Strength training has a unique place in coaching for sports. It is the most significant component of the physical fitness development. In most sports, after dialing in technique, the performance is raised by improving the delicate balance of strength in the required movement patterns.
Strength is a desirable quality in all sports. Its importance and justifiable use are appreciated much in modern times. Quite often you even see athletes of many mellow-out sports like golf pumping & sweating it out in the gym¹.
An athlete needs strength to better his/her performance in the respective sport. Non-athlete needs strength for a good quality of life. Most people today are aware that including some strength work in their routine does body some good.
Socrates got it right hundreds of years ago, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.“²
If you were living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, try googling strength training benefits and read out the first couple links (No need to read rest of the links, they’ll just rehash the same message). Just to summarize it and save you some time below are the strength training benefits listed for you.
Strength Training Benefits
- Improved muscle mass and bone density³
- Improved health parameters like HDL to LDL ratio, B.P, Blood Sugar levels, lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression and increased immunity
- Fat loss and improved body composition
- Improved posture and proprioception
- Enhanced feeling of well-being, reduced stress, better sleep, and mental balance^4
I could go on and on like ordinary articles on benefits of strength training and fill the entire page with the ordinary stuff. But this is not an ordinary site and an ordinary blog. So I’ll cover what everyone missed.
Strength Training and Sports
Athletes are unique creatures with unique demands. Experienced coaches understand that athletes from different sports backgrounds have different demands from strength training. Heck, even athletes of the same sport may require different adaptation involving strength^5. You can’t just put athletes into one size fits all class.
The problem with the fitness industry when it comes to such specialization is that it is redundant. Far too often, novices and young athletes are sold fancy drills and gimmicks for strength requisites by their coaches. These coaches and athletes have it all backward. They focalize on advanced programs, innovatory exercises & routines and high tech periodization schemes when all that a novice requires is practice. It’s like hitting a nail with a screw driver, you’re choosing the wrong tool!
But many a times coaches themselves are ‘tools’ and just don’t know any better. They’re copying info from somewhere else.
Significance For Athletes
The essence of strength training lies in the specificity of training according to an athlete’s individual needs. The beauty of strength training methods is that they’re quite adaptive to suit one’s needs. The only caveat is that it requires experience as well as knowledge to apply it.
Another significant benefit of strength training is the enhanced neural output of the Central Nervous System (C.N.S). Of all the physiological properties like muscle cross section, fibre type, endocrine status, and bio-mechanical properties like leverage & anthropometry, the C.N.S is the greatest determinant of the force production and performance. Correct sequencing of neural-stimulatory exercises during training can increase the athlete’s performance immediately. To experience it try alternating a couple jump squats before doing your sets of Barbell Squats. Overload partials are another good choice to ramp up neural output.
Strength training is a process designed to cause an adaptation. It requires a certain length of time to reach high levels of performance^6. This process may continue for years if not interrupted with untimely injury or misdirection most probably due to carelessness and bad coaching. With that being said, not everyone is interested in being coached exactly on point for strength work, and that’s fine. But if you’ve some goals to accomplish, you don’t have much time to waste on unproductive methods.
Time is money as they say. How much is your time worth?
- Rippetoe, Mark. Starting Strength. Programming.
- Rippetoe, Mark; Kilgore, Lon; Pendlay, Glenn. Practical Programming for Strength Training. Chapter 3.