Base training is a system or style of training that focuses on building your foundational fitness. This approach has been successfully implemented for the better part of two decades and has been proven to be one of the most significant advances in the field of exercise science.
Side note: If you’re not familiar with the concept and would like to take a dive in the history and science behind base training. Check out our article discussing the base training phenomenon here.
Okay, so now that you’re all caught up and up to speed on the background of everything base training related. Let’s explore the implementation of this type of training for:
As an athlete, fitness, conditioning or whatever you’d like to call it, is of cardinal importance to any sport. Regardless of the level of competition, without a decent level of conditioning, you cannot be successful in your sport. This, unfortunately is a universal fact and makes base training even more significant tool in your preparations as an athlete.
Now, it should be noted that different sports require different levels of fitness and types of conditioning programs. I mean the needs of a triathlete is significantly different than that of a let’s say a 100m sprinter. However, the principle remains the same, base training focuses on the foundational aspect of fitness. Therefore it can be discussed, explored and implemented in an almost general way for most if not all individual sports. The length and intensity of your specific base training program would obviously differ based on individual needs and goals.
So based on that you need to assess yourself by asking the following questions:
Your goal should be realistic. I can’t begin to count the amount of times athletes set unrealistic goals and can’t understand why they aren’t successful in attaining said goals. The fact of the matter is a realistic goal is something that will force you to get out of your comfort zone and proceed to push you to a higher level of conditioning. But the goal should also be relatively speaking, attainable within your specific training context.
For example, if you’re currently training for a half marathon and your personal best time is let’s say 1 hour and 30 minutes. Then trying to hit a sub 60 minute half marathon in 8 weeks is seriously unrealistic. But if you’re aiming for a 70 minute half marathon, this is very much attainable by implementing a proper base training program into your current training regime.
Let’s be honest, most of us overestimate our levels of fitness. How fit you truly are can depend on a number of factors and may be influenced by as much as a high carbohydrate diet or your hydration habits.
That being said, you don’t need a masters degree in sport physiology to gauge your own fitness levels within a reasonable amount of accuracy. All you need is to identify a few fitness tests that you can successfully do and well do them, repeatedly. By testing your fitness levels every second week during your base training you can consistently track your progress. Two easy, cost effective and accurate-ish tests you can do is a YOYO repeated running test or a Bronco shuttle test. These tests will allow you to track your aerobic fitness gains and give you an idea whether or not your base training program is in fact working.
Goal setting needs to be realistic, we’ve covered that, but the flip side to that coin is that goal setting needs to be tangible as well. What this means is you need to be really specific with this process. What do you want to accomplish when it’s all said and done. Is it a better time, stronger lifts, better overall performance etc. Figure it out, right it down and continuously revert back to it, to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Now that we have the mini motivational chat out of the way, let’s get practical. For individual athletes competing in individual endurance sports, base training can easily be implemented into your training. Because base training is a foundational approach that utilizes submaximal efforts and gradual load increases, you can easily add base training to any current training regime you might currently be following.
Assess your weekly training load, and set aside 2 -3 days exclusively for base training. Whether you’re running, cycling, swimming or doing all 3, this would be the most practical way to go about it.
Again, if you want a bit more in depth information and maybe a cool example of a base training program, head on over to a previous post we did on this topic.
In the case of team sports the fitness and conditioning needs differ considerably from sport to sport. Take the differences between a sport like rugby and football (soccer). The individual demands for players differ greatly between these two codes.
However, the foundational aspects with regards to their fitness, specifically aerobic fitness remains the same. This is why implementing base training into a training regime might prove to be beneficial in team sports.
So where exactly do you incorporate base training? Off season? Pre or post season? The ideal situation in our opinion would be the off season leading into pre season. As you will be recovering from the rigours of the season and you might be wanting to take a little break to rest and relax. Base training is ideal in the sense that you can take it easy over your break but at the same time maintain a certain level of fitness without putting any significant strain on your body.
The other option is, depending on how long the duration of your specific season is, you could add some base training in season. As a season progresses the emphasis on conditioning takes a back seat to the technical aspects of the game such as game plans and individual skills. Incorporating base training during this period allows you to maintain the athlete's foundational fitness without having to be too concerned about overtraining and or fatigue.
Let’s say you’re one or two events into your season and you’re simply not performing at a level you expected to perform. And then the stark reality dawns on you that you’re simply not fit enough. Now we can go back and forth theorizing on why exactly your conditioning is lacking, but at this point does it really matter? What matters now is your season, and how base training can help save it.
By incorporating a dual program that runs a base training regime in combination with your in season program, you will be able to increase (in theory) your conditioning while managing your loads during a packed schedule.
This method will require you to be significantly uncomfortable for roughly 6-8 weeks of a standard 16-20 week competition season. Why are you uncomfortable you might ask? Well, you’re essentially trying to implement an off season into your in season. This will require a meticulous approach to your programming with a tight schedule, precise diet and supplementation and some old school perseverance.
By adding in the extra load of base training, you can safely stimulate nervous system responses which in turn will lead to improved fitness performance. It will be a lot of extra work, but it will be the right type of work in the correct amounts. Remember, anyone can run until they drop, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Okay, I must admit this all sounds a bit excessive, but let’s be honest if you’re reading this you’re probably in need of some help. So my question to you is? How badly do you want to improve your fitness? The choice is yours.
Why Base Training?
The whole point of this article is to demonstrate the potential benefits of incorporating this training method into your program. Why? Because it works. It really is that simple, base training is easily and cost effectively done, it’s fairly straightforward to understand with fairly limited technical aspects. And top of everything it’s really good for you and your body.
The only downside to base training is the fact that it can be a bit time consuming. But that all depends on your personal schedule. But hey, a small sacrifice for significant gain seems like a win-win scenario if you’d ask me. Don’t you think?
Base training is a system or style of training that focuses on building your foundational fitness. It can be successfully implemented in individual sports, team sports and even in the middle of your competitive season. Regardless of your specific needs or individual goals, aerobic base training is an effective tool that you can add to your arsenal, in order to improve your performance… significantly. Because when it’s all said and done we all just want to improve. So why not utilize a proven training method that almost guarantees results.