SPECIFICITY OF TRAINING - TRANSFER OF TRAINING EFFECTS FOR SKILLS RARELY OCCUR
Brent S. Rushall, in answer to questions from Dr. Larry Weisenthal (1997).
"In aerobic endurance training, mitochondrial adaptations occur only in muscles stimulated by activity. The response is further limited to those fibers which are activated in the activity. Thus, white fibers are very unlikely to be stimulated to produce a training response in work that is consistently at or below anaerobic threshold. These adaptations are only specific and do not generalize to other forms of activity that may use the muscle, and therefore muscle fibers, differently. For example, endurance gained from flat-track running does not generalize or facilitate hill running." [This is from an abstract in Coaching Science Abstracts Vol 1(2).]
Strength training advocates have proposed that excess strength provides a reserve that can be tapped. The research evidence does not support this nor does anecdotal evidence. It is not appropriate (possible?) to create a capacity above that which can be maximally trained in a particular activity.
I could go on at great length about the pitfalls of the human being if it was a generalizing animal instead of one that discriminates. A great biological argument could be made about the value of specificity for species survival which is contradictory to the generalization characteristics proposed in "cross-training." In the history of sport science, the current bent on cross-training is at least the third time that the "generality" of training principle has emerged. Each time (the last was in the early 1960s) it has arisen, research has been regenerated and demonstrated that there are neither general capacities nor general exercise responses. Specificity is one of the strongest response characteristics of exercise adaptation.
For very high levels of performance to occur, movements have to be strongly and specifically represented in the cerebrum. Without sufficient training to produce an overlearned state, automated and smooth movements will not result. This means that only kicking in swimming in an appropriate manner and with lots of repetition will there develop a good kicking pattern. The problem is do the training activities produce sufficient repetitions of "race-type" kicking?
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