My strength and conditioning update – progress after 6 weeks


I went again to see David Sutton today. It’s been just over a month and I have been working on strengthening the glutes, hams, hip flexors and improving unilateral balance. I was interested to see what he made of it. To be honest, the exercises he gave me originally started out as almost impossible to execute, and they now feel easy, so I doubted whether I was still doing them correctly! So much so, I asked my coach, Steve Casson to check for me a week or so ago!

The UKSCA definition of strength and conditioning is:   ‘the planning and implementation of physical preparation programmes for performance. It includes processes that result in physical adaptation through integrating fitness components into a programme which compliments other aspects of the performer’s development. This includes, although not exclusively, strength, power, speed, endurance, agility and flexibility’

The key in strength and conditioning, as opposed to weights, seems to be physical adaptation through integrating fitness components.  I remember him saying at a talk he did to my triathlon club, ‘what is the point training your muscles in isolation, that is not how you use them in your sport’.

Follow this link to see the written version of this talk, he supports everything with research.

The first time I saw David, he tested me on every element of strength, flexibility and balance. Very quickly, he decided that bilateral strength, core and balance was fine, so I was immediately told to stop doing things like squats, because I could do them well. What I was unable to do however, was single leg based balance exercises. So, for example I was completely unable to get up from a seated position using only one leg. I thought this was in general, a hard thing to do, till my husband demonstrated to me exactly how easy and straight forward it is for him to execute! So here’s me, one month on, getting excited about how I can now do something that it seems everyone else in the world could already do with their eyes shut!

How am I doing?

David is a fabulous in his ‘direct, no messing’ approach, which suits me great, because I am usually the one with a million excuses! So when he said he was impressed how much progress I had made, I really sat up and took note. Compliments are hard earned in this gym.

Apparently, am now ready to progress to the next step, and then this will prepare me for full plyometrics. Plyometricsis a method of training muscle elastic strength and explosiveness to enhance athletic performance. I have heard of this before, the RFU swore by it when I was training as a rugby referee, but clearly, on reflection, it wasn’t being executed correctly, if I am finding so many of the initial pre-plyometrics exercises difficult! Maybe the topic for future blog posts, when I actually get as advanced in my exercises as that!

What have I now been given to do?

Just when I thought I was mastering this thing, I have now got a different set of stuff to do, yes, all trickier than before. A lot of my work now involves single leg stuff, jumping on to and off a step, sideways, forwards, 2 feet to one foot, reverse, etc, a whole range of things that are sure to get people curious in my gym! My split squats are now with my foot on a bench and a weight across my shoulders. When I asked why there was the need for this, he told me originally if I can’t even balance on one leg, or use ham strings at all, imagine how much energy I waste simply trying to do that, energy that I could better use on trying to run faster! Logical I suppose.

To keep my swim strength up, I have been instructed to add in some clean and jerk. I was accused of being a wuss, and having pathetic excuses when I said I didn’t like doing them! Too many people stare at me! I am also working on chin ups. I can’t execute one without assistance yet though. Originally, he said I should be able to do it on the assisted dips /chin ups machine with only 15kg of help. With 26kg, I could only just manage it! Have you ever used one of those machines PROPERLY? When it comes to my central core, I am pretty strong. I can sit up easily, am good at the straight forward front and side planks. BUT – never have my abs ached like they do when I try to do these!! This is more than a shoulder / lat workout I can definitely confirm! So far, I can manage 2 or 3 with 12kg of assistance. I even at this stage get funny looks when I move the peg up that far. There’s only one more hole – 5kg. I am DETERMINED to crack this!! To rectify the fact that the plank is reasonably straight forward for me, I have now got to do side planks with one leg and one arm raised. Oh man, that is going to take some practice!!

What I like about this whole thing, is that I have had an explanation of why and how all the exercises are directly relevant to my three disciplines within triathlon, and David takes the time to specifically tell me what directly translates into what, from gym exercise to run movement, or whatever.

Progress?

Yes, I can definitely say I can see improvement, even within the things I have been given, and the fact that they got much easier. I think that I use ham strings more in running (and cycling) for sure, although not always automatically at this stage. Does this translate to improved performance? Only time will tell I guess. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so they say.

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