SOUL CRUSHING SESSIONS?
By Coach Tod Moore
I knew it was going to be a tough session for the athletes.
Typically when we do a 60 minute continuous effort it’s aerobic in nature. Jake had programmed 4×15 minute work capacity circuits back to back. None of them were easy, so the athletes had nowhere to hide.
The day started hot and just got hotter. During the 4th and final class of the day it hit 103 degrees here in Austin.
But my athletes are tough and they like the work, I knew they would struggle through it.
Until they didn’t.
During this session I had four near heat casualties before I chose to stop the session entirely.
Was the session too hard? No.
Was the combination of that specific session and the climate too much? Maybe.
Was the combination of session, temperature, and lack of preparedness too much? Seems so.
We train tough athletes and they like to do hard things. It’s one of the reasons they come to our gym. And this session reminded me of a time way back when our training focus was more driven towards mental toughness, and less on overall fitness and longevity. Once upon a time, we did sessions like this quite often.
Over time, our programming and our mindset matured, and we had to reevaluate the actual value of sessions and cycles of this nature.
Why we stopped doing extremely hard sessions regularly:
The volume of work compounded with high intensity was simply too much. As fatigue increased, quality of work would decrease which would lead to poor movement. Low backs would get tight, shoulders would start to fail. Athletes would then be cut from the session from a concerned coach and would leave with a sense of failure, and potentially an injury that would nag them for weeks.
The more educated we became the more we recognized that the place where maximal efforts was in assessments, not in training. The daily, and weekly, training sessions should focus on building up the athlete systematically by manipulating volume and intensity in preparation for an assessment. Daily sessions are not, nor should they be, assessments.
The wear and tear on the athlete is just too much to do these day in and day out. The body can only handle so much volume, so we want that training volume to have the highest return on investment. This often means that we’re better served keeping “strength” exercises in our strength training, and using primarily singlemode exercises for our conditioning. Additionally, these sessions were so demanding that proper recovery simply took too long. The longer it takes to recover, the lower the athletes training frequency will be.
Why we do them now, but with less frequency :
Physical fitness is only one part of our PERFORMANCE PYRAMID, mental toughness is another and it needs to be trained. Only through extreme effort can we ID just where exactly we break, and how we respond to it. We believe that it’s far better to do this in a controlled environment such as the gym vs. doing it when the stakes are real and people’s lives could be at risk.
Properly fueling your body for extreme efforts is an important thing to learn as an athlete. No matter how fit or how mentally tough you are, without the proper fuel your body and mind will simply shut down. Endurance athletes call this a “bonk” and it is a very real thing. Only through trial and error can the athlete identify what foods will best fuel us and when we should consume them.
Shared suffering is a powerful thing. We still have athletes talk about sessions they did 5, 6, 7 years ago. These sessions left these athletes with lasting memories and the moments they shared together. These things can be, and are bonding experiences.
As we’ve grown not only in maturity, but experience, and knowledge, we’ve found ourselves doing these less and less.
Although valuable things can be derived from their execution the athlete, and coach, needs to use them sparingly. We suggest once every 1-3 months during transition weeks to keep your edge.
60 minute continuous effort – no rest
10x Ball Slam
10 cals on Bike
10x Bodyweight Get-up
25x Weighted Step-ups – 35/25lbs
200 meter run
25m Reverse Tire Drag
25m Tire Drag
10x KB RDL – stays on tire until time for RDL
Men 45 lbs plus 20kg Kettlebell
Women 25 lbs plus 16kg Kettlebell