Why strength train? That’s a good question. Why strength train indeed? Strength training in itself is not glamourous, it’s not exciting, at times can be boring and as has been pointed out before, may denote painful memories to some individuals. So why do it? Let’s examine the problem.
It has been shown that in any human endeavor, the majority of people will do anything to avoid pain. Therefore many individuals tend to avoid the physical preparation work (strength training) at all cost. Afterall, it’s a lot less painful to buy a new neon colored bike helmet, or inflatable running shoe than it is to got through a strength workout.
In this country the technical, tactical, and psychological preparation work is where the main emphasis lies. Let’s get real, it’s a lot more fun to teach or to learn a new technique for your sports than it is to lift a weigh from your chest 10 times the problem is that you cannot learn a new technique, you cannot learn a new strategy, you cannot learn to mentally prepare if you do not have the proper strength levels which allow the body to train. Plus, strength is the key ingredient for power, muscle endurance, and power endurance.
So the answer to, Why strength trianing?” is that strength is the foundational component that all the other athletic performance components are built upon and, as the foundation of athletic development, strength is the single most important factor needed to continue to push the edge of your performance envelope. Moreover “strength training” means getting your athletic butts off the bicycle seats, off the tennis courts, our of the swimming pool and into the weight room. With that said, let’s take a brief overview of the components of athletic performance.
ATHLETIC SUCCESS= STRENGTH+ENDURANCE+POWER+SPEED
Strength. The term “strength” itself means the ability to produce maximum force agains a resistance. The resistance can be a weight, bat, racket, ball, opponent, and so forth. Generally, the more strength you have the more resistance you can move, and the faster you can move it. Also, remembe that strength is the key to power and muscle endurance. So it may be said that strength itself is not used in sports but it is used in enhancing the foundation of the other components of athletic fitness and sports performance.
Muscular endurance. Muscular endurance, sometimes also called strength-endurance, is the ability to produce force against a fairly high resistance for a long period of time. The activities that require large amounts of muscular endurance are wrestling, soccer, middle distance running, and many others.
STRENGTH+ENDURANCE= MUSCLE ENDURANCE
Muscular endurance is a combination of strength and endurance. You can increase your muscular endurance by working both strength and endurance. However, you will find that strength is hard to enhance while endurance is relatively easy, and for the typical shorter bursts of strength you need in most sports– strength is the most important.
How you train for muscular endurance has a profound impact on how you perform. You need to train with the correct blend of these characteristics to achieve optimal results. Many sports have muscular endurance as a dominant characteristic. These sports rely on your ability to produce high levels of force throughout the race, match, or whatever. Many contests are often decided by who can jump high and run fast in the fourth quarter, not in the first quarter. Muscular endurance training seeks to enhance these characteristics.
Power. Power is the performance of work expressed per unit of time, is another very important characteristic of athletic fitness. When you combine strength (work) and speed (per unit of time) you get power. A high level of power enhances quickness, agility, height of jumps, speed of runs, bursts of acceleration, and so forth. It is usually power training that sets the razor’s edge among highly trained athletics.
STRENGTH X SPEED= POWER
In other words, if you are already highly trained, then power training can make you gain that extra few percent in speed and explosiveness, that makes the big difference in competition. Most important, power can only be increased by increasing strength.
Power endurance. Their are several sports including football where there is an extremely important need to produce explosive power movements over a period of time, perhaps twenty or more times, without losing power. Power endurance training allows an athlete to repeat a period of an intense focus on power. Such as a rushing defensive tackle who runs and out push multiple defenders.
POWER X ENDURANCE= POWER ENDURANCE
Speed. Genetics have a lot to do with setting limitations on your ability to express speed. However, there is still room for improvement through training. If you can increase the force of a movement, you will also increase the speed of the movement– within limits. Strength and power training are the most straightforward means of enhancing your speed of movement. By increasing your maximum force and rate of force development you increase both power and speed.
It’s obvious that developing new strength is the key factor to improving your athletic ability. I always incorporate this fact into training programs that I design for athletes. In fact, it is the basis of all training programs.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed.