Train Like a German Soccer Star
I came across this fantastic article over at the New York Times the other day. The article discusses some of the theory and practice behind training a World Cup winning soccer (football) team. Beyond a few points that I will point out below, the article is cool to read through, especially if you are interested in not just working out, but training. There are small hints at periodizational training, macro, meso, and micro cycles, recovery, mobility, etc. Basically, a way for fitness nerds to nerd out.
Mr. Verstegen, the founder and president of EXOS, a Phoenix-based company that trains professional and recreational athletes and corporate executives, was appointed in 2004 by Jurgen Klinsmann, then the coach of the German team and now the United States coach. He was brought in to improve the players’ fitness, agility, nutrition and resilience. At the time, the Germans were at a low ebb by their high standards, having not won a World Cup since 1990 or a European championship since 1996. Mr. Verstegen said his appointment was met with widespread incredulity among German fans, news media and even some players.
I found this notable, especially when we highlight some of the other aspects of the article later on. Oftentimes, I find that individuals aiming to do a workout or start a workout program lose sight of forest because of all of the trees. In other words, training programs should be set up for an ultimate goal rather than individual workouts. I find that too many times individuals get so focused on how hard or enjoyable their one workout ought to be, rather than focusing on the long-term changes.
This is especially true of the program P90X2, which I have been adamant about since its release. That program, in my opinion, is a perfect example of the sum of the parts being greater than any individual workout. What I mean is that the program is designed to improve you from becoming better at specific things so that you can improve yourself rather than just getting a good sweat on. Sure, there are some great workouts there, but the true benefits come from the improvements in movement patterns and mobility.
Anyways, back to the article. Check out what Mr. Verstegen had to say when he was asked what a typical World Cup training session would look like:
It would depend on how close we were to the next game, but we’d often divide the structure into four stations, a mini-circuit, with a different exercise at each station. We might have the players do things like a T-Hip rotation exercise at one station and a miniband lateral walk at another. That’s where you strap a band across the thighs or ankles and walk sideways. We were ridiculed in 2004 when we had players exercise that way. But hip stability is essential for soccer performance and injury mitigation. People don’t laugh about it now.
Go back and read those last 2 sentences again:
We were ridiculed in 2004 when we had players exercise that way. But hip stability is essential for soccer performance and injury mitigation. People don’t laugh about it now.
That is exactly what the P90X2 program is focused on - hip stability. So why would some average Joe care about hip stability? Well, when you focus on hip stability, as well as other mobility-centric movement mechanics, you are become better at doing other things. When you are better at doing other things, i.e. running, walking, climbing, squatting, etc. you are less prone to injury and more prone to excelling - aka, being a badass.
Being better at movement allows you to break through plateaus and push your workouts and training to the next level. Some of you may be familiar with my entire series on getting the most out of P90X3. Well, in the coming weeks, I will be doing a similar series on P90X2 so that I can help those of you who are either unsure about X2, or are struggling with it to get the most out of the program and realize the potential of, what I consider to be Beachbody's best program, and possibly the best home workout program of all time.