Thursday, May 3, 2012

Objectives of Training

Okay so, I've talked about how the different phases of training have different profiles in terms of intensity, duration, and frequency. Now I'm going to talk about different training objectives:

  1. endurance
  2. strength
  3. power
Just to narrow our focus, let's think about these objectives as they exist in phase III or performance training. And of course, performance is sport-specific. Obviously what you need for running a marathon is way different than what you need to play derby, thank god. So how you train for a marathon is way different than how you train for derby; that's obvious, right? Different training objectives call for different training strategies, and as before, strategies to address these objectives will manipulate three basic variables:
  • intensity
  • volume (sets and repetitions)
  • frequency

And actually I don't want to talk about training for marathons, I want to talk derby to you. And if I'm talking about derby, I want to talk about these objectives in reverse order:

III. Training for power

To my mind, derby is a power sport. What you see in top-level derby players is explosiveness, not even so much speed as well-timed bursts of speed. Not just strength, but fast strength. A thing that's been stuck in my head from Friday Night Lights is, Velocity is your friend. To hit hard, you have to hit fast. And we all think and say that we have to improve our endurance—but not endurance per se, more endurance for power. Endurance is what, your muscles' ability to perform work over time. So specifically for power endurance, you want your muscles to be able to explode into a sprint or a stop or a hit, and keep being able to sprint and stop and hit, for the length of a bout, which is sixty minutes. Every three jams, or every other jam, or back-to-back jams. And at the higher levels, to be able to do it again and again like in a tournament.

Training like a marathoner will not get you that kind of endurance. And to be fair, training for derby endurance does not mean that you can go out and run a marathon tomorrow.

Oh right, I'm supposed to be talking about training variables. Training for power is very high intensity, very low volume, and low frequency; your power training would be a small part of your three key workouts.

II. Training for strength

Okay so, backing up, if power is strength times speed, it sure doesn't hurt to build strength. Strength is your muscles' ability to perform work in any given instance—so for example, how much weight you can lift. How much force you can apply to, you know, another person, or how much force you can absorb from another person.

Your big muscles—your glutes, your hamstrings, your quads—are your force-generating muscles in derby. You want them to be strong, yeah. Training for strength is high intensity, low volume, and low frequency. It takes 72 hours for muscles to recover after training, so you would train the same muscle group no more frequently than every third day. Remember that when you skate, you're using those muscles; so if you're doing an offskates lower body workout on your "day off," hello, you're still working those same muscles. Give them a rest! Work on your T-Rex upper body, if you must. Or even better, see below.

I. Training for endurance

You've figured out by now that these three training objectives aren't totally separate from each other: you can improve your power by improving your strength, and also improving your strength can improve your endurance. I've already talked about power endurance, but what about endurance per se. What need of that is there in derby, well, if you don't have that base endurance, you know it too well. You don't build yourself into a power player without that base. It's pretty much the difference between dreading that you're not going to make it through that whole forty-minute paceline and one day, you're doing it and it ain't no thang—you do it by doing it until you can do it.

But until then you'll be pretty miserable trying to jam out of the pack and your teammates are cheering MOVE YOUR FEET MOVE YOUR FEET and you're looking dully at the bench like man if I could move them I would.

Enter SkateForm! I really designed SkateForm as a postseason practice, a sort of backing and filling practice where we can work on stuff that we sort of have on hold, on in the background at least, while we're panicking about getting hit by all these people. With SkateForm we can take two steps back and work on endurance per se, and we do it in two ways: two, a lot of low-intensity skating focused on form, form, form, to develop endurance, strength, and muscle memory for form, form, form, so that when the season starts up again, we do this automatically and can just deal with these people hitting us but with better form and amazingly not so tired, and one, a return to core work.

Your core muscles—your abs, your back—unlike your big muscles, are not so much force-generating as stabilizing. So for these muscles it's not so much about strength as it is about, you got it, endurance. Their ability to do what they do over time and not get tired. Tired core muscles means no stabilization means less strength, less power, more getting knocked down. Training for endurance is low intensity, high volume, and high frequency. This is stuff that you can do more or less all the time, whenever you're sitting on the bus or standing at the bus stop or walking down the street, whenever you remember. Lying in bed, even.

In summary:

Objective Intensity Sets and Repetitions Frequency
Endurance low 2-3 sets
>12 reps
6-7 days per week
Strength high 2-6 sets
<6 reps
only every 3 days
Power very high 3-5 sets
3-5 reps
very short bursts of very high intensity in select key workouts

If you've been taught like we've all been taught to squeeze in little workouts whenever you can, I would respectfully suggest laying off the power squats and doing more kegels, core bracing, and shoulder packing work between times in season. Then postseason you can power squat twice a week and keep doing kegels. And pullups! I guess I have to write a post about periodization, too. TK.