I have spent a lot of time looking into the most effective way to approach training, both from a team perspective and individual perspective. In general there are two schools of thought and both have one goal in mind. That goal is to create the most potent stimulus to either create an increase in performance or change in body composition.
The first philosophy is a more modern day approach to designing a training program. It’s what is called undulating. Think of undulating as variable. This looks like a typical training week we focus one day on power, another day on endurance, another day on strength, and each day has a different stimulus. The idea is the whatever stimulus you provided on one day the body will need to recover, so on the next day you pick something different. Upper body focus day 1 and lower body focus day 2. A lot of research shows this approach to be effective in allowing adaptation and improvement to take place.
The second philosophy is call linear. This means that the stimulus stays the same for a longer period of time. We don’t change from day to day. We take a phase, could be 1 week or 1 month, and focus on only developing one thing. Only lower body this week. Only endurance work the next week, etc.
The linear approach is a more old school eastern block format that was developed by sports scientist in the 1960’s. The more modern approach, which has been adopted by most westerners, is the undulating program.
I normally program in accordance with this undulating approach. However a few weeks ago I wanted to tinker around with what it would feel like to switch things around and take 1 week chunks and focus on one single training goal for each week. I have to say… I loved it! Here is why:
It was different
meaning it felt like I was training in a different way. It gave me a distinct start and stop period for what I was doing. I knew that in 5 days I was done with whatever I was working on and that felt good and like I had accomplished something.
It really let me see what I need to work on.
I dreaded the week that I focused on power. Clearly my week spot, but digging into it helped me face it. I knew I was going to have to do 30” sprints up hill and squat and press heavy loads for few reps.
I had a chance to really see change
and improvement as the week went along, since I was immersed in that single training goal for a week. As opposed to waiting from week to week to see if my speeds were getting faster at the 30” sprint marks or my loads for my heavy sets of 5 squats were increasing.
I liked predictability for a change.
I liked knowing what was coming next and that I could focus that week on only one thing. I don’t normally like this, but knowing it was only a short time helped.
This helped me see what I need to work on.
When I did my 3rd week on endurance work, I noticed that I was consistently tight in my left hamstring, but not on the other weeks. It was good to see that and come up with fixes.
You may have noticed that last week we focused specifically on power – high intensity and lower volume. Each day we lifted heavy loads for short periods of time, and ran lots of all out sprints. Most of you ran the fastest you’ve ever run, which was awesome to see.
Over the course of the next 2 weeks in the gym we will continue to have a linear approach to our training. Each week will have a singular goal. I believe that it’s good to tinker and test new ideas when it comes to what we do in the gym.