How Competitive Functional Fitness is Disrupting the Strength Continuum

How Competitive Functional Fitness is Disrupting the Strength Continuum

Background of the Classic Model of The Strength Continuum

The Strength Continuum is a traditional strength and conditioning philosophy upon which different kinds of strength activities are classified. The Strength Continuum was developed as strength training was compared to the force-velocity curve and it was found that different forms of strength training needed their own categorizations as they fell into different areas of the force-velocity curve. The development of the Strength Continuum led to specific training for maximum expression of the different Strength Continuum categories. At first, it was believed that that only specific sports could manifest these expressions because of the individual nature of each category.

Definition of Competitive Functional Fitness

Competitive Functional Fitness involves testing athletes proficiency across a variety of movement patterns, activities, and energy systems. Competitive Functional Fitness is unique because it requires athletes to be well rounded in all aspects of the Strength Continuum, and does not require traditional specialization (I.e. Olympic Weightlifter, Powerlifter, Baseball Pitcher, Sprinter).

(Note: Based on James FitzGerald’s 20+ years as a coach and athlete his newest course, Mixed Modal, covers everything from the history of the sport to event-specific conditioning requirements.)

How Competitive Functional Fitness is Disrupting The Strength Continuum

Competitive Functional Fitness is disrupting the Strength Continuum by combining movements from different categories in the Strength Continuum without conventional sets, reps or ordering. This is especially prevalent in mixed modal training, the nature of competitive Functional Fitness does not allow one specific area of the Strength Continuum to be maximized because of the need to be well rounded. Competitive Functional Fitness disrupts the Strength Continuum because of how different areas of the Strength Continuum are accessed in one program.

How Speed Strength and Absolute Speed Fit into Competitive Functional Fitness

Absolute speed and speed strength are unique areas of the Strength Continuum because of their sport-specific nature. The front-end of the continuum (absolute strength and strength speed) are what most coaches and athletes consider first with the Strength Continuum. Speed strength and absolute speed (the rear-end of the Strength Continuum) are unique areas which are typically only accessed through sport-specific performance. Speed strength is performed with lower loads and at faster speeds. Examples of speed strength are low percentage barbell cycling (I.e. relative, usually <70% of one’s one rep maximum), box jumps, and other forms of plyometrics. The primary reason to perform speed strength activities is to teach the body to absorb and transmit forces rapidly.

Absolute speed is performed through movements combining low mass and high acceleration (with lower force production overall). Coaches should think of absolute speed as a sport-specific activity (I.e. running sprint). Energy system training also accesses absolute speed when training in an anaerobic alactic setting such as an AirBike. A true absolute speed activity should be done with only one’s own bodyweight at an unsustainable pace, and the participant needs to possess the prerequisite strength to perform absolute speed training, if not, this would be classified as “practice”. 

Competitive Functional Fitness disrupts the Strength Continuum because of how different areas of the Strength Continuum are accessed in one program. Coaches should tackle this challenge by focusing on a singular aspect of the continuum during times of the season, our course Mixed Modal explains exactly how to do this. Improve how you coach competitive Functional Fitness athletes by understanding conditioning requirements, sport-specific program design, and a breakdown of required skills with our course, Mixed Modal.


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