We’re on a mission to dispel training myths and to support athletes to get the best from their training and ultimately optimise performance.

In a series of talks, starting in Harrogate, and later this year in locations around the country, we’ve brought together our Vitfor experts to provide audiences with actionable hints and tips that can be implemented immediately.

In this blog, we revisit Vitfor Strength & Conditioning Coach, Byron Spence’s, guide to strength and conditioning for performance.

Strength & Conditioning For Performance

Photo of Vitfor Strength and Conditioning Coach, Byron Spence cycling up a steep hill

Our body is a marvellous machine which seeks to manage mobility and stability through what’s known as the kinetic chain.

Drawing of a skeleton with lines and arrows to depict the kinetic chain
The Kinetic Chain

We need stability in key parts to allow for mobility in others and vice versa.

Throughout our lifetime, we exert different stresses on our bodies through different lifestyles – spending all day at the wheel of a car, at a desk, heavy lifting or standing on a production line – can all have a negative impact on our sporting performance (and indeed even on simple everyday movements).

So, before we build strength and conditioning into our training program, it’s important that we have identified the root cause of any niggles and issues we might have.

The FMS or Functional Movement Screen is the method by which we assess any disfunction and asymmetries. From this we can build the right foundation before we work on strengthening that foundation.

The FMS involves the analysis of seven different movement patterns, scoring them from 0 (movement was painful, requiring referral to healthcare professional) to 3 (unquestioned ability to perform the movement).

Photo showing a man correctly performing an in-line lunge
Functional Movement Screen: In-line Lunge

The movements that are tested are:

  1. Deep squat: here we’re looking to see that the upper torso is aligned with the shins and the thighs are parallel with the floor, knees and arms aligned with the feet.
  2. Hurdle step: we’re looking for the ability to shift the level of the hips, maintain balance and a neutral upper body
  3. In-line lunge: a somewhat complex movement but one which assesses ankle and knee stability and spots potential weakness in the abductor or adductor
  4. Shoulder mobility: with fisted hands, you’ll be asked to reach one hand over your shoulder and the other to the middle of your back from underneath. We’re looking to see how close your hands reach and how symmetrical you are when swapping sides
  5. Active straight leg raise: is used to assess hamstring and calf flexibility, hip mobility and pelvic stability
  6. Trunk stability push-up: is a great way to assess core strength and trunk stability
  7. Rotational stability: screens for core stability and asymmetry.
Photo showing a man performing a straight leg raise and a test administrator using a measurement pole to measure his ability to do the movement
Functional Movement Screen: Straight Leg Raise

As we saw in Craig Stevenson’s presentation on training sessions, in strength and conditioning, quality is vital. Nailing the movement pattern to elicit the correct adaptation should come before quantity and weight is built in. Lifting the heaviest weight you can, will likely cause more damage than good if the movement itself isn’t correct.

If you don’t already, we recommend doing your strength and conditioning in front of a mirror. Look at your alignment – are you maintaining balance, are you symmetrical, are you able to take the movement to its fullest extent, are you overshooting the movement, and so on?

When planning your strength and conditioning sessions into your training program, we recommend scheduling them before a long, steady state or recovery ride or alternatively after an interval session.

Photo showing a member of the audience performing a deep squat
Audience Member Demonstrates a Deep Squat

So, let’s sum up:

  • We can see how a lifetime of bad habits can affect the symmetry and function of our body
  • An FMS, Functional Movement Screen, will help to ascertain the root causes of any issues you may have and the areas of focus required for your strength and conditioning program
  • The FMS assesses your ability to perform seven core movement patterns
  • Quality in strength and conditioning is vital – nailing the movement will elicit the right adaptation instead of the wrong one
  • Use the mirror in the gym or at home to constantly check your movement quality
  • Plan your strength and conditioning sessions before a long, steady state or recovery ride or alternatively after an interval session

What you can do next:

Obviously, you can invest in an FMS to assess exactly what disfunctions and asymmetries you need to focus on, but you can also ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you checked that the strength and conditioning work you’re doing is aligned with your goals?
  • Do you know exactly what each movement should look like?
  • Have you sacrificed quality for quantity or weight – has the vanity metric set in?
  • Are you neglecting your stretching and mobility work?
  • Have you scheduled your strength and conditioning to optimise your training week?

Of course, if you just don’t know where to start with all of this, you can talk to Byron or book an FMS. From there, Byron will help you to build your strength and conditioning program, which you can either manage for yourself, or you can use Byron as a 1-2-1 coach for additional support. Click here for more information.

Click here for Craig Stevenson’s Intensity, Frequency & Volume and here for Andy Brodziak’s Fuel & Hydration.


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