Ok. We are at the conclusion of our conjugate training series. This week we wrap everything up by taking you through what a sample week of conjugate training should look like for a high school level thrower. Not only am I going to take you through a sample week, this week is one of the toughest weeks to program.
Ask any coach and they will tell you that the hardest weeks to stay on schedule and to make sure everything is getting done happen during the middle of the season.
The beginning of the season is pretty easy. For most schools, you don't have any meets for the first 2-3 weeks of the season. There are a number of reasons for this (usually bad weather) but for the most part the first few weeks of the season are nothing but practice and lifting with no meets to interrupt you.
The end of the season is also pretty easy to program. This is what I consider "Championship Season." During championship season, most of your athletes are already done. The freshman and sophomores have had their Freshman and JV meets and lower level invitationals and all you have left are your better athletes that have qualified for the bigger championship meets at the end of the season. Most of the championship meets happen on Saturdays giving you a full week of practice to get ready.
The tough part of the year happens in the middle of the season. This is because the middle of the season you probably have multiple meets in one week. Typically this is a smaller dual meet in the middle of the week after school and a smaller invitational on the weekends. Add to this things like school vacation days, spring break, the Easter long weekend, Memorial Day weekend, etc and things get even tougher to program.
If you can program a week of conjugate training during these weeks in the middle of the season...you can program conjugate training ANYWHERE!
Check out the video below to learn more about what a sample week of conjugate training will look like during the middle of the season.
We already talked about the "Rules" of conjugate training in the previous blog post and explained the conjugate max effort and dynamic effort days so I will take the rest of this blog post to answer some frequently asked questions I get from track coaches when I go over the conjugate system with them.
1. Should we be lifting and throwing the days before a track meet?
Answer: Absolutely! Sometimes you can't help it. Take the example of the week I used in the video above. This is a typical week and something that you will see for about 4-5 weeks in the middle of your season. If you didn't lift the day before the meet, this would mean you would only do one day of work in the weight room (Wednesday after the meet). If you didn't do any dynamic work before the Saturday meet, this means you only have one day of dynamic training on the Thursday. Do this for 5 weeks and you are missing 5 days of dynamic training and 5 days of training in the weight room during a crucial part of your season.
2. Why don't I personally put a lot of effort into the meets in the middle of the season?
Answer: They are pretty much worthless. A dual meet in the middle of the season serves no purpose other than to get your kids used to a competition setting and as "practice" with other teams there. I like to think of dual meets as scrimmages. The smaller invitationals might be great for bragging rights and to get a nicer medal, but really they serve no purpose. In the instance where these smaller invitationals might be state qualifiers, your training and specific skill work will be getting better by the end of the season and your best kids will qualify anyway. There's no need to try and peak for a small invitational or to throw PRs at one of these meets. Save it for the bigger meets at the end of the season.
3. What do the athletes lift at the end of the season? Are they still going really heavy in the weight room?
Answer: Not as heavy as the beginning and middle of the season. The dynamic days are still going to be dynamic and have a huge speed component to them. This is all the way up to the championship meet. This never changes because we are trying to peak for speed at the end of the season...not strength. I may lighten the med balls being used or cut back on the total number of jumps or sprints, but not by a whole lot.
The max effort days in the weight room will slowly get easier as the bigger meets approach. Typically 3 weeks out from the meet, I will start to lower the volume and intensity of the max effort movements. Say, for example, my top athletes have been doing heavy triples for the past 4 weeks. Three weeks out, I will have the athletes work up to an easy set of 3. Maybe something they could get for 4 or 5 reps but stop at 3. Then they will hit their assistance movements like normal. Two weeks out, I will have my athletes work up to a relatively easy set of 2, maybe even using the same weight at the week before but only doing 2 reps. This week I will also cut the assistance exercises down by one set. The week of the championship meet I will get rid of the main max effort exercise and just program a few sets of 3-4 assistance movements to keep the athletes fresh and confident.
Hopefully this takes care of most of the big questions about the conjugate method for track and field throwers (and sprinters and jumpers too!). Next week we move on to more throwing technique related blog posts and videos. As always, if you have questions, please leave them in the comment section or use the contact tab at the top of this page to get in touch with me.
Thanks for sticking with me as I dumped out my brain the past few months. I hope you like the look of the blog and the format I am taking with the new website. Any comments (good or bad) are always welcome!
-Coach Matt Ellis