Concentrated Loading and RFD

I know that concentrated loading works for strength in that if one overreaches for 2-3 weeks and then has an unloading week there is an increase in strength. Various powerlifting routines such as those used by Shieko seem to use this with success, but does this work for speed strength? I would think it would as from what I have read, the Bulgarian weightlifting teams used a fairly extreme example of concentrated loading and they did not seem to be by any means slow.

For instance, if there is a 2-3 week mesocycle where the majority of the work is focused on developing speed strength and the frequency/volume of that mesocycle is slightly more than one can recover from between sessions, will there be a bigger supercompensation of speed strength/RFD during the unloading week than if one employed full recovery(or at least as close to full recovery as one can be without tapering) between sessions?

I know that typically, RFD is one of the first things to go when one is fatigued, but will it come back and supercompensate during a deloading week if that is the focus of that mesocycle? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

What do you define as full recovery between sessions?

Yeah I think there is also increase in Speed Strength. Check out Concentrated Strength Loading section in Supertraining. It shows a graph which shows that motor abilities (absolute strength, acceleration strength, speed strength, etc.) increase after the phases of concentrated-strength loading.

Enough that someone is capable of an increase in performance, or at least that supercompensation has occured. Typically 48 hrs between med-hard sessions and 72 hrs between extremely intense/max effort sessions

Thanks, by any chance do you remember if they did a specific mesocycle focused on speed strength, accleration strength etc, or did they train them with close to equal emphasis. It has been a little while since I have read supertraining so I can’t quite remember off the top of my head.

The concentrated strength phase applies to ALL types of strength qualities. Depending on your event, it consists of different types of strength training. The key to achieving the supercompensation effect after the loading phase depends on how well you apply regeneration techniques and preserve your bodys ability to maintain or increase certain hormones. If you do not take care of regeneration then mal adaptation WILL occur.

Avoiding,or at least MINIMIZING the need for regeneration might even be a more productive strategy.
MAXIMALLY if RFD is Your training target.
Costs minimization is always a matter of training efficiency.So the most appropriate question should be : is concentrated loading an EFFICIENT training strategy?
And perhaps: is it THE most efficient one anyway?

I wouldn’t say minimize the need for regeneration BUT setting your target for improvement so as not to disrupt your abilities to execute your main tasks. So, you can build in 2x (3/1 week) loading or 3 x (3/1week) loading towards the same percentage gain in a max strength phase as an example

I think at certain times in the training year it could be effective. I think it is a good way to work on some of the base qualities needed for the particular sport. It might also serve to raise work capacity as well in beginning and intermediate athletes, although at some point, due to the much greater increase in the ability to perform a given task at a higher level, there would eventually be a need for reduced high intensity work. From what I have read here as well as other sources, I would imagine that if one were to make a graph depicting the volume of high intensity work from beginner to intermediate to advanced/elite that it would be a parabolic curve. And if so might it work to start the macrocycle with accumulation/concentrated work and then move towards intensification later in the training cycle? Are these correct assessments?

Also, for sprinting or other sports requiring sprinting at a high level, how does one balance the amount of work within the concentrated block while still performing quality sprint work? Obviously sprinting would come first in the training day when the athlete is least fatigued, but if there is a fair amount of residual fatigue how much will this effect the sprinting quality and where does one toe the line between volume and intensity in a concentrated block?

Later in the training year I would agree that it would be more efficient to have full recovery(48hrs for med-hard and, if it is used at all/needed, 72 hrs for max effort) as there is a greater need to practice the given skills required of the sport at near 100% with little fatigue accumulated. Again, any input would be greatly appreciated.

This study is considering Endurance Sports and Stimuli,but I have reason (from on field personal experience and data collection) to think it contains very interesting indications pertaining training for speed and power too.


Lehmann, M. J., Lormes, W., Opitz-Gress, A., Steinacker, J. M., Netzer, N., Foster, C., & Gastmann, U. (1997). Training and overtraining: An overview and experimental results in endurance sports. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 37, 7-17.

Overtraining is defined as “Training/competition to recovery imbalance.” It primarily is caused by too little time for regeneration. Additional non-training stress sources, such as social, educational, occupational, nutritional, and travel factors and the monotony of training increase the risk of overtraining. Symptoms of overtraining are persistent performance incompetence, persistent high fatigue rating, altered mood state, increased rate of infections, and suppressed reproductive function.

This review considered three studies that evaluated effects on participants.

* ITV (Increase in Training Volume) consisted of daily monotonous long-distance runs with a volume increase of 100% (from 85.9 km/week to 174.6 km/week).
* ITI (Increase in Training Intensity) consisted of tempo-pace and interval runs increasing by 150% along with a volume increase of 37%. However, this included a much lower training load than that of the ITV condition, one rest day per week of no training, and alternation of hard and easy training days to minimize training monotony.
* ITE (Intensive Ergometer Training Study) exposed less adapted individuals to an unaccustomed intensified training load and monotonous programming.

The ITV condition produced consistently depressed performances that persisted for a three-month period. On the other hand, the ITI study increased performances and did not produce an overtrained state. Its added rest period, greater variety of stimulation, and alternating hard and easy sessions better accommodated regeneration and the avoidance of monotony. [An opinion was offered by the authors that monotony might be just as critical in suppressing regeneration of an overtrained state as is training load.]

The ITE study confirmed what the authors had suspected, “that it seems easier to cause a performance decrease in athletes dependent on prolonged monotonous extensive training at a high training load than on intensified training of 1-2 hours per day.” (pp. 9-10) In the ITE study, performances improved over the first three weeks but by week 6 performances and motivation were depressed despite the inclusion of extra regeneration weeks (microcycles).

Proposed Principle 1. An increased risk of staleness is likely after three weeks of intensified or prolonged monotonous endurance training.

Proposed Principle 2. f alternating hard and easy days is considereId and at least two rest days (one per week) are included, there is only a risk of transient performance depression (overreaching) over periods of less than three weeks with an intensified high total training load.

The Autonomic Imbalance Hypothesis

The type of overtraining condition that results from endurance training can be described as an autonomic nervous system imbalance, where the parasympathetic nervous system dominates the sympathetic system. [This is not a new hypothesis: It was proposed by T. K. Cureton (1963; Review of studies to improve cardiovascular fitness at the Physical Fitness Research Laboratory, 1941-1963. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois) that when training was progressing well, the sympathetic nervous system was dominant promoting an athlete to be mildly aroused and vital (a condition labeled “sympatheticotonia”), but in overtraining the reverse occurs and “parasympatheticotonia” takes over.]

This condition is marked by a reduction in basal catecholamine excretion, which indicates a decrease in sympathetic intrinsic activity. However, that symptom only occurs when the overtrained state has progressed extensively. If one waited until this index was revealed then a difficult period and program of rehabilitation would be warranted.

Another “late” outcome of overtraining is elevated noradrenaline plasma levels. Unless overtraining studies progress to the stage where chronic and debilitating overtraining occurs these two hormonal factors might not be evident.

Observed overtraining-related reduced catecholamine sensitivity acts in a manner similar to what would result from using beta-blockers, that is, peripheral fatigue and depressed responses are evident.

Yet another symptom of overtraining is a decrease in neuromuscular excitability. This central nervous system feature is likely to occur “earlier” than the previous two “late” markers. The ITE study showed this decrease while no decrease in sensitivity to catecholamines had occurred.

These factors interfere with the ability to correctly stimulate the appropriate organs/musculature of the body to produce high-level performance movements.


". . . steps in a protective mechanism of target organs against pathological overload during the overtraining process, might be:

(I) a decrease in neuromuscular excitability
(II) a decreased cortisol release
(III) in parallel to slightly increased growth hormone release representing a shift to a more anabolic neuroendocrine responsibility (inhibition of catabolic stress)
(IV) an inhibition of alpha-motoneuron activity
(V) a decrease in beta-adrenoreceptor density in advanced stages which cannot be overridden by an increased noradrenaline stress response, (VI) a decrease in intrinsic sympathetic activity as reflected by a clearly reduced basal catecholamine excretion.

All these mechanisms can be seen as impairment or inhibition of the transmission of ergotropic (catabolic) signals to target organs, which are complemented by intracellular protective mechanisms such as increased synthesis of heat shock proteins (HSP70), as observed in overtrained rowers." (p. 16)

Implication. If training loads are to be increased, the increase should come primarily from increased quality. Such changes have to be coupled with alternating hard and easy training sessions, at least one full day per week on no activity, and close monitoring of the athlete’s response to ensure that regeneration is allowed to occur. Of prime importance, is the content of programming, which should be various and stimulating so as to avoid monotony. Such increases should not be planned for more than three weeks.

This is interesting and important, since training cycles in endurance events have the tendency to be held for longer (e.g., 5 + 1 weeks).

In which case are you are looking for very small increases per training session/mezocycle etc to add up over time?

By minimising the need for regeneration (by not pushing the body too far into the hole) do we also spare the body “energy/resources” in terms of repair and can this energy then be used for something else?

Could this help us to continue to perform at a high level over many years, effectivly increasing our training/competition lifespan?

This may not be significant if the work loads are reasonable. You are less likely to get into CNS fatigue over time with lower intensity work, even when the volume is high- as long as the prolonged overall exposure is reasonable and you don’t “dig a hole for yourself”

How do you ascertain when a stressor is just enough to cause JUST the correct adaptation?

Regeneration does not just involve massage sauna and contrast baths, it also includes the intake of the correct nutrients at the right time. For example not consuming the correct amount of carbs at the right time may lead to hormone down regulation EVEN with stressors percieved NOT to be excessive. Regeneration has to be undertaken at alll times, its not a question of saving yourself to minimise the need for regeneration.

Just enough- or just under- you’ll still get where you want to go a few days later- but if you overtrain- all bets are off!

Sorry, yes, that’s true. I’ve used a 5 + 1 week-scheme with no problems (5 times per week training). I was rather referring to the option examined in the paper, i.e., to a concentrated load -for whatever reason.

This could’ve been paraphrased as such: :smiley:

Dude-“Hey Palmtag!”
P-tag-“What is it? I’m busy watching Buffy.”
D-“What happens if I dump milage on my runners?”
P-“they’ll burn out”
D-“what about giving un-trained athletes way more than they can handle?”
P-“they will cry and pull a hammy or two.”
D-“What about if I variate the days hard-easy-hard-easy, but increase the intensity of the work to more than the athlete’s used to?”
P-“Umm… go find out!”

High volume of weights that is say10-15% greater than other phases in a training year could be deemed as a concentrated strength phase. Refering to CF’s quote above, the translations of Verkhoshansky’s writings are hard to decypher at times but he does make the point that the loads are optimal even at LOWER INTENSITY. You can not increase intensity AND volume at the same rate. Its the high vume and NOT the INTENSITY that seems to cause the phenomenon and so an OPTIMAL intensity seems to be the aim. Accumalation weights probably causes the same phenomenon. BUT no matter the nature of the strength training…regeneration MUST be applied. IMO accumalation weights will give you a similar outcome to concentrated weights phase, and so there is no need to plan a special strength phase a set up of the weeks as described by Charlie and yourself Niko are the way to go. I have planned similar phsaes to yours with relatively low intensity than the usual strength programs and have seen gains.

Martn, can you give us an example or two of both good and bad approaches? You can simplify it a lot say only using squat and bench press.



It is not a matter of saving yourself,it is a matter of using efficient training means and design in order to minimize the need for recovery:minimize the costs and maximize the benefits ADAPTATION wise.
Go back to evolution:any event adding to the need of REST and RECOVERY (sleep) was inefficient from the stand point of bare survival,exposing to further risks (being attacked during sleep).
You can be assured our adaptation mechanisms still reflect our need to survive first and foremost.
It makes at the very least sense to me finding training ways which are primarily efficient,that is provide the strongest stimulus for positive change,with minimum cost.
Why sports training is so arrogant to still raise its head to invent its own rules beyond basic survival reality?