PSTM 2018 Recap

I spent last weekend in Wroclaw, at the polish strength and conditioning associations annual conference, which dealt with the topic „Bridging the gap“. The lineup of speakers was unbelieveable. Seldom (if ever) did I witness such an incredible amount of experience in one place. Olympic caliber coaches such as Rett Larson and Randy Huntington presented on their approach to winning olympic medals. To offer a complimentary perspective, Greg Dea, high performance physical therapist to the chinese olympic team, went into detail on a case study to demonstrate an integrated rehabilitation program for top level athletes. Dan Baker, a legend in strength and conditoning and former strength coach to the Brisbane Broncos held a workshop on bands and chains the first day and followed up with a talk on maximum aerobic speed the next. American footbal strength coach and author Ron McKeefery shared his experience working with college football and elaborated on how to build a winning culture. Ian Jeffreys, lecturer at the university of south Wales, adressed long term athletic development and the pitfalls of perfection. There were many other fantastic speakers, such as Marek Fisher, who broke down the specific dietary approach when dealing with athletes (especially fighters) who suffered an injury. Even other talks dealt with the paralympics, an integrated approach to speed development, novel physical therapy methods, etc.

It is beyond the scope of this post to summarize all the talks and workshops. Hence, I will only outline the lessons I took away which I consider most impactful. This will certainy not do all the fantastic people there justice, and I am aware of that. Still, here are the primary take home messages for me (in no particular order):

  • When designing energy system training programs, we need to stop being so hung up on physiological measures. A strength program reads as sets x reps @ intensity%. It should really be the same for an endurance program. Measures like heart rate and VO2Max are nice, but then, no one has ever received a medal for the lowest heart rate. The human body is complex and what is holding the athlete back with regards to the aerobic system could be the heart, lungs, mitochondria, enzyme pool, movement efficiency or a combination of all these and other factors. Focusing on the output makes programming simpler and more effective, as it adresses the issue from a holistic point of view.
  • Reasearch that does not change the way programs are written is mostly meaningless for strength coaches. It is nice to know all mToR pathways, but in the end, we know that lifting moderate to high weights for high volumes will induce muscle growth. It is important to be rooted in sound theory, but getting hung up on isolated details is most likely a waste of time that could be better spent learning something completely different.
  • All the successful people keep it simple, without over simplifying. Knowing all the details and intricaciesof your sport is vital for planning the training, but the outcome most be concise and robust.
  • In the real world, most mixed sports follow a concurrent progression model. It is not feasible to cease the development of any quality for a longer period. 
  • Perfect is the enemy of good and analyis by paralysis is a real danger. Especially in long term athletic development, just doing anything is much better than dreaming of the perfect system.
  • Despite the criticism it has received lately, the FMS is very much alive and kicking in the high performance sector. Seems like doing the FCS and SFMA is something I need to consider in the long run after all.

Surely I have missed a lot of important things, but these are the things that left me thinking the whole week. Next Sunday I will leave for Thailand for a month, so the following posts will likely deal more with travel and Muay Thai than Strength and Conditioning. Stay tuned.

So long,

don’t get hurt

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