Tweaking Physiology Part 2: Divide and Conquer

Over the past two blog entries I got a little more in depth into the idea of tweaking physiology and the importance of the methods you choose to use with your exercise selection.

Having Sam Leahey here on an internship basis has been interesting because I am typically a one man show when it comes to work. I just show up, do my thing, and don’t really talk much about it to anyone. But, now I have someone standing there all hours of the day asking me a million questions about “why this” and “why that” and “what about this” and “do you think that” that it has forced me to articulate my ideas much more clearly and explain everything that I do – this is a good thing.

Sam and I take our discussions to the white board often and Sam will give me a situation or an example and ask me what I might think with regard to program design and then we hash it out – he grills me on why I would do certain things verses others and we go back and forth with ideas.

This week, Sam’s big “ah-ha” moment came when we were discussing program design. Sam commented that what he liked so much about looking at training in this manner was that you can really train any sort of athlete as long as you know physiologically what you are trying to produce. From there, it is just about selecting certain methods, setting up your phases of training and figuring out what your training week is going to look like.

That last part is clutch!

The key is really looking at the days you have available to train and figuring out how to spend your time. This is where I use the phrase Divide and Conquer.

Oftentimes, we get tend to get swept up thinking about trying to do so many things in a single training day that we end up not achieving what we set out to achieve in the first place (or we get a little bit of what we wanted but not really the full pie – Jack of all trades, master of none).

Instead of trying to cram tons of stuff into one training day – speed, power, plyos, strength training, ESD, etc – it makes more sense to look at your training week, look at the training phase and what you are physiologically trying to enhance, and then dividing the qualities up through the week so that you can specifically focus on one single quality at a time and ensure you get from your training what you want – Divide and Conquer.

This can be a difficult thing for some coaches to do because they want to hold onto the things that they believe to be true and often have a difficult time embracing the cognitive dissonance of looking at things from a different lens. My friend Dave Tenney made a great point about this as we were talking once when he said, “It is always hard for someone to listen to you when you offer them a perspective that is a complete 180 degree difference from what they are already doing. Sometimes they come around and listen and sometimes they don’t.”

My quote to Sam is always, “Sam, let it go! Give up trying to slam things in on training days or during training weeks because you are “scared” that the person is missing something.”

There is always time, later in the program (if you sequence things well), to attack all the qualities that you are worried about trying to fit into one day and when you get to that point in the program attack you will – Divide and Conquer.

Wrapping up, there are times when training in a very concurrent manner is warranted, useful, and logistically makes a lot of sense. But, when possible attempt to concentrate your efforts on something very specific so that you can pull the most from it before moving onto something else. It all comes down to how you look at the training week, sequence various training qualities, and what you choose to focus on in the overall big picture.