If you want to improve your sports performance, then you need to customize your workout plan. Too many athletes waste away their strength workouts by training physical abilities that will not benefit their sports. Learn how to customize your workouts by following these steps:
I will go through each step. Thereby offer you a good foundation for customizing your workouts. To give you good examples of how to do it. I will analyze 100 m sprint, 200 freestyle swimming, and 10 km cross-country skiing. These three sports have a widely different physical profile. Thus, allowing you to learn how to analyze a variation of sports events. As a result, you will be able to follow the process step by step. That will give you a good enough understanding to be able to customize your workout plan.
Step 1. Analyze your sport.
When analyzing your sports, it is helpful to evaluate how your muscles need to perform. As Tudor Bompa points out in his book Periodization for sports: “Each sport has its specific physiological profile and characteristics.” Three questions that will help you to get a better understanding of your sports strength requirements. How:
The combination of maximum strength, speed, and endurance lay the basis for your sport`s physical profile.
Strength (F), speed (S), and muscular endurance (E) in sports.
Fig 1. Shows the relationship between F= Maximum strength, S= speed and E= endurance.
You may use this triangular model to analyze your sports physical profile and character. The figure above only includes the details that are relevant to our analyzes.
I recommend looking at the full version of this model when analyzing your sport [1, p 11]. The higher weight-load (F) your sports require you to perform, the lower speed (S) and repetition (E) you will be able to execute. The same goes for sports that require great speed or endurance. High speed (S) will decrease the duration (E) and weight-load (F) you will be able to achieve. As would high endurance (E) requirements affect your ability to maintain high speed (S) or produce maximum force (F). Hence, the three abilities affect each other. Thus, your sports physical profile will be somewhere inside this triangle. The physical profile gives you essential information that you need to customize your workouts.
100 m sprint.
The current World men´s world record is 9,58 seconds, set by Jamaica´s Usain Bolt in 2009 . He took approximately 35 steps propelling himself with an average speed of 10,3 m/s.
By examining table 1, you may determine which of the energy systems that contributed the most for this performance.
Table 1 shows that the ATP-CP and Lactic energy systems are the main energy contributor. However, since the race only lasts for 10 sec, the lactic build-up will probably not become strong enough to inhibit the performance. Therefore, you should place the line between speed and endurance in a 100 m sprint to the left from the lactic acid tolerance level.
Speed versus maximum strength
Here, too, we may map the relationship by examining fig 1. You may have noticed that fig. 1 already has a mark for starting power and acceleration power. You require a greater maximum strength for the starting phase than for the acceleration phase.
As an illustration, have you ever tried to push a stationary car? The hardest part is to get the car to move. It gets easier after you have created some speed.
For this reason, if you want to customize your workouts, you should emphasize maximum strength to improve your start. However, if you seek to enhance your acceleration or maximal speed, then speed workouts are more important. The average contact time with the ground is about 100 ms for each step [5, p 15]. So, your muscle’s ability to produce force fast enough is crucial. Hence, the physical profile for the 100 m sprint will look like this:
Fig 2. Shows the physical profile for 100 m sprint.
Although, if you want to focus on the start. Then the spot between speed (S) and maximum force (F) should be placed accordingly.
The current World women´s world record is 1:50,43 min , set by Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjøstrom. She took approximately 106 strokes, propelling herself with 1,1-meter for each stroke with an average speed of 1,81 m/s.
According to table 1, competitions with approximately the same durations show an energy contribution level as follow:
Table 2. shows the part of table 1 that concerns competitions with a duration of about 2 min.
For this reason, we may surmise that top performance in this event is dependent on your aerobic energy contributions. However, the anaerobic energy system also contributes to a significant part of the energy contribution. Therefore, we´re placing 200-meter freestyle a bit left for the anaerobic threshold.
Maximum strength versus speed.
As for maximum strength requirement. How much force does a single-arm stroke produce? Wilke and Madsen made a simulation to calculate the relationship between the swim speed (m/s) and force (Newton) needed for each stroke .
Table 3. shows a calculated simulation between swim speed (m/s) and force (Newtion) needed for each stroke.
Sara Sjøstrøm swam with an average speed of 1,81 m/s when she broke the world record. Although, the momentum generated in the dive and turns will affect the average speed. Therefore, the actual swim speed was a bit slower than 1,81 m/s. Nevertheless, we will use 1,8 m/s to illustrate the relationship between speed and force. According to table 2, she produced between 151,9 N and 176,4 N for each stroke. Furthermore, she continued to generate this force for 106 strokes.
Subsequently, this event fits with muscular endurance of medium duration
Fig 3. Shows the physical profile for 200-meter freestyle.
10 km cross-country skiing.
For the relations between maximum strength (F) and endurance (E) requirement, this event fits with muscular endurance (long duration). The best female 10 km cross-country skiing competitions takes approximately 24 to 31 min,  dependent on the track and weather conditions.
According to table 1, competitions with durations over 27 min shows an energy contribution level as follow:
Table 4. shows the part of table 1 that concerns competitions with a duration of about 27 min
Interestingly table 1 shows that 100% of the energy contributions arrive from the aerobic energy systems. The long duration of the race leaves the use of anaerobic energy contributions to the minimal. However, do not underestimate the benefits of a healthy anaerobic energy system in endurance sports. A well-adjusted anaerobic energy system will help you to ignite the last sprint burst in a close race in front of the finish line.
Maximum strength (F) requirement.
As for the balance between endurance (E) and maximum strength (F), it is harder to determine.
Sandbekk and Holmgren point out the following observation concerning power output in cross-country skiing:
“Accordingly, more explosive techniques, such as “kangaroo” double poling and double-push skating, have been developed for use on flat terrain.16,18 With such techniques, the most explosive skiers can produce peak double poling forces as high as 430 N within a period of 0.05 seconds, as well as forces above 1600 N during the leg push-off when skating.”.
However, these measurements were made in correlation with sprint events. Consequently, they show the necessity for force requirements for creating top speed in hills and the finishing sprint.
Endurance (E) requirement.
“The competition terrain varies but is mandated to include approximately one-third uphill, one-third flat and one-third downhill. This forces skiers to alter their technique often. However, more than 50% of the racing time is spent on the uphill sections, which is where individual performance variation is greatest.” [10, p 6].
Consequently, you need proper strength to improve your performance in the uphill part of the race. For this reason, it is advisable to utilize strength training to improve the physical requirement are necessary. Nevertheless, a summary of a 10 km race will conclude that the athlete’s endurance level has the greatest effect on the overall performance level.
As a result, the focus of strength workouts should be to aim for improving the athlete’s endurance level. Although, an increase of maximum strength will have a positive effect on the work economy for sports that requires a working force higher than 30% of the athlete’s maximum strength capacity [8, p 198][12, p 213]. Therefore, the focus should be to improve your muscle’s ability to repeat the force output for a longer period (at least 27 min). For this reason, the relationship between maximum strength (F) and endurance (E) may be placed close to muscular endurance (long duration).
Fig 2. Shows the physical profile for 10 km cross-country skiing
This analysis informs you which physical attributes your muscles need to perform on the top level. If your workout does not reflect these attributes, then it might not help you to improve your performance. Or worse, it can hurt your performance.
Firstly, identify the endurance (E) level by evaluating your race duration. Secondly, identify the speed (S) versus maximal strength (F) or endurance (E) versus maximum strength (F) ratio. I hope the explanation above has given you useful tools to analyze your sport. Feel free to mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For my next posts, I will continue by explaining how to do step 2. by creating sport-specific test protocols.
 Bompa, T., 2005. «Periodization training for sports. Third Edition.” Human Kinetics.
 Bompa, T., 1999. «Periodization training for sports.” Human Kinetics.
 Whyte, G. 2006. “Advances in sport and exercise science series. The Physiology of training.” Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
 Young, W., McLean, B., Ardagna, J. 1995. “Relationship between strength qualities and sprinting performance.” J Sports med phys fitness.
 Wilke, K., Madsen, Ø. 1983. “Das training des Jugendlichen Schwimmers.” Schorndorf.
 Madsen, Ø., Faveri, T. 2013. «Svømmetrening». Bodoni forlag.
 Sandbakk, Ø., Holmberg, H. C. 2013. «A reappraisal of success factors for Olympc Cross-Country Skiing.” International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
 Støggl, T., Müller., Ainegren, M., Holmberg, H. C. 2011. «General strength and kinetics: fundamental to sprinting faster in cross-country skiing?” Scandinavian journal of Medicin & Science in sports
 Raastad, T., Paulsen, G., Refnes, B. R., Wisnes, A. R. 2010. «Styrketrening- I teori og praksis.» Gyldendal undervisning.