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Varying Training
Intensity Improves Results

Variation of Stress Elements Improves Fitness
        Three stress elements - frequency, intensity and duration - can be varied, but the most important is intensity.  Volume is the combination of duration and frequency.

        If the amount of time available for training is limited, the volume becomes especially important in determining that the training emphasis is properly balanced with intensity. The more the limited the training time to train, the more important it is to achieve higher level workouts. Training 30 or more hours per week will generate sufficient stress to create high fitness just from the volume. An athlete training 10 hours per week athlete will not see a similar benefit due to the limited amount of volume training.   

        Most athletes refer to the volume of their exercises when asked about their training program. It is more difficult to measure and quantify "intensity" compared to the frequency and duration of their training.

<>What is intensity?
        For the endurance athlete intensity may be defined in two ways: absolute and event-specific:
  • Absolute - is the maximum output he athlete can produce in a given period of time or for a given distance.
  • Event-specific - is the intensity at which the athlete intends to enter - the goal-oriented output.
Absolute intensity
        Absolute intensity training provides the maximum benefits for short events where the level of power or pace closely duplicates what the competition events. Absolute intensity training increases the production of muscle force, size, and rate of contraction.

        Most athletes, who self train, excessive use this form of training and put themselves at risk for injury, illness and overtraining. There is an associated "risk-reward curve" for every type of workout. In a high intensity workout the benefits progressive increases up to a specific point before beginning to taper off and ultimately plateaus.

        The associated risk of the workout initially is low, but increases rapidly as the workout progresses. At some point in the workout, the risk exceeds the rewards. Frequently athletes reach this high risk, low reward point in training; however, they fail to realize that they are exceeding their limitations and stop before negative results and injuries occur. Athletic training have the experience to know when to stop the session.

       A much longer recovery period is necessary! If you schedule these workouts too close together, the risk is greatly magnified. The critical question is "How much is enough recovery?" The answer  depends on the nature of the workout, the personal capacity of the athlete for handling the work, and their ability to recover. Younger athletes who are fit will require less recovery compared to older athletes who are less fit.

Should All Training be the Same?
Doing the same things, the same way is boring. It does not matter what the individuals age is, the response is the same - they lose focus. This can lead to inattention which increases the possibilty of injuries.

       The concept of "Drill and Practice" does produce results, but when carried to an excess, there is a serious diminishing amount of progress. The solution is to mix things up and make things fun. Too often the learner will provide positive oral feedback when they much rather be doing something else.

        Since the objective is improvement, changing the environment of learning really requires the teacher/instructor to read the facial expressions and body language of the athletes. Be prepared to immediately make changes on the spot.  If you don't feel comfortable improvising, devise various optional items that can be immediately be implemented.

Vary Training

      Training variation involves changing activities as to the range of intensity or class of skills. Variability of practice promotes learning and athlete's experience, reduces occurrences of staleness, and reduces the duration and/or intensity of plateaus.

       It does not hurt to challenge athletes by showing them what the ultimate goal is that you want them to be able to reach. Arrange a demonstration. Breakdown the goal into objectives that are much easier to reach.  Even shy athletes can be much more competitive than you might think. Develop their confidence and assertiveness by using students to act as "aids" in group classes. They will work much harder to justify your confidence in them.

Start with simple entries and gradually transition to more complex introductions
      Once athletes learn the fundamental movements of a skill, varying where they perform the element in practice sessions helps them learn to adapt to a competitive program choreographed to meet the well balanced program requirements by being able to make adjustments in the execution and location of required/optional items.  Coaches should discourage favorite (lucky) spots to perform jumps, spins, etc..

      Benefits of variations of tasks in practice sessions in training plan for competition:
  • Practice conditions should match competitive conditions. If the primary ice surface is smaller than  the host club's ice. Cone off the larger rink's ice surface to outline the smaller rink's surface.
  • Attempt to determine if the competition rink's ice will be colder, the same temperature, or warmer than the home rink.
  • Schedule program run throughs at your home rink. Limit skaters to simulate competition warm-ups followed by skaters drawing for their skating order.  Ideally, a coach should arrange to bring in judges and technical specialists to make the simulation as realistic as possible.
  • Schedule the off-ice exercises in phases with periodized cycles effectively builds variety into the annual weight training plan. The objective of training is to peak for each competition.
        Typically ice skaters must develop the ability to perform a variety of actions requiring the full use of all of the edges performed in both forward and backward directions. In is quite common for figure skaters to become so comfortable performing specific jumps and spins in the same location on the ice, that they are unable to perform the same elements at a different location after a series of transitional elements.

Recommended Reading:

Developing A Training Plan

Principles of Athletic Training

Mental Training for Athletes



Variation Training  Variation is a great way to help maximize your on and off-ice training. Variation and Training The old saying that variety is the spice of life applies as much to training.

Individual variation in response to altitude training   Histogram displaying variation in change.

The Variation Principle in Sports Training   The variation principle suggests that minor changes in training regiments yield more consistent gains in sport performance.

The Physician and Sports medicine: Strength Training for Women   American women first began strength training for sports in the 1950s.

Gender Issues Related to Males Coaching Female Athletes   The greater muscle mass that males possess allows for greater strength.  The female sports perspective.  Women's Lives: Themes and Variations in Gender Learning.

Physical and Mental Training Considerations


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
Developing Training Plans for Athletes
Evaluation of Training
Age Training Guidelines
Components of Training Plan
Stages of Acquiring New Skills
Strategies for Training
Strategies for Competing
Fitness Training & Sports
Advanced Training
List Daily Training Tasks
Construction of a Training Plan
Developing An Annual Training Plan
Principles of Global Training
Competitive Training
Starting to Seriously Train
Skating Environment
Peaking Performance
Benefits of Cross Training
Principle of Varying Training
Varying Training Improves Results
Approaches to Training
Approaches to Jump Training
Transference of Knowledge & Skills
Aerobic Activities
Anaerobic Activities
Exercises to Develop Coordination
Off-Ice Activities For Skaters
Fitness and Conditioning
Off-Season Conditioning Activities
Tips for Long Distance Traveling
Mental Barriers to Training & Competing
Mental Considerations for Athletic Training
Mental Considerations of Training
Mental Strategies for Training
Endurance Training Activities
Flexibility Training Activities
Bodyweight Exercise Training
Weight Training Activities
Brian Grasso Articles
Evaluation Assessment

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