Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Training Session Variety

If you're not familiar with Pavlov's experiment,
there's an excellent demonstration of it here.

Every training session is an experience. Multiple sessions bring a person closer to their goal, but these experiences also condition the individual.

What's the trainee conditioned to? A number of variables such as their orientation during sets, time of day, setting/environment, mood, and the implement. Of course it only becomes an issue if the person is preparing for competition. Someone working on physique or general health improvement doesn't have to worry.

Ideally training in the same setting you compete in is ideal, but it's not an option. Being in a familiar environment will also give a sense of comfort. If you're able, make an attempt to switch it up. It's not possible to go to a new gym every week, however you can change what area of the gym you train in. If that still can't be done, you can alter how you're oriented in an exercise. For example, choose a new direction to face when performing squats or deadlifts.

There are many manufacturers of barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and other training tools. Olympic weightlifting barbells are not the same as powerlifting bars, and even with O-lifting bars there is variation [see here]. Some gyms have new and old (more like worn out) equipment. Don't always go for the shiny new toys. Use the older items too.

Mood is an unlikely variable to consider in exercise. While some use aggression and anger, it's best to remain focused on the task at hand. Competition has an arousal component, but attempt to recreate the state of mind you'll have at that moment. Calm, quiet, focused, and serious.

The time of the day is a big factor for most people. Exercising in the early morning, afternoon, and late night are noticeably different from one another. While work and other responsibilities tend to fill in the weekday afternoon, reserving one day for a weekend afternoon can provide just enough variety.

Zatsiorsky explained shot putters best saw performance-related gains from throwing shots that were either slightly lighter or heavier than the actual competition weight. Tossing shots of a significantly different load had a detrimental effect on performance.

Similar thought should be applied to training. Shake things up with a little variety here and there. The competition atmosphere can't be replicated, but by avoiding familiarities you won't be accustomed to the same variables you've been around day in and day out.

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