The Diamond is a comprehensive, periodized approach to training and athlete development. Periodization divides your training schedule into periods or phases, creating a series of manageable steps leading toward a big goal. Why periodize:
- Simplifies the simultaneous pursuit of multiple goals. You have to train many capacities and modalities.
- Enforces a balance among intensity, volume and recovery to maximize the value of training time.
- Maintains athlete focus when competition seems remote, while suppressing the impulse to "chase the shiny object."
- Organizes big goals into logical pieces, allowing for tracking, monitoring and adjustment on the fly if needed.
Periodization simultaneously advances multiple fitness parameters, and creates an effective framework for constantly varied programming. The Diamond strikes the right balance of intensity, volume and recovery, so you'll make gains without heightened injury or burnout risk.
The Diamond operates from the big picture down to the small, dividing the calendar into macro–meso–micro cycles. In the sport of fitness, the macro-cycle is typically the time between annual open or regional competitions, and it is divided into smaller segments as follows:
This framework splits the training year into four 12-week training cycles (plus a test weeks) which act as checkpoints along the long journey to increased fitness. Generally, the big picture goal is “increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains”. We divide this into strength, skills and conditioning, and apply them to the periodization framework, ensuring that each training modality has sufficient time apportioned to it.
Sub-goals can be set at the meso and micro level. For example, an athlete knows they need to be able to handstand walk 100 feet unbroken to be competitive at their level. So they may set a goal of 25/50/75/100 feet in each meso-cycle. Alternatively, they may choose to devote a substantial block of one micro-cycle to handstand walks to develop the neuromuscular patterning required to become comfortable with the movement.
The Diamond includes routine check-ins with the coaches to set goals and measure performance.
The performance parameters are further divided, and training time is apportioned according to athlete goals. MicroCycles allow for the optimal balance of training efforts.
Here is an example of how the strength portion of Meso-Cycle 1 may be divided
- Micro-Cycle 1: Lift heavy 4-5 days per week
- Micro Cycle 2: Two heavy days, two days focused on rate of force development, three days accessory work per week
- Micro-Cycle 3: Lift heavy 4-5 days per week
- Micro-Cycle 4: Three heavy days, 2-3 single leg / arm sessions per week
As the athlete transitions into a skills meso-cycle, The Diamond will increase weightlifting work from blocks, partial reps, and so on, while reducing raw strength. In a skills meso-cycle, you’ll do more snatches, but fewer very heavy deadlifts. The same idea applies to each modality. The Diamond permits the constant variation demanded by our sport, within a logical framework to ensure continued progression.
Your Diamond depends on your fitness level and goals, so we start with a test week. An athlete with a 550 back squat and 235 clean will spend most of their strength block working on weightlifting technique rather than raw strength. An athlete with a 6:15 2k row will see lots of MetCons in their conditioning blocks, as their underlying capacity is already quite good. What does your Diamond look like?