Monday, November 5, 2007

Repetition is your friend

That was my reply when an athlete I started coaching only a few weeks ago enquired why his weekly schedule was the same as last week. This might seem shocking to some, but I often prescribe the same week two, three and even four weeks in a row. And why not? Given that the adaptations to training are also a function of, among other things, the level of fatigue the athlete is experiencing, the same week is never the same week. In fact, I can think of dozens of reasons why the same week is never the same week. The same week is perhaps more difficult to accomplish the second or third time around, which might indicate that the level of training we aimed for was probably too optimistic. Or maybe the first week of a block of training was hardly challenging and then it would be foolish to repeat that week.

Repetition is also your friend as a means to challenge and motivate. Having the same workouts from week to week is an excellent way to push for improvement, instead of just wondering if improvement is happening or not. Many times an athlete will only “nail” a workout after trying that workout a second or third time, and that can be give him/her great confidence. This obviously only works when you can measure pace or power accurately, so that improvement can be unequivocally checked.

So when does repetition stop being your friend? Well, basically when it stops serving its purpose, which is to help in the adaptation to new training stimulus. The training principle of biological adaptation tells us that in order for continued improvement, the training stimulus should be changed every 6 to 8 weeks, by manipulating either volume or intensity individually, or both at the same time. So repetition stops being an athlete's friend after he/she has reached a new level of adaptation to training.

So go ahead, find a week structure that you can stick to it for some weeks straight. Every week, even if it’s the same workout, push yourself a little further, go a little harder, push the boundary a little bit. Stick to it and be patient. You will soon reap the fruits of this approach.

9 comments:

mrbyerle said...

Love it. Precisely what I wanted/needed to read lately.

jaretj said...

Interesting view, I never really cared for workout plans that progressed week to week just because someone else thinks you have to.

I personally like repeating workouts for the very reason you mentioned. It's actually an inspiration for me.

jaretj

BIGZACH said...

ANGOLA RIDE!!

Trevor M Syversen said...

Hey! If I'm paying you $500 a month I want you to change something!! :-)

Alex said...

Trevor,

You are not paying attention when you're reading your plan. Something did change the title Week #1, Week #2, Week #3 and Week #4... ;)

Good post Paulo.

MarkyV said...

PS... I'm going to link a few of my peeps over here when they ask that same question... "why is this week the exact same as last week?"

well said amigo. :)

Douglas K said...

ah, Heraclitean training ;-)
"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man."
same for workouts..

Paulo Sousa said...

Great quote, thanks! :-)

Lakerfan said...

Thanks for writing that -- a simple piece that said so much...

Chris