ID your weakenesses & train your strengths

Hi there: Hope you have a great weekend. I was at the Okanagan Sport Leadership Conference at UBC on Saturday. Okanagan Peak Performance had a booth at the trade show and was there to provide information and hand out t-shirts. It was great to meet a lot of athletes, coaches and sport practitioners at one time. You can definitely see the impact the Olympics has had on the sports being practiced locally. This was the first time there was such a large contingent of freestyle skiers, ski and boardercross, figure skaters and other winter sport athletes.

After the conference the rest of the weekend was spent landscaping and watching the UFC over at some friends. While I don’t follow the sport that closely I do appreciate the training that goes into preparing for a UFC event. You have to be versatile in a number of martial arts and develop your energy systems for both quick explosive efforts and to be able to go five-five minute rounds. And so this part I find fascinating.

And after years of study, research and training both myself and other athletes I have found that we all have certain abilities and strengths. For example some people respond better to higher volume training and others are better suited to a lower volume of training. Some athletes are very effective with short burst efforts and others really shine when the challenge is longer in duration. So what accounts for these differences?

Part of it has to do with your body type. An ectomorph is going to find it easier to move themselves then to move an external load. And the opposite is true for an endomorph who can pile the plates on a leg press but may have difficulty performing overhead bodyweight squats.

So what do we do to improve? The answer is a combination of improving our weaklinks as well selecting opportinities to maximize our natural talents. Here’s what I mean by this.

If our weaklink is a stability or mobility issue we would want to address this to minimize the potential for injury. And if our weak link is energy system limited we should put enough time and attention to address the deficit. For example if we find that we are gassed near the end of competitions we should put some effort into improving our anaerobic fitness and potentially our aerobic base as well. What we don’t want to do however is ignore what our strengths are altogether.

So while many training programs have set guidelines regarding various phases of training it might be useful sometimes to tweak these slightly to customize them to our benefit. As mentioned previously, if an athlete responds well to higher volume training then perhaps we can work towards the higher end of the volume in order to reap the rewards this offers the athlete.

The take home message is two-fold: know what you’re good at and what your weaknesses are. By addressing both of these you minimize the potential for injury and give yourself the best chance at success.

All the best.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘always moving forward’



2 Responses to ID your weakenesses & train your strengths

  1. Gretchen says:

    Hi Chris, What are some of the ways a person can assess their strengths and weaknesses? Also does a person’s age factor into the assessment. In other words would a 40 year old be expected to achieve the same targets as a 20 or 30 year old (all other aspects being relatively equal)?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Gretchen: The best way is by tracking and recording every workout. That way you’ll have some metrics to refer back to when things seem a little off. As well, the longer you train the better job you’ll do listening to your body. Pay attention to how your body responds to the various demands from training and structure your sessions around addressing where there are deficits. Regarding age we’ll notice more of a difference with respect to power production and less for aerobic challenges. That being said with advances in nutrition, recovery and training methodologies we are able to do more at 40 than perhaps was possible previously.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

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