Training The Athlete: Learn To Distinguish Between Athletics And Aesthetics

Here’s an excerpt from my new book The Elite Trainer: Strength Training for the Serious Professional

Needs Analysis

After a training goal is established, conduct a needs analysis of both the individual (i.e., current biomotor abilities, health status, past and present injuries, somatotype or body type, availability for training) and the sport/activity (i.e., optimal biomotor abilities, dominant energy system, prime movement patterns and muscles, primary sites of injury).

In his Advanced Program Design course, Chek (1999) proposes an interesting strategy to analyze the key biomotor abilities, which include strength, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, endurance, and flexibility. On a simple scale of 1-10, rank an individual for each biomotor ability and compare it against an optimal score for their particular work or sport demand. Of course, the numbers are strictly arbitrary, but it gives you a good idea of which abilities require greater attention. You should then concentrate most of your effort in improving those areas.

For individuals concerned primarily with aesthetics rather than performance, rank the development of each major muscle group on a scale of 1-10 (Staley, 2002). Focus most of your training on the lagging muscles to improve overall body symmetry and appearance.

Specificity

Appearance generally improves when training for function, but the opposite is not always true! In athletics, train the movements. In bodybuilding, train the muscles (Thibaudeau, 2003).

When training athletes, focus on the quality of strength in the gym not the actual sporting movement – that is best left for on the field (DeFranco, 2004; Siff, 1999, 2000b; Vermeil, 2004; Young, 1991). For example, it may be more appropriate for a golfer to perform the snatch-grip deadlift or squat push press than to try to mimic the golf swing with cables or elastic resistance.

Specificity in training is important, but being too specific with additional loading can adversely affect athletic performance. The more you mimic a movement with significant resistance, the more you disrupt motor patterns (McGuff & Little, 2009). You will never completely simulate in the gym what you could do on the field (Young, 1991), and if you spend too much time on so-called “sport-specific” movements, you will increase the likelihood of overuse injuries (Siff, 2000a; Vermeil, 2004).

Furthermore, if you are an endurance athlete, it is rather redundant to train for endurance in the gym (Vermeil, 2004). Again, leave that for on the field or track. Use your time wisely in the weight room. Research shows that maximal and explosive strength training improves muscle power, work economy, and speed of movement (Hoff et al., 2002; Paavolainen et al., 1999; Schmidtbleicher, 1980, 1996). Be patient though. It may take up to three weeks to transfer newly acquired strength to sport.

Energy System Training

Concentrate your efforts on training the dominant energy system (anaerobic alactic, anaerobic lactic, or aerobic) for your sport or activity. Most sports require a greater emphasis from the anaerobic alactic energy system (see Table 1 below). In football, for instance, the average play is around 5 seconds long and the average rest between plays is roughly 35 seconds. Although the number of plays (i.e., sets) will vary depending on the level and position of the player, energy system training in football should consist predominantly of 4- to 10-second work intervals and 20- to 40-second rest intervals for optimal results (DeFranco, 2010; Iosia & Bishop, 2008; Rhea et al., 2006). Just like training a skill, metabolic conditioning is very specific (McGuff & Little, 2009).

Table 1. Energy system chart (adapted from Fox et al., 1993 and Mackenzie, 1997)

 

% Emphasis by Energy System

Classification –

Anaerobic Alactic

Anaerobic Lactic

Aerobic

Energy Supply –

ATP + CP

Muscle Glycogen

Fatty Acids

Duration –

1-10 seconds

10-120 seconds

120+ seconds

Baseball

80

15

5

Basketball

60

20

20

Fencing

90

10

 
Field Hockey

50

20

30

Football

90

10

 
Golf

95

5

 
Gymnastics

80

15

5

Ice Hockey
- Forward, Defense
- Goalie

60

90

20

5

20

5

Lacrosse
- Goalie
- Defense, Attacker
- Midfielder

50

50

60

20

20

20

30

30

20

Rowing

20

30

50

Skiing
- Slalom, Jumping
- Downhill
- Cross-Country
- Recreational

80

50

5

20

15

30

10

40

5

20

85

40

Soccer
- Goalie, Striker
- Halfback

60

60

30

20

10

20

Swimming and Diving
- Diving
- 50 m
- 100 m
- 200 m
- 400 m
- 1500 m

98

90

80

30

20

10

2

5

15

65

40

20

5

5

5

40

70

Tennis

70

20

10

Track and Field
- 100 m, 200 m
- Field Events
- 400 m
- 800 m
- 1500 m (1 mile)
- 3000 m (2 mile)
- 5000 m (3 mile)
- 10000 m (6 mile)
- Marathon

95-98

95-98

80

30

20-30

10

10

5

negligible

2-5

2-5

15

65

20-30

20

20

15

5

5

5

40-60

70

70

80

95

Volleyball

80

5

15

Wrestling

90

5

5

About The Author

John Paul Catanzaro, BSc Kin, CSEP-CEP, is a CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist with a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. For additional information, visit his website at www.CatanzaroGroup.com or call 905-780-9908.

Note: John Paul has just released his new book The Elite Trainer: Strength Training for the Serious Professional. The book features 55 programs, dozens of training methods and cutting-edge techniques, and over 100 exercise illustrations. Get your copy today at www.TheEliteTrainer.com.

References

Chek, P. (1999). Advanced program design [Correspondence course]. Encinitas, CA: Paul Chek Seminars.

DeFranco, J. (2004). 10 training myths exposed! In Testosterone. Retrieved from http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=04-081-training

DeFranco, J. (2010). Football conditioning: The right way! In DeFranco’s Training. Retrieved from http://www.defrancostraining.com/ask-joe.html?start=16

Fox, E.L., Bowers, R.W., and Foss, M.L. (1993). The physiological basis for exercise and sport (5th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Communications.

Hoff, J., Gran, A., and Helgerud, J. (2002). Maximal strength training improves aerobic endurance performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 12(5), 288-295.

Iosia, M.F., and Bishop, P.A. (2008). Analysis of exercise-to-rest ratios during division IA televised football competition. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(2), 332-340.

Mackenzie, B. (1997). Energy pathways. In BrianMac Sports Coach. Retrieved from http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/energy.htm

McGuff, D., and Little, J. (2009). Body by science: A research-based program for strength training, body building, and complete fitness in 12 minutes a week. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Paavolainen, L., Häkkinen, K., Hämäläinen, I., Nummela, A., and Rusko, H. (1999). Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. Journal of Applied Physiology, 86(5), 1527-1533.

Rhea, M.R., Hunter, R.L., and Hunter, T.J. (2006). Competition modeling of American football: Observational data and implications for high school, collegiate and professional player conditioning. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20(1), 58-61.

Schmidtbleicher, D. (1980). Maximalkraft und bewegungsschnelligkeit [Maximum strength and speed of movement]. Bad Homburg, Germany: Limpert Verlag.

Schmidtbleicher, D. (1996). Some neuromuscular aspects of human movements and the consequences for the muscular rehabilitation. In J. Abrantes (Ed.), Proceedings of the XIVth International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sports (pp. 120-129). Lissabon: Edicoes FMH. Retrieved from http://w4.ub.uni-konstanz.de/cpa/article/viewFile/2675/2509

Siff, M.C. (1999). Supertraining (4th ed.). Denver, CO.

Siff, M.C. (2000a, October). Applied science in conditioning for rehabilitation and performance. Seminar presented in Mississauga, ON.

Siff, M.C. (2000b). Facts and fallacies of fitness (4th ed.). Denver, CO.

Staley, C. (2002). 10 things athletes do to shoot themselves in the foot. In Bodybuilding.com. Retrieved from http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/staley3.htm

Thibaudeau, C. (2003). The black book of training secrets. Quebec: n.p.

Vermeil, A. (2004, October). High performance workshop. Seminar presented at the Athletic Conditioning Centre in Ottawa, ON.

Young, W. (1991). The planning of resistance training for power sports. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, 13(4), 26-29.

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