When COVID shutdown gyms across the country, I was coaching wrestling at a Soviet style wrestling club in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
One day, we were training in the back of a heated warehouse converted into a fight sport gym. We had locker rooms and showers, 2 boxing rings, wall to wall mats, gymnastic equipment, weight machines and rigs, a whole kettlebell station, treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowing machines, rows of heavy bags, speed bags, pull up bars…
The next day we were in Marine Park, a loop of intertwined baseball fields surrounded by an asphalt trail and trees. It was 45 degrees outside, the entire field was a circus of people playing baseball, soccer, cricket, football. The trail was all runners, bikers, strollers, and dog walkers.
We took up residence in an open space among the trees where a pull up bar station used to be. The pull up bars were removed to “reduce the spread of COVID.”
When you really focus on the demands of your sport, you’d be surprised by how much equipment you don’t need.
At any given practice, we trained up to 50 athletes at a time. Ages ranged from 5 to 60. Mostly wrestlers. But plenty of other athletes ranging from American football to boxing. We ran practice with 1 duffel bag. In the bag we had
- 2 agility ladders,
- 10 jump ropes, and
- 25 Willpower Bands (1st Model)
We could have used the pull up bar and a box of wet wipes.
Even still, every athlete left better than when they started. This wasn’t a matter of making do with what we had. We just reduced our kit down to the essentials required to optimize athletic performance.
If you ever want to deep dive into one of the foundational influences on our training system, read the book Periodization Training for Sports. The author, Tudor Bompa, PhD is a celebrated sports scientist. He was a Romanian athlete and coach in the Soviet System after World War II. This is when the Soviets were dominating the Olympics. Dr. Bompa gives you such a simple way of thinking about how you train.
Every sport demands a unique optimization of these 3 abilities which can make you think you need a lot of specialized equipment. The truth is, with a small kit of equipment and a sport-specific program, any athlete can optimize these three abilities for the unique challenges of their sport.
“Strength, speed, and endurance are the important abilities for athletic performance.”
- Sprints and ladder drills build speed
- Running and jumping rope builds endurance
- Calisthenics build strength
- Willpower Bands routines build all three
With the move like you play method we adapted from this system and bands in 4 different resistance strengths, you can train 100s of movements in every sport.
Take a look at the exercise equipment you have at home. Make an honest assessment. How much of it truly optimizes your athletic potential? How much of it just takes up valuable real estate?
We could all use a little work training better with less.