Changing your training in order not to be in a training vacuum

Are you at a dead end in your training and not feeling like you making any fitness gains? If so, you may be in what is called a training vacuum.

In motocross and pretty much 98% of all motorsport being 3/10th a lap better than your opponents means you have the upper hand going into races and gives you that little bit of extra confidence and leaves your competition scratching their heads and being a little on the back foot.

Once your machinery is in tip top condition and you are happy with the set up the last piece of the puzzle is yourself and unfortunately unlike your bike mechanic, you are the 1 responsible for that machine you are very close with. Often top riders/drivers have trainers who will help towards your overall fitness and training program but even with the help of a trainer it is up to you to know your body and know what does and does not work and this info must be relayed back to the trainer.

If you have always done the same sort of training volume and load over the years and yielded the same form and fitness year after year yet you are not happy and not seeing any improvement then it is more than likely you are in a training vacuum.

I am writing this because I believed I was there with an athlete of mine whose 6 year working relationship was in a rut. He never expressed anything bad about his form and fitness throughout the previous year and was open to the idea of change but overall was happy with his training we had been doing but to be honest, I wasn’t. I believed we could get more out of him and when we changed all his training in January and the changes took effect he came out swinging 2.5 months later.

For any athlete who has for a couple of years trained seriously and has kept focus on their training, you will need or experience more training in order to make significant changes and land up increasing your training volume and intensity but the end result is no change in form. This will often lead to loss of form and the athlete will go into a panic mode as he is not making progress and this leads to a number of scenarios that he/she feels is needed like change in trainers, coaches, different sponsors, classes, less training, more training and worst case scenario they call it a day with their chosen sporting discipline and are forced into retirement and turning their back on the sport. Worst case scenario they will turn to Performance Enhancing Drugs in order to reach the form they think they need. All of this things can be avoided.

What the athlete should do in this situation is take a deep breath, sit down and evaluate all the factors of his/her current training principles. If you have never followed a proper training program and just done what you believe worked for you because you have never trained up to point to started to self train yourself anything you did would result in a improvement in overall fitness but now you have hit a plateau as mentioned above which is a natural occurrence. You must now need to go back and look at all the basic training principals you have done and realize that you have done all the right things but now they do not work so you now need to look at different and more sophisticated training methods in order to make forward progress in your fitness and training.

It was mentioned earlier in the article that long hard sessions are not needed to make improvements; this is both incorrect and correct. They are beneficial to evaluate how a athlete functions under stress and to create mental and physical strength to allow a athlete to deliver performances when already fatigued (such as 2 weeks mesocycles that are purely intensity based) However, the scientific literature is very conclusive when it comes to comparing polarised training (very short, high intensity training combined with longer, very low intensity training) VS longer, harder training. Polarised training is more beneficial and delivers better performance outcomes. If you want to adapt and increase your training status, you will have to be able to produce a high enough stress and overload on the interval sessions prescribed right now. This requires you to be adequately recovered so that you can reach the required targets.

Failing to do so will result in lack of progress and this is the mistake that so many professionals make because they think harder and longer is better.

I hope this helps you and gives you some insight into your training and be able to make the correct changes to your program in order to become a better athlete and remember change is often very good and you mustny be scared to try it.


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