Modern Approach to Strength & Conditioning – Part 2

In the second part of this blog series I will share my point of view on developing efficient cardiovascular system via energy system development as well as my principles with regard to strength training. As I have already said in first part, the main purpose is to give you some ideas and information about something new that you might want to start learning about and incorporate it into your regular training routine.



Here we are talking about conditioning, developing efficient aerobic and anaerobic energy system! If we go even deeper, it is all about how our body produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
The body can produce ATP in two different ways: with or without oxygen – i.e. aerobically or anaerobically.
Anaerobically in two ways:
1) PCr hydrolysis (phosphocreatine hydrolysis) – energy from phosphate, which is fastest and more powerful, but not long-lasting <10” – ANAEROBIC ALACTIC ENERGY SYSTEM
2) Anaerobic glycolysis – energy from glucose – slower and less powerful but lasting longer than PCr 60-90” – ANAEROBIC LACTIC ENERGY SYSTEM

1) Oxidative phosphorylation – energy from mitochondrial glucose and mitochondrial fat – the slowest and not so powerful production but longest in duration – AEROBIC ENERGY SYSTEM

Regardless of type of sport, the 3 energy systems always work together rather than in isolation and by doing so ATP is produced in bigger or smaller amount aerobically and/or anaerobically. Of course that in marathon there is domination of oxidative phosphorylation as opposed to 100 m sprint, where the energy is dominantly coming from anaerobic resources. Every sport has its own specific energy demands, that is true, and athletes need to train that specific zones to be efficient in their sports. But one thing is really important to understand: athletes need well developed aerobic system! Why?

Athletes who can produce a greater proportion of their energy aerobically versus anaerobically will fatigue slower than athletes who produce a greater proportion of their energy anaerobically!

Efficient aerobic system can:
– help recover faster during the points or between periods of the match, and after the match as well

– strong aerobic system will spare ATP reserves – player will depend less on generating ATP anaerobically if he can use aerobic energy for longer period of time

– athlete will enter easier in parasympathetic mode, lower RHR, which comes as a result of good cardio base and can help decrease sympathetic drive, which helps to relax and recover between games


This is example of energy demands in tennis and as you can see there is high domination of anaerobic alactic energy system. By looking at this graph we can fall into a trap by thinking that there is obvious need to train almost exclusively in a range of 6-10’’ with submaximal to maximal intensity. This is far from the truth!

As you repeat an event over and over again, the proportion of energy produced aerobically as opposed to the anaerobic energy systems increases!

On the other hand, so many coaches are seeing development of aerobic system only through the low intensity steady-continuous cardio work! Aerobic training is not just low-intensity training. There is a need to train whole spectrum of aerobic development, from power to capacity to be able to stay longer in aerobic pathway of producing ATP.

Just remember that as long as you’re under anaerobic threshold and relying on the aerobic energy system to produce energy, you have a chance to live longer. As soon you are above AT to produce energy you are about to die fast on the field!


Getting our athletes stronger should be ultimate goal of every training process!

Strength is underlying capability for power and speed but equally important part of strength training is to prepare athletes’ JOINTS for stress via strengthening muscles & ligaments that hold them together!

Many of us like to watch videos on YouTube where guys lift incredible amount of weight in squats, deadlifts, bench press… Without question, this is really impressive, but the questions that remains in my head when watching these videos: is this kind of strength transferable into specific sport speed and agility? Because this should be our ultimate goal, shouldn’t it?

We are not training our athletes in the gym to become impressively strong dead lifters or squatters; we are using the gym as a helping tool to accelerate them on the court!

These are the principles that are building blocks in my approach to strength training:

Myofibrillar/functional hypertrophy more important than sarcoplasmic/structural hypertrophy*
Here we are talking about type of strength training causing growth of muscle contractile parts versus growth of plasma, organelles, and non-contractile proteins. Type of strength training that develop functional strength and power is more beneficial for general athlete than hypertrophy oriented strength training

- Proximal stability leads to distal mobility and athleticism
Importance of core control and strength as priority to every other aspect of strength development, but also every strength exercises where core is not involved is complete waste of time

Fundamental relative strength (FRS) before every other type of strength
Athletes need to have complete control over their bodies by having capacity of doing wide range of bodyweight movements with absolute control such as 1 leg squat, front plank, 1 leg reverse plank/bridge…

Unilateral strength more important than bilateral strength
Almost every sport is played on 1 leg, and if you are not familiar with the term BILATERAL DEFICIT you should absolutely learn it

- Low system training load – higher internal demands with less external stress on the body
example 1: split squat with barbell on the back = spine compression, more difficult to control proper posture, more difficult set up with high load
example 2: split squat /kettlebell in each hand = less load on spine, easier to control positioning of thoracolumbar canister, because of irradiation principle athlete can generate more tension by being “innervated” better by the surrounding muscles’ contractions = forearms>shoulder>lats>gluteus

Isoinertial type of strength training is the same (or maybe more) beneficial than isometric, isokinetic or isotonic
This is because:
a) Injury “PRE-rehabilitation”
Many of non-contact sport injuries typically occur when muscles are in lengthened position under high tension. Isoinertial training is oriented towards preparing muscles for that kind of stress because of high forces in this, almost overstretched, position
b) Eccentric muscle contraction overload = deceleration advantages
Eccentric overload is coming from the so-called ‘’delayed eccentric action’’. During isoinertial training 1/3 of eccentric motion is almost with no resistance and by doing this we are overloading the remaining 2/3 of the range of motion because muscles need to absorb the same amount of energy that is produced over the whole concentric phase but in a shorter period of time
c) Lower external stress on the body
Resistance is placed around waist so there is no compression of the spine during heavy lifting
d) Greater neural adaptations and neuromuscular efficiency with increased recruitment of high threshold motor units

CAT – compensatory acceleration training**
Lifting heavy weight with the intent to move it as quickly as possible during concentric part of the movement provides explosive strength benefits

*Mel Siff: Supertraining , Vladimir Zatsiorsky: Science and Practice of Strength Training
**Dr.Fred Hatfield