Should you really be working on your weaknesses?

Working on your weaknesses is a training concept that’s as old as the kettlebell. And the logic seems straightforward – find the stuff you’re not good at and work harder at being good at it.

Obvious right?

If you’re a basketballer who has a great jump height but you’re not that quick off the mark, logic would say that you need to work on sprint speed. Or a trail runner who is great at climbing hills but not that fast over flat trails – work on your speed, right?

The “logical” approach is wrong! What if a better approach is to actually focus on your strengths?

Have a think about this in the real world context. Do you think that Usain Bolt needs to work on his endurance over longer distances? That wouldn’t make sense given the nature of his events. That’s why his coach once remarked that in training, he’s never run longer than 600m, ever.

Taking that same approach to the everyday athlete – there are aspects of your sport that you’re naturally good at. It might be genetics, biomechanics or just how your skill development has come along.

Whatever the reason, you’ve got an edge in that aspect of performance over other people. So why not double down on your advantage? Why go chasing aspects of performance that won’t improve as quickly or as much?

Obviously if one of your weaknesses is a key demand of the sport, like leg strength for a cyclist, then you need to be working on your weakness in that area.

Just remember that not every athlete is an all rounder, and some of the greatest athletes of our time have mastered their niche to dominate their sport.

So when you’re designing your next training block, think about whether you need to work on a weakness or whether focusing on your strengths will give you much better bang for your buck. Because you don’t have to be good at everything if being awesome at one thing gives you better results.

Written by

Pete Colagiuri
Sports Physiotherapist

Pete has over 20 years experience as a Physiotherapist and specialises in running biomechanics and complex injuries. He believes that you must identify and fix the underlying cause of an injury, to recover faster, prevent recurrences and improve performance.

Pete Colagiuri - Sports Physio