5 Words to plan your training

There are five keywords in training:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Load
  • Volume
  • Duration

They dictate everything, from program design to outcomes. Before discussing them, I will boil them down to 2 words:

Time and Difficulty.

Time has to do with frequency and duration leaving difficulty a matter of intensity, load, and volume.

Each one plays a critical role in periodization and year-round program design. With that in mind, I will deal with each word separately so you can fully understand the importance they play in training, how they overlap, interact, and impact training results. I will try to discuss them as they pertain to both sports and fitness.

There is no particular order since each one plays its own significant role in the entire training process. You will see how each creates a discussion for common workout questions.

I choose duration to start with and it is the question, how long should I work out? One of the two-time words is important because that is where people’s “feelings” get in the way.

I often hear, “well, I just feel like if I workout longer I would get _______.” So not true, unless you plan on getting an overuse injury.

You will hear this a lot from me, more is not better and if it was, none of us would ever leave the gym or the court or the track or whatever. So the answer is to work as long as the demands of your life or sport require.

That said, here is the fine print. On the extreme side, you cannot run a marathon every day to get ready for a marathon, you can’t stay in the weight room for 3 hours because your game competition takes 3 hours to complete, and so on. Here’s why, when you do an activity, the other words will influence the outcome and by doing so you are building more work capacity.

Therefore, in the marathon example, you don’t run 26.3 miles every day, but you do a set amount of miles, increasing weekly so that you build your body’s capacity to run for 3 hours (give or take a lot of time depending on your level) is developed. This goes for any training so that unregulated time is spent doing unnecessary physical work.

There is an old saying, “Plan the work and work the plan.” Do that. A good strength program for most athletes should run 60-75 minutes. That includes a warm-up, cuff & stuff, and any additional cool down.

Fitness strength can be done in 45-60 minutes. Why is there even a time range? Any of those times could be less because an individual's strength level and the amount of weight being lifted determines the recovery time.

Duration, how long should training last, is a predetermined time frame. Once you create that schedule, your body will become very familiar with it and soon it will tell you when time is up.


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