General Strength – A Closer Look


General Strength (GS) has become a garbage “throwaway” term in the Track & Field world. You can give the circuits all kinds of cute names like Waterloo, Dunkirk or D Day, but whatever name you use, it has evolved into mindless repetition of poor quality movements with no specific goal in mind. I remind you that just getting someone tired is not training with a purpose; it is just getting someone tired. Hurdle overs and unders are great if they placed in the correct place in a workout, if not they are just stuff. If you look at the composition of the various GS workouts proliferating on various Internet sites what you see is too much work in prone and supine positions with no discernible pattern or sequence to the movements. I observed much of this first hand in my work with the Oregon Project. I could see no sequence to the application of the circuits and the distribution of the work throughout the training cycles. I was uncomfortable with it then and I am more uncomfortable now that it has taken on a life of its own. With middle distance and distance runners this has replaced strength training with appropriate resistance. What everyone calls GS or General Strength is circuit training. It has a place in a program, but you must develop strength before you can endure it. The guiding principal is to develop strength before strength endurance and power before power endurance. Circuit training can and should be used during certain phases of the training year to enhance strength endurance and/ or power endurance depending on the composition of the circuit and the work to rest ratios and resistance. The movements need to be carefully chosen to fit the athlete’s event, their specific needs and the time of the training year. I encourage you to take a long hard look at how you are using this component. If it is just stuff thrown together, then it is just stuff. Anyone can do stuff!

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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