Nearly every coach trains two different populations, and many ask, what’s the difference between programming for gen pop and a competitive athlete?
In my experience I’ve trained both people that would be categorized as general population (gen pop) and people that would be categorized as competitive athletes (athletes). To some, or perhaps minimal shock, there is not that much of difference in training the two. The nuts and bolts are primarily the same, both need to squat, hinge, push, pull, carry, and do some unilateral movement. Both need to train movements in all 3 planes, and both need to develop power.
The differences are subtle, but here are 3 that I can see.
Load management- Athletes tend to have a (or several) very obvious time of the year when they are under heavy stress and workload. Since the odds are the sport coach is not going to manage their stress loads, it’s up to the S&C coaches to control their training volume and intensity so they don’t get run down and/or hurt. For gen pop, load management also needs to be considered in times of high stress too. The difference in this case is those times of the year tend to be a little more random, not completely, but certainly less predictable than a sports season’s schedule.
Bulletproofing- For me, programming with an athlete always includes a direct attempt to target some of the more often injured areas of an athlete in general, muscles such as hamstring, calf and adductors being the 3 I focus on the most. With gen pop, it’s less of a focus on certain areas and trying to cover all bases until something more acute rears its ugly head. Like it or not, as hard as we try, life tends to bring these about, so we deal with them as they come along.
Conditioning/Cardio- With athlete’s the conditioning is tailored to their sport of choice. Whether they want to focus on conditioning for 1 particular sport that’s their “main” sport or just try to adapt to whatever sport is around the corner. Work and rest ration, rounds, working on full tank versus working on empty, all of it factors in. For gen pop folks, you can usually be a little freer, mix and match, whatever feels good type of stuff. Still need to get the heart and lungs pumping, give rest and progress with some thought, but it doesn’t need to be too detailed.
While the some folks may not identify as a competitive athlete, there’s nothing wrong with a parent wanting to train like an athlete so they can always keep up with their kids or business person trying training like one so they can keep up with the go go go that comes with their job. It’s just the little subtleties that are different in the programming, for those folks and a competitive athlete. Thanks for stopping by and reading friends, have yourself a weekend and I'll be back soon with more goods.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS