Mix it up!
After my last post about specificity (Specificity is Queen), i had a few people asking me questions about the detail of how to keep things specific but also keep the body adapting, so i thought i’d write a little more about it in this post.
Sport specific workouts are great, they get the body used to the way it’s going to be moving and they work to strengthen the right muscle groups in the right way, creating functional strength. Many athletes, being the creatures of habit that we are, will have our old-faithful workouts that we regularly fall back on, especially those of us who have been training and competing for a long time. The classic running workout of 10x400m repeats at mile-pace on the track springs to mind. For a runner or triathlete it’s perfect; it’s specific, pushes the aerobic system and tests mental toughness. It’s been shown to work for those in the running world time and time again so why mix it up at all? As discussed last time, the answer is quite simple – in order to keep the body adapting and improving we must continue to stimulate it. If we repeat the same workout time and time again the body will adapt then stagnate, so whilst we’re doing a specific workout, it’s no longer helping us improve as it once did. If we try for the same adaptations in a few different ways however, the stimulus is maintained and sweet adaptation continues.
One of the best examples of varied, continued but specific workouts are circuit sessions. Anyone who’s been to one and felt their tired muscles the next day will know exactly what i mean. These sessions traditionally target the core group of body muscles but do so from multiple directions whilst varying the parameters of the workout; body movements, speed, intensity, weight, intervals, terrain, recovery, you name it, they mix it up. Same target outcome, varied stimulus, all in all giving a much bigger bang for your buck.