Friday, April 30, 2010

Evaluating a Training Program

Evaluating a Training Program
By Vern Gambetta
Basic Principles
The following are commonly accepted principles of training. A sound training program should address each of these principles. You should be able to identify these principles clearly and quickly. I maintain that if all of these principles is not observed then the training program is fundamentally unsound.

Progression – The most fundamental of all the principles. Clear progression pathways should be articulated. The goals of the overall training program, the goals of each season should be clear. There must be a means of evaluation to determine a starting point and progress to the ultimate training goal.
Accumulation – Adaptation is a cumulative process. No one workout can make an athlete but one workout can break an athlete. A good program must plan for immediate, residual and cumulative training effects.
Variation – Systematic planned variation will insure continued adaptation. I emphasize that this must be planned, but it does not mean that every workout has to be entirely different and unique. Variation can occur due to type of load, frequency, intensity or volume.
Context – Everything in a program must be in context. It must fit with the objectives of the overall program and the goals of the individual session.
Overload – This is basic, you include a stress beyond a normal stress to elicit an adaptive response. What is often misunderstood is that overload can come from volume, intensity or density/frequency.
Recoverability – The training program must take into account the ability of the athletes to recover from the training load. If the workouts continually bury the athlete then there will not be a positive training response significantly increasing the risk of injury, illness or overtraining.

Practical Considerations
Demands of the Sport – Does the program address the demands of the sport that you are training for or is it one size fits all?
Qualities of the Individual Athlete – Does the program consider the physical qualities of the individual athlete. Strength and weaknesses in all physical qualities must be considered. Is there a remedial component to address any deficiencies.
Pattern of Injuries/Injury History – What are the common injuries in the sport you are preparing for? Does the program take into account the individual’s injury history.
“24 Hour Athlete” Concept – Does the program recognize that that you only train a limited number of hours a day, but that you have to work or go to school.
Time Frame Available to Execute the Plan – Is the time frame for the program arbitrary or does it take into account the varied adaptation rate for the different physical qualities. Miracle six week programs generally do not meet this criteria.
Specific Goals – What are the specific goals of the program? Are they measureable and achievable given the time frame available.
Developmental Level – Does the program take into account your current state of fitness and current technical development in your sport?
Competition Schedule – Does the program take into account the varied demands of the competition schedule?
Recovery/Regeneration – Is there variation in the program and planned recovery ?
Equipment & Technology – Is the program based on equipment or technology that will not allow you to train if you do not have that equipment or technology.

The Who
Do you know the origins of the training programs or system you are using? Who designed it? What is their background? What are their credentials and experience? Beware of certifications disguised as qualifications. I value experience and academic credentials over commercial certifications. I am always wary if a person has too many letters after their name.

Is this a commercial venture that requires you to purchase equipment? Who are their sponsors? Who actually designs and writes the training program? If is a training center who actually implements the program – it is a qualified coach or an intern? Do they actually coach or do they just lead you through the workout?

Do the results of the program speak for themselves or are there a long list of celebrity and all star endorsers? Is it individual? How much does it cost? Are the claims for the program valid?

Summing Up
If in doubt use the the old reliable 3P criteria. The the training program does meet the 3P criteria it is probably flawed.
Practical - Can you do the program with the minimal facilities, equipment and supervision. Simplicity yields complexity.
Personal -Is is individualized? Does it fit you or is it one size fits all?
Proactive - Is there a clear plan and a progression?

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