The Hierarchy of Training (Pt.2): In season Vs. Offseason Rx’s

250px-Rx_symbol_border.svgBy Evan Peikon 
As discussed in The Hierarchy of Training Pt.1, it is imperative that training characteristics, and methods, are layered on top of one another correctly when trying to improve strength/ energy system development concurrently. Now that the offseason is approaching for many I thought it would be useful to provide a guide explaining the in’s and out’s of In season Vs. Offseason Rxs, and how to properly develop specific training characteristics relative to the time of year.

In the previous installment I left off by stating …
 “When taking a step back/ looking at the big picture we first need to assess an athlete before applying this knowledge. Not only in terms of where they sit physically on the hierarchy, but also where they sit in the year relative to their priority competition. Does the athlete in question need to build a foundation, or sharpen/ build upon what they already posses? These are big picture questions that I cannot simply answer for you; and in reality one should already know the answers to these questions. However, this is not always the case. Which is why it is critical that you, or your coach, not only implement an effective assessment protocol, but also design a periodization plan around it and follow evidence based training protocols to allow you to reach you goals in the most efficient/ effective manner- all of which will be covered in the next installment of “The Hierarchy of Training” article series

That being said, if you haven’t yet gone through a valid assessment protocol the information contained in this article will be limited in it’s scope of applicability. If you’ve undergone an assessment, and know where you sit on the hierarchy, then this article will help you decide what methods are appropriate, when training a specific characteristic, at a given time of year.

To start, when periodizing training prescriptions it works best to select a competition date (or range of dates in the case of the open) and then work backward to the current point in time. For example….

Lets assume we know the 2016 Crossfit Games Opens will be testing muscular endurance and aerobic power predominantly (for the sake of keeping things simple). When working backwards we can then decide what training “should” look like 1-2, 2-4, and 4-6 months leading up to the event to ensure the best performance possible. Following this logic we can then layout the following progression scheme…

Note- In the example below i’m going to provide 2-3 days of training, in each phase of the year, focusing on the above testing characteristics. For the sake of this example lets assume the avatar athlete is balanced on the spectrum from powerful->enduring, has no structural imbalances, has a decent amount of exposure to the sport, and is “balanced” in all regards (which is rarely, if ever, the case). Also note that these examples do not factor in the interplay with other training characteristics. Which is highly relevant as some athletes cannot develop absolute strength and muscular endurance concurrently for example (ie- another case for prioritization within fitness programs).
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While the above examples only cover two very basic training characteristics other elements such as absolute strength, CP-recovery/CP-battery development, postural endurance, aerobic endurance, lactic power/ Endurance, absolute speed development….etc also have their own rules dictating how they should be trained at a given time of year. To further complicate the picture each element has interplay with the others and lies on a fine balance of stimulus and adaptation. In the third installment of the hierarchy of training series i’ll discuss the implications of these conflicting stimuli/ signaling mechanisms and how to optimize the balance between them.

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