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Train Like You Play

There are many variables that exist in the world of strength and conditioning, most of which athletes and avid exercisers are familiar with adjusting in order to get the desired effect from their exercise.  For example, someone looking to build muscle size may primarily perform their resistance exercises in a certain repetition range and at a certain percentage of their one-repetition maximum, while the development of power requires increased velocity and usually a reduction in repetition volume from the previous example.  Another important element of exercise that is often overlooked is the duration and placement of rest breaks in combination with other exercise variables to condition the various metabolic systems within the body.

By changing when and how long we rest we can allow for associated changes in exercise intensity and thereby target our aerobic vs. anaerobic energy systems, simulating the demands of a given sport and even a specific position within a sport.  For instance, when training a football offensive lineman versus a basketball shooting guard, rest to activity ratios should be dictated by the different competition demands of each sport and each position within the sport.  There are obvious discrepancies in the amount and intensity of running, agility, and plyometric exercise between the two sports.  Furthermore, there is definite variability in rest to activity ratios which should also be incorporated into the resistance training, practice drills, etc. to optimally prepare the athlete for their specific sport.

In the world of rehabilitation, physical therapists and athletes need to consider the metabolic demands of a sport.  As an athlete progresses out of their initial phases of recovery, exercise must start to bear a greater resemblance to the demands of whatever sport they hope to return to.  An athlete should consider how much time in competition they spend at rest or in low-intensity activity and the intervals at which activity occurs in order to try to reproduce similar work to rest ratios in their training programs.  Specificity in training (and in physical therapy) is crucial when returning to sport from an injury or even an off-season.  All athletes should consider the way in which they incorporate rest breaks into their workouts in order to improve sport performance and potentially reduce the risk for injury.

If you have further questions on sport specific strength and conditioning or need assistance with a return to play program after injury, call Omaha Physical Therapy Institute!  We can help!

Matt Vetter, PT, DPT, CSCS


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