I have a love and hate relationship with General Strength. Too many times I see GS circuits looking like sloppy hybrids of strength meets aerobics classes with no direction. I often hear a lot of voodoo of hormonal boosting and tissue saturation blending, making me think that we need clarity with what we are doing with general exercises. General strength is a backbone of movement meets conditioning, and how one constructs the circuit or workout is more art than science. When we coach athletes, we are doing half teaching and half training. The balance is up to the coach, as just teaching movement quality is similar to a high school kid playing guitar hero to get ready for the battle of the bands in his town. On the other hand training without teaching leads to bad technique and possible injury, as coaches are needed to guide athletes, not matter how talented they are.
What are the adaptations we are creating with GS? I hear a lot of descriptions of what we are seeing, but confirmation bias is often the culprit. If you are seeing adaptations make sure you document with some simple measures. Are they getting more mobile? Screen them again? Are they getting leaner? Compared to what other program in the past? Are they more explosive? Are you measuring in watts per kilogram or are you seeing magic in 15 pound kettle bell snatches?
What are the skill acquisitions we are teaching? Quality or junk reps? Is their a direction or progression we are seeking or just getting stuff done? Are we reinforcing compensations or even making them worse? Are the athletes taking advantage of the time and improving coordination or are they doing brainless stuff while the coach is texting his entries to his fantasy football league?
Finally it’s ok to be general, since specific training often creates overuse patterns that are similar to what we see in the sport. General creates balance between specify stress and often specific is not specific enough. Tom Tellez was able to improve sprinting speed and technique with just sprinting and running at slower speeds. Replicating what people do on the field often creates weighted or loaded overtraining when most programs are trying to offset or address things normally not exposed to the athlete because of competition schedule and implements. It’s ok for a soccer player to sprint or lift weights, as general training done right does transfer. Just because the visible connections are not seen, doesn’t mean the chemistry and raw power is not developing.