I feel that this article is long over do and if you are a fellow strength coach, you feel my pain. I am not referring to the actual car that you drive, but your Current Adaptive Reserves (CAR). This will come in handy for yourself or your athletes.
To understand what Verkhoshanksy refers to in Supertraining (2009), you must first understand what Seyle proposed as the 3 phases of general adaptation syndrome. He proposed that all animals or organisms exposed to stress go through the alarm, resistance and then the exhaustion phase. “The energy source for the second stage (resistance or adaptation) comes from the readily available superficial adaptation energy source or the emergency deep adaptation energy source, depending on the level of exhaustion or depletion of energy at any instant” (p.83). This is otherwise known as YOUR current adaptive reserves.
Now, correct me if I am wrong, but the whole point of any training is adaptation. In our world, either we or the athletes we coach are trying to get performance and strength to improve. I know from my time competing on the bodybuilding stage that a few weeks all the way up to one month off did my body good and allowed for some serious super-compensation when I returned to training. Many of the top professional bodybuilders take up to 3 months off after the Mr. Olympia contest. I know that bodybuilding is more of an ‘underground’ sport, so let’s look at the big sports. NFL and NBA guys take plenty of time off after the season. Many NBA stars have passed up playing for the national team just so they could get their time off.
I train a lot of high school athletes and although they are often resilient, they do have their limits. Many of my basketball players have gone from the scholastic season, right to the AAU season and now they are entering summer ball leagues. Where the heck is the off-season? It takes a tremendous amount of CAR to get results when we are talking about strength, speed, power and improved performance. This new trend that has happened in the past 7 years or so is very scary to me as a strength coach. Many high school athletes play the same sport or focus on the same sport year round. The mental fatigue and burnout is a huge stress in itself. Mental stress will take its cut out of our pizza pie of CAR. The extra practices and constant running of the athletes takes its share of pie from CAR. More than three-quarters of our CAR pie is gone, hardly enough to keep for any real adaptations.
The off-season is the time for some serious rest and regeneration and then getting big and strong. Strength coaches, our critical off-season is being taken away before our very eyes. If the sports coaches want us to get the athletes to improve their athletic traits, then we NEED our off-season. YOU need to be in the best CAR mode possible. You all know how much energy is needed to gain 1 pound of muscle, to jump 1 inch higher and to shave .2 of a second off your forty time, make a stand!
I received an email form a young strength coach that I met at this past weekend’s Mid-Atlantic strength and conditioning seminar. He asked me what I do for recovery. The most overlooked factor I told him was sleep and if you aren’t sleeping enough, you are going to fry the CNS with intense training. All the recovery methods in the world won’t do anything if you aren’t gettin deep, REM sleep. I also said it is imperative to get into parasympathetic dominance, especially before bed-a simple walk or meditation or sitting on your porch looking at the stars will usually do the trick. You have to remember that your body will adapt to any stress or demands put on it, meaning you have to cycle your recovery methods as well or they will start to become less useful. Some food for thought.
I have recently begun to read a fabulous book called Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers. The book speaks of how animals turn on the fight or flight response when they need it, ie-when a zebra is getting chased by a lion. The zebra’s stress level goes through the roof in a short moment, the way it is supposed to be and returns to baseline after the chase. If it doesn’t return to normal, that means the lion caught the the zebra and it is now dead. What happens to us humans is that we turn on the stress signal constantly by worrying and for many of us, it never turns off. This leads to a whole array of problems and eventually disease. Anyway, the point of this is that we need to take time to relax and clear the mind, if not, you are asking for trouble.
Check out the book here: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Third Edition