What I write over the next page or so will probably annoy you, you may even flat out disagree with me. All I ask is that you keep an open mind.
Some 40 or so years ago, a man Mr K Cooper invented the world of aerobics and ever since, we have been “shackled” to the concept of effective training involving an hour long bout of aerobic training, normally in the form of a jog, cycling down the street, or attending a fitness class.
However this form of training has been long since proven to NOT be the most effective method for most sports AND, more importantly, NOT an effective fat loss tool either.
How has this form of training managed to remain the foremost practised workout in the world? Whilst my sceptical head has many theories on this, the purpose of this article is not to disprove the aerobic method, but to provide you with reasons to try something else instead.
I could bore you with many studies that prove that Interval based training principles and resistance style workouts are better for your sports training needs, but instead I want to appeal to your common sense.
Unless your chosen sport is purely endurance based, such as marathon running, triathlon, long distance cycling or cross country skiing then you need to look at the how you challenge your body when you are “playing” your game?
Even an endurance based sport demands a different look for optimum training plans, but that is for another article!
Most sports require short bursts of effort interspersed with periods of rest. The ability for your body to handle these efforts is based on the ability for your muscles to recover effectively ready for the next effort. Think of the short sprint to reach a long ball, darting across the squash court, or rushing at an opponent to make a tackle.
Most sports require a level of strength exerted over a short period of time, ie. POWER. Think of a tennis stoke, golf swing, a leap or a quick start.
Most sports require a flexibility and at the same time a stability of your joints to execute a controlled movement. Think a kick of a ball, striking a ball with a bat, or throwing an object.
Now tell me how spending most of your training time doing a low intensity, aerobic style workout like that of jogging or an hour on an exercise bike is going to help you develop a better body for sport?
This style of workout that has been shown to restrict mobility, increase your chances of repetitive strain injuries and breaks down muscle tissue in order to retain your body’s natural homeostasis.
Armed with a little knowledge and a helping of common sense, you can see that doing your “usual” workout may not be optimum for you or your sport! I also mentioned at the start that this style of training is not that effective for fat loss either! The only study I will cite in this article demonstrates that an interval based training plan has be shown to be NINE times more effective for fat loss than doing long slow steady state workouts such as jogging, or working out on an exercise bike for an hour or more!
Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada.
So what should you be doing for your sports training?
Well simple really, take a look at the demands your sport has on the body…
Is it short sprints, then go out and train for short sprints…
Is it dynamic, powerful movements whilst on your feet, then train to make dynamic, powerful movements whilst on your feet (that means stay away from the machines, and pick up a dumbbell or two!)
Is it jumping, first step quickness, changes of direction, flexibility, stability, strength, power?
You see what I am getting at?
Most of us never need to do aerobic style training, whilst to some this will come as a relief, you may still be resisting this paradigm shift. What I propose is such a fundamental shift in over 40 years of training folk lore that it is easy to dismiss such a simplistic concept.
Sabine is a keen skier, water in the summer, snow in the winter. Since changing her training approach from that of endurance athlete to that of power and strength, her sporting performance has taken a dramatic turn for the better, what’s more her body fat percentage dropped to below 20%. Her workouts never last more than 45 minutes and has not done a single aerobic workout since the change.
Whilst every sport is different, it is important to note that the basic requirements of “most” sports requires a very different model of training than that which is normally adopted. Before heading out for your next workout, take a close look at the demands of your sport and ask yourself honestly if the jog you are about to do is going to make a difference? Or are you just doing it because that is what you have always done.