The article that follows describes the research done by Marv Marinovich and his team at Sports Lab. Over their more than 20 years of study, the team at Sports Lab has discovered the significance to athletes of training not only their muscular system but their nervous system to achieve the highest levels of athletic performance. The Gravity+ SuitTM is the first single training system that allows an athlete to take the important concepts evaluated by Sports Lab and apply them directly to the athlete's sport specific training.
Sports Lab, founded and operated by renowned athlete, NFL scout and athletic trainer Marv Marinovich, is demonstrating to the sports world that conventional weight training not only helps cause injury, but actually destroys athleticism.
Injuries from conventional weight training and the competitive impairment it causes, i.e. training athleticism out of athletes is acutely important to adolescents, who are in their formative years and skeletally immature. The danger is that these kids are being pushed into conventional weight training programs. This is compounded by the fact that most of these kids have not been given the chance to develop a proper foundational base. Parents are being enlisted to challenge conventional weight training to identify the science upon which their methodology is based. At Sports Lab, the contention is that there is no corroborating science connecting conventional weight training to athleticism.
Marv Marinovich, as Head Scout and Sports Performance coach for Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders, conducted an intensive, comprehensive field study regarding elite athletes and the factors that contribute to athleticism. After testing thousands of athletes at every major university in the country, Marv discovered the importance of the central nervous system as it related to sports performance.
Marv’s study revealed that the athletes who held the records in the weight room played the least, were hurt the most and were never the best athlete in terms of speed, quickness, agility and lateral movement, dispelling the theory that the person who could lift the most weight was the superior athlete.
“Muscles simply contract and relax. That’s it. The nervous system controls everything—limb speed, power, agility, grace, body integration, timing, rhythm, balance and coordination. These elements define athleticism. The tragedy is that conventional weight training completely ignores the nervous system” states Marv Marinovich. “Our methods, field tested for over 20 years, help cause a reduction in the incidence, and decrease in the severity of sports injuries through the combination of creating muscular equilibrium with rapidly imposed loading to strengthen muscles and, as importantly, strengthen connective tissue, tendons and ligaments.”
“Genetically gifted athletes excel in sports in spite of their conventional weight training regimens—not because of them. Conventional weight training depreciates athleticism because the rate of force production is too slow. The ability to lift or move a heavy weight slowly, is a different motor function than the ability to move at a high rate of speed—which sport demands. The two disciplines enlist completely different neurological components,” continued Mr. Marinovich.
Sports Lab has proven, through the training of hundreds of elite athletes such as Tyson Chandler, Jason Giambi, Steve Finley et al. that the nervous system, which includes motor control, motor sensitivity, balance, kinesthetic awareness and proprioception, needs to be stimulated in order to be improved. This can only be achieved by a progressively challenging modality that includes instability and infinitely varied degrees of difficulty. By developing the nervous system, athletes gain an increase in athleticism.
Gavin MacMillan, former professional tennis player and biomechanics specialist at Sports Lab, added “Weight Training is counter productive to the speed of muscle contraction, because it puts muscle(s) under tension and then requires slow movement either pushing or pulling”.
“What dominates athleticism, and sport, is the speed of muscle contraction and the ability to store and use elastic energy. The speed of muscular contraction diminishes as the weight increases. Conventional resistance systems ignore this fact” concluded Mr. MacMillan.
Functional strength requires an integrative, multi-joint action which equals or exceeds the competitive requirements for speed, power, quickness and time taken to apply force. The conclusion one must come to is that to be an elite athlete; the time taken to apply force must be as short as possible. The discussion concerning the amount of weight an individual lifts is irrelevant since light loads can be accelerated much faster than heavier ones.
Sports Lab has shown that it’s not the size of the muscles; it’s the ability to apply force at a faster rate that determines the better athlete. In fact, as the speed at which direct force is applied increases—the importance of muscle mass and size decreases. A prime example is Troy Polamalu all star safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who uses Marv as his personal trainer.
After 40-years playing, scouting and training sports, Marv notes that conventional weight training actually promotes injury, by creating muscle imbalance throughout the body. The use of heavy loads compromise and dangerously stretch ligaments, tendons and cartilage in all the joints. Every physical structure from a building to a human being has weight limitations which, when exceeded, lead to damage. Sports injuries to the ACL, MCL, PCL, meniscus, labrum and spine are currently occurring during training—Marv says because of training—at epidemic proportions. The proper way to strengthen tendons and ligaments, which is inherent in the Sports Lab methodology, is to apply light loads rapidly—the opposite of conventional weight training methods.
Conventional weight training conditions the brain that more tension produces better sports performance. It teaches a person to pump out that extra rep with all their might—which shows in the contortion and strain on their face. In fact, the opposite is true. The ability to relax and fire muscles at the highest rate of speed produces the greatest sports performance.
The distinguishing characteristic of this type of training is that in order to overcome the neurological system’s tendency to stagnate in its responses, it is essential to optimally challenge the body. This is accomplished with the systematic and sequential progressive introduction of protocols with greater stimulus. The resulting superior nervous system function is the critical component which produces dramatic improvement in sports speed, power, quickness, grace, sports-specific skill and overall athleticism.