By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC
This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Joel Jamieson’s “BioForce Certified Conditioning Coach” course in Indianapolis.
Joel is known in the industry as the guru for all things conditioning related. He is the author of the “Ultimate MMA Conditioning” book, which was written specifically for combat sports, but its breadth of application spreads far beyond just MMA.
In years past, conditioning was viewed simply as “training as hard as you can” and that it was needed to develop mental toughness. We made sure that we periodized our strength training, but conditioning was almost considered an afterthought. Besides, all the athlete really needed were some high intensity intervals, and we really didn’t need to do that until right before competition time. Sound about right?
Jamieson’s course did a fantastic job of getting the attendees to start thinking about the “hows” and “whys” of conditioning. Like previously stated, we already periodize and think critically about our strength programs, so perhaps we really need to be doing the same with our conditioning programs.
This course also helped answer some common questions, such as “How can we use specific types of training to maximize our athlete’s or client’s conditioning levels”? Or “how do we “test” for conditioning”? All these questions were certainly answered, and more.
Conditioning itself can best be measured as the “maximum amount of power output that can be maintained over a given time.” So athlete’s who are conditioning can run/bike/row for longer without getting tired, i.e., losing power. However, certain sports and activities require this “max power” to be distributed at different times, different lengths, and in different quantities. It’s obvious that a marathon runner has seemingly infinite energy, but his power suffers because of how he trains and the very demands of his sport. Inversely, a football player will have a much greater amount of power, but he can only sustain this for very short periods. The conditioning programs that we design must take into account the specific demands of each sport so that we can maximize our athlete’s skills to their fullest potential.
When we look at the definition of conditioning and see “maximum amount of power,” there are many factors that determine this power output in regards to conditioning. It cannot simply be determined by our cardiovascular system or our energy systems. Rather, it is a combination of factors including our movement qualities, connective tissue, energy systems, sensory feedback, and motor control. ALL of these factors must be taken into account when developing a conditioning program to develop power. If we concentrate only one of these factors, we will probably get some crossover to others, but we certainly won’t be maximizing our potential.
Over the next 3 days, I’m going to break down the course and help you to better understand how to program a solid conditioning course to help our athletes maximize their full potential. We will discuss energy systems, movement potential and variability, the role of the brain in conditioning, and finally training methods.