Long distance running and long duration high intensity cardio have long been a staple in team-sport training and preparation. I am talking since before the days where Rocky Balboa through on on his grey sweat suit and ran up those historic stairs in Philadelphia. Like anything, times change and so must the way we prepare and train athletes. I am writing this mostly because I am concerned and because it is time to make a statement. I have seen too many injuries to the lower extremities of young athletes who are also left tired and abused from improper conditioning. So here is my final stand. I am going to make this quite simple. I will break down the different energy systems of the body, discuss which are used prevalently in sports and then finish up with my favorite ways to train team-sport athletes when it comes to conditioning.
The Energy Systems of The Human Body
As Humans we arrange activity into three basic categories of energy, which are alactic (anaerobic), lactic and aerobic. Here is a breakdown of each of them and when they are used.
Systems Most Commonly Used In Team Sports
Essentially all major team sports are performed in the alactic (anerobic) and aerobic energy systems. That is, rarely does a team sport athlete exert themselves at maximum intensity for longer than 15 seconds (intense and short sprints, jumps, force production or shots) . If they are continuously active it will be at lower intensities (think basketball players jogging around in a half-court set, soccer/hockey players passing a ball/puck amongst teammates etc.). That is, a team sport athlete will rarely ever perform their sport in a lactic state (higher intensities for continuous durations). So, you can begin to see why it would be pointless to train in this manner.
The Wrong Way To Train Team Sport Athletes (Along With My Alternatives)
I’ll keep the first part of this brief. In a nutshell, it is wrong to train athletes at higher intensities for long periods of time. This can include multiple mile runs, long sprints etc. Now, here are my favorite ways to train the alactic/anaerobic and aerobic systems. Note that a combination of both in a program is most effective.
As you can see it is quite simple to understand why the conditioning practices that are still seen today are wrong and detrimental to athletes. It is imperative that we assess the sports being trained for so that we best understand the structure and needs that go along with it in terms of anaerobic and aerobic training.
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.