How To Train Like An Athlete - Part One

On Thursday 5th November my first book, The Strength and Conditioning Bible - How To Train Like An Athlete is released on Amazon. I'm really excited about the book, it's taken almost 2-years of hard work and I can't wait to see it in the book stores!

I thought I would share with you some sections from the book to give you an idea of the content. This is the first part of a two part article in which I explain what Integrated Performance Conditioning means to me. The second part will follow later this week.

What is Integrated Performance Conditioning (IPC) - PART ONE

Anyone can 'work hard', it's easy to 'empty the tanks'. The difficult thing for you to do is to ensure that your training session are productive and have a purpose. Integrated performance conditioning is simply a 'real-world' approach to training and if you look at what each word means you can quickly figure out what IPC sets out to achieve.

Integrated (adjective) - with various parts of aspects linked or coordinated Traditionally fitness coaches and athletes have adopted a unimodal approach to training, primarily focusing on the development of one fitness component at the expense of others. Lets say you wanted to get fit so that you could run a local 10km race. The starting point for most people would be to spend hours clocking up miles running out on the streets in an attempt to develop lungs like dustbin liners and a body that could withstand the constant pounding that running inflicts on it! Certainly this is a tried and tested option, but is it the most efficient and effective approach? What other fitness components would help improve performance? Could they be integrated into your training programme to boost performance?

Performance (noun) - the action or process of performing a task or function For training to be effective it's got to be related to the task or or what I call the performance outcome. When I spoke to renowned strength and conditioning coach, Vern Gambetta about what training should look like he simply said 'everyone should train with a purpose'. It's important that you realise that your training must be linked to the end goal. It needs to be functional (I'll explain exactly what this means in more detail later in this section) but basically all movements have a level of functionality, and if training moves too far away from fundamental movements it will be less effective. If you want to be able to play 5-a-side football with your friends, your training must reflect that 'performance outcome'. 5-a-side football can be physically demanding, lots of changes of direction, sudden bursts of speed, body contact etc. If this is your performance outcome, you need to make sure that the exercises you are performing in your training sessions are preparing you for the demands of the game. In my experience most 5-a-side enthusiasts are poorly prepared (just look at the number of players that hobble home with an injury at the end of a game).

Conditioning (noun) - bring (something) into the desired state for use Have you ever taken up a sport in an attempt to 'get fit'? This is a common mistake that I see time and time again and is absolutely the wrong approach to getting back into shape. The first step should always be to 'get fit' to cope with the demands of the activity you would like to take part in. If you want your body to perform a task (kick a ball, run for bus, lift your grandchildren up) it must have the appropriate level of conditioning to be able to perform the task. Conditioning is all about developing the 'capacity' needed to improve performance, and that doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and effort to ensure that your body is capable of doing what you want it to do without breaking down.

The first step you need to take to becoming a modern-day athlete is to recognise that a fundamental shift in your mindset is required if you are to develop a comprehensive physical preparation programme that delivers optimal levels of fitness and function. If endurance is your thing, more endurance work isn't going to cut it, you need to think about movement quality training, strength and power development and injury reduction strategies. If you are a busy parent juggling the demands of home, work and sport you need to think about doing less, improving your training density and focusing on recovery and regeneration. You need to open yourself up to the potential that an IPC has to offer. Step outside of your box and get ready to train for the demands of the 'real world'.

Later this week I'll discuss my five-point blueprint for success. If you want to find out how to train like an athlete pre-order your copy of the Strength and Conditioning Bible today on Amazon.