The not so “secret” training principle that can bring your swimming, cycling, and running to the next level.
There is always one aspect of an endurance athlete’s sport that could use improvement. For example, if you’re a triathlete you could be weak on the bike, or if you’re strictly a runner you could be weak in shorter events like 5k’s. Well look no further, because I have the secret training principle that is going to bring your weakness to the next level. First and foremost this secret has been known in the exercise physiology world for decades. The training principle is called the rule of specificity. The rule simply states that the body adapts precisely to the stimulus applied to it.
So how can this simple principle bring your training to the next level? Well first let me start off by giving you an example on how it works.
Jason Kapono is a professional basketball player and currently plays with the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. One of Jason’s strengths is his three point shooting. In his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavilers Jason played 41 games and did not average a significant amount of playing time. The next three seasons both Jason’s playing time and three point shooting percentage increased significantly. In fact at one time he led the league in three-point shooting percentage with .514, which is close to the all-time single-season three-point percentage record.
It’s clear that after Jason’s rookie season he realized that he really needed to step up his overall game, specifically his strength which is his three point shooting, to see more playing time. Now if Jason would have decided to spend more time working on his golf swing, he would not have achieved these numbers! This example is very obvious, but in the world of endurance athletics many feel that there is a cross over fitness from one sport to another. In well-trained athletes this is not the case, in fact there have been numerous studies to prove it. For example, if you missed a run workout, and decided it would be easier to get a quick ride in instead, this would not help increase your running performance. It is important to clarify that with untrained athletes this is not the case, and some cross over fitness from sport to sport can be seen.
Triathletes should pay a great deal of attention to this principle and how it works. Most triathletes tend to be very weak in one of the three respective sports. Recently I have coached a lot of former runners that are now triathletes. Their weakness has been their cycling. Now if you break down most standard distance triathlons, what event is the longest? The bike! Lance was wrong when he said “its not about the bike”, because when it comes to triathlon its all about the bike How do you get better? What’s the secret? The secret is applying the rule of specificity and gradually and progressively start to increase the amount of time you spend on the bike. What if the bike is your strength, and the run is your weak event? You know what to do run more! You see where I’m going with this; it’s really that simple.
- Coach Jason Kilderry