Synonym: Athletic Development = Physical Literacy

Athletic development encompasses the training of physical qualities that will make athletes better prepared for the demands of sports competition. Therefore, letting them thrive in competition, not merely survive. These same physical qualities that are necessary to best prepare youth athletes for competition are the same physical qualities we believe here at Integrated Bodies all young people should be led through on their journey of physical development.

Just as we teach the worlds youth about numeracy and literacy within our schools. Our children should also be led through their movement ABC’s. This physical literacy is learning the why’s and how’s of our foundational movement patterns such as the squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, rotate, and brace; in addition to learning how to run, jump, land, and throw. This physical literacy philosophy is synonymous with our Athletic Development Program, for this reason we are so excited to see more and more our young members who are currently not competing in sports, but who are still being taught their movement ABC’s.

We urge our local community to get around this movement, and if you know a young person who is keen to learn how to train in the gym and learn how to move their body properly and work with professional coaches to lead them through this; our ADP classes are for them. Athletic Development & physical literacy can prepare our young people to thrive in life, not merely survive.

Sydney Daily Telegraph

Sydney Daily Telegraph

Athletic Development is All-Seasonal

Athletic Development is All-Seasonal

Physical training is required and beneficial throughout the entire year for all of us; especially those competing in sports. A common misconception is that for athletes, physical training and development should only occur during the off-season and pre-competition phases of training.

Volume Schemes

The volume within a workout describes the amount of work that amount of work that is completed. Simply put in the gym this is the number of repetitions and sets we complete within a session. The manipulation of volume can be used to dial in the specific stress we want to apply, and in turn the specific physical adaptations we are wanting to achieve.

Within the Integrated Bodies Athletic Development program we strategically manipulate repetitions for two major reasons. The first is to distinguish between our athletes who need to build muscles mass and develop structural, to those who can focus on develop absolute strength and power. For athletes with a young resistance training age this is a primary need and we prescribe higher repetitions.  As our bodies become structurally sound we can nudge our repetition prescription down to allow for more intensity or resistance to be applied, to work on our absolute strength and power. Secondly, we specifically undulate or change or prescriptions for each respective scenario to continually, periodically every two weeks, change the stimulus. This is because variety is a key training principle that promotes adaptation and change within the body.

As for our prescriptions of sets we remain relatively consistent, and this is for a specific reason. As we see athletic development is a complimentary training strategy to the bigger focus of sports and life, Integrated Bodies holds a philosophy of providing the smallest worthwhile dose for change and progression. What this means is we want to apply just enough stress for us to become better but be cautious of applying too much stress that may carry fatigue into a negatively affect performances in sports practice, competition, and our lives outside the gym. The nitty and gritty of strength science would suggest for developing strength we need to hold multiple sets at a specific load for us to adapt, and become stronger. This is true, particularly for very well trained strength athletes. However, for those who have not truly reached their strength potentials yet and have higher priorities of performance; we can get progression from merely practicing the movement with a slightly heavier load then last week. Though there will be a time and place to use more complex set prescriptions, which we do in time, we can get all that low hanging fruit first, before we climb the tree.

Intensity – Auto-regulation and Fatigue management

Within the Athletic Development Program at Integrated Bodies once our members have progressed passed the primary levels of the program through bodyweight mastery, we then externally load our exercises. It is this external load, the resistance or the weight chosen for the given exercise that most commonly defines the intensity of the exercise prescription. Within the world of strength training, the prescription of intensity can come in different forms, and there are some overruling principles and philosophies we have hold close and use within the ADP.

Potentially the most common way to prescribe the weight used in strength training is the percent repetition maximum (%RM) method. This strategy requires the coach to understand the maximum amount of weight the individual athlete can lift for the specific given exercise, commonly referred to as the individuals 1RM. This is a great tool to use with very experienced lifters, and athletes who compete solely at lifting like powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters. For the populations that fall outside these realms, particularly youth athletes, this method may not be ideal. Some reasons for this is that our true 1RM could change day to day, or even hourly as our bodies balance stress, recovery, and adaptation impacting on the reliability of this prescriptions. This method also leads us to plan for loading and de-loading intensity periods in strength programs; something that can lead to missed opportunities and overloading fatigue within the individuals. In instances where %RM is planned, an athlete who is being told to go heavy because that is what his program says, who is already neutrally stressed will drive his body deeper into this negative state – in the same instance a player who is ready to rumble is told to go light because this is what is in his program, misses an opportunity to show us what they’ve really got!

To make our intensity prescriptions the most ideal for the athletic population and help educate our members on how to select the right weight for each exercise we stand by one simple rule, and that is to ‘leave two reps left in the tank’. We instruct our members and athletes to work up to a weight on their final set that they believe would only allow for two more reps to be performed. This is our athletes working up to a subjective +/- 80% of intensity. In this way the human body can self-manage or autoregulate the intensity of the exercise. If for what ever reason the body is fatigued the weight/intensity of the exercise within our session will be reduced, an option lead by the athlete to help recover from this stress. Where as if the body is recovered, fresh, and adapted the intensity and weight of the exercise will be increased to provide a new stimulus for strength development, and maybe a new personal best! This strategy allows our coaches to better physically manage our athletes no matter where the individual is up to in their sporting season, and pay respects to the idea that athletic development is here to compliment their sporting performances and aspirations, not take centre stage. 

Exercise Selection – Thread System

Exercise is medicine. This is no different when it comes to exercise selection within strength training and athletic development. The Integrated Bodies Athletic Development program specifically chooses exercises that aim to develop very particular qualities in improving athleticism. We categorise these exercises into threads. These threads are titled by their movement pattern and all exercises within each detailed thread possess demands to improve the specific qualities required for movement athleticism. 

The exercises within each thread needs to be suitable for the vast range of skillsets the athletic population posses. As a young early trainer, or an early stage rehab athlete can’t and shouldn’t just walk under a loaded barbell, they need to show achievement with bodyweight exercises first. Whilst, a more advanced lifter may need a more complex barbell exercise to load up and provide a large mechanical dose to his body; after earning the right for the barbell first of course. At the same time traditional barbell strength exercises have their expiry load limit when it comes to improving and complimenting athletes sporting actions. So when an athlete can front squat more than 160% of their bodyweight, we should ask ourselves is the juice worth the squeeze when fighting for months to increase the load by 10kg; or can we make the movement more complex and specific with other qualities like velocity and coordination to improve its transfer to the sporting arena? Yes, we can, and we do at Integrated Bodies.

The thread based exercise selection system we use within the Integrated Bodies ADP sees our athletes begin their journey on an age, experience, and competency appropriate exercise. As our athletes improve, show mastery, and reach detailed strength levels relative to their own bodyweight they progress, level by level, to a new exercise that will challenge them and give us bang for our buck!

Competency Base Periodisation

The Integrated Bodies Athletic Development Program (ADP) utilises a competency-based philosophy for our periodisation, or planning, of training. Traditional forms of periodisation for the athletic populations commonly sees the use of block planning or training phases, based on chronological time. This style of training planning uses the idea that athletes require a period of time, usually 4-6 weeks, spent training specific and particular athletic qualities. This traditionally looks like a training plan presenting 4 weeks of hypertrophy, then into 4 weeks of strength, leading into 4 weeks of power training. Though this strategy seems to make sense, it is nonsensical for the human species and entire athletic population. The short comings of this program is that an individual athlete who desperately needs to gain muscles mass, who is already quite fast and powerful, only gets 4 weeks in a 3 month period to develop this hypertrophy he needs. Or on the other hand, the muscular athlete who is quite weak and slow for his size, could be better off with more work and time getting stronger and faster, rather than getting even bigger.

 The Integrated Bodies ADP programs competency-based periodisation allows athletes to work on what their priority needs are until they achieve their goal, not for a time stamp. Looking deeper into this approach we can see it provides the ability for our members to simultaneously develop their weaknesses, whilst also emphasizing their strengths. If one of our more senior and experienced athletes are great and strong at squatting and can achieve their objective strength competencies this pattern is progressed to a more power orientated exercise. Whilst at the same time if they are not great hingers / dead-lifters, and have weak upper bodies, they will continue to work hard at improving these areas until they achieve their goals. Spending more time where they require development and progressing their strength to allow continual development and prevent stagnation. The competency-based periodisation scheme used within the Integrated Bodies ADP allows for detailed training manipulation to really dial in to what the athlete truly needs right now, not what the plan says they need for this month.

Training is testing and testing is training

Training is testing and testing is training

Within the Integrated Bodies Athlete Development Program, we are focused on delivering training sessions that deliver development for our members, simultaneously as providing information to our coaches to direct decision making within the program.

Our structured warm-up, strength work, and competency-based progressions deliver our coaches insights into the movement quality each of our member's posses; on a session to session basis. Rather than delivering an initial movement screen, to then direct decision for our next session, this process allows us to quickly identify and immediately begin correcting movement deficiencies, developing weaknesses, and emphasising strengths.

This philosophy also rings true for our strength testing principles. Our members will be able to display their strength improvements, in exercises specific to their development, over the weeks and within their session as they progress through their movement competencies and progressions.

Opposed to blocking out one of our training sessions per month to get our members to ‘test’ their strength, and lose a valuable opportunity for training. Our members' strength development will be measured, monitored, and reported through the achievement of their progressions and the strength levels they achieve. Everyday, and every session is a chance to learn, develop, and improve. Isolated testing tells us where we are, it doesn’t take us any closer to our goals.

If we can build our assessments/testing into the learning/training process, we can be improving and gaining insight into how far we’ve come all at the same time; and never miss an opportunity to get better.

The Complexes

The complexes

Within the Athletic Development Program most of our work is completed in the form of complexes. Integrated Bodies ADP complexes are strategically constructed from our movement threads to improve specific movement qualities.

In our lower body complexes the combinational exercises include a strength, mobility, and jump/land movement, while our upper body complexes include a strength, mobility, and core exercise. Simply, a complex is a group or combination of exercises completed after one another specifically designed to compliment each other and improve the economy of the work out.

For example, within our squat movement complex, the primary philosophy behind why we squat is to improve our ability to absorb force through our knees and ankles. While the complex will involve a squat exercise progression, it will also incorporate a mobility exercise to improve ankle range of motion; in addition to a vertically orientated jump/land exercise to teach our members how to pattern their mobility and strength qualities into coordinated movement patterns.

The complexes also assist manage the team environment within an IB ADP session. Keeping all of our complexes on a timer, and the entire class starting a new set within the complex at the same time promotes individual accountability within a team environment.

Adjusting the timing of a complex also allows for manipulation of one of our training variables, density. Though it is a simple tool, the complex is an important part of the ADP process. Allowing the program to deliver a series of important exercises in an economical team orientated manner.