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Strength Training for Athletes, Why?

Although our home at Strong Geelong is a predominantly strength sports gym, focusing on Powerlifting/Strongman/weightlifting, I want to roll out the welcoming mat to all athletes and explain WHY they should be incorporating directed strength and conditioning. All athletes regardless of their sport would benefit from some form of resistance training. As such, this article can hopefully find its way to those who seek more athletic based qualities such as speed, power, agility and conditioning, over and above the classic strength or hypertrophy (size) that many believe is all the weight room can provide.

Whether your sport is field-based, racquet and ball, or endurance based, I hope that you can glean some sort of knowledge from the following article and most importantly find some actionable steps to improve your performance from spending some time in the weight room.

Firstly, a caveat to this article is that the complexities and objectives and goals of athletes is far to complex to sum up in one article, but remember they are always dependent on the Individual being trained.

Now, the benefits of strength training are almost too many to list, so I shall keep to the main ones.

- Improvements In strength, Power and Speed of muscular contractions.

- Improvements in relaxation qualities of antagonist's muscle.

- Improvements in force absorbing qualities

- Increase in proprioceptive awareness

- Increases in work capacity

- Faster recovery times

- Reduction in injuries (this is worth 10+ articles)

Plus, a host more. However, all the above are only stated in the preface that you are training appropriately for your sport. You cannot train like a Body Builder and expect to run a faster 100m. This innately makes sense, yet the amount of AFL athletes I’ve seen chasing big bench numbers in the offseason will never cease to amaze me.

Obviously, the level of transfer between strength training and performance of your individual sport will vary depending on how many generations away the weight room sits from the specific requirements of the sport. E.g. the weight room may reap more benefits for a Rugby athlete vs an archery athlete. However, regardless of how far removed the weight room is from the sport itself, athletes will find beneficial aspects from undertaking strength training.

Now to the actionable steps.

1- Understand the requirements of your sport.

This cannot be stressed enough. If your sport is power based, and you find yourself doing HIIT workouts….. probably not the best way to improve performance. There may be a place for these, however at the right time and place. Find the qualities that will have the most impact and learn how to train those, that means understanding movements, loading schemes, rep ranges, rest periods and density patterns. If you don’t have a solid grasp on any aspect of these I would highly recommend looking at actionable step number 2.

2- Find a strength and Conditioning coach who does.

You probably wouldn’t try and build your own house based off things you have seen on the gram. So why should your body be any different? Good S&C coaches are worth their weight in gold. The human body is a complex system, strength training and the variables involved are complex and coaching itself is complex. The combination of all these borders on mere chaos. A coach who can balance all these systems and align them with the goals you have is invaluable to your development as an athlete. Seek one out.

3- Fundamentals are king, not all training is sexy.

Not everything you do in the gym should be Insta worthy. Sometimes, actually, most of the times the basics have more bang for their buck than gimmicks you see on all the social platforms we use. Sure, there is a video of Lebron James doing a kneeling-swiss ball-KettleBell-isometric hold. But that isn’t what makes him great, and it most definitely not going to make the novice lifter great. The fundamentals will take you 90% or more of the journey, so stick to them.

4- Work smarter not harder in the weight room.

The weight room is a supplemental aspect for athletes who are not in a strength sport. Putting in huge hours will not directly correlate to increases in performance. Get in, do high-quality work and get out. This is not to say you will not work hard, you will, but don’t use the yardstick of how much you sweat or how long the session is as to how effective the session has been. Quality will beat quantity.

This article and its actionable steps could go on; however, the plan was to keep it short and concise. I hope you or an athlete you know can benefit from one or more of these steps. If there is any question, queries or qualms with anything that has been said above please don’t hesitate to reach out, send us a message or leave a comment.

Coach Conor - IG @cg_performance

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