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Science Says Your Pyramid Goes Last - Routine Design, Anticipatory Regulation & Peripheral Fatigue

Okay, this one might get a bit complicated - because there is not one concrete answer, but various right answers based on specific factors. Confused yet? Don’t worry, we’ll work through it!

It is important that you evaluate the information, understand the fitness levels of your athletes, as well as understand what elements of the routine are your team's strengths and weaknesses. It’s an equation that will look different for everyone.

Before we jump in, it’s important to remember, not everyone has to have the same routine design. There has been a general guideline that has been created overtime, however, it's important that you are designing a routine that is best for your team, which may be different year to year.

The two concepts that are important to understand when it comes to Routine design are, Anticipatory Regulation and Peripheral Fatigue.

Anticipatory Regulation, (in layman's terms), is your brain subconsciously reserving your energy and muscle output in order to make it to the “end”. This concept can be applied to many different aspects of the sport, and we will be discussing those in future posts, but today we will just focus on the routine.

Peripheral Fatigue, (again, in layman’s terms), is your muscles going through its various systems of muscle “firing”, ultimately causing a decline in muscle force able to be generated.

For the rest of the article I am going to be referring to the following charts.

As you look at the curve representing overall performance, which is taking into account the anticipatory regulation and the peripheral fatigue you will notice an uptick in output nearing the end. This is because subconsciously within anticipatory regulation, the brain allows for the body to release more of its reserved power because it knows the “end” is coming. You will notice, however, the overall performance is not as high as the beginning because we need to factor in fatigue.

For the purposes of this article, I will be arguing putting the pyramid last, instead of the dance. This concept, if understood, can be applied to other sections of the routine and where the most difficult parts of the routine should occur, subject to your teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

I am going to assume the above graph represents the average on my (fictional) team. (*remember not all teams will have this same graph). Not only am I confident that my team has strong fitness levels, as well as they are strong in pyramids, but, I also believe we would even better execute a complex pyramid with the extra “release” they will get from their muscles right at the end based on anticipatory regulation. Instead of wasting that uptick of energy on 4 eight-counts of dance I know my athletes will have fun with (especially because i’m for sure giving them a Brittany spears song to rock out to), I will opt to put my pyramid last and use my athletes physiology to their advantage.

This concept although may not be WHY these teams decided to do their pyramid last, these teams do prove that the concept is applicable and why your fear of putting the pyramid last should be kicked to the curb (*If your teams physiology is right).

Comment below if you've tested this method!!

Putting the pyramid last has always been considered “risky” because you want to make sure you are leaving the judges with the best final impression possible, but what if the true risk is not evaluating your athletes physiology to your benefit, and the risk of giving away a HIT is even higher if you put a skill in a suboptimal spot in your routine?

Food for thought…

Got questions? ASK!! We’re here to help!

*Remember not every teams overall performance, anticipatory regulation curves and peripheral fatigue lines will look the same - it’s important to understand YOURS!

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1 Comment

Christina Acosta
Christina Acosta
Oct 13, 2020

This is such an interesting read! Definitely makes you reconsider how to structure a routine based on their strengths and abilities, not just the trends in the industry.

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