High Intensity Training Part 4: Adding Resistance Training into the Concentrated Conditioning Phase

This final piece of this four part series will discuss how I plug resistance training into the training cycle example given in the Part 3. For those that are interested, here are the three previous pieces in the series:

To recap part 3, I discussed some ideas regarding a 4 week training approach (week 3 being the highest week in terms of training volume) and reviewed some of the points maybe by sports scientist, Inigo Mujika, in his lecture at the 2011World Congress on Science and Football. The 4 week training example I gave was as follows:

Week 1 = 1 aerobic power session & 1 short interval session
Week 2 = 1 aerobic power session & 2 short interval sessions
Week 3 = 2 aerobic power sessions & 2 short interval sessions
Week 4 = Recovery

*Note: If you are unsure of what I mean by aerobic power session or short interval session please review the part 3 of this series.*

One of the hardest things for a strength coach is to give up some resistance training time because they always feel like the athletes may get weaker or they wont improve. Rather than obsessing over the fact that guys may not be lifting 4x/wk in this phase of training I think you can look at it another way and say that, “Guys are doing work that is necessary for them to see improvements in their given sport.” I encourage strength coaches to analyze what the established goals are for the particular training phase, evaluate what you are trying to achieve from a fitness standpoint, and then feel good about the fact that most of the training in that phase is reflective of these goals. Finally, dropping from 4x/wk lifting to 2-3x/wk lifting is not a huge deal and wont have as much of a negative impact as you think. What is most important is that you manage lifting volume and intensity.

Example Resistance Training Workouts

In this phase, because of the intensity that is emphasized in the conditioning sessions each week, we actually lower the volume and frequency of resistance training to 2-3 days of lifting. Each day is a total body workout. The workouts can be broken up in this fashion:

  • 1-2 moderate intensity training sessions per week – 3 exercises (Ex., Squat, Bench Press, Chin Up) x 3-4 sets x 3-4 reps @ 70-80%.
  • 1 lactate based lifting session – 4 exercises x 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps with increased time under tension (slower rep tempos, higher reps per set, sets near muscle failure, short rest breaks, etc). It has been found that resistance training which produces a high metabolic load has some benefit to repeated sprint ability (Bishop et al, 2011). This specific workout is more supportive of the goals within this phase of training (increased metabolic demand) while the other 1-2 workouts (moderate intensity training sessions) are more used to maintain strength levels during this 4 week phase.

Example Training Phase

To put it all together, here would be one potential way to organize this four week phase taking the energy system training outline from part 3 of this series and the resistance training examples explained above:

Week 1

  • Monday – Aerobic Power Session + Moderate Lifting (3 x 4 @70-75%)
  • Tuesday – Aerobic restoration work
  • Wednesday – Lactate based lifting session
  • Thursday – Same as Tuesday
  • Friday – Short Interval Session

Week 2

  • Monday – Aerobic Power Session + Moderate Lifting (3 x 4 @75%)
  • Tuesday – Aerobic restoration work
  • Wednesday – Lactate Based Lifting Session + Short Interval Work
  • Thursday – Same as Tuesday
  • Friday – Short Interval Session (Moderate Lifting Session – 3×4 @ 75% – optional)

Week 3

  • Monday – Aerobic Power Session + Moderate Lifting (3 x 4 @ 80%)
  • Tuesday – Short Interval Session
  • Wednesday – Aerobic restoration work
  • Thursday – Aerobic Power Session + Lactate Based Lifting Session
  • Friday – Aerobic Restoration Work
  • Saturday – Short Interval Session

Week 4

  • Monday – Aerobic Restoration + Moderate Lifting (3×4 @ 75-80%)
  • Tuesday – Aerobic Restoration
  • Wednesday – Aerobic Restoration + Moderate Lifting(3×4 @ 75-80%)
  • Thursday – Aerobic Power Session
  • Friday – Aerobic Restoration

Conclusions & Wrapping Up

That is just one example of what a four week phase would look like with conditioning and lifting. This phase is very difficult and the athlete needs to be fit enough to tolerate the training and fit enough to recover from the training. If it looks like a lot of work, IT IS! Remember, the whole goal was to create a phase of training that provided the athlete with a huge whack of stimulus in an effort to increase their potential for adaptation and fitness improvement once a recovery phase was undertaken and the residual fatigue had dissipated. The four week phase has a high intensity of work right from the start and slowly builds training frequency until week 3 where the greatest concentration of work occurs. Resistance training in this phase serves two purposes: 1-2 sessions of lifting that maintain previous strength training adaptations and do not interfere with the main goal/objective of this phase and 1 session of lifting that is supporting the training goal of this phase and is used to create further training stress. It is important to remember that no training program is etched in stone and the training should be adjusted, if needed, based on how the athlete is tolerating the workouts. If need be, training volume or training frequency may need to be adjusted for certain athletes (although if you are embarking on this sort of 4 week training program the athlete should be fit enough to tolerate it and the previous training phases should be setting the athlete up for success in this phase). Finally, while it probably goes without saying, this type of training would not be appropriate during the in-season period as this sort of training intensity and frequency would be too much for an athlete to perform along with practice and competition, which is the main goal/objective during the competitive season. This phase of training would be more appropriate as part of the off-season conditioning program to prepare the athletes for the pre-season period.