Making A Better Training Plan
In this episode, we finish breaking down the steps I take when scheduling my client’s weekly training plans. In part 1 we covered what the different session types are, how to prioritise them, and how many of each session type you need each week depending on your competitive level or training time available.
If you missed it, check that out first here.
Building on that foundation, we’ll use my checklist of 8 sports science best practices to determine which sessions go where, and why, we’ll look at time blocking each session, and finally follow 7-steps to create your own weekly training schedule.
Applying sports science principles to your training drastically improves your results.
Research continues to explore how the human body responds to different exercise protocols, and different combinations of them. This evolution reveals not only which methods are the most effective and which ones aren’t (given your goals), but also which ones don’t play nice together and cancel out!
Checklist of 8 Sports Science Best Practices
As fighters, we easily fall into the trap of just working harder for longer in order to become better. However, we can be more deliberate and smarter than that. Here’s my checklist of 8 sports science best practices to get the most out of your weekly schedule…
1. Leave at least 48 hours between consecutive resistance training sessions.
And I’m talking about whole body resistance training for fighters here – as it’s the most efficient use of time – and this requires adequate recovery before hitting the same neuromuscular movement patterns again.
Remember we’re looking to specifically target those strength, power, and speed buckets. If we don’t allow enough neuromuscular recovery between different session types, then we’re training endurance again, and we’re missing a trick – leaving athletic performance on the table.
2. When training multiple sessions in one day, if possible, train cardio or Muay Thai sessions at least 3-hours away from resistance training to avoid blunting the strength, power, or speed training effect.
I recommend training one session in the morning, and another in the afternoon or evening. That way you squeeze the most out of BOTH sessions.
Also, for fighters training more than once a day, if possible, I recommend resistance training in the morning. Because athletic performance peaks at different times during your daily cycle, depending on when you train.
Training strength and power in the evening leads to a peak in those performance qualities at that specific time of day, but a drop-off at ANY other time of day.
Whereas, although training strength and power in the morning may be harder – because your CNS hasn’t woken up yet – it leads to a strong performance ability at any time of day!
As Muay Thai fighters, although strength and power are foundation qualities that boost our Muay Thai performance, they aren’t required at 100% max levels.
We’re not powerlifters or Olympic lifters. We’re skilled power-endurance athletes that must apply 80% of our maximum power relentlessly for 5 rounds, or until we’ve stopped our opponent.
Not to mention, we could be fighting in the afternoon, or at midnight. Let’s face it, anytime at all if you’re competing abroad in a different time zone!
3. If both resistance training and either Muay Thai or cardio training must be trained back-to-back, train the most important session first.
For example, if learning a new Muay Thai skill in a non-fatigued state is the priority, resistance training goes last. However, if long-term strength, power, or speed is your priority and the Muay Thai session’s objective is technique training under fatigue (TUF), then resistance training goes first. I’ve spoken about technical skill practice in a previous episode that I’ve linked in the further resources for you below.
4. Generally, don’t do more than two challenging sessions back-to-back.
You’re spreading your effort too thin, and won’t work hard enough in any session to overload the body enough to make it adapt and become fitter. And you’ll sabotage recovery.
The training session is only the trigger stimulus required to make you fitter and stronger.
It’s during the recovery period after the training stimulus that your body adapts – to better cope with that stress in the future.
If you’re all stimulus and no adaptation, you won’t improve.
5. Every training session should target a specific purpose and provide just enough stimulus to make your body adapt…
And then get out – allowing enough recovery for strength and fitness gains, before hitting you with a stimulus again. Apply a minimal training dose, be progressive, and don’t jump steps or you’ll cut your ultimate progress short or develop overuse injuries.
6. Cardio sessions should develop different energy system qualities at different stages of a training phase.
Further from a fight, training should prioritise aerobic capacity development using longer duration, lower intensity work, and transition to aerobic power work using higher intensity, shorter duration intervals.
I’ve an Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint download that goes into this for you. I’ve linked to that in the resources for you below.
It’s also important to mention that anaerobic lactic system training shouldn’t predominantly feature until closer to the fight. Or, you’ll destroy your aerobic power fitness and train yourself to blast hard and gas out – if you don’t finish your opponent in one round.
So save those TABATA intervals until you’re at least 4-weeks out.
7. Take 1-2 rest days per week.
Yes, 2-days rest can actually make you better!
Remember that rest is as important as the training. You only get better if you recover from the training dose you’ve applied. Don’t become all stimulus and no adaptation.
8. Long-term athletic progress far exceeds the capability of unsustainable short-term boom and bust cycles.
Let your opponents burn themselves out and go around in circles. You should aim beyond your next fight, to become a completely different fighter this time next year.
Time Blocking Your Sessions
Now let’s look at the typical amount of time you should budget for the different training sessions. And again, here we’re looking for the most efficient use of this time – no filler, all killer.
Typically, resistance training sessions will be about 60 mins long if you’re using the complete body sessions, concurrently training speed, power, and strength that I recommend for fighters.
Cardio conditioning sessions will typically be up to about 30 mins long, and Muay Thai sessions up to 60 minutes long.
Sessions can of course be longer or shorter than these, but these are typical session durations for the best training effect.
Remember, generally going longer means you’re doing more than you need to (exceeding minimal dose), practising fatigued form, and spoiling your recovery so your next training session becomes less effective.
And if you’re obsessed about adopting the Thailand training model, with 2-3 hour training sessions, please see them for what they are; multiple sessions joined together (with recovery periods in between):
Cardio Conditioning + Muay Thai + Muscular Endurance/Bodyweight Conditioning
For simplicity, when structuring your week, block out 30-minute or 60-minute time slots for each session type in your weekly schedule. This stops you blurring things together, and you can more easily organise these time blocks according to the best practices checklist, to ensure they’re optimally effective too.
And when I say optimal, I mean the best with what you’ve got. I discuss the difference between optimal and peak performance training in another episode that I link for you in the further resources below.
7-Steps To Build Your Weekly Plan
Combined with the part 1 episode, we now have the foundation understanding and tools in place. We know how many sessions of each type you’re looking to fit into each week, and how long they are likely to be. Now let’s look at where they can practically go.
Generally, fighters have greater flexibility regarding placement of weekly resistance and cardio conditioning sessions, whereas Muay Thai sessions are largely timetabled group sessions, or dependent on meeting up with others too.
Using a Weekly Training Schedule Template, that lists days of the week, and splits training into either morning or afternoon/evening periods each day, here are 7-steps to build out your training week…
- Begin by listing any sessions that HAVE to be on certain days and times – these are usually timetabled classes or private 1-2-1 coaching sessions.
- Now, where can you practically place your resistance training sessions to best effect? Remember to use the best practices checklist.
- Where can you place any remaining Muay Thai sessions? – these are usually your solo practice sessions.
- Where can you place any remaining cardio conditioning sessions?
- Which days are you taking as rest days?
- Check that you’ve considered the scheduling training best practices
- Bonus step… If you don’t have enough time, can you get up earlier and fit training in before work or studies? Or, at the very least remember that as long as you are hitting the Minimal Training Model, you are consistently progressing.
Short-term boom-and-bust training, typically between one fight and the next, sees your performance going around in circles. Whereas consistent long-term progress massively out-performs boom-and-bust training. Long-term “awesome” is your goal, not short-term show off.
An Optimal Training Plan Is Flexible!
This is now your best guess at an optimal schedule, the best you can do with what you’ve got. But you’ll need to try it out to see if your assumptions were practical.
If your weekly progress is continually improving – that is, you’re able to hit your high week training targets every 4-week training block, and beginning the next 4-week block feeling good to go after your deload week – then you’ve got it about right.
If not, you’ll need to take a closer look, and run through the planning process again considering what you’ve learned in reality.
And once you’ve found what works, you’ve discovered what’s optimal for you right now. But, life happens – don’t be too rigid!
If it’s not possible to place your sessions exactly where you want them one week, just try to complete as many of the target number of sessions as you can. Doing something is FAR better than nothing.
If you can’t fit all the sessions in one particular week, prioritise the most important sessions for your training block, and get those done, dropping the others. Then try to return to the full schedule as soon as it’s practical.
I hope this look at developing an effective weekly training plan has proven helpful, and if you want to download a copy of the Weekly Training Schedule Template, you’ll find that, along with lots of other resources linked below.
Here are the key points from this week’s video resource…
- 00:00 – Intro
- 01:09 – Why Use a Checklist of 8 Sports Science Best Practices?
- 01:40 – Best Practice 1
- 02:15 – Best Practice 2
- 03:35 – Best Practice 3
- 04:06 – Best Practice 4
- 04:36 – Best Practice 5
- 04:58 – Best Practice 6
- 05:41 – Best Practice 7
- 05:58 – Best Practice 8
- 06:15 – Time Block Sessions
- 07:42 – 7-Steps To Build Your Weekly Plan
- 09:29 – Testing Your Optimal Plan
- 09:58 – An Optimal Training Plan Is Flexible!