Training methods are different types of training to improve your fitness. The training method you select has a significant impact on training outcomes.
Training must be relevant to your goals, this refers to the training principle of specificity.
Those interested in improving strength and power may use weight or plyometric training whereas someone wanting to improve their cardiovascular fitness may use continuous, fartlek, or interval training.
The following types of training improve speed, strength, and power:
Resistance training (weight training)
Resistance training methods improve strength, power, or muscular endurance. The area of fitness developed is determined by the resistance, repetitions, and sets performed. Resistance training can be performed using dumbbells, barbells, resistance machines, pulleys, body weight or equipment such as kettlebells, resistance bands, or sandbags.
A performer completes a specific number of repetitions and sets depending on their goals. The intensity of weight training is calculated by working out your one max rep. This is the amount you can lift for just one repetition. Then work at a percentage of your one max rep.
Strength & power
To develop strength and power perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at 85-95 % of 1 rep max rep.
Increasing size and strength of muscles (hypertrophy) needs 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps at 70-80 % 1 rep max.
To develop muscular endurance perform 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps at approximately 60 % of 1 rep max.
Resistance training involves contracting a muscle against a resistance. The specific exercises must relate to the muscle groups used in sport and your training goals. A sprint cyclist, for example, would focus on strength training in their leg muscles.
Often, 6-8 exercises make up a training program. Begin with compound (large) exercises such as the squat, deadlift, or bent-over rows, and finish with isolation (small) exercises such as bicep curls or lateral raises. This is because compound movements combine muscles and muscle groups. But isolation exercises target specific muscles. Therefore you don’t usually want to completely fatigue a specific muscle, then ask it to work again as part of a group.
Example of a whole-body muscular hypertrophy training session. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the following exercises with 2 minutes of rest in between sets.
- Chest press
- Bent over row
- Shoulder press
- Bicep curl
- Leg extension
Plyometric training is used to increase power (strength x speed) and strength, this translates to higher jumps and faster sprint times. It typically involves bounding, hopping, or jumping style exercises but can include medicine ball work or box work.
Plyometric training involves an eccentric (lowering and landing) contraction where muscles lengthen under tension (downward phase of a squat) followed by a concentric contraction, where muscles shorten under tension (upwards phase of a squat).
The eccentric phase, or landing phase, involves the pre-loading of the agonist’s muscle, and the concentric phase, or take-off phase, uses the stored energy to increase the force of movement, resulting in a more powerful contraction. This type of training is very demanding on the body, usually, 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetitions are performed. Read more on plyometric training
Training methods to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance
The following improve both cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance:
Involves low-intensity exercise for long periods of time without a rest or break. A performer normally performs continuous training for a minimum of 20 minutes in their aerobic training zone (60-80 % of heart rate max). An example continuous training workout could be a 30-minute run at 60 % heart rate max. Adjusting the pace or effort of the activity can vary the exercise intensity, for example instead of running at 60 % heart rate max, increase it to 70 %.
Fartlek training methods
Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed play and is a form of continuous training during which the speed or terrain of the activity is varied so that both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are stressed. This could involve periods of sprinting, jogging, or walking or could include uphill, downhill, and flat running. Due to the nature of the different intensities, this type of training is useful for improving cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, speed, recovery times, and lactate threshold (the amount of lactate acid you can tolerate). This is often a more demanding form of training compared to continuous training due to the higher intensities.
Example of fartlek training sessions:
- 5-minute jog to warm up
- Sprint for 30 seconds
- Jog for 90 seconds
- Run approx. 75 % for 50 seconds
- Jog for 90 seconds
- Repeat 6 times
Interval training methods
Interval training methods involve periods of exercise or work followed by periods of rest. It is effective at improving cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, speed, recovery times, and lactate threshold. Typically, interval training involves a work-rest ratio of 1-2, for example, exercising for 30 seconds, and resting for one minute. The length of work periods and rest is dependent on your intended outcome.
An example interval training workout:
- 30 seconds hard
- 1-minute active res
- Complete 10 rounds
Circuit training methods
This involves a series of exercises, known as stations, being performed one after the other. Typically circuit training involves 8-10 stations performed for a certain number of repetitions or times. When planning a circuit it is important to vary the muscle group you work, and think about the number of repetitions or time spent on each station. A circuit can be designed to develop any aspect of fitness but tends to be used for general body conditioning.
- An example training session
- Complete the following exercises for 40 seconds with 20 seconds of rest. Complete 2-4 laps
- Bodyweight squats
- Star jumps
- Plank press
- Back extensions
- Mountain climbers