Towards a new concept of training, part 1

A lot has been published in recent years about the training of athletes. Most of it came from the field of exercise physiology and many coaches accepted this information rather uncritically. Short-term experiments with small groups, often consisting of average athletes or sport students have been tested within in a laboratory setting. And most of the time only a few parameters were manipulated in order to avoid interference. E.g. the effect of drop jumps on jumping height. But in reality our athletes do not only do drop jumps, they run, swim, cycle, walk, lift weights, play games, go to school, work, travel, have different diets, etc.


Also we see the influence of the therapists, the physio’s and all the other muscle, tendon, connective tissue, and joint specialists, coming from the field of pathology and dysfunction.


It’s obvious we are doing something wrong if we choose to work with physically dysfunctional athletes, if we create pathology or are not able to maintain their physical and mental health.


Let’s make it clear, if a need a surgeon in my team, I am doing something wrong!

One of our main objectives is making our athletes better, stronger, more robust and healthier, if it was only because the sick or injured athlete seldom wins!

And here is a lot to gain for us, look around to see the amount of at injuries, overtraining and underperformance.


Idea 1: nothing in training makes sense outside the scope of adaptation and survival.

Training is basically a matter of organized, planned, dosed, timed and consciously bringing our athletes out of the homeostasis, their mental and physical comfort zone, on a daily base.


We do this because we know or more often we hope,  that the body and the mind have mechanisms to bring the body back within the homeostatic bandwidth, simple: we think the athlete will recover from our training sessions somehow. (we do not have a full grip on how much and when though)


Idea 2: we might have to look at a bio-psycho-social model of training.

-As no man is an island, the athlete’s functioning cannot be properly understood outside of their (social) context or environment. Stressors outside of training have a large effect on the training responses. (1,2,3,4)


-Since body and mind are much closer related than we ever thought also the psychological (cognitive as well as emotional) aspects or training are important as well.


Idea 3: biological adaptation and stress science are important pillars for our understanding of the training processes


Idea 4: less information has to derived from pathology, dysfunctions, limitations and therapy and more from  salutogenesis and from performance sciences


Idea 5: most information stems from outdated generalizations and averaged data, personalized training cannot be based on statistical averaging, but has to be based on individual dynamics


Idea 6: more attention should be given to learning, adapting and to the abilities of the regulation of biological processes. The focus should be on the prospect and the rate of development of an athlete. An example: we have a young athlete that runs the 100 meters first time in 10.80. Great isn’t it?  Well it depends if he trained 6 times a week for that or it’s the first time he ever saw ran a sprint. But look at this, suppose he ran 10.80 untrained but even with training his best ever would be 10.30 and the other guy that trained 6 times a  week and ran 10.80 would run 10.10 in the end……..


So I believe that initial performance level or training status don’t tell us about the athlete’s ultimate performance.


A current generation of coaches is living in the “now”; they forgot to learn from the past and are too busy to look into the future. They hardly know landmark research and historical developments and do not develop a vision for the future based on the latest state-of-the-art technologies and developments in many fields.  I do not mean to say they have to get stuck in  the past on follow all future developments, but they have to realize where they are in terms of knowledge, where they came from and where they have to go to, in this aspect. Just like all of us have to.

Author Henk Kraaijenhof his Blog


Also more about this subject in my presentations:


Saturday June 14 and Sunday June 15, 2014, in  Munchen, Germany at the International Performance Training Conference;  more information:

Thursday July 4: seminar: Methodology of Training 2.0 in Amsterdam, Holland, more information soon on this blog and the website


Both filled with new concepts and information!

Kraaijenhof, H: Towards a revision of the foundations of training; Richting-Sportgericht Vol.47. no.1, 1992, pg. 44-46. (in Dutch)


Kiely, J: New Horizons for the Methodology and Physiology of Training Periodization;

Block Periodization: New Horizon or a False Dawn?; Sports Med. Vol.40, No.9, pg. 803-807.


Kiely, J: Periodization Paradigms in the 21st Century: Evidence-Led or Tradition-Driven?;

Int. J. Sports Physiology Performance, No.7, 2012, pg.242-250


Tschiene, P: Neue Impulse zur Theoriegründung für die Leistungssteigerung im Wettkampfsport; Leistungssport No.5, 1999, 19-22.


Tschiene, P: Konditionstraining – Theoriebildung nur auf der Basis von Adaptationsmodellen; Neue Entwicklung in der theoretischen Fundierung von Training; Leistungssport No.6, 1996, pg.13-17.


1- Polman, R; Houlahan, K;  A Cumulative Stress and Training Continuum Model: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Unexplained Underperformance Syndrome; Research in Sports Medicine Vol.2, 2004, pg. 301–316.


2- Bartholomew, J.B; Stults-Kolemianen, M.A; Elrod, C.C; Todd, J.S: Strength gains after resistance exercise:  the effect of stressful, negative  life events;  J Strength Cond Res Vol.22, 2008, pg.1215–1221,


3- Allen, D.L;  McCall, G.E; Loh, A.S; Madden, M.C; Mehan, R.S: Acute daily psychological stress causes increased atrophic gene expression and myostatin-dependent muscle atrophy; Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol Vol.299, 2010, R889–R898.

4- Ruuska,P.S;  Hautala, A.J; Kiviniemi, A.M; Mäkikallio, T.H; Tulppo, M.P:  Self-rated mental stress and exercise training response in healthy subjects; Frontiers in Physiology, Clinical and Translational Physiology Vol.3, 2012, pg.2-7.