Biomarkers

In the last article, we discussed Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. But what type of demands are we talking about? The answer is simple: What are you training for?

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.

Furthermore, strength is a hard-earned attribute when compared endurance. Endurance can take as little as a few months to acquire while true strength requires years. “Strength is never a weakness.”

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.

Garage Gym Girl - Sprint Triathlete

Garage Gym Girl – Sprint Triathlete

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!

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6 thoughts on “Biomarkers

  1. great post. In endurance sports that strength to weight ratio becomes exponential as you are moving for long periods of time. Judging from that photo tell garage gym girl her seat is too high.
    Cheers,
    Shawn

    • Thanks Shawn! The photo is from a few years ago, and she’s had the fitting adjusted quite a bit since then.
      Regarding training, do you have any off-season strength programs you recommend for increasing that strength-to-weight ratio? I’ll be giving some recommendations for programs in the near future, and would love to hear what has worked for you.

      • I like doing Olympic lifts in the off season to increase power. Also, working in stabilizing muscles to help avoid injury. Bridges, lateral walks, mini band work. I’m a bigger athlete so keeping my weight in check is always a challenge.

  2. Great post.
    This illustrates my two biggest criticisms of CrossFit: Lack of periodization and a single training regiment regardless of goals. For me it all starts with goals. If you haven’t set specific goals and programed your training to meet those goals you’re just spinning your wheels.
    As an aquatic athlete (swimming, surfing and paddleboard among other outdoor activities) strength to weight (more specifically mass) is extremely important. Raw strength is important but range of motion, flexibility and buoyancy are also important. Finding a balance is difficult and there are fewer measures of competence than with say weightlifting or CrossFit.
    Looking forward to the next post!

  3. Pingback: Strength | Garage Gym Guy

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