The Wider The Base The Higher The Peak
I want to explain a short and simple concept to you which will really help you progress with your training.
The Wider The Base The Higher The Peak.
What does that mean?
In a nutshell, it means save the fancy, sexy exercises until they are an absolute must.
I often get contacted by players who assume that because they are an elite footballer, that automatically makes them elite in terms of strength and conditioning.
This is absolutely not the case, if you believe this - then you are doing your body a HUGE disservice.
I need to tell you that the only point at which you become 'elite' or 'advanced' in terms of strength training, is when you have been diligently following a properly structured programme for a minimum of 3 years.
This is called your 'training age'.
If you are 19, are playing for Man Utd but you have no experience with strength work - your training age is 0.
The fact that you are 19 and have been playing at an elite level for the last 10 years has nothing to do with where you start in the gym.
You start at the bottom, and earn the right to progress to more complex exercises when you hit a plateau.
Beginner: 0-1 years
Intermediate: 1-3 years
Advanced: 3+ years
Can you squat, lift, push, pull, brace and rotate skillfully with symmetry?
Have you mastered your own bodyweight?
Allow your body the time to adapt and buy into the fact that you'll be making gradual progression over time.
The value of any more complex exercise is massively diminished if the basic foundations are not built first.
Just to give you an idea, an advanced player should be capable of squatting 2 x their own bodyweight, and will be training with 90-110% of their 1RM in order to see progressions in strength.
The best part is, if you become an absolute master of a wide variety of basic, compound movements (build a wider base) then the peak level of athletic performance you will be able to reach is much, much higher (the higher the peak).
Compare this to a player who attempts exercises which are too advanced for them too early, who not only has not squeezed all of the benefits possible from the more basic exercises, but is also significantly reducing the affectiveness of the advanced exercises at the same time.
They are limiting the width of their base which results in their potential peak being nowhere near as high.
There's no space for arrogance or pride if you want to reach your true athletic potential. Leave that at the gym door and earn the right to progress.
Training with chains, bands and squatting on swiss balls may look impressive to the untrained eye, but if you're not ready for that, it's literally the most alarming, stupid thing you can do in the eyes of a professional.
Remember all of the possible ways you can progress a basic, compound exercise first:
- Adjust the load (light - for improving technique, moderate - for anatomical adaptations, heavy - for max strength development).
- Speed (slow - strength, medium - power, fast - speed)
- Stability (stable - both legs, less stable - split stance, unstable - single leg)
So if we're talking about a simple bi-lateral squat, that's 84 possible variations you can go through just by referring to the simple guidelines above, assuming that your technique is already perfect.
Can you see how wide you could build your base if you patiently progressed yourself through all of these variations before adding more complexity?
You'd be squeezing everything out of the exercise, laying the foundations for a fantastically high athletic peak, and building a bullet-proof body in the process.
I think that's pretty exciting!
How there's the potential to achieve so much with something relatively simple.
99% of players don't know about this and won't do it.
Impatience, misunderstanding and pride gets in the way.
So next time someone tries to talk you into barbell squats, on a bosu ball with chains attached just make sure:
- You've earned the right to do it.
- Or you have the confidence to smile, politely decline and stay focused on what you're doing.
Take advantage of the sexier exercises when you've hit a plateau in your progress and are looking for ways to break through it.