This past summer we went to a conference as a staff. The first presenter that we went to was highly regarded in the field with a lot of experience training.
His topic was about different types of training that a lot of people had not quite adopted yet.
In his talk he mentioned that someone who was muscular based should train muscular dominant and vice versa for someone who was connective tissue dominant.
I have heard about this kind of profiling for athletes before as strength vs. power biased. Connective tissue dominant would be power biased.
We have tests for this kind of profiling but it can also be seen with athletes that are really strong but not explosive vs. those that lack strength but can run fast or jump high.
The only difference is that my previous learning has talked about strength biased athletes needing more power, as opposed to feeding into the dominance.
I think the key difference is that what kind of athlete we are talking about. I don’t know the right or wrong answer but the following points come to mind.
An elite, professional athlete should probably play to their strengths
Someone who is at the top of their game probably has a pretty good idea of what they are. If those qualities have got them to where they are now, then they should hammer on that.
I have only worked with a couple of professionals but they do not need a ton of crazy work. They are already good and successful. Training should be focused on doing no harm and giving them the extra edge they are looking for.
An athlete probably isn’t going to change ~20 years of development in a given offseason.
If strength/power is holding an athlete back from their goals then it needs to be addressed
The kicker would be if performance is held back by strength or power. Some athletes might be really fast and quick but lack durability. Giving them extra strength may provide that durability they need without changing their athletic profile.
This would obviously occur on a case by case basis and I would imagine is more prevalent in lower level professionals. A starting NFL veteran should probably play to their strengths while an 18 year old baseball draft pick may need to close the gaps on their performance.
Younger athletes should strive for balance until they start to develop
At Evolution, we work with a lot of young athletes. We have recently started using a profiling test. We will measure a vertical jump followed by a drop jump off of a box.
Athletes that have a higher vertical than drop are strength or muscular dominant. This will help guide our programming to determine if the athlete will perform more strength or power exercises in the weight room. All of our athletes will perform both in a given session but the emphasis is what changes.
The difference with training young athletes vs. a professional, for example, is that we do not know what they are yet. They are undeveloped, untrained, and really unknown. As they get older everything may change.
Currently, I am using the profiling test to get data and see what happens. Early on we are seeing that training usually increases both numbers and brings them closer together. But in the big picture the numbers will continue to increase as the athletes get older.
It will be interesting to see how specific athletes progress over time as they grow and age. It is something we will keep an eye on and will guide their training. Until then, I think athletes should always bring up weak points. The recommendation is to play to your strengths but don’t be limited by weaknesses.