Training for Sports Performance Part 2: Strength and Power
There is no substitute for raw strength.Being stronger than your opponent is always a positive.Gaining strength is simple.The Overload Principle is the only way that your body would know to grow.The human body is designed to receive stress, adapt to it and overcome it.This is similar to when you go into cold weather your heart rate will speed up to attempt to maintain homeostasis and increase your core temperature.In Strength Training anytime you overload the body with a stress it will attempt to adapt to that stress.This is the simple side of performance enhancement.The complicated side of performance enhancement is deciding what type of stress to introduce, how much stress to introduce, and the optimal time to introduce stress.The ability to make these decisions is the justification for the existence of Strength and Conditioning Professionals.If an Athlete is training without a Certified Strength Coach then they need to understand a few key things about how to gain strength safely and effectively.
Technique must always be kept at the highest priority when doing any Strength Training.If poor technique is used daily, then poor results will be seen in the long run.Train movements through a full range of motion and always make the technique the priority and not the amount of weight used.This is a big issue in High School weight rooms is that the High School Athletes want to put up numbers like College Athletes, when they have not been trained to handle such loads. The goal is real results, not perception of results.
Developing a strength base is critical for any Athlete.If an Athlete cannot control their body efficiently without any external resistance then it is considered unsafe to ask the Athlete to control themselves with added external resistance.To develop a strength base you can begin with basic bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, bodyweight lunges and squats. Once the Athlete is mature and prepared to handle weight training then you can start progressing them into light weights. Using very heavy weights for low repetitions will help develop strength, where using light weights for many reps will help develop more muscular mass.
Movements like the squat, front squat, lunge, row, bench, deadlift, Romanian deadlift (RDL), shoulder press, shrug and neck work are the basic movements that can be perfected and focused on.When an Athlete commits themselves to basic movements such as these with great technique and relentless effort they will then set themselves up for great gains.These gains are not only to help them perform better in their sport but also to prevent injury.Injuries can be prevented by developing a balanced program that is progressed soundly.Make sure that the Athlete does equal or slightly more pulling (rows, chin-ups) than they do pushing.Many Athletes like to focus just on the bench press or squat because they want to boost their ego’s and they forget to balance their push/pull ratio out and put themselves at risk for injury.
The ability to develop force very quickly is essential in Athletics.The ability to do this is commonly known as Power.In its most basic form power is how fast you can apply a large amount of force (work/time).One of the most popular methods to increase power is the use of Olympic weightlifting movements and it’s variations (Clean, Jerk, Snatch).It is important to recognize the difference between “Weightlifting” (the sport, one word), and “weight lifting” (the act of lifting weights to gain strength, two-words).If and only when executed properly, the Olympic movements can be extremely beneficial when trying to gain power.Through increasing the load on the bar your body will recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers and be able to develop more muscular tension in a shorter amount of time.This enhancement can be then translated directly to the field of play because the joint movements of running, jumping and multidirectional movements are very similar to the joint movements the Athlete had been training on the platform, which is called triple extension (hip, knee and ankle).Olympic Weightlifters have traditionally had some of the highest vertical jump numbers compared to other sports due to the amount of force they can produce in a very short amount of time that helps them “Push the Ground.”