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Secret Number 5 : Progressive Adaptation vs Crash Training
Date: 17 Aug, 2001
Contact: Jon Ackland
Phone: 09-480-1422
Secret Number 5 : Progressive Adaptation Verses Crash Training

Progressive adaptation is the traditional way training is carried out. In other words you put a little bit of load on the body, the body adapts, you increase a little bit more your body adapts progressively up to peak.

Crash training this is where you shock the body with something that is very different or with a lot more training load briefly and the body reacts very quickly in almost an emergency mode so the reaction is far greater and performance goes up a lot.

An example of a progressive adaptation is a 40 min run, then 50 min following week, 60 min after that and so on. Crash training would be a 40 min run, then 50mins, then suddenly 90 mins at race pace. Progressive overload can be sustained for long periods of time, 12 to 20 weeks approximately.

Crash training on the other hand can only be used several times in a build up, anywhere between 1-3 times depending on the distance of the event, the bigger the event the less crash training you can do. Crash training is often utilised in for short distance events by using racing but a lot of the long distance athletes, Coast to Coasters, Ironman athletes, Marathoners and Adventure racers could utilise this form of training more effectively.

This is because its physically impossible to use progressive overload by itself to fully bring you up for a 5 day adventure race like Southern traverse. Crash training simulations have to be used.

Consequently what seems to be a useful way to set training up now is to have progressive training all the way through but somewhere between 1-3 bouts of crash training set out at about 2 week intervals back from the event.

Example of someone doing the coast to coast, may do a simulation 2 - 3 weeks out and a further simulation 2 - 3 weeks back from that. Someone building up for a marathon may do a 15k time trial 2 weeks out and a 20km time trial 2 weeks back from that so the combination of progressive overload and crash training can bring the athlete up to their full potential.

So there they are, 5 cutting edge speed secrets that you can use in your program and get a little bit more out of you training. Hope this helps, Jon.


Jon Ackland is an exercise consultant for Performance Lab, who has been training athletes (Novice to Elite) for 15 years. The author of a number of books including the best selling The Power to Perform, as well as The Performance Log, Precision Training and Spinning. .Jon is the director of Performance Lab where he tests and consults people of all levels helping them to train for sport, recreation and health. Ph 09 480-1422, Fax : 09 480-1423 e mail : plab@voyager.co.nz
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