Strength Performance Network

The Training Factors Pyramid (continued)

This is the 12th blog post dedicated to writing my next book called  “BEYOND Functional Training:
Maximizing the Transfer of Training Effects Through Science-based Exercise Selection.”

Below is an excerpt from section 1.1 What is a Needs Analysis

There are several reasons that “physical training” is the bottom of the pyramid:

  • Certain levels of physical ability might be needed to be able to perform the desired technical movement.

Example: While almost any person could perform a tennis serve at SOME level, it is not possible to perform a basketball dunk, unless the athlete has significant jumping ability and can raise his or her center of gravity high enough to bring the hand, with the ball under control, at a level above the ring.

  • Certain levels of physical ability might be needed to perform the desired or needed amount of repetitions during technical training WITHOUT INJURY

Example: In rowing, injuries are primarily overuse related. The knee, lumbar spine, and ribs are most commonly affected. The injury incidence is directly related to the volume of training and technique.(5)

Example: When I worked at the Team Danmark facility in Broendby, outside Copenhagen, I saw many teenage athletes acquiring overuse injuries in their first year of training at the centre, because the volume of their sport training doubled or in some cases tripled. (NOTE: Doubling or tripling the volume of training should, in most cases, be considered a program design error.)

  • Certain levels of physical abilities might be needed to perform the desired or needed amounts of technical repetitions WITH SUFFICIENT QUALITY.

Example: High strength levels delay the onset of fatigue during a practice, thus allowing the athlete/client more quality repetitions.(6) When I worked in the Danish Sport System, I worked with the Danish National Badminton Team, one of the best teams in the world. The most common type 1 goal, expressed by the Head Coach and the players was the ability to be able to train a higher number of hours per week with maximal quality.

NOTE: For more information on Type 1 goals, see The Flexible Periodization Method. Available from

Example: In some literature, force-time curves are shown to argue that maximal strength or further increases in maximal strength will not benefit performance, as the duration of the performance movement are shorter than the time it takes to produce maximal strength. However, in the perspective where the maximal strength levels are relevant does not necessarily deal with ONE single movement only. Imagine that a volleyball player goes through a test for his/her 1RM squat. The test is performed with the player standing on a force plate and vertical ground action forces are measured. Let’s say that the peak force measured is 747 Newtons. On a separate day, the volleyball player’s vertical jump with a run up is measured, also on a force plate. Again, the peak vertical ground action force measured is 747 Newtons. The two things to notice here is 1: The peak force during a 1RM lift is equal to the peak force during a vertical jump. 2: To repeat a 1RM lift often requires a few minutes of rest. Thus, if the volleyball player essentially is producing 1RM force, when (s)he jumps, we could expect this player to need a few minutes of rest between jumps, which would make for a very ineffective player, who would most likely not make the team. The solution in this case is to increase the 1RM to higher levels, so that when the player jumps, he or she can produce the needed jump height with a lower percentage of maximal force production.

The technical training is the second level of the pyramid because the ability to perform the technical training is based on the physical abilities developed in the physical training. The above examples that explained why the physical training is the bottom of the pyramid, by the same token explains why and how the ability to perform technical practice is based on the physical abilities.

5.    Hosea TM, Hannafin JA. Rowing injuries. Sport Health. 4(3): 236-45. 2012
6.    Strength Training for Sport, af Wilson G. State of The Art Review no 29. Australian Sports Commission. 1992.

Karsten Jensen, MSc.
Strength Coach, CPTN-CPT.M
Author, Lecturer, Founder of Yes To Strength
Yes To Strength publishes the FREE No Gimmicks Ezine. You can sign up here, if you are not already a subscriber

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