Thursday, January 29, 2009

Managing the Nervous System

As a strength and conditioning coach your always monitoring volume and intensity.  Overtraining is always a big concern.  I've always liked the three weeks on followed by a back off week for an older athlete, and five weeks on followed by a back off week for a younger athlete or for an athlete just getting back into the swing of training after a long break.  But, what you also must concern yourself with is outside stress.  Are the athletes sleeping well?  Is the food good or are they scraping by on fast food and skipping meals?  Family issues?  Long flights or car rides?  

This past week training in Whistler, BC, I've seen the new bobsled track take it's toll.  There has been a lot of nervous energy being on a new track.  A new track that is the fastest track in the world.  As a result it's been draining on the Central Nervous System (CNS).   The athletes just don't have the spring in the sprints or the pop in the Olympic lifts.  Anything with big motor unit recruitment is feeling sluggish.  

One thing you can use to measure recovery pretty easily is a hand dynometer if you own one, or more cheaply a simple grip tool, like a captains of crush.    Grip strength has been shown to have a correlation with recovery.  Use it everyday, the days it feels harder, your probably still not fully recovered.  On days you feel super strong, it may be an indicator for Max Effort work.  

So make the appropriate  adjustments.  The best piece of advice I ever received about training is this, "One workout will never make you, but one workout can indeed break you."  Realize that your not just juggling volume and intensity.  Your managing stress.  Stress, recover, repeat.  So take into account all stress, not just in the weight room, and it will help keep you on track for bigger gains, better performance, and keep you out of pain.  

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