TRAINING FOR PERFORMANCE NOT JUST FOR SHOW
By Coach Demetrious Whitfield
I’ve been involved in sports and fitness for twenty-nine years. At age ten I began to play organized football. At twelve I started weight training to be a better player. I continued playing throughout college while majoring in physical education. My first job out of college was as a Personal Trainer and it’s what I’ve been doing going on fifteen years now.
Over the years I have been exposed to a wide variety of knowledge; from the local bodybuilders who took me in when I was young, to the many coaches I played for, and the education I’ve received from college and multiple certifications. I have since developed a unique point of view on training. The human body is built to perform, not just to pose. And, we tend to get spoiled using machines to get things done.
If there were no machines we would be forced to perform with a purpose. In today’s world, athletes train for purpose of sport. Over the years I have observed something compelling in myself and other athletes around me. The ability to perform in sport yields the byproduct of a well-developed and conditioned physique that is maintained all year round.
About nine years ago I came up with a concept which describes my method of developing the body. Athletic Performance and Biomechanic Training, otherwise known as APBT. It is based on human performance and involves both athletic performance and traditional bodybuilding methods. When you break down the meaning of APBT the concept is self explanatory.
“ALTHOUGH MOST ARE NOT PERFORMANCE ATHLETES, THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU CANNOT TRAIN LIKE ONE.”
Physically active, strong, good in athletics, having a well- proportioned body structure.
The execution of work, action or skill.
The study of the action of external and internal forces on the living body, especially on the skeletal system.
To give discipline and instruction, designed to impart proficiency and efficiency.
Although most of us are not performance athletes, that does not mean you cannot train like one. Here are a few tips on training for performance:
Categorize yourself. In doing this consider your past and present lifestyle. What is your fitness and athletic background? Assess your physical capabilities: your strength, flexibility, mobility and conditioning. By doing this you can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Your routine should be built around strengthening your weaknesses while maintaining and continuing to sharpen your strengths.
Be patient. The natural body is only capable of putting on a few pounds of pure muscle per year, so you need to pace yourself. It’s a way to ensure that you are progressively getting stronger and that you peak at the necessary time. Focus on getting stronger not bigger, because if you are getting stronger your muscles are growing. It is important to adjust your workout every 4-8 weeks as your body adjusts.
Build your body from the inside out. Because fitness competitions are based on aesthetics, many tend to train the muscles they see and forget about the smaller muscles that make those bigger muscles work. Think if a tree’s branches were stronger than its trunk, how long do you think that tree would be standing? The same goes for your body.
Be sure to spend just as much time developing your core muscle groups, shoulder joints and hips. This is your body’s support system. If these do not work properly you sacrifice mobility as well as delay muscle development.
“REGARDLESS OF THE EXERCISE, THE FOCUS SHOULD NOT JUST BE MOVING FROM POINT A TO B.”
Using your body weight to develop your physique is underestimated. Every workout should consist of a few body weight movements. Doing this forces your muscles to work together and develop symmetrically as well as gradually and progressively increasing mobility and strength in your joints which helps to prevent injury.
Regardless of the exercise, the focus should not just be moving from point A to B. Focus on full contraction and range of motion in the targeted muscle groups, as well as completing the movement as fast and efficiently as possible. Meaning, do not just do your 10 reps. You want to complete them in the fastest time possible, every set. This will force you to fire more muscle fibers at one time, which leads to fast muscle growth.
Compound and isolation exercises both are essential and need to be incorporated in your training. The fact is, compound exercises such as Olympic lifts and plyometrics build strength, power, size, and create symmetry faster than isolation exercises. On the other hand, isolation exercises are vital in developing your weaker muscles to create balance. So your training should be dominated by compound exercises and complemented with isolation exercises.
When considering isolation exercises choose free motion movement (eg. cables, dumbbells, barbells) over machines. Because machines are controlled movements, they take away your body’s natural ability to stabilize; as a result this impedes the development of your torso and joints. Be mindful of not over- isolating your favorite or strongest muscles. You don’t want to create any imbalance in the body. A balanced physique will win over the person with an exaggerated body part.
Two things I often hear, “Don’t do too much cardio or you will lose muscle,” and “If you go slow you will burn more fat.” While it is true that moving at a moderate pace you use your stored body fat as the primary fuel source, it is at a very slow rate. Moving at a higher intensity you utilize the muscle fibers that are responsible for strength, power, and size. In effect, you do more work in less time, and burn calories at a faster rate utilizing both stored body fat and calories taken in.
Moving your body at a high intensity is necessary when developing your body, especially in your shoulders, torso, and lower body. Get outside and move as much is possible. If you’re forced to use indoor cardio equipment put that incline and/or resistance up, move hard, and move fast.
“GIVE YOUR BODY THE OPPORTUNITY TO — USE ITS MUSCLES TOGETHER AS A UNIT. REMEMBER, THE BODY IS A MACHINE THAT IS BUILT TO PERFORM.”
When training for performance there are no bulking or leaning phases. Extreme changes in calories in and out of your body is never safe. You end up sacrificing strength, energy, and muscle growth. Protein is the engine and carbs are the fuel. If you put too much gas in your car it overflows. Your body simply stores the unused fuel until you use it. In short, the calories you take in should directly coincide with your activity level.
Find another activity to participate in between your shows. Athletes lift weights, run, and eat all to perform a high-intensity performance activity. Give your body the opportunity to use its muscles together as a unit. Remember, the body is a machine that is built to perform. NMI
DEMETRIOUS WHITFIELD | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Demetrious is a seasoned Trainer of 15 years. He earned a degree in Physical Education, is a IFPA Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Flexibility Specialist, Certified Functional Training Specialist, and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Wilton Sport and Fitness in Connecticut. He has trained three women for nine shows. The results were 9 first place, 6 second place, 2 third place, 1 fifth place and 4 Pro Cards. In addition to training athletes for the stage Demetrious primarily trains athletes and in the past two years produced 19 first-team all-conference athletes, 16 first-team all-state athletes, and four all Americans. Two of which are 2x All American.