Training for Maximization or Efficiency?

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I was going through some notes I’d taken from meetings I’d attended in the past year and this absolutely beautiful quote from a highly successful US Athlete (4x World Championship competitor, 2x Olympian, 2x US National Champion) stood out to me:

Who the f@%k thinks Olympians are supposed to have efficient training? You’re supposed to train past efficiency all the way through diminishing returns until there’s nothing more you can do that won’t screw you up.

The athlete in question stood up and made the statement at a USATF High Performance Meeting last year in response to what we need to do to get more athletes on the podium.

Minimalist programs work perfectly fine for getting you to 90-95% of your physical potential. That’s acceptable for field and court sports where physical performance isn’t quantitatively assessed like it is in Track & Field, swimming, weightlifting, and cycling. In sports like soccer, basketball, baseball and even football, the risk of fighting for that final 5-10% of maximal physical development might not be worth it. But in Track & Field and similar sports, where medalists are decided by less than 1%, maximizing potential IS the sport and you must push way through diminishing returns until there’s nothing more you can do.

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