Monday, March 30, 2009

Get stronger then apply it

That was one of the things that came strongly out of my interview last week with Doug McGuff. Get stronger using appropriate rational strength training. Then, through skill training, apply that new strength to your sport.

The idea is that skill training is really specific, so if you want to get better at a skill you have to practice that skill....exactly. For example say you want to train a throwing movement, maybe throwing a cricket ball. You decide to simulate the movement with a 5lb dumbell. The mechanics of throwing a 5lb dumbell will be very different from those of throwing a ball. When you go back to throwing a ball you are having to learn a new skill.

Doug would say that the rational thing to do is to develop overall strength with weights and then improve your skill at throwing the cricket ball.

This - by the way - is challenging some of the things I've pointed to in the past about the value of "functional" training.

Anyway, I spotted this study that seems to back up this principle - specific resistance training didn't help any more than just skill training.

Effect of specific resistance training on overarm throwing performance.

PURPOSE: The main purpose of this study was to compare the effect of a specific resistance training program (throwing movement with a pulley device) with the effect of regular training (throwing with regular balls) on overarm throwing velocity under various conditions. METHODS: The training forms were matched for total training load, ie, impulse generated on the ball or pulley device. Both training groups (resistance training n = 7 and regular training n = 6) consisted of women team handball players, and trained 3 times per week for 8 weeks, according to an assigned training program alongside their normal handball training. RESULTS: An increase in throwing velocity with normal balls after the training period was observed for both groups (P = .014), as well as throwing with heavier balls and throwing like actions in the pulley device. Although the regular training group seemed to improve more (6.1%) in throwing velocity with normal balls than the resistance training group (1.4%), this difference was not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that resistance training does not surpass standard throwing training in improvement of overarm throwing velocity.


theorytopractice said...

If there is any "secret" to strength & conditioning work, this is it. Build overall strength in the basic, functional movements, hone that strength with explosive, power-dominant CNS work, then practice your skill.

John Sifferman - Real World Strength Training said...

I think this is very true. Most traditional weight training does not transfer over to sport-specific or activity-specific performance. The strength coach's job is to STIMULATE the movement being trained for (such as a baseball pitch or front jab in boxing), but not to SIMULATE the movement itself, as this will essentially rewire the nervous system and blend the two skills together, making the athlete technically worse at performing their sports skills.

In my training programs, I try to move from general physical preparation (GPP), to specific physical preparation (SPP), to activity specific preparation (ASP). Those three levels should be blended together so that the transitions are virtually unnoticed.

To your health and success,

John Sifferman
Fitness Professional

Jeff said...

Hey Chris,

I am not sure I understand this fully. In the case you showed, the resistance training didn't help. If resistance training doesn't help, then why do it at all? Sounds like you are just better off doing the intended skill always.

Also, it seems to me that there are grey areas here. If you need to be able to balance well then doing balance exercises in general would seem to me to be beneficial for specific balancing needs. Another example is with baseball players and golf. They tend to be pretty good golfers and pick it up fast. Football players or basketball players don't necessarily pick it up the same way. Are the similar, but not identical, motions synergistic even a little bit?

It seems to me that if you practice an array of different general skills then they may be adapted somewhat to other things in the same genus.

I just don't see how it can be said that there is no carryover from one skill to another and all that matters is strength. The example I heard earlier was with running bases in baseball. If you want to get better at running bases you should run bases only? Running sprints will not help at all?

tomkurz said...

“The idea is that skill training is really specific, so if you want to get better at a skill you have to practice that skill....exactly.”

Not very exactly.... A quote from Science of Sports Training:

Right Resistance
The amount of resistance in sport-specific exercises has to ensure duplication of intermuscular and intramuscular coordination. If resistance is too great, the movement may resemble the external form of the technique, but it will require different coordination than the one that is best in the technique. For example, the intermuscular and intramuscular coordination in throwing a 1.5 kg (3.3 lb.) ball using the technique of a javelin throw without a prerun is the same as in throwing a 0.8 kg (1.75 lb.) javelin. In throwing a 4 kg (8.8 lb.) ball in the same fashion, the external form resembles the javelin throw, but the muscular coordination registered by an EMG (Electromyograph) is different. The throw with a 1.5 kg ball can be used as a sport-specific strength exercise, but the throw of a heavier ball—up to 4 kg depending on athletic level—may be used only as a directed strength exercise by javelin throwers below the stage of maximal realization of their potential (Wazny 1992b). In high jumping, vests with weights amounting to no more than 5% of the body weight are used in training forms of competitive exercises (Matveyev [Matveev] 1981). If the time, rhythm, or spatial form of a technique changes with a given amount of resistance, then the resistance is too great.

Tyciol said...

So is the idea of superslow to hit fibre strength at each range in the movement so that strength in an early range won't generate momentum to carry it through weaker sticking spots?

Chris said...

Tyciol - I think that is part of it. Eliminating momentum is a major aspect. Try it. Do a pushup taking 30 - 60 seconds on the positive and the same on the way down.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with getting strong first and learning technique later. I believe that it is best to develop strength and technique at the same time. The serious strength gains that really make a difference in performance require years to develop. Technical proficiency also takes years to develop, depending on the sport. In track and field, it takes the average athlete ten years to learn the hammer throw. Elite level hammmer throwers usually do not peak until they are close to 30. This is because of the time it takes to develop both the required energy levels and the technique to use it. Failure to train both simultaneously is a waste of time. This study was 8 weeks long. 8 weeks is nothing. It is not enought time for real growth and progress.