The Third Model

Rest Day


first and second.)  The third knew many names: statistical model, hopper model, or balance in modal capacity.  It also was not so easy to define, nor did it lend itself well to fit as neatly and conveniently into categories or graphs as the Ten Skills or the Metabolic Pathways.  Despite this elusiveness, it is perhaps the easiest to explain and most resonant with any non specializing athlete.

Take a hopper and throw into it any infinite number of tasks, skills, and drills.  Anything physical is fair game:  heavy deadlifts, 800 meter sprints, swim from Santa Monica to Catalina, rope climbs, roof jumping, agility drills, parkour drills, rock climbing, surfing, flips and pirouettes, running backwards, surfing the North Shore, a persistence hunt, a marathon, an ultramarathon, a triathlon, ‘Fran’, ‘Grace’, ‘Helen’, ‘Elizabeth’, playing soccer, Concept 2 1K rowing races, escaping a burning building with a friend on your back, max rep pull ups, the Armed Forces PFT, running for your life from an enraged wild animal, walking on your hands, max vertical leap, etc.  The more elements the better, and let the imagination run wild.  Have the athletes stand by.  Once the hopper is full, turn the crank, mix it up, reach in and administer to the athlete whatsoever comes out of the hopper.  Our contention is, whosoever performs best, statistically and on average, at each of these tasks is fittest.

It goes without saying that every athlete has one or more things they would not like to see come out of the hopper.  Our second contention is, your fitness will benefit better and faster by diving headlong into those things you are weakest at than continuing to work on your strengths.  In a program that seeks to make our adaptations as broad as possible, we will fail at the margins of our experience and our weaknesses represent those margins.  Another benefit not so readily apparent is that working on weaknesses will improve your strengths in ways we cannot predict, and may not make sense in any mechanical or metabolic way.  Anaerobic training is a boon to endurance athletes, more pull ups make for better skiing, and heavy deadlifts give competitive bicyclists an easier time on their hardest hills, are only several examples of this phenomena.

Finally, the hopper model represents a smaller part of one of our aims, which is to elicit as broad and general an adaptation as possible.  We want people to perform well at any and every task imaginable, even unfamiliar tasks.  This means our athletes must be able to walk around and be ready to perform well not just at everything, but anything, not just the unknown, but the unknowable.  You’ve got your hand on a door, and you do not know what is on the other side.  What kind of fitness or ready state do you want to possess for the other side of the door?


You might also like