What it is and why you need one.
To create a successful training plan you need to be able to take something that is is really complicated and full of detail and turn it into something that's simple and easy to follow and understand.
In order to do this you are going to have to break down all the things that we have covered in the other articles so far, then you are going to have to craft your formula based on this.
How to start making your training plan
Training plans within different skills can look very different but there are fundamental rules that apply across the board.
First you need to consider time - how long do you have in in a week or a month or a year to dedicate to your training?
Once you have established this, you need to decide where your priorities lie. Is training your number one priority? Do you need to factor in your work schedule into your training schedule? Family life? You need to be realistic to this and not give up responsibilities in other areas of your life, you may need to sacrifice some of your own free time - If you want to take your skills the highest level it's unlikely you will be able to do so training less than 5 days a week.
Secondly, consider that a training day may not necessarily be just doing your skill; it could be strength and conditioning, it could be recovery work, it could be learning techniques, education, you can have heavy sessions or light sessions and so on. Not all 'training sessions' are made equal, nor should they be.
Intergrate the Goals List
Once you have an idea of how much time you are going to be able to dedicate to your training, you need to recall your goals list that we created earlier.
You want to start the process of seeing how your long-term goals split up and fit into shorter and short term goals. Then how you are able to slot into to the time that you have to train.
If you are able to put a long-term goal into your your calendar as a rough date to work towards, from there you can work backwards and put smaller goals to make up this long-term goal.
If my long-term goal was to be a marathon runner - I could put running a marathon on a date around a year from now. From there I could put a half marathon in around 6 months time, a 10k in around 2 months time and so on. From here I have some good tangible objectives to create a even more specific plan accordingly.
At this point you have to realise if the time you have allocated is actually realistic to achieving the goals that you want. At this stage you may have to do some micromanaging and move goalposts/restructure your time to actually see what's possible and what's not.
As we discussed with the goal setting article the more specific you are with your goals the more you are able to reduce them into smaller and easier to manage chunks - The hardest goal to achieve is the one that has no boundaries.
How long should your training plan be
The length of your training plan depends on how long you can control the future for. Who knows where you will be or what you'll be doing in 3 years time. If you were able to plan for years in advance then that would be amazing, but this isn't realistically the case. Lives can take dramatic and unexpected turns, it's quite difficult to make an accurate training plan more than a few months in advance.
Due to this, I suggest planning your training plans in quarters - four periods of only three months at a time.
Three months is a long time in terms of training, you can make significant improvements if you do something for months at a time.
Make Your Training Plan
Lets create a rough sketch of your first plan.
- First think about how long it's going to take to get to your long-term goals. Whatever date you choose, write that down in your calendar - now break that long term goal into shorter term goals, or 'stepping stones'. These shorter term goals should be every month or so and will stretch back to today.
It's important to remember that nothing can be set completely in stone, you should always be ready to adapt and change your plans at any point.
- Now in front of you you should have a rough long-term plan spanning over many months. Next you're going to write a plan for each day for the next three months and leave space to write details of what you will be doing on each.
- First fill out the days that are going to be set according to the time you have. For example, if the training centre only opens on Mondays and Tuesdays then put training at the training centre on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you work during the day then you will need to plan around this.
- Set from here the first thing you should write are the sessions where you train your specific discipline. If you are are doing Jiu-Jitsu these are the times when you are going to Jiu-Jitsu class, if you are an archer then these are the times that you are going to the archery range and so on. You should aim to include at least 5 of these specific sessions each week.
- Next, you need to see if the content of these specific training sessions align with your long term goal or not. If not what is there you can do about that. If there is any way to make these sessions 'align better', then see what you can do about this also.
- Next you need to add accessory sessions on top of what you've already got. These could be strength and conditioning, flexibility, physio, tape study, etc. Decide what you need to include that's specific to you. You should also include some of these sessions outside of your primary training sessions, maximise the time in the week snd optimise your body and mind.
Now you have on your training plan:
- Specific "main" training sessions.
- Accessory sessions.
- Unavoidable responsibilities / life tasks.
Now that these are all scheduled for the next 3 months, you have far less you need to think about and you can really focus in. Also use your energy to analyse how the plan is actually working, is it going as expected, did you have to change something, etc.
Within a session
We have spoken a lot about the overall long plan but what about within the training session itself. Your primary training session: the chess players' chess club, the karate kid's dojo, the swimmers' swimming lessons.
These make up the bulk of our training and are the fundamental - "main parts" - it's extremely important to get the content within them right. There are many different elements to teach within any physical discipline and it can be difficult to get the balance right.
An example of this is a MMA fighter who trains 6 days a week, twice a day. They do 9/12 of these sessions as their primary sessions and the other 3 as strength and conditioning days. 6/9 of these primary sessions are kickboxing and the other 3/9 are live sparing and MMA drills.
Although this fighter has a lot within his training plan, he has not allocated a single session to ground work: wrestling, jujitsu, etc. This leaves a gap in his game that could potentially be exploited by an opponent.
These are the sort of things you should look for within your plan, are you missing anything? Is this giving you what you need to have a "complete game"?
Other things within this area are quality of instructors, atmospheres, colleagues and that sort of thing. If for example your sessions would be better with another teacher who could teach you more, maybe you have to change gyms.
With all of this in mind and keeping the adaptable attitude, ready to change at any point, complete your plan and get started today!
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