As an athlete, you need certain strength and power training techniques to help you succeed in your sport. It is not enough to train hard. You must train smart also.
One important thing to remember about sports fitness training is that it is not a strongman contest! Too many times there is too much emphasis placed on "maxing out" with the weights.
To continually get stronger without an increase in speed, power and athleticism will do you no good. An overall athletic training framework for you to follow is.....
1. Train your body in all 3 planes of motion. Many athletic movements happen in the transverse plane (rotations, turning, twisting, etc.) and frontal plane (side-to-side, lateral).
Machine-based training concentrates on the sagittal plane (up- down, forward-backward movements). Do miminal athletic training on machines because they limit your natural movement patterns.
2. Train on your feet because most athletic movements in games are done standing and running.
3. Stabilize and strengthen the core first and limbs (arms and legs) later.
This can be done using exercises like bridges, planks, bird dogs, cobras, supermans and back extensions. You would later progress to full speed core exercises on your feet like medicine ball chops, medicine ball slams, 2-arm and 1-arm medicine ball throws and medicine ball rotational throws.
4. The same holds true for body strength exercises. Start with dumbbells to stabilize your joints.Dumbbells also don't allow you to cheat when 1 arm or 1 leg is weaker than the other.
Also, bodyweight exercises work well to stabilize your body strength. You can get to the heavier weights once your joints and muscles are stabilized and balanced. If you can't do bodyweight squats correctly then you won't do heavyweight squats correctly.
5. Continuing with strength exercises....concentrate on compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats of all types, lunges of all types, bench press, rows, step ups, and deadlifts.
One-legged squats, step ups and lunges improve your running strength and power because about 80% of running is done on one leg. Do less single-joint exercises like bicep curls, calf raises and leg extensions because you get little benefit.
6. And, improve your muscular balance. Quadriceps shouldn't be significantly stronger than hamstrings. Likewise, the frontside of your upper body should have muscular balance with the backside of your upper body.
7. Train your muscles with all contraction types (eccentric, isometric, concentric). All muscles function eccentrically (reduces force or deceleration), isometrically (stabilizes force) and concentrically (produces force).
Eccentric contractions are able to produce the most tension development followed by isometric contractions and lastly, concentric contractions. If eccentric contractions are able to produce the greatest tension development, then more time should be devoted during training for eccentric contractions to reduce the risk of injuries such as knee ACL tears.
Also, strong eccentric contractions are critical for athletes to produce maximal power since all force production (concentric) must be preceded by force reduction (eccentric).
8. Improve your flexibility and correct postural problems in the early stages of your training to avoid injuries when you get to more intense training.
9. Progress to more intense exercises like plyometrics, speed training and full-speed sport specific exercises after you have stabilized and strengthened your core, joints and overall muscle structure.
At this stage, you will train athletic movements in your sport (transfer-of-training effect) and not just muscles.YOU MUST TRAIN FAST AND EXPLOSIVE TO GET FASTER AND MORE EXPLOSIVE.
10. Rate-of-force production (how fast your muscles produce force) and dynamic balance are the two best physical predictors of athletic success. Your training program (strength, power, speed, flexibility, etc.) should be pointed toward improving these 2 physical traits.
Train harder, smarter and safely!
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Sports Fitness Hut