Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Necessity of Hard Work

I was reading an e-mail the other day from the Supertraining listserve that detailed yearly training hours of elite athletes in various sports. Dr. Vladimir Issurin's research showed that the annual training hours had lessened significantly over the past decade or so. For example, elite swimmers, from 1980-1990 logged approximately 1150 training hours annually, but from 1991-2000, logged 975 training hours. Other sports such as volleyball, rowing, wrestling, and gymnastics showed similar results.

I think it's easy to look at these numbers and say "quality, not quantity" has become the norm, and point to the evolution of better, more intelligent training programming. BUT, before we take a leap of logic and say, "Well, I'm going to take a lesson from this and apply it to my own training", it's pretty important to get some perspective on this.

First of all, most elite athletes have been training diligently for many years. Their tremendous work capacities have been built up patiently, but persistently through endless sessions of hard and often tedious work.

Secondly, although some elite athletes of today may be training less than their counterparts did 10-20 years ago, they are still logging in impressive hours. How many of us can say that we average two and a half hours of training every day? Swimmers who average almost 1000 hours of training time/year are swimming 3-4 hours a day, 5 or 6 times/week, most of the year and are training 5-6 hours/day during peak training periods.

I am a huge proponent of the idea that "less is more", but that has to be tempered with the notion that "time on task" is vital to success in every field.

Only if you reach the boundary will the boundary recede before you. And if you don't, if you confine your efforts, the boundary will shrink to accommodate itself to your efforts. And you can only expand your capacities by working to the very limit.

- Hugh Nibley


Franz Snideman said...


Great post! I would agree with the premise the Quality is way more important than quantity, at least in the long run.But, like you mentioned, most world class athletes have logged in countless hours of training and have built a huge FOUNDATION. Meaning they have such a large base built that they do not need to do as much. Taking the concept with an athlete who has not base obviously will not work.

That is where the whole concept of GPP and SPP comes in. You cannot work SPP if you have not sufficiently worked your GPP. That is why I think it is mistake to work young athletes so specific at too young of an age. Develop a general fitness motor qualities for years before the super focused SPP starts!

Boris said...

Thanks Franz. Definately, foundational training is so important - unfortunately, most people still don't know GPP from SPP from GOP or DDT... It's all part of the "importance of hard work" and a lot of people are all too quick to gut as much of it out of their training as possible.