In the past, I have discussed overload and adaptation. Overload/Adaptation is the idea that incremental overloads on a regular basis which allows the body to adapt to the increases in stress by initiating physiological change in the body. As these overloads become more frequent the body adapts and can perform the specific task at greater and greater levels of output.
When training a particular athlete or individual how is this idea of overload/adaptation implemented?
The training, both tactically and strategically, must be specific to the sport or the clients objective. This statement is obvious but becomes much more complicated and tricky as the athlete/client becomes fitter. Clients come to us all the time and say I train all the time and nothing changes.
A good example would be in training a 100 meter sprinter. It makes sense anecdotally that having a really strong grip is not necessarily going to make you a great sprinter. So spending large amounts of time on one’s grip would not be the best use of training time for a sprinter. Now a wrestler would look at his grip as an important part of the sport and a weak grip would be something that would need to be addressed. The correlation of grip to wrestling has a much higher relationship than the correlation of grip to sprinting.
Why should you care about correlation in Strategy?
The above example demonstrates the concept of correlation and how it relates to developing the strategy of training. If one had the time and the inclination, correlation coefficients could be measured on different performance measures to rank the value of training exercises relative to a sport. This is also important for the individual who just wants better health and body. If your coach does not understand these relationships then the strategy is random and typically results in little change. The correlation coefficient is a number between -1 and 1. If there is no relationship between the predicted values and the actual values the correlation coefficient is 0 or lower (the predicted values are no better than random numbers this would be the example of grip strength to sprinting). As the strength of the relationship between the predicted values and actual values increases so does the correlation coefficient. A perfect fit gives a coefficient of 1.0. Thus the higher the correlation coefficient of an exercise to the specific needs of the sport the greater the value of the exercise. A negative correlation number would be actions or exercises that actually take away from the performance of a specific sport. These correlations are really measured by the experience of the coach or through trial and error of an athlete.
Strength and conditioning coaches must think through this idea of correlation and determine what aspects of a training strategy have the most impact on the performance of the athlete in a sport. If this is not being evaluated then precious training time is being wasted on areas that have little impact on the performance of the athlete. At Sirens and Titans we look for “tipping point” fitness gains. These tipping points are areas of fitness that with small gains can produce huge changes in the performance of the athlete during the sport. In most cases the tipping points present themselves after evaluating an athlete for functional fitness and baselining performance. Many tipping point fitness issues can be identified in this evaluation. Another area that has this type of fitness leverage is found in movements where power needs to be maintained for longer durations of time. This is the basis of the book I am currently working on for Rodale Press titled Maximum Overload for Cyclists. There are a lot of athletes that have great vertical jumps; however they can only execute a handful of jumps at a high output level. Training the athlete so they can maintain 90-100% of this output for a longer duration creates champions and changes the performance dramatically in competition.
In summary, think about the correlation of your training to your performance in sport or your personal fitness goals. Constantly be evaluating where this concept can help your performance and speed your progress. In addition, if you want faster results look for areas of weakness that would provide you with that “tipping point” performance progression. These are both game changers.
Truth in Fitness
Jacques DeVore, CSCS President Sirens and Titans Fitness Los Angeles.