Designing CNS Distribution

I was hoping we might discuss and maybe create a table or template with some generalities as to the alternation/alteration of CNS modalities. CF’s motor unit involvement template is very useful as a guideline and reminder for approx. % of motor unit involvement. However, I am having a difficult time deciding how to alternate/fluctuate different CNS modalities with-in a cycle, and cycle-to-cycle using the Vertical Integration concept. I have been unable to systematically make these decisions.

I know many of the decisions are individual to the athlete, but if that were the case we would just show up to training on that given day and prescribe the work at that moment. I suspect there is some pre planning which will be adjusted to meet the preparedness of the athlete on a given training session.

Some questions I am referring to include:

How do we distribute (using the concept of Vertical Integration) CNS activities in a training cycle?
-all elements are present all the time to different degrees (but how do we establish these degrees)


How do we establish how these activities will be introduced to an athlete?

When we increase one modality how do we change the others, and to what degree?

Are there not some generalities we can draw?

There are some very helpful graphs in the Forum Review (vertical integration & weekly workout schedule) and Vancouver 2004 (effective adaptation period) that can be used to assist in performance planning based upon CNS distribution. I recall dcw23 posting something like this in a speed readiness thread, or something that effect.

However, my guess is, you are looking for more specifics with perhaps some neural pattening?

Yup. the templates are already there.

There are templates showing how one would decide if you increase speed work which other elements should be lowered and to what degree?

I get you. Well there is some mention of this on the Barry Ross thread (last two pages) I will be working on this and other additional material in the near future. Remember though, this is highly individual- and will ruffle lots of feathers in some circles!

To an extent… but there is no formula to follow that is described explicitly in any of thes texts.

If you increase speed work you will have to drop something. Choosing what to drop depends on what is coming next and what qualities you want to perfect inorder to be ready for the next section of training.

The vertical integration graphs show quite clearly how you increase some things (like plyos) as speed work volumes change but in order to really figure it all out you need to have a go at planning some schedules for yourself.

As you move through these schedules you need to think

  1. How is my ability to handle the volume of this high intensity component (and high intensity work in general) changing.

  2. What am I doing next in my progression and how can i prepare for it in order to transition smoothly between skills (for example how do i prepare for block work before i start using blocks? or How do i prepare my body to handle the higher distances of speed maintainance required for longer runs (80-100m) before I get to them).

  3. What is happening to my ability to perform maximally (e.g. if i was to compete at any time during my plan) and how do i ensure it will be maximal at the time i want it to be - tapering.

I think the answers to your questions won’t come from one specific article or piece of information but from your general ability to understand everything to do with training. E.g. make your reading general rather than specific and eventually it will all just click. For me it came by watching all the videos reading all the books and then starting to contribute myself to the forum. At first I couldn’t see how it all fitted together but then suddenly… I think it is the actual thinking about training that does the trick not the reading of information. The more you discuss and share ideas the better you will become.


I think you have established a school of thought in the field of exercise science in the development of speed and power, and your track record (no pun intended) speaks for its self.
To push-ahead knowledge, feathers always have to be ruffled. I am only interested in finding better methods in improving my athletes, and since I have incorporated your vertical integration model (my interpretation), my athletes have had great results.

I also have a much better understanding of how to alternate energy cycles, however, alternating CNS activities (plyos, explosive MB, sprints, weights) more complicated and requires more sophistication. It is this area I was hoping we could discuss/develop more ideas, basic concepts, principles, so to improve training decisions.

Some things to think about and discuss:
You need to assess your performance levels, not only within the season, but over your career.
If you are plateauing in speedwork after speed volume has leveled off, what must change? Of course, eventually, speed volume must drop, but, does it happen first or are other elements adjusted first? Which ones?
Since CNS demand rises exponentially as you move to the left on the F/T curve, how much adjustment of other elements is possible before you must address speed volumes?
If you are plateauing elsewhere, does it matter as long as speedwork is still improving? (in other words, must you prioritize between the other elements?)
Once you have responded favourably to a downwards adjustment in one or more elements, how do you decide if you can edge back up again in any area and for how long?
(Once you reach the World Record level, the answer is that you most probably can’t, but, if you can edge back up anywhere, it would be with the reduced elements on the rightmost of the curve first, moving left as able.)

That’s the start of your course!

All very good points and well explained. Might I add that being able to recognize those individual limits for each training element and properly utilizing alternate paths or systems. Certainly prior to a major plateau.

Ruffle as much as you like CF ALOT of us are looking forward to the new info. LOL

I know for elite athetes that you deal with this is of little concern, but I’d also like to assess how lifestyle issues affect ameteur athletes CNS demands.

I feel a lot of ameteur sprinters and athletes don’t factor their lifestyle stresses and it’s demands on the CNS which are valid too.

Lifestyle affects everyone and all must pay attention to these issues. I mention this in both “Speed Trap” and “CFTS”