Residual Training Effects: How to Peak

If you remember the triangle that make up the components of athleticism, you know that there are multiple factors that make up a good athlete.

They need to be conditioned, strong, powerful, agile, and fast to get an edge over the competition. What people may not know is that, when you train these adaptions, they only last for a period of time before you have to train that quality again or start to have a detraining effect. This is called a residual training effect, popularized in Triphasic Training from University of Minnesota’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, Cal Dietz. *The following images are all taken from this book

In his book he talks about how to peak all these qualities at the same time and introduces us to his periodization strategy, block periodization. Block periodization focuses on training a particular quality, i.e. strength, for a certain time (2-6 weeks) before working on another quality, i.e. power or speed. These qualities stack like blocks as strength improves power and the combination of strength and power improves speed. However, not all these qualities have the same residual training effect. Which means, if done incorrectly, you could peak at the wrong time and not be at your best during competition. Below is a list of the athletic qualities, and how long the adaptions last before you lose them.

In summary, gains from:

  • work capacity and strength last for ~30 days
  •  anaerobic endurance lasts for ~18 days
  • strength endurance/power lasts for ~15 days
  • speed lasts for ~5 days.

If you spend 4 weeks on each quality and start your first month of training working on speed, before training the other qualities, those improvements in speed will be long gone by the time you reach the end of the program.  3-4 months of your training could be wasted if you chose the wrong quality to train at the wrong time. Luckily, knowing the residual training effects, and using the pyramid I’ve shown earlier, you have a clear and easy way to see what order you should train each quality. Here is Cal Dietz’s visual that helps you envision this idea.

Here we can see he has 3 blocks of training, accumulation, transmutation, and realization. The order is set up in a way so that each quality is peaked right when competition starts. The accumulation phase consists of work capacity and strength, which requires high volume of training to increase those qualities, hence the term accumulation. The transmutation phase is essentially his power phase, consisting of explosive movements and agilities. Realization phase is the speed phase, which consists of light weights moved extremely fast and involves sprint training. I essentially break it down as GPP (general physical preparedness), hypertrophy or basic strength (depending on sport and individual), strength, power, and then speed. By the end of the program, athletes will be able to increase performance in each quality and peak them at the right time based on how long each residual effect lasts.

Now you might be thinking “I play multiple games in a season; how do I achieve multiple peaks?” Here is how that would look like to achieve this. First, I want to say that it is impossible to peak for every single game or competition in a season. You want to highlight important games/competitions that you want to be the most peaked for.

Hopefully, what you learned here is that it’s important to organize your training in a way that peaks all the qualities you want at the right time. Each training adaption has certain residual training effects and needs to be trained in the correct order to achieve maximum potential. Always train with your goals in mind so that your training program can reach those goals effectively. Understand how to train each athletic quality (either through a qualified coach or do your research), when and how long to train them, and you’ll see new gains in work capacity, hypertrophy, strength, power, and speed like you’ve never seen before!

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