Sport Specific movements – what is it and how much is too much?

We hear a lot about using “sport specific” movements.  These are movements that are unique to a given sport. Basketball players using a medicine ball in place of the FIBA-approved game ball or a baseball player using a weighted bat while warming up on deck. Sport specific movements are important for performance but at a certain point, there is such a thing as overdoing “specificity”.  You have reached this point when you are doing something unproductive simply because it simulates the movements of the sport more accurately than basic weightlifting movements.

When we do a back squat, we have two feet planted on the ground.  The weight is resting on our shoulders and our trunk is stable.  This is the most efficient way to build strength.  It may not appear to be specific to any sport, but I do not think anyone could argue that strength is unimportant to any sport.  Even distance runners will benefit from increasing strength.  I would never want to disregard the classic strength movements, as they have been proven to increase very important attributes for athletes such as strength, speed and power output. But if we break down the basics of a squat we see how it applies. So how would we add a specific movement?

You may occasionally see people squatting on an unstable object.  If a therapist has them doing this, it is probably not because it looks cool or to increase their chances of impressing others.  It is likely serving a specific purpose for that individual.  If strength is the goal, an unstable object will not help us achieve this goal for an athlete.  For the goal of strength, you want to be in the most stable position possible.  Using an unstable surface does not make an exercise more “sport specific” unless the sport you play is on unstable surfaces (I know of very few sports for which this is true).  With athletes, I would not want to add any instability to an already unstable system (credit to training genius Loren Landow for this philosophy on training athletes).

If you feel that a back squat lacks specificity, we can break down each joint involved and get very detailed about why it is an important movement for any athlete who values their lower half (more like lower 90% of the body) but to make it more “specific” and still practical, try single leg movements.  Things like lunges, split squats and pistol squats are excellent substitutes but don’t neglect those double leg movements.  Simply add some single leg movements in addition to your back/front squats and deadlifts.

Specificity can tend to be a polarizing word in sports.  Head coaches and athletes love the word.  Strength coaches can be more divided.  However it’s understanding that, while general strength movements are also important, using things that are actually specific and still helpful is going to get your much farther.

 

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

Tom P

Since joining Performance, I have made huge gains. The process of recovering from knee surgery has been much easier because of the expertise of the Performance staff in helping me get back to full strength. I would recommend this gym to anyone.*

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

Kim C

Performance Fitness Member

“I joined Performance and it has changed my life. Gone are the days when I dreaded trying on clothes at the store, Thanks to Performance, I feel like a super fit mom.”*

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

Seth D

Performance Fitness Member

Under the guidance of trainers, I have been able to decrease my 5K time from 28 minutes to under 20 minutes in just 2 years.  I have also lost 30 pounds while increasing strength, endurance and power.*

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

Connie R

Training over the last few years at Performance has been the best health decision I have ever made.  Leslie, my current trainer, keeps me on track to stay fit and strong, makes our sessions interesting and challenging, and is always positive, even when I have setbacks.*

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

Barry C Testimonial
Barry C

Performance Fitness Member

“I am a competitive cyclist and have been in personal training at Performance for 6 years. The best part about the trainers is that they know our medical histories very well.  Leslie is great at modifying a training session specifically to each individual person’s limitations so as to avoid injury.”*

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

Pat S

Performance Fitness Member

“I’m retired and enjoy a full, active life. This is due, in no small part, to the time I spend at Performance. The group classes provide a great workout and lots of variety. Plus, a fun way to meet new friends!”*

About Brendon Panther, Personal Trainer

Brendon Panther, Personal TrainerBrendon took an interest in fitness in high school when he and a friend would go to the weight room every day and write their own programs. He believes physical and emotional health can be improved with exercise and he looks forward to each break-through he can help a client reach.

*Results may vary