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Threshold Training: Your Key to Improving Performance, Moving Better, and Staying Healthy!

Threshold training, your key to feeling and performing great!

Running, Crossfit, and Weightlifting are all sports in which your performance is judged by how fast you go, how much you lift, or how many reps you're able to do. They also have standards in which athletes need to meet in order for the athletes scores to count.

For runners; you need to wear the racing chip, run the correct race route, and follow instructions for items you can/can't wear during the race. Meet the standards, and your performance is based off your time, not how you looked earning that time.

For Crossfitters; You need to follow both the movement and equipment standards for the workout. Follow the standards and your score is weight lifted, total time, or total reps. In competition it's about who completed the most work. You're not judged by how fundamental sound your movement is, just how much work you do and how fast you do it.

For weightlifters; It's much the same. Wear the right gear. Follow the rules of competition. Meet the movement standards. You're then scored by total weight lifted. Not by how pretty your lift actually was.

But thats competition. In training, you train to get better and you've got to stay healthy throughout the training process. The number one way to make sustainable progress while staying healthy in the gym is moving well. Moving well allows us to perform our best; ultimately move more weight, run faster, be more efficient with our energy, and move faster.

Moving correctly seems to be common sense for most athletes. But whats common sense is far from common practice. In training our own ego is our worst enemy. Our ego is often the one responsible for training injuries and plateaued progress. Our foundational goals of training to perform our best in competition and/or to maintain our health becomes forgotten; thats because you're about to post your lift to instagram or your training partner posted an impressive time on the white board and you've got to beat them!

"I know I need to move well, but I want to do weight lift / crossfit / run still!"

I hear this a ton form athletes in my practice, and I get it. They want to do the things they love to do, they want to perform well, and they are also tired of nagging injuries! If this sounds like you, the answer to your problem is Threshold training.

What is Threshold Training?

Threshold training is based off of the idea that there will always be a specific limiter or performance threshold to every workout or movement you do.

Some Common Limitations are:

1) Strength: The weight is just too heavy,

2) Local Muscle Endurance: You can move the weight well, but just not that many times.

3) Cardiovascular: You simply cannot get the oxygen you need to perform.

4) Skill: You're still trying to master the butterfly pull up, double under, or the muscle up.

5) Motor Control / Movement Quality: You can do everything. You're highly skilled, you're strong, have a great aerobic base, you look great when your fresh, but as soon as you add in intensity or speed your movement quality quickly declines.

6) Pain: You simply cannot perform the task because you're in pain.

7) Fear: You are just afraid to do the movement.

In theory, one of these areas will have the lowest performance threshold, and will be the first thing to break down. As athletes we are really good at letting strength, muscle endurance, cardio, and skill. These are the most obvious thresholds which appear to limit our performance in competition and training. That is because when one of these thresholds are hit, we simply cannot perform any better. The area that is most commonly looked over is movement quality. This is because the human body is great at compensating our movement just to complete a task. Simply it's more sexy to post a high training number, a fast training time, and a big lift on instagram; than it is to move fundamentally sound while lifting a little less and moving a little slower.

You know that you're supposed to move well. You know that moving poorly most likely leads to injury. You know that moving well enables you to actually perform better in the long run.... but thats ok because you won the class, you just got 300 new likes on instagram, and set a new training PR!

Take a new approach to training

In training, you need to train your movement quality. Build close to perfect movement patterns, build capacity in those movements, and then add speed, load, and intensity to challenge your movement patterns. If your movement quality is your lowest performance threshold, then use your movement quality as the threshold you focus on in training. Do this until your movement quality is no longer your lowest threshold! As your movement gets better, your strength, endurance, skill...etc will then become your lowest threshold and once again become the major limitations of your performance in training. This may not be the most sexy approach to training, but it works. It helps to keep you healthy, it helps you make sustainable progress, and it helps you perform your best.

So if you want to perform better, make better progress, and stay healthy... you have got to move better!

Runners, take the time to improve your running mechanics! Will it feel weird and will you be slower at first? Probably. But you'll perform better and be healthier in 6 months. Your knee pain will be gone, your plantar foot pain is eliminated, and you'll pr your half marathon time.

Crossfitters: Improve your fundamentals! You may move a little less weight, you may move a little slower, you may need to scale, you may not win the whiteboard for the day.... but in 6 months you'll still be healthy, have a new snatch PR, and you'll be beating your friends on the whiteboard.

Weightlifters: Improve your mechanics. You're training lifts will be lower, you'll have less videos to post to instagram, and you'll probably spend more time with lower loads... but later this year you'll hit a new competition PR and qualify for nationals like you've always wanted to!


Do you have lingering pain? Does your knee/back/hip/shoulder tend to "flare up" a few times a year? Do you fear hurting yourself again? Does this fear prevent you from living life fully, and training without limitations? I have good news for you, you don't need to live in fear of pain any longer!

The solution? Bulletproof your knee by fixing your foundational movement patterns and building strength within those movement patterns! Build resilience, lift heavy weight, and live your life without pain or worry.

Here at Ground to Overhead Physical Therapy, we help athletes all over the country resolve their chronic pain. We do this with in person appointments for athletes local to our clinic. Remotely, we help athlete through individualized training programs designed to resolve the athletes pain and achieve their goals. We coach the athletes through electronic communication, video analysis, and video calls; guiding them step by step along the process of eliminating their chronic pain.

Questions about the content within this post?

Interested in how you could eliminate your back pain and improve your performance?

Contact me by clicking here!


I'll be happy to help!

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