Monday, January 30, 2006

Developing a Training Plan-Part 2

As requested, I uploaded a sample of a training plan spreadsheet to my webpage. It should be pretty easy to follow as I tried to make sure the nomenclature follows these posts. I only filled out through the first peak, and it is important to remember that this example plan does not include strength training.

Now that we have established the number of hours per week for our training period, we need to step back an examine the types of workouts we are going to do. This plan uses heart rate as its metric, so it is necessary to purchase a heart rate monitor. This section is straight out of the Sleamaker book. The plan is divided up into four intensity levels. Intensity levels are defined by a heart rate range and by type of exercises. There are physiological benefits to each range, but I am going to save that for another post.

To calculate your heart rate ranges, you need to know your Measured Resting Heart Rate(MRHR), and your Estimated Maximum Heart Rate(EMHR). Your MRHR should be measured first thing in the morning after you go to the bathroom. The simple way to calculate your EMHR is to subtract your age from 220. Once you know these, you can calculate your Heart Rate Reserve(HRR), which is EMHR-MRHR. All the limits of the intensity levels are calculated as HRRx(x%)+MRHR.

Level 1:
Lower Limit=HRRx.6+MRHR
Upper Limit=HRRx.7+MRHR

Exercises: Long, slow distance runs. They are called Overdistance(OD) runs. Strength workouts.

Level 2:
Lower Limit=HRRx.71+MRHR
Upper Limit=HRRx.75+MRHR

Exercises: Long runs. They are called Endurance (EN) runs. Strength workouts.

Level 3:
Lower Limit=HRRx.81+MRHR
Upper Limit=HRRx.9+MRHR (This number should be close to your AT)

Exercises: Intervals, hill runs, most stadium runs, plyos. In my spreadsheet, I split up these exercises into separate workouts.

Level 4:
Lower Limit=HRRx.91+MRHR
Upper Limit=HRRx1.0+MRHR

Exercises: Sprints (less than 400m), some stadium runs, some plyos, agility work such as shuttle runs.

Up until this point, this plan is just the same as a plan for training for a 10k or a marathon. When I first read Sleamaker's book, I was concerned that the focus on endurance was inappropriate for Ultimate. I decided to contact Sleamaker, and he graciously helped me tweak his plan. So, what follows next is your opportunity to customize the plan to suit your needs, and make it a plan for Ultimate.

For each phase of the training period, we need to assign a % for each intensity level. There are some typical rules of thumb, but, as I said, it is customizable. I put out percentages for all the phases through the first peak on my spreadsheet. Typically, for the first couple of base phases, the focus is on increasing your bodies ability to process oxygen as you develop a foundation. So, for my plan, I assign 66% of phase 1 to OD, and 33% to EN. To take it back to the example from the first post, we figured out that for the first week of the plan, the total week hours is 2.78. Therefore, your OD total for week 1 will be (in minutes): 2.78(total week hours)x.66(OD %)*60(to convert it to minutes)=110 minutes. EN will be: 2.78 x .33 x 60=55 minutes. As you apply these percentages to each week, the times of the workouts will increase as the phase percentages increase (from 23% to 26% to 29%) to the peak in week 3. Your total OD workout for week 3 will be:

110(total year hours) x .11(phase %) x .29(week %) x.66(OD %) x 60(minutes)=139 minutes.

In terms of doing the workouts, I try to do the OD and EN work in as few workouts as possible. In other words, I prefer doing one 139 minute workout rather than 3-4 shorter workouts. For the INT work, there are a lot of variables in terms of length of each rep as well as the time of recovery. For my first INT workouts of the year, I do 2 minute reps with 2 minute recover. I ramp this up during the year, so that by the summer my reps are 6 minutes long (or more) and the recovery time is about 3 minutes. When you run the numbers for your spreadsheet, you might feel, at first, that the time allocated for your speed work is too short. Remember that these are very intense workouts. I will sometimes combine a stadium workout (INT) with my speed workouts(Speed) in order to get a full 45 minute workout. Lastly, remember that you are also weight lifting and probably starting up your Ultimate practices, so while it seems like it is not enough.....things get very busy.

The idea is to slowly decrease your intensity level 1 and 2 workouts as you mix in your level 3 and 4 workouts. By Intensity Phase #1, my balance is about 70% levels 3 and 4 to 30% levels 1 and 2. By Peak Phase #1, I am no longer doing intensity level 1 and 2 workouts.

The main suggestions I received from Sleamaker about making the plan appropriate for Ultimate were:

1) increase overall percentages of level 3 and 4 workouts as compared to the typical endurance sport. In Sleamaker's templates, he usually allocates a max of 25% to level 3 workouts. For my plan this year, my level 3 allocation for Intensity Phase #1 is 65%.

2) start the level 3 and 4 workouts a bit earlier than endurance sports. We need to keep tabs on our bodies to make sure we don't get worn down, but it is a good idea to get those fast twitch muscles firing. I begin mixing in my intervals at the beginning of Base Phase #3 (roughly mid to late January).

I am going to get into some additional aspects of this training plan is later posts. Some of the topics will be:

-integrating strength into the plan
-physiological benefits of the intensity levels
-fast twitch vs slow twitch issues


sometallskinnykid said...

GC- does it ever happen that you feel better or worse than HRM tells you? For example, you want to go faster but the monitor already has you at too high of heart rate for the run?

I have never really trained with one, just wondering.


gcooke said...


That is an interesting question. I find I am more apt to feel better or worse if I am trying to do, say, 440's to time. There are days where a 75 just feels awful.

The OD and EN runs are so slow that the main challenge is just running within the ranges. INT work can be hard, but I find that most of the time I am able to feel comfortable within the specified ranges.


Sideline Engineer said...

Thanks for the spreadsheet!

parinella said...

Can you suggest a program for someone who is only going to work out hard about once a week (but not every week)? Are some of these workouts ones that you can do by themselves (not as part of a program) without risk of hurting yourself?


gcooke said...


This is a highly technical program that involves a level of discipline and commitment reserved for the most refined and elite of players.

Pretty much every exercise walks the line between safety and personal harm.

For the level of commitment you describe, I would suggest a step class at the local gym, plus some recreational throwing with the neighborhood dog.


ag said...

I'm working on designing a training plan for a college team. For various reasons, our training season is a lot shorter. Any chance you could give some recommendations on how to periodicize (for lack of a better non word) using a shorter time period? Over a 4 month period, we have 2 'season' periods, and I'm trying to figure out whether we should be doing the most intense sprint workouts two weeks before those, a week before, or during.

Also, when you say 'stadium', does that mean mostly stairs?

gcooke said...


Yes, stadiums means stairs. If you don't have access to a stadium, the phyisological benefits of level 3 work can be achieved by traditional intervals or hill workouts.

One fundamental question is whether your will work on your plan during practice, or outside of practice (either individually or during separate workouts). This really only impacts Year Hours though, and not periodization.

With my college girls, I consider our peak to be the period between sectionals and regionals. So I essentially schedule our training plan as 3 intensity periods (mid-Jan to mid-Feb, mid-feb to mid-March, mid-march to Sectionals).

I might suggest something like:

Intensity 1 (mid-jan to mid Feb):

70% Interval work(keep durations down to 2-3 minutes)
30% agility/speed

Intensity 2 (mid-Feb to mid-March)

60% Intervals (work in hills/stadiums, bump up durations to 3-4 minutes, decrease rest period to 2.5 minutes)
40% Speed/agilities/plyos

Intensity 3 (mid-March to Sectionals) This phase should be your highest volume

60% Intervals: 5 minute durations, 2 minute rest

40% speed/agilities/plyos

I would consider your peak to be a maintenance period.


ag said...

Thanks, that seems like a pretty good plan. A few more clarifications, though...

On the intervals, 5-6 minutes seems like a long time, those are close to mile repeats (maybe 1200m is more likely). Would a track workout, e.g. 8x400m, count as an interval? Otherwise, it doesn't seem like you have much between <400m sprints and long runs.

What do you mean my peak would be a maintenance period? Would that be just doing Intensity 3 stuff all the way through regionals?

again, thanks

gcooke said...


These are great questions.

The important thing about INT work is that you are working just below your AT. As your players get into better shape and become used to doing intervals, their pace will increase even though their heart rates are in the same range. Now, measuring your AT is tricky and not an exact science. Using the formulas does result in a good guess, however. What is going to happen is that your players will want to run run too fast and they will bump their heart rates into Level 4. Try to get them to feel when their bodies go anaerobic, and then have them back off on the pace. It is not something that I am that adept at feeling, but some people are. Short of buying everyone a monitor, I just make sure that the players measure their heart rates after each repeat. It is not exact, but you can at least warn them if they are running too fast. In your example, an 8x400m workout would be an interval workout if the heart rate ranges are level 3. The benefits of longer INT's, though, is the acclimation process that the body goes through, and the resulting improvement on the field.

In terms of your peak, it seems a bit counterintuitive to have the volume of your peak be less than the phase that proceeded it. I view the peak not as the time in which you do the most intense work, but the time in which actual competition builds on the work that you have done. You will probably being doing a lot of Ultimate between Sectionals and Regionals, I would weave in sprints and agility work into your practices. If you have time to do a hill workout or stadiums, that is great as well.


julie g said...

How would you incorporate indoor league games (ultimate, soccer and basketball) into the training? Should I consider these games to be above and beyond my training?

gcooke said...

Hi Julie,

I have received a few questions about how to incorporate actual playing into a training plan. Personally, I do not add the time spent playing into my training plan. There are two basic reasons for this:

1) It is hard to classify playing into the heart rate levels.

2) My view of the training plan is it supports my playing and is a discrete and separate entity. It is a schedule that prepares me for certain goals.

I think, though, that scripting the plan has to take into consideration the amount of time you are devoting to playing. Using your Indoor League as an example:

-View Indoor Games as, of course, additive to your conditioning, and to your overall goals, but not as a workout that targets specific heart range goals.

-Make sure that you leave enough time in your week to complete both the Indoor League and your workouts. This is essentially why I actually decrease the amount of volume of my peak periods. I recognize that I will be practicing and competing a lot and will need time to recover, as well as, in general, not have as much time to allocate to training.


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