Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Off-the-Shelf Programs and Athletes

Occasionally I get asked about popular, "name" programs like P90X, Crossfit, Couch to 5K, etc. and how they work for athletes.

My experience is that they basically do not. Not that the programs aren't good (although some commercial programs are not), but that they aren't good for athletes.

Why not?

In my experience there are two big reasons athletes and off-the-shelf programs (hereafter OTSPs) don't mix very well.

Athletes have specific needs, OTSPs do not address them.

All athletes have specific needs for their sport, and specific needs for them as individuals doing that sport. OTSPs are generic, and thus don't take into account your individual strengths and weaknesses.

Even athletic-specific programs aren't ideal for all athletes - a program to make you a great powerlifter isn't an ideal program to make you a great MMA fighter, and vice-versa. Your sports have specific needs.

Athletes have a lot of training to recover from; OTSPs assume that you do not.

OTSPs assume that you are doing a specific routine and not much else (aside from the recommended extras, and probably not even them). Any athlete worth the name is doing multiple additional training sessions each week. These are often skill-specific and very intense - soccer practice, sparring, practice lifting, throwing, running. Recovery is sleep and rest and light movement (at most), not hard sports training. So the OTSP assumes you are resting on Tuesday and raring to go on Wednesday, not hitting the field tired on Tuesday and you feel too wrecked to do that circuit on Wednesday.

So what do I do instead?

That's a big question, but it boils down to: a program that addresses your specific needs (whether strength, or endurance, or what have you) and takes into account your specific training schedule. No, that's not easy. But it's necessary.

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