High/Low Training Model for Motocross - Part 3
by Joel Younkins
This will be my final segment of the high/low training model in the sport of Motocross. In the first two articles, I discussed the overview idea of how this weekly model should be planned out and different considerations when trying to implement this model into your own program. With a brief overview of these concepts; each day consist of either all high stressors that are placed on high intensity days, while all low intensity stressors are placed on low intensity days. On high intensity days, it will take an average of 48-72 hours to be fully recovered. In that recovery time, low intensity days will be filled in to allow the body to recovery while still accomplishing other areas and levels of work. Remember though, this model is primary used for the more experienced athlete who can handle high stressors in his or her training program. Beginners at training and riding will receive and relay all stressors as high intensity because everything will feel and be hard to them. A much more basic approach must then be utilized to achieve proper training.
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So you are someone who has been racing and training for a number of years or a competitive athlete and are looking for a way to help decrease the risk of overtraining and injuries by training not just harder, but smarter than your competition? The high/low model should be looked at more as an idea, not a distinct concrete systemized plan. Yes you can have a specific plan of sport preparation as the parameters of your program while using this model; this is what I do myself. But this model will be most valuable when customizing it directly to a single individual. I am going to explain some simple ways without getting into programming and planning for specific goals, on how you can implement the high/low model directly into your training by simply listening to your body.
There is some very expensive equipment to explain how the body is working and how well an individual is recovered from a training session. But there are some simple things that the body can do to tell whether you are CNS fatigued or recovered for the training session. It just takes some time to figure out which one is most useful to you and how to apply it to your training.
The first sign of CNS fatigue is increased resting heart rate. This one is most common to determine overtraining. The key here is when you establish a baseline of a resting heart rate, and you notice it being higher, then that day shouldn’t consist of any high intensity work. If you would continue to place high intensity days after your resting heart rate is increased repeatedly, then you can possibly lead to overtraining depending how the individual reacts to the stresses imposed on them. Once you see this as a sign, get in other areas of work. Depending on your objectives, this low intensity day could consist of as little as just foam rolling and stretching to as much as performing your assistance exercises and low intensity practice. Your mind frame needs to switch to everything that day as being kept low/light/easy so your CNS can fully repair itself.
Another great indication is poor grip strength. There are different ways to test this but just simply try to grab something and see how your grip strength feels. A perfect example of this happened just the other day with one of my riders. The day before, he had a high intensity day. So he did his max effort work at the gym, and did some sprints and moto’s all on his high intensity day. With already having a low intensity day planned for him, I asked him how his grip strength was when he first showed up. I already knew his CNS was shot, he said that he could barely hold the knife that morning to cut a tomato. So after seeing a pattern of his adaptations, this was a simple indication that his grip strength significantly decreases when his CNS is stressed. We continued on that day with all low intensity activities so he could recover and have another true high intensity day that week.
Sensitivity to light is another common sign of a stressed CNS. This one definitely pertains to me, especially the second I wake up in the morning. The light will feel extra bright and sensitive to the eyes. This may occur early in the day, or could occur until you are recovered. It just depends on the individual.
Another very common symptom of a stressed CNS is restless sleeping. After a high intensity day (or many athletes may feel this after a competition) is the inability to get a good night of rest. Tossing and turning, waking up in the night, cold sweats, and restless legs are all very common. If this becomes consisted with yourself, then you know that the next day will most likely need to be a low intensity day.
The last test I will talk about in this article is testing your max power output. For this you will need to find a max power exercise. Let’s choose the vertical jump test as it is the most commonly used in this situation because the athlete is unloaded by external resistance. You will again find a baseline of your vertical jump when you are fully recovered. Again, when you are CNS stressed, in theory your power output will be affected. When you would come into the gym and complete your warm up, you would perform the vertical jump soon after. If you are lower than your baseline than that could show signs of CNS fatigue for individuals who find this method to be consistent.
Now please keep in mind that these are just a few things that you can start off with that are absolutely free. Also, remember that no individual reacts to the same stimulus the same way, so everyone will be slightly different in these tests. This will take some time to figure out for yourself by trying different testing methods by finding consistencies through them and how your training goes for that day. You may even find new ways to test your CNS fatigue. I have heard of other individual’s fingers curling up to others having their calluses on their hands hurt. This is just another way to tap into the science of training and making things more specific to you. If you apply these test and theories you will soon start to figure out how your body reacts to given stresses and you will be able to plan out your training in advance because you will be one step ahead of the game. And if all else fails, simply wake up and ask yourself how you feel that day.
About the Author: Joel Younkins Training is dedicated to training and improving performance in not only motocross racers but in all action sport athletes as well. After ending his college football career early with a back injury, Joel returned to the sport of racing where his father Gary Younkins (Multiple 6 Days Gold Winner) created Joel's passion for the sport. Joel is now involved in training athlete's to help improve performance. His professional athletes include: Pro National Racer Mike McDade, GNCC Racer Jason Thomas (XC2 Pro Lites), and ATV GNCC Racer Mark Notman (XC1 Pro) on the racing front as well as action sport athletes Anthony Napolitan (Professional BMX Red Bull Athlete), Monster Jam Driver Joe Sylvester (Bad Habit Motorsports), and Pro MMA Fighter Joey Holt.
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That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.