If you come to a couple of our athlete sessions, you’ll notice something: we do a bunch of different exercises. We don’t typically stick to one specific movement day in and day out. However, there is a reason for this.
An athlete, unless a strength sport athlete (powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting), doesn’t HAVE to do any specific exercise. The goal of a general strength and conditioning program is to get them to be able to handle and produce force (ideally fast). That said, the mode in which we do that (within reason) doesn’t necessarily matter.
Secondly, oftentimes athletes, specifically field sport athletes, have to be ready to move in a bunch of different ways as they react to the movement of something else (opposing player or ball/puck). If we only train an athlete to be able to produce force in a very specific manner, that may not transfer as well as using a variety of movements that all make the body move and produce force in different ways.
That way we can make general strength and conditioning a bit more specific to the athlete. But, as we’ve said before, we will never make an athlete totally mimic their sport in the weight room, as that’s a recipe for overuse and poor performance with actually competing.
Finally, athletes (especially young athletes) are just like the rest of us and get bored doing the same thing over and over. Giving them something fresh and new and challenging may actually produce better outcomes over the course of time versus doing the same thing over and over, where the effort level may just drop over time.
Now there are a few caveats to this method of thinking...
1) We don’t just randomly choose exercises out of a hat – we have to check boxes of major movement patterns (squat, hinge, push, pull, etc.) so that every pattern gets its time to shine.
2) There needs to be a general pattern or progress to the variations we use – while to a point we do a variation for variation's sake, there needs to be a method to the madness.
3) Every exercise needs a purpose – just like the pattern/progress idea, we don’t just throw a new exercise in just because it’s different. If it’s meant to be a strength-building exercise, it needs to fit the bill. If the goal is more fatigue resistance, then that’s the exercise route we take.
Move a bunch of things in a bunch of different ways over the course of a bunch of time – a great recipe for long-term success!