It's all in the dose

Valentin Belz 6. March 2018

Training is a fascinating process. On the one hand, it’s quite simple because each training unit has an effect, and on the other hand, it’s very complex, because each individual responds to it differently. Your performance capability has very many influencing factors: starting with your initial condition and physiological requirements, through to your overall load (work, family, hobbies, etc..), recovery capability, and much more.

With our tips, we would like to assist you in finding the right dose and show you how you can get the most out of your potential. This should ideally serve to motivate you to tackle long-term goals and ensure that you enjoy what you do. Because the latter is the best driving force of all!

How often should I train?

The frequency of your training is the most important key factor. This is the first thing you need to address if you want to optimize your performance and become faster. Only once you have reached your frequency limit, i.e. the point where you are unable to train more often each week due to your job, family, other hobbies, and corresponding recovery, should you start making adjustments to your duration and intensity levels.

It is very important to understand that the frequency cannot be increased from one day to the next or just when you feel like it This is because your body and musculoskeletal system need to gradually get used to the additional load. As a rule of thumb: one additional unit per week and half-year is a reasonable amount.

The following table gives you an overview of what a meaningful amount constitutes:


How long should I train?

Duration is the second key factor. Longer units improve your capacity and thus your ability to maintain a specific tempo for longer. Ultra-long units are not required for this, rather extending your standard units by around 10% to a maximum of 20% is already completely sufficient to experience a positive effect. In concrete terms, this means extending your continuous run from 60 to 70 minutes or cycle tour from 2 hours to 2¼ hours, for example.

How intensive should I train?

The third key factor is the one that people like to address first. However, those wanting to be successful in endurance sports should deliberately hold themselves back and only train intensively once they have reached their maximum levels of frequency and duration. Otherwise, you risk experiencing a huge dip after a seductive peak in performance.

Clever diversification is much more important than pushing your intensity to the limit: various training units should be performed in a meaningful order when preparing for an athletic goal. In other words, key units (intensive and particularly long training units) should be well distributed over the week, leaving room for basic training in between.

Summed up for use in practice:

  • Adapt your training volume to your overall load (job, family, hobbies).
  • Increase the frequency, then the duration, then the intensity.
  • Take your time when increasing the frequency.
  • Diversify your everyday training by doing short, long, extensive, and intensive units.
  • Make sure the individual training units are done in a meaningful order, to ensure they will take effect.