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Variety in training methods – the good, the bad & the necessary

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Over the years I have participated, competed & coached at the top level in many sporting disciplines. Personally, competing in water polo, rugby union, body building, boxing & power lifting, while coaching athletes within all of these disciplines & many more. For each, training methods are substantially different as the goals & requirements for all vary. While sport specific training is paramount in the end result, through personal experience & coaching many elite athletes, a common trend was found between all, a baseline of strength, power, agility, endurance, mobility & an ability to with stand external forces crosses over between all & is crucial for peak performance.


 The degree to what level the base line requirements are, is completely dependent on the nature & demand of the sport. While varying training methods is essentially for shaping a well developed athlete, a common trend I have found is that prioritizing training methods may be over thought & sometimes even, unnecessary.


Lets take Olympic weight lifting for example, while endurance & stamina is an inaugural component of overall cardiovascular health, performance & longevity, more often than not it is not feasible or necessary to have these athletes undertaking long stints of cardiovascular training if there main goal is to lift a maximal weight for 1 repetition, once in competition. Higher intensity, short duration, explosive training is more relatable, right? Much the same as an iron man competitor performing 1 rep max weight lifting training, while the strength & hypertrophy benefits MAY be beneficial, there are most definitely more optimal means to acquire these results in a safer, more efficient & comparable manner. Too many times have I seen training protocols over complicated for the sake of “variety”, when, simplicity & progressive overload in sport specific methods can & often, yield far greater applicable results.


The one non negotiable that I am yet to find detrimental to any form of physical activity or sport, is an athletes ability to withstand an external load or force through a muscles full range of motion without compromising form or other anatomical structures, that is mobility.


Mobility is one of the most crucial components, & more often than not, over looked when athletes are looking to perform efficiently, optimally & reducing the risk of injury. EVERY single athlete will benefit from incorporating mobility training into their training regime. Reduced mobility has been clinically proven time & time again to compromise other structures within the body, unevenly distributing load into dysfunctional movement patterns which, if left untreated, tend to lead to preventable soft tissue injuries. Mobility isn’t just the ability to get into a further range of motion, but the ability to withstand load & be strong & stable in these end ranges also. It is commonly confused with flexibility, which is the more so being able to reach these full ranges of motion. Being strong & stable throughout a full range of motion without putting other structures at risk is a different story. Mobility is a crucial component of injury prevention, & should most definitely be incorporated into all sports specific programming, & also every day life.


Prioritize mobility drills, your body will thank you, your coaches & team will thank you as you reduce the risk of injury & sidelining yourself. It isn’t as glamorous or sexy as lifting heavy weights, functional drills, sport specific training or heavy duty cardiovascular training, but its necessary.