If you need some background on this post go here.
This is not a new concept in performance training. Many coaches talk about and use physical training to develop mental capacities. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Developing the right mind-set is essential. Developing this enhances your physical capacities. It allows you to more effectively use your tools. Aside from strength this is the biggest game changer in sport.
Here I’m going to highlight some of the tools I use to develop certain elements of mind-set.
We push hard. The aim is to drive the limits of what we thought we were capable of. To cultivate the never quit attitude. This would be doing more work each round, pushing further each time. Either adding more weight, increasing distance, increasing speed, increasing time or a combination of these. Anything that climbs in intensity. It’s doing more than you think you can. This is where the coach and also the role of the training partners are essential to push you into the deep waters. To get you to go beyond what you think you can do. Most of us cannot push that hard, if you think you can you are most probably not going hard enough.
How to train it:
· Sled pushes/ drags
Rest: 60- 90sec
Push the sled. Rest. Add a plate and push again. Rest, add another plate and repeat. Repeat the process until the sled can’t move. The rule is that you can’t stop in the middle of the push, you must stay in motion. Stopping in the middle of the rep is quitting
· Assault bike/ Airdyne
The airdyne is a favourite. It is truly a terrible thing but it does get results.
Death by calories
At the start of the minute sprint until you get the required number of calories for that minute. Rest for the rest of the minute at the start of the next minute go for you next target.
In minute one go for 5cal, minute 2 6 cal, minute 3 7 cal … and so on and so forth. The photo below has a breakdown of the session and the sum of the calories you have to get on each minute because math when you’re tired is just too much. The first 10 is easy, but after that it gets serious. This session could also be attempted on a rower if you don’t have an airdyne but I have not tried that version yet.
The ability to regain your bearings, to reset after a burst of effort. An essential skill to train. This is very necessary to have in sports like rugby, water polo or tennis. Actually all sports where there are intermittent bursts of effort. The key principles of training this way is to do interval work. The focus is placed on the recovery. We need to work hard but not at max intensity. We want to start sub max, because the goal is to train our ability to regain composure. If you go flat out you’re going to miss that. Working between 75-90% of your maximal effort is the sweet spot. The rest shortened to challenge the recovery. I like to use breathing based rest for these types of intervals. It is the most transferable and it gives the athlete a tool to use on field to regain their composure and focus.
What to do:
· Rowing sprints with breathing recovery
After a warm up get your fastest time for a 150m sprint on the rower. Then work at a pace that is 15-20% slower. If you row a 28 sec 150m then your training sets will be at 33 sec
Row 150m; rest for 10 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 9 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 8 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 7 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 6 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 5 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 4 breaths
Row 150m; rest for 3 breaths
The idea is to keep working down the breath ladder until you struggle to make the time. If you can’t make the time just take a step back on the ladder and work there. The aim is to do between 3 -6 reps on the lowest level on the breathing ladder that you can maintain.
This set is a starting point. I like to start people off with a variation like this. It can be done on a rower, with a sled or sprints. You want to start with something simple to get the breathing down. The next step is to increase the complexity of what you do. Like doing burpees and rolls, where you want to maintain the quality and speed of movement. The idea behind these types of sets is to develop the skill of regaining composure, not to challenge it.