It has become trendy among the unenlightened to invent novel ways to add resistance to certain skill-specific movements. To the uninformed, this seems like a good idea. The exercise now mimics the skill (sort of) so now we’re simultaneously exercising and improving skill. Good idea, except for the fact it doesn’t work and may be detrimental.

Just as bad, the people promoting this are often doing so out of financial motivation by offering a class or product tie-in. They can’t prove their approach is “better” but it offers the illusion of being scientific and the ad looks good. Operators are standing by! Order now!

Here is why this approach is wrong.

Using artificial resistance as some pseudo skill-specific movement is a bad idea. You’re practicing to overcome resistance that won’t normally be there and this will likely will have a negative influence on skill development. A skill-specific movement needs to be specific to the skill if it is to be trained properly. Swinging an abnormally heavy bat or club interferes with the movement pattern used with the normally weighted one and changes things. Adding tension/resistance straps requires overcoming forces in amounts and directions that aren’t normally there, embedding a motor pattern different from what you need.

Kind of odd that instructors warning against the imagined “dangers” of creating bad habits via competition are suggesting practice/training with a method that has been tested and proven to create actual bad habits.

Here’s a video demonstration of why:

Here’s a segment from Fads and Fallacies lecture from Dr. Mike Israetel in his Advanced Strength and Conditioning Theory course.

An article explaining the same problem:

Another article on this:

And another:

And another:

The better approach (arguably the only effective approach) is to conduct strength and conditioning as general preparation. Squats, presses, pulls, sprints, simple calisthenics, and the like yield general adaptations that aren’t specific to any particular skill or sport. Train and practice specific fundamental skills without making it “functional fitness.” Do the minimum that still allows measurable progress over time. This requires measuring (and having the means to measure) so that it can be determined if/when capabilities and skills are actually improving, by how much, and how quickly.

Those now-improved base capabilities and fundamental skills will yield improved performance in any environment once any particulars needed for that environment are addressed. This context-specific preparation comes on quickly once base capabilities and fundamental skills are well developed.

Jerking around with pseudo skill-specific exercise is great way to avoid developing base capabilities and fundamental skills.