I get it, you’re committed, you’re fully signed up to the “Go hard, or Go Home” crew. You’ve got a clear plan of what you want to achieve, but are giving your body what it really needs?
In my experience so many people make one of the following mistakes when it comes to training:
1. Following someone else’s training program.
2. Following the same training program for far too long.
3. Simply performing your particular sport at a lower intensity and calling it training.
With example 1 - Someone else’s training program has been designed for someone else, it’s not designed with your strengths and weaknesses in mind, it’s not tailored to your specific physiology, and it doesn’t take into account your specific goals.
It might move you along the dial, but it’s never going to allow you to reach your true potential.
In example 2 - We all know those athletes (and coaches for that matter) that spew the familiar mantra of “if it aint broke, don’t fix it!” There’s a time and place for this thinking, but I guarantee that the 18-year-old version of you was a very different athlete to the 30-year-old version of you and if you keep pushing your body in exactly the same way, you WILL be broke, and you WILL need fixing!
In example 3 – I see this so often, particularly with endurance athletes. I’m a runner, therefore 95% of my training should involve running, likewise with cyclists and triathletes. I understand, you need to condition your body to perform for hours at a time, but if you’re not focusing on your specific weaknesses, what are you actually training and how will you improve?
If your stamina is poor, you need an exhaustive program to strengthen you physically and emotionally for times of crisis.
If your explosive power is weak, you need plyometrics and full-body movements that detonate the muscle fibers in your body like a nuclear bomb.
Of course, you don’t need to deviate completely from your specific sport, your exercise program should resemble your sport as closely as possible. It should use the same muscles and engage your body in the same movements and motions, but it shouldn’t be the same, dull monotonous schedule.
That knee pain you’ve been feeling for a few months isn’t your body telling you to “run it off” it’s likely a sign that your quads are in desperate need of a deep tissue massage and that your glutes aren’t firing properly. Get in the gym!
So What Do You Need?
I want you to start to question what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and recognize that some of your training sessions, may be a complete waste of your time.
If they don’t bring a benefit that can be directly carried over into your sport, then scrap them.
Any training program worth its weight should deliver specific adaptations to the stressors you’ll face during showtime.
Did you develop a thick, beefy pair of forearms but are a professional mountain climber? It’s time to atrophy some muscle. None of that extra mass is going to help you climb ledges. It just drags you down.
Understand what sport-related success looks like and determine what qualities you need to train. Work backward from the desired results.
How Training Can Transfer Over To Performance
While most of your training should be specific, a certain percentage of your training can be devoted to general conditioning. However, this comes with a caveat to choosing exercises that can transfer over during performance.
Weightlifting might seem unnecessary for some sports, but it will strengthen certain muscle groups to reduce the risk of injury on the field.
Each sport comes with its drawbacks. Older athletes will inevitably develop imbalances and weaknesses over time due to the nature of their sport. Likewise with younger athletes in high impact sports like gymnastics. Athletes need to be aware of what their training and competition is doing to their body and correct any issues with the appropriate training protocols that develop the opposing set of muscles, to reduce the risk of injury and prolong their career.
Athletes seeking high-performance should develop programs that correct energy systems and develop the most important muscle groups for their sport.
For example, a volleyball athlete focusing on hitting the ball should use the training room as a golden opportunity to enhance their performance. Volleyball training requires excessive anterior training during a swing, therefore an athlete can focus on the posterior muscles of the back and shoulders to compensate the sport-specific demands.
Training antagonist muscles in the field while training the posterior muscles at the gym is perfect for correcting any flaws and overcompensation that might occur.
Understand Your Sport, Yourself, And Your Position
Different players in the same sport can have different purposes on the field.
While teams enjoy the camaraderie of training together, all athletes need to train according to their purpose. To add to this, different athletes have different styles of play and come with unique histories of injuries, genetic predispositions, and personal weaknesses.
It’s important to create training programs that accommodate all these variables. I believe that technical skills belong on the field and are up to the discretion of their coach. But other mechanical skills such as strength, speed, mobility, flexibility, and stamina can be greatly improved with the right approach in the gym.
The best thing - It's easy to see when training works. Your performance improves!
You start hitting all of your performance-related metrics, your body feels great, and your confidence reaches a whole new level.
Just remember: No training program should ever be static, either. As your body changes and as you age, the way that you approach your sport will change. The window of opportunity for you to engage in your sport narrows and you need to adapt your skills and your mindset to meet these new challenges. Training in the same way will inevitably lead to frustration, injury and an early exit from the sport you love!
Take constant feedback from your body, your environment, your opponents, honestly gauge yourself at regular intervals and stop wasting time on training programs that do nothing to improve your performance.
The right training program will always take your game to the next level, you just need to find a great coach to create this for you.