Thursday, February 11, 2016

High Intensity, High Volume Training for the Endurance Athlete

What it is:

High intensity, high volume training workouts consist of short bouts of difficult athletic training. These workouts are also called "functional overreaching." According to research, high intensity training results in quick adaptations, and therefore, sizable gains in performance over a relatively short period of time. High intensity training combined with high volume training, may result in maximized athletic gains - this means increasing mileage up to 50 percent!

The Benefits:

Why on earth would anyone engage in a workout nicknamed the "killer week?" When done correctly (especially including proper recovery), an endurance athlete can hone in on an identified focus area, increase VO2 and race times, gain confidence, and the best for last - increase performance gains in a small amount of time.

How to do it: 

First things first: you'll need a good training foundation to start with. If you've got that, choose a week that you can really ramp up your training, followed by an additional week of recovery. As an example, if you complete two quality workouts every week, you can increase that amount to three or four. To allow the body to fully integrate the physical and physiological changes, you'll need to schedule these session eight weeks a part from one another.

Alternatively, some endurance athletes have taken the "block periodization" concept fashioned by bodybuilders to boost VO2 max and race times. Here, you would separate the volume and intensity elements of training. This might look like doing 3 quality/hight-intensity workouts one week and six low-intensity workouts the following week. In these workouts, intensity is increased by a modest amount every four weeks.

As we've mentioned in previous Race Rx posts, the recovery period is where gains are reaped. The importance of including the week for recovery cannot be overstated! You'll need to schedule time in for extra hours of sleep, a sports massage or plenty of rolling and decrease mileage and intensity of workouts by about 30 percent. "Functional overreaching" is not to be confused with overtraining syndrome - the latter of which can occur due to lack of rest and recovery.