Regardless of whether you are a professional athlete, weekend warrior or the average joe, our bodies all share the same basic qualities for function. For optimal performance, all of the following areas should be trained regularly. If you are serious about your performance, your training program should encompass all seven of these pillars.
When it comes to performance, strength is first and foremost. Strength is the basis of speed and power and is necessary for completing every task we do whether it is competing in a sport or simply picking up a gallon of milk. There are two types of strength: relative and absolute strength. Relative strength is compared to an individual’s size or body weight, and it is used during everyday activities such as walking. Absolute strength refers to an actual amount, such as the weight on the barbell, and it is what generates power.
Power is the ability to create force, and to do so requires a blend of strength, flexibility, and mobility. For athletes, power is one of the most important aspects of performance. Therefore it is essential for an athlete to understand the concept of power and how to build or maintain it through a well-rounded training program including all pillars on this list. For the average person, power is still important for its carryover into everyday life.
For most sports, speed can be the most highly sought after skills an athlete can have. It is a skill that must be practiced in order to be gained or maintained. However, an increase in speed requires a good deal of strength, while agility, flexibility, and mobility play heavy roles as well. Because speed can truly be trained only at or above 99% effort, it is a very demanding skill and should be strategically programmed in training.
Agility is the ability to move quickly, generally when changing directions. It is nearly as much neurological as it is physical, and some individuals are seemingly born with much higher skill than others. It is a skill that can be trained, however, to be agile requires a blend of strength, power, flexibility, and mobility. In performance, nothing operates on its own.
Increased flexibility creates more fluid movement, and more importantly, helps prevent injuries. Individuals who lack flexibility are generally more “injury-prone”. They are unable to move properly whether in the gym or on the field. But everyone is flexible to an extent. This is a skill that should be trained frequently to increase performance and limit injury risk.
For many people, flexibility and mobility may seem to be interchangeable terms. However, there is a distinct difference between the two: flexibility involves the muscles, mobility involves the joints. A mobile joint is one that can move through a complete range of motion. Of course, the two go hand in hand, and strength plays a big role as well.
This refers specifically to how stable an individual is while moving. If muscles are working together properly, they will create stability. If not, they can alter movement patterns and create compensations due to weakness. Depending on the movement or exercise, these instabilities can be identified and corrected by strengthening the muscles involved. The human body is a series of alternating stable and mobile joints, which must be able to operate in unison with the muscles to achieve peak performance.
Regardless of athletic ability or goals, it is important for all individuals to practice all of these pillars regularly. Not only will they help ensure your body moves properly and efficiently, but more importantly they will help minimize the occurrence of injury. Practicing these skills can be done safely for all ages, and is equally important for older individuals as physical skills being to decline with age.
Danny from Eternal Athlete