Monday, March 23, 2009

Strength Training and Skill Training

I have been reflecting more on the interview that I did the other day with Doug McGuff. In particular I've been thinking about this issue of strength training versus skill training.

Here is a quote from Richard Winnett that says something similar to Doug:

Similar arguments can be made concerning 'functional' and 'stability' training. The basic assumptions are that training in a specific way transfers directly to a sport or activity of daily living and training in unstable environments activates more muscle fibers and also will better transfer to unstable 'real life tasks'.

The arguments made for this kind of training fall apart when the research literature is consulted. At best, studies suggest that transfer of training occurs very little or not at all. This is what is meant by these outcomes. Training in a certain way such as very rapid movements or jumping with weights does not enhance rapid movements or jumping, for example, in a sport, any more than conventional training enhances such performance.

The major outcomes of such studies suggest that the goal should be to gain strength in a safe, efficient, and effective way and then learn how to use that strength in a given sport. Trying to mimic the sport in training makes little or no sense.

I am really intrigued by that last statement: gain strength in a safe, efficient, and effective way and then learn how to use that strength in a given sport.

The sort of research he is talking about is here.

I've started to sense a "freedom" about the approach that he is promoting. Sometimes there is a danger - for me at least - of always looking for the next big thing, looking for the secret training approach that will finally sort me out and make me perform better. Doug's approach is straightforward - you need basic strength training then you need to practice the skills for your sport. It isn't complicated - stop looking for the hidden secret.


Asclepius said...

That approach rings true with me - I anticipate/believe in a cross training effect whereas these guys seem to suggest strength is strength and from thereon, you simply need to learn to apply it skillfully in your sport/pursuit.

Having said that, building strength using sprinting/climbing/jumping etc is a hell of a lot of fun and for me, more appealing than squatting on a Smith Machine or whatever.

I like the line "If obsessive manipulation of these training variables really had a significant effect on specific outcomes, it would be evident in the preponderance of resistance-training studies."

I made a similar point on the Doug McGuff thread "My take on exercise is to keep it vaired in both choice of exercise and rep scheme.

There are broad conclusions we can draw on which exercises and modalities are the most productive (basic compound exercises of a high intensity). I am happy to pick up training ideas from others and incorporate them as I deem necessary. I play around with concepts and listen to my body - adjusting accordingly.

But if you are looking for some detailed, exlicit and definitive research on which exercises/approach is 'the best', I don't think there will ever be agreement as it depends on so many factors.

For me, if I am getting stronger without getting injured then my approach is the best for me. anyone who tells me that their method is better than mine may well be right, but as I am 'gaining' I am happy."

The article you cite disagrees with this approach slightly, but essentially we can sometimes get bogged down and paralysed by reps/set/exercise choice etc, when simply exhausting the big muscles using basic movements a couple of times a week will get you strong!

I am off to read this article in detail!

Chris said...

I agree - keep it fun. I love sprints, being in the hills.... my Krav Maga training. But I'm thinking it maybe time to go back to some more regular strength training as well.

Asclepius said...

Muscle ups, handstands, planches and levers! Time to dig out your leotard!


Seriously though, I am going to experiment with some of the ideas in that is very thought provoking.

Chris said...

Seriosuly I do think some of that gymnastic stuff fits in. Bascially they are timed isometrics. Loads of effort, load of tension in the muscle

Asclepius said...

Chris - it appears the debate is not over ;)

Mike T Nelson said...

I think if hypertrophy is your main goal, variety is more important.

Having fun is always key too!

Rock on!
Mike T Nelson, PhD(c)

Chris said...

Asclepius - cheers for that.

Mike - thanks

Walter said...

If you haven't already read what Eric Cressy had to say about unstable surface training, you might want to check his blog out.

Chris said...

Walter - I've seen it - it is good.

Similar stuff is here

viagra online said...

Thanks for share it, right now I practice skills but for this skill you also need strength so i guess that there's no way you can choose, at least you want some useless muscles.