This is an excerpt from Science and Practice of Strength Training-3rd Edition by Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky,William J. Kraemer & Andrew C. Fry.
Developing a set of target goals for each individual or athlete is a starting point in designing a particular phase of training. Programs may be designed for improvements of various factors or for maintenance of others. Thus, program design can be multifaceted depending upon the goals for that individual in that training phase. Most individuals and athletes have multiple target goals that must be addressed for eventual success. However, when developing a program it is unrealistic to try to meet all of the goals at once. Thus, each training phase must have priorities. Each particular phase must be directed to impact a specific targeted goal of a program. Therefore, from the start, it is important to have an idea of what these target end point goals are for each training phase.
Some target goals will take longer to achieve than others, and once achieved, may simply be maintained with attention now refocused on other target training goals in the next phase of the program. The status of each training target goal is determined by its importance in achieving performance and health outcomes in the sport performance or fitness program. Thus, an individual must determine target goals to achieve desired success. One way to do this is to develop a set of targeted analytics to accomplish in the training program. This can take the form of target profile goals for a training phase, with the ultimate targeted goals as end points for maintenance. In some sports, athletes are always trying to increase the end point goal and essentially become limited by their genetic ceiling for change.
Focus of Target Goals
Strength training programs are typically part of a larger conditioning program that includes many different aspects of development (e.g., endurance, agility, balance, flexibility). While many of these elements can be addressed in a strength training program, some have their own specific conditioning programs (e.g., agility). Thus the target goals for a strength training program need to be specific to what a modality can accomplish, and knowledge of each element of a program is vital for successful program design and development, with compatibility of programs carefully noted (e.g., endurance training needs being in concert with strength and power).
To begin, one goes back to a basic program design approach and does a needs analysis of the sport or health pathology for preventive medicine being targeted. While strength and power are almost always a part of every strength training program, one needs to see the full array of what is needed and the absolute level to achieve in order to be successful in a sport or health outcome. An example of targeted goals for a sport can be seen in table 11.1.
As one can see in table 11.1 a host of different targets have been established for an elite male wrestler, and a strength and conditioning program must monitor this information as well, to optimize the wrestler's skill sets in the sport. Some characteristics are trainable and others are not (e.g., arm span to height). If one is unable to meet a physical target goal, deficiencies will exist. In our example, this may impact the wrestler's success in certain matchups with an opponent. The more deficiencies, the less chance of success against a wider array of wrestling opponents if one relies only on wrestling skill sets. Thus, in wrestling, for example, there can be technique style clashes with an opponent that puts one wrestler at a disadvantage to beat the opponent. Another example could be mismatch in physical attributes (e.g., strength, power) that gives one wrestler the advantage over the other. Thus, wrestling styles and physical attributes are all groups of strategies that allow a wrestler to win. However, as competition is elevated to higher and higher levels, the champion must bring to the matches a host of strategies that cannot be beaten; thus, only a small number of elite wrestlers have these strategies available to beat the rest of the contenders. This leads to the obvious idea that not all athletes can be a champion in a particular sport unless they can bring a set of “strategies” to deal with the various demands of the competition. Thus, it is always a matchup of the metrics one sees in sport competitions. This goes for any sport or any set of health outcomes in preventive medicine. At the right side of table 11.1 are the profile variables, some of which are not trainable and thus some aspects for every sport have to be there inherently. Many other variables (e.g., blood buffering capacity, cognitive processing) can also be added because many things contribute to a wrestler's success. Therefore, the biomarkers for any sport can be extensive as we learn more about each sport or pathology we are trying to address. The next step is to determine the starting point, what to develop in a strength training program, and the athlete's phase of training (e.g., beginner, youth, advanced, experienced with strength training, master's level).
Therefore, the profile's information on the targets that define end points for sport, or information on an athlete's physical traits are partially related to creating the target goals for a strength training program. Here again, one needs to carefully determine the targets to be addressed in the program and the athlete's phase of training from beginner to advanced levels. Inherent to this process is the need for athlete testing that reflects the source data used in creating the profile. One needs to use evidence-based practices to search for the different biomarkers that define an athlete and a sport. Or if examining patient populations, targets need to be defined and addressed to enhance health and reduce risks.