Recently I was asked to review an Strengh & Conditioning programme written for a full time Taekwondo athlete, by the athlete’s full time coach. Within the programme the coach was making the athlete do swimming a few times in a week!
I queried as to why swimming had been included within the programme, and the coach said to make the athlete “fitter” for competition… It was very apparent to me by this point that this coach had completely no idea about effective training and had really missed the point… Most importantly they must have never heard about the Law of Specifity!
Ok, so let’s turn the tables and set a scene.
An elite swimmer moving onto a new full time programme has been designated a new coach. The coach says to improve cardiovascular conditioning for the next event they want the athlete to do Taekwondo training a few times a week. The swimmer looks at the coach confused… get the idea?
The Law of Specifity dictates that the the specific nature of a training load produces its own specific response and adaptations. The exercise will have a very specific pattern of joint and muscle coordination.
The training load must be specific to both the individual athlete and the demands of their chosen event. This does not negate general training. General training prepares athletes for specific training. The greater the volume of general training, the greater the capacity is for specific training.
I constantly hear about and (often see) many different Taekwondo athlete’s training programmes and they all seem to be doing the same thing. Going to the gym and spending hours on a treadmill, cross-trainer or bike, running miles and miles outdoors in freezing weather conditions… and even occasionally swimming.
In past articles we have looked at energy sources for Taekwondo, how the body uses these energy sources for Taekwondo and the differing energy pathways and which ones we use in Taekwondo training and competition.
Recall Taekwondo athletes rely heavily on both the ATP-PCr and mainly the anaerobic glycolytic system. Running long distances and doing hours and hours on a cross-trainer works one thing… the aerobic oxidative system.
As mentioned in previous articles the aerobic oxidative energy system contribution is minimal and is involved only in ring movement and recovery mechanisms. On this basis road running and using gym apparatus such as a cross-trainer (and any other training modality directed at increasing aerobic capacity) may actually even be a negative factor to Taekwondo performance and may alter the other energy system adaptations.
Now I am in no way saying do not do these types of activity. Swimming is very good for the body as it takes away massive amounts of training stresses from the muscles and joints, can aid in recovery and can even be used as a specific means of training i.e. kicking in the water for resistance. The same applies for running whereas having a good aerobic base will help recovery. Track running is an excellent form of training for Taekwondo as well as weight loss and will be mentioned in future articles.
Just don’t rely on these methods as a mode of training for cardiovascular endurance within the Taekwondo ring.
So PLEASE… step away from the treadmill!!!
Please let me know what you thought of the article in the comments box and if there’s anything in particular you want to know, feel free to include that too.