How much Intensity and Volume in a training program

So how can we figure out how much Intensity and Volume are appropriate in our training programs?

…to a large degree, you have to try stuff out and see how your body responds…and if you’re not getting the results that you want, change something…it’s sort of like this…at least for me:

  • do a maximal test to see where you’re really at…yeah I know, testing can be a pain…literally…and with experience I’ve found that with detailed training log notes you start to get an idea of where you’re at without a test…but nothing like just hanging it out there, and doing a maximal test to _know_ where you’re at
  • download/buy/find-in-a-book/get-a-coach to setup a _specific_ training plan that looks like it’ll meet your performance goals
    • if you don’t have a training plan, and don’t know where to start, just start with one of Coach Gale Bernhardt’s plans…in her books, on the Internet …just can’t go wrong to get things going
  • make adjustments as necessary for Volume/Intensity based on your fitness level and training background…and which days of the week to do which workouts
  • follow the plan, and log detailed notes on how you did in hitting the workout criteria…every workout I download/review/make-notes-on the Heart Rate and/or Power file to my online training log at www.trainingpeaks.com
  • re-test to see what gains you made
  • adjust and repeat

I haven’t done a lot of Intensity training for many years…the closest was when we were in Florida in the winter of 2009 and there was a local killer group ride every Saturday…like ‘averaged’ 26-28 MPH…the first time out, I got dropped so fast (left behind as the group of 50+ cyclists tore off without me) I barely got past the warmup, even though my lungs were hanging out with the effort to keep up…nothing like trying to ‘hang’ onto that last wheel to push you into the red zone and beyond

…over a few months though, I not only completed the ride, but ended up with log commentary that it had become ‘easy’ 🙂

For the first 3 months of this year, I was primarily following a high-intensity training program put together by the folks at Endurance Nation…I pulled a hamstring, was sick for 2 weeks on separate occasions…and also had to work around a time-intensive convention and laid back vacation…so had some pretty ragged weeks in there, as I struggled to ‘get well’ and get and keep the training and other ‘stuff’ in balance

…although even without getting it all in, I still improved my bike FTP (Functional Threshold Power) from 249 Watts to 263 Watts…as high as it’s ever been…so on balance felt that the higher Intensity was a worthy addition to my training

As a young lad playing football, I always built muscle and strength rapidly…I also raced the 400 meters in track…wasn’t quite explosive/fast enough at 100 meters…much too slow at 800 meters plus…so my natural sweet spot appears to be fast intensity, long enough to be painful…but not ‘far’…so Ironman is clearly exceeding my core DNA.

…the long and the short of it is that I believe that my body likes and responds well to High Intensity Training (HIT)…how much, and what level, is what I’m still fine-tuning…a lifetime project of course.

I do know that the ‘stock’ Endurance Nation levels are too high for me…at least at this point…I need more recovery time after hard workouts, and less total HIT volume in a week…although I do appear to improve as a result of the hard HIT…I just can’t get in as much each week as those that are more genetically gifted…and younger 🙂

Next up the details of how much Intensity I ended up putting into my program and how I got there.

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One Response to How much Intensity and Volume in a training program

  1. Steve,

    I remember being hesitant of high interval training when I first started. It was something so out of the box for me. They don’t really teach that in high-school gym class, but I stuck with it for a couple months and realized how much it improved my endurance levels when I compared it to my steady-state sessions. That made me feel less guilty for bucking from tradition.

    -Mitchell

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