Specialization is for serious athletes. And when it comes down to it, most of us aren’t serious athletes. Or, if we are, we’re not competing at a high enough level to require specialization.
I was focused when I competed in powerlifting. So focused that I refused to devote training time to anything other than strength and power. Conditioning? That’s hilarious – powerlifters don’t need conditioning. I’m not saying this happens to every person who specializes in an activity or competes in a sport, but I see it all too often.
When you specialize, your other attributes tend to fall behind
If your sport requires you to train specifically for one attribute – whatever it may be – you will eventually suffer in one (or more) of the other qualities. Maybe, like me, your conditioning will fall apart. Or maybe it’ll be your mobility. The point is, you’re probably going to lose out somewhere. You shouldn’t be okay with that.
There’s good reasoning behind teaching kids not to specialize.
There’s enough evidence, thanks in large part to the emerging field of sport psychology, to show the detrimental effects of early specialization in youth. I’m not going to get into that. But what about the population that’s never going to seriously compete in sport? We don’t teach them not to specialize, and I think that’s a mistake.
To me, fitness is all about balance.
No single attribute takes precedence over the others. Strength, endurance, power, mobility, stability, coordination, balance, and so on are all equally important. Again, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the typical fitness enthusiast doesn’t compete in sport at a high level. It’s all about recreation – and that’s great. I’m all for that. But I still see too many lifters ignoring aspects other than strength, and too many runners placing all their eggs in the endurance basket.
In the end, all you’re doing is limiting yourself.
My message: Try not to specialize. If you absolutely love a certain type of training then by all means spend time doing it. At the same time, don’t let the other attributes of fitness fall away. Do you want to be a strength junkie who can’t run around the yard with your kids without doubling over, or the opposite? I sure hope not.