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The Map is a simple series of circles with ever increasing diameters. They represent an athlete’s rate of adaptation. The closer a person is located to the center of the Map the further they are from expressing their genetic potential, which means that the rate of adaption will be faster. For example, as a beginner in any sport, your location on the map would be adjacent to the sport, but closer to the center of the circle. Improving one’s abilities at this sport radiates your position outward, towards the perimeter of the Map. Adaptation naturally slows down the closer you get to the Map’s perimeter. The outside edge of the Map –terminal adaptation– represents an individual’s genetic potential (i.e. the absolute limits of performance for that athlete).

Outside the perimeter of the Map are examples of various sports. They are oriented in two ways…  North to South and East to West. North to South represents how energy is supplied to the body while actively engaged in a sport. Northern sports have higher energy demands on the system while Southern sports have lower energy demands. Energy demand is calculated in the moment; the more energy required to perform the sport “in the moment”, the further the orientation to the North. Conversely, the less energy produced “in the moment” orients the sport further to the South.

The Map is also divided East to West to indicate if a sport relies on repeating a very specific neuromuscular pattern or not. Sports that rely on repeating a close facsimile of a specific movement –snatch, shot put or high jump– or the same movement seamlessly repeated over and over –rowing, running or biking– are placed on the Eastern Hemisphere. Sports that do not rely on repeating a specific motor pathway but rely heavily on interpreting the best course of action to take in rapid and immediate responses to unknown variables —basketball, skiing or wrestling– are found on the Western Hemisphere.

Any sport can be applied to the Map’s perimeter with these two requisites: the energy demands placed on the body (North to South) and whether the sport relies on a Repeating Motor Pathway or Non Repeating Motor Pathway for increased proficiency (East to West). The visual is helpful to codify basic physiological concepts and in organizing training time to make sure we are progressing in the ways that we want… deliberately, rather than randomly. It also tells us how fast we can expect to progress relative to how close (the outside) or far (the inside) we are from expressing our genetic potential.

Even programs with absolutely no basis in any of the principles discussed here can be effective… for a time. The concept of muscle confusion is simply the product of methodology’s inability to explain itself. Muscles are not “confused”; they adapt to the activity they are subjected to. If the majority of that activity is bodyweight movements with a sustained high heart rate, then what once generated positive results will ultimately begin to erode the integrity of the body’s adrenals. Within the center of the Map it is helpful to realize that little consideration needs be applied for continued progress to occur. Many a successful “exercise program” is built off the novice effect. Even highly developed athletes, when exposed to a new activity, can have a short boost in performance. The shelf life of a program, however, will be based on an intelligent understanding of how the body works, and how it adapts to the different kinds of stimulus. Knowledgeable coaches should be able to describe distinctly different activities that produce the different structural, neurological and metabolic adaptations that will most effectively support your athletic goal… at any level of development.