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The Foundation Of A Training Programme

When I'm consulting with a client, a common question that usually pops up is, "What makes a good training programme?" The answer is simple, albeit a little frustrating. "It depends" is the short and simple answer. After a few involuntary scowls, I open up and share more information. The effectiveness of a training programme depends on a lot of different variables, including its ability to help athletes reach their goals and improve their level of fitness. But above all else, a training programme's success depends on how consistently it is implemented. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that to be an expert at anything, you need to perform 10,000 hours of practice. Putting in two hours of training per day (far more than most people can reasonably expect to be able to put in due to time constraints) can still take up to 14 years to reach that number. While the figure is open to debate (given that some people have an advantage thanks to their genetics), the claim that extensive training is necessary to achieve elite levels remains unabated. Unfortunately, the trouble with humans is that we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. Many, for instance, become sidetracked by passing fads such as novel training methods or equipment. While these may not be necessarily bad, adding them to a training programme without proper justification may disrupt the continuity of the training programme. Overtraining, which can lead to fatigue or injuries, is another potential disruptor, as is a constant change of goals. There are, of course, other foundational principles upon which a training programme is built. However, these principles are straightforward and easy to grasp, such as progression, where the programme is adjusted so that the intensity and duration are increased gradually, and specificity, wherein training is planned in accordance with the goals that the athlete and coach have established. Even so, the underlying principle that a training programme should be founded on consistency remains unchanged.


Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. Little, Brown.

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