The training programme design is one of the most important aspect of your training regimen.Te training process is a very individual thing and, as logic follows. each training programme is an individual art or, at least, it should be.

So what is a training programme? A training programme is a precise structure of volume, intensity, load, tempo and recovery and the exercises selected in training, periodised regime pathway with specific goals in mind. A professional strength and conditioning (S&C) coach leads and guides his/her athlete to reach the desired goals, though a majority of sports professionals fend for themselves due to lack of professional S&C coaches.

Finding an appropriate training plan is not the easiest of tasks. How do you decide what should be your training plan? How do you judge the quality of an available training programme? How do you judge its efficacy? How do you embark on the programme through professional guidance?

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These are simple questions with no simple answers. Nevertheless, there are a few golden rules that serve as a foundation for all proper and effective training programmes and in the absence of a coach, keeping these basics in mind will help you make better choices and eventually get better results.

Any training regimen must include technique work on your chosen sport and skill. Cutting across sport, it must include skill training with proper transfer of S&C programme. A lack of synergy between the technical skill work and periodised regime would end up with loads of complications like a variety of injures, not peaking at the right time, improper recovery and a plateau in performance.

Here are a few recommendations that will help you stay on the right track with a periodised training programme.

Proper duration and a sufficient number of recovery days

A majority of people embark on the training programme just months prior to the main event. A goal-oriented programme and the target date for peak performance is the key. The training plan should be directed at that date locking you into a time frame and giving a particular number of days/ weeks/ months to achieve your goal. Your entire structured plan, with volume/ sets/ reps/ load etc and types of training involved should be based around that main event to perform.

Recovery plays a major role in performance — be it active recovery or passive recovery.

To prevent boredom/ injury prevention/ over training/ reduced focus etc it is also important to keep in mind that training doesn’t mean doing something all the time.

Proper balance between your training and rest days is critical. Too much action and not enough rest time is an appetite for destruction and is a one way ticket to exhaustion. A bulk of people do well with 4-5 days of training a week, some professional athletes need up to six days of training per week and sometimes twice a day too. Whatever number of days you train right, add a couple of recovery sessions to the training programme.

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Warm up and cool down

Any session begins with warm up and ends with cool down. It’s a significant aspect of the overall training process and is a necessity, it cannot be treated as a choice. We all know the benefits of warm up and cool down and its importance.

Speed, agility and CoD work

All improvements in running-training have to be done with running the same distance faster than before. Almost all sports mainly involve speed, agility, fast feet, and change of direction. The protocols vary according to the sport and skill. Choice of exercise and progression is very important to develop these skills efficiently.

Strength and flexibility

These are important aspects of a fitness programme, for peak performance. It’s a no-brainer to understand the importance of strength training. One must be aware of the choice of exercise, loading, recovery and what type of strength component is game specific. Incorporating specific strength component for specific period and specific goal is an art.

Flexibility helps extremely well in achieving better performance results by increasing the range of movement through varied planes of motion.

Appropriate aerobic and speed endurance

Incorporating aerobic fitness or speed endurance appropriate to the sport helps in increased performance which is a well known formula.

Regular fitness assessment

Maintain a recommended fitness assessment at least twice a year to understand the increment or decrement in any specific fitness components. Fitness assessment can be carried out according to the need and the components to be tested. It needs to be sport and skill specific.

Training programme must be updated regularly

Based on the above recommendations, constant updation of the schedule is of critical importance to avoid overload/ boredom/ injuries and plateau effect too. It is recommended to review the original training schedule against the actual training done and results accomplished, and then implement changes on weekly basis to achieve best results. The change in the programme can be done in consultation with the other support staff according to the season — whether off-season/ pre-season/ during season or post-season.

The concept of designing a training programme is a fine art and needs to done with utmost care, understanding the athlete’s needs at every stage of the season.