Eric Helms – Practical Auto-Regulatory Strength Training

Very interesting article at the NSCA from 3DMJ’s Eric Helms on practical methods to implement “Auto Regulatory” training based on available literature and current practice.


Periodization is the strategic organization of training to optimize progress while avoiding setbacks and injuries (1). This method of organizing training elicits superior results when compared to non-periodized training (2). However, even the best planning cannot account for all variables that affect athletes’ acute readiness.

Sleep, emotional stress, illness, and diet all significantly influence training. Furthermore, professionals who work with teams train groups of athletes. In this case, not only must they account for individual variability, but also they must try to apply training strategies to many athletes each potentially at a different level of readiness.

Elite athletes have extraordinary abilities of perception, intuition, split-decision making, and anticipation (3).

This mind and body awareness manifests from innate talent and years of experience, allowing them to train near optimal capacity, if self-regulation is encouraged. The question becomes, how can a coach transfer this ability to athletes without this innate talent or experience?

One method that attempts to achieve these ends by matching training stress to athlete-readiness is Auto-Regulatory Training (AT) (4, 5). This approach to training is designed to adapt to individual changing needs to allow optimal training more frequently. Sometimes a workout intended to be hard can be easy if the athlete is particularly well recovered or energetic.

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