This comes from my predicament the other day off designing a gym programme for somebody that gets them more lean, muscular and fit and also making them genuinely more athletic, as in faster, more agile and more mobile (see the last blog if you haven't yet).
How can we go about building these inextricably confused attributes simultaneously?
In my experience so far, working with people from all walks of life for all sorts of objectives using methods I have picked up and adapted from all over the world, I don't yet have an easy answer to this question.
The major conflict between fitness and what I define as athleticism which stems from mobility of the highest order is that the majority of fitness work requires working under load which discourages the building of new movement choices and more athletic freedom.
The most difficult place to introduce new choice into any pattern is whilst experiencing all of the sensory stimuli that are associated with the habitual activation of that pattern.
In this regard, load is a particularly compelling sensory stimulus in some exercises. Fighting to push up that next bench press or squat rep is not the ideal place to move like you've never moved before. This could compromise your safety and so your unconscious systems will draw you toward your tried and tested movement pattern for that lift.
Safety will nearly always trump progress through improvisation.
So, while loaded work is good for muscling up existing patterns, giving them more strength and endurance in their narrow ranges, but not creating new ones that are inherently stronger due to increased mobility.
Unloaded work is therefore the easiest place to build new patterns but, in my opinion, it seems to lack two things of importance to this conversation:
The resistance necessary to build muscle and have a metabolic effect that will reduce body fat to create a better looking body.
A process to ensure that new patterns created without load (or more realistically with minimum load) can be carried over into loaded situations where all of the sensory stimuli are present to activate older, less athletic, less mobile patterns.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next part on reconciling these differences so you can get ripped and not get ripped off, athletically speaking.
Arton "Unloaded" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Injury Rehab and Performance, Harley Street, London W1