Brilliant Training Method: Combining Strength, Speed & Conditioning [4 templates]
A problematic mindset that is deeply embedded into the physical culture, is going balls to the wall intensity every single session.
Yes, it’s essential that you are capable of putting in 101% effort into training sessions, but it’s just not feasible to do it every session.
If you attempt to perform at high intensity every workout, you end up accumulating fatigue and consequently your training intensity ends up “in the middle” also known as the training black hole.
The training black hole is when you’re not performing at a high enough intensity to produce optimal power, speed and strength gains.
Yet, not a low enough intensity to increase aerobic fitness and aid recovery.
You’re stuck in fatigue, mediocre training, and mediocre results.
You’re lost in the training black hole and you can’t “push through this” no matter how many cliques you religiously chant.
You’ll probably do great going balls to the wall if you’re just looking to gain muscle and strength training 3-4x a week.
However if you’re looking to get concurrently strong, fast, powerful, fit and athletic. You’re juggling a greater load; consequently you need to be smarter. Presenting the high-low method:
“High-Low” Training Method
Although lots of coaches manage training stress according to muscular work (i.e. not doing squats two days in a row because the quadriceps will be fatigued).
Charlie Francis was leading the way in the role of neural recovery in sports training (Charlie Francis is a highly regarded coach well known for training 100m sprinter Ben Johnson).
He developed the high-low training method to manage training stress and structure according to the neurological demands of the training.
For example, because they both cause high neural fatigue performing maximal sprints one day will inhibit your ability to lift maximal weight in the bench press the next. You’ve effectively used your nervous system “juice” for around 48hours and it needs recharging.
You have to take this into account, or you’ll quickly slip into the “training black hole”.
By using Charlie’s method of categorizing training according to neural stress it allows maximal speed, strength, hypertrophy, fitness and power to be developed concurrently.
He structures the training by separating sessions into high and low days.
Note: Charlie Francis was adamant on excluding moderate intensity training activities out of his training. The problem with these activities is that they aren’t intense enough to stimulate the CNS, but are too intense to recover from within 24 hours, so we essentially get all of the fatigue with none of the benefit.
Identifying “High and Low” Activities
High Intensity = high speed, high force, high stress, high fatigue.
Low Intensity = low speed, low force, low stress, low fatigue.
Low days allow you time to increase you’re aerobic capacity (i.e. “fitness”), skills, stability/mobility and to some extent, muscle mass. All important in many sports.
High intensity days are for increasing strength, speed, power and contact skills.
As discussed, high days need around 48hours to recover from. For that reason, you can’t perform those two days in a row.
This is where low intensity days come in.
They are low CNS stress activities which allow you to recover from the high CNS days and develop a well-rounded athlete.
Here’s how the training methods are divided:
|High Intensity Training||Low Intensity Training|
Weights (>80% of 1RM)
Weights (>80% of 1RM)
Light mobility/stability drills (i.e Turkish get ups)
Light skill training
Light agility drills
So a session constructed of:
- Sprints: 8x20m
- Box Jumps: 4×4
- Squats: 5×3
- RDL: 3×8
Would be considered a high intensity day. Notice how high intensity training methods (sprints, jumps, weights) can be combined on the same day.
- Shuffle runs and cuts (agility): 10mins
- Aerobic capacity: 20-60mins
- Light upper body and core circuit: 3 rounds
Again, if training methods are from the same category, they can be combined. Avoid putting high intensity and low intensity in the same session, or you’ll create moderate sessions.
Templates for Combining Strength, Speed, Power and Conditioning
Key Point: Two high days can’t be performed one after another, but you can combine high intensity activities on the same day.
Here’s a few example templates to get your brain juices flowing:
High-Low 5 x Week Template:
High-Low 4 x Week Template:
High-Low 3 x Week Template:
High-Low Sports In-Season Template: