Measurements For Athlete Training
If you’re not consistently measuring I think you’re leaving a lot of potential untapped!
I’ve written on this topic many times in the past. This article puts it all together in one outline form.
There are a lot of kids who put in a lot of hard work will get no results. Those are the “hard gainers”. In some instances, they may have reached their “genetic ceiling”, which makes it very difficult for them to make consistent progress. However, I’d argue in many instances. It’s likely more of an issue with the athlete not measuring consistently. Consistent measurement can make every month, every session and every rep truly meaningful! Everyone always says “Don’t just work hard, work smart!” Well, consistent measurement puts that idea into action!
Why does measurement matter?
Measurement provides a better guarantee that what’s happening in training is what you had hoped would happen. Sure, training hard will never truly guarantee you will perform well in your sport, but you can definitely measure some meaningful areas to ensure you’re on the right track. So what should we measure?
1. FATIGUE-READINESS TESTS
We should be testing this on a daily basis or every time we go to the gym. This helps direct the workout for the day. It represent if fatigue is still present from the previous training session. Athletes who recover more effectively would be able to “bounce back” from intense training sessions would score better on their fatigue-readiness tests than others. The other part of this measure is for “readiness”; a measure of how effective your warmup segment is. As I’ve talked about many times before, a potentiating warmup can make a world of difference for how effective your training session will be. Typically speaking, I like to see athletes perform in an “optimal range” to represent a non-fatigued state. An optimal range would be approximately 95% of someone’s personal best in a given exercise. So for example, if an athlete’s best score in a medicine ball throw is 40 mph, then they should be able to to achieve at least 38 mph in a fatigue/readiness test in order to represent they are in a non-fatigued state.
Some examples of measurements you can do after a warmup to test for fatigue/readiness:
- Depth Jump RSI before weight lifting, throwing or sprinting session
- Medicine Ball throw MPH before upper body lifting
- Broad Jump distance before lower body weight lifting or sprinting session
- Grip Strength before throwing or weight lifting
- Shoulder external rotation strength before throwing
2. EACH REPETITION MATTERS
Immediate feedback on performance for each rep guarantees that intent is high and that fatigue is low on each rep.
Why would this make a difference? Lower levels of effort when training can ultimately decrease the threshold of motor unit recruitment being trained or the firing rate of those motor units being trained. This, in turn, affects central nervous system adaptations that we would hope transfer over to sport performance. What we also see here is that high threshold motor units innervate Type 2 (fast-twitch) muscle fibers. These are the muscle groups we want to stress for hypertrophy, strength and power. So if we are not producing high enough levels of performance with an exercise, then size, strength and power won’t be there. Having that immediate feedback on performance of every rep ensures that we are on the right track in this regard!
What to measure for this area:
•Bar Speed on lifting movements
•Medicine Ball Throw distance or velocity
•Jump height or jump distance
•Sprint speed and sprint times
•Plyo Pushup height
3. ADAPTATIONS FROM TRAINING
Measurement is also extremely important to provide a guarantee that adaptations to training are happening. If we measure performance with an exercise, every 2-3 weeks in a fully rested and recovered state, then we can rest assured that whatever training done is working. Many athletes strength train so that they can become more powerful for their sport, and they subsequently attack heavy strength training movements like the reverse lunge, deadlift and bench press. That’s good! But improvements in those exercises are not guarantees that they are going to get better in their areas of sport-specific power. Specificities in our measurement for sport performance should be close to the velocities and muscular actions found in the sport.
Examples of this include:
•Medicine ball overhead throw for power specific to overhead throwing
•Medicine Ball Rotational throw for power specific to swinging
•Jumping and Sprint performance for lower body activity when swinging or throwing
4. FORCE-VELOCITY PROFILING
Now that we’re measuring for adaptations that are happening, we need to also measure to see where to go next. A Force-Velocity profile is a measurement of how an athlete performs an exercise with various (evenly distributed) loads. Measure performance with a heavier load (indicative of maximal Force production) a medium load, and a light load (indicative of high velocity strength). We should re-assess an athlete’s Force-Velocity profile every 3-4 weeks. This will show how they have improved power production and where they may be lacking across the Force-Velocity spectrum. The next program should address the weaknesses in a greater volume. For example, if an athlete profiles as “Force-Deficient”, the program should include more heavily resisted, maximal effort exercises.
Here are some examples of ways we can Force-Velocity profile: