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Chapter 1

General Principles of Training


Exercise training can be defined as a systematic training (Bompa 1999). Athletes also have to train
process of preparing for a certain physical goal. This psychologic aspects and in team sports athletes
goal used to be synonymous with peak physical have to train for the development of team compat-
performance; however, exercise training is also ibility to ensure harmony within the team structure.
used to achieve targets for health-related fitness. To complete the requirements for achieving peak
As society evolves and becomes more sedentary performance, athletes need to be healthy and free of
(Dollman et al. 2005) there is greater emphasis on injuries and have a theoretical knowledge of their
habitual physical activity with the aim of reducing training in preparation for their sport so that they
obesity, adult onset diabetes, hypertension and the can take some responsibility for their progress
risk of heart disease. Indeed, there are specific (Bompa 1999).
guidelines which have been have written for pre- Long-term planning for the career of an elite
scribing exercise for these conditions (American athlete covers 1015 years (Smith 2003). However,
College of Sports Medicine 1998). the age at which competitors reach their peak varies
An understanding shared by coaches and athletes according to the sport. For example, in sports such
alike, all over the world, is the general concept that as gymnastics, figure skating, and swimming com-
physical performance improves with training petitors reach their peak in their late teens or early
(Foster et al. 1996). The specific guidelines on how to twenties, in contrast to other sports such as soccer,
achieve peak performance are not so clear, because rugby, and distance running where competitors
of the diverse capabilities, goals and types of sport. reach their peak success in their late twenties or
For example, a sedentary person may have a goal of early thirties (Bompa 1999). In sports such as golf
training to develop sufficient fitness for running and lawn bowls, in which the technical attributes
5 km without stopping. This can be compared to the are the most important factors determining success,
goal of a professional athlete who trains according the age of elite performers may be 40 or 50 years.
to a program with the aim of reducing his 5-km time Generally, the starting age of athletes in the more
by 3 s. However, irrespective of the goal, there are technical sports, which require the development
basic principles of training which can be applied to of fine motor coordination skills, is younger than
plan training programs. athletes competing in sports that are less technical
Training for peak sporting performance includes but depend more on physical ability.
training for physical development (general and This chapter discusses the evolution of training
sport-specific factors), and technical and tactical principles with a contemporary view of the factors
that need to be considered in devising a training
Olympic Textbook of Medicine in Sport, Edited by M. Schwellnus. program. Specifically, it discusses the principles of
2008 International Olympic Committee. ISBN: 978-1-4051-5637-0. training programs that are designed to improve
peak performance coinciding with competition.

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This is followed by sections on specific training prin- The scientific approach to training coincided
ciples for strength, endurance, and skill acquisition. with the application of the principles of sports
physiology to training (Tipton 1997). This initiated
a systematic application into training programs of
interval training (Laursen & Jenkins 2002) and other
Exercise training to improve performance can be types of training such as acceleration sprints, circuit
traced back to early civilizations (Kontor 1988). training, continuous fast running, continuous slow
There is evidence for both strength training and running, fartlek training, jogging, and repetition
strength contests as early as 2040 bc with illustra- running.
tions of weightlifting and strength movements on During the 1960s and 1970s the development of
the tomb of the Egyptian Prince Baghti (Stone et al. sports science coincided with the transition of ama-
2006). Other forms of training are described in teur into professional sports (Booth et al. 2000). This
folklore. For example, there is the story of the Milo also prompted creative thinking about improving
the Greek wrestler who won six titles at the Olympic performance through strategies other than training.
Games, getting his first title in 540 bc. In preparation Not all the methods were accepted. Indeed, the use
for his competition Milo supported a calf above his of drugs to improve performance was banned by
head daily. As the calf grew, Milo became stronger the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and
and was the credited with being the first person to implemented at the Olympic Games in Mexico City
practice the principle of overload (Kontor 1988). in 1968 (Papagelopoulos et al. 2004). Nearly 40 years
This principle was only studied systematically later this problem is still rife in competitive sport,
nearly 2500 years later (Hellenbrandt & Houtz 1956). with athletes and their medical support staff be-
Planning a training program for improving per- coming more elusive in their use of drugs. This is
formance was documented by Flavius Philostratus countered by the authorities who have to invest
(ad 170245), a coach of Greek Olympians. He men- large amounts of money to use more sophisticated
tioned that a coach should be a psychiatrist with methods to detect athletes who have used any sub-
considerable knowledge in anatomy and heritage stance that appears on the IOC banned list.
(Bompa 1999). Equipment has also improved over the years and
In Britain towards the end of the 18th century contributed significantly to an improvement in per-
methods of training were discussed by trainers of formance in sports such as golf, soccer, kayaking,
athletes from different sports involving humans cycling, and javelin. This has resulted in legislation
(runners, boxers) and animals (racehorses) (Radford standardizing the equipment to prevent competitors
2000). The description of these training methods from having an unfair advantage over their rivals
became more formal after Sir John Sinclair com- with less sophisticated equipment. A specific exam-
pleted a national survey of coaching methods and ple of equipment influencing performance is pole
published his findings in 1806. These guidelines for vaulting where at the 1896 Olympics a bamboo
training were based on anecdotal evidence and pole was used and the height achieved was 3.2 m.
personal experiences of coaches and were devoid In modern times, with the use of poles made out of
of any scientific testing or scrutiny. During this carbon-fiber composite material, the current world
era, success in high performance sport could be record is nearly double that at 6.14 m (2008).
attributed mainly to two factors: (i) the athlete had a Despite the refinement in the preparation for elite
predisposition to the sport; (ii) a coach with a disci- performances, the improvement in world records in
plined approach to training supervised the athlete the last 20 years has been moderate. For example,
(Lambert 2006). The first scientific investigation into the World Record in the marathon has improved
sports training methods occurred in 1950 (Tipton by 2 min 17 s (1.8%), the 10,000 m and 5000 m track
1997) and since then there has been an acceleration race times by 56 s (3.4%) and 22 s (3.0%), respect-
in the discussion and scientific evaluation of athletic ively, and the shot put distance has increased by
training programs (Booth et al. 2000). 50 cm (2.2%) during this time.
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general principles of training 3

In summary, the factors associated with improve- The specific type of changes that occur after training
ment in the performance of contemporary athletes depend on the type of stimulus, defined by the
compared with the top athletes several decades mode of exercise, intensity, and volume of training
ago are: (Brooks et al. 2005; Coyle 2000). For example, the out-
Improvements in coaching; come of a resistance training program can increase
Advances in nutrition; either muscular endurance, hypertrophy, strength,
Perfection of athletic facilities; or power. This depends on the manipulation of
Refinement of equipment; and the training variables: (i) muscle action; (ii) loading
Contributions from sports medicine (Tipton 1997). and volume; (iii) selection of exercises and the
order in which they are performed; (iv) rest periods;
(v) repetition velocity; and (vi) frequency (Bird et al.
Biologic process of training
2005). The choice of the application of the training
Exercise training can be explained according to the load (free weight vs. machine weights) can also
principles of biologic adaptation. In accordance influence the type of adaptation (Stone et al. 2000a).
with this explanation, each training session imposes The overt symptoms of training adaptations
a physiologic stress (Brooks et al. 2005). As with all are shown by well-defined muscles, low body fat,
forms of physiologic stress, there is a homeostatic and skilful movements. The covert symptoms of
reaction. This results in transient physiologic and training are increased mitochondria in skeletal
metabolic changes (Coyle 2000) which return to their muscles (Irrcher et al. 2003), increased capillariza-
pre-exercise resting levels during the recovery period tion (Henriksson 1992), cardiac hypertrophy
when the exercise session is over. Examples of these (Urhausen & Kindermann 1992), and increased
transient changes are as follow (Brooks et al. 2005): density of bones (Chilibeck et al. 1995). The first
Altered blood flow to the active muscles; signs of increased capillarization occur about 4
Increased heart rate; weeks after starting a training program (Jensen et al.
Increased breathing rate; 2004), while it takes at least 4 weeks for the mito-
Increased oxygen consumption; chondrial mass in the skeletal muscle to increase
Increased rate of sweating; (Lambert & Noakes 1989). A few days after starting
Increased body temperature; an endurance training program there is an increase
Secretion of stress hormones such as adreno- in plasma volume (Green et al. 1990), while an
corticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol and altered muscle recruitment is the earliest adaptation
catecholamines; that occurs after resistance training (Carroll et al.
Increased glycolytic flux; and 2001; Gabriel et al. 2006). This is followed by muscle
Altered recruitment of muscles. hypertrophy which occurs after about 8 weeks,
If these acute bouts of exercise are repeated over depending on the training status of the athlete.
time they induce chronic adaptations that are also Training adaptations can be classified either as
known as training adaptations (Coyle 2000). Most those changes that increase performance (through
of these changes involve remodeling of protein either an increased muscle power, increased ability
tissue as a consequence of changes between protein to resist fatigue, or increased motor coordination) or
synthesis and degradation (Mader 1988). These those changes that reduce the risk of injury. There is
changes are semi-permanent and do not disappear generally a positive relationship between training
after the bout of exercise or training session. load and the physiologic adaptations resulting
However, they do regress if regular exposure to the in improvements in performance. However, if a
stress of training ceases, as occurs during periods of critical training load is exceeded there will be dimin-
detraining (Mujika et al. 2004). Training adaptations ishing returns. For competitors at the elite level
result in altered metabolism (Coyle 2000), changes there is a fine line between insufficient training or
in neuromuscular recruitment patterns during exer- too much training (Kuipers & Keizer 1988; Lehmann
cise, and remodeling of tissue (Hakkinen et al. 2003). et al. 1993; Meeusen et al. 2006; Morton 1997).
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Insufficient training does not induce adequate However, it is useful to compartmentalize these
adaptations and results in suboptimal performance. systems in order to gain a better understanding
In contrast, too much training results in maladapta- of how the athlete has developed and which aspects
tions or the failure to adapt, causing symptoms of of their fitness need to be further developed.
fatigue and poor performance (Budgett 1990; Derman Accordingly, the systems can be compartmental-
et al. 1997). A more scientific approach to training ized into the following categories.
with a systematic approach to monitoring training
increases the chances of the athlete peaking at the
correct time coinciding with important competition
(Lambert 2006; Lambert & Borresen 2006). Muscle strength is defined as the ability to produce
force. While a minimal amount of strength is needed
for normal daily activities, the demands of certain
Factors affecting physical performance
sports require well-developed strength. In some
The many factors that have the potential to sports strength is needed just as a basic component
affect physical performance are shown in Table 1.1 of fitness, while in other sports (e.g., weightlifting)
(Lambert 2006). Exercise training is the over- strength is the main outcome variable which deter-
riding factor in the list and can account for an im- mines success or failure in competition. Strength
provement in performance of over 400% in an can be increased by systematic resistance training
untrained person who undergoes a systematic train- using either specially designed machines or free
ing program (Noakes 2001). The magnitude of this weights (Stone et al. 2000a). The manifestation of an
improvement is in stark contrast to the magnitude athletes strength depends on muscle morphology
of improvement (130%) caused by the other factors and the motor system (Enoka 1988). Strength can be
shown in Table 1.1. All these factors are discussed increased without any change in muscle size, but
in detail in various sections in this book. it is always dependent on changes in the neural
system (Carroll et al. 2001). Increases in strength are
transferred to sporting performances in varying
Fitness components associated
amounts. For example, a weight-training program
with sport
increased squat one-repetition maximum (1 RM) by
Performance in most sports requires integrated 21% and this increase in strength was accompanied
functioning of the different systems in the body. by improvements in vertical jump performance
(21%) and sprinting speed (2.3%) (Young 2006).

Table 1.1 Factors that have the potential to affect

performance. Power

Muscle power, which is a function of the interaction

Exercise training and preparation, including tapering
Health between force of contraction and the speed of
Nutrition contraction, is associated with the explosiveness of
Nutritional ergogenic aids the muscle. The relationship between force and
Drugs (positive and negative) speed of contraction and the subsequent point at
Inherited characteristics
which peak power occurs varies between athletes
Tactics (Jennings et al. 2005). For example, peak power
Equipment occurs at 5070% of the maximum weight that can
Home ground advantage be lifted for one repetition for the squat and at
Environmental conditions (heat, cold, wind, altitude, 4060% of 1 RM for the bench press (Siegel et al.
2002). A fundamental way of increasing muscle
Mental readiness
Sleep (and circadian rhythms) power is to increase maximal strength, particularly
in untrained athletes (Stone et al. 2000a).
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general principles of training 5

Muscle endurance Motor coordination (skill)

Muscle endurance is dependent on the muscle being Performance in sport often has a component of skill.
able to contract repetitively without developing This depends on the combined interaction of agility,
fatigue. A combination of muscle strength, metabolic balance, coordination, power, speed, and reaction
characteristics, and local circulation in the muscle time. Another aspect of skill, which is difficult to
influence the endurance characteristics. Several tests define or measure, is the ability of a sports person to
have been developed to measure muscle endurance. make a strategic decision very quickly. The accuracy
A feature of these tests is that they all monitor the of this decision-making contributes to the success of
ability of a specific muscle, or group of muscles, to the team. There are examples in different sporting
contract repetitively. Examples of these tests are the codes of players who seem gifted and on most occa-
number of push-ups and abdominal curls in 1 min sions make the correct decision during competition
(Getchell 1985; Semenick 1994). Muscular endurance compared to their less talented team mates. While
can also be measured with repeated static contrac- motor coordination can be trained, the superior
tions (isometric) (Coetzer et al. 1993). decision-making ability that some players have,
making them appear more skilled, is probably an
intrinsic characteristic rather than being acquired by
Repeat sprint
The ability to resist fatigue after repeated short
duration, high intensity sprints is a fitness charac-
teristic that is important for team sports such as
soccer, rugby, football, basketball, and netball. Repeat Flexibility represents the range of motion specific to
sprint performance and, by implication, fatigue a joint. Flexibility can be dynamic or static. Dynamic
resistance during intermittent, short duration, high flexibility involves the range of motion during
intensity activities, can be improved by decreasing movement of muscles around a joint whereas static
body mass, specifically body fat, and by increasing flexibility defines the degree to which a joint can be
strength and muscular endurance, providing this passively moved through its full range of motion.
does not result in an increase in body mass (Durandt Changes in flexibility occur after stretching exer-
et al. 2006). Training that results in improvements in cises. Flexibility training is used in the warm-up
agility and/or aerobic power may also improve the before training or competition (Shellock & Prentice
ability to resist fatigue during repeat sprint activ- 1985) and also with the goal of preventing injuries.
ities (Durandt et al. 2006). Although there is theoretical evidence to support
the positive link between stretching and lowered
risk of musculoskeletal injuries during exercise, the
clinical evidence is not so strong (Gleim & McHugh
Speed consists of a number of components (Cronin 1997). Specific joint angle can be measured as a
& Hansen 2005; Delecluse et al. 1995), all of which marker of flexibility for various joints with a gonio-
are independent qualities: acceleration speed, maxi- meter, or a Leighton flexometer (Leighton 1966).
mum speed, and speed endurance. Performance in A sit-and-reach field test has also been developed to
the 10-m sprint is influenced by acceleration speed, measure the range of motion of the lower back and
while performance in the 40-m sprint is dependent hamstring muscles.
on both acceleration speed and maximum speed
(Delecluse et al. 1995). Speed can be improved by
Cardiovascular fitness
increasing the power to weigh ratio. Plyometric
training (i.e., counter-movement jumps or loaded Cardiovascular fitness, also referred to as cardio-
squat jumps) is effective for improving speed vascular endurance or aerobic fitness, refers to the
(Cronin & Hansen 2005). collective ability of the cardiovascular system to
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adjust to the physiologic stress of exercise. Cardio- Muscle mass can vary from about 40% (anorexic
vascular fitness is usually measured in the laboratory person) to 65% of body mass (e.g., a body builder
during a high intensity exercise test to exhaustion with hypertrophied muscle) (Martin et al. 1990).
with a mode of exercise that recruits a large muscle The main function of muscle, from a sport and exer-
mass and with rhythmic muscle contractions (e.g., cise perspective, is to contract and generate force.
cycling, running, rowing). A feature of the test is Depending on the sport and the type of training,
that it should have a progressively increasing inten- some muscle is adapted to contract several thou-
sity which continues until the athlete is exhausted. sand times per training session without developing
Oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide produced fatigue (e.g., endurance activity), whereas other
are measured continuously during the test. The muscle is adapted to generate high levels of power
oxygen consumption coinciding with exhaustion is with only a few contractions (e.g., powerlifting, shot
called the maximum oxygen consumption (Vo2max). put, weightlifting). This type of muscle fatigues
An athlete who excels in an endurance sport gener- rapidly.
ally has a high Vo2max. Although endurance training Bone is a specialized type of connective tissue
increases the Vo2max, and by implication the cardio- which is also dynamic and responds to stimuli by
vascular fitness, the increases are generally moder- changing its shape and density, albeit at a much
ate (about 15%; Zavorsky 2000) and are dependent slower rate than fat and muscle tissue (Chilibeck
on the level of fitness of the person at the start of the et al. 1995). Bone mass varies from 10% to 20% of
training program. total body mass.
A 20-m shuttle test has also been developed to The diversity of body composition among elite
predict cardiovascular fitness in a field setting athletes is dramatic and can be observed during
(Lger & Lambert 1982). In this field test athletes a visit to the Olympic village. The smallest men
run backwards and forwards between two beacons competing at this level are the endurance athletes.
20 m apart, maintaining a prescribed pace which Indeed, the winner of the marathon at the Atlanta
gets faster and faster until the athlete is unable to Olympics in 1996 was Josiah Thugwane of South
maintain the pace. The stage coinciding with fatigue Africa who weighed 43 kg (Noakes 2001). The larger
is directly proportional to Vo2max. men who compete in the sports requiring strength
and power weigh about 130 kg. The body mass of
the champion women athletes competing at the
Body composition
Olympic Games range from about 35 to 110 kg. The
Body composition is defined by the proportions body composition can be regarded as an inherited
of fat, muscle, and bone. Fat occurs beneath the trait, although it can be manipulated to a certain
skin and around the internal organs and is also extent by training and nutritional intervention.
found within tissues such as bone and muscle.
Fat can be divided into non-essential and essential
Basic principles of training
compartments. Fat tissue insulates and protects
organs and is a storage form of energy and sub- In planning a training program there are some basic
strates for metabolism. Fat mass may vary from principles that need to be considered. They are
about 6% to 40% of body mass. Endurance athletes discussed under the following headings.
who perform at a high level have low levels of fat.
Sumo wrestlers are examples of elite athletes who
have a high fat content. Many sports have weight
categories (e.g., boxing, judo, wrestling, rowing), An athlete has to be exposed to an overload stimu-
and therefore the manipulation of body mass, in lus at regular intervals for the induction of training
particular fat mass, becomes an important part adaptations. An overload stimulus can be manipu-
of the athletes preparation for competition (Fleck lated by changing the mode of exercise, duration,
1983). frequency, intensity, and recovery period between
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general principles of training 7

training sessions (Bompa 1999). An overload train- sumption (Daniels 1985), heart rate (Lambert et al.
ing stimulus can also be imposed by altering 1998), blood lactate (Swart & Jennings 2004), the
nutrition and influencing the intracellular milieu weight lifted during the exercise (Sweet et al. 2004),
before the training session. For example, to mimic or the perception of effort (Foster et al. 2001). Train-
the metabolic stress in the muscles towards the end ing intensity is the major training stimulus that
of a marathon an athlete could start the training influences adaptation and performance. Athletes
session with a low muscle glycogen concentration. are only advised to incorporate high intensity
This can be achieved by reducing carbohydrate training into their training programs after they
intake about 24 hours before the training session. have developed a sufficient base (Laursen & Jenkins
The athlete then begins the training session with 2002). If too much high intensity training is carried
lower than usual glycogen levels in the liver and out the athlete will be at risk of developing
muscles. After about 20 30 km of the training run symptoms of fatigue associated with overreaching
the metabolic flux will be similar to the metabolism (Meeusen et al. 2006) and overtraining or will
that occurs towards the end of a marathon. An increase the risk of getting injured (Noakes 2001).
advantage of this strategy is that a metabolic over-
load can be imposed without the same mechanical
Rest and recovery
muscle stress and damage that occurs towards the
end of a marathon. Rest and recovery are important, often neglected
principles of training. Factors that need to be consid-
ered during the recovery process after a training
session are as follow:
Training frequency refers to the number of training 1 Age Athletes older than 25 years need longer re-
sessions in a defined period. For example, training covery periods than younger athletes (Bompa 1999).
frequency may vary between 5 and 14 sessions per 2 Environmental conditions Training and competing
week depending on the sport, level of performance in the heat imposes more physiologic stress on
of the athlete, and stage of training cycle (Smith the athlete and requires a longer recovery period
2003). (Noakes 2001).
3 Type of activity Training and competition that
induces muscle damage requires longer recovery
periods than activities that cause fatigue but no
This refers to the time or amount of the exercise ses- muscle damage or soreness.
sion. This is sometimes confused with the volume of Even within a specific sport the demands on the
training, which quantifies training over a period of players varies depending on their playing position
time and combines duration and frequency (Smith (Takarada 2003). Ideally, the recovery for each
2003). Athletes competing at the international level player should be customized. It is recommended
need to train for approximately 1000 hours per year that players are monitored using subjective and
(Bompa 1999). objective strategies to ensure that the recovery
period is customized (Lambert & Borresen 2006).
Decisions about the different recovery strategies
have to be made considering the team as a whole.
Exercise intensity is a measure of how hard is the A study of rugby players (Gill et al. 2006) showed
exercise? and is related to the power output. The that recovery was accelerated if the players per-
exercise intensity lies somewhere on a continuum formed low impact exercise immediately after
between rest (basal metabolic rate) and maximal competition, wore compression garments (Kraemer
effort, which coincides with the maximal oxygen et al. 2001), or had contrast water therapy (Higgins
uptake for that activity. Exercise intensity can be & Kaminski 1998) compared with a situation where
monitored by measuring submaximal oxygen con- they recovered without any intervention.
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8 c ha p ter 1

A practical tool has been developed to assist that the type of training must be structured and
coaches and athletes with monitoring recovery planned in accordance with the requirements of the
(Kentt & Hassmen 1998). This is a simple question- competition. However, this principle can be applied
naire which the athletes complete on a daily basis. inappropriately if it is assumed that all training
The questions probe aspects of recovery such as: (i) should simply mimic the demands of competition
nutrition and hydration; (ii) sleep and rest; (iii) (Young 2006). In certain sports the physical
relaxation and emotional support; and (iv) stretch- demands of competition can induce muscle imbal-
ing and active rest. ances and the risk of injury is also higher in many
types of competition compared to training for the
competition. Therefore, it is necessary to vary train-
psychologic stress
ing and structure it so that the athlete develops a
If the psychologic side of training and competing good base of fitness before attempting the more
is not considered in the recovery process the high risk, competition-specific fitness. This concept
athlete may develop symptoms of staleness or of varying training volume at various stages of the
overtraining (Morgan et al. 1987). The Profile of season is explained by the principle of periodization.
Mood States (POMS) questionnaire, which was
developed in 1971, is a useful tool for this purpose
(McNair et al. 1971). The test was initially designed
for patients undergoing counseling or therapy but Periodization is the process of systematic planning
has subsequently evolved to be used in sport. The of a short- and long-term training program by vary-
POMS is a self-report test designed to measure ing training loads and incorporating adequate rest
the psychology of mood state, mood changes, and recovery. The plan serves as a template for the
and emotion (McNair et al. 1971). The test has athlete and coach (Smith 2003). While it is important
65 items which measures six identifiable moods to have a plan, the day-to-day implementation of
or feelings: Tension-Anxiety, Depression-Dejection, the plan should not be rigid, but rather should be
Anger-Hostility, Vigor-Activity, Fatigue-Inertia, and modifiable based on the symptoms of the athlete
Confusion-Bewilderment. The respondents answer (Lambert & Borresen 2006; Noakes 2001).
according to a scale (0 = not at all, 1 = a little, The classic approach of periodized training has
2 = moderately, 3 = quite a bit, 4 = extremely). been to distinguish between high volume, low
The Daily Analysis of Life Demands for Athletes intensity training designed to develop aerobic
(DALDA) questionnaire can also be used to monitor capacity, usually in the early part of the season, and
stress that high performance athletes have to high intensity training designed to develop quali-
encounter (Rushall 1990). This test monitors the ties linked to performance, as the season progresses
physiologic stress of training in addition to the (Hellard et al. 2005). This approach to training
stresses that may exist outside the training environ- reduces the risk of overtraining, while the athlete is
ment but which may contribute significantly to the more likely to peak at a predictable time, usually
total stress exposure. The DALDA can be adminis- coinciding with important competition (Hellard
tered throughout a training season and can easily be et al. 2005; Stone et al. 1999). Another reason for this
incorporated into a training logbook. The scoring systematic approach to training is that different
can be done by the athlete or coach. The test is physiological systems vary in their retention rate
widely used by coaches and is also sufficiently after training (Hellard et al. 2005). Therefore, by
robust to be used in research (Halson et al. 2002). varying the training loads as the season progresses,
the desired adaptations, which are associated with
peak performance, are achieved.
An advantage of periodization is that it provides
The principle of specificity states that adaptations a structure for controlling the stress and recovery
are specific to the type of training stress. It follows for inducing training adaptations (Smith 2003). The
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general principles of training 9

success of the plan can also be tested regularly to After a break in training because of illness or
confirm that specific goals have been met in pre- injury, the training load is increased too quickly;
paration for the main competition (Lambert 2006). High volume of maximal and submaximal
A study of Olympic swimmers showed that the training;
relationship between training load and performance Overall volume of intense training is too high
varied according to the different phases of training. when the athlete is training for endurance events;
Low intensity training had a positive effect on Excessive time is devoted to technical or mental
performance in the long term, suggesting that this aspects, without adequate recovery;
type of training is necessary to induce the adaptation Excessive number of competitions this includes
of various physiologic mechanisms necessary for frequent disturbances of the daily routine and insu-
the subsequent high intensity training (Hellard et al. fficient training time that accompanies competition;
2005). This study also concluded that the swimmers Bias of training methodology; and
response to a given training volume may vary The athlete has a lack of trust of the coach because
between seasons and even between training ses- of inaccurate goal setting.
sions. They found that at the elite level training
variables only accounted for 30% of the variation in
performance (Hellard et al. 2005). This supports the
concept that training programs need to be highly This section attempts to discuss the basic principles
individualized for elite athletes (Hellard et al. 2005). of training. These principles have evolved from
Monitoring the training loadresponse relationship practical experience, but are also based on biologic
is important for elite athletes to ensure that the train- principles of stress and adaptation. The next sections
ing program is individualized and accommodates in this chapter discuss more specific examples of the
the needs of each athlete (Lambert 2006). basic principles of training, focusing on resistance
There are several different models for periodizing training, endurance training, and skill acquisition.
training (Bompa 1999). These models differ depend-
ing on the sport, but they all share a common prin-
ciple in having phases of general preparation, specific
preparation, competition preparation and competi-
tion, transition or active rest. The terminology for The primary focus of research in the physical con-
dividing the cycles is referred to as follows: ditioning field has been on the promotion of
macrocycles: long plan, usually 1 year; physical activity and aerobic type exercise regimes
mesocycles: shorter plan from about 2 weeks to (Winett & Carpinelli 2001). Strength or resistance
several months; and training has generally taken a back seat in compari-
microcycles: short plan of about 7 days (Stone et al. son. However, to perform activities of daily living
1999). efficiently and to maximize sporting performance
capabilities one needs the muscles and joints of the
body to function optimally. To ensure that this
Basic errors in training
happens, one needs to strengthen and condition
The principles of training are guidelines that can be these structures sufficiently. One way of accom-
used to customize a training program. A deviation plishing this is by regular resistance training.
from, or inappropriate application of these guide-
lines, has consequences that can negatively affect
Program design
performance. Common basic errors in training that
detract from achieving peak performances include The act of resistance training, itself, does not
the following (Smith 2003): ensure optimal gains in muscle strength and per-
Recovery is neglected; formance (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). The key
Demands on the athletes are made too quickly; to successful resistance training is an appropriate
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10 c ha p ter 1

program design. To obtain the best results, one while the person is less fatigued (Kraemer &
has to consider the science behind exercise prescrip- Ratamess 2004). Because multi-joint exercises in-
tion and also take a practical approach. To perform volve more muscle groups, require lifting heavier
this process efficiently one has to consider the weights, and necessitate enhanced balance and
following training variables: the exercise and work- control, they also demand more physical effort to
out structure, mode of resistance training, exercise perform. If fatigue is present by the time these
intensity, rest intervals and frequency of training, exercises are performed, the athlete will not be able
volume of training, speed of movement, and to gain the maximum benefit from the exercise.
progression. It is the correct manipulation of these Furthermore, there is a risk of losing good form
training variables that optimize the resistance train- and technique, which predisposes one to an
ing outcomes. increased risk of injury.
The general recommendations for sequencing of
resistance training exercises for strength and power
Exercise and workout structure
are as follows (American College of Sports Medicine
There are three main types of strength training 2002; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004):
programs: total body workouts, upper body/lower Large muscle groups before small muscle groups
body split programs, and muscle group split pro- (all programs)
grams (American College of Sports Medicine 2002; Multi-joint exercises before single-joint exercises
Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). The total body workout (all programs)
is a commonly used approach that incorporates 12 Most complex exercises before least complex
exercises for each main muscle group covering the exercises (all programs)
whole body in one session. The upper body/lower body Rotate upper body and lower body exercises
split program is also a favored program design that (total body programs) or
focuses on training either the upper body or lower Rotate opposing muscle groups; for example,
body on alternate days. The muscle group split push then pull movements, biceps then triceps (total
approach is mainly used for people who wish to body or upper body/lower body split programs)
maximize hypertrophy of selected muscle groups. Higher intensity before lower intensity exercises
The choice of program depends on individual (muscle group split programs)
requirements and objectives (Kraemer & Ratamess These recommendations are primarily focused
2004). The advantage of training using a split- on maximizing the effort and strength gains via
program routine is that one can select a wider range performance of the exercises in combination and
of exercises which allows more focus on specific minimizing the effects of fatigue in the execution of
muscle groups than with the total body workout the more difficult multi-joint exercises.
approach (American College of Sports Medicine
2002; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). The split-program
variation within a program
approach also allows a higher frequency of resist-
ance training, but still provides adequate recovery There is sufficient evidence to support the concept
periods for specific muscle groups during a training that varying the exercises trained on a specific body
cycle (Pearson et al. 2000). part (e.g., the chest musculature) improves strength
and power gains (Pearson et al. 2000). There are a
few ways of doing this. One can either change the
exercise order
exercises trained every 23 weeks, or one can use
It is important to maximize the benefits obtained two program variations on alternate training days
from each exercise and to train at maximum effort (Pearson et al. 2000). However, one should be
for optimal results. Therefore, multi-joint exercises cautious not to vary core exercises too much, as this
should be performed earlier on in the workout might hinder progression.
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general principles of training 11

effective than single-joint exercises for improving

Mode of resistance training
strength and power (American College of Sports
Medicine 2002; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). Examples
machine vs. free weights
of single-joint exercises are bicep curls and leg
There is little evidence to suggest that one type of extensions; examples of multi-joint exercises are
resistance training (e.g., machines vs. free weights) bench press and leg press. Multi-joint exercises
is superior to the other in terms of results, as long as generally involve more muscle mass and include
the training prescription is correctly designed integrated movement with more balance, coordin-
(Feigenbaum & Pollock 1999; Haff 2000; Winett ation, and neuromuscular control than single-joint
& Carpinelli 2001). Training with free weights exercises (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). However, for
requires more functionality such as dynamic proprio- beginners, single-joint exercises might be more
ception, stabilization, balance, and control, allows advantageous in that they require less skill and pose
more variation and mimics activities of daily living less risk of injury than the more complex multi-joint
and athletic movements more closely (American exercises (American College of Sports Medicine
College of Sports Medicine 2002; Cronin et al. 2003; 2002; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). When learning
Field 1988; Haff 2000; Hass et al. 2001). It is better to multi-joint exercises one should start with very light
train movements rather than muscles. The shift in resistance such as a bar or even a long wooden stick,
resistance training has moved towards functional and not add any weights until the technique is
training, because of its strong neuromuscular adequate (Pearson et al. 2000).
contribution to muscle function (Santana 2001). The
more specific the movement trained, the greater the
specificity of resistance training
transfer of training adaptations to performance of
the intended skill or activity (Pearson et al. 2000), Specificity is one of the main principles of resistance
and free weight exercises have a greater degree training in preparation for sports performance.
of mechanical specificity (Haff 2000). One should This principle is not as important for general health
therefore preferentially include exercises that mimic and well-being, as most resistance training pro-
activities, as human movement and adaptation grams will lead to improved strength and muscle
is very task-specific (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). mass. Specificity in resistance training for sport is
However, training on resistance training machines designed to train the body to react in a similar way
can still be advantageous, as certain movements are to that required during competition (Field 1988). As
difficult to perform using free weights and can be an example, it is inappropriate for a power athlete
simulated using machine apparatus. Examples of who needs explosiveness to train exclusively for maxi-
these exercises are leg extensions and seated cable mum 1 RM strength. Becoming stronger at slow
pulls (for tibialis anterior; American College of velocities will not ensure that strength necessarily
Sports Medicine 2002; Haff 2000). For sports con- improves at the same rate for ballistic movements
ditioning there are advantages for using free weight such as jumping. To develop strength at faster
exercises for functional acceleration, speed, and velocities an athlete would need to include high-
power (Field 1988). However, most strength and speed resistance training activities to address this
conditioning coaches seldom train their athletes component of strength development.
exclusively with machines or free weights but usually
combine the two modes of training (Haff 2000).
Exercise intensity

When prescribing the load used during resistance

multi-joint vs. single-joint exercises
training, one usually uses a reference load to gauge
Multi-joint exercises involve more than one joint or the relative intensity of the exercise. For multi-joint,
major muscle group and are favored as being more core, and power exercises with larger muscle mass
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12 c ha p ter 1

involvement, this reference point would normally yet cannot perform a 16th repetition, then they are
be in the form of a 1 RM load (Feigenbaum & exercising at a high level of exertion or relative
Pollock 1997) or the maximum load that can be lifted intensity. For optimal strength development, the
only once with correct form and technique (Cronin greater level of exertion (i.e., training to failure
& Henderson 2004; Evans 1999). The intensity of vs. discomfort), the greater the outcome (Fleck &
training would then be described as a percentage Kraemer 1997).
of this measured maximum or 1 RM (Baker 2001b,c;
Campos et al. 2002; Feigenbaum & Pollock 1997; Fry
Frequency of training and rest intervals
2004; Goto et al. 2004; Haff 2004a; Hass et al. 2001;
Izquierdo et al. 2002; Robinson et al. 1995). This is
frequency of training
a useful method of quantifying the training load
and prescribing a similar training stimulus relative Ideally, each major muscle group should be trained
to the individual strength capabilities (Fry 2004). twice a week (Feigenbaum & Pollock 1999; Winett &
Another method of gauging the relative intensity Carpinelli 2001). Those athletes who have more time
is that of the multiple-RM method (Baker 2001b; and want to improve further can increase their
Feigenbaum & Pollock 1997; Fleck & Kraemer 1997; frequency of resistance training per muscle group to
Haff 2004a). This is probably the easiest method three times per week (Feigenbaum & Pollock 1999;
of resistance prescription and functions on a load- Hass et al. 2001). For adequate recovery, resistance
repetition continuum (Fleck 1999; Fleck & Kraemer training days for specific muscle groups should be
1997). It is also a convenient method of gauging the separated by at least 4872 hours (Feigenbaum &
physiologic stress of the exercise session (Fry 2004). Pollock 1999; Winett & Carpinelli 2001) and a mini-
An example of this would be selecting a 6 RM load. mum of 24 h should normally separate training
What the 6 RM effectively means is that a training sessions (Pearson et al. 2000). The recovery period is
load should be selected that only allows six repeti- important for muscle recovery and adaptation, and
tions to be performed. If six repetitions cannot be also to prevent overtraining (Feigenbaum & Pollock
performed, then the load is too heavy, and if more 1997; Hass et al. 2001; Pearson et al. 2000). Based on
than six repetitions can be performed then the load an extensive literature review in this regard, there
is too light. This technique is easy to understand and seems to be no optimal frequency of training as vari-
is usually determined in practice by trial and error, ous muscle groups respond differently to frequency
as it becomes logistically very time-consuming overload (Feigenbaum & Pollock 1997). The chest,
and impractical to test directly for every exercise arms, and leg muscle groups may respond better on
prescribed (Haff 2004a). 3 days per week; however, the lumbar extensors
and smaller trunk muscles respond favorably to less
training sessions per week (Feigenbaum & Pollock
effort and effective strength gains
1997). Generally, lesser trained athletes need more
Resistance training should generally be performed recovery time than their more highly trained coun-
with moderate to high effort levels, where effort is terparts (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). Two to 3 days
defined as the relative amount of exertion that one per week has been shown to be effective during the
has to employ to perform the exercise (Winett & initial phases of resistance training, but the number
Carpinelli 2001). A high level of exertion can be of training days can be increased as one becomes
equated to a situation where one terminates the set more experienced and conditioned (American
because one is unable to perform another repetition College of Sports Medicine 2002). Advanced train-
with good technique or proper form. High effort ing and increased training frequency leads to varia-
levels do not necessarily equate to heavy loads! For tions in program design such as split routines such
example, if one aims for 15 repetitions in a set and as upper body/lower body and muscle group split
the athlete manages to complete the 15th repetition programs, where more specialized and focused
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general principles of training 13

training is prescribed (American College of Sports optimizes the time utilized during training in rela-
Medicine 2002; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). tion to the expected training outcomes.

rest intervals Volume of training

Rest intervals are extremely important in program Underprescription of training volume may lead to
design (Rhea et al. 2002b), as they do not only effect not achieving the desired improvements in strength
hormonal, metabolic, and muscular adaptations, and muscle performance, and overprescription of
but also effect acute force and muscle power genera- training volume may lead to overtraining and
tion, and their rates of improvement (American overuse injuries (Rhea et al. 2003). As a result, the
College of Sports Medicine 2002; Kraemer & optimal number of sets still remains an extremely
Ratamess 2004). With shorter rest intervals the controversial topic (American College of Sports
rate of strength gain will be limited (American Medicine 2002; Carpinelli & Otto 1998; Feigenbaum
College of Sports Medicine 2002; Kraemer & & Pollock 1997; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Pearson
Ratamess 2004; Willardson & Burkett 2005). If et al. 2000; Wolfe et al. 2004). Of all the training
the rest interval is too short, it will compromise variables, most of the research around resistance
the ability of the muscle to perform and lift the training has focused on volume, and more particu-
weight (American College of Sports Medicine 2002; larly single vs. multiple set training (Rhea et al. 2003).
Robinson et al. 1995; Willardson & Burkett 2005). It
has been shown that by increasing the rest interval
single sets
between sets with the same load, more repetitions
can be performed in the subsequent sets and that Most research shows no difference between single
this leads to improved strength gains (Robinson and multiple set training in terms of superiority in
et al. 1995; Willardson & Burkett 2005). This is strength gains in the untrained, non-athletic popula-
extremely pertinent when training specifically for tion. It would therefore seem as if within the first
strength and/or power. 34 months of training single set programs are
Not every exercise requires the same rest interval equally efficient in developing strength (American
(American College of Sports Medicine 2002). For the College of Sports Medicine 2002; Carpinelli & Otto
more complex core exercises rest periods should 1998; Feigenbaum & Pollock 1997, 1999; Fleck 1999;
be longer (e.g., 35 min) between sets and exercises Hass et al. 2000). Eighty to 90% of the strength gains
for optimal recovery (Gonzlez-Badillo et al. 2005) of a multiple set protocol are achieved during this
and gains in strength and/or power (Kraemer & initial period of resistance training using a single set
Ratamess 2004). A general guideline is to gauge the approach (Hass et al. 2001). The increased gains in
complexity of the exercise, the number of muscle strength using a multiple set program do not seem
groups involved, and the actual weight lifted to to justify the time spent in performing additional
determine the rest period. For example, in a heavier sets in healthy, untrained adults (Carpinelli & Otto
strength program design, an exercise such as the 1998; Hass et al. 2000, 2001). It has been proposed
power clean or back squat (multi-joint, complex, that once a basic level of fitness is acquired multiple
large muscle group involvement) would require sets are superior to single set programs in muscle
35 min rest, an exercise like the Lat pulldowns development (Fleck & Kraemer 1997; Wolfe et al.
(multi-joint, less complex, moderate muscle group 2004).
involvement) 23 min and a bicep curl (single-joint,
simple, small muscle group involvement) 12 min
multiple sets
between sets. All programs will lead to improve-
ments in strength regardless of the length of the rest Many meta-analyses on this topic have shown
interval, but the design should be such that it significant support that multiple sets are superior
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14 c ha p ter 1

to single set programs in developing strength This latter point is paramount to understanding
(Peterson et al. 2004; Rhea et al. 2002a, 2003; Wolfe program prescription. Depending on which muscle
et al. 2004). These superior strength gains were more groups need more attention, the number of sets can
noticeable in trained vs. untrained individuals be increased or decreased for the respective exer-
(Rhea et al. 2002a), and were especially significant cises or muscle groups accordingly.
over longer duration programs (Wolfe et al. 2004).
Rhea et al. (2003) determined the optimal dose
Speed of movement
response relationship for strength gains in untrained
individuals to be an average load of 60% of 1 RM ( Winett and Carpinelli (2001) recommend using 4 s
12 RM), training a muscle group three times per for lifting and 4 s for lowering in concentric
week, and performing four sets per muscle group and eccentric muscle actions, respectively, as it
(not per exercise!). For trained individuals, an aver- decreases momentum, creates a higher training
age load of 80% of 1 RM ( 8 RM), training a muscle stimulus for the working muscles, and reduces the
group twice a week, and performing four sets per injury risk. Many researchers and trainers recom-
muscle group was indicated for maximal strength mend using approximately 2 s and 4 s when lifting
gains (Rhea et al. 2003). For athletic individuals, the and lowering weights, respectively (Evans 1999;
optimal doseresponse relationship for maximizing Hass et al. 2000; Pollock & Graves 1994; Pollock et al.
strength in this population group lies at an average 2000). However, movement speeds requiring less
intensity of 85% of 1 RM, training a muscle group than 12 s for completion of concentric muscle
twice a week, and performing eight sets per muscle actions and 12 s for completion of eccentric muscle
group per session (Peterson et al. 2004). Because actions have been shown to be the most effective
of the limited data available above this training movement velocities during resistance training for
load, interpretation within this range is difficult. enhancing muscle performance (American College
Additionally, strength benefits were minimal train- of Sports Medicine 2002; Kraemer & Ratamess
ing with 13 sets at 50 70% of 1 RM training loads 2004). Force equals the product of mass and acceler-
(Peterson et al. 2004), which strongly supports the ation. By performing the lifts too slowly the muscles
conclusion that higher volume training with heavier are exposed to less force generation and there-
loads is necessary for maximizing strength develop- fore have lesser strength gains in the long term
ment in athletic and highly trained individuals. It (American College of Sports Medicine 2002). It is
has been shown that there might be a threshold or therefore important to train at moderate to higher
optimal volume of training to maximize strength velocities and at moderate to higher loads for effect-
gains, whereafter increases in volume add no fur- ive strength development (Kraemer & Ratamess
ther benefit (Gonzlez-Badillo et al. 2005; Peterson 2004). From a practical perspective, novice trainers
et al. 2004; Rhea et al. 2003) and might even lead would initially train more conservatively because of
to decrements in muscle performance (Gonzlez- the possible risk of injury and muscle damage, and
Badillo et al. 2005). progress the velocity of muscle action accordingly
Kraemer and Ratamess (2004) highlight some key as they become stronger, more trained, and pro-
issues to consider: ficient in resistance training.
1 In the short term, untrained individuals respond
equally well to single and multiple sets;
2 In the long term, higher volumes (i.e., more sets)
are required to increase the rate of progression; Progressive overload is an essential component
3 No studies have shown single set approaches to of any resistance training program whether it may
be superior to multiple set programs; and be for improving muscle size, strength, or power
4 Not all exercises need to be performed with the (Pearson et al. 2000; Winett & Carpinelli 2001).
same number of sets. To sustain increases in muscle development and
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general principles of training 15

performance one constantly needs to progress Maximizing strength is only possible if more muscle
the program by gradually increasing the demands is recruited during the exercise, and for this to
placed on the body (American College of Sports happen one needs to lift heavier loads (Kraemer &
Medicine 1998, 2002; Evans 1999; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). Additionally, it seems that using
Ratamess 2004; Pearson et al. 2000; Rhea et al. 2003; a variety of training loads within this 80100% of
Winett & Carpinelli 2001). This can be incorporated 1 RM or 18 RM range in a periodized fashion
into a training program by manipulating any of the is the most effective way to maximize strength in
following training variables appropriately: increas- advanced trainers (American College of Sports
ing the frequency of training; increasing the repeti- Medicine 2002).
tions in each set; increasing the number of exercises; A key factor to consider in strength training is
decreasing the rest periods between sets and/or that everyone does not need to develop maximal
exercises; increasing the load utilized; or changing strength. Depending on individual requirements or
the speed of movement (American College of Sports training goals, strength training may be prescribed
Medicine 2002; Fleck 1999; Haff 2004a; Hass et al. differently (i.e., using lesser loads, e.g., 7080% of
2001; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Pearson et al. 2000). 1 RM or 812 RM loads), and sufficient strength
gains, albeit not maximal, may be incurred specific
to each individual and their respective training
Resistance training for sport
goals. However, it is recommended that even
distance runners should occasionally train within
Training for strength
the loading range of 80% of 1 RM for other per-
The best results for strength and power gain are formance and physical benefits such as maintained
achieved when heavier loads are utilized during or improved strength and muscle power. Another
resistance training (Hass et al. 2001). Strength and reason is to counteract the catabolic effects that
power will be developed to a certain extent regard- occur during repetitive exercise such as long dis-
less of whether one trains with heavy weights or tance running (Fry 2004). Even though a specific
light weights. However, within the lightheavy training zone on the loadrepetition continuum
weight continuum, the load utilized will favor favors a specific type of muscle development, it is
a specific component, either strength or power not recommended to spend all the time training in
(American College of Sports Medicine 1998; Campos one zone as it can lead to overtraining or stagnation
et al. 2002; Fry 2004; Hass et al. 2001). Heavier loads, in performance benefits (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004).
which are maximal or near to maximal, elicit the
greatest gains in absolute strength (American
Training for power
College of Sports Medicine 1998; Campos et al. 2002;
Fry 2004), and regular exposure to this loading The ability to effectively generate muscle power is
range will ensure improvement (Fry 2004). Heavy believed to be an essential component of athletic
training is not a prerequisite for strength gains and sporting performance and as a result has been
in untrained individuals as almost any form of re- extensively researched (Cronin & Slievert 2005). To
sistance training increases strength initially (Cronin maximize power through resistance training one
& Henderson 2004). During this phase the emphasis first has to understand what is meant by muscle
should be on form and technique. However, loads power. Power is a product of force and velocity
in excess of 8085% of 1 RM, or alternatively in (Baker et al. 2001a; Cronin & Henderson 2004;
the range of 1 6 RM loads (preferentially 56 RM; Cronin & Slievert 2005; Hedrick 2002; Kawamori &
American College of Sports Medicine 2002), are Haff 2004; Kawamori et al. 2005; Stone et al. 2003b),
required to maximize the increase in strength and is generally defined as the amount of work that
(American College of Sports Medicine 2002; Campos can be performed in a specific time period (Cronin &
et al. 2002; Fry 2004; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). Slievert 2005; Fry 2004; Kawamori & Haff 2004;
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16 c ha p ter 1

Kawamori et al. 2005; Stone et al. 2003a). Work in this movements (Hedrick 2002; McBride et al. 2002).
case is defined as the amount of force produced to Therefore, one should utilize relatively lighter
move a weight over a distance traveled (force loads than for strength training and perform the
distance). Generally, during weight training, the movement explosively (Kawamori & Haff 2004).
distance that the weight moves is determined by the This form of training will more likely induce high-
length of the arms, legs, and torso, and remains velocity adaptations within the muscle (Cronin et al.
constant for each individual. Bearing this in mind, 2003). For developing this velocity component for
the main effectors that can be manipulated in optimal muscle power development one should
power training are the load lifted and the speed generally train at moderate to light loads ranging
of the movement. So, practically, there are two 3060% of 1 RM performed at high velocity
ways of intervening for developing muscle power (American College of Sports Medicine 2002; Baker
(American College of Sports Medicine 2002; Baker 2001c; Baker et al. 2001a,b; Cronin & Slievert 2005;
2001c; Baker et al. 2001a; Field 1988; Hedrick 2002; Izquierdo et al. 2002; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004;
Kawamori & Haff 2004; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Newton et al. 1997; Wilson et al. 1993).
Stone et al. 2003a): Single-joint and upper body exercises, and untra-
1 by training to develop the force component (i.e., ined individuals might respond better to power
strength); and training at a lower range of loads (3045% of 1 RM),
2 by training the speed component, which reduces while multi-joint and lower body exercises, and
the time period over which the work is performed. trained individuals might respond better to a higher
For the strength component of muscle power one range of loads (3070% of 1 RM; Kawamori &
trains specifically using the method mentioned Haff 2004). The optimal relative load for develop-
above, and in novice athletes this form of training ing maximal power is yet to be determined as
should predominate (Baker 2001a,c). The strength there is conflicting evidence as a result of different
component is extremely important because it assessment techniques and protocols (Baker et al.
forms the basis of powerful movements (American 2001b; Cronin & Slievert 2005; Dugan et al. 2004;
College of Sports Medicine 2002; Baker 2001c). Kawamori & Haff 2004; Stone et al. 2003a). There-
One should not underestimate the importance of fore, it is pragmatic to train for power within
strength training in this role (Baker 2001a), as it is the full range of loads specified above (American
strongly related to both peak power output and College of Sports Medicine 2002; Baker 2001b,c;
sports performance (Stone et al. 2003b). Maximum Baker et al. 2001b; Cronin & Slievert 2005; Kraemer
strength contributes significantly to power produc- & Ratamess 2004; Wilson et al. 1993), as each
tion in moving both light and heavy resistances forcevelocity relationship will develop a different
(Baker 2001b; Stone et al. 2003b). However, strength component of muscle power (Baker 2001b; Cronin &
training only forms half of the equation (Hedrick Slievert 2005). To illustrate this point more effect-
2002) and the highest power outputs in a movement ively it has previously been shown that there is a
come at a compromise between force and velocity velocity-specific adaptation when training for mus-
components (Kawamori et al. 2005). Training the cle power and using different loading strategies
velocity component for developing muscle power (McBride et al. 2002). Training with lighter loads
appears to be vital in highly trained individuals significantly improves the velocity of movement
who have already developed a base level of maxi- over a range of loads, and training with heavier
mal strength. The focus of resistance training should loads significantly improves the force capabilities
then shift to primarily accommodate this com- of the involved muscles over the same range of
ponent (i.e., train to lift large loads at higher speeds loads. However, the one aspect of muscle power
rather than merely lifting larger loads; Baker 2001c; that the one training strategy develops, the other
Cronin & Slievert 2005). does not (McBride et al. 2002). This reinforces the
To develop high-speed movement ability optim- need to develop both the strength and velocity
ally, one should train specifically using high-speed aspects that affect muscle power, as they both
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general principles of training 17

contribute in different ways to functional capacity and relatively less weight is required compared
and ability. to the closed-loop traditional resistance exercises,
as the deceleration component is significantly
reduced (Baker et al. 2001b; Cronin & Slievert 2005;
traditional weight training
Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Siegel et al. 2002).
One problem with utilizing traditional high-speed Examples of these types of exercises are jump
weight training exercises for power is that of decel- squats, bench throws, and medicine ball toss. The
eration (American College of Sports Medicine 2002; potentiating effect of ballistic resistance exercise
Baker et al. 2001a; Kawamori & Haff 2004; Siegel compared to traditional resistance exercises, how-
et al. 2002). During traditional weight training exer- ever, becomes insignificant when using heavier
cises, the initial part of the movement involves loads (70% 1 RM), as the ability to release the bar or
acceleration and a considerable part of the remain- object or project the body off the ground becomes
der of the movement is spent on deceleration compromised (Cronin et al. 2003).
(American College of Sports Medicine 2002;
Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). The reason for this is
olympic lifts
that they are closed-loop movements. The move-
ment has to stop at the end-range before joint or Apart from ballistic resistance exercise, predomin-
muscle injury occurs. Therefore, the acceleration antly multi-joint exercises, such as power cleans,
part of the movement is limited. For effective hang snatches and so forth are used in resistance
development of power using traditional resistance training for power (Hedrick 2002; Tricoli et al. 2005).
training exercises, one needs to increase accelera- A well-balanced resistance training program for
tion and limit deceleration (American College of advanced trainers and athletes incorporates the use
Sports Medicine 2002). The only way of doing this of these Olympic lifts, multi-joint and single-joint
is to slightly increase the loads utilized (McBride exercises (Pearson et al. 2000). Olympic lifts and
et al. 2002), compared to open-loop movements such their derivatives are considered to be the best resist-
as ballistic resistance exercise where, for example, ance training exercises for maximizing dynamic
the weight is released or the body is projected off muscle power, as they incorporate multi-joint
the ground (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Pearson movement patterns that are highly specific, have
et al. 2000). Siegel et al. (2002) demonstrated peak significantly less deceleration, and generate extre-
power outputs in traditional exercises such as the mely high power outputs (Kawamori & Haff 2004;
Smith machine squat and barbell bench press within Kawamori et al. 2005). A key concern in using these
slightly higher ranges of 50 70% 1 RM and 4060% types of exercises, especially the Olympic lifts, is
1 RM, respectively, which supports this rationale. the skill required to perform them correctly. A
significant amount of time is spent in developing
the correct technique of execution and form, and for
ballistic resistance exercise
novice and intermediate trainers it is highly recom-
Ballistic resistance exercise is a popular form of mended to focus primarily on this aspect (American
training used in the development of explosive College of Sports Medicine 2002). Even though
power, as the movement is open ended and acceler- teaching and learning these exercises can take a long
ation continues into the release of the weight, bar, time, once the correct technique and skill has been
or object (American College of Sports Medicine acquired, the benefits and transfer to functional
2002). This technique offers far greater movement performance are substantial (Tricoli et al. 2005).
specificity than traditional strength training (Cronin Because of the already ballistic nature, heavier loads
& Henderson 2004; Cronin & Slievert 2005; Cronin may additionally be required to maximize power
et al. 2003). It also allows for greater force, velocity, output in these exercises (i.e., 7090% of 1 RM)
acceleration, and power output (Baker 2001c; Cronin depending on the sporting requirements and
& Slievert 2005; Cronin et al. 2003; Hedrick 2002) training status of the athletes (Baechle et al. 2000;
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Baker et al. 2001a,b; Kawamori & Haff 2004; block to peak at the right time (Baker 2001a).
Kawamori et al. 2005). Power training over the range Practically, it is also recommended to reduce the
of lesser intensities (30 70% of 1 RM) will none- resistance used for power training during hard
theless provide sufficient benefits for a variety of training sessions and/or hard training weeks to
sporting events. avoid inducing excessive fatigue (Baker 2001a).
It is also recommended that one does not train
to fatigue, especially in novice and intermediate
practical considerations
trainers. Power exercises incorporated into a resist-
No studies have focused on each individual training ance training program are usually performed first
at their respective optimal loads for developing (i.e., before fatigue develops). Also, power exercises
power output (Cronin & Slievert 2005), so it is not should generally not be performed for more than six
known how effective it is in maximizing power repetitions in a set (Fry 2004; Haff 2004a), as the
output in comparison to training at the immediate focus should be on quality or maximal velocity of
range of loads surrounding it. Depending on movement (Haff 2004a; Hedrick 2002). One should
individual needs analysis, heavier resistances may also try to maximize power output during a training
be required to improve the force component, and set. One technique that can improve the quality of
lighter resistances may be required to maximize the exercise in power training is the cluster set
speed of movement (Baker 2001b; Baker et al. 2001a; (Kawamori et al. 2005). This incorporates adding an
Hedrick 2002; Kawamori & Haff 2004). One should interval of 1030 s rest between repetitions in lieu of
also consider sport specificity when selecting appro- performing all the repetitions continuously. This
priate loads. For example, in rugby union, which is minimizes fatigue and maintains power output
an explosive, high intensity, full contact sport with within the set (Kawamori et al. 2005). For advanced
high external resistances encountered during tack- power training, the program design should also
ling, mauling, at a loose ruck (Duthie et al. 2003), follow a periodized approach to ensure appropriate
training for power at higher loads with greater progression and avoid overtraining (American
external resistance might be more beneficial (Baker College of Sports Medicine 2002).
2001a; Kawamori & Haff 2004). The ability to gener- It is of utmost importance that different compon-
ate maximal power against large resistances has ents of muscle power are trained at different times
been shown to be a significant predictor of perfor- within the training cycle to avoid stagnation and
mance level in rugby league players (Baker 2001a). optimize muscle performance. For example, the
However, a volleyball player might benefit more strength components should be trained early on in
from training with lighter loads and focusing more the season, with the focus gradually shifting
on velocity training, as they do not move heavy towards the speed and power components closer to
loads. the competition season, when performance needs to
Because athletic performance is so diverse and be at a peak (Kawamori & Haff 2004).
characterized by many different forcevelocity
qualities, it seems prudent to vary constantly the
load used for power training (Cronin & Slievert
2005). Employment of this strategy may induce Periodization is not a rigid entity, but is rather an
improved power output over the entire force adaptable concept for a more pragmatic and effec-
velocity spectrum (Baker 2001b). It is generally tive approach to resistance training (Haff 2004a).
recommended for novice and intermediate athletes This may take the form of a systematic and planned
to train initially for power using the lower range variation of training volume and load within a
of the loads specified earlier on. For competitive defined training period (Pearson et al. 2000) to bring
athletes a similar approach is used except that they about optimal gains in muscle performance (Fleck
should progress towards the higher range of loads, 1999). The main objective of periodization is to
especially for the last few weeks in the training avoid stagnation and overtraining, and to promote
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general principles of training 19

peaking of athletic performance (Pearson et al. 2000; microcycles (e.g., 1 week blocks; Haff 2004a). The
Stone et al. 2000b). Periodization also caters for long- time periods of these training blocks can vary
term improvements in muscle strength and power significantly between sports. Each mesocycle has a
(Fleck 1999). Significant gains in strength can be very specific training focus and these all build up to
achieved through systematic variation of the pro- preparing athletes to reach their peak athletic ability
gram. Variation is the key principle used in resist- during competition (Pearson et al. 2000). Examples
ance training programs (Field 1988) to optimize of these mesocycles are:
training by constantly shifting the training stimulus 1 A preparatory period (which is predominantly in
(Haff 2004a) and thereby changing the demands the off-season), which is subdivided into microcy-
placed on the body (Fleck 1999). Periodization cles focusing on hypertrophy/strength endurance,
incorporates this principle of variation as the core basic strength, and strength/power in that order;
component in its application (American College of 2 A first transition phase, which indicates a shift in
Sports Medicine 2002). However, periodized train- focus from a high volume to high intensity training;
ing is not necessary until some form of base fitness followed by
has been obtained (Fleck 1999; Haff 2004b). 3 The competition phase, where the focus can either
There are two main models of periodization be peak performance for a specific tournament or
(American College of Sports Medicine 2002; Haff tournaments, or maintenance of strength/power
2004a; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Pearson et al. throughout the in-season; and finally
2000; Wathen et al. 2000): 4 An active rest or second transition phase, where a
1 Linear or classic model of periodization; and period of downtime/cross-training is allocated for
2 Non-linear or undulating model of periodization. recovery and regeneration (Haff 2004a; Stone et al.
2000b; Wathen et al. 2000).
Various combinations of these phases can be
classic or linear model of
applied depending on the sport and/or individuals
training goals, and each phase requires different
The classic or linear model is subdivided into dif- levels of variation in training prescription (Stone
ferent training phases, each with a specific training et al. 2000b). The off-season period is where the most
focus (e.g., hypertrophy, strength, power) and usually resistance training is performed and therefore also
starts with high volume, low intensity workouts has the greatest application and manipulation of
and progresses to low volume, high intensity periodization (Haff 2004b).
workouts with the main aim to maximize the It is important to note that one does not train at
development of strength and/or muscle power maximal effort (i.e., repetition maximum for every
(American College of Sports Medicine 2002; Haff session). Day-to-day variation of intensity and/or
2004a; Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Stone et al. 2000b). volume across the various microcycles is also very
Sequenced progression from one type of training important (especially for advanced trainers) in
such as strength training can boost the gains avoiding overtraining or stagnation (Stone et al.
obtained by another type of training such as power 2000b). In the linear periodization model, the volume
training (Haff 2004a), and this is where a periodized (i.e., the number of repetitions within a weekly
program is so effective. An adequately designed microcycle) remains the same, but the intensity
and periodized training program in the off-season fluctuates. For example, on Monday the athlete
lays the broader foundations to a successful com- trains 812 repetitions using 812 RM loads, on
petitive season (Haff 2004b). Generally, classic peri- Wednesday 812 repetitions with 510% less
odization plans are divided into different training weight, and on Friday 812 repetitions with 1030%
epochs: a macrocycle (e.g., a 4 6 month period), less weight than the Mondays session (Pearson
which is subdivided into smaller epochs called et al. 2000). Training blocks usually last 4 weeks
mesocycles (e.g., 4 6 week blocks), which is fur- (Haff 2004a). Variation in strength and power train-
ther subdivided into even smaller units called ing is key for continuous improvement in muscle
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20 c ha p ter 1

performance, especially during long-term resistance hockey); in other words, there is not a specific build-
training. Therefore, it is common practice to repeat up towards one specific event where they have to
a macrocycle, such as indicated in the example peak (Pearson et al. 2000). Also with long-season
above, 23 times within a 1-year period (Haff 2004a; sports, there is not always sufficient time to focus on
Pearson et al. 2000). a big off-season build-up, as the off-season is some-
times too short in duration. This form of training
allows these athletes to continue training through-
undulating or non-linear model of
out the season, except the volume and frequency of
resistance training is reduced substantially and
Because it has been shown that variation in training adjusted according to matches, tournaments, and
allows for greater gains in muscle development, sports practice (Pearson et al. 2000). This is where
conditioning specialists have begun to use a less the undulating model has been used with great
traditional model of periodization called the non- success (Haff 2004b). The non-linear model of
linear or undulating model (Haff 2004a; Pearson periodization allows for great design flexibility and
et al. 2000). The key difference is that the non-linear should be tailored specifically for individual needs.
variation is more dramatic during the individual
microcycles than the more traditional linear model
practical considerations in
(Haff 2004a). The non-linear or undulating model
allows for random variation in training focus (i.e.,
changes in volume and intensity within a smaller Monitoring exercise tolerance and controlling
time-period, e.g., a 10-day training cycle; American recovery are important aspects in resistance training
College of Sports Medicine 2002; Fleck 1999; (Pearson et al. 2000). After individual training
Kraemer & Ratamess 2004; Pearson et al. 2000). As phases (mesocycles or microcycles), it is also
with the linear model, it is recommended that the common practice to allow a transition week, where
athlete performs some form of base training before a variation of active rest is incorporated before
embarking on this undulating periodized training advancing onto the next phase; this is usually
model. As an example of the non-linear model, if achieved by reducing the training volume and
one resistance trained on Mondays, Wednesdays intensity within the weeks training schedule (Haff
and Fridays, one could train on the first Monday 2004a). Incorporating this transition or recovery
using 24 RM loads, on Wednesday at 1215 RM week is usually left to the discretion of the strength
loads, on Friday at 6 10 RM loads, and the follow- and conditioning specialist and can be very effective
ing Monday using 15 20 RM loads where the cycle in avoiding overtraining and increasing perfor-
is repeated, this time starting on the Wednesday. mance levels in the following cycle.
Each day has a specific training focus (Rhea et al. Maintenance training is a popular form of resist-
2002a). One can also add a power day where neces- ance training which is frequently utilized by ath-
sary; this design remains flexible according to the letes during the competitive season (Allerheiligen
sport and individual requirements involved. This 2003; Stone et al. 2000b) and by people who are not
cycling of training continues for a predetermined competitive but who train for health and fitness
time period (e.g., 16 weeks) and then progresses (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). If the training is pre-
either into an in-season variation of this form of scribed at too low an intensity to create some sort of
periodization, or an active rest period ranging 13 training overload, one can actually stagnate and/or
weeks. detrain. This can be detrimental for both general
Astute variation and combination of high inten- fitness and sports performance. Therefore, a struc-
sity and low intensity resistance training can opti- tured and periodized approach to maintenance pro-
mize strength development (Goto et al. 2004). The grams where smaller subprograms are prescribed in
non-linear model appears to benefit sports that have a cyclic fashion as part of the bigger training goal
a long competitive season (e.g., rugby union and is recommended (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). To
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general principles of training 21

prevent this detraining effect and/or stagnation it However, advanced resistance training programs
has been suggested that one applies a periodized are much more complex and require great variation
approach using 2-week cycles within the in-season with specific training goals in mind to maintain pro-
using primarily the core or complex multi-joint gression (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004).
exercises such as squats, bench press, and power
cleans (Allerheiligen 2003). This creates enough
variation to challenge the body in different ways
so that stagnation does not occur. Furthermore, Strength and power training forms an integral
it retains the strength, power, and muscle mass part of many sports conditioning programs. The
developed in the off- and preseason training pro- appropriate development of strength and power
grams (Allerheiligen 2003). can complement an athletes sports-specific training
Programming of periodization and/or specific and significantly enhance sports performance. The
resistance training within the competitive season correct manipulation of resistance training variables
should also be micromanaged according to the and programs to develop these components requires
weekly match or competition schedule. It has been a systematic and varied approach combining both
suggested that one should schedule higher intensity science and practical experience. Strength training
training earlier on in the week, preferably at the forms the basis of muscle power and also forms the
beginning of the training week, and taper towards basis of most sporting abilities to a large extent. The
the matches or competition by lowering the inten- early training focus during the off- and early pre-
sity of training (Haff 2004b). With multiple matches season is to progressively develop this component.
or competitions, it is also recommended to shift Thereafter the training focus shifts towards mainten-
the higher intensity strength and power training ance of muscle strength in combination with the
sessions to that period of the week, which allows development of functional muscle power. One can-
maximum recovery before the following match or not sustain high-level strength and power training
competition (Haff 2004b). An example of this form for long periods of time, because of the risk of over-
of manipulation is the heavy/light day system, training and injury, and therefore programs need to
resistance training 2 days per week (Haff 2004b). be structured and planned accordingly. To optimize
For example, training on the Monday would use an athletes strength and power development and
RM loads (e.g., 3 5 RM, heavy day) and on the to gain the maximum advantage from this form of
Thursday the loads utilized would be reduced by training one needs to follow a periodized training
15% (light day) using the same number of repeti- approach, which allows for maximizing strength
tions (Stone et al. 2000b). This method of training has and power at the appropriate times for peak perfor-
been shown to be effective in developing muscle mance capabilities.
power (Baker 2001b). A major goal of the in-season
program is to maintain as much of the athletes
strength and power developed in the off- and pre-
season as possible (Haff 2004b).
The value of periodized versus non-periodized This section aims to provide information on the
resistance training programs becomes noticeable in practical application of the theoretical information
programs of longer duration where the risk of over- already covered on training, with particular refer-
training is prevented through variations in training ence to endurance training. The goal is to provide
and systematic progression (Kraemer & Ratamess sufficient information to the clinician or sports
2004). Untrained individuals do not appear to be medicine practitioner for an understanding of the
sensitive to volume, and sometimes even intensity contribution that the training regimen may have in
during initial resistance training exposure, so a influencing various clinical conditions. Specifically,
general strength program will accommodate their this section should aid in determining whether the
needs quite sufficiently (Kraemer & Ratamess 2004). reason for the problem or concern of the athlete
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22 c ha p ter 1

presenting to the clinician has its source in errors in spectrum, completing a specific event within a
training, or whether some other cause for the pro- given time to simply be classified as an official
blem needs to be sought and investigated. Thus, this finisher of an event. By training according to a scien-
section does not provide specific information for tifically designed and constructed training program
training prescription as might be used by a coach, that incorporates the various features necessary for
but rather sufficient information to identify errors optimal physiologic adaptation, it is possible for
in an existing training program as used by someone someone to achieve the best that they are capable of
participating in an endurance sport such as running, within the limitations imposed by their individual
cycling, swimming, or canoeing. Running has been genetic capabilities. This is achieved by finding the
used for most of the specific examples, as this is right blend of volume of training undertaken, inten-
a major mass participation sport and is also the sity of that training, and mix of specific types of
endurance sport that is least forgiving when train- training sessions that comprise a physiologically
ing errors are committed, with a concomitant high balanced training program. To achieve this requires
incidence of injury. a combination of both sound scientific principles
and the art of coaching.
The significant part played by genetics in deter-
Goal setting
mining how much someone will improve once
Initially, no training program is easy, and indeed, a training program is started has already been
seldom pleasurable because of the state of relative alluded to. Particularly, there are adaptors and
unfitness when the training commences. It takes non-adaptors to a training stimulus. In essence,
time for someone to gain sufficient fitness for the even elite athletes have a genetically determined
activity to be truly enjoyable, be it running, cycling, ceiling as to how much adaptation can occur in
or one of the other endurance sports. It may there- response to training. Similarly, some people possess
fore help a beginner with motivation problems to a naturally high aerobic capacity without having
set an achievable short-term goal, as well as long- participated in a training program, while others
term goals. A short-term goal may simply be to train have to train very scientifically to elicit as much
a certain minimum number of times per week, training adaptation as possible. Thus, we sometimes
whereas a long-term goal may be to complete a hear of athletes who appear to train very hard in
particular running or cycling race. To help with order to excel, and at other times we find someone
motivation it is often useful to keep a logbook of who has performed at a very high level on surpris-
training progress. It could be suggested to write ingly little training. For example, if an elite athlete
down the training that has been completed each had to train very little, that individual will quite
day and to keep a weekly total of training distance likely out-perform the genetically non-gifted person
or time. In this way the beginner can easily see the who has trained very hard according to systematic
progress being made as fitness improves. program. It is important to understand that not
everyone can become an Olympic champion by
hard training and adhering to a good training
Limitations to training
regimen. Thus, it is important to set goals based on
improving individual performance.
Genetic ability

It is important to realize that everybody has some

Effect of gender
genetically determined limit that will ultimately
dictate how well they will perform in their chosen Gender differences exist only in the maximal vol-
sport, be that performance at an elite level of compe- ume and intensity of training that can be sustained.
tition to win races and break world records, at a Specifically, women generally cannot tolerate as
level of simply achieving ones own individual best much training as men. Even at the elite level, top
possible performance or, at the other end of the male athletes can tolerate a greater training load in
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general principles of training 23

terms of both volume and intensity than the top generally smaller women are at an advantage which
females. This can probably be attributed primarily becomes increasingly apparent as the race distance
to the fact that, generally, women do not have as increases, hence their apparent greater fatigue
much muscle mass and muscle cross-sectional area resistance. However, because the size differences
as men. Thus, men can generate more force and are much smaller in the worlds best marathon
power. However, if normalized for cross-sectional and ultramarathon runners of both genders, it is
area (i.e., if a male and female are matched for expected that the relative advantage of the average
exactly the same amount of muscle) then gender female runner over the average male runner will
differences are reduced. Therefore, in terms of the disappear when the performances of the elite
intrinsic ability of the muscle to generate force and athletes of both genders (whose body sizes are more
power, there are few gender-related differences. similar) are compared. Noakes (2001) concludes
However, the elite female athlete will have a higher that the fatigue resistance of the very best male
percentage of body fat than an elite male athlete. and female ultramarathon runners is probably not
Thus, in two elite athletes of similar body size and different.
mass, the female will have more fat mass and less Although the absolute training load that can be
muscle mass than her male counterpart. This is tolerated is less in females than males, the physio-
probably one of the primary reasons that the per- logic response to training does not differ between
formance of female endurance athletes is approx- males and females. This is true for all the dif-
imately 10% slower than that of men for most ferent elements of training that comprise a balanced
events. This is particularly so in sports in which endurance training program, such as long duration
the upper body is involved, because men have training performed at a moderate percentage of
relatively more muscle in the upper body. It is Vo2max, high intensity interval training of short
interesting to note that when male and female duration, longer duration intervals at lower inten-
runners with equal 10 km or marathon times are sity, tempo and threshold training sessions,
compared over a much longer race distance of and other specific types of training. Thus, females
90 km, the female runners have been found to out- and males respond in the same way from a phy-
perform their male counterparts (Bam et al. 1997). siologic perspective to both endurance and inter-
This is accomplished physiologically by the female val training, although the upper limits of training
runners maintaining a relatively higher percentage load will be reached at a lower overall level in
of Vo2max and for longer, without slowing their pace females.
as much as the men. Thus, in the sample of aver-
age runners in this particular analysis, females
appear to be more fatigue resistant than men.
However, it is likely that at the extremes of the In all types of training a number of established
population from which the very best performers physiologic principles apply. Most important of
come, these differences become much less. Noakes these is specificity. A swimmer will not gain much
(2001) theorized that while the average male benefit by cycling or running. Similarly, a long
marathon runners are likely to be taller and heavier distance runner should spend almost all training
with less body fat than the average female marathon time running to gain the most benefit. Although
runners, these differences are likely to be much less impossible to run a marathon every day in training,
when the worlds best male and female runners are the distance runner will maintain a high weekly
compared. Noakes postulates that the worlds best training distance and in different training sessions
male and female marathon and ultramarathon include runs at slower than marathon speed, runs at
runners are all equally small and light with a low marathon speed but over a shorter distance, and
percentage of body fat, although the percentage of even shorter runs at a speed faster than marathon
body fat would be marginally greater in the female race speed. This is true also for other disciplines
runners. When considering average runners, the such as cycling, canoeing, and swimming. It is
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24 c ha p ter 1

important to appreciate that training is absolutely as cycling and canoeing, the problem is somewhat
specific and that the athlete is only fit for the sport reduced, but nevertheless progress should be at
for which they train. Thus, while runners may be a slow, consistent rate. Typically, when someone
capable of running effortlessly for hours, they are embarks on a new training program, the tendency
often unable to swim comfortably even for a few is to try and train a little bit faster or harder than
minutes. The reason is that running and swimming in the previous training session. This approach is
train different muscle groups. When a runner exer- not sustainable.
cises the untrained upper body in swimming, for
example, the body responds as if it were essentially
Training intensity
untrained. Whereas running principally exercises
the legs, leaving the upper body musculature rel- It is only ever necessary and possible to train at a
atively untrained, canoeing and swimming mainly high intensity for 510% of the total training time
train the upper body, leaving the legs untrained or (Daniels 1998). For example, most of the best
less trained. This distinction becomes even more marathon runners do most of their training at a
subtle: runners who do little running on hills will speed of 3050 skm1 slower than their race pace.
find hill running difficult. This is because uphill While training, the effort should be perceived as
running stresses, in particular, the quadriceps a comfortable. A good way of testing this is the
muscle that is much less important during running talk test. It should be possible to maintain a
on the flat and is therefore undertrained in people conversation with training companions. If it is not
who run exclusively on flat terrain. possible to talk, then the training intensity is too
Training specificity also includes speed training, high and the session should be continued at an
hot weather training, and altitude acclimatization. easier pace. Training intensity will be addressed in
Because the speed of training determines which more detail subsequently.
muscle fibers will be active in the particular muscle
groups being exercised, training slowly and then
Training structure
racing at a faster pace utilizes muscle fibers that are
relatively untrained. Similarly, to race effectively in All training should follow some well-established
the heat or at altitude, it is necessary to train under principles. The first principle is to train initially to
these conditions to allow the body to adapt. There- increase weekly training duration. Once the appro-
fore, the more closely the training simulates the priate weekly training duration has been reached,
specific demands of the sport for which one is then specific training sessions of high intensity can
training, and the environment in which competition be introduced.
will occur, the better the performance will be. An athlete should gradually and systematically
increase training distance until the maximum
training load that the athlete can tolerate has been
Start easily
reached. Signs that the maximum training load has
When someone has decided to begin a training been reached is a failure to adapt to a new, higher
program, it is probably only human nature that they training load, an increase in muscle fatigue, a feeling
want to do as much as they possibly can within the of tired, heavy legs, an increase in the time taken
first weeks of training. While this enthusiasm is to complete a given training session (i.e., getting
laudable, it is definitely not the best way to start a slower, rather than faster), or the appearance of a
new training program. The reason for this is that it mild injury or illness (Noakes 2001). The total train-
takes time for the bones, tendons, muscles, and ing load that can be tolerated depends on genetic
cardiovascular system to adapt to the cumulative factors and careful increase in the training distance,
stress of regular training. This is particularly so in and takes years to develop fully. Ignoring signs that
the case of running where the stress on bone and the body is failing to adapt to the training load can
tendon is high. With non-weight-bearing sports such result in overtraining.
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general principles of training 25

The first step in increasing the total training load the effects of the program on the individuals per-
is to increase the duration of all the training ses- formance must be constantly assessed and appro-
sions, followed by the frequency of those sessions priate modifications made where necessary. Such
(i.e., the number sessions per week). All of this train- an approach allows for varying rate of change and
ing should be at an intensity that is significantly adaptations which are attributed to the genetic
slower than race speed, correlating to an intensity of variance between athletes. Therefore, every training
6070% of maximum oxygen uptake (Vo2max). program must be tailored and continuously
Closely coupled to the increase in weekly training adjusted to the individual who will be following it.
distance is the introduction of one or two single,
long duration training sessions; the so-called long
Frequency of training
weekend run or training run. This prepares the
muscles of the athlete to resist fatigue during races When someone starts a training program for the
of long duration. However, this training session first time, training should only be on every second
should only be included in the training program day. In high impact sports such as running, this
after the muscles have adapted to the initial stress of ensures adequate time for adaptation and repair
the training program. between training sessions, specifically to the load-
bearing bones of the legs. Bone adaptation is par-
ticularly slow. In fact, for approximately 3 months
Regularity of training
after the start of a weight-bearing training program,
Training regularly through the season is an im- bone loses strength. Thereafter, the osteoblasts
portant concept that has been emphasized by many become very active and new bone is laid down
of the great coaches of endurance sportsmen and (Scully & Besterman 1982). Thus, until this time, the
women. While this concept may have been derived risk of developing a bone stress injury if the training
from experience gained over many years of pre- load becomes too high, too rapidly, is greatly
scribing training, there is now supporting physio- increased. The number of training sessions each
logic evidence. Therefore, even if the training load is week should be increased only once the duration of
modest, such as when an athlete starts a training each training session performed every second day
program for the first time, the training sessions has reached an appropriate time. This depends on
should be undertaken regularly to achieve the best the sport type and training time available. For exam-
possible increase in fitness. In the case of the elite ple, in the case of a running program in which
performer, training regularly is an obvious element weight-bearing stress is high, a more cautious
of the training schedule, and in this case regularity increase in training frequency should be followed
of training is synonymous with consistency. Speci- than in a sport such as cycling. In cycling, lim-
fically, the training schedule should be consistent itations are more likely to be related to the rate of
in terms of the nature of the various training muscle adaptation, which occurs more rapidly than
sessions undertaken. Thus, in any given 12 week bone adaptation (Margulies et al. 1986). The pro-
cycle of training, a similar training structure should gression from training every second day to more
be followed, including the nature of the high inten- frequent training should proceed systematically.
sity sessions. The pattern and the type of work- Training every second day should be increased to
outs should be retained for some time before any training for two successive days followed by a
change is made to the fundamental components of recovery day of no training. This should be followed
the sessions. It is inappropriate to have an inconsis- by three successive days, then four successive days,
tent approach as this will produce unpredictable etc., with an appropriate amount of time at each
results and also increase the risk of injury. successive step before proceeding to the next. On
Although training should be consistent, it should the extreme end of high training load, it is quite
not be followed blindly based on the assumption common for elite athletes to train every day, with
that any program will guarantee success. Rather, twice daily training sessions 5 or 6 days each week.
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26 c ha p ter 1

a marathon, for example, will require increasing

Training duration
the duration of one training session each week until
Initially, it is more useful to prescribe training dura- the duration of that specific session is approx-
tion based on the time spent training each week, imately 75% of the anticipated finishing time for
rather than the distance covered. The concept of the marathon. Thus, someone training with the anti-
time taken to complete a single training session cipation of completing a marathon race in 4 h will
needs to be considered even in the case of someone systematically increase the time spent on a single run
who has been training for many years. Consider an each week until 3 h of running can be completed
elite versus a slow club runner. The elite runner comfortably in a single training run. These long
will cover a distance of approximately 16 km in duration training sessions are at substantially
60 min in training, whereas the average club runner slower speed than race speed. The speed, or per-
may cover approximately 12 km in the same time. centage of Vo2max at which training sessions are
Alternatively, to complete 16 km would take the carried out are unimportant when a training pro-
same club runner approximately 1 hour 20 min. Yet gram is started.
1 hour 20 min of running probably imposes more Initially, a week of training may consist of a train-
biomechanical stress to the slower runner than that ing session every second day of 15 min duration
experienced by the fast elite runner whose train- each. Subsequently, the time will be increased
ing session of 16 km is complete after just 60 min systematically to 20, 25, 30, 40 min, etc. This will be
in this example. Thus, at least initially, measuring followed by more frequent training sessions, and
training load based on time rather than distance is finally one of those sessions will become much
preferable. longer in duration. Ultimately, the duration of a
Regardless of whether the training prescription is specific training session will be sports-specific. For
time or distance based, as with training frequency, example, a runner may build up training duration
increases should be progressive and systematic. until capable of running for an hour each training
Initially, the beginner would train for only a short session. On the other hand, a cyclist could build up
time in any given training session. For someone to more than an hour in a single session on a regular
beginning a running program, this may include a basis.
period spent walking, developing later into walking Throughout this period of increasing training
alternating with running, and finally only running. duration, it is not too important that much attention
Initial progress may appear to be slow. In the case of is given to the speed at which the training is done.
a non-weight-bearing sport such as cycling, the rate While it is acceptable that the training speed gradu-
of progression in training duration can be substan- ally increases naturally during this time, no direct
tially quicker. emphasis should be placed on speed or speed work,
Initially, the duration of each training session or trying to make each training session faster than
should be increased every week, while the fre- the one before. This approach is not sustainable.
quency remains at every second day, as previously Thus, the key to successful training, at least for the
described. Once the duration reaches 30 40 min in first 12 months or so, is the amount of time spent
the case of a running program, or approximately 60 training each week, rather than the distance cov-
min in the case of cycling or swimming, the switch ered, or the speed at which the training sessions are
can be made to increasing the training frequency. done. As fitness improves, speed will increase nat-
While 3040 min of training five times weekly is urally, and therefore more distance will be covered
adequate for health benefits, many people will want for the same time spent training. After 12 months or
to train more than this, with a goal of completing a more of training in this way, a plateau in perfor-
specific running or cycling race. For these individ- mance will be reached. To improve beyond this,
uals, it will be necessary to increase the duration of some training will have to be carried out at a faster
specific training sessions to prepare for the particu- pace, which will require the introduction of faster
lar physiologic requirements of the race. To complete paced sessions and speed work into the training
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general principles of training 27

program. Speed work should always be approached training load where further increases results in
with caution, preferably with the help of a know- no further performance increase, or even a decline
ledgeable coach, or after reading widely on the in performance. This type of monitoring soon
topic, as this type of training is high risk for induc- shows that there is a logarithmic relationship
ing injury or symptoms of overtraining. between training load and performance. Thus, a
To improve further, elite athletes can also train given training increase (e.g., 1000 units per week)
greater distances. However, the risk of injury produces progressively smaller improvements in
and overtraining increases precipitously when, performance.
specifically with running, training is increased An important point to emphasize is that the
beyond 120 160 km per week for average and elite individual who wishes to be consistently successful,
runners respectively. However, for someone want- at whatever level, must learn early on in his or her
ing to perform at the elite or optimal individual training career to treat everything performed in
level it is necessary to identify the maximum training as part of an experiment. The athlete who
volume of training to achieve their best possible understands the specific effects that each manipula-
performance. This can be by first finding the tion of training has on his or her body and perfor-
training volume that produces the best results. This mance will be the most successful on a regular basis
training threshold can really only be identified by a and have a better chance of reaching his or her full
systematic increase in training until more than the potential.
optimum amount is shown by a decline in perfor-
mance. Accordingly, training volume needs to be
High intensity training
increased gradually and progressively until the
individual failure threshold is identified. This cor- All the training that has been discussed to this point
responds to the training volume that produces a has been considered to be training performed at a
deteriorating, not an improved, racing perform- relatively low intensity. As the athlete progresses,
ance. For the elite performer, identification of this additional training at a higher intensity must be
training threshold is a crucial exercise in determin- included at the appropriate phase of development.
ing optimal training volume. Training beyond this These training sessions are performed at 80100%
threshold will result in poor performances and of Vo2max, and are commonly referred to as speed
training less rather than more will lead to success. work or interval sessions.
Gradually increasing the intensity of some of that Speed work or high intensity training is not
training (speed work) will then optimize the entire without risk. The common errors are performing
training program. Thus, a scientific measure of train- the sessions too often and too fast, using an inappro-
ing load that incorporates both duration of training, priate distance, inappropriate progression, or recov-
as well as the quality of the training, is a useful ery between the fast components that is insufficient
adjunct to monitoring training. for the level of fitness of the athlete. Another error is
Foster et al. (1996) have proposed a method in to have the mind-set that each fast training session
which training load is calculated as the duration of must be performed at a faster speed than the previ-
the session (in minutes) multiplied by the average ous one. This is neither desirable nor possible. For
rating of perceived exertion during the session (a example, an improvement in time trial performance
score between 0 and 10, where 0 is perceived as no may only be possible every few weeks. The most
effort at all and 10 is a very, very strong, almost positive sign that improvement is occurring is if it
maximal perception of effort). The total training is possible to perform the same or better times in
load for the week is then plotted on a graph depict- successive sessions, but with less effort. Conversely,
ing the calculated training load against a measure of if the sessions become increasingly difficult and
performance, such as a time trial. Such a graph will time trial or interval times start to become slower
show how performance improves as training load rather than faster, then this is a clear indicator that
per week is increased, until a point is reached in the athlete is trying to progress too rapidly and a
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28 c ha p ter 1

period of recovery is required instead of more and 85% of Vo2max) or very high intensity (30 s at 175% of
harder training. Typically, however, someone in the Vo2max) improved cycling performance in a 40 km
position of finding that their speed work appears to cycling time trial. These findings demonstrate two
be getting slower, suspects that they are not training important points: (i) certain types of speed work
hard enough and compounds their error by trying may be more effective than others; and (ii) large
to train even harder. This will likely lead to develop- changes in performance can be achieved in a rel-
ment of symptoms of overreaching (Meeusen et al. atively short period of time.
2006). The finding of measurable changes in performance
Initially one but later two high intensity (speed was found also by Smith et al. (1999) who measured
work) sessions should be introduced into the train- the effects of high intensity training using two inter-
ing regimen once the total weekly training distance val sessions per week for 4 weeks. Subjects trained
has been reached. One of these sessions should be of at the maximal treadmill speed achieved during a
short duration but of high intensity, corresponding Vo2max test, with the duration of each interval being
to approximately 60 90 s performed at a fast speed 6075% of the maximum time that each subject
with an equal rest interval before starting the next could run at their individual peak speed. Each train-
6090 s rest. Rest refers to running at a markedly ing session involved the repetition of either five
reduced speed. A second high intensity session each or six of these intervals. In this way subjects
week should be of longer duration, of around 35 maintained heart rates of approximately 9095% of
min but somewhat slower. Again, the rest interval maximum heart rate during the fast repetitions.
will initially be of equal duration. Both types of high However, if exercise duration was extended to more
intensity sessions must be introduced gradually than 7075% of maximum time capable of running
into the program, progressively building on the at the velocity of Vo2max, then the heart rate would
number included in each session until 10 12 repeats rise to 100% of maximum after the second or third
of the shorter duration speed work can be com- repetition, suggesting that the intervals were too
pleted and around 20 min of the longer speed long and too stressful. Second, if the heart rate did
workout. When this is achieved, the next step is a not decrease below 125 beatsmin1 by the end of the
systematic reduction in the rest period. When the recovery intervals, the next interval would always
athlete has achieved this level a race can be entered. elicit a maximum heart rate. This supports the prin-
Low profile races can also serve as a type of speed ciple that more is not necessarily always better.
session. However, the main finding was that this period of
A series of studies in the UCT/MRC Research high intensity training significantly increased peak
Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at treadmill running speed, the time for which this
the University of Cape Town and the Sports Science speed could be maintained, and 3000 m time trial
Institute of South Africa have attempted to evaluate performance, the latter by 2.8%. The authors sug-
the effects of specific speed work sessions on perfor- gested that using the peak speed obtained in the
mance. One such study showed that replacing 15% Vo2max test and 6075% of the time for which the
of a group of cyclists usual training with two speed peak speed could be maintained, might be particu-
sessions per week for 3 weeks improved cycling larly useful in exercise prescription. This suggestion
time trial performance by 3.6% (Lindsay et al. 1996). is appealing for a number of reasons. First, the vari-
Doubling the total number of training sessions ables are easily measurable for a number of sports
by increasing the high intensity training program and do not require any sophisticated equipment.
from 3 to 6 weeks produced no additional benefit Second, this method does not require the measure-
(Westgarth-Taylor et al. 1997). In another study, dif- ment of blood lactate concentrations and the use of
ferent groups of subjects performed high intensity the so-called anaerobic or lactate threshold, the
training from 30 s duration to longer (8 min) dura- physiologic basis of which is in doubt (Swart &
tion from 175% to 80% of Vo2max (Stepto et al. 1999). Jennings 2004). Third, the incorporation of heart rate
Interestingly, only speed work at race pace (4 min at monitoring provides a tool to determine when the
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general principles of training 29

fast component has been too long, or the number too University of Eugene, Oregon, were the first
many (Achten & Jeukendrup 2003). coaches to teach that training should not always be
Experience has shown that high intensity speed at the same intensity and duration every day. They
training cannot be continued indefinitely without observed that progression was best when the athlete
risk of injury, overreaching, or overtraining. It is was allowed a suitable recovery period after each
therefore important that after 4 6 weeks of progres- hard training session. This period of recovery
sive increase in speed work, there is a recovery ranged from as little as 24 h for some athletes to
period of a week of reduced training before the next 48 h for others. This became known as the hard
period of speed work commences. day/easy day training principle and incorporates
Additional training sessions that could be added the physiologic principle that a recovery period is
later include resistance training (use of hills for run- needed for physiologic adaptation to take place
ners and cyclists) and training sessions of 90120 after a training load that has caused a significant
min at close to race speed (often called tempo physiologic stress (Busso et al. 2002).
training). Like the speed work already discussed, For experienced competitors training to improve
these specialized training sessions also require the performance, all training should follow a hard
input of a sports scientist or experienced coach to day/easy day principle. The training session on
reduce the risk of injury or overtraining. It should be one day should be hard in intensity rating,
stressed that these sessions, as with the other high followed the next day by a session that is easy. For
intensity sessions, need to be introduced into the those athletes training twice daily, only one session
training schedule progressively, but only much would be a hard session on a hard training day.
later in the development of the training regimen. Some athletes find it difficult to train easily when
Short races are an excellent form of speed train- they should be on the easy day, and for these
ing. These sessions can be carried out as hard efforts athletes the use of a heart rate monitor to prevent
with the intensity controlled by perceived effort training too hard is a useful tool. All athletes must
or heart rate. Provided that these sessions are not at establish for themselves how frequently they can
all-out racing intensity, it is a perfectly acceptable train hard. Success will, to a large extent, depend on
addition to a structured training program and whether or not they achieve this balance.
should not necessarily be viewed as a training error.
In essence, the introduction of speed work into
the training regimen should not be a random event.
Rather, the introduction of speed work must be To achieve a best possible performance, at some
carefully planned, particularly with regard to the point every athlete should reduce their overall train-
distance of the speed work sessions, intensity of the ing load. Typically, this is primarily a reduction in
sessions, number of sessions per week, recovery training volume, with a smaller reduction in the
between hard intervals, and overall progression of high intensity sessions. Many athletes fear that they
the speed work component of the training regimen. will lose their fitness by reducing their training load.
Failure to pay attention to these factors can lead to Contrary to this opinion, however, an appropriate
an increased risk of injury or the manifestation of reduction in training load at the right time before
the symptoms of overtraining. Therefore, the sports a major competition will enhance performance
medical practitioner should carefully analyze the (Bosch et al. 1999). In the third week before competi-
nature of any speed work carried out by anyone pre- tion, training load can be reduced to approximately
senting with injury or symptoms of chronic fatigue. 80% of the normal training load in terms of weekly
duration or distance; 2 weeks before competition
the training load can be further reduced to 6070%
Hard day, easy day principle
of the normal training load. In the final week train-
Bill Bowermann and Bill Dellinger, coaches who ing should be maintained, but at the reduced, or
have trained a dynasty of great runners from the even more reduced, level. By maintaining the high
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30 c ha p ter 1

intensity workouts (at the same speed, but reduced athlete is physically incapacitated. These athletes
in overall volume) performance will be improved. It often present to the medical practitioner for help
is important to note that the high intensity workouts because they are convinced that there is something
must not be removed from the training regimen. medically wrong with them. While this may well be
Many athletes who are training to improve their the case in some instances, it is important for the
performances, rather than for health benefits, fail to sports medicine practitioner to realize that it is quite
either engage in speed training or in tapering and normal for performances to decline after a period of
get locked into a regimen in which all attention is peaking, tapering, and racing. A period of reduced
focused on weekly training distance. These athletes training should be planned at this phase of training
will only perform their best when they understand before the next build-up to another peak begins,
the importance of speed work in improving perfor- otherwise overtraining can result. Once in the over-
mance and the beneficial effects of tapering before trained state it may take the athlete many weeks to
important competition. Scientific evidence has con- recover and be able to resume normal training
firmed that tapering produces a dramatic improve- (Noakes 2001).
ment in performance (Mujika et al. 2004). The effect
is greatest if there is a rapid reduction in training
volume in the first few days of the taper, but mainte-
nance of the high intensity workouts, although Whether the training regimen is one that requires
somewhat reduced in total volume. It has not been two training sessions each day (e.g., the elite athlete
clearly established how long the optimal tapering aiming to win races and championship medals), or
period before a competition should be. The shortest four training sessions per week (e.g., the person
period is probably 10 days, to the 3-week period training for health and fitness reasons), the rule
already discussed. It is quite likely that this may discussed previously in this chapter pertaining to
be an individual response, also influenced by the regularity of training applies. However, even though
preceding training load. The heavier the preceding regularity is an important principle of training,
training, the more likely it is that a longer tapering there should also be periods of rest built into the
period will be required for the body to recover fully training program. Indeed, no matter what the level
in order to achieve optimal performance. As with the of training, there should be periods during which
optimum volume of training that needs to be deter- the training load is strategically reduced. Thus, in
mined for each individual, so each individual must a given year, even the elite endurance athlete will
experiment with different tapering programs to have a number of periods during which little train-
determine which program produces the best results. ing is carried out. Typically, this will be after an
important race or after a continuous build-up in the
training load. Similarly, the non-elite participant
Peaking and subsequent decline in
will benefit from the occasional rest period consist-
competitive performance
ing of a significant reduction in the normal training
After reaching a peak in competitive performance, load. These recovery periods, usually consisting of
many athletes do not accept the fact that it is impos- a training week of reduced distance and intensity,
sible to perform well for more than 3 6 weeks can themselves be considered to be a part of the con-
before their performances start to decline. Perfor- sistency rule by virtue of the fact that they appear
mance may improve steadily for as long as 10 regularly, about every 68 weeks, in the training
weeks, but beyond this period the athletes will often schedule.
become easily tired, sleep badly, become prone
to injury, illness and symptoms of overtraining
Heart rate monitoring
(Meeusen et al. 2006). The decline in performance
can occur very rapidly. It may take only 3 weeks to A popular trend in recent times has been to use
go from a best performance to the point at which the heart rate and a heart rate monitor to control
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general principles of training 31

training intensity. While scientific in many respects, training at 6090% of maximum heart rate. Various
training entirely on heart rate has many drawbacks, exercise training prescriptions can be found that
as the so-called heart rate training zone often fails are based on different training heart rate zones.
to predict adequately the correct intensity for train- However, for the reasons already described, it is
ing (Lambert et al. 1998). Reasons for this include not the best method of monitoring training. For
the fact that heart rate while exercising is very certain people, it may be better than no monitor-
dependent on factors other than just the work ing whatsoever. This may be particularly true for
rate. These include temperature, diurnal variation, those individuals who tend to train too hard, too
and prior sleep. Heart rate also does not adequately often. For these people, a coach could prescribe
account for muscular fatigue which may occur from a training session (particularly the easy day)
a prior training session incurred on the previous in which a particular heart rate should not be
day. Thus, heart rate may indicate that the training exceeded. More useful in general terms, however, is
intensity is too low, whereas a low intensity may that as fitness increases, at any particular exercise
be appropriate for tired muscles resulting from a intensity or speed, the heart rate will be less.
previous speed workout for example. Therefore it Another benefit from heart rate monitoring is that,
may be better to use a perception rating of intensity performed regularly, the heart rate after exercise
to control training speed. Specifically, does the will return more quickly towards resting values.
session feel easy, somewhat hard, hard, or very Conversely, an increased heart rate at a given speed
hard? Where heart rate monitoring may be used to may indicate the onset of overreaching or overtrain-
advantage is to monitor trends of either an increase ing. When this is observed, the individual needs to
or decrease in heart rate for a given controlled train- rest from training, or train less, until recovery has
ing session. occurred.
Often, those who wish to use heart rate during
exercise as a monitor of training effort will use an
Weight training
equation based on a predicted maximum heart rate
using a simple formula of 220 minus age in years. Weight training performed two or three times
Therefore, the predicted maximum heart rate of a weekly has a positive effect on endurance perfor-
40-year-old is (220 40) beatsmin1, which equals mance if it does not replace training sessions in the
180 beatsmin1. However, there is little or no sci- endurance training program. In contrast, adding
entific basis for this calculation (Edwards 1997). endurance training to a strength training program
Therefore, should someone wish to use this method in which the main expected outcome is a gain in
to determine the appropriate exercise intensity, true muscle strength and power causes reduced adapta-
maximum heart rate should first be established, tion with a resultant compromised gain in strength
because all younger, highly trained athletes have (Fleck & Kraemer 1997). There are some specific
maximum heart rates that are lower than expected advantages of strength training for downhill
for their ages. In contrast, highly trained athletes races because of the damaging effect of eccentric
older than 50 years have higher maximal heart rates muscle contraction that occurs when running
than predicted by this equation. downhill, which can be reduced by the increased
Maximum heart rate can be established accu- strength from a carefully planned weight-training
rately in one of two ways: an exercise scientist can program. Typically, for those athletes who wish to
perform a maximum exercise test or an individual include weight training into their program, there
can perform their own test while wearing a heart should be no more than two to three sessions per
rate monitor while exercising as hard as possible for week. When the training load is increased, the
410 min. This test should not be undertaken in an supplementary weight training sessions should be
unsupervised setting by people whose heart condi- reduced to two sessions per week. Weight training
tions are not known. The popular training dogma is is best performed on the easy training days of the
that maximum benefit from training is achieved by sports specific training schedule.
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32 c ha p ter 1

training, one way to help prevent overtraining is

to ensure application of the hard day, easy day
Training strengthens the active muscles and reduces training principle. A heart rate monitor can be
their flexibility. To maintain flexibility of the mus- useful to prevent hard training on a day when only
cles, specific stretching exercises can be performed. light training should be carried out, by prescribing
However, the exact benefit of stretching, particu- a heart rate that must not be exceeded during
larly to prevent injuries, has not been proven training. However, if one day of easy training is
conclusively (Shrier & Gossel 2000). This has not insufficient for the athlete to feel adequately re-
prevented the popular belief that stretching helps in covered, then an extra day of easy training should
this regard. There is also no published evidence to be carried out before the next strenuous workout.
suggest that regular stretching improves endurance Applying this diligently will reduce the risk of
performance. The one condition that may well developing symptoms of overtraining.
be prevented by regular stretching is exercise- Symptoms of overtraining include one or more
associated muscle cramping (Schwellnus 1999). of the following: painful muscles, muscle fatigue,
When all the evidence is considered, the pragmatic general feeling of fatigue, depression, irritability,
recommendations are that a stretching program disturbed sleep patterns, and increased POMS score,
should be carried out in moderation and that the weight loss, raised resting pulse rate, an increased
stretching exercises should be performed correctly. susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections,
Importantly, the stretch must always be applied gastrointestinal disturbances, and a decrease in
gradually. Ballistic stretching, which involves running performance (Lehmann et al. 1993; Meeusen
bouncing up and down, is considered to be an et al. 2006).
ineffective method as it simply activates the stretch There is no magical cure for overtraining other
reflex, causing the stretched muscle to contract than a reduction in training load until the symptoms
rapidly. The tension inside the muscle during this have passed. Complete rest from training may be
type of stretching is much higher than in a static necessary. Reducing training or resting is not some-
stretch. Although it is often said that this form of thing that a sportsperson training seriously wants to
stretching increases the risk of injury, there is no do, and it is often difficult to convince someone that
convincing published evidence to confirm this. these are the only options to recover from the over-
Static stretching is a specific type of stretching training syndrome. The training at which the onset
exercise. During static stretching, the stretch posi- of symptoms commenced should be noted (Foster
tion is assumed slowly and held for 30 60 s. The 1998). This represents somewhat more than the
build-up of tension in the muscle is slow, and so the maximum training load that can be tolerated. Sub-
stretch reflex which causes the muscle to contract is sequently, as that particular training load is reached,
not activated. This type of stretching invokes the the volume and speed should be increased only
inverse stretch reflex which causes muscle tension very gradually as the physiologic adaptations are
to fall, enabling the muscle to be stretched a little given every chance to occur. However, it should be
further. More sophisticated techniques include recognized that everyone has a genetically deter-
the contractrelax and contractrelaxantagonist mined ceiling in training load above which adapta-
contract techniques. The static stretch technique has tion will not occur.
been shown to be highly effective for increasing the
range of motion while being relatively low risk for
inducing injury (Hughes 1996).
To be successful in sport athletes must possess great
physical attributes such as strength, power, stamina,
and flexibility, as well as demonstrate expert motor
Overtraining is discussed in detail in Chapter 3. skill abilities. Indeed, at the elite level the difference
From a practical perspective relating to endurance between athletes often relates more to the ability to
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general principles of training 33

perform skills with high levels of consistency, pre- and coordinated means by which the nervous sys-
cision, and smoothness than it does to issues of tem varies the amount of force required to produce
speed, power, and strength. However, despite the meaningful movement is one of the fundamental
importance of effective skill execution in determin- aspects of motor skill acquisition. Performance with
ing sporting performance, research into the areas too little or too much muscular force can mean the
of motor learning and skills training have often difference between success and failure. To produce
brought conflicting results, leaving coaches con- skilful movement, there must be an interaction
fused about the best training methods to use. between the number of motor units recruited, the
One of the difficulties facing researchers concerns muscular fibre types involved, and the synchroniza-
the definitions of skill and skill acquisition. For tion and firing rate of motorneurons. For reviews on
example, the concept of skill itself is much more motor unit recruitment the reader is referred to
difficult to define than the physical capacities such Binder and Mendell (1990), Enoka and Stuart (1984),
as strength or stamina, as it is more a construct than and Noth (1992). In addition to the amount of motor
a physical capacity. Leonard (1998) summarized unit recruitment, the nervous system must also
this issue when he indicated that skill is not a term control agonistantagonist muscle activity. When
than represents a singular entity, but rather involves an individual performs a goal-directed motor skill
sensory processing, motor learning and control, coor- of moderate to fast speed, a three burst pattern
dination of muscles, adaptability of control during of agonistantagonistagonist muscle is observed
various conditions, and retention of the acquired allowing for smooth controlled movement from
skills. Importantly, skill acquisition is also multidis- initiation to completion (Enoka 1994).
ciplinary and involves areas such as neuromuscular Skilled movement also requires sensory feedback
physiology, biomechanics, and psychology. to the nervous system, particularly from the internal
Despite the complexities in defining and catego- environment. There are two receptors that provide
rizing skill acquisition, the goal in training for skill sensory feedback to the CNS: muscle spindles and
acquisition is to allow the athlete to perform skills Golgi tendon organs (GTOs). Muscle spindles,
with quality, certainty, and with economy of move- found within each muscle fiber, provide informa-
ment, thereby conserving energy and reducing tion about the length of a muscle and the rate in
potential injury. In order to do this, the coach must change of the length during movement. If a muscle
be aware of how the neuromuscular system works, is stretched, these receptors will send impulses to
the mechanical principles underpinning movement, the CNS, which in turn sends a motor command to
and the environments that may facilitate or inhibit the muscle to contract, thereby stopping the muscle
skill acquisition. This part of this chapter is divided from overstretching. GTOs, found in the musculo-
into two sections: the underpinning physiology that tendinous junction, responds to muscle tension
contributes to skill acquisition and theories of skill either from the muscle being stretched or generated
acquisition, followed by evidence-based concepts by muscular contraction. Unlike spindles that moni-
influencing motor skill acquisition. tor individual muscle fiber length, GTOs receives
information from 1015 motor units, thereby moni-
toring whole muscle tension rather than individual
Physiologic basis of motor skill
muscle fiber tension (Hullinger et al. 1995). For more
extensive discussion on sensory feedback the reader
Skilled performance is purposeful movement and is is referred to Rothwell (1994).
reliant on the coordination of agonist, synergist, and
antagonist skeletal muscles. Motorneurons inner-
Central nervous system and motor control
vating skeletal muscles are found in both the central
nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous
system (PNS) and excite or inhibit muscles to pro- The coordination and management of muscle groups
duce coordinated movements. The synchronized during skilled movement is the responsibility of
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34 c ha p ter 1

Interpretation/ Interpretation/
error detection error detection

Motor Motor
planning planning

Motor Motor
command command

Muscle Muscle Fig. 1.1 (a) Closed-loop control

activity activity system. (b) Open-loop control system
(Schmidt & Lee 1999, after Hodges,
(a) (b) 2003).

higher CNS brain centers, such as the cerebellum, that in early life, plasticity occurs through regres-
basal ganglia, and cerebral cortex. Unlike reflexes, sion of neuronal networks, with up to 50% loss
which are stereotypical responses to a stimulus in neurons in brain structure studies. By approx-
and controlled primarily at the spinal level, higher imately 3 years, this regression is almost complete
brain centers have the ability for modification with with children having a basic ability to modify or
voluntary movements. Schmidt and Lee (1999) control grips and load forces, which by 68 years
have suggested two basic systems of motor control. becomes much more adult-like (Forssberg et al. 1995).
One is via the closed-loop system where movement Importantly, neurophysiologic research has demon-
is continually updated and modified on the basis strated CNS plasticity in healthy (Pascual-Leone
of feedback through muscle spindles, GTOs, joint, et al. 1994, 1995) and diseased adults (Byrnes et al.
skin vestibular and visual receptors (Fig. 1.1a). The 1999), showing that acquisition or reacquisition of
alternative is through open-loop control systems motor skills is possible throughout the life cycle.
where movement is controlled by means of higher These findings are contrary to the earlier neuropsy-
CNS centers independent of sensory feedback chologic learning theories of Freud and Piaget,
(Fig. 1.1b). Movements are preplanned and perfor- which viewed neural growth and development as
med without deliberation of sensory feedback, which virtually complete by mid to end of adolescence.
may be too slow to make adjustments to the move- CNS plasticity is achieved through the process
ment, or are just not needed. Despite continuing of long-term potentiation (LTP) where changes are
debate regarding these two theories, Hodges (2003) activity dependent; synapses will strengthen (or
has suggested that motor control maybe a hybrid weaken in the case of long-term depression)
of these two theories. depending on the strength of the stimuli from
practice. For more information on LTP the reader is
directed to Leonard (1998) and Perkins and Teyler
Physiologic mechanisms underpinning motor
skill acquisition: Cortical plasticity
Mechanisms to suggest plastic changes from
The acquisition of skills is associated with changes skill acquisition include the establishment of new
in the brains neural networks, otherwise known as connections and/or alterations of the effectiveness
plasticity, or functional reorganization (Donoghue of previously existing connections (Donoghue 1995;
1995; Kaas 1991). Cowan et al. (1985) have suggested Kaas 1991; Pascual-Leone & Torres 1993). However,
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general principles of training 35

cortical plasticity seen with older children and Similar findings have been demonstrated in motor
adults suggests that it is likely changes occur in unit recruitment where variability in motor unit
pre-existing connections that are normally present recruitment decreases with the acquisition and
but physiologically silent (Leonard 1998). Neuro- improvement of a motor skill (Moritani 1993). These
imaging studies have demonstrated plasticity in the authors have also shown changes in motor unit
motor cortex in highly skilled adult athletes and firing frequency following specific practice of skills
musicians who have undertaken structured motor requiring fast movements.
skill acquisition and reinforcement (Elbert et al.
1995; Pearce et al. 2000). Elbert et al. (1995) demon-
time course of motor learning
strated changes in the motor cortex representation
in the fingering hand but not the bow hand of From a practical point of view an area of great
skilled violin players. Similar findings have also interest for coaches concerns the time it takes to
been identified by Pearce et al. (2000) who found learn skills (Baker et al. 2003). Ericsson et al. (1993)
differences in the motor cortex (plasticity) and have suggested that it takes approximately 10,000 h
increased neural excitability to the playing hand in (or 10 years) of deliberate practice for a high
elite, but not recreational badminton players. These performance athlete to be developed. However,
researchers suggested that the presence of struc- this view has been questioned recently, with
tured practice was the stimulus for the observed researchers suggesting that approximately 69%
changes in both the elite athlete group and in highly of all senior national level athletes had 4 years
skilled musicians. of experience or less in that sport (Oldenziel et al.
2003, 2004). However, these authors noted that
these quick learners had played at least three
Physiology of motor learning
sports (3.3 1.6) before settling on their main sport,
A number of sequential models, such as Gentiles a fact in stark contrast to the limited prior sporting
(1972, 1987, 2000) two-phase model and the popular experiences (0.9 1.3) of those athletes who had
Fitts and Posner (1967) three-phase model, are taken 10 or more years to achieve a similar level of
outlined below describing the stages of an individ- performance.
ual learning a motor task. More recently, these
stages of learning have been used to demonstrate
Theories of motor skill acquisition
changes in the individuals neural strategy (muscle
activation patterns and motor commands) reflect- Plasticity of the neuromuscular system allows
ing cortical plasticity. For example, changes in for the acquisition of skills throughout the life
whole muscle activation patterns (reflecting motor cycle. Plasticity is dependent on activity, provid-
learning) using electromyography (EMG) have ing stimulation to strengthen neural pathways to
been demonstrated in a number of sports and facilitate LTP. Although the old saying practice
activities (Kamon & Gormley 1968; Vorro et al. 1978; makes perfect holds true to a certain extent,
Jaegers et al. 1989; Williams & Walmsley 2000). when training for skill acquisition, practice and
These studies have shown that during initial stages repetition are not the only variables to consider.
of skill acquisition (cognitive stage) the individual To optimize training for skill acquisition, a number
uses muscles inappropriately by both activating of authors have suggested that it is important
excessive or redundant muscle groups, and activat- to understand the conditions that athletes practice
ing muscle groups with incorrect timing. However, under. For example, the type and amount of
as practice continued (associative to autonomous feedback presented, the grouping and sequencing
stages) the number of muscles activated decreases of practice, and the type of sensory feedback
to a minimal (or optimal) number required to provided all influence the acquisition and retention
perform the skill effectively, and the timing of of motor skills (Leonard 1998; Magill 2003; Schmidt
muscle activation became appropriate (Magill 2003). & Lee 1999).
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36 c ha p ter 1

ences between these two types of practices for a

Grouping of practice sessions
racquet sport.
Research has shown that blocked practice
block versus random practice
sessions result in faster skill acquisition of com-
A common question among the coaching fraternity plex motor skills (Shea et al. 1990), most likely as a
is whether it is better to practice a skill repetitively result of strengthening of the effectiveness of an
within a practice session, or whether it is preferen- existing (but singular) neural pathway (Leonard
tial to mix up skills during the session. The former is 1998). However, a large number of studies have
often referred to as blocked (or massed) practice, shown that random practice results in greater
while the latter is described as random practice. A skill retention and adaptation to the sporting
typical blocked practice session involves athletes environment than blocked practice (Shea & Morgan
practicing one skill (more skills may be involved but 1979; Goode & Magill 1986; Hall et al. 1994; Landin
they are practiced independently of each other) in a & Herbert 1997). Leonard (1998) has suggested
session with relatively low contextual interference that this is due to LTP of the skill among a number
(Battig 1979). Conversely, random practice sessions of neural pathways rather than a singular circuit.
involve a multiple number of skills practiced simu- In recognizing the value of random practice
ltaneously (or under tactical conditions) and present studies, Rose and Christina (2006) noted that
athletes with higher contextual interference (Battig practice sessions should be sport-specific and
1979). Table 1.2 provides an example of the differ- practice conditions should reflect real-world sports

Table 1.2 Example differences between blocked and random practice styles in tennis. The emphasis is on technical
development; however, the practice environment differs greatly between the two practice styles. Under random
practice, the coach will facilitate skill learning with questions and addressing technical problems within a
tactical framework.

Blocked practice Random practice

Forehand crosscourt Zone rally

Ball racquet feed* from coach to players Rally started with courtesy feed (underarm) from player (or coach)
forehand side to opponent
Player to return ball to predesignated area Rally progresses with a point awarded to the player who can hit a
(marked by cones) winning or unreturnable forehand. No points given for errors
Service practice Service rally (3 shot rally)
Classic service practice into open service box Player practices service but under realistic conditions (i.e. with
No return from an opponent or coach return of serve)
Three shot rally includes service (shot #1), return (shot #2), and first
shot after return (shot #3)
Player is instructed to create serves to force weak return from
opponent (from good placement of serve) and to set up
aggressive third shot after return (ground stroke or volley)
Closed rally drill Open rally game
Players will hit only one shot (e.g., backhand Player gives courtesy feed (underarm) with both players rallying full
cross-court) and instructed to keep the court to create winning situations. Points awarded for tactical
cross-court rally going for as long as possible awareness
One point: Winning point when opponent makes unforced error
Two points: Forcing opponent into error
Three points: Hitting outright winning shot

* Also known as dead-ball drill training.

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general principles of training 37

settings in order to reinforce the skill in a relevant using both forms of practices generally demonstrate
context. a reliance on repeated closed environments and
progress to open environments slowly. Clearly,
some coaches need to have the courage to forgo the
practice variability
perfect looking training session, in favor of training
Closely linked with random practice is the issue that may not look as good, but results in genuine
of practice variability. Practice variability refers to skill acquisition.
providing and structuring a practice environment
for the learner to apply different parameters, or
part versus whole practice
variations of a motor skill (e.g., in tennis, adapting
different swing patterns for low or high bouncing Whole practice describes situations where the
on-coming balls). A number of studies conducted in learner practices the entire skill (movement pattern)
the 1970s and 1980s (Catalano & Kleiner 1984; from the outset, while part practice occurs when
Margolis & Christina 1981; McCracken & Stelmach the various components of the skill are learned
1977) have demonstrated that variability in the thoroughly first. Considerable debate continues
acquisition of a new motor task facilitates transfer of regarding the effectiveness of one over the other.
that learning to a similar but novel task. Sports- A complicating factor in much of this research has
specific training is important in this regard as been the choice of skills examined, as it is generally
studies have shown that practicing variable move- agreed that the type of skill required will dictate
ment patterns must relate to the performance of whether it is learned best using part or whole meth-
that skill (Leonard 1998). ods (Naylor & Briggs 1961; Wightman & Lintern
From a practical point of view, the issue of 1985). Rose and Christina (2006) have recommended
whether to block a practice session or to use a random that complex movement patterns, involving the
style creates a considerable problem for coaches. For combination of many individual skills (e.g., gym-
example, blocked practice sessions are themed, nastics floor routine), should be taught using the
sequenced smoothly, and athletes tend to improve part method. Conversely, less complex but highly
skill execution during the course of training. Many organized skills (e.g., hitting a baseball) are better
coaches prefer these sessions because training looks suited to the whole method.
good, and sessions are easier to plan. In addition, The wholepartwhole practice model is an exten-
coaches can provide repetitious models, based on sion from both the whole and part practice methods
their own experiences from which their athletes (Swanson & Law 1993). In the wholepartwhole
copy, despite the limited skill retention that tends to model, the subject is provided with the skill in its
occur (Roetert et al. 2003). Similarly, some players entirety before having it broken down into parts
have been so conditioned by the blocked practice and taught using the segmentation, simplification,
approach that they almost require drills to be per- or fractionization methods (Wightman & Lintern
formed in a routine order before they can produce a 1985). The skill is then taught as a whole a second
certain skill. This is an obvious problem for perfor- time to complete the understanding process (Swan-
mance situations. Typically, excessive use of blocked son & Law 1993).
style training results in the We can do it at training, Many successful skills coaches prefer to use whole
so why cant we do it in the game syndrome, which is or wholepartwhole style training, with very few
frustrating for both coaches and athletes alike. selecting part style training during complex tech-
Random style training sessions provide a differ- nique or skills sessions. One of the key advantages
ent set of problems for coaches. While there is little of whole and wholepartwhole style training over
question that random style training results in better part training is the fact that it enables skills to be
skill retention, some coaches, especially those con- expressed in the context in which they are to be
ditioned to using blocked training, are still reluctant performed. Whether from an individual or team skill
to implement it. Even coaches who profess to perspective, focusing on just one of the components
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38 c ha p ter 1

of a skill ignores the important interaction effects. sessions (i.e., moves from set pieces in football,
A traditional approach in some sports has been rugby, basketball, etc.). That is, while each move
to focus excessively on the movements of each of involves several players all executing individual
the individual segments before putting the skill tasks, it is the coordination of these actions into the
together (part training). That is, many skills (e.g., whole that determines the game moves overall
kicks, hits, or throws) involve movement of effectiveness.
multiple body segments where the coordination,
sequencing, timing, and forces produced at each
Role of feedback
segment must all be optimized for the skill to be
executed successfully. For example, the knee exten- While practice and repetition are integral compo-
sion velocities achieved at ball contact in kicking nents of the skill acquisition process (Newell &
(approximately 25 rad s-1) occur primarily through Rosenbloom 1981), it is important to realize that
the actions of the preceding segments (e.g., pelvic practice itself does not guarantee that learning will
tilt and rotation, hip flexion) and not through a be either maximized, or occur at all. For example, in
forceful knee extension via the quadriceps (Davids a classic study by Bilodeau et al. (1959) it was shown
et al. 2000; Lees & Nolan 2002; Lees et al. 2005; Robert- that the absence, or removal of feedback during a
son & Mosher 1985). Therefore, training drills that simple movement task had a direct effect on the
isolate the knee extension action and focus on the execution of that task with practice (Fig. 1.2). While
use of a forceful contraction of the quadriceps providing somewhat of a simplistic view, this study
actually bear little resemblance to the kicking highlights the important role that feedback has in
action. Several coaches still persist with the latter, the skill acquisition process. However, this research
but their athletes often have problems such as My did not address other key issues such as What sort
athlete has performed this kicking drill well, but how of feedback should be provided? and What is the opti-
come he can kick only 30 m? A similar argument mal time to provide feedback?
can be developed for the use of whole or whole There are two basic types of feedback: knowledge
partwhole style training for game moves practice of performance, where feedback provides information


Mean absolute error (mm)


Fig. 1.2 Error in reproducing a
2 simple movement as a function of
the amount and type of feedback
provided. Following a pause, subjects
0 from the None and None after 19 trials
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 1 2 3 4 5 groups were retested over five trials,
Trials but with both groups being given
None None after 2 trials feedback after each trial. (After
None after 6 trials None after 19 trials Bilodeau et al. 1959.)
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general principles of training 39

regarding the ongoing sensory or perceptual infor- suggested that disproportionate amounts of ex-
mation provided during the movement, and know- trinsic feedback, stemming from the timing of the
ledge of results, providing feedback on the outcome feedback (almost immediately after the skill has been
of the movement. Feedback is also obtained intrin- executed), may incur an overreliance by the player
sically through visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic on the coach and impair the learners problem-
processes and/or extrinsically from the coach or solving processes. Table 1.3 illustrates some feed-
an observer. However, these two processes are not back examples that coaches can use to facilitate
interdependent. independent thinking.
Coaches may often provide excessive feedback or
feedback that lacks specificity. The level of feedback
Instruction versus demonstration
needs to be congruent with the skill level of the
performer, as less skilled performers are likely to A fundamental issue in coaching is to provide
experience overload if too much, or too precise verbal instruction or visual demonstrations (or a
levels of feedback are provided (Magill & Wood combination of both). There is considerable incon-
1986; Smoll 1972). It is important here to note that sistency regarding the effectiveness of verbal feed-
simple praise (e.g. good shot) is not a true form of back versus visual demonstration. For example,
feedback, and has been shown to be largely ineffect- Magill and Schoenfelder-Zohdi (1996) have sugge-
ive (Kulhavy & Wager 1993). Research findings sted that visual information is superior to verbal
have demonstrated that feedback was more effect- instruction, while other researchers have indicated
ive when provided from the learners perspective that the combination of verbal instruction and
(Magill 1993; Schmidt 1991) because the acquisition visual demonstration is far superior to the use of
of motor skills relies on both internal and external verbal feedback alone (McCullagh et al. 1990; Weiss
sensory feedback. The amount and timing of extrinsic & Klint 1987). Moreover, other researchers have
feedback is also important (Ho & Shea 1978; Reeve suggested that verbal instructions do not have a
& Magill 1981). Williams and Hodges (2005) have positive influence on the learning process (Hodges

Table 1.3 The use of questioning as a form of feedback in comparison to traditional instructions. In order to reduce
the potential for overreliance, coaches can pose questions rather than prescriptive feedback to assist learning from
the players perspective. The examples below pertain to racquet sports such as tennis and badminton, but can be
adapted for other sports.

Coachs questions Traditional instructions

When is the best time to go for a winning shot? When the opponent is out of position I want you to go for it,
and put the ball away
In this game, were more points won on outright In that game most of your points were won due to your
winners or opponents errors? opponents errors
On a scale of 1 5 (5 being great and 1 being poor), Your balance was a little off in that last rally, next time keep
how would you rate your balance during those last your weight on the balls of your feet, widen your stance
couple of forehands? slightly, and stay low
On a scale of 1 5 (5 being great and 1 being poor), You are transferring your weight really well.
how would you rate your weight transfer in those However, make sure that you keep finishing here though
last serves (coach points to a position on court)
What are some ways to make it easier for you to For all your cross-court shots make sure that you take the
play angled cross-court shots? ball early and hit it out in front of the body
If your opponent hits short cross-court and is out Hit the ball down the line when your opponent hits his or
of position, what would be the best choice of shot? her cross-court shot short
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40 c ha p ter 1

& Lee 1999; Masters 1992; Wulf & Weigelt 1997). on whether skill learning is superior when training
Williams and Hodges (2005) noted that for precise is based on the learners internal feel and experience
replication of a technique, demonstrations were (implicit), rather than sessions based on instruction
preferred, as these played a significant part in aid- and external feedback (explicit; Gentile 1998;
ing motor learning (Haguenauer et al. 2005; Magill Jackson 2003). The relative merits of each of these
& Schoenfelder-Zohdi 1996). Hodges and Franks training methods have been the subject of consider-
(2002) also indicated that demonstrations were able debate, with some researchers heavily in favor
effective particularly when the activity being taught of implicit training (Masters 1992, 2000), while
was based on combining movements for which the others emphasize that explicit knowledge has an
athlete had a prior degree of proficiency. However, important role in the learning process (Beek 2000).
in situations involving novice learners it was im- The issues surrounding the implicit versus
portant to provide some verbal instruction to explicit debate have resulted in a great deal of
avoid either overload, or the learner may attend to confusion. Apart from the difficulty in conducting
inappropriate cues during the demonstration interference-free research in this area (Jackson
(McCullagh et al. 1990; Weiss & Klint 1987). Further, 2003), there is also conflict regarding study design
demonstrations may be less effective when used to and the applicability of these findings to the train-
try and refine an existing movement pattern (Horn ing environment (Farrow & Abernethy 2002, 2003;
& Williams 2004). From a coaching perspective, the Jackson 2003). From a practical point of view, a
combination of verbal instruction and demonstra- major failing of this research is that it tends to pro-
tion is desirable for most sports, but it does depend mote a bias towards either the implicit or explicit
on the type of skills being taught, and the level and concepts, with many researchers even suggesting
motivation of the athletes being trained. the explicit instruction is counterproductive to the
skill learning process (Horn & Williams 2005). Such
a bias can lead to confusion in skills coaches who
Implicit versus explicit perceptual learning
must operate in an environment more flexible than
Perceptual skill learning is a relatively new area that used to meet research methodologic constraints
in the motor skill acquisition literature and has (e.g., coaches must deal with athletes at vary stages
become fashionable in many coaching circles. of skill development, and over a wide range of
Underpinning the issue of perceptual learning is the contexts).
concept that expert performers have an enhanced Regardless of the arguments for and against
cognitive knowledge of their sport. This is based on implicit versus explicit practice, many successful
their ability to recognize cues of relevance and pat- skills coaches lean towards an implicit model in their
terns of play, superiority in anticipating opponents coaching, while selectively using explicit methods
actions, and greater accuracy in expectations of to great success. One important constraint of re-
what is likely to happen given a particular set of search in this area relates to the fact that few implicit
circumstances (Williams & Grant 1999). This exper- training studies have been conducted on highly ex-
tise is developed primarily as a result of long-term perienced or elite level athletes (i.e., groups with
sport-specific experience. However, Abernethy (1993) high explicit knowledge of their sport). In particu-
explored the concepts of whether there were any lar, an interesting problem arises when coaching a
potential training methods that could be employed high level athlete who develops a technical problem
to enhance the development of perceptual skill that interferes with performance (e.g., a golfer who
in sport as an alternative to years of task-specific develops the yips when putting, a rugby goal
practice. kicker who starts to push the ball to the right of the
A key issue within the perceptual skill acquisition posts). It is not uncommon for these athletes to have
domain is the importance of implicit versus explicit a great deal of difficulty feeling this technical flaw
learning processes (Magill 1998; Williams & Grant (especially if they have had the error for a long time),
1999). The arguments surrounding this issue center negating the effectiveness of using a purely implicit
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general principles of training 41

approach during technique correction. In this case, relatively common to observe athletes practicing
some explicit instruction can often result in very motor skills while in a state of physical fatigue, or
rapid improvements. It appears that both methods for coaches to follow up heavy or intense training
sit along a continuum that although favoring the use sessions by programing light training based around
of implicit practices, must also acknowledge the role skill acquisition. Research has demonstrated that
of explicit instruction in skill development. motor skill acquisition and performance is affected
following fatiguing exercise. Arnett et al. (2000)
showed that anaerobically induced fatigue had a
Mental imagery
detrimental effect on gross motor skill acquisition.
The bridge between neuropsychology and neuro- Similarly, although Lyons et al. (2006) demonstrated
physiology is demonstrated through the relation- significant detriments in passing performance
ship of mental rehearsal, or imagery, and their affect following fatiguing exercise in both novice and
on motor skill acquisition. For example, a number of elite basketball players, the decrements in the elite
studies have shown that similar neural circuits and players were not as great as those of the novices.
cerebral cortex activation patterns are involved Other studies measuring motor skill decrements have
during both mental rehearsal and the performance used fatiguing exercise involving eccentric exercise,
of the motor skill (Decety 1996; Grafton et al. 1996; which produces muscle damage (Pearce et al. 1998;
Jeannerod 1995; Sirigu et al. 1996). This provides a Saxton et al. 1995), and concentric exercise that
possible explanation as to why mental practice fatigues muscle but does not cause as much damage
using imagery can result in athletic motor per- (Bottas et al. 2005; Walsh et al. 2004). Saxton et al.
formance improvements (Feltz & Landers 1983). (1995) and Walsh et al. (2004) showed position errors
However, some differences exist between mental in a subjects arm when matched to their non-exer-
imagery and actual performance, in particular when cised arm. Despite different time course measures,
an individual is performing simple or complex similar results were found in both eccentric exercise
motor skills. Bennet (1997), in research using non- and concentric exercise. Pearce et al. (1998) demon-
invasive neuroimaging techniques, suggested that strated that following eccentric exercise subjects
during the performance of a simple motor skill an exhibited both greater error in a subsequent visuo-
area within the sensorimotor cortex becomes active. motor tracking task and reduced motor skill
However, when a more complex motor skill was proficiency than control subjects (Fig. 1.3). Further
required, a secondary motor area (the supplemen- studies correlated these errors with a drop in
tary motor area [SMA]) becomes active at the same muscular force (Pearce et al. 1998; Walsh et al.
time. During mental imagery performance of the
same complex motor skill (without muscular activ-
ity) only the SMA is active. This may have implica- 1.40
tions for coaches to reinforce the value of mental 1.30
imagery to their athletes in training complex 1.20
Error (%)

skills pertinent to their sport, as well as to injured 1.10

1.00 Exercised
athletes who maybe unable to perform the skills
physically. For more information regarding the link 0.90
between mental imagery and the neuromuscular Control
system the reader is referred to Lotze and Halsband 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
(2006). Time (days)

Fig. 1.3 Comparison of change in tracking error in

Physical fatigue and muscle damage exercised (solid line) and control subjects (dashed line)
normalized to initial values. A score lower than 1 shows
Despite studies dating back to the 1970s suggesting improvement, whereas values greater than 1 shows
otherwise (Carron 1972; Thomas et al. 1975) it is greater error (Pearce et al. 1998).
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42 c ha p ter 1

2004). Using EMG, Bottas et al. (2005) found that

reduced force from fatigued muscles impaired
activation patterns of agonist and antagonist muscle This section has provided a brief overview of the
groups, as well as reduced position sense from physiologic, biomechanical, and psychologic com-
muscle damage, contributing to decline in the motor ponents underpinning motor skill acquisition.
skill task. Recent advances in neurophysiology have shown
Although further research needs to be conducted that skill acquisition can occur at any stage of the life
in the area of fatigue and motor skill training, the cycle, rather than occurring only when athletes are
coaching implications of this research indicate that young. For the coach, the main issue is to under-
undertaking developmental skill-based training stand the processes underpinning motor learning
sessions with fatigued athletes is contraindicated. and motor control, as well as creating the optimal
Therefore, developmental skills training should environment to improve and maintain the athletes
precede voluminous or intense training sessions. technical skill base. The areas of motor learning,
Contrary to this view, many high performance skill acquisition, and motor control are complex and
coaches use light skills-based sessions as a means of challenging areas which are continually expanding.
active recovery (e.g., the day after an international Results from future studies will provide coaches
football match). While this practice should probably with more information enabling them to program
be avoided in novice athletes it does not appear to training practices more effectively and enhance the
interfere with the skill levels of high performance skill level of their athletes, regardless of chronologic
athletes. or training age.

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