Common mistakes to avoid when planning​ for your training

Which one goes first, and how uch is enough?

How your training session looks like affects the benefits you gest out of it. Many of us are driven by the idea that more means better, squeezing as many exercises as possible in one training practice. And all this is done with out considering the principles when creating a workout. 

What you do during your workout, how you start, develop and finish a workout depends on what you want to accomplish. Your workout and exercises you chose will differ according to the ability or quality you want to develop, improve and maintain. So, workout meant to developing a explosive strength will be different from the one meant to increase aerobic capacity. 

The problem arises when we try to put all together, and mix things up. And the problem is not so much in mixing, but in putting things in wrong order.  

Depending on the periodization process and the ability we are focused on developing, different training methods can be combined together. At the same time other methods should be avoided or put in the background. 

The most common mistakes during karate practice and what to do about it

Targeting more that two energy systems

It is either Yin or Yang. But in every Yin, there is a small amount of Yang and the other way around. Therefore, if the main focus is on developing aerobic capacity, short high-intensity bursts could help in preparing the body for the central part (aerobic) of the training. It is all about putting everything together in the right order. Building an optimal (for karate) aerobic base is the focus of the preparation period. This is a time for making your foundation. Part of this foundation is solid maximal strength, strength, and aerobic endurance.

The most frequent mistake in this period is the introduction of short high-intensity busts at the END of such training, more precisely longer aerobic activity. Thus, short sprints, jumps of any type of plyometric exercises should NOT be done at this point since it could diminish the effects of the aerobic training and deplete the energy systems. As a result, postpone or slow down the recovery process.

However, it doesn’t mean you should completely avoid these exercises. Instead, you can implement short sprints together with low impact plyometrics at the begging of your workout as part of the warmup. This will support the recruiting of more muscle fibers and enhance the ability of the muscle to produce more power during our main part of the practice.

Keep the warm-up short or long enough without tapping too much in the anaerobic energy system, more precisely the anaerobic glycolytic system. Remember, the main focus is on develop the aerobic capacity, not speed and explosive strength. 

Do not go to crazy with your aerobic endurance and running activities

Remember, you are not a marathon runner. So no one cares how long and far you run. It is undisputed that aerobic capacity plays a great deal, especially in kumite, but this doesn’t mean you should spend more time on the running track then in your dojo. Instead, try to adjust your karate training to focus on your aerobic system. For more information on this topic, have a look at this article.

Plyometric exercises

The most important thing regarding plyometrics is: they train your CNS by increasing it’s firing capabilities. In no instance it should make you breath less and increase your heart rate through the roof.

The most common mistake related to plyometric exercises is that they are done for 15-30 minutes non-stop. NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE REST INTERVALS AND REPETITIONS. Huffing and puffing. Totally WRONG.

Here you can find more information about the correct way to use plyometric exercises.

Inadequate timing and combination of different training modalities

This is another common mistake.

If you choose to work on your explosive strength or aerobic capacity or anaerobic glycolytic capacity or something totally else, do not try to put everything into one workout. This is what many athletes and coaches try to accomplish. The biggest mistake I can notice is the use of additional exercises at the end of karate practice. Often this is related to resistance exercises meant to improve explosive power or speed.

If you decide to incorporate explosive exercises into your karate workouts, such as medicine balls or elastic bands, make sure it is in the begging or middle of the central part of the workout.

And if you really feel like you want to “pump it up”, and spend some more energy, work on your strength endurance.

Pay attention to the exercise’s physiological demand

Different training modalities require different physiological conditions to be successfully implemented. This requires paying attention to how well-rested is your muscular and CNS. Something that can be easily overlooked, especially if having more then one workout a day.

You can not simply decide that you want to do a maximal strength or speed workout without taking into account the former workouts you’ve done that day or the day before. Thus, before speed maximal strength workout, avoid exercises that would deplete the creatine phosphate energy system together with the CNS. This means it is not a good idea to do sprints and plyometrics in the morning, and max strength exercises in the evening.

So, for developing maximal speed, you need to be well-rested. Therefore, introducing plyometrics, jumping exercises, or sprints at the end of your karate session can only a detrimental effect of the training. Instead, add these exercises at the begging while your CNS is still fresh.

Every training for speed and explosive strength should not exceed 30-45 min max.

By adding an extra set and repetitions, you do more harm than good. More is not better in a workout meant to develop your speed. And this is exactly what happens most of the time. How many times I’ve heard: “Let’s DO ONE MORE repetition”.

Remember that you should finish your set or workout with your best repetition. One you start feeling decline in your speed and power output, stop the set. And if you have to, terminate the workout.

This will provide more benefits that simply adding more.

Six katas or kumite matches is all it takes

Right before a major tournament, the main focus in on karate. This period is about polishing out our techniques, doing strategies for attach or defense, etc. The simulation trainings help athletes to encounter the physical and to some extend psychological pressure of a real tournament.

But going more than it is really necessary is a mistake that athletes and coaches do. I was one of them. When talking about simulation, athletes/coaches think it is all about doing whole katas/kumite matches. And what they try to do is squeeze as many performances as possible in an hour and a half. However, last time I’ve checked, one category lasts more than an hour an a half and you do not need to perform 10 katas/kumite matches.

Instead, you need to be able to perform at the highest when necessary and remain focused and alert in-between each performance. Sometimes, there is a period of one hours until your next round.

Therefore, instead of putting everything in less than two hours, try to come up with an adequate approach to your simulation practice. Get your drinks, food, energy bars, and whatever it takes to the gym, and make sure you dedicate enough time to prepare or each round leaving enough time in-between each performance. This will put not only a physical but a psychological pressure, which is exactly what you’ll get during a tournament.

Wrapping up

Well developed and planned periodization is essential to reach your full potential and avoid overtraining. This will keep you focused on what is essential. Through out your training try to fucus the following:

  • focus on one, maximum of two qualities in one workout;
  • avoid plyometrics, sprints or any type of exercises meant to increase your power, at the end of the training;
  • focus on quality over quantity in power and speed workouts;
  • take into account the different physiological conditions when using different training modalities;
  • try to replicate the exact conditions you’ll find on a big tournament, during your simulation workouts;
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