By: Regan Quaal
As any sports performance coach knows, training athletes in-season is no easy task. There are a number of variables at play and an ever-changing schedule that the sport coaches, athletes, and strength coaches have to work around. This makes it challenging to plan ahead, and without adequate preparation, you run the risk of your team training sessions evolving into a pseudo-yoga class, stretching out the athletes and leading banded walks twice a week for the duration of the competitive season. If you haven’t had to fill that role in your career yet, congratulate yourself and consider yourself lucky because you have most likely worked with an awesome staff who is great at communicating.
Obviously, do your best to make sure it never reaches that point, because it is no fun (at least in my opinion) and we didn't get into the field to lead stretches, warm ups, and cool downs. We did it to train athletes and maximize their athletic qualities, so we can watch it transfer to success in their given sport.
I’m sure most of you reading this will be able to relate to the following story. When I first started training athletes as a new coach, I would design an entire training program down to the number of reps and sets at a specific percentage for the upcoming in-season competition schedule. My program was based on what was discussed with the coaches prior to the season pertaining to our “planned” practice schedule and opponents throughout the year. After these conversations, I would design a training program for the athletes to develop specific qualities I believe they needed to be prepared for competition throughout the season.
In theory, this seemed like the right thing to do because I wanted to be as prepared as possible for the long road of in-season work that was ahead. After going through my first couple years of in-season training, however, I realized that this was an overkill approach because we, as sports performance coaches, have very little control. It was very frustrating that I always had to keep redoing/rewriting all the training programs that I was spending so much time putting together leading up to the in-season. I knew my approach was broken, and I had to come up with a more efficient method of getting the job done.
By: Regan Quaal
The IssueI recently read an article about how even though we may be training at low intensities or heart rate ranges that correlate to "aerobic" work, it does not necessarily mean our muscles are using oxygen to produce ATP. This is especially true if we typically spend most of our time training for power or strength qualities.
First, when training for strength and power, the primary systems at play are the glycolytic and alactic systems, not the oxidative system. Secondly, during strength and power, the nervous system adapts to the muscle repeatedly contracting maximally throughout the workout. Each of these contractions produces large amounts of tension in the muscle. After training for strength and power on a regular basis, our muscles tend to start contracting maximally every time movement is performed. This is even the case if the movement is performed at low intensity.
For example, the intensity of jogging is very low, so during the stance phase, the quad only needs to contract submaximally for the runner to continue to move efficiently. The benefit of the muscle contracting submaximally is there is little tension created in the muscle. Small amounts of tension do not cause vasoconstriction, so deoxygenated blood can leave the muscle, and oxygenated blood can enter the muscle without resistance. The opposite is true for a muscle that has adapted to always contracting maximally in training. Maximal contractions cause vasoconstriction, which produces a lot of resistance, reducing the ability of deoxygenated blood to leave the muscle and oxygenated blood to enter the muscle.
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Shakopee High School