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Neal Winkler 12-23-2006 11:35 AM

Choas and machine based training
I was reading about chaos and fractal physiology, and how the variability of the heart rate is a good thing because it helps to prevent fatigue. When I read that I was reminded of a Paul Chek article from t-nation about pattern overload:


I don't think he ever says anything about chaos theory or fractals, but all this really brought to light what he was saying.

Since machines lock you into an exact pattern, they prevent nervous system variability, which is bad like a lack of variability is bad for the heart and brain (lack of variability is what leads to seizures). That is, machines lack the natural chaos that we would find in every repetition done with free weights.

Robb, do you think Bruce J. West would be a good interview for a future PM?

Steve Shafley 12-23-2006 07:47 PM

On the old Regeneration Lab website, there were some bits on fractal programming. If I have the time, I'll dig them up.

Steve Shafley 12-23-2006 08:27 PM

By Carl Valle, from the now defunct www.regenerationlab.com

This isn't super detailed, just an illustration that fractal patterns in athletic periodization have been noticed for a long time.

In fact, it really is worth your while to delve into some of the preparation materials for others sports. Not just lifters, and not just T&F, but a broad spectrum of athletes.


Fractal Design

This past weekend Divide by Zero and myself went to the Boston Swim Coaches Clinic to listen to Gregg Troy and Bob Bowman speak about some of their ideas and training methods of world class swimmers. This clinic was sponsored by Speedo and the V arsity Swim Shop and it was fantastic. In fact it was so good I hope to meet both coaches again to ask more questions about their views of the sport of swimming and the field of athletic performance.

The information from swim coaches is far better then most performance clinics I attend. When we arrived we took to our seats and prepared to listen to two great minds in the sport of swimming. I walked away confirmed I was on the right track as a swimming coach and that my fellow coach Divide by Zero was far beyond my level intellectually.

I was very pleased with the honesty and information from Bob Bowman, the coach of world record holder Michael Phelps. His wit and dry humor was not only entertaining, it was also usefull because it contained usefull bits of wisdom that a coach can put into their own training.

Gregg Troy was also a breath offresh air, and his ability to pick up patterns was truly remarkable.

The speaker's bios were impressive, and just a glance at the brochure from the Varsity Swim Shop it looked like we were in for a treat. It was obvious that they knew how to prepare athletes, and that it was a true honor for us to have them travel that far.

The booklet read:

Gregg Troy- Head Coach Menís and Womenís Swimming at the University of Florida. He has had both Gator teams finish in the top 10 at the NCAAís the last 4 years. Gregg was the 2002 NCAA Menís Swimming Coach of the Year. He has coached 39 Olympians, including 5 from Florida during the 2000 games from Sydney. He has coached swimmers to over 150 National Records.

Bob Bowman- Head Coach North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Bowman coached Michael Phelps to a berth on the 2000 US Olympic Team. In 2001, Phelps broke a World Record and Bowman was named USA Swimming Coach of the Year And ASCA Coach of the Year. Bowman has coached swimmers to 100ís of National Aqe Group rankings including over 60 #1 rankings.

The first coaching session was on Individual Medley Training with Bob Bowman, and it was fantastic. With pen in hand he broke down history of past winners and his thoughts about the percentages of energy systems most likely used to achieve such great performances. Like a German engineer, he explained how the two events (the 200m IM and 400m IM) related to other events such as the 100m and 200m stokes and the 200m and 1500m freestyles. With no pulled punches he openly explained what he did at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club
with great clarity and depth. It had excellent rationale and though behind his use of time and resources, and was very humble with his success.

Gregg Troy spoke about designing a yearly training program an his presentation was great as well. The best part of his talk was that he explain what is important to him and how program works in loading the athlete based on units, days, weeks, and months. After about ten minutes into the presentation my fellow coach Divide By Zero whispered, "It's all fractals". This made me furious. It took
me years to grasp the pattens of loading in modern periodization, yet he could pick the concepts up in minutes. I was not green in envy, but red from being humbled so quickly.

"In a sense periodization is like fractals. That is, the training process is apattern that repeats itself. moving from the small scale to the larger scale. It is similar to wha twe are learning about the non-linear realities of the human body."
-Dr. William Freeman, Peak When it Counts. (page 12)

The last session was a question and answer session with both coaches and we had the chance to ask them for guidence to what we were struggling with. It was great because they gave us real answers instead of solutions that would only fit olympic level programs. I of course asked about recovery and regeneration and both coaches had nice responses to the restoration riddle. Both used massage on a weekly basis and used protein drinks to help repair their athletes post

Gregg Troy went into blood work and how he found trends or patterns
of fatigue and Iron stores. This excited me since he didn't know a single scientific term to explain the situation. Nor did he need to know. Being a master coach he found the key pattern of what athletes did in response to being low on Iron and the length of time it took to get them back.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

A master coach will look at the choas of variables in performance and find patterns that are in turn predictors of performance. Such patterns are so important they are used as ways to monitor and adjust training to ensure that the performance of athletes can be improved consistantly.

In fact all masters of the profession are able to find patterns that help predict or solve problems. If one is able to find them and use them, rapid gains in success are bound to come.

"Rand also recalled that one of the sacred names of the Sphinx is neb, which means 'the spiralling force of the universe'. Why should a spiral be associated with the Sphinx? Is it possible that the spiral was a Fibonacci spiral?"
-Colin Wilson, The Atlantis Blueprint. (page 105.)

The protocol for today is to review your training data and look for patterns. An array of problems in training such as injury, illness, staleness, and other errors can be found if one looks for trends an patterns. The human body is a gift of

I think this small paragraph below from the book What Shape is a
Snowflake- Magical Numbers in Nature by Ian Stewart bests summerizes my article.

"Are we deluding ourselves, then, when we calim to detect mathematics at work behind the scenes of our universe? Or is there something that subverts or conceals the underlying lawfulness of events? Is all of nature founded in mathematical rules, or are we merely selecting those aspects of the natural world that happen to resemble human mathematics and assuming them to be fundamental when in fact they are unrepresentative?......So it seems to me that
the mathematical inclinations of the human mind are evolutionary responses to genuaine patterns in the surrounding universe."

Robb Wolf 12-28-2006 09:51 AM

Great thread you guys! My first exposure to this concept was Art Devany who i think has a strong intuitive sense of fractal programming, at least in his own training. Unfortunately he has not articulated HOW one might construct programming in this way. Steve, I think you pointed us in the right direction with the recommendation to observe coaches from a variety of sports. If fractal programming is optimal programming, it stands to reason that good coaches are employing these methods whether consciously or not. I think it's very interesting that they describe top coaches as being able to read patterns in the chaos of their athletes. This sounds similar to folks who play the stock market to great success.
Neal, I'll look into that interview.

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