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November 25, 2009
Don’t just measure reps and weights
The standard measurement of training, whether lifting weights or running, is to count repetitions and sets. These quantitative measurements are important to guide workouts, but the quality of workouts is equally vital, if not more, to ensure optimal improvements. One of the best means to measure quality of workouts is the speed of movement; how fast was your medicine ball throw, how quick was your agility run, or the speed of a barbell when lifted from the floor. The largest consequence for overlooking the quality of training and only recording reps/weights is neural fatigue. While we previously addressed this subtle form of exhaustion (see Sparta Point 10/8/09), the most obvious sign would be a decline in the speed of movement. There are generally 2 reasons for overlooking this crucial quality of training. The first obstacle for this measurement is equipment. At Sparta, we use a radar gun to assess medicine ball throws, electronic timing systems to record sprints, and software analysis for rotational power. The second reason is coaching inexperience. As coaches, we often forget the stress of moving weight, or your body, at the highest possible speeds. While the aforementioned technology is more reliable, your workouts must find some sort of quality measurement. Even a simple stopwatch can be used to measure times or provide cutoffs to ensure the highest intensities. However, you need to be careful and avoid detrimental techniques that advise as many weightlifting reps as possible for a specified period of time (see Sparta Point 10/13/09). The result of this recommendation is poor technique that can cause injuries, several of which I have seen over the past year alone. When you begin to start evaluating your workout intensity based off this qualitative factor of speed, rather than reps and weights, you will have a much better idea of how to assess the current workout and adjust for your next.
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November 25, 2009
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