Stimulus Threshold


It seems we all preach more is not better but then when it comes down to it we end doing more. As my good friend and colleague Gary Winckler so succinctly states “volume is not a biomotor quality.” I think there must be some comfort in doing more. What we need to focus on instead is the concept of the stimulus threshold. I define that as is the threshold amount of work that is the optimum amount to elicit a training response. If I can continually train at the threshold and push that threshold then I should be able to make continual adaptation. What good does it do to exceed the stimulus threshold and not be able to recover to do a subsequent session? Another way to describe this is to determine a training target in the context of the whole training plan and hit the target. I think part of the problem is that many people are unsure how to determine the target so they do more to cover themselves. We should be able to workout the stimulus thresholds for various qualities based on the training age of the athlete and their competition objectives. It is certainly not an arbitrary figure like 100 miles a week for a runner or x number of thousand yards for a swimmer; rather it is the actual breakdown and composition of the sessions with a distribution among the performance factors in the context of the training plan. Certainly it is necessary to overload, but remember that it is possible to overload by manipulating volume, intensity and density. Manipulating the means of overload will insure a positive adaptive response.
Perhaps another way to express this concept is to seek optimum training loads rather than maximum training loads.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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