Training General to Be Specific

Posted by Tom Barry on

In strength and conditioning we sometimes get too wrapped up in trying to mimic sports specific movements in our weight rooms. In my opinion this is a huge mistake as it creates an effect that is known as groove training.

The training groove only allows an athlete to increase their tissue load bearing capacity in a given trained Range of Movement. We all know that in the world of professional sports and competition that movement occurs outside the “standard” normal R.O.M quiet often and usually quiet abruptly.

Therefore, it is our goal as strength coaches to train our athletes to be their best on their worst day possible. By structuring our strength workouts to train an athlete in a general or more broad approach we are going to be loading the body in many different planes that might not get any stimulus form a solely S.P.P based system.

Why is this important?

Injuries will happen. No matter how much we try to avoid them in sports they will occur so we must plan accordingly. By training general to be specific we have placed load into tissues outside of the regular groove.

That may be the difference between a Grade 3 rupture to a Grade 1 strain. As a coach and as an athlete we will take a simple strain over a rupture any day of the week.

By having a structured general weight protocol, we can also help alleviate the likelihood of small nagging injuries occurring or becoming something more concerning. We simply adapt our system to tackle the root cause of these and move forward after we address said issue(s). 

This style of training has been the mainstay for all athletic training here at Westside Barbell. Our overall goal with athletes is to increase athleticism, reduce the risk of injury, and increase overall mental and physical strengths via our training environment.

Other factors that need to be looked at in depth before starting any weight training protocol is the area of joint function and/or dysfunction. Remember that if you have crap function within your joints your movement will be compromised. The body being an adaptable environment will figure a way around these dysfunctions in order to execute the given demand placed upon it.

This is what leads to an abundance of unforeseen injuries, joint degradation, and highly inefficient movement patterns. This is why it is VITAL to have an athlete assessed before undergoing any strength program.

Our good friend and Westside Seminar Staff member John Quint is one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to this topic so please take the time visit and read his content

I must thank our good friend Dan Di Pasqua (Head strength coach of the Melbourne Storm) for the conversation that led to the writing of this blog post,

Stay Strong



Please note that Specific Physical Preparation is very important and needs to be implemented at the correct time during training especially tapering for a given event. However, it is of our experience that in cannot be the sole basis for strength training.

We base our knowledge on working with countless professional athletes spanning from NFL, MMA, Track and Field, Rugby etc. Not to mention the ideas and experiences shared with respective peers within the strength industry.


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1 comment

  • I understand that the physical preparation generated by the athlete should cover more than the specific ranges of the needs of the sport.
    Sometimes it tends to try to emulate the movement of training to the specific of the sport.
    What do you think about transfer training where a force movement (squat, for example) is performed then a movement similar to the specific sport is performed (a martial arts type kick for example)? Should be put in some stage of training or definitely has no place?
    thank you very much

    juan cerda on

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