Do you play a sport competitively? Are you a strength trainee exclusively? Are you an endurance athlete? Are you training for a lifestyle of fitness? Some combination of all of the above?
The point is this: your training program needs to Impose the Specific Demands that will cause you to Adapt in such a way that the biomarkers of your performance improve.
Now, which biomarkers are we talking about? In nearly every sport or athletic pursuit, there are particular biomarkers that immediately come to mind: strength, speed, power, agility, flexibility/body control, endurance/stamina, etc.
In the perspective of training, we should be able to craft a hierarchy of those biomarkers which will in turn help us create a priority list that we can use to maximize the efficiency of our training regimen. After all, most of us only have a few hours per week to devote to our training.
I’m not going to beat around the bush. It is obvious to me that strength is the most important biomarker of performance. Strength is the ability to exert force, from which comes speed. Being stronger also means that the rate of exertion for a given movement, relative to absolute strength, is much lower. In vehicle racing, this commonly referred to as the Power to Weight Ratio.
Following strength is its derivative: speed. Even in the endurance sports, the competition is still a race: who is the fastest. Assuming the competitors all have the stamina to complete the race, it is still the most powerful (force divided by time – the one who exerts the most forward propulsion in the elapsed time) one who wins.
What comes after strength? Everything else – for your given sport, you will need some level of endurance, coordination, sport-specific skills, etc. A wrestler will only need a few minutes of stamina, while a triathlete may need a couple of hours. A hockey player will only need to be on the ice for about 30 seconds per shift, but may need to be capable of 30 or more shifts per game.
For our purposes here, we can see that athletes need to start with strength, transition from maximal strength to strength-endurance, and as the in-season approaches, move from a strength-based template to one that closer-approximates the demands of the sport. The common model of periodization describes this near-perfectly. For more detailed reading, I recommend Periodization Training for Sports by Tudor Bompa. In it, the authors describe, in exhausting detail, the periodization approaches for a wide variety of common sports.
In our next installment, we’ll get into the details of how to maximize efficiency while pursuing training goals. In the meantime, post in the comments or visit us on Facebook to share what sport you participate in, and how you hope to use your garage gym to train for domination!