Where we left off in the series of “Why is Core So Important,” we dove head first into a discussion centered around the bare bone essentials of functional joint mobility, and how it applies to rotational athletes. Now that we have an understanding of how to safely isolate the core in a transverse plane, let’s talk about the approach to building the athleticism of the muscular system in a more general sense. After understanding this process, we can then go into further depth for programming core training exercises.
Elite athletes have many similarities to high performance automobiles. For starters, both require proper fueling, equipment, and multi-faceted maintenance. As the “horsepower” of the athlete/ car increases, there is an absolute need for a stronger braking system. In the car world this means forking over 4 to 6 thousand dollars on top shelf brakes. For athletes this means developing the muscles responsible for deceleration. It is vital that the decelerators match the power output that the accelerators produce.
With these primary similarities in mind, let’s talk about how we “build” the muscular system from a car perspective. The first thing we have to do is build the engine, and brakes. Of course, we are going to build a V8 engine. The first step is to develop the coordination and mechanics of the movement pattern. This provides the athlete with the first wave of athletic gains. Coordinated movements not only increase the efficiency of speed and agility movements, but also the strength. Once we establish a foundation of coordination in the athlete, the next step is to establish a base layer of strength. The strength building phase is vital for the athlete, as it provides the ceiling for power development. During this strength building phase we have to pay critical attention to training the accelerator and decelerator muscle groups equally. This balance will set the athlete up for success, and injury free performance.
The athlete can only increase their power to the level that their strength will allow. Once the athlete has built this strength foundation, and increased their ceiling of potential, the engine building phase has been completed. Next on the agenda, is to supercharge the V8 engine that was masterfully crafted. While the V8 engine is fast by itself, and has already provided a large increase in athleticism, there is still more horsepower to be gained! The athlete is now ready to be wired for power gains. Power training is best exemplified by quick bursts of movement with high force production. The objective of power training is to re-wire the muscular and nervous system to become highly efficient together. This involves training the athlete to produce a higher amount of force at a faster rate. Some examples of power training include olympic lifting, plyometrics, counter-movement drills, resisted ballistic movements, and assisted ballistic movements. Once the athlete has built their supercharged engine, and powerful braking system, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Although there are many similarities between athletes and cars, here is one big difference. The athlete can always continue adding to the strength, and power that they have already developed. The work never ends for the athlete, because we never settle for good, or even great. It is about utterly maximizing our full athletic potential! As you strive to achieve greatness, and maximize your abilities as a person and athlete, remember, the joy is in the journey.
Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI
USC Baseball Alumni- BA Human Performance