Thursday, June 23, 2011

One-Factor vs. Two-Factor Training Theory

I've often wondered what the "optimum" race-season training schedule should be.  Does it consist of only one HARD workout per week in preparation for a race on the weekend?  Does it consist of two HARD workouts per week?  And, if it does consist of two HARD workouts per week, should those HARD workouts be back-to-back..i.e. Tues and Wed, or should they be separated by a day or two...i.e. Mon and Wednesday with Thursday being a rest day and Friday being a race-prep workout day?  Or, how about three HARD workouts per week?  I won't even go into which workouts would be best..ha.   And, that is just a micro-cycle training schedule we're talking about.  What about a macro-cycle training schedule?  Should we be going HARD every week for three weeks and then use the fourth week as a rest/recovery week in preparation for an "A" event race? 

Just like everything else in the Ex-Fiz (Exercise Physiology) world, I'm sure the answer is: it depends.  It depends on who the athlete is, it depends on his/her current fitness level, it depends on when the "A" event race is, it depends on the athletes travel schedule, it depends on the athletes motivational level, etc. 

So, I did a little "training" research on the internet and discovered what some Ex-Fiz's call the "one and two factor theories of training".  The "one-factor" theory is the one I grew up with in High School and College Sports.  It is based on the premise that you load/workout then recover completely then you load/workout then recover completely repeating the pattern.  The key here is recovering completely before you begin your next loading or workout.  And, the loading is progressive loading.  That is, each week you increase the load so your body learns to adapt and gets stronger.  Granted, in High School and College Sports we practiced EVERY day and really didn't get a chance to recover completely.  At least I know I didn' Friday I was beat.  Even when we weren't practicing we were in the Weight Room lifting M-W-F.  Again, load/workout and recover completely and repeat.  It's what the Supercompensation model is all about (see my prior blogs on Supercompensation).
The "two-factor" theory of training is a little bit different than the "one-factor" theory.  In the "two-factor theory" you  train HARD for the first 3 weeks, 3x per week (usually 3 days in a row), so that you never really are completely recovered from any workouts. Then, on the 4th week you train only once or twice the entire week at a lower intensity and low volume.  Supposedly, after the 4th week of recovery training (low intensity/low volume) your fitness level will jump higher than if you trained (steadily/consistently) according to the "one-factor" theory.  Notice I said, "supposedly"?  Because I'm sure the "two-factor" theory doesn't work best for every athlete.  Personally, I believe it only works best for elite athletes that can maintain the strict 4-block training schedule of 3 weeks ON 1 week OFF.  For me, someone that lives out of a suitcase for business, the two-factor training theory wouldn't work.  Because I can never tell from week-to-week where I'll be on travel.  Could be the West Coast, could be in Wash DC or Southern MD or any other place where I might not be able to bring my bike for training.  And, if you think riding a trainer in the Winter is bad, try riding a Spin Bike in the Summer (when it's nice out) in a hotel or local gym..bleh.

Regardless of which theory of training you prefer or adhere to, the critical part in each theory is rest/recovery.  For the "one-factor" theory you MUST be fully recovered BEFORE your next workout.  For the "two-factor" theory you MUST rest/recover the 4th week of your training block with only one  or two relatively low intensity/low volume workouts.  If you don't rest/recover properly you WILL overtrain.  And, if you could hurt you MUCH worse than if you didn't train at all.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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