To improve performance, training must be relevant to the activity. Look at your training and conditioning components and ask yourself “why” you are including them. If you can answer “why” in a way that is relevant to the activity you are trying to improve at, great! If not, reconsider your choices.
I work with a variety of clients who want to improve their performance at some activity. Maybe it’s an activity of daily living or a specific sport. No matter what it is, I design training and conditioning programs that are relevant to the very thing my clients want to improve at. Take agility for example. When I am designing Functional Fitness programs for agility handlers, I am selecting exercises to improve their ability to move around an agility course with their dog. Dog agility is a sport that involves strategic handling of a dog through an obstacle course as quickly as possible and a run is less than one minute long start to finish. It involves running slow and fast, running straight and changing directions, reacting to the dog, turning, stopping, accelerating, decelerating and so on. All of these must be coordinated with good timing in order to give the dog appropriate cues through the course. And all of these things happen in less than 1 minute! That means fast thinking, quick feet, efficient body mechanics and the underlying physical capabilities to execute the required movements safely, efficiently and at a moment’s notice to keep the team moving as a synchronized unit.
Consider all of the demands placed on that dog agility handler and what conditioning activities may or may not be relevant to improving performance. An agility run lasts less than 1 minute and consists of the high intensity combination of movements, skills, timing, decision making and thinking I outlined above. Is taking on a low intensity endurance training activity that allows us to mindlessly disconnect from being “present” in our bodies likely to improve that performance? Probably not. It would be more beneficial to condition in a way that reproduces the demands of the sport. Is the conditioning activity transferable to the skills you are trying to improve at? A training session including short bursts of high intensity and thoughtful sport-specific functional exercises would lend itself better to the athletic performance.
Take a moment to re-evaluate your current fitness program and ask yourself if it is relevant to the activities you want to improve at. There is far more to be gained by exercise than improving your “general health”. By designing your fitness program to improve your physical abilities in a given activity, you will get healthy AND improve performance. That’s an efficient and effective use of training time. What specifically do you want to become better at? Be specific and then select training and conditioning activities that will maximize your athletic potential.
Keep your training relevant and be intentional :D