If you read my last blog post, “Building Resilience”, you will know how important having a strong movement foundation is, to not only decreasing risk for injury, but improving performance and preventing plateaus. You should also remember that increasing frequency and variation of activity, will help you to develop a solid foundation for all movement throughout life.
Building Your Pyramid of Performance
A pyramid, like a house, needs a strong base to grow upon. Our bodies are no different. If you’re unsure how to create a stable or strong base, check out my last blog post.
As I’ve discussed elsewhere, a Pyramid of Performance can be adapted to almost any task at hand. Do you want to run a marathon or become better soccer player? Do you want to be able to rake your yard pain free? All of these can be worked on if you build your pyramid properly.
Performance can be defined as “taking action to complete a task or function.” A lot of individuals relate the word to job, athletic, or theatrical activities. A Pyramid of Performance can be related to any of these activities; however, we’re here to focus on improving athletic or everyday performance related tasks!
Terms related to performance are often: poor, bad, good, excellent, etc. So, how do we avoid the negative descriptors? Step one is to create a wide, broad and stable base as previously discussed. Second is to build upon that base. So how do we do that?
The performance aspect of your pyramid grows from the movement patterns you develop during creation of the first level. Remember, you cannot just jump into things you’ve never done and expect to perform well or without injury. If you’ve never squatted, jump squatting is not a smart place to start!
Improving performance is typically a goal driven task. Make a list of goals you would like to achieve. Are you looking to jump higher, run faster or even just pick up something heavier? If you can already do these things, how do we improve them?
To improve performance, developing increased strength, endurance, speed, power, coordination and agility are emphasized. Implementing these aspects of a performance program into your everyday routine, will not only help improve your abilities but also help prevent plateaus. This is also how your pyramid grows.
I often use runners as an example when discussing performance related matters. A runner can perform a 5K in 30 minutes but he or she cannot manage to go any faster. When asked what the individual does to help improve their time, their answer is typically, “I run more”. Running is a series of single leg hops requiring strength, power output, endurance, and a whole bunch of coordination. So, if we really think about it, can we become a great runner without implementing other performance-based measures? Add in some strength training, a variable training program with speed workouts and here comes the faster 5K.
Think of your overall goal. If it is to become a better athlete, I want you to examine the aspects of your sport. If it is do household chores with less pain, think about the movements you only do during housework and try to do them more. If you’re struggling in achieving your performance goals, think about this pyramid. The base should be made up of variable movements and low loads and speeds. The following tiers should start implementing performance based activities such as increasing weight, velocity, and time!
Improving performance will not come overnight. It is all about changing variables that may be unfamiliar to you. It’s about increasing loads, increasing speeds, and getting your body working in new ways. The more performance variables you add, the taller your pyramid can grow and the more resilient you will become! Building your pyramid may require guidance and assistance from someone other than yourself. Do not hesitate to ask for help! Eliud Kipchoge did not run a sub 2-hour marathon without practice or guidance.
If you have hit a performance plateau or need some guidance, we’re here to help. Whether you’re stuck due to programming, pain, or an unknown reason, let us help guide you in the right direction! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Feldman Physical Therapy & Performance.