As I continue to work towards my UK National Strength and Conditioning accreditation, many people have asked me what that actually entails. Surely any health and fitness workout will mean better sport or movement performance? However, that is not the case. There is a significant difference between being muscle strong and movement strong. You can have the strongest or most powerful single muscle in the world, but if the surrounding muscles and connective tissues do not have the appropriate strength or recruitment patterns, then that muscle cannot be effectively utilised.
Instead, if sport specific movements can be manipulated to produce an overload stimulus, then the series of muscles that require the movement get stronger instead of an individual muscle. A perfect and painful example of this was seen during England vs. Germany in the football World Cup in 2010. England defender Matthew Upson clearly hit the gym hard and was built like a nightclub doorman. German striker Miroslav Klose, was considerably shorter and had far less muscle mass. However, time after time, the smaller Klose would out-jump, out-run and out-turn Upson, much to the detriment of the England team. I have no doubt, that Upson would have been able to squat, bench press, and row, more than Klose in the gym, but the German had trained to use his strength to maximise his sporting performance.
Humans are not robots. The human body is a complex series of connections that work together in order to produce movement. Therefore, if we want to get stronger, quicker, and more powerful, then we must start to train movement patterns, not just isolated muscles.