The Rebuild Cycle
In their Seminar “Practical Strength for Trainers”, Dave van Skike and Sara Jenkins Fleming present a simplified version of periodization which makes understanding the basic process simple; we have the recovery/ rebuild phase, the training phase, and the competition phase. After we peak, we need to rebuild.
The rebuild cycle includes some downtime from serious training and then a return to building basic movement skills. Immediately after the competition, I like to let my lifters have a week off. I often require it. If they feel the need to workout, they can, but they cannot do any snatches, cleans, jerks, squats, or pulls/ variations of the lifts (I’ll let strongman type variations in since they won’t distract from our technical progress at this point in the rebuild). Taking this week off allows athletes to recovery emotionally and psychologically from the stress of preparation they just did. The week off also allows for the beginning of extinction to occur. Extinction is the process by which an athlete loses some refinement of technique. What an athlete loses in this short period are the rough edges of technique that developed over the course of peaking; losing those edges allows us to further improve technique the next cycle.
The second part of the rebuild cycle is movement education. We’ll look back on the chronic injuries, specifically noting how they developed and how they changed training. We’ll also look back on acute injuries and how they effect long term development and how they could produce chronic injury. We’ll also look at any specific weaknesses or imbalances which may have developed and address them. This cycle will look the least like a weightlifting cycle of any that we do. We’ll do isolation movements, extra movements in the tranverse and sagittal planes, and a little bit of the weightlifting movements. We’ll do sprinting (of some sort), more jumping than usual, and some basic cardio too. What will happen most of all these three weeks is giving the athlete the opportunity to fix pain, learn to move better, and get hungry for the grind that will be coming.
The rebuild cycle is an essential part of athlete development in the long and short term. Resetting the system and treating injuries allows us to train harder and peak more. Too often Coaches forget that the wavelengths of periodization have an ebb, and during that ebb, we must rebuild the body.