LTAD for Endurance Athletes


  • Athlete development model (ADM)
  • coaches are dealing with changing individuals, especially young athletes
  • ADM is an awareness of the progression and development of young athletes
  • Generic vs event specific model – how does the model apply to my athlete?
    • Biological development – maturational process
    • Training
    • Conditioning
    • Training and Competition requirements
  • Chronological age vs developmental age (physical, psychological state of athlete)
    • is the athlete emotionally/psychologically ready for the type of training
    • is the athlete physically developed enough for the type of training
  • Coach/athlete relationship will mature/differ over time
  • Stages
    • Pre-puberty
    • Puberty – changes in hormones
    • Post puberty
    • Adulthood
    • Key figure is the rate of change of growth
    • Different between male/female

UKA Develoment Model

  •  Alactic – changes little over age
  • Lactic – changes over time, doesn’t mature fully until after puberty
  • Aerobic – dominant in young athletes and switches on more quickly
  • Biomechanical Energy Return
    • Muscle Cross Sectional Area (CSA) – related to force muscle can produce, puberty allows increase of muscle mass (more in males than females – testosterone).  As girls mature earlier it may be possible to start strength training earlier
    • Neural Recruitment – can the brain control the muscles?  Best trained before puberty.
    • Tendon and bone – muscles do not exist in isolation – bones, muscles and tendons grow at different rates
    • Can challenge females earlier
    • Female talent may appear earlier, but may not extend
    • Growth in hip width can effect knee angles in female
  • Coordination
    • Pre-puberty – easier to train coordination
    • Puberty – mass gets bigger and moves towards extremities, limbs get longer, coordination can decrease and may need re-learning
    • Post-puberty – refine skills, more event specific
  • Mobility
    • Often compromised around Peak Height Velocity (PHV)/puberty
    • Due to unequal growth in bone, tendon and muscle growth
    • Mobility reduces and may not return to earlier levels

Training considerations

  • Choose training regimes based on developmental age
    • Alactic changes little over time – can be used to progressively challenge athletes, train speed all the time, explosive nature of training is acceptable
    • Lactate – training may not be appropriate for pre-puberty athletes, concentrate on skill activity – learn to express force in most efficient way – balance fatigue vs coordination
    • Aerobic – pre-puberty training may not be as efficient as high-intensity training for skills acquisition
    • Better to concentrate on skills acquisition as this may have a better effect for later in life.
    • High intensity work (10secs fast, rest repeated) will develop aerobic
    • Use variety of approaches
  • Biomechanical energy return
    • Leg as spring storing and releasing energy (free energy if efficient)
    • Learn to develop energy return through coordination and improved strength as CSA increases
    • CSA – females develop CSA earlier than males – muscle hypertrophy – females will not develop as big muscles as males (testosterone levels are different) – increased hypertrophy will tend to leas to women becoming leaner
    • Neural recruitment – develop better pre-puberty, but body shapes change at puberty, so re-visit after puberty.  Refinement at adulthood, use body weight but focus towards event specialism
    • Tendons – repeated and progressive general base load pre puberty, in adulthood move to specialised high load
    • Bones – bones change dependant on stimulus, so use range of developement, link between bone density post-puberty and osteoporosis in later life, direct link to nutrition, must have enough calcium etc.  Strength training develops bone density, may use this effectively in young athletes , diversity is important
  • Coordination
    • General coordination, running, jumping, throwing, strength shapes pre-puberty.  Begin to do some event specific coordination, then post puberty reinforce general coordination and then begin to refine for specific events
    • Learn to run when you are young (example of rugby players not learning to run – applies to orienteers too)
    • Girls have issues with pelvic width, specifically knee and ankles and with increased body mass with increase body fat, muscles have to work harder to move mass
    • Girls coordination lag may put them off their event before their coordination catches back up
  • Mobility
    • during growth phase use fundamental movement patterns to maintain mobility, e.g. squats, drills etc.

Training and Competition Requirements

  • Sports focus – moves from multi-activity through multi-event, event group to event specialisation
  • Training frequency – increases from 2/3 to twice a day 5/6 days a week
  • Total physical activity – 12+ hours per week up to 21, then specific training only
  • (All a bit obvious and video goes on a bit too long)
  • Still possible to train world class athletes without the best facilities


  • Start with technical work rather than loaded work, then progress loads
  • Conditioning orientation – multi-lateral, progressing to unilateral then bi lateral , early emphasis on single leg movements, later emphasis on bi-lateral to allow greater power acquisition (don’t drop uni-lateral)
  • Loading focus – mainly bodyweight, through comfort loading, then progressive and performance


  • Younger athletes focus on skills rather than energy systems and general coordination
  • Event group stage, athlete going through growth spurts, so beware, especially females
  • One chance with an athlete





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