Building Performance: Periodising High Load vs Low Load for Athletic Performance – Campbell McIntosh

For an athlete that has a training schedule that is tightly packed with so many training sessions, they cannot afford to miss training due to fatigue or being at risk of injury due to overtraining, so when looking to develop the strength and power of an athlete as an S&C coach you choose the “biggest bang for your buck” – minimum dosage for the maximum results – when programming.

While there is evidence suggesting that low load – high reps (30% 1RM) training protocols results in similar strength and muscular adaptation to high load, low reps (80% 1RM) training protocols, the increased amount of peripheral fatigue experienced due to the increased number of repetitions required to achieve the training volume would be detrimental to the athlete being effective in the subsequent training sessions required to complete in the training week due to the increased recovery time needed.

Strength and power athletes require Type II muscle fibre development, and this is achieved using higher training loads and lower reps as this produces greater type II muscle fibre recruitment and muscle cross-sectional area development. Low load training increases the Type I muscle fibre recruitment, which is hard to understand why an athlete would complete this training style given the training requirements necessary to be successful.

As a Strength and Conditioning Coach, periodised programming is the best way to ensure the development of an athlete, the inclusion of low training loads, high repetitions would be difficult in pre-season as well as in-season due to the increase in training and performance intensity throughout the playing season, so if it was to be included, it would be best used as a weekly single training session used in conjunction with a single high load, low rep session in the off-season which the athletes are on holidays enabling the athlete to maintain a minimum training load while away from supervised training.

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