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Mike ODonnell 03-16-2007 09:34 PM

Rest Max effort vs Metabolic
Ok...say you are looking to improve the overall speed and ability of an athlete (increase VO2 max, explosiveness, etc...). Using the 2 protocols listed below....which one in your opinion would yield optimal results and why? (Just assuming these training only...all other variables outside are the same)

1) Workouts that are max effort and recovery....for example
- 400 meter sprint....rest 3 minutes....repeat 3-4x at max effort each time

2) Continuous Metabolic version
- 400 meter sprint....do 15 burpees, 15 squat, 15 pushups, 15 situps.....repeat 2 more times....no rests.

Just various examples....but is a max effort going to increase VO2 max or does the continuous aerobic pathway conditioning increase conditioning better? Is metabolic really going to increase speed when lack of glycolitic pathway is utilized compared to max effort under 2min and full recovery?

Let the games begin.....

Steve Shafley 03-17-2007 05:36 AM

Good question.

The answer depends entirely on the sport of the athlete and what qualities they are called upon to demonstrate during competition.


I'd lean towards the second type of protocol when upping the conditioning of a field based athlete, such as rugby, soccer and lacrosse, because there is a significantly greater need for conditioning than in, say, American football.

For a 1 limit attempt athlete, i.e. sprinter, or if I were interested in increasing linear speed, the first protocol would probably serve the athlete better.

Larry Lindenman 03-17-2007 06:19 AM

Yeah, what Steve said. For just GPP I would go protocol 2. For any activity with incomplete rest...protocol 2 (pretty much any sport out there). To improve the 40 yard dash of an aspiring college athlete 1, track events 1, as a three week block of training to jack up my linear speed 1. Lack of complete recovery in protocol 2, trains for...lack of complete recovery, which is the milestone of most field/court type of sports. Race sports (swimming, running, biking) allow for complete rest prior to the next event. There is an analogy to someone using the Olympic lifts for general training and an actual Olympic Lifter training for an event.

Mike ODonnell 03-17-2007 08:17 AM

Ok now taking the side of Option #1....Wouldn't Max effort rounds be more advantageous for the following:

- Option #2 is a continuous effort for say 20 min
- Option #1 is a all out effort interval training for 3-4min with 2-3min recovery (so not really training speed at 100meters or 20sec sprints)
- Option #2 has you going at perhaps a slower pace than you would apply in your sport therefore adapting more to the slower twitch muscle fibers
- Option #1 allows you to go more at a "race" pace...or above to increase conditioning
- Option #1 has more stimulus to increase more mitochondria output and VO2 max
- Option #2 is aerobic where as Option #1 has you on the anaerobic threshold while still in the glycolitic pathway

etc....essential does Option #2 have the same level of benefits of say jogging at some point? Also for Option #1 to be the most effective for both increased game speed and conditioning...how long does it need to be and how short do the rest periods need to be? Ex....3 min workout with 2 min rests.....1min workout with 1 min rests.....4 min workout with 1 min rests.....I know it may depend on the sport...but which protocol would you think to work better....a longer one like 2-3 minutes....or a tabata style with only 20-30sec work?

You could also argue for general fitness and fat loss which is better....I would still go with Option #1 for the metabolic disruption and recovery demands. Just thinking out loud....

I think I read a long time ago Robb had better client success with taking rounds of effort at 3min, add some rest...and then repeat vs the continuous format....Robb any feedback?

Derek Simonds 03-17-2007 10:07 AM

Robb wrote about this in the first Performance Menu I read. He was specifically talking about creating a power bias.

My take on it is that I have been using option 1 based on the sport I am currently doing BJJ. We grapple in class for 8 minute rounds, tournaments are 6 minute rounds. I have been training at the highest intensity I can maintain for 6-8 minutes than taking a 2 minute break.

I looked up a training program my triathlon coach had me on 3 years ago and out of the 8 workouts each week I was doing 3 sessions a week using option 1. I would do several different types of sprints in the pool but one common one was swimming 50 meters on the 1's. You swam as fast as you could for 50 meters than rested until your total time was a minute. I would start out about 45 seconds work and 15 seconds rest. As the workout would progress that would generally change more towards 50 / 10. One workout was a 100 meter ladder where each time you swam the 100 m you had to beat your last time and you had 30 seconds of rest in between. The goal was to swim quicker on the last set than your race pace.

On the bike I would do big ring intervals while in the middle of a training ride. I would switch to the big ring and ride as hard as I could for 3 minutes than recover for 5 minutes. I would do 3 to 5 of these during a 2 hour ride.

Running I would do the exactly what you talked about all out sprints for 400 meters with 2 minutes of rest.

Two things 1) having a coach totally changed the way I trained and 2) using the training above along with a large volume of endurance training I took first place in my age group at an Olympic distance triathlon. For the record this particular triathlon wasn't the largest in the state of FL. This is the only sporting individual gold I have ever achieved and I really attribute it to my coach. The sad part was that I looked like a prison camp escapee I was so lean it was silly.

Ron Nelson 03-17-2007 11:18 AM

I used both methods with my cross country team and had good results. Beginning runners shaved about 2 min. off their 2 mile time and advanced runners showed steady improvement. Some days we'd go straight sprints/mid distance with rest and on other days we'd go 400m/push up, sit up, squat, lunge, 400m, repeat.
These methods mixed in with an LSD day once a week prepped our runners for meets. I was also asked to train our 7th grade soccer team due to their lack of fitness to go 30 minutes per half without rest. The first time the soccer kids trained with us was the last time they tried. My slowest (and I mean SLOWEST) runner beat most of the soccer team in a training session that included 800m runs with 4 bodyweight exercises in between runs.

As a side note, combining running with bodyweight exercises allows the athlete to use the exercises as active rest and builds some mental toughness. The athlete actually looks forward to squats and lunges during the run.

Hope I answered the question.

Motion MacIvor 03-17-2007 12:25 PM


I think you are on the right track. Actualy I know you are. 400m to 800 sprints are just about perfect for developing aerobic and anaerobic capacity. If you dont give yourself enough time to rest you'll never be able to maintain the intensity you need to achieve maximal adaptation.

If you think of it in weight lifting terms the analogy would be a ME squat day versus a high rep high intensity workout. Both will make you stronger, but we all know which will make you strongest.

Another more direct analogy we can both relate to is pond hockey versus a league game. You could play pond hockey a half hour a day for a season and you would be nowhere near as fit as the the guy who was putting in two minute shifts (or one minute shifts if the team has disipline :D ) for twenty minutes a game.

In my mind the most important indicator of your progress is the amount of time it takes to recover. Personaly I think a light jog between intervals until the HR gets down to 140-150 then go again is probably the best all round aerobic conditioning workouts you can do. If I had one workout to do for the rest of my life that would be it.

Workout number two is more of a GPP type which has it's place as part of a larger program but it wont be as efective as type one for the objectives you mentioned. Actually I dont think either one would build explosiveness in a meaningfull way but a few separate plyo, or o-lifting workouts should do the trick.

In bike racing you see guys all the time who train by riding super hard for about a 20 minutes to an hour. These guys never believe what they read (if they read at all), they never believe what the experienced riders tell them, and they never make it out of the lower categories. We call these guys hammerheads. It is not a term of respect.

Chris Forbis 03-17-2007 12:34 PM

Say I were to be training a basketball team, in the offseason I would pound them with option 1. When practice starts (one month prior to season start) then I would switch to option 2.

That is my gut intuition.

Motion MacIvor 03-17-2007 12:50 PM

I would do the oposite.
Not trying to be a jerk

Chris Forbis 03-17-2007 01:50 PM

I see less reason to have high GPP out of season. Really work maximal strength, power output, speed, and agility during the off-season. I see Option 1 as being better for this.

About six weeks before games start, you need to get them in game shape, so fire away with the GPP. Scale back as needed during the course of the year. Option 2 seems to fit the bill. Explosiveness should be getting worked sufficiently with in game / standard practice stuff.

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