General Physical Qualities And Their Role As “Dimmers”

This post idea stems form Tim Gabbett’s research. For those interested in reading more about Tim Gabbett’s work, feel free to check out the link at the bottom of the post.


The roles of general fitness qualities are often debated. To what extent is enough of a general quality is heavily dependent on the specifics of the sport, athlete, and position. For example, it is hard to pinpoint what the exact demands of aerobic capacity are for a football player. Depending on the team the athlete plays for, the position they are, and the amount of workload they handle, it can differ quite a bit. However, this does not diminish from the fact that in a perfect world, assuming no conflicting demands on adaptation and time more is typically better. But, this is never the case. Regardless, the purpose of this post is not to give specific details, instead to highlight the role general qualities work in the grander scheme of development.


In the weight room and on the field, coaches impose different global external workloads on the athletes. From the psychological demands of high focus requiring drills, to the metabolic and physical demands of repeated sprint training, all of these external loads tax the body. However, the way in which these external loads influence a given athlete often has to do with the specific general qualities of the given athlete.


As we all know, not everyone responds the same to a given workout. Yes, there are some innate genetic factors involved, but these genetic factors may just be predispositions to better developed general physical qualities. Thus, just because one is lacking in a general quality or is not as predisposed as another is to it, does not mean it cannot be developed.


A simple example of how general qualities act as “dimmers” to external loads is as follows:

Say two athletes go through a tough practice filled with repeated moderate intensity sprints.


Athlete A has a high aerobic capacity and Athlete B has a low aerobic capacity.


Athlete A may have a greater intra-practice recovery ability compared to Athlete B. Athlete A can therefore clear metabolically accumulated waste much quicker, resynthesize glycogen quicker and ultimately return closer to baseline quicker than Athlete B. Thus, by the end of the same workout, Athlete A ultimately will deal with a much smaller internal load than that of Athlete B (HR response, acidic build up and metabolic accumulation). Not to mention, the higher aerobic base for Athlete A will aid in a quicker post workout recovery period than Athlete B.


You can substitute the general quality of aerobic base and for any other general quality, such as maximal strength, maximal velocity, or maximal anaerobic capacity and you would see a similar trend. Granted, the exact example might need to be slightly modified, but the principles remain the same.


The greater the general base is, the greater the “dimmer” of external to internal load may be. However, depending on the specific general qualities may be of greater demand and thus, may become more specific to the sport itself. However, if a general quality is lacking, regardless of its external lack of appearance to the sport, it can hinder the athletic development process.


Tim Gabbett’s Work

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