What is base?

This is an excerpt from our textbook. 

  • Developing a solid base is an absolute requirement.
  • Base training is the dominant prerequisite qualities and skills of your goal or sport. Base training is specific: Runners Run, Weightlifters Lift, Judokas grapple, Throwers Throw.
  • Base is not GPP. GPP is preparing the individual to train. Base is where you need the bulk of your actual training time: Is it skill? Is it endurance? Is it strength? Power?
  • What is the Base in your sport?

Base, in case of long term programming is the simplest common denominator to your training. For most people this will be full body strength, some sort of endurance work or conditioning, and/or skill practice relevant to your sport. For the general fitness enthusiast who occasionally competes in strength or endurance events, base may simply be strength training in the gym and either biking, running, or swimming. It is the practice that keeps you strong, healthy, and injury free.

If you compete in a skill-based sport, your base is largely made up of the prerequisite strength, endurance, power and endurance (etc.) along with your sport specific skills. For a lacrosse player it is specific field skills to play and the speed and endurance to compete in an hour long game.

A volleyball player has a base of full body power and court skills, a soccer player has a base of running endurance and field techniques, a shot putter has a base of full body throwing power and the technique apply it to the shot.

If you are starting a new sport for the first time, your base may simply be practicing the techniques specific to your sport. When your base is adequate and specific to your needs, you should be within striking distance of being competitive in your sport or being able to compete in a specific event. In that case 6-12 weeks may be all you need to prepare for your event or season. The more divergent an event is from your base, the longer your preparation may take to perform at a level close to your potential. Keep this in mind when choosing events to train for. Depending on the difference between this new activity and what you currently do, it may take anywhere from three to twelve months to compete at a reasonable level.

When defining base for most people, it is pretty simple; Baseball players practice baseball, golfers golf, dancers dance. If you are trying to be the best Highland Games thrower in the world, you need to be a good thrower first. Practice your skills first and then worry about what improvements you can make in the gym. For those who require more strength and endurance to be competitive or who compete in strength or endurance sports, base may also include their daily fitness training.

Full body strength equals squat, press, pull. The form that may take will be different for everyone. Back squat, front squat, split squat, partial squat, goblet squat are all viable choices depending on the individual’s age, injuries, and fitness level. Bench press, overhead press, pushups, dips, etc. all count as presses. Deadlifts, power cleans, snatches, pull-ups, etc. all count as pull. Try and figure out the minimum effective dose of these elements to come up with a simple training program to build and maintain strength the kind of strength you need.

Endurance needs can differ greatly, but if you can’t walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, you need to work on your conditioning. You can achieve this through weight training, walking, running, swimming, rowing, barbell complexes, kettlebell swings, etc.  The bottom line is that no matter how strong you are, you need your cardiorespiratory system to be able to support your efforts. For some people, a balanced strength program can serve their conditioning needs as well. Individuals who primarily compete in endurance sports will have a much larger portion of their base training dedicated to long steady distance training. Individuals who compete in skill based sports will predominantly be practicing their skills. This is different from competing. Hours and hours of practice are what make players competitive on the field and a great deal of that practice focuses on the coordination requirements of the sport.

If you want to compete in both endurance and strength sports, you need to have a significant base in both and this will take a long time to develop. You also need to realize that divergent training goals such as these require patience and have tradeoffs.  However, with good planning , you can compete reasonably well at both.

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