If you’re a competitive athlete in any sport, chances are you’re looking to get an edge on your performance. You want to get the most out of every moment of your training. So how do you train smarter and not harder?
There are two big questions that must be considered when deciding how you want to train for your chosen sport:
- How often / How much should I be training?
- What kinds of training should I be doing?
Understanding Progressive Overload
How much should I train?
To answer the first question, we have to understand that there are many different training styles that take advantage of the different kinds of adaptations made in the body during training.
An athlete may have one or many different goals for their training depending on their sport. Cardiovascular fitness, power, hypertrophy, explosive movements, speed, and flexibility are all examples, but there are many more skills that may be applicable to any given sport or exercise. While very different, they all have one thing in common. Each is developed through the principle of Progressive Overload.
What does this mean? Simply put: the more stress you put on your body, the more it will adapt to accommodate that stress. Employing the principle of Progressive Overload requires an athlete to slowly increase the physical stress created by their workouts, by progressively increasing frequency, intensity, and/or duration of those workouts.
Progressive Overload allows you to reach advanced strength, fitness, and skill goals without pushing your body too quickly or attempting to work beyond your limits, which can cause injury, fatigue, soreness, and burnout.
Understanding Specificity vs. Cross-Training
How should I train?
The second question, however, can often be a little bit more difficult to answer. What kind of training should you be doing as an athlete?
Depending on your sport and goals, this can vary dramatically. Individual opinion and body type can also make a big difference in how you decide to train. However, there are two main terms that are important to know when you’re deciding how to overload your training.
The first is specificity. This is the idea that one should train in an environment that simulates the one in which they want to achieve peak performance. For example, a cyclist should simulate race day efforts at the same intensity, duration, time of day, etc. A powerlifter should focus on the specific lifts they will be performing on the platform, and strengthen those particular muscles. A football player will get better at football by playing football and developing the necessary skill and muscle memory. The list goes on. Specificity principles can be applied to any sport or any skill level, and seem intuitive. It follows logically that the more you practice an activity or exercise, the more your body becomes adapted to it.
The second principle is perhaps less obvious but no less valuable to improving athleticism. This is the idea of cross-training.
Cross-training is training through activities other than your specific sport or activity. Its primary function is to create a well-rounded athlete by preventing imbalances or weaknesses that could lead to injury, breaking repetitive movement patterns, reducing burnout of specific muscles, and strengthening otherwise underused muscle groups that will improve overall strength and fitness, as well as performance in your sport.
This could look like weightlifting for an ultramarathoner, cardio conditioning for a bodybuilder, or trail running for a cyclist.
Depending on your athletic goals (strength, hypertrophy, speed, agility, flexibility, etc.) you will want to apply these two principles–Specificity and Cross-Training–in varying ratios, within the structure of Progressive Overload, in order to achieve optimal performance.
Understanding Lateral Movement
The Underrated Training Tool
Perhaps one of the most underrated training tools is exercise that involves lateral movement. There are many sports which rely heavily on this sort of side-to-side motion, including skiing, hockey, and football, for example. It is easy to see how training laterally can give you an edge if you participate in these kinds of sports. In these cases, lateral training falls underneath the principle of specificity. It translates directly into the movements you’ll be performing on the slopes, the field, the rink, etc.
Lateral training, however, is equally as important for those who participate in activities less directly related to this kind of movement. Cyclists, runners, weightlifters, track and field athletes and more can all benefit greatly from adding cross-training workouts which incorporate side-to-side motion. Training for these kinds of sports is commonly limited to linear, or front-to-back movement patterns. When they’re not broken up by rotational or abductor-adductor activities, these movement patterns can become repetitive, leading to muscle imbalances, weaknesses and, in many cases, injury.
Lateral training engages a number of key muscle groups which often go neglected in day-to-day activity, but which are key to proper posture, injury prevention, and musculoskeletal stability. These include:
- Oblique abdominal and core muscles, as well as all-around trunk engagement
- Glute muscles
- Outer hip and thigh muscles, including the stabilizers for the IT Band.
- Micro-muscles around the knee joint which increase integrity and stability under torsional stress
- Inner and outer calf muscles which increase ankle strength
- Small foot muscles which encourage healthy tendon and ligament function and arch support
We know that lateral training is especially important in injury prevention. Most injuries sustained in sport, especially things like ACL tears, are caused by lateral shifts or impacts. Strengthening these important muscle groups will help protect the ligaments and tendons which are susceptible to tearing. Also, developing muscle memory through lateral training will teach your body how to properly move side-to-side, reducing the chances of improper stresses being applied to the joints.
This is why the Skier’s Edge was designed with Lateral Training specifically in mind. We wanted to build a fitness machine truly unlike any other. It may be named after the sport of skiing, but just like the principles of Lateral Training can improve performance in any sport, the Skier’s Edge machine itself is designed to benefit everyone.
It’s the World’s #1 Lateral Fitness Trainer, designed to provide the ultimate cardio conditioning workout as well as giving you the athletic edge that lateral training provides. What are you waiting for? Now that you know what the science says about lateral training, why not try it for yourself? Our 30-day risk-free guarantee makes it easy. Our customers agree, this is the most fun you’ll ever have cross-training from home.
Browse our store to see our new and improved machines and see the benefits of lateral training for yourself!