Training to Train

Training to train sounds like a ridiculous waste of time at first glance. I mean isn’t training enough? It is enough but often the training is not optimal because the athlete is lacking in certain areas and the training then becomes inferior, resulting in inferior performance.

What is Training To Train?

This concept refers to conditioning yourself to cope with demands of the specific training. Sounds simple but is often neglected in amateur level sports. Lets look at a gymnast for example. The gymnast needs flawless skills in the disciplines in which they will be performing. But training in only those skills is not enough. The world-class gymnast also performs conditioning that prepares him/her for the training of those specific skills.

This results in 100 percent focus on the specific task at hand without having to be concerned with possessing the ability to carry out those tasks.

So if training is preparation for the event itself, you also need to prepare for the actual training. It makes sense that in order to perform well the athlete needs to train effectively. It also makes sense that if training prepares an athlete for the performance then the training needs to be optimal. In order for the training to be optimal the athlete needs to possess certain fundamental skills and physical traits. This can’t always be achieved through specific training alone.

How To Train to Train

Training to train can be approached in several ways. Here we will look at two options.

  • First it can be factored into the training itself by performing sessions focussed on conditioning an athlete in preparation for specific training. This can be done year-round as one of the regular training sessions.

  • Another way is periodisation. This is performing a certain period of developmental training in the off-season. The off-season requires less specific training, which leaves room for foundational conditioning that will allow an athlete to better prepared for the demands of the specific training.

We will look at training to train using the example of a sprinter.

A sprinter generally performs a high volume of specific training for their chosen event. This includes plyometrics, repeat sprints, strength training etc. Basically everything that relates to maximum strength, speed and power.

In order to perform this volume of specific training the sprinter needs to be able recover effectively both between efforts in a training session and between training sessions. If the sprinter doesn’t possess certain fundamental aspects of fitness he/she will not recover adequately and hence the specific sprint training suffers.

This is where training to train comes in. It may sound contradictory but a sprinter needs a certain amount of endurance. The event itself may only be 100 metres, which requires almost zero endurance, however the training could go on for hours. This requires endurance just to complete each session and do so with optimal performance of drills throughout.

Training to train is as important as specific training itself. The more prepared you are as an athlete to cope with demands of your specific training, the better able you are to perform at your peak.

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