As a coach or trainer, whether you are working with an individual or as a team, there are certain non-negotiables when it comes to developing and executing a training plan. For coaches who are working with people looking to improve their athletic performance, there are a number of prerequisites, regardless of the goal, which need to be prioritised in order to ensure your client is on the right track. Here I share six essential components to creating an optimal performance-based programme.
Using these tactics can help you to keep your clients motivated and attract new personal training clients, too.
If you aren’t testing, you are just guessing. It is imperative to pick a sample of objective & subjective measures relative to your sport to identify weaknesses and monitor progress. These can include but are not limited to:
- Resting heart rate, Heart rate variability, Average HR across a given time domain
- 2-3 relative strength movements
- Force-velocity profile
- Vo2 max etc, anaerobic threshold, joint mobility
Where do you need to be 4, 8 and 12 weeks out from competition?
Do you need to be running a certain distance per week or hitting a certain strength number? These performance indicators don’t guarantee success, but they do indicate if you haven’t done the work in the lead up, and will allow you to tweak, change or prolong the programme at such a point of the preparation.
Build an aerobic capacity
Regardless of any sporting event, building upon your aerobic capacity will improve your recovery, energy production, and ultimately allow you to do more quality work in training.
Building your aerobic capacity is shown to have a positive impact on the parasympathetic nervous system response, which helps regulate our stress response and ultimately become efficient with energy expenditure. The more efficient you are at utilising your energy, the more you can conserve for the moments that matter. The higher the heart rate, the higher the body's demand for energy is!
A good sign that your aerobic capacity is developing in the right direction is a decrease in resting heart rate, faster drop in heart rate between sets and a higher heart rate variability score.
Train different strength qualities
While strength should be a primary goal in most training programmes, there comes a point of diminishing returns (sport dependent), and therefore an individual may benefit from being able to better express that strength with speed training. Exercises such as jumps, throws and Olympic lift variations are a great way to build a more powerful and robust athlete.
Being able to perform under pressure and under stress is an essential part of competition, and requires pre-exposure to the competition environment.
Think about it - do you train in an air-conditioned room on a treadmill then intend to run a marathon outdoors in 20 degree temperature? This is a recipe for disappointment.
Athletes need to be exposed to a similar environment prior to competition to avoid or minimise any new stimulus; this is where the term home crowd advantage comes from.
Factors that affect the training environment include location, clothing, surface, noise level, lighting, and temperature, amongst others. Being aware of these and spending as much time getting pre-exposure to the competition environment then allows us to better control our stress levels and ultimately energy expenditure.
This is essential to know you are making the right progress and whether or not you need to make an adjustment to the programme. Usually it is recommended to have a period of 4 weeks to give the body a chance to adapt to the stimulus before you would retest.
Improving athletic performance doesn’t need to be complicated. By factoring in the above to build a performance-based training plan, you will provide your clients with systems or structures that keep them accountable to both their training and their goals.