We often hear of the gym programs athletes are prescribing themselves and for the majority it’s lots of chest and minimal legs. We often hear that an athlete's legs are too sore during the season to strength train. What they don’t realise is by neglecting the lower half of your body, you put yourself at a much higher risk of injury. This mindset seems to change when an athlete sees their strength testing numbers in a table in front of them, comparing themselves to the rest of the squad. Athletes are extremely intrigued in their performance parameters, it’s an internal competition. Knowing their results can completely shift their mindset on strength training. If Athlete A is the Athlete who is never beaten in a contest and also has the biggest deadlift at the club, other Athletes will connect the information and see the link between strength and performance.
When athletes see their own strength discrepancies, they no longer make excuses of sore legs and they find the motivation to train. They are now intrinsically challenged to improve themselves. Performance testing takes the guesswork out of training and allows athletes to open questions as to why they are doing such exercises. Having the answers makes it much easier to program for and it’s a much more relatable conversation between the athlete and coach.
Any coach can write a template program for a whole squad to use. Take a look at these two results from the same positional athletes and tell us if you think they should be on the same program!
Bench Press 1x125kgs
Bench Pull 1x90kgs
Max Nordic (Hamstring Strength) L: 440N R 450N
SL Vert Jump : L 27cms R 22CMS
Bench Press 1x80kgs
Bench Pull 1x80kgs
Max Nordic (Hamstring Strength) L: 320N R 450N
SL Vert Jump : L 22 cms R 25CMS
Performance testing clearly highlights the differences between athletes. This example is only a small component of the testing battery used at RSS but even with 6 tests as an example we can create a program entirely different. Athlete A indicates a strong deadlift but a weak squat providing the assumption that anterior lower body strength could be affecting their performance. We pair this with an asymmetrical single leg vertical jump and a symmetrical nordic hamstring score to create the conclusion that Athlete A is a Posteriorly dominant Athlete from their hips down. They can expect to be slower in acceleration, short bursts and maximal power tests. Athlete A also shows a big difference in posterior to anterior upper body strength. If the Athlete continues to grow in this trend, we can expect chronic overuse shoulder injuries leading to bursitis, impingement or worse. There are a few things to consider when programming for this Athlete.
Athlete B Demonstrates a weak deadlift indicating posterior strength deficiencies and clear hamstring asymmetry after the Nordic Hamstring test. This athlete may be suffering from lower back pain with 2 signs indicating that not only is there a posterior strength weakness but it is also uneven. It is assumed that this athlete is at a moderate risk of injury through their lower back and hamstrings. Something that needs to be considered in their program.
As you can now see, Performance Testing should be performed by every Athlete. In just two circumstances you can clearly outline completely different strength deficiencies and asymmetries. If every athlete was to receive the same program, their current or potential injuries could be exacerbated. After Performance Testing, Athletes see strength training in a new light. It’s not training to prevent any injuries, improve strength and look good. It’s training to improve on their weaknesses, it’s training to make them a better athlete, It’s training with purpose. There is no better motivation than when the Athlete trains to improve themselves for a known cause. People fall off the bandwagon when they don’t know why they are training in the first place so Performance Testing gives direction and intrinsic motivation.
Do you know everything about your body before training? Before you begin Performance Testing we recommend you consult an exercise professional. Lifting maximal weight can be dangerous when performed solo. Get in Touch with an RSS professional and leave the guesswork to us!