There is so much great literature out there on training that sometimes it is absolutely impossible to actually apply a uniform approach without using two principles that contradict each other. What I continue to find is that there is no one way to do it, and part of the fun is actually experimentation to actually find what works and equally what does not. On one hand of this argument is the consideration of the central nervous system (CNS) and the ultra sympathetic approach of Charlie Francis where the recovery of the CNS must be absolute to ensure quality training sessions. Without quality, the benefit derived is diminished.
However, on the other side of this argument is the Russian system of intensification of training means and block periodisation. This method argues that the more a specified training means is used, the less effective it becomes and that an incremental intensification of training is necessary to ensure further adaptation. This is backed by the General Adaptation Syndrome of Verkhoshansky where the more the body is stressed, the more it super-compensates afterward. The Broz system of maxing out every day clearly works, as do the Bulgarian and Russian weightlifting methods that stress the athlete on consecutive days to the point of exhaustion. However, theCharlie Francis Training System also works, and so playing with these approaches I have come up with a system that allows consequent use of both. And it works.
Full recovery is crucial to performing at maximum in subsequent training sessions. Without a quality training load, there will be diminished returns. Charlie Francis showed this to the ultimate extent with his training of Ben Johnson in the late 80s. However, this approach can be mixed with the shock approach of Russian training to produce good results.
The way the approach works, is to view a micro-cycle as a chance to implement a controlled ‘overtrain’ followed by an extended rest period. The CNS requires a 48 hour recovery between maximal exertions, but on a ‘high’ day, the CNS can be maxed out to the extreme. To mix the two systems, go crazy on your high days, and train like there is no tomorrow. Have one day rest, then hit another massive ‘high’ day. Repeat this for 4 high days with one day in between. The loads of work are so demanding that the stress on the organism mounts to extremely high levels, while still allowing CNS recovery time within the shock micro-cycle. Following the 4th high day, rest for 5-7 days. This means complete rest, proper rest, and let your body super-compensate.
This approach is very rewarding. It allows you to train like a crazy guy, which we all love, and during this period, you can eat like a crazy guy as well, provided the calories are clean and you avoid the junk, the dairy and the gluten. On the final day, you will not want to see a barbell or an athletics track for a while, and the long rest is welcome. But then on your first session back, expect to feel like a Greek God, and expect to run fast, lift heavy or jump high. The CNS in its fully recovered AND super-compensated state will pay you back for your pounding of it the week before.
A sample shock micro-cycle for a sprinter might look like this:
When the rest period expires, the CNS will be supercharged. As always, this is not intended to operate as gospel. Some people may not react well to this approach, some people will prosper massively from it. The bottom line is that hard training produces results, and finding the optimum system for you is for you ( or your coach) to find. The key is that you love every second, and having experimented with this approach and loved every second, it is appropriate to share it.