Training to Train vs. Training to Compete
Training to train versus training to compete are two completely different animals. There are programs that are designed for people who are "Training to Train." Training is their sport. All that matters is how well they do in each workout. As participants do better in the workouts, more challenging workouts are created to drive workout performance to new heights. But instead of creating a system that develops these workouts, the industry comes up with daily challenges. Each workout tries to reach some new level of difficulty and thus causes a rise in injury rate from training programs.
So is all of this bad? Not necessarily...
The Art of Periodization
With competitive athletes, the training program during the off-season should look different than the training program used during the competitive season. The off-season program should be designed with not only a "Training to Train" mentality, but also with a progression in mind.
- Start off slow, light, rhythmic and more aerobic in nature
- Recover from the season, while building a base of fitness
- Progress into alternating days of strength and conditioning
- Alternate your workouts among the following:
- explosive strength workouts
- low-intensity aerobic workouts
- low volume, high-intensity strength workouts
- high intensity, anaerobic threshold
Getting into Game Shape
The key is that we challenge a different aspect each day, which in turn lets the body recover from that aspect on the following day. This is the lost art of periodization in our industry.
During the season and during practices and games, each of these aspects comes together in the same workout. The body is challenged from all aspects of fitness at the same time. This is similar to a typical CrossFit workout. This makes it very challenging to recover from one session/game to the next. During the off-season we want to recover - mentally and physically. We are not concerned with Game Shape as we just want to set the foundation for the high volume pre-season, while letting our bodies recover and rebuild.
In our program we utilize the Cybex Arc Trainer heavily in this stage. I have written other articles detailing how the Arc Trainer can improve strength and cardio at this stage. This non-impact, resisted cardio device, allows us to push the muscular endurance aspects, while unloading the joints from the traditional pounding they take during the season.
Focus on Progression
No matter where you are in your training life (in-season, off-season, post-competitive, etc.), you should be focused on progression. Building a broad and solid foundation now, will set you up for a much higher peak later on. As the season approaches, you can begin to add the more challenging activities, sport specific work, etc. But if we train this way year round, we end up tired, burnt out and injured.
Each year has cycles. As such, you should change your program, progress your skills and alternate your activities from day to day and week to week and month to month. You will find that your overall fitness level and motivation to train will reach an all-time high. Here are a few points to follow:
- Start slow, light and rhythmic (recovery mentally)
- Alternate light and heavy days, aerobic and anaerobic days
- Add circuits that blend strength and cardio (but alternate upper body/lower body, heavy/light days)
- Change your focus/training style every 2-3 months
Founder and CEO
Soccer F.I.T. Academy