Okay, we’ve covered Specificity & Overload, the bases of the pyramid of progress. The next layer is a little more interesting and not always easy for people to achieve the right balance in.
As you know, training causes a stimulus via training stress, it is this stress that will cause the body to enter the alarm stage, then on to the resilience aspect, followed by fatigue – this is the point where you will need to take a logical step back (deload in training volume/intensity) so that your body can adapt – build new muscle and recover. Then you start the process again.
Why is this so hard?
It doesn’t sound hard, it sounds quite sensible really.
The reason is it hard for most is because they don’t track overall volume, well they don’t track anything to be fair and as a result they have no idea what stage of training their body is in or if they are training within their maximal recoverable volume (bulk volume), just over it (planned overreaching) or spinning their wheels (overtraining).
I can speak from experience that when you’re in the latter you don’t always know and when this happens you get frustrated, instead of backing up and taking your foot off the gas you floor it. You add more sessions, harder training, basically drive yourself in to the ground until something snaps, meaning said injury forces you to stop training.
Many great coaches suggest that three week loading patterns of intensity (pushing hard or even planned overreaching) followed by one week deload in volume/intensity is optimal for long term training as this allows accumulated fatigue to dissipate, then back to three weeks hard-ish again and repeat.
^^ I personally agree with this, 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy, repeat for as long as sustainable then take a week off, simples.
Managing fatigue isn’t easy.
You’ll get people like muggins here who just keep pushing, then you’ll have those who train once and scream that their adrenals are fatigued (these people train under their minimum effective dose for progress, as such they never progress at all).
There are several ways to know how your body is coping:
– Tracking your progress in sessions/food/performance, a decline in any means you’re possibly ready for a deload or total rest.
– Internal feeling; you’ve got to be careful with this one because you can over/underestimate your place in the scale depending on your personality.
– Have someone else track all the details for you and using experience to make an educated decision as to what you need.
Apart from the above you need to also make sure you have the following in your training routine:
– Avoiding excessive processed foods
– Reduce/avoid stressful event where possible
– Eat appropriately for your goal
– limiting training to 3-5 days per week can also help
As you can see this is a much scientific as it is holistic.
Use the advice above, track what you’re doing and keep t his simple rule in mind: If you’re still progressing, you’re recovering, if progress slows or stops completely then take a deload, a few days out of a rest week.