Training Intensities

Aaron King (00:00):
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the King Sports Podcast. I'm Aaron King with Coach Bob King. And today we are gonna talk about training intensity and all the different scenarios, all the different drive forces and seasons that that applies to. So, B.K., how do you wanna frame this conversation around intensity? What's on your mind?

Coach King (00:19):
I think a lot of things that go on in the gym, or especially in the off seasons. Really, the context for this is, you know, I'm gonna go in and I'm gonna grind it out and I'm gonna bust it every day. And–that's noble, but what we have to do is assign intensities to what we're doing. First of all, you work hard. That's a given. We're not talking about trying to get outta work or cut the level or cut the workload. That's not the point. So I don't want people to hear that, oh, I know how to get better by working less. No, we're talking about smart, aggressive and intelligent, not aimlessly and recklessly.

Aaron King (00:54):
So there's a time and a place for intensity?

Coach King (00:57):
Oh absolutely.

Aaron King (00:58):
And I think that mentally it's easy to burn out if you push too hard, if you don't know how to rest you know, the off season, the decompression after a brutal playoff exit or something like that, that you need a checkout. Go for a hike, you know, check out a waterfall or just get away and mentally recover there to be able to ramp up for an off season training session. So what there's mental and there's physical and there's seasons and all these different things. So how, how do you, and, and I mean there's year round sports too. So what’s a framework we can approach this in from a general standpoint, then maybe get a little more specific by sport?

Coach King (01:41):
Yeah. And what coaches are good at saying is that what we wanna do throughout the course of a season is not to get too high or to get too low. In other words, if we have a super great victory, you just can't ride that wave emotionally, cuz it's gonna drift downward. And then if you get handed a nasty loss, get outta the dumps, you can't stay down there. And when I say somewhere in the middle, again, we're not talking about short cutting or being underachieving. It's just like you, you create a mental and emotional drive at a level you can sustain. And we all know how hard it is to go up and down and sustain a high level of energy nonstop.

Aaron King (02:21):
The high level of energy training. There's a mental and emotional, but physical. So obviously you're gonna have days where you, you go in there and we'll just say, we'll just use like squat, for example, since it's one of the most stressful lifts. So I'm just thinking I'm gonna go blow up the squat every day and get as strong as possible when we all know that you're just gonna have injuries doing that. But the mindset is I gotta, I want to go. And oftentimes an athlete, I know I was there. I got more on the tank, you know? To help a coach out or help an athlete, but help a coach explain to an athlete more specifically when you have that type of drive and you're mentally just focused and locked in. How do you intentionally pull back and rest from a physical standpoint?

Coach King (03:16):
And that's a very delicate question because here's what we now keep in context. I'm mainly geared towards the athletic development, the sports performance area. And so what that should say to you is that, oh, we have multiple layers of training that we need to do. And so if I go in, as you're alluding to now and squat and you know, the stories about just keep a trash can close by cuz you're gonna need it. And so I'm gonna squat to the point where I have to lean over the trash can. That's a, that's got another end in mind because as we know, well, we got squat. Well, we gotta do plyometrics or some kind of explosive training. We need to do speed training. Yep. We gotta get faster. We gotta get that linear speed. We've gotta change of direction.

We gotta do. We gotta be quick on the cut and so forth. We better be fit. I got a condition. Well, how you gonna get all that in if you have no legs left? So part, and, and we'll be using this on a regular basis. Part of gains is recovery. Part of growing is resting. And so that comes under the heading of periodization and program design. And that's not what we're just essentially talking about, but the idea is that you have a, a qualified program or coach directing the program that shows you, this is what you can do to be stronger, then go and train and get faster and then come back and get more agile and then have that conditioning program because now in, in the athletic world, what are the legs getting? Blasted every day. So there has to be at some point, rest and recovery and like, not scientifically speaking, but absorb the training, let the work that you're doing benefit you. So somewhere in there, take a break.

Aaron King (05:02):
And that's exactly what I'm talking about is the periodization side. But telling that to a kid without telling that to a kid and boring them, but saying, Hey, listen, I know you feel good today, but Friday's coming up. Friday, we're gonna go big. You know, these few days leading up, we're not gonna go as big. I know you're feeling it, but we got some heavy sets coming. So helping them understand how you set up the next workout.

Coach King (05:32):
Well, here's a key thing. Everything's connected. This is not new in our discussions. Everything is connected. So for example I do the larger squat workouts on Friday. We're on the track. Typically, if we can on Saturday, we're gonna run that out. If we do say, say we just do some leg press work on day one of the work week. Then in the middle of the week in my programming where we do we do one of two things or both. And that is in the middle of the week, we'll do our Olympic training, our Olympic lifts. And what we found over time by doing our Olympic lifts it's gonna compliment the squats on Friday because wait, we're doing front squats on the Olympics and it's not always a deep squat, but it's a front squat, low catch. So we're doing a front squat on Wednesday.

And after that, in that same workout to try to make sure everything's in sync and balance, we do single leg activities. So by the end of the week, the legs have had enough strength training to improve and show gains. And I'm not just saying, Hey, you look good. You, you look really stronger. There's no looking to it. It's like, look at the numbers. The numbers will tell you what you need to know. So that's where if you look at everything as being connected, a leg press, a single leg movement, a power clean with a low catch and a back squat. They're all in there. It's all connected--front squat, back squat, leg press, single leg. So you're not short cutting it because you're not leaning over the trash can on a squat day.

Aaron King (07:04):
All right. So that brings up another topic or relative to what you just said. There's someone out there listening and I've done these programs and so I know firsthand, there's someone listening--where you say we squat on Friday, we do leg press on another day where they might say, well we front squat twice a week. Or like there everything's done in the rack. You know, it's a power rack. We don't have machines. We might use a leg press like every two or three weeks, depending on how the program is designed. And then you see a lot of programs where yeah the Olympics, the power lifts, they're phenomenal. Conditioning? They're in great shape. But you also see a lot of a lack of hip mobility. You see a lot of lack, a lot of hamstring pulls, a lot of imbalances.

And so what I've noticed is just because I did not squat as much, I noticed that other athletes weren't less strong. Maybe the capacity was different. Cause I know in the Olympics, like the bobsledding, the capacity was much higher, definitely built a higher capacity was a little bit stronger. Maybe there was certain power elements that were there, but some of the single leg stuff that you're mentioning, what are we looking at as far as that, power implementation into a program and tapering off of that and being a little bit more diverse for the athletic development. So what are you looking at for that balance?

Coach King (08:42):
That's really a very important question, because for example, let's use a big squat. Say a three to five rep scheme, and you're getting into the set where you're maybe a five by five. And so you're on even set three going into set four and you're barely squeezing out reps four and five. Well, we're not even talking about the weight as far as adding or subtracting or not, but just what kind of speed do you see the bar moving at when you do a fifth rep not gonna be a sixth rep? So it's a slow movement and that's fine. That's getting that strength development. But my contention has always been, we want the body to learn how to be fast. So for example, we do plyometric explosive training on Friday as well while the muscle's being ramped up, basically to remind the body how to go fast.

And we have combinations and things. We have a very, very rigid or strict design for that. But the point is, if you're moving slow, you're learning slow. And you know, this is actual, this is true, but it is not gonna be liked by some people, but I can spot and anybody can spot, you know, big squatters in the weight room, the way they walk. It's kind of a lumbering and, and they don't have that ball of the foot kind of heel lift when they walk. And so they kind of slide through the weight room cause their legs are heavy. And so what we do is try to merge that strength with athleticism. Now, to your point about bobsledding, it comes back to this whole sports athletic development concept: that squat has to be strong in a fourth quarter, whatever sport it is, it has to be strong in a fourth quarter.

So if you're tired or slow down, you're no good. So that's where the exercise prescription program designed has to find that balance. So give you an example, you get a high school athlete, junior in high school. Who's never squatted before and put 'em on a bar, get 'em to parallel and just see what they feel like the next day after their first set of squats. I don't care if it's 95 pounds, they are feeling it. They're feeling the butt lock and they're not enjoying it at all. That's how invasive squats are. They will stretch the muscle, put it under tension and force it to work where it's never worked before. So therefore if you get somebody squatting reps with their body weight, they've made some significant progress. Somebody squatting two times their body weight. There you go. But in the meantime, you have got to find ways to keep that athlete limber and running and balanced--hamstrings, all that stuff, lower leg has to be in balance. Like I said, we opened up with a little bit of a disclaimer, but my program, we squat, we front squat, we Olympic; if it's in the book, we're probably doing it, but we're very, very, very particular about the design of the programs where those go.

Aaron King (11:42):
Balance. Right. And so here's the next little wrinkle to that. You know, previously we had talked about the sports gene. So we've all seen athletes. I mean, I watched one time, you know, I was a 240 pound, pretty strong lifter, power cleaner. I wasn't like the best Olympic lifter. I was strong though. You know, I did 225, I think like 25 times, like I was pretty, pretty strong. And then I worked out with Dashaun Foster one day, the old Carolina Panthers running back who did that Superman touchdown in the super bowl? That guy was push pressing a weight. I had a hard time hang cleaning and I, like, he just upright rode it, put it up and starts doing shoulder presses and it's like 200 something pounds. And I'm sitting here like, dude, I mean, that was, that's pretty solid, like I'd have to, you know, actually try to clean that. Not like I can't do it, but it's like, I'm not push pressing it. I'm not. Or I'm not shoulder pressing it--genes. Sports gene. The dude's a freak, you know? And so there's guys like that. We've seen them. And so when you talk about the squat, you talk about volume on the squat tendonitis and all the different things. Where does the sports gene fit into all that stuff in the weight room?

Coach King (12:58):
So one year with the Mavericks, we had a rookie who was seven, seven feet, seven one. And we're in the weight room. I'm trying to get him to, you know, grasp our training because he didn't have much of a background. And he came out a year early from college, which just, you know, he was still very raw. And so one day we're working out and we sit on a bench to talk and it's, you talk about revelation. He and I were sitting there talking eye to eye. He's seven foot I'm six two, and we're talking, sitting on the bench eye to eye. What does that tell you? Well, from the waist down, it's all legs. And so what that does, it presents some squat difficulties because the levers are so long, you look at tibia length, femur length, which can be different ratios.

Not all of 'em are, are the same and equal. So to think about getting him to parallel made me really nervous because you know, he probably had the torso strength to hold it. But what I was worried about is that constant stress, especially in the Taylor femoral joint, where basketball players inherently have trouble. So will you make his quad stronger? His knees won't have trouble. It just doesn't work like that because here's what I learned with the pros. It's not a matter of whether you're having surgery, but when, if you're in the pros. From there, I kind of came up with the concept (no science here), but that every year you're in the pros is like dog years on your body, you know? And so you just see guys wear and tear. Well, but don't they have to train hard to be at the level they're at? They've already done that. They have trained hard and they've grinded throughout their career to get the level they're at. Now, we're just trying to sustain that level because there's not another level. They are, they have achieved it. And so when you're a pro and say you have a surgery or an injury, or of any kind, you're having to work to get back to the level of greatness that you came in with.

Aaron King (14:51):
So it sounds like we have a lot of customization, obviously, you know, sport, athlete, all that stuff. Now, how do we tie all this back to intensity? What's the final thought on what to keep in mind when you're looking at training intensity?

Coach King (15:03):
Well, it depends on your sport obviously, but what I did, I'm going again, back to football and you can do this with other sports. Pretty similarly. I would train the hardest at the time of the week when competition would be. So football, obviously, toward the end of the week, Friday, Saturday, cuz we were doing Saturday workouts. So, I would come in Monday when we're fresh and try to do some good, strong lifts in the bench and other lifts and just kind of let the weak unfold, but the intensities were assigned on a level basis. It wasn't just a hundred percent, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. And so we all understand about the level of intensity on like a bench press and then on the squat. And when I say intensity, you know, a five times five at 60% is not as intense as five times five at a 80, 85, 90% max.

So what we end up doing is designing the intensity to mimic the development through a week of preparation in a season because you don't practice full speed in pads or you don't practice full speed. Good on good in, in all your sports every day for the length of time that you play. So that just carries over into training. So we don't train hard every day at a max effort, but at levels of intensity that make you gain. And that's a key because the science is there at wherever you wanna go with the 77% to 82% or whatever you have to be at, you can train and get better. And we did that with our running. We do the volume based on a percentage of a max output. And so you can design levels of intensity to match the percentages of the effort you need to give in a sport without burning up every day of the week and crashing before the end of off season period. Cause we all know about that, that burnout, that diminishing return. So that's very critical that you train hard on a schedule, not just walk in every day and go hard or go home. That sounds good, but not smart.

Aaron King (17:02):
You know, and I think the summary statement here is to almost apologize for some of the information. It's not about periodization. Like it's more about application. And so in period, that's not maybe the right, right phrasing, but periodization of let's say power cleans. It's like, well, no, it's more about the application. Yes. We know about how to get certain percentages, et cetera, et cetera. But do we wanna do that for a tennis player? You know, it doesn't apply. It's the application for a quarterback, like when we're tearing up shoulders or elbows, like it's just the practical application of where the best practices are applied. Correct?

Coach King (17:40):
Correct. And just kind of finish up here. The thing that we do in our program, we have a thing called heavy singles and those would qualify as a 90 to 95%. We never do a max in the training as a routine, but on certain periods of the training, we do heavy singles. So we might do one heavy power clean or a set, you know, we call 'em, you know, three sets of one and just do a heavy 90% lift. Well, that's high intensity, but it's not wiping me out and I'll survive to be able to do a good workout the next day. So we have it built in. We just don't do it to the point of, you know, crawling outta the gym every day.

Aaron King (18:20):
All right. Well, there's a million questions and things that really are coming up on this podcast. But we'll cover that next time. And if you have questions, want clarification, you can leave comments. If you're on TikTok, just go comment on a video. Maybe we can do a response to that, cuz this is gonna ruffle a lot of feathers. Some of the things we said, and then reach out to Coach Bob King (@CoachBobKing) on Instagram and then visit for training programs. Then King Sports' YouTube channel. I'm Aaron King. That's Coach Bob King. We'll talk to you next time.


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