The Training Principle Of Interdependency

In his book ‘The Way of the Fight’ Georges St. Pierre, one of the most successful MMA fighters in history, shares his fascination with dinosaurs and cockroaches. He expressed his fascination that the dinosaurs, who ruled the planet for 150 million years got extinct, whilst cockroaches could survive for almost 300 million years.

Dinosaurs and Cockroaches Interdependency Training Principles

Dinosaurs ruled the planet for 150 million years got extinct, whilst cockroaches could survive for almost 300 million years. Why is that? Because cockroaches had the ability to adapt, and dinosaurs didn’t.

What does that mean?

George St. Pierre concluded that dinosaurs didn’t have the ability to adapt, therefore got extinct, whilst cockroaches have the ability to constantly adapt for almost 300 million years.

The training principle of interdependency is a little-known training principle, however, it has a large application to the training practice. Understanding the principle of interdependency can make or break your training.

In this article, you’ll learn

The basic premise of the training principle of interdependency

 In the article A different Approach to Training Principles you learned, that some training principles complement each other, whilst others exclude each other.

The same is true for training stimuli, some training stimuli complement each other, whilst other training stimuli work against each other.

Hence, there can be a positive interdependence, training stimuli complement each other, or a negative interdependence, where training stimuli contradict each other.

Positive interdependence means training stimuli complement each other, whilst negative interdependence means that training stimuli contradict each other.

The biological basis for this principle of training

The german ecologist Ernst Haeckel described the concept of interdependence in ecology and what it means. In essence, it describes that ecosystems are dynamically interacting with organisms that depend on each other.

An example from ecology is that plants use the sun’s energy to produce food molecules, and are therefore called producers. Other types of organisms can’t do this, and they rely on plants. They are called consumers, and they eat the producers.

Here you can see that the organisms depend on each other, and is therefore called interdependence. The consumers need the producers.

So, what does all that have to do with sports?

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The practical application of the training principle of interdependency

 I’ve outlined that some training stimuli complement each other, whilst other training stimuli contradict each other. Training stimuli that complement each other are called positive interdependence.

What is positive interdependence, and how it can help you

Positive interdependence is also known as phase potentiation. Phase potentiation is based on the idea, that a training phase is potentiated by its’ previous training phase.

Positive interdependence aka phase potentiation is based on the idea, that a training phase is potentiated by its’ previous training phase.

I’ve shared this image previously in the article the training principle of periodization and cyclization, it’s an example from my course ‘Strength Training Secrets’

Phase Potentiation Principle in Periodization Maximum Strength Training followed by Power Training followed by Speed Training

An example of sequenced training (also known as ‘phase potentiation’) based on initial effects and ceiling effects adapted from Issurin’s Block Periodization approach

You can see a practical application of phase potentiation, where phase 1 potentiates phase 2, and phase 2 potentiates phase 3. There are multiple examples of how to make phase potentiation work for you, however, in the current examples, the maximum strength training phase potentiates the following power training phase and the power training phase potentiates the speed training phase.

What is negative interdependence, and what can you do against it

So, a positive interdependence, or phase potentiation is a good thing, but then there’s also something called a negative interdependence, also called as phase interference.

Phase interference isn’t as often talked about as phase potentiation, but in the practical world, phase interference is a common phenomenon.

Check out the infographic from Chris Beardsley demonstrating an example of phase interference

Practically it means, whatever you have built in one phase interferes with the next phase or, that you might have interfering training goals in one phase.

What does that mean, and what can you do against it?

In his book ‘Periodization Training for Sports’ Tudor Bompa classified periodization, into 2 distinct periodization approaches

  • periodization of the annual plan
  • periodization of bio motor abilities

In simple terms periodization of the annual plan means that you have a plan for a year based on the competitive schedule, and the periodization needs to be based on the competitive schedule. The idea is that athletes need to be in the best possible shape at certain moments in the year.

The periodization of bio motor abilities is slightly different, where the main idea is to maximize the bio motor ability and is not necessarily bound to timeframes.

So, what does that all mean?

When you are periodizing for the annual plan, phase interferences are sometimes a necessary evil.

Why is that?

Different sports require different fitness qualities and these fitness qualities can actually be opposing to each other. For example, a high aerobic capacity combined with certain strength demands doesn’t work together very well. But that is sport.

Therefore, when periodizing for the annual plan, phase interferences are sometimes a necessary evil that we have to accept.

But then if you are periodizing for bio motor abilities, phase interferences should be avoided, and if phase interferences do occur, then there’s truly a mistake in the planning process.

When periodizing for the annual plan, phase interferences are sometimes a necessary evil that we have to accept. Whilst, when periodizing for bio motor abilities, phase interferences should be avoided.

Rounding up the training principle of interdependency

The training principle of interdependency explains that some training stimuli complement each other, also called positive interdependence or phase potentiation, and some training stimuli contradict each other, also called negative interdependence, or phase interference.

Phase potentiation, sometimes also called sequenced training can lead to better training results, than not sequenced training, hence understanding phase potentiation is vitally important.

When you are periodizing for the annual plan, meaning for the competitive calendar, phase interference is sometimes a necessary evil, however, when you are periodizing for bio-motor ability development, phase interference should be avoided.

Next steps

If you haven’t already

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