Auto-regulatory training is a pretty straightforward concept. It hinges on the idea of not just showing up and doing something on a lift-card just because it was written on the lift-card. Instead, you might have a workout on the lift card, but you use some sort of test to determine whether or not you think what is written on the card is actually what you should be doing that day. Now, instead of using auto-regulation to completely change your entire training day, you can use it in many other different facets. Fore example, you can use auto-regulation to assign what load you should be lifting today, how many reps you should lift a load for, or how long you should rest between loads.
Personally, I see value in all types of auto-regulatory training. However, not all types of auto-regulatory training are useful in all situations. For example, the more complex the auto-regulation gets, the more supervision and trust is required. This is the exact reason why it may not always be best to do the most invasive form of auto-regulation… you just don’t have the time to do it for 30 athletes. So, what can we do?
First off, we need to define what we are training for and how we are going to train for it. Use training for power as an example…Typically, we train for power with maximal intent and high quality repetitions. If we want to build power, we need quality and well, for the most part, quality suffers at hands of fatigue. Either athletes do too much or rest too little to keep velocity and therefore, power high enough. We can’t always control effort, but we can somewhat control recovery via rest times. This is where auto-regulating rest intervals comes in to play. If we make sure athletes are rested for the next set, we know we have the full capacity to develop power (effort is another story)
A simple pen and paper can do the trick.
Jump metrics for rest
Countermovement jumps have been used time and time again as a form of measuring fatigue. Whether it is short term or long term analysis, jump heights are an easy to use, simple to understand performance metric. Why? Well, they require maximal effort, in a short period of time in a very safe fashion… All you have to do is jump and output give you a little bit of insight as to what is going on inside of you.
Here is a quick little example of how one can use jump metrics to help auto-regulate their rest intervals. Say you are doing a 4 x 6-8 squat workout at 75% of 1rm. This is going to be some decently high volume, possibly some lactate accumulation and a good amount of time under tension. Once the set is finished, the athlete typically arbitrary waits a given amount of time before they perform their next set. Now, we hope the athlete follows the rest interval written in the card, but who is there making sure they follow it and who is to say that the rest interval is right for them?
Lets say in this same squat session, you have the athlete perform a maximal vertical right before their fist working set. They get a max vert of about 20 inches. Next, they perform their set and once done, immediately perform another vertical jump (Black Dots). Thanks to fatigue, you will see a noticeable dip in jump height (associated with metabolite accumulation. Now, the athlete rests and until they can get near their previous best vertical jump height (I used within 0.5 inches) then they cannot perform their next set (Red Dots). This way, we know the athlete is actually rested between sets and their body is in a state that isn’t hindered by fatigue from the previous reps.
On the other side of the coin, you may actually want the athlete to accumulate fatigue between sets and if this is the case, you don’t actually want the jump height to fully recover. Instead, you would want a downward trend between sets, but at no point, the jump height falling off to greatly to where the athlete cannot actually complete their following workloads.
Auto-regulation doesn’t need to be anything too complex. The easier it is to use, the more likely it will be to succeed. Using a simple metric, such as jump height, is a great way to objectively auto-regulate your training. Ensuring recovery is maximal will better allow for higher velocity, power driven adaptations to take place