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Shock microcycles

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A microcycle is the shortest training cycle, typically lasting a week with the goal of facilitating a focused block of training. 

The structure of a microcycle depends on the general  goals of the athlete and on the specific aims of the training cycle and according to their aim in the general training plan a microcycle can be: developmental, shock, recovery–regeneration, and peaking and unloading (1).

SHOCK MICROCYCLES (or striking microcycles)

A shock microcycle contains a sudden increase of training demands beyond those previously experienced (1). These microcycles may also be considered as planned overeaching or concentrated loading.

Fig.1. Variations of shock microcycle. Bompa, T. (1)

Those microcycles are also used during the preparatory period and may have three or four high demanding workouts. This kind of microcycle is used to push the athlete to further limits in order to stimulate adaptation and reach higher performance levels. Have to be used carefully, since sudden changes in intensity or volume of the training can lead also to unwanted conseqences of training. Therfore those kind of microcycles must be handled with care.

Shock microcycles include more than one maximum (two to three) load volume sessions. However, when more than one session a day is programmed, four maximum load sessions can be included. Usually these types of microcycles involves between 7 (Platonov, 2001) to 10 days (Siff, 2004).

Table 1. Training session characteristics (3).

As general rule shock microcycles should be followed by regenerative microcycles (3). In Fig.2. we can see an example how athlete completed recovery microcycles (in green) after shock microcycles (in red).

Fig.2. Weekly training internal load during off-season macrocycle in top Chinese judo athlete. Shock microcycles (red) and recovery microcycles (green).
Fig.3. Season periodization and shock microcycle periodization in a judo athlete at Shanghai Judo Team.

Judo training camps are a unique opportunity for judoka from all around the world to train with, observe, and learn from each other. An example of a shock microcycle is presented in Fig.3. In this example we can see the training periodization and the training load of Shanghai Team during preparation for China National Games. The shock microcycle was a training camp held in Shandong (China) where several regional teams attended. During this camp athletes completed 5 randori sessions in 4 days, with high training load, plus 3 technical sessions, 2 strength sessions and 1 conditioning session, with lower training load. In the “Weekly training load” chart we can see that on week 11 training load (internal) was the highest in this macrocycle (Fig.4).

Fig.4. Real example about daily, weekly and season internal load of a judo athlete at Shanghai Judo Team. Daily training load during shock microcycle in the preparation of China National Games 2021.

In our case, our team have athletes with different levels, ages and sex, so joining these training camps is crucial to increase the training load to push the athletes to further limits in order to stimulate adaptation and reach higher performance levels. Also we attend to these training camps where we have the chance to train with judokas we might eventually face in competition. In Fig. 5. we can see the different training camps (shock microcycles) completed by Shanghai Judo Team during the preparation of China National Games. Although 4 training camps were included in the training plan (Fig.3), finally we cancelled last one due the covid restrictions in China in that moment (Fig.5).

Fig.5. Weekly training internal load during the season. In red, shock microcycles (training camps) completed by Shanghai Judo Team athletes.

In most judo training camps, the training schedule is decided by the organiser. However, the coach must decide what is optimal periodisation for his team, and this could mean adapting the weekly schedule to suit this. Strength sessions, technical sessions and active rest & recovery sessions can be worked in alongside the organiser’s fixed randori sessions, so that the team’s periodisation can be maintained. In this example shown in Fig.6. we can see the training plan during the Benidorm EJU Training Camp 2023. In this case athletes completed 4-days training camp (Tuesday to Friday) plus one preparatory competition (Saturday).

Fig.6. Example of 7-days “in-season” shock microcycle including 6 randori sessions during Benidorm EJU Training Camp 2022.
Fig.7. Chinese Team squad training load during Benidorm EJU training camp 2023.

Conclusions

  • Shock microcycles are used to push the athlete to further limits in order to stimulate adaptation and reach higher performance levels.
  • As general rule shock microcycles should be followed by regenerative microcycles.
  • Due its high levels of physical demand it is recommended not to use shock microcycles when training biologically young athletes.
  • In judo is normal to join training camps during shock microcycles to push athletes to train harder and train with judokas with different styles and they might eventually face in competition.

References

  1. Bompa T. Periodization. Theory and methodology of training. Human Kinetics, Chicago, IL. 1999.
  2. Lyakh, Vladimir & Mikolajec, Kazimierz & Bujas, Przemysław & Litkowycz, Ryszard. (2014). Review of Platonov’s “Sports Training Periodization. General Theory and its Practical Application” – Kiev: Olympic Literature, 2013. Journal of human kinetics. 44. 259-63. 10.2478/hukin-2014-0131.
  3. Naclerio, Fernando & Moody, Jeremy & Chapman, Mark. (2013). Applied periodization: A methodological approach. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise. 8. 350-366. 10.4100/jhse.2012.82.04.

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