Dissertation Summary – The Effect of Fluid Periodization on Athletic Performance Outcomes

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Dissertation Summary – The Effect of Fluid Periodization on Athletic Performance Outcomes in American Football Players

Dr. Chris Morris

– Regardless of the training stimulus applied to the athlete, it should not be assumed that adaptation occurs at the same rate between individuals. Genetic endowment may be considered the largest determinant of athletic potential

– Beyond genetics, collegiate athletes are subjected to academic loads, technical/tactical loads, psychological loads, and lifestyle loads.

– Each load represents a different stressor and its magnitude is specific to the individual.

– Given the individual variance between athletes, all loads acting on the athlete must be assessed to properly monitor the body’s ability to adapt to functional stress.

– Allostatic loads are specific to the individual and can vary at random times due to the constantly changing environment for the athlete.

– Strength and conditioning professionals can meticulously calculate training loads and present a perfect blend of training modalities to elicit specific physiological adaptations, however, too many environmental factors can disrupt the process of adaptation.

– It is simply impossible to calculate metabolic cost, or allostatic load, resulting from additional external stressors such as academic preparation or relationship disputes.

– These metabolic costs inherently deprive the athlete of resources that could potentially be used towards the functional adaptation response, specifically the resources needed for protein synthesis for the desired training effect.

– To date, many coaches have employed several methods for monitoring the training process. Subjective assessments in various forms provide information to the coach about the athlete’s psycho-physiological state including mood, quality and quantity of sleep, soreness, stress levels, etc (64).

– Although it has been shown to be a reliable method for obtaining information, subjective questionnaires may be influenced by fear of retribution for poor responses.

– Various researchers have used biological markers such as cortisol, testosterone, and creatine kinase for assessment (69) (56), however these methods are invasive, time consuming, and are not descriptive of the athlete as a whole.

– Lastly, many coaches will employ a “watch and see method” by observing reactions to training and analyzing performance outcomes. This method presents problems as the observed variables only reflect external outcomes and negates the internal adaptation cost to achieve such outcomes.

– To properly guide the training process, a comprehensive examination of the athlete must be utilized.

– Additionally, this approach must be non-invasive, non-exhaustive, provide immediate information, and must be performed continuously to control the training process.

– Certain systems provide an assessment of the athlete’s cardiovascular and central nervous system by measuring heart rate variability (HRV) and direct current (DC) potentials of the brain.

– Adding a stress to a stressed system will increase the allostatic cost of maintaining homeostasis and will ultimately lead to extended recovery periods.

– One can think of HRV outcomes as an indicator of the available resources for adaptation to occur (i.e., fuel tank), whereas the DC potential is an indicator of how powerful the engine (brain) is to regulate the adaptation processes.

– The use of AMS (Athlete Monitoring System) makes the training process fluid in the fact that training loads can be altered based upon the objective assessment of the adaptive capabilities of the athlete on a given day.

– Thus, the utilization of an AMS in combination with periodized training could be thought of as “fluid periodization”.

– By controlling the training process through objective integrative physiological measures, athletes will recover sufficiently from training stimuli before applying the next training stimulus, thus increasing performance outcomes.

– Additionally, the modified training volumes and intensities may increase performance outcomes while decreasing the physiological cost.

– The training process must remain fluid rather than fixed and utilize an AMS to provide objective measures of the physiological state so that strength professionals can alter external loads (resistance training and running loads) to match the adaptive capability of the athlete.

– The Omegawave technology and its concept of “readiness”, has impacted the understanding of the training response, specifically in regards to research in the area of human adaptation to the application of stress

– Since collegiate athletes are exposed to a multitude of environmental stressors such as school, work, relationships, etc., it is important to have objective measures of allostatic load.

– However, evidence to support the use of these measures to identify overreaching/overtraining in athletes has been contradictive and inconclusive (120). Discrepancy in literature can be attributed to several factors, however the most conspicuous factor can be attributed to the law of individual differences (86).

– External and internal loads must be properly balanced on an individual basis to ensure adaptive reactions occur and the use of AMS may offer objective measures of quantifying internal loads.

– Through the use of fluid periodization, controllable external loads (frequency, intensity, time, and type of resistance training) can be manipulated to achieve load balance.

– heart rate fluctuations are a consequence of the dynamic interaction between systems based upon the dominant metabolic need at the time.

– The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is predominately concerned with the regulation of bodily functions, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, digestion, etc.

–  There are two divisions of the ANS, sympathetic and parasympathetic, both of which regulate heart rate.

– Sympathetic nerves are often associated with the “flight or fight” response, in which the heart rate speeds up and vasoconstriction ensues.

– Parasympathetic nerves represent the “rest and digest” statement and help to slow down heart rate.

– the status of the ANS and its reflection on heart rate serve as an indicator of the physiological stress on the system.

– Russian scientists view the cardiovascular system as an indicator of the adaptation reactions of the whole body (11).

– The activation of the pituitary-adrenal system in response to a non-specific stressor, and the reaction of the sympathoadrenal system is marked by sympathetic innervation of the heart.

– The magnitude of innervation is indicative of tension within the regulatory systems and is an essential response to ensure adaptive processes are activated.

– Healthy subjects, with sufficient functional reserves, will respond to a stressor within the standard range of regulatory system tension.

– However, when exposure of the stressor is prolonged, adaptation reserves are depleted, and the state of exhaustion is developed. This is concurrent with Selye’s general adaptation theory and its role in pathological states.

– The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of fluid periodization models on athletic performance outcomes in D-1 American football players.

– Models were dictated by the assessment of the athlete’s functional state as indicated by the Omegawave readiness output

– The treatment group adhered to a fluid periodization model in which volume or intensities of exercise sessions were modified based upon Omegawave’s assessment of the athlete’s functional state.

– The control group was not assessed with the Omegawave AMS and adhered to a similar block periodization regimen as planned by the Strength and Conditioning Staff.

– Based on the HRV and DC potential assessment an overall athlete readiness classification was assigned. This classification is represented by three colors consistent with a hierarchal stop light interpretation approach.

– Athletes classified as green could participate in any activity without restriction.

– Athletes classified as yellow reflected one of the regulatory systems, HRV or DC Potential, was operating at a reduced level.

– Athletes classified as red would seek active rest or medical attention.

– Changes made to an individual’s workouts were recorded so volumes of workloads could be adjusted accordingly.

– Significant improvements were found in the treatment group for vertical jump, vertical power, broad jump, and aerobic efficiency.

– These performance outcomes occurred with a concurrent reduction in resistance training volume (p < .01).

– There were no significant differences found between groups for anthropometric measures, running volumes, triple broad jump, or overhead throw.

– To our knowledge this study is the first of its kind to use physiological feedback to assess the functional state of strength and power athletes and to make subsequent changes to the daily prescribed exercise volumes and intensities.

– HRV guided training may facilitate enhanced performance outcomes at a reduced volume of work.

– The key to these studies and even the present study is that an auto-regulatory element exists in which training is altered based upon some physiological or psychological assessment of the athlete.

– The premise of periodization is based on the assumption that the rate of compensation and supercompensation is universal among athletes, however it has been established that genetic differences account for up to 50% of performance variance (68), thus the rate at which supercompensation occurs can vary significantly between athlete subject pools.

– Additionally, it has been shown that environmental stressors such as lack of sleep, academic stress, social stress, etc. will significantly affect performance outcomes (111, 147).

– Fluid periodization and auto-regulatory progressive resistance exercise may provide the necessary insight to account for genetic variance and environmental stressors.

– Many studies have employed the use of the RESTQ in a variety of athletic populations (82) (37). Jurimae et al. (81) studied the effect of increasing training loads on markers of psychological and physical stress in competitive rowers (82). Significant relationships were observed between training volume and fatigue scores (r=0.49), sleep quality (r=0.58), and somatic complaints (r=0.50). Additionally, relationships were observed between cortisol and fatigue (r=0.48). These relationships are often paralleled with over-reaching and overtraining states, which have been shown to produce stale or under-performance results in athletes (123) .

– Additionally, strong relationships between cortisol and decreased HRV have been reported in overreached and overtrained subjects (62) which validates the use of HRV in the present study.

– Decrements in physical performance were often observed in subjects who reported increased feelings of fatigue, energy, and general stress and were associated with the accumulation of creatine kinase, cortisol, and catecholamine levels.

– Training without proper monitoring techniques could explain why the control group significantly underperformed compared to the experimental group as testing sessions occurred following an intensive 8 week training program.

– Many will argue that Selye’s work is not relevant to normal training stimuli, however his work illustrates that every organism has a certain threshold for adaptation or resistance to work loads and once that threshold has been violated then decompensation or overtraining can occur.

– From Selye’s work we can assume that every organism has a certain level of adaptation energy or reserves and that adaptation to non-specific stress will occur as long as resources are available.

– On any given day a student athlete’s allostatic load can vary depending on several factors such as exams, homework, relationship tension, or social media pressure.

– Thus, if an athlete has experienced a significant allostatic load prior to a training stimulus, their resources for adaption may be significantly reduced depending on the magnitude of the incurred stress.

– Having the resources available for adaptation are extremely important for longitudinal success

– The human organism is dynamic and should not be examined in a reductionist manner, however it should be viewed as a holistic integrated unit.

– The DC potential is the first method in which the integrative activity of the organism can be evaluated. The use of it in this study may have played a significant role in the success of the treatment group.

– each individual is their own genetic anomaly which responds and adapts to environmental stressors in a unique and unpredictable manner.

Fluid periodization is meant to account for said environmental factors and allows internal and external loads to accommodate each other, thus ensuring optimal adaptation.

– The present study highlights that volume and intensity may not be the ultimate factor when designing periodized programs, yet signifies that the importance of the timing in which the appropriate training stimulus is applied.

Taken by Matt Gebert