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Can we improve athletic performance by using Direction Bias Specific gym Programming? A Clinical Pilates concept.


Sam Leslie B.Physio Post Grad Cert. (Sports Physio) M.Physio (Sports)

APA Sports Physiotherapist

PhD Candidate – University of Melbourne

Head Physiotherapist Aust National Team – World Summer Universiade Games 2013-15



Background Direction bias assessment (DBA) is a Clinical Pilates concept found to be an accurate predictor of performance after low resistance matched Clinical Pilates exercises.  High resistance training is an integral part of any athletes training plan. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect on athletic performance of high resistance exercises matched to an athlete’s DBA against a program that contained a mix of matched and unmatched exercises over 4 weeks of strength training and 4 weeks of power training.


Methods Athletes (age 16-44, N = 41) were recruited from local sporting affiliations via advertisement and allocated to either the intervention group of matched direction specific (DS) resistance training (N=21) or the non-direction specific (NDS) group (N=20). All athletes underwent DBA before allocation. Athletic performance measures were taken for 20m sprint and pro-agility test.  3 hop distance (3HD) and repeated 3 and eight vertical hops (VH) were measured across both bias and non-bias legs.  Measures were taken at week 0, week 4 following the 4 week strength program and week 8 following the 4 week power program (both DS and NDS groups).


Results After 8 weeks, the DS group had significantly greater improvements inagility, 3HD (bias side), 3VH and 8VH across both legs (p<0.05). At 4 weeks, the DS group had significantly greater improvements in 3HD (bias side) and 8VH (both sides) (p<0.05).  The NDS group did not improve in 3VH or 8VH measures across the 8 weeks, otherwise both groups improved mean scores across all measures across the 8 weeks of programming, though the differences were not significant between the 2 intervention groups unless listed.


DiscussionAll groups demonstrated improvements across athletic measures following both 4 and 8 weeks of programming.  DS gym programming has demonstrated significantly improved athletic measures in the validated tests of pro-agility and 3HD on the bias side over traditional NDS programming.  Given that in clinical pilates teachings the bias side is closely correlated to past injury history and reduced performance, preferential improvement of this side would be desirable. Improvements in repeated vertical hop power generation will need further research to validate their impact on athletic performance and/or as a predictor of injury.  Efforts were made in the study to keep training volumes the same across groups.