By Athletes' Acceleration | August 27th, 2008
When it comes to designing training programs for
their athletes, people tend to be all over the map.
But if you follow these three fundamentals you’ll
make your life a whole lot easier and your athletes
a whole lot better.
Some people take this to the extreme, i.e., they
don’t actually create a program.
(If you don’t at least outline your objectives for
the entire season well before the season starts,
you’re not really creating a training program,
you’re winging it.
If you focus on sport specific drills and movements,
that’s not a training program, it’s just random
workouts. Don’t expect consistent performances.)
I think people avoid sitting down and mapping out
the specifics because they make it an enormous
process in their minds.
It can be if you try to make it more complicated
than it is.
The younger the athletes you work with, the easier
the program design. And it’s never all that
complicated if you work with sub-collegiate athletes.
Because these athletes almost always have basic
problems that require basic solutions. Solutions
rooted in multilateral (all around) athletic
Your 13 year old soccer player doesn’t need ’soccer’
training and your 15 year old football player
doesn’t need ‘football’ training, etc.
They need to develop foundational movement skills,
strength, coordination, speed, flexibility and
Coaches and parents tend to become overzealous about
their particular sport and forget that their athletes
can’t perform the basics. Without the basics,
technical application of sport specific skills is
not going to happen.
Keep it simple and cover all the bases.
When designing training you don’t plan the workout
itself, but you plan for the physiological response
to that workout.
This means that the structure of the workout is
aimed at the energy system you’re working that day.
Repeat 200’s (interval work) can mean a lot of
At 70% intensity it’s working the aerobic system.
High school athletes might be able to do 10 or more
At 80-85% intensity it’s mixed aerobic/anaerobic.
High school athletes might be able to do 6-8 intervals.
at 95% intensity it’s an anaerobic glycolytic workout.
High school athletes might be able to do 3 reps at
You have to first decide what the goal of the
workout is and then plug in the particular specifics.
This is critical for a number of reasons.
For today’s purposes it’s because this understanding
of energy systems allows you to be flexible.
I live in a cold weather environment. If I have
repeat 200s at 82% planned and it snows or is 10
degrees out, I can’t really go outside and do that.
But because I’m flexible and understand the
physiological response/requirements of that day’s
workout, I can do something different and elicit
the same result.
But if I’m rigidly attached to a particular workout
at a particular distance for a particular number
of intervals on a particular day, then I’m screwed
if (and when) weather doesn’t allow it, kids are
sick, excessively sore, etc.
Be flexible and always have a Plan B. And Plan C.
The natural tendency of our body is to reach
homeostasis. Our bodies quickly adapt to whatever
stimulus it repeatedly encounters.
If we give our athletes the same warm up every day,
it no longer has the same effect.
We can’t always go for a 2 mile run on Monday, do
10×30m from a crouch on Tuesday, 2×10x100 @ 75%
on Wednesday, 5 x fly 30 on Thursday and Split
600s on Friday…week after week after week.
(My first question is to ask you if you understand
why I chose that particular order of workouts.
For example, Why not switch Thursday and Friday’s
Answer: Don’t do quality (speed) work the day after
Now, you can keep the order of energy system
development the same (if you knew the answer to
the above question you are in good shape) but
you have to progressively overload the training so
the workouts continue to stimulate an adaptation,
i.e. your athletes keep getting faster, stronger
and in better ’shape’.
This requires changing the volume, intensity,
density, distance per rep/interval, etc.
Not only does it keep athletes from getting extremely
bored with their training (which reduces performance
in and of itself), but it maintains continuous
improvement, assuming, of course, you properly
manipulate all the training variables.
If you plan in advance, keep records of workout
results and continuously improve your system, then
program design gets easier and easier as time
If you’re a little confused, realize you need more
help or just need a bigger library of drills,
exercises and workouts, I highly recommend you
take a serious look at the Complete Speed Training
program. It walks you through this entire process.
To your success,
P.S. For track and field specific program design
strategies, click here.
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