Monitor exercise volume, keep doing what you love
September 20, 2016
"Training is putting money in the bank to spend it on the fight night."
Steve Baccari's charge to the masses is to conjure up the point of training. Fitness acquisition must serve a purpose that supersedes the training itself. What is it that you plan to do?
I'm assuming most inhabitants of the Rocky Mountains want to stay in shape to pursue the mountain lifestyle. How do you plan your exercise to not interfere with the activities you enjoy? Read on.
I am generally against complexity and varied randomness that plagues the fitness industry. Most of us fall into the category of requiring general fitness that doesn't interfere with our lives. However, given the rich fitness culture and mountain lifestyle in our valley, it's a safe assumption that a majority of fitness enthusiasts are putting in too many miles. Volume, not intensity is where most of us run into problems.
Volume is the total amount of weight lifted (or mileage) in a given session or training cycle. Intensity is the amount of load lifted (or relative heart rate) in relationship to your maximum output. Here's a classic example of volume progressed to intensity; five sets of five repetitions with 200 pounds (5,000 pounds lifted), advanced to two sets of five repetitions using 250 pounds (2,500 pounds lifted). This progression cuts the volume in half, with a 25 percent increase in intensity. As fitness improves, volume should decrease, intensity should increase.
Vailites are notorious for putting in too much volume — "when a great volume of work is performed, the quality of movement is lost. Too many repetitions destroy coordination. Fatigue becomes a big factor in employing the wrong muscles to complete the movement. The athlete no longer lifts like an athlete but like a laborer performing work." World and Olympic champion weightlifter Tommy Kono knew the implications of too much volume.
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Furthermore, the Russian researcher, professor Vladimir Issurin, points out, "Older and more experienced athletes are more accustomed to any kind of training stimuli; consequently, their response is less pronounced and their improvement rate is lower. However, the higher long-term adaptation level determines the lower rate of ability loss. As a result, older and experienced athletes have longer training residuals, which allow them to perform a smaller training volume. This is consistent with the real sports world, where training volumes for elite older athletes are 20 percent — 25 percent less than for their younger counterparts."
For us over the age of 35, high volume training is potentially injurious, especially in the Vail Valley and Summit County, as everyone seems to have an athletic measuring stick and must overachieve. The take-home message? Dial it back there, champ.
How do you know if you're overreaching with too much volume? The simplest, most practical method of measurement is daily observance of heart rate. Using your Fitbit or Garmin, find your base level heart rate in the morning on a day you feel well rested. From that point on, measure at the same time upon rising each morning. An increase in no more than 6 bpm indicates good recovery. Between 6 and 10 bpm, you are adapting to the load, but aren't fully recovered. A range of 11 to 16 bpm is a red flag, and over 16 bpm you are well over-trained.
Here are some practical tips to avoid the aforementioned problems. Avoid strength, power, speed or agility training on the same day as an endurance session. If you perform a heavy lifting session and then go for a mere two-mile run, your body will be confused and you won't reap the benefits for either of the qualities trained. Also, don't perform a strength or power session after a hard endurance day.
Strength, power, speed, and skill development demand recovery and rest. Specifically, try to focus on one goal at a time. Developing many fitness qualities at once will hamper development of any one, specific quality. Spend six to eight weeks working on strength and power for example, and then move on to specific endurance after six weeks; while working on endurance during the successive cycle, maintain your strength from the previous cycle. Try to change up the program every six to eight weeks in general. Lastly, consider taking a week off from regular training every four to eight weeks. This will keep your mind and body fresh.
All matters when it counts. Enjoying the mountains is what it's all about. Don't let your training schedule get in the way of living. Dial back the volume, increase the intensity, and enjoy these autumn days. Have a great week!
Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company.