Athletes are always looking for ways to get a leg up on their competition. Sometimes their quest leads them to unique or unconventional training methods. They hope these outside-the-box approaches will help them reach an elite level. However, some training methods ignore the needs of athletes. Here’s a look at the athletic strengths and weaknesses of five unique training methods.
Strongman training consists of functional strength and power movements. The focus is on moving big weight. Strongman training will have you working with some seriously heavy objects, including truck tires and Atlas stones. This training obviously can help athletes, because being strong and powerful is desirable for any sport. However, the focus of strongman training on power and strength development leaves it lacking in the conditioning and agility departments.
Pros: Builds strength and power, grip strength
Cons: Expensive equipment is necessary; focuses on strength over agility and conditioning
Tactical training is a growing area of the strength and conditioning field. It relates to the functional needs of military personnel and first responders. It emphasizes the use of odd objects, bodyweight movements and balance exercises. This training is great for athletes, because it works on full-body mobility and requires great conditioning and endurance. However, if you are looking to focus on top-end speed or to improve your core lift maxes, tactical training is not the greatest method.
Pros: Full-body mobility, functional training, conditioning
Cons: Lack of focus on maximal strength development and maximum speed development
In terms of conditioning, there is a rise in position-specific training.
This type of conditioning can be used for most teams, as coaches keep position groups together and focus on their particular needs. This is especially useful because the conditioning and skill needs of offensive linemen are much different than those of, say, wide receivers.
Pros: Blends conditioning with skill work; develops athletes specifically conditioned for sport demands
Cons: Multiple coaches needed to oversee different groups; sloppy technique can develop if over-fatigued from conditioning aspect
Band-Resisted Speed Training
Speed training has always been an emphasis for strength and conditioning coaches. Every athlete wants to run faster. Over the past 10 years, there has been a boom in the use of resistance bands in speed and agility training.
Bands provide progressive resistance, which means when an athlete accelerates forward, the band resists him or her and continues to provide greater resistance the farther he or she runs. The athlete must work progressively harder throughout the movement. This is useful, as many tools only work on the initial takeoff.
Pros: Progressive resistance, top-speed development, leg drive
Cons: Not much resistance on take off for those working on initial burst
Manual Treadmill Speed Work
The use of manual treadmills, resisted treadmills, tred-sleds, etc., is growing rapidly. This is one of those situations where people have seen viral videos of elite athletes doing amazing things, and they want to get in on the action. This has caused many high schools and training facilities to purchase treadmills for use by their athletes.
Treadmills are useful and can do great things if used in coordination with actual running on other surfaces. Using them alone create problems, though, since treadmill running may not translate well to some athletes’ true running form.
Pros: Improves leg drive and top-speed development
Cons: Very expensive equipment; can possibly affect running form for some athletes
Unique training methods definitely have a place in an athlete’s workout regimen. But instead of sticking with one type of training, I recommend adding a couple of drills from each method to your workout. That way, you can create a diverse workout that hits on different types of training, instead of focusing on just one type that may ignore your full needs as an athlete.