain.

Anthony’s approach is based on multiple paradigms that are now available – trigger points, stretching the quads, hip flexors and hip rotators, glute activation, movement re-patterning, foot mechanics etc. You might be familiar with all of these already, but in Anthony’s book you can find all of those at one spot and easy to follow program that utilize all those principles.  

Will this info help me? Honestly I don’t know (especially since I am dealing with hypermobility syndrome), but I plan implementing some of the drills and ideas and see how it goes.

Anyhow, while we wait for the resolution between conflicting theories of muscle pain and function, athletes and coaches cannot wait. This is why I highly recommend this book. It is worth your time. You might end up learning something along the way.