Use ‘Easy Strength’ system to aid your fitness journey |

Use ‘Easy Strength’ system to aid your fitness journey

Ryan Richards
Make It Count

Training is the process of maximizing stress to disrupt the body’s natural state, and the subsequent response that ultimately drives a physical and mental adaptation to increase the trainee’s preparedness for future challenges.

A few weeks ago, I discussed why it’s important for athletes to choose specific exercises and programs to provide the right stress to promote the ideal adaptation. The following is a handy guideline to keep you on track as you consider how to train for your sport(s).

Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline wrote a great book titled “Easy Strength,” which provides a nice framework for athletic development. In “Easy Strength,” John and Tsatsouline have structured a simple quadrant system to organize program design. Each quadrant depends upon the number of physical qualities needed for a specific sport, and to what degree of development is desired for each quality. For clarity, fitness qualities are measurable characteristics of performance including but not limited to muscular strength, endurance, speed, power, aerobic capacity, flexibility, stamina, hand-eye coordination and skill. Sports generally fall into one of four quadrants.

Quadrant 1: Many fitness and sports skills, developed at a low relative maximum. Examples of Q1 sports and activities include traditional public school and physical education classes, children’s sports participation and CrossFit. The goal of Q1 development is to introduce as many physical qualities as possible to develop a broad base of athleticism and skill. Basic skills such as jumping, running, climbing, rolling, calisthenics and basic lifting should be encouraged. Fun, variety and general fitness should be encouraged here. Young athletes and elderly students have much to gain in Q1.

Quadrant 2: Many fitness and sports skills, developed at a high relative maximum.

The highest level athletes in sports that demand many qualities, developed to very high levels. Q2 sports include collegiate football, hockey, rugby and other full contact sports ranking all of the way up through professional leagues such as the NFL. These athletes must be big, strong, fast, enduring, flexible and mentally tough. This quadrant is the most challenging to develop. Athletes in this quadrant should strive for mastery in powerlifting, weightlifting, kettlebell sport, plyometrics, sprinting and other drills to enhance the highest level of athleticism.

Quadrant 3: Few fitness qualities developed at a moderate level of development.

This is where most adult, recreational athletes should live. Mountain sports require a reasonable level of muscular strength, and a higher level of muscular endurance and aerobic capacity. Don’t over complicate your training here. Focus on a few basic lifts and general strength training. Enjoy the outdoors, and minimize gym time. Strength training should supplement your adventures; minimum effective dose here.

Quadrant 4: Few fitness qualities developed at a very high level.

This is where specialized, limited focused athletes live. Marathon runners don’t require many qualities. They need to endure for a very long time, at the highest speed possible. Discuss throwers must be big, and very strong. Period.

Olympic sprinters, shot putters, powerlifters, crew members and cyclists need apply here. These athletes only need a few qualities, developed at the highest potential possible.

Athletic development isn’t complicated as long as a few basic rules are maintained. The golden rule for developing fitness for sports requires identifying the needs for the sport in question. For example, an Olympic weightlifter has no business performing long, casual jogs through the park. An elite swimmer won’t gain too much from mastering gymnastics. Great coaching goes along way when organizing the needs of each athlete. As you consider high school sports of local athletes, and the upcoming ski season, choose your fitness programming wisely. Have a great week.

Ryan Richards is a fitness personality who has been keeping the Vail Valley in shape for over a decade. He is a master trainer at the Sonnenalp Club, and an online coach at Call him at 970-401-0720.

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