I want to get started talking about training specific Energy Systems and the actual physiological needs of ‘Conditioning’ but first we need to talk about Dynamic Correspondence to get us ready.
Dynamic Correspondence is a scientific sounding term that basically means when we are physically training for a given sport/task, the movements and the energy systems used in the training methods must reflect/mimic those used in the task, otherwise we will not get the proper transfer of adaptations from our training to our actual sport/competition/tasks.
This is where I usually have such an issue with the words ‘Fitness’ or ‘Conditioning’ as most people and trainers use these blanket terms to address very specific goals. For example: The physical needs of a shot-putter and a soccer player couldn’t be more different, yet certain training methods (Crossfit this one is pointed at you) would have you believe they both require similar preparation methods because after all Fitness is Fitness right? Nothing could be more wrong.
Now having said that I will start by saying that General Physical Preparation (GPP) is the foundation for every single sport/training method and should be the meat and potatoes of anyone’s training regimen, however, we must know that the more physically trained and adapted the individual or the more specific their sport/task, the more specific their training must be if we are trying to improve a specific physical attribute. Two primary methods I see misused on a regular basis are:
Training extremely general in nature and expecting a very specific adaptation. For Example: People running long distances to get ‘in shape’ for a sport like Football that requires very high levels of power and speed for very short durations with relatively high amounts of rest in between; then repeated numerous times throughout a game.
Using very specific training movements/methods in a general manner to try and improve very vague/general physical qualities. For Example: Crossfit’s usage of highly taxing, highly specific, highly complex movements like the Barbell Snatch for high repetitions and general ‘work capacity.’ The Snatch is a great exercise for improving jumping ability and power but it is extremely specific and is in no way a tool that should be used to improve work capacity or endurance.
In summation, the training that we use to prepare us for sports/combat/life should reflect the needs of the task and the needs of the individual. If the goal is General Physical Preparation, train generally and address the needs that you have at the foundational level. When the goal is Specific Physical Preparation (SPP), train in a manner that reflects the needs of the task. As a general rule; when I am planning and programming my athletes’ training blocks I always look at the templates and go to each exercise on the sheet and ask myself “Why are you doing that or Why are you doing it this way?” If I can answer clearly and specifically, it stays. If I have to stop and think about it and my answer is something like “well I needed one more exercise to fill out the blocks,” it doesn’t get put in the final template.