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Why Should I Focus on Sports Conditioning as a PT?


The sports conditioning coaching industry is expanding at a very rapid pace, now more than ever. More and more gym instructors and personal trainers are looking at working with athletes in order to help them achieve maximum performance, strength and endurance.

Why Should I Focus on Sports Conditioning as a PT?

Sport conditioning is a vital skill and know-how that you can acquire as a personal trainer if you want to work with athletes and improve their metabolic conditioning.

According to the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians), ‘Conditioning is a process in which stimuli are created by an exercise program performed by the athlete to produce a higher level of function’ and its main goal is to improve the athlete’s performance, power and endurance while minimising the risk of injury.

But training your client for athletic performance is often times quite demanding as you need to work toward a specifically defined goal. If the client doesn’t know what they want to achieve with their training then you, as the personal trainer would not be able to put together an efficient workout program. When it comes to metabolic conditioning, training programs need to be tailored to the athlete’s needs and the type of sport he/she performs – a sprinter would train differently that a rower, a footballer or a rugby player.

When it comes to these types of intensive training programmes, personal trainers need to be able to get the effect that they (and their clients) are after and they get that by designing appropriate routines, working smart (not hard) and using the minimum amount of stimulus in order to reach the desired goal.

What a lot of experienced coaches recommend is to try and work it out backwards – starting with the end goal in mind, work backwards to figure out what needs to be done in order to achieve it. For example:

Sport: Rowing

Period: In-season

Objective of a sports conditioning program:

  • General athletic fitness – includes total body flexibility, strength and power, cardio endurance, and body type, size and structure
  • Sport-specific athletic fitness is focusing on specific physiological parameters and biomechanical actions as well as muscle activation patterns that are essential to a certain sport through specific training programmes.
  • Sport-specific skill can be defined as the ultimate goal. Optimal performance demands a refinement of unique training and skill acquisition.

Steps needed to achieve this: Training x 6 times/week for strength & power (2-3 times/week, having as an end goal peak power and muscular endurance and focusing on plyometrics, weights and circuits), flexibility (with a potential focus on yoga), endurance (with focus on activities such as running, cycling, skipping) etc.

Training includes: Here is where the full training program is designed and developed
Duration: The full timeline of the in-season training programme.

Why Should I Focus on Sports Conditioning as a PT?

The difference: Conditioning vs. Cardio

Conditioning focuses on short and intense bursts of activity, followed by short rests and then repeated a number of times as part of the daily routine. We can say the same thing about cardio but what ultimately differentiates metabolic conditioning from cardio is that conditioning can be tailored to a certain sport and it trains specific energy systems that are used while practising that certain sport.

If you are looking into developing your skills around this area of training, take a look at our courses and give our course advisers a call on 2028 543 1017 to find out the next steps you need to take.


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