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Properly timed training cycles provide motivation and maximize program adherence

This is an excerpt from Bending the Aging Curve by Joseph F. Signorile.

Timing of Translational Cycles

In the training scheme, the most effective time to administer the diagnostic battery is after the translational cycle. In this way, testing occurs during a taper period when the fitness aftereffect is maximized and the fatigue aftereffect is minimized. The recurrent pattern of training, translation, and reassessment is shown in figure 10.1. This model increases exercise adherence because it not only allows clients to see their own progress but also demonstrates how their progress is linked to the exercise prescription, since their improvements typically mirror the intervention. Additionally, as a client reaches the 90th percentile in specific tests, you can target norms for persons who are years, if not decades, younger. In this way, clients begin to perceive that the training is changing their functional age. And now the added bonus: When clients realize that they are being compared with younger persons, they also recognize that they are, in effect, getting younger. This provides tremendous motivation and maximizes adherence to the program.

Motor Learning Drills: The Need for Progression

Figure 10.2 shows a triplanar (three-dimensional) graph first presented in the Journal on Active Aging in 2005 (Signorile, 2005). It shows the factors that should be considered in designing a translational cycle. These factors include the following:

  1. Factors associated with independence, fall probability, and mobility (y-axis). Notice that these factors are linked to increased physical vulnerability and frailty. Clearly losses in mobility, the ability to rise from a chair or bed, or the capacity to manipulate objects signal a decline in independence and an increased potential for falls and associated injuries.
  2. Specific needs (z-axis). We have already discussed meeting specific physical needs extensively in this text. If the term translational cycle is to have meaning, the patterns of motor training must be related to the physiological goal of the preceding training cycle.
  3. Logical progression (x-axis). The progression for the translational cycle mirrors that of the classic mesocycle, in which there is a gradual undulating increase in volume and intensity during the initial portion of the cycle, followed by a steep decline in volume and then in intensity. Accompanying these changes is a constantly increasing concentration on skill and performance enhancement.


Figure 10.3 presents the three components that can be manipulated during a translational cycle: intensity, volume, and complexity. In figure 10.4 you can see the general pattern for each of these components. Note the fluctuating patterns inherent in nonlinear periodization.