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The Myth of the Training Break - training in the off season

Do you need a break in training in Autumn or Winter? What can you do to begin the next season at a higher level? You have probably asked yourself similar questions. 2PEAK has the answers, which might surprise you but which are tried and tested.

Training is a process, which is typified by methodical sequences of stress and recovery. This is true from single workouts through weekly cycles and on to the annual structure – and indeed for periods of several years. This article is mainly about the break in the yearly cycle, which occurs in the off season.

Myth 1: The season is over – now for the layoff

Following each training workload, we have a break for regeneration, this is the only way to make the body stronger instead of increasingly tired. But how much of a break do body and soul need in winter, to prevent too much recovery becoming detraining? We can tell you right now – very little!

Recent studies show that after only a short time, marked detraining effects begin. The first thing that fades is the enormously important ability for an athlete to use body fat as an energy source. The surprising findings: detraining starts after only a two day break! Within 14 days there is a deterioration of 21% to 75% (Mujika & Padilla Rehabilitation of Sport Injuries: Scientific Basis, 117-143, 2003). And the ability to store glycogen in the muscles also deteriorates by 20% to 39%.

Trained athletes are sometimes fooled by the quick improvement after a lay off. That might feel good. But only until the first comparison with a colleague who has been training intelligently in a well structured way. The latter starts his season from a higher level and will find it easier to beat his performances of last season. The athlete, who rested will other things being equal, begin at his old level, rather than improving. Too much of a break risks losing the improvements of a whole year. This is true at all levels. These days professionals too speak of a few days/weeks break.

A reduction of and change in effort is, however sensible. The study quoted also showed that in the off season the training duration should be greatly reduced, but the intensity and frequency should be maintained – also if substituting a supplementary discipline.

Your schedule with 2PEAK allows you to decide on a lay off and helps you plan it ideally. It is the only way to use a limited time budget perfectly in winter! And this is how it's done:

» adjust the transition phase correctly

Myth 2: After the layoff, get the basic miles in

You hear it a lot: In winter you lay the basis for the next season. True! To do this, get in a lot of steady distance. Wrong!

A lot of studies have proved, that intensive training in short sessions are more beneficial than the long, slow method – and reduce the risk of injury (especially in running). There is even research showing that a handful of sprint sessions of only 4 to 7x30 seconds will increase endurance after a short time and the improvement is quicker than with slow training. Someone who trains intensities intelligently can drop the endurance purists, with less training duration. Surprising? Yes and no. Yes, because one doesn't associate sprints with endurance. No, because Usain Bolt is partially using endurance in his world record performances!

» Here you can see how marathon runners and cyclists can profit from sprints

Successful training means giving the body a definite stimulus and causing a process of adaptation to start. Is training slowly for weeks or months really a stimulus? Not really. This training is boring and conservative and at best will conserve a mediocre fitness level, unless you can at the same time greatly increase the duration. But for most athletes this contradicts their life style, because in winter, when the traditionalists want slow outings, there is the least time/daylight available.

If you combine fast and slow workouts, as 2PEAK practises in moderation, you have the best of all worlds and instead of swinging between summer and winter form, you improve from season to season. 2PEAK makes sure, that you use the cold time of year efficiently and purposefully. You get the right mix of training and it is tailored to your personal time budget and conditions (the outside ones included).

2PEAK Expert team

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» Here you find the 2PEAK Expert team

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