NASM PES Chapter 1: Integrated Training Essentials 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Know the definition of integrated training.
  • Find the principles used in integrated training.
  • Be able to explain the components, the scientific rationale, and evidence for integrated training.


Sports performance professionals follow approaches to integrated training that are comprehensive and systematic. 

We need a full understanding of the structure and function of the human movement system so that we may stay on the edge of research, sports science, and practical application. 

Function in athletics shows integrated and multiplanar movement involving the use of acceleration, deceleration, and stabilization in sports actions. 

Integrated training is a comprehensive approach that we use for attempting to improve all of the components needed for performing at the highest level and preventing injury.

Integrated training uses a few things, such as functional strength and neuromuscular efficiency.

Functional strength is the ability of the neuromuscular system to contract isometrically, concentrically, and eccentrically in the three planes that we work in. 

Neuromuscular efficiency is the ability of the human movement system to allow the agonists, stabilizers, antagonists, and synergists to work together for the production of force, the reduction of force, and the dynamic stabilization of the entire human movement system. 

The normal strength and conditioning programs put the focus on absolute or max strength gains in isolated muscles in single planes of motion. 

The functional athletic activities are going to be the ones that occur in multiple planes and need us to accelerate, decelerate, and implement dynamic stabilization. 

The sports professionals will instill the functional work by integrating flexibility, core, balance, plyometric, speed, agility, and quickness into the resistance, metabolic energy system, and sport specific training styles. 

Integrated Training Principles

Utilizing the Stretch Shortening Cycle

One important factor for athletic performance is using explosive force. Sports needing sprinting, cutting, jumping, and throwing rely on the athlete’s speed, strength, and power.

We will utilize the stretch shortening cycle for this in our training. 

The stretch shortening cycle is an active stretch of the muscle, known as an eccentric contraction, followed by an immediate shortening of the same muscle, known as the concentric contraction. 

The stretch reflex comes into play in this rapid eccentric contraction, and this causes the energy to be stored for a short time, and essentially we will use that stored energy to increase the concentric contraction. 

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Exercises implementing the use of the stretch shortening cycle are going to be very beneficial for overall athlete development. 

Utilization of the Integrated Training Continuum

Again, most of the well-known strength and conditioning programs will focus primarily on isolated and uniplanar exercise to maximize absolute strength gins and hypertrophy. 

But, the human movement system evolved to use all three planes as interdependent units, and the central nervous system will naturally optimize this selection of muscle synergies for the performance of integrated movement patterns. 

Isolated training, in essence, does very little to improve athletic performance. 

Training that will exploit the use of integrated and functional patterns of movement targeting synergistic muscles for the regulation of isometric, concentric, and eccentric forces while dynamically stabilizing the whole human movement system in three planes of motion will be the goal for these performance enhancement specialists. That will be the book’s focus and the base argument verifying this form of training’s existence. 

Training in All Planes of Motion

The actual actions of athletes are going to occur within all three planes of motion, so for that reason, it is very important that we also train our bodies this way. 

The planes that we train in are known as the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. 

While one athletic activity may dominate in one plane, the other two planes must still be controlled for performance to be effective. 

Multiplanar training programs are built to help effectively train those more dominant muscles in one plane only. 

A big part to add to this is that the training of multiple planes will help to prevent injuries from occurring. 

Training with Optimum Posture

Posture is a dynamic controlling quality. 

The optimal alignment of each body segment and the human movement system is a cornerstone of any functional performance program. 

If we have one component of the human movement system out of alignment, then we will have performance negatively affected in some way. 

For this, we prioritize correcting any variance in optimal body alignment.

Training for Optimum Muscle Balance

Muscles function from an ideal length that is pre-determined, and thus it is known as having some form of optimal length tension relationship. 

A length tension relationship is the muscle’s resting length and the tension the muscle can produce at said resting length. 

If this is altered in some way, then we have less than perfect optimal length and optimal strength. 

This is how we begin to alter the existing force-couple relationships and the joint kinematic present. 

The force couple relationships are what we call the muscle groups moving together to produce movement in one specified joint. 

So, we can develop these muscles as overactive or underactive in relation to movement around the joint. 

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These effects are well known to cause altered reciprocal inhibition and synergistic dominance. 

Altered reciprocal inhibition is muscle tightness that can cause decreases in neural drive to the functioning antagonist muscles. 

Synergistic dominance is when a synergistic muscle takes over for the lack of strength in a muscle that should be a prime mover. 

Training for Optimal Muscle Function

Muscles function with contractions that are isometric, concentric, and eccentric. 

The CNS is responsible for these complex events occurring properly. 

Again, we should train in multiple planes and with the aforementioned techniques to ensure our human movement system functions optimally. 

Components of an Integrated Sports Performance Program

Flexibility Training

Muscle imbalances ad poor levels of flexibility may decrease performance and increase the risks of injury. 

Due to this, we must effectively implement static, active, and dynamic stretching to improve our range of motion. 

The complete continuum of flexibility training must be incorporated to know that we get an optimal functioning range of motion and optimal neuromuscular efficiency. 

Metabolic Energy System Training

The metabolic energy system training is one of the most studied aspects of training but is still the most misunderstood and underrated. 

The efficiency of the energy systems serves as a foundation for developing overall performance and fitness. 

Spots professionals must stay creative in their implementation of this variable.

Core Training

This is the foundation of progressive sports performance training. Many athletes develop strength, power, and endurance in their prime movers, but some may neglect the neuromuscular control of their core. 

The core has to function optimally to harness the strength and power of the prime movers fully. 

More athletes must know the importance of preventing injuries and functioning optimally. 

Balance Training

This is the systematic and progressive process of training made to develop neuromuscular efficiency. 

Balance training in an environment that is proprioceptively enriched will stimulate the proper neuromuscular adaptations that lead to improved coordination intra and inter muscularly. 

In this part of the training process, recruiting the right muscles at the right time with the proper force levels for the desired outcome will be implemented.

Plyometric Training

Enhancements in athletic performance is going to have some relation to the rate of force production we are capable of. 

The training demands occur at speeds encountered during functional activities. 

Plyometric training works to overload the stretch shortening cycle, enhance our neuromuscular efficiency and the rate of force production, and reduce neuromuscular inhibition by stimulating the proprioceptive mechanisms and elastic properties of the human movement system. 

Speed, Agility, and Quickness Training

These three things bring together the need for moving in all planes of motion while focusing on the speed and demand in response to many stimuli. 

Improving the speed, change of direction, and reaction time variables are possible through the use of proper training strategies. 

Integrated Multiplanar Resistance Training

Athletes continue to demand increases in their performance level and efforts to support these performances and wish to do so safely. 

Muscular fitness levels will be important for performance and the prevention of injuries. 

Our muscular fitness will be expressed in various ways. These ways will include max strength, relative strength, strength endurance, speed, stabilization, and functional strength. 

Integrated resistance training programs use the principles of integrated training that we just discussed in the chapter to develop comprehensive sports performance programs that ensure all individuals achieve optimal performance and reduce their chances for injury. 

Sport specific Training

The principle of specificity refers to our need to train for the sport or activity we want. 

If we wish to improve something, we must train that type of movement, energy system, or whatever variable that may be how it shows up in the sport. 

Integrated Sports Performance Training

The main goal of sports performance training is to prevent injuries and increase athletic performance. This includes things like body composition, flexibility, core, quickness, strength, sport specific efficiency, power, speed, and agility. 

The criteria we use for selecting exercises for the use of integrated sports performance training is:

  • Safe
  • Challenging
  • Progressive
  • Systematic
  • Proprioceptively enriched
  • Activity specific

And the exercise progression continuum looks like this:

  • Slow to fast
  • Known to unknown
  • Stable to controlled to dynamic functional movement
  • Low force to high force
  • Corrective execution to increased intensity

We should determine if the program is functional by asking the following questions:

  • Is it progressive?
  • Is it systematic?
  • Is it specific to the sport I want?
  • Is it integrated?
  • Is it challenging proprioceptively?
  • Is the basis of the program on functional anatomy and some evidence based practices?

Scientific Rationale for the OPT Model

In that order of importance, the OPT model is divided into three levels stabilization, strength, and power. We then can break the model up a little further by having 6 phases.

  • Phase 1 is the phase of stabilization endurance training, and it is the only one in the stabilization level of the OPT model.
  • Phase 2 is the strength endurance training stage and it is the first of the stages in the strength level. 
  • Phase 3 is the hypertrophy training level, and this is the second stage of the strength level.
  • Phase 4 is the maximal strength training phase and it is the last of the strength level.
  • Phase 5 moves on to the power training phase and the first of the power level. 
  • Phase 6 is the last of them, the maximal power phase, and the final part of the power level. 

Stabilization Level of Training

This has just the phase of training called stabilization endurance training. The focus will be increasing the stabilization strength and developing optimal levels of communication for the nervous system and muscular systems.

We base the progressions made here on proprioception. So, challenges will be brought to the balance and stabilizing systems of the body. 

Strength Level of Training

This is the second level of the process, and it includes the phases that are called strength endurance training, hypertrophy training, and maximal strength training, in that order.

The goal is to enhance stabilization, strength, and endurance while increasing the strength in our prime moving muscles. 

Power Level of Training

This is the last level of training, including the power and maximal power training phases. 

We utilize the more traditional forms of strength exercise here in super sets with the plyometric and power exercise of similar joint dynamics. 

NASM PES Chapter 1: Integrated Training Essentials 6
NASM PES Chapter 1: Integrated Training Essentials 7
NASM PES Chapter 1: Integrated Training Essentials 8

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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