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Components of Training
August 30, 2015

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The components of training are the different types of training methods and activities that all relate to the specific objective. Training objectives are any goals an athlete or individual may have. You squat because you want to increase lower body strength and hypertrophy, you sprint because you are aiming to be faster, you perform plyometrics drills in order to increase explosive power etc. Every component of training should have a goal or purpose. That goes for everything from the overall, broad program design all the way down to the individual exercises, rep schemes etc. Choices are made based on the objective of that particular session or exercise.

The components of training are the broad parts that make up a training program. They are the training categories. There are three primary components of training that encompass everything else. Any training goal you can possibly think of falls into one or more of these three categories. The categories, or components, make up the purpose of the training. In order to increase performance and actually improve, it is important that all three components are given equal attention.

1. Energy System Demands

Energy systems include the main three energy pathways. The ATP-creatine phosphate system is a short duration energy system designed for maximum output over a very short space of time, generally less than 10 seconds. An example of this energy system at work is a maximum deadlift or a vertical jump. However this energy system, combined with the others, can also be dominant during longer bouts of output, such as in a 200m sprint lasting between 20-30 seconds.

The anaerobic-lactate system is a moderate duration energy system designed for near maximal output over a period of 20 seconds to 3 minutes. This is the dominant energy system during activities such as a 400m sprint or during a strength training exercise spanning anywhere from 8-12 reps using a challenging weight.

The aerobic system is the longer lasting, continuous energy system. It doesn’t provide a large amount of energy in a short space of time, but rather provides just enough energy over a sustained period. A good example is walking a long distance or running a marathon.

All training should be specific to the energy system demands that most closely match the objective one is training for. There is zero value in using aerobic training to develop explosive power.

How can you train to match energy system demands? It comes down essentially to only two things. These two things must be taken into consideration when allocating training tasks.

1. Duration: Energy systems are not precise or definite in switching from one to another. They are also not 100% time-specific. Durations are provided as an example, but differ for everyone. In order to ensure one is conditioning the correct energy system for the task at hand, duration is an important factor to consider. If you train for the 200m sprint then you know the race goes for between 20-30 seconds, based on your own level of performance. As a result, training that is specific to these energy system demands will adhere to a similar duration. Match up the duration with the desired end-result. That goes for everything, not just the actual sprint times. This can be used in the weights room as well as during cross training activities.

2. Intensity: Intensity is a prime deciding factor in the outcome of specific training. Intensity can be described as the level of output being performed in relation to the level of output a person is capable of at their upper limit. Using strength as an example, intensity is based on a percentage of the maximum amount of what a person can lift for one single rep. This applies to every physical task. Intensity, like duration, must match the task at hand. Aerobic, continuous training at a low intensity is not going to improve an activity or event that is performed over short duration at a maximum or near-maximum intensity.

Energy systems are highly trainable. It is the body’s energy systems that supply the right energy, at the right speed and frequency for the task being performed. In training for performance, intensity should closely match the desired end-result.

2. Biomechanical Demands

Biomechanics is the movement aspect of any given activity. For example, walking is performed in a certain way. The way in which one moves while walking is the biomechanics. With no training a person will walk how they have always walked, even if that is not an efficient way to do it. Introducing walking biomechanics teaches a person to walk with a more efficient and effective walking technique. This applies to each individual part of the entire movement, from each portion of the stride to the position of the upper body.

Biomechanics is relevant to all movements, such as uncomplicated and simple movements like a vertical jump or complex, multi-faceted movements such as a sprinting stride. Training needs to be geared towards performing specific movements as efficiently and effectively as possible. In training to sprint faster, biomechanics would apply to the learning and reinforcement of a correct sprinting stride so that each stride yields greater force and speed.

Movement, or biomechanics, must be taught, applied and reinforced during training. The way you move consistently during any activity is remembered and reinforced by the nervous system. For this reason it is important to move effectively during training.

3. Structural/Anatomical

Structure and anatomy is the way the body is built. Anatomy and structure plays a role in performance outcomes. Athletes of any given sport will generally tend towards a specific physical structure. A shot putter will be heavy and muscular, which is a requirement to perform well. A sprinter will be muscular yet lean and not too heavy. A marathon runner will be very thin, lean and will possess absolute minimal muscle mass. The anatomical structure, or build, of a person impacts on how they perform. For this reason it is important for athletes to place some emphasis on how they are built and maintaining an optimal build for their chosen sport.

Ensuring anatomical/structural demands are met, an athlete first needs to understand what that ideal or preferable structure is. Use this step by step process to nailing the structural side of performance:

1. Determine the physical skills and abilities needed in competition. This might include things like absolute strength, explosive power, endurance etc. What physical qualities are needed to best perform these tasks?

2. Search for proof. Search for other athletes that dominate what you are training for. A high jumper, for example, will look at the builds of elite high jumpers and take note of any patterns.

3. From the above information determine the absolute perfect physical structure. What would be the absolute best physique for this sport or event? Get specific with things like body weight, fat percentage, distribution of muscle mass etc.

4. Determine the training methods that can best achieve this physical structure. For example if a specific athlete requires a large amount of muscle mass in the legs then you might decide squats need to form a large part of training. Also consider repetition ranges, overall training volume, diet etc.

5. Implement structural sessions into the program. In other words, dedicate some training time to altering your physical structure in order to achieve the body type, size and proportions best suited to the end-task.


ALL training can be broken down into these three components or categories. Training is all performed with a specific goal or purpose in mind. The purpose of each training session will fall into one or more of these three categories. Use this as a guide so that you are able to structure your training more effectively. This will give you a clearer understanding of what you are aiming for and what you hope to achieve from each individual training session. Online and face to face sprint coaching - Click here. Unleash your physical potential,

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