*True* Sport Specific Training

Screenshot 2023 07 13 At 4.38.47 Pm

*True* Sport Specific Training

Austin Einhorn


We incorrectly assume certain lifts are sport-specific because they involve the same limb used in competition—logical but way too generic. For example, someone might argue, “Compared to a knee extension machine, squatting is sport-specific [literally, pick any sport] because it involves multiple leg joints and the sport involves multiple leg joints.” If you use the same reasoning, Chef Bouyardi deserves a Michelin star because you put his products in your mouth.

The forces athletes experience in sports are a world apart from those in standard training practices. This gap persists because our culture is far-sighted. We see the forest but are blind to the trees. There’s a massive opportunity for those who see and seize it.

Do not deceive yourself that a front squat is much different from a Bulgarian split squat or RDL. You’re still just moving up and down, nothing like what you would do in any sport. Don’t get me wrong, I still have athletes do those movements, and with a distinct Apiros style, but our training environments limit us (including me). In weight rooms, we fight gravity vertically because that’s what weights offer. Sure, we might lie on one side or the other, lean at forty-five degrees, or use a cable machine at a diagonal, but we’re still off the mark.

In sports, we battle our body’s inertia, and in so many different directions. A running back must overcome the inertia of his upper half to get by a defender. Not only does his leg need to push his hips sideways, but his abdominals also need to keep his spine vertical so that his shoulders and helmeted head don’t get left behind and whacked. So in the gym, he must also squat sideways. He needs to be resisted not only at his hips but occasionally at his shoulders or even his head. That would be sport-specific training. An RB squatting up and down is like an F1 driver pulling in and out of a driveway a thousand times, believing he’s prepared for the Azerbaijan GP. 

My art only looks colorful because everything else is monochromatic. Everything I do is specific to the sport or the athlete. That’s why you see such creativity in the training I share. Different people and different sports have different needs that I respect.


Anemic Environments

Consider that MLS and MLB weight rooms look nearly identical despite their athletes specializing in opposite ends of the body.

Chew on that…

Don’t you think the environments of baseball and soccer players—and all athletes—should respect and reflect their needs? You’d be able to tell the difference between the environment of a cheetah and a polar bear… This brings me to another point: When either of those captive animals has problems, it’s always the fault of the environment or the zookeeper. Yet when athletes have issues, we wonder what’s wrong with them and keep coaches and environments innocent. Odd.

There’s a massive opportunity for coaches and athletes to use typical equipment in atypical ways, and for engineers to make more creative items—I’m looking at you Rogue, Kabuki, Sorinex, and the like. The more we realize the shortcomings of current equipment or use it in novel and valuable ways, the higher the demand and the bigger the market for better equipment. The better we make our training environments, the better our athletes become.

The Cost of Hyperopia

Our far-sightedness sees a weight move but fails to see how each joint moves the weight. We see a leg fold in a squat but fail to see how the tibia rotated. We see a barbell move during a time assigned to the almighty posterior chain (heavy sarcasm), but we fail to notice how (or if!) the pelvis tilts over the femur. We see an RB dodge a defender but fail to see the forces he overcame. We see an athlete dart her hand to a changing colored light but fail to see that the opponent’s movement is what triggers her decisions in sports.

The cost of our hyperopia isn’t corrective lenses. It is a pandemic of torn tendons, severed ligaments, and retired athletes forever wondering What if…

We often need a dollar sign to focus our vision and attention. So we spend half a million dollars on motion capture systems to show us what’s apparent, which is like buying an X-ray machine to see what’s behind an unlocked door. You can see how bones move if you grab the handle, open the door, and look. Or you can sign up for one of my courses, and I will teach you how to see. Either way, you need to look because how bones move dictates where forces go.

There are better and worse ways for bones to move to distribute forces too. You either move your structures how they evolved to move and distribute forces in sustainable ways through tendons and muscles, where forces belong, and good stuff happens. Or you imprison forces in an acute area of your body, or in ligaments, and bad stuff happens.

Training needs to accurately match the demands of the sport and honor the movements for which our anatomy evolved. For that to happen, coaches and athletes must sense more clearly, and understand our evolutionary history. Athletes need to become more aware of how their skeletons move. Coaches of all kinds need to discredit weights moved and lengthened latex as success and see what actually happens in the bodies that move those objects. They need to see the forest and the trees.


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