This is part of an ongoing series on my website: http://www.evolutionaryathletics.com Also note I know this series is a vast oversimplification but I attempting to reach a broad audience here and not over-complicate the issue

Part 1 of this series covered exercise mode. In part 2 I discussed energy systems. Part 3 is the linchpin to the series covering autoregulation and training splits. Part 4 examined the two types of work capacity in sports repetitive and peak and looked at how to manipulate the autoregulation process to target your specific sport needs. Now in Part 5 I am going to discuss block organization.

Block Training in a Nutshell

Block training boils down to a concept called concentrated loading. While initially it may seem complex, it is a rather simple concept. Essentially concentrated loading is a model where you concentrate your efforts by training towards a singular goal. The more “concentrated” the effort the greater the gains made towards that goal. For example, in part 1 I discussed 3 modes of strength training: quickness, power, and strength. In a “non concentraed”, also known as concurrent, phase one would incorporate all three training modes into their cycles. So a workout may look like the following:

Line Hops 3×30 sec – Quickness
Shuffle Run 3×30 sec – Quickness
Altitude Drop x 25 – Power
Vertical Jump x 25 – Power
Squat 5×5 – Strength
Glute Ham Raise – Strength

To the naked eye this may look like a solid plan however its design begs the question: “What is the goal?” The obvious answer being “Everything.” Of course we know that the body only has a limited capacity to recover and adapt. In this program each training goal is going to compete for the same reserves. This leads to little to no gains towards any of the goals.

You may become a little quicker, a little more powerful, and a little stronger. Or you may not achieve anything!!

So how do we avoid this dilemma?

Simple. Concentrated loading. Utilizing the concentrated loading method you would concentrate your efforts towards one goal. Considering the three modes of exercise, you would only utilize types of exercise that are similar and discard the type of exercise that is furthest from the goal. With this in mind we see that power, because of its utilization of quickness and strength, will serve as a bridge. That is one could incorporate power and quickness exercises into a power cycle and one could incorporate power work into a strength cycle.

One would not incorporate quickness and strength into the same cycle.

Why not?

Because strength and quickness are furthest away from each other on the force-velocity spectrum thus they will compete for results targeting vastly different goals. Not very concentrated huh?

Maintenance

Now you may be wondering: “If I ignore strength training will I lose all of my gains?” Simply the answer is: no.

So how do we maintain our strength levels while ignoring strength work (or vice versa for quickness depending on your cycles). Remember that power work has a strength and quickness component and thus will serve to protect your strength and quickness gains while training in a cycle that excludes one of those components. In addition to the incorporation of power work into your training cycles, I would also recommend doing a maintenance workout targeting the neglected quality once every two weeks (Option 1) Or doing a maintenance week once every three weeks (Option 2).

Option 1 would look like the following:

Week 1
Monday Quickness
Thursday Power + Quickness

Week 2
Monday Quickness
Thursday Power + Quickness

Week 3
Monday Strength
Thursday Power + Quickness

So you can see that you completed 2 weeks of a quickness block and then added in 1 strength workout.

Option 2 would look like this:

Week 1
Monday Quickness
Thursday Power + Quickness

Week 2
Monday Quickness
Thursday Power + Quickness

Week 3
Monday Quickness
Thursday Power + Quickness

Week 4
Monday Strength
Thursday Power + Strength

Week 5- Begin the cycle over

As you can see Option 2 involves 3 weeks of quickness training and 1 full week of strength training. Obviously you would flip-flop the cycles if your training focus was strength.

Periodization

Yet another fancy ten dollar word. Simply this means a training plan. In general, the simplest way to organize training blocks is utilizing the performance loop which looks like the following:

Hypertrophy->Strength->Power/Quickness->Hypertrophy

In this cycle we see that hypertrophy builds larger muscles laying the foundation for greater strength gains. Then we capitalize on the increase in contractile protein by making your muscles stronger and teaching them to produce greater amounts of force. Finally we teach those muscles how to apply the new found strength very rapidly. The rapid application of force requires maximal CNS stimulation and recruitment. This will teach the muscles to be able to recruit some of the more dormant high threshold, fast twitch muscle fibers. Which will open the door to the athlete being able to recruit these fibers in their next hypertrophy cycle and open the door to even greater gains!

The training templates now look like the following:

***Note the mode before the colon is day 1 and the modes after the colon are day 2 for all of the following template***

Main Goal – Hypertrophy
Strength G : Strength G

Maintenance – Power
Quickness G + Speed-strength PC

For a strong but slow athlete you should use a power template. The following templates are excellent choices:

Main Goal – Power
Quickness G: Speed-strength PC
Quickness G: Speed-Strength PC + Quickness G
Quickness G + Speed-Strength PC : Strength Speed PC
Quickness G + Speed-Strength PC : Strength Speed PC+Quickness G

Maintenance – Strength
Strength PC + Strength G

If you are a quick but weak athlete the following templates may be effective:

Main Goal – Strength
Strength PC : Strength G
Strength PC : Strength-Speed PC+Strength G
Strength PC+Strength G : Strength-Speed PC +Strength G

Maintenance – Power
Quickness G + Speed-strength PC

I hope you enjoyed the fifth installment of this series and have begun incorporating some of the advice. If you have or have any questions I would love to hear from you.

-Alex