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“Many Roads Lead to Rome” Optimal CNS Loading For Peak Performance

Jeff Moyer, DC Sports Training

“Many roads lead to Rome.”  This is usually a response that one will receive when talking to a coach about means and methods of physical preparation.  Many coaches liken to this point because young athletes have very plastic nervous systems, so just about any type of training will yield positive results.  Hence why there is such a plethora of various types of strength / athletic training programs:

  • Westside
  • 5-3-1
  • Vertical Integration
  • 1×20
  • Tri-Phasic
  • 3×5
  • 5×5
  • Pyramid loading
  • Crossfit
  • HIIT
  • Linear Periodization
  • Block Periodization

They all work, but at what cost?

What is often failed to be explained with the “many roads” analogy is the history lesson on the Roman roads; how they were constructed through slaves and taxes far across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  Some of the roads lead over land and sea, and even around the Alps mountains.  Some people had to travel via ship, some on horseback, via carriage, and some on foot.  Some roads lead through dangerous areas wild terrain, wild animals and enemies.  Wars were raged so these roads could be built.

My point here is to show that yes, many roads lead to Rome, however, not all of them are efficient and safe to travel.  People died building them and people died traveling them.  Let’s not be foolish to think that many different roads don’t also lead to many different places as well! Some not always where you want them to go.

I find that this history analogy to hold true for field of physical preparation.  With high school and college athletes, yes, many different means of training will get you results, however there is always a cost to doing business.  The point of this article is not to knock the other means/methods of physical preparation, but to pose the question do we need to do as much of it as we do in order to drive results up?  Are there more efficient means and methods of travel?

“Many Roads Lead to Rome” Optimal CNS Loading For Peak Performance

“If we see training as poison, we may pay more attention to dosage” – Henk Kraaijenhof

Dr. Bondarchuk (who in my opinion is one of, if not thee top expert on adaptation and training transfer) has stated that whether you use high intensity or low intensity with younger athletes, the results will be the same.  The difference is that with high intensity work there is no coming back from high intensity, and the plasticity of the nervous system stiffens so that the only way you can keep improving is by using high intensity and or more volume of high intensity.

An example of this is how much training needs to be done for a top power lifter and or Usain Bolt to yield even a 1% improvement, as opposed to a 16 -18year old.  “That which does not kill us, does not make us strong but less sensitive.” – Dr. Natalia Verkhoshansky

look at the nervous system like a spongeIf we are too look at the nervous system like a sponge; the goal of training is to pour enough water (training load) on that sponge so that it is able to soak up, dry up, and be ready for the following training session.  The sponge however will only soak up and dry as fast as it physically can.  Pouring more water on a sponge will not increase its ability to hold more water than its physical capacity allows.  It will just leak water on the floor, and perhaps take longer for it to dry so that it won’t be as effective the next day.

As physical preparation coaches, we can’t speed up the adaptation process, but we can certainly f**k it up!

Don’t confuse a plastic nervous system with a sensitive nervous systemPlasticity of the nervous system means that the athlete is formidable to any type of training to get a result in many directions (strength, power, speed,etc.).  Sensitivity of the nervous system means that it doesn’t take much for the athlete to get a result.  The contrary to that is that it doesn’t take much to push them over the threshold of too much.

Coaches liken the idea of younger athletes to their ability to recover quickly, however I pose the question of rather looking at JUST recovery and how much the athlete can handle, look at adaptation and improvements in your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).  What is needed to move the needle in those?  I am willing to bet that the threshold for adaptation is lower than the adaptation for recovery.  To quote Mr. Rugby Strength Coach Keir Wenham-Flatt, if you could pay $5,000 for a car, why would you pay $20,000 for it?

In Just Fly Sports Podcast with Dan Fitcher and Chris Korfist, Chris gave a great anecdotal story about how he found with one of his track and field athletes, that if they only trained once a week, that is all he needed to improve in his times.  That is both unheard of and awesome!  Why train 2-3x a week if all you need is once to move the needle of improvements towards where we want it?

You may not have to like the idea of 1×20, but you must admit that its existence and growing presents in the physical preparation community must mean that there where there is smoke there is fire.  I am not going to try and sell you on 1×20 because, well frankly I don’t care too.  The point of this article is to provoke thought into how we structure our training programs and ask the question “is there a more efficient way to achieve higher results?”

In the theory and practice of physical preparation, as well as its related fields of scientific research, there is no one shred of literature that demonstrates the greater the loads and training volume and intensity, the faster long-term meditation in the system of the athlete…Developing sports form depends not on the mountain of training loads but on the system of exercises being used.” – Dr. Bondarchuk

About Jeff Moyer

moyerJeff Moyer is the owner of Dynamic Correspondence Sports Training, whose motto is, “We Build Better Athletes.” At DC Sports Training, athletes work on the physical, mental and visual aspects to the sports. Their goal is to deliver the athletes of the greater Pittsburgh area the highest, most efficient results year after year of training with us. We will exhaust our means in order for our athletes to achieve the highest results, and to create a system model that will develop our athletes both physically and intellectually. Education must be the road to which will help us set this standard. Our results will be the vehicle which to drive us.

Jeff graduated in 2004 from Hartwick College where he was a two sport athlete (Football & Track & Field). Jeff has been a sport coach (Basketball & Football) at the youth, JV, Varsity and College level for football for over 10years. Jeff has been in the strength in conditioning industry for over a decade, having worked in the medical, private, team, high school and collegiate settings, training clients from youth development, to rehabilitation and sport performance.

Jeff has a relentless passion for all things physical preparation. His pedagogy is heavily influenced by Eastern Bloc sport science, while apprenticing under Dr. Michael Yessis and Yosef Johnson of Ultimate Athlete Concepts. Jeff has also been fortunate enough to extensively study with and work with Dr. Natalia Verkhoshansky, Mike Woicik of the Dallas Cowboys, Louie Simmons of Wesitside Barbell and Fellowship under Dave Tate of EliteFTS.


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