Specific Conditioning for Your Sport

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A lot of people want fitness to equal fitness.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

One of my athletes said that she was taking a strength and conditioning class next semester and asked if it was going to be hard.

It could be really hard or easy. It just depends on how the class is set up.

Exercise is a science. I know anyone that has been to a gym thinks they have got it all figured out, but there are scientific principles that guide exercise. When we break away from these things, clarity is compromised.

Conditioning is one of those topics that is completely misunderstood.

Conditioning is designed to train an energy system. The body has three energy systems and all conditioning should be designed to improve one of them. Without this purpose we don’t have conditioning.

Specificity also matters for conditioning. 

Runners like to run and non runners don’t. It’s pretty simple.

What then happens is that we try to find justification to avoid the things we do not like.

Athletes need to take a look at their sport and look at what the demands of it are.

  1. Do you run, skate, etc?
  2. How much of it is done in a particular game?
  3. Does your running involve a lot of changing direction or straight line sprints?

It does not make a lot of sense for a soccer player to condition on a bike.

The training adaptation might be similar because you are probably getting good energy system training in but the mode matters.

Strength and conditioning are specific to mode as are your muscles.

This is why a lot of people find battle ropes to be a great workout. The ropes are not a normal mode of conditioning. They involve an unfamiliar pattern and muscle groups. Someone might be a great runner but get crushed by the ropes.

If you need to run for your sport then the majority of your conditioning should be running.

The method also matters for your conditioning. Soccer is a sport made up by a lot of change of direction and sprinting. This makes distance running not an optimal choice for the sport.

Distance running is a long and slow with no breaks. Most sports are generally more interval based. Getting less specific can have its benefits the further the season is from beginning but as we get closer we should move towards more specificity.

Avoiding Overuse

Using alternative methods of conditioning can be helpful for avoiding overuse. Some athletes cannot tolerate any more running because they are already over doing it.

When this is the case we can use circuits and other modes of training. This type of training should be the minority of your conditioning, though.

The body needs its time to adapt. The pattern of running must be the main focus for conditioning in healthy athletes. The same idea is what makes it really important for hockey players to get on the ice early to reinforce their dry land training.

Remember that conditioning is going to be specific to what modes and methods you use. If you only ride the bike then don’t be surprised when running becomes really difficult and if your sport is not lifting weights then you need to get hoofing.