What Is Strength Training?
When people talk about strength training the common perception is adopting an exercise program that incorporates heavy lifting.
After all, if you can progressively increase the amount of weight you are lifting then you are getting stronger.
Thus, strength is a measure of performance.
But the perception of strength varies according to function.
A 15 year old boy who wants to get stronger for soccer will adopt a strength training program that is different from a 70 year old man who wants to improve his mobility and overall fitness.
Why? The answer lies in an important terminology in sports science.
In other words, if you want to improve strength and performance you must design a program based on methods and protocols that would result in an increase of strength specific to his or her sport or fitness objectives.
Thus, the definition of “strength” is relative to the demands of the sport and the fitness objective of the individual.
Take note that “conditioning” is placed alongside “strength” in the definition. In any sport, conditioning is equally important as strength.
If strength is the by- product of the program, conditioning is the ability of the individual to maintain his level of strength as the activity continues.
Any endeavor to become stronger will be rendered ineffective unless conditioning is included in the program.
“Strength and Conditioning” or S & C has become an important component in every athlete’s performance improvement agenda.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, it was unthinkable for athletes in golf and tennis to train for strength.
Modern day golfers like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods certainly look different than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
It’s not just athletes who can benefit from an S & C program.
Anyone who wants to improve health and fitness, lose weight or gain muscle can reach their goals with a well-designed S & C program.
Designing A Strength And Conditioning Program
1. Establish Your Goals
There are 3 important principles to reference when designing an S & C program:
• Specificity – Any strength- based program will result in an enhancement of the individual’s physical capability. But the strength gains must be relevant to the goals of the individual.
• Overload – This is a principle that is applied in order to take your training to higher levels. If a person does the same workout under the same conditions every time, he or she will adapt but will no longer improve.
In order to progress, overload is needed to force the individual to adapt to the greater demands of more intense training.
• Accommodation – If the sources of stimulation remain the same, your body will adapt and performance will regress. Training methods must constantly evolve as do training loads for you to progressively improve performance.
• Individualisation – Because each person is different, the methods and protocols that make up his or her program must be customised according to his or her individual capabilities. Every training program elicits different results because of each person’s individuality.
2. Sport Bio-Mechanics
An S & C program must carefully study the bio-mechanic requirements of the individual’s sport and note the specific muscles that are primarily used.
Or for the everyday person who simply wants to improve their strength and conditioning, it could simply be a case of a whole-body training program, which could include building strength in areas where the individual has a preference.
3. Individual’s Profile
An S & C program must be customised according to the individual capabilities. An S & C trainer must consider the following factors when designing a program:
• Common Injuries – Knowledge of injuries that are common in the sport or in the history of the individual is important to find methods that will prevent these from recurring during exercise.
• Strengths And Weaknesses – Creating an inventory of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses will help the S & C trainer select exercises that would enhance strength and improve weaknesses.
• Training Experience And Age – An S & C trainer must make an account of how much wear and tear the individual has gone through over the years to make sure the program is productive.
• Past Injuries And Medical History – A responsible S & C trainer should be well- informed about the individual’s injury and medical history to keep these from recurring during training or competition. Thus, it is important to get medical clearance from a doctor before starting an exercise program.
Everyone regardless of age, gender or level of fitness can benefit from a Strength and Conditioning program.
If you want to start one, always consult a certified fitness professional in your local gym.
It would be a good idea to hire a Personal Trainer when starting a strength training program.
He or she would have the experience and expertise to guide you through the process and make sure you adhere to proper form and technique.
Keep in mind that training is just one part of the “get stronger” equation. You also have to eat the right food to fuel your workouts.
A Personal Trainer can give you advice on what to eat but it would be better to consult with a licensed nutritionist.
One of the most important tools to have when doing any exercise program is a training diary.
Use it to log down your progress and write down how you felt during the exercise session.
A training diary is a valuable resource to track your performance. It can be a small notebook that you can bring to the gym floor when you are training.
Finally, be patient with your program. It takes time and consistency to build strength and see any noticeable improvement.
But if you stay committed and have a positive attitude, the gains will come.