Becoming an elite competitor means different things to different people, but make no mistake, everything we are training for is a competition. We obviously acknowledge that any athlete who participates in some sport or event is competing, but what about everyone else?
- Firefighters compete against the clock as they race into a burning building to save lives and quell the inferno.
- Even the person who wants to lose a few pounds, build a little muscle, and feel better each day is competing. They must battle against the forces of an easier, but less healthy, existence.
Regardless of what we call our competition, one thing remains certain:
We must be conditioned to compete
Achieving physical conditioning is more scientific than most people assume. We must be more precise than we are vicious. We must consider what our client’s need in order to win.
And again, winning means different things to different clients. But helping a client win with their conditioning requires these things:
1. Knowing why each energy system matters
Conditioning the ATP/CP system requires the use of work: rest intervals that ask a client to push themselves for roughly ten seconds of all out effort. Yes, that’s right - only ten seconds of absolute maximum output. You’d meet this sort of effort with at least 3 times as much rest, but up to six. This rapid energy source is fuel for our most forceful, or higher velocity, muscular contractions.
This sort of training is important for everyone involved in a sport or lifestyle in which they’ll need to go all out for a short burst. Football is a perfect example, as the players will give their all for three to ten seconds (on average) prior to at least thirty seconds of rest.
The glycolytic energy system is arguably the most important metabolic pathway to train for most sports and competition. It fuels effort for up to 90 seconds, although there is some evidence that highly trained individuals can stretch it close to two minutes. These contractions aren’t nearly as high in output (force or velocity) but must be sustained for periods much longer than the ATP/CP system could power.
Nearly every major sport where the ball stays in play is a great example of this energy system. Basketball, hockey, lacrosse, and even soccer requires the glycolytic system to be conditioned. The best way to train this system is by putting together circuits of movements that require someone to stay in motion and working hard for 60 to 120 seconds.
The most obvious, and most commonly trained, energy system involves shuttling oxygen into the body to fuel more advanced energy metabolisms. The longer duration of aerobic training requires a lower output of force or velocity, thus allowing fats to serve as the primary fuel source.
Every single person walking the Earth should have an athletic conditioning base that allows their aerobic energy system to flourish under the sustained stress that kicks in when we’ve been working at least two minutes and up to many hours. Surely, marathon runners, soccer players, and triathletes must develop this system beyond all others.
2. Keep the goal the goal
At CoreStrength1, we take our intake processes seriously. It is important to us to ensure our training programs match exactly what our client’s and our athletes need. We have memorized this tag line like streets we grew up on.
It is important to condition client’s in a manner that improves their ability to survive and thrive in their arena. We must always keep their end goal in mind and avoid the temptation to do other things in the name of “mixing it up”. Baseball players don’t need to run ten miles to better themselves at their sports and marathon elites don’t need to train their 2 rep-max bench press.
3. Recovery is progress
For every great conditioning coach in the industry there are at least two or three that keep the foot on the gas pedal for too long. It isn’t that they are sinister or have ill intentions though. Instead, they feel that more is better, and they’ll get their clients further if they forget brake pedals.
You’ll be different though, because like us, you realize that adaptations occur during rest. It is important to treat your harder conditioning workouts with the same level of respect that you treat your heavier lifting sessions. The body will be broken down and will need time to recover to provide the desired output come time for competition.
At CoreStrength1, we put conditioning very high on our pyramid of needs in our training programs. We want our clients, athletes, coaches, and first-time users to emerge from a workout feeling as though they are more than ready to tackle their challenges and succeed in whatever competition they call home.