I recommend that you use most of your training time of the year to focus on general fitness training, not tournament preparation. You should focus on the long-term so if you spend too much time on tournament preparation instead of general fitness, then you will lose out on the long-term adaptions that pay off over the years.
For this reason, I recommend not doing more than 4 tournament preparation blocks per year. Pick one or two tournaments that are very important to you and do a long tournament preparation for those. Use this shorter 4 week preparation program for the smaller tournaments.
Of course you can and should compete more than just 4 times per year if you are a serious competitor. You don’t have to run a tournament preparation block for the not so important tournaments, just show up and do your best. On smaller tournaments you will also be likely to have fewer rounds, so conditioning will matter less than at a big tournament like the pan-ams, europeans or worlds.
The 4 week tournament preparation focuses on the aerobic system. You should have built a solid base from your general fitness training already before you start this block. High-intensity training leads to quick adaptions that plateau after a few weeks. In the last 4 weeks before the tournament the goal is to focus on those short-term adaptions without losing the long-term adaptions.
Strength gains last relatively long, so there is no reason to lift weights during the 4 week training block. All the focus will be put on the aerobic system instead.
Start 4 weeks before your competition. The last week of the block is reserved for tapering.
1x Cardiac Power Intervals
1-2x Threshold Training
1-3x Cardiac Output Method
1-2x Cardiac Power Intervals
2-3x Threshold Training
1x Cardiac Power Intervals
1-3x Threshold Training
1-2x Cardiac Output Method
|Week 4||2-3x Cardiac Output Method|
You should train at least 3 times per week during this block, more if better of course. Ideally you train 6 days per week with one rest day. If you can train multiple times per day, use the additional training sessions for light technical work. Don’t do more than one conditioning session per day.
The training intensity will be much higher than normally, so make sure that you listen to your body. If you don’t feel well, it’s better to take it easy on that day. Don’t burn yourself out, the goal is to be in top tournament shape, not to blindly follow the program.
Do your technical work like light drilling and troubleshooting before you do the conditioning part of the training. Focus on your A-game and problems that you identified during past tournaments and sparring. The cardiac output method days are great to work on those areas. Positional sparring and just drilling works well for that.
Start cutting down on your training volume 8-10 days before the tournament. This is the tapering period. In that time, stick to the cardiac output method and focus on light technical work in your other training sessions. Make sure you stay injury free during that time and let your body heal and recover from the hard sessions.
I made a PDF with all the information summarized that you can print out and put in your bag or hang up in your academy.