Strength and conditioning is a hot topic when we speak about elite sport. It is important to understand however that we need similar functions for everyday living. When we sustain injuries on and off the field, more often than not it is due to weakness, poor posture, mobility issues or incorrect movement patterns. It is for this reason that exercise is essential in maintaining a strong, fit and functional body.
In more recent years, research continuously proves how resistance training improves muscle strength, ligament extensibility and joint health. Power, force production and endurance are further improved with specific programs designed for an individual. Speed, agility and balance are also essential components built upon with resistance training that influences daily living keeping us healthy and injury free for longer periods of time. There has been much debate around the timing of resistance training in adolescents, however studies show that when a resistance program is specific and individualized to the person, it is safe, effective and beneficial in the long term both in terms of sport as well as health.
In order to achieve a certain level of athletic ability, it is vital for one to be able to safely and effectively produce high levels of force over extended periods of time. It is well documented throughout the world that resistance training, and consequently increased muscular strength has a positive influence on speed, power, agility, endurance and overall plyometric athleticism. For this reason, building on strength allows the completion of and learning of complex tasks for a particular sporting type to be mastered.
At the time one reaches peak height velocity, significant increases in muscular power is reached as well as peak weight velocity. This pattern reaching maximum muscle power suggests that increasing muscle mass as well as motor unit activation will result in improved muscle power. It is for this reason that for athletic performance to reach its peak, resistance training should be included in sport specific plyometric exercises to achieve maximum performance. Incorporating plyometric training will assist in timing and velocity of muscular contractions whilst at the same time working on muscular strength.
The term cardiovascular endurance is used widely throughout the sporting world, however during every day life we require a form of endurance to carry out certain tasks. Walking to work, performing hard labour at work and even picking up your child after a long day in the office. In sport, it is the ability to sustain a particular effort for extended periods of time while maintain proper form, power and speed. Multiple systems are at play in order to keep your body’s engine going and for this engine to remain efficient, appropriate training must be included in your routine.
Endurance training is the development of systems required to meet the demands of the activity at hand. There are 2 mechanisms providing fuel for energy, these are:
Aerobic metabolism (with oxygen)
Each of these can further be divided to provide various pathways to produce the fuel we require to run that marathon or make that 20m sprint in the most effective and efficient way.
ATP-CP (Anaerobic) Energy pathway: This is most important to your sprinters and sports requiring short burst of energy, agility and speed lasting up to 10 seconds at a time.
Anaerobic Metabolism (Glycolysis): This is utilized in most of your sports types and more frequently during sport as the energy supplied is used for short, but high intensity activity lasting several minutes depending on the demands of the task at hand.
Aerobic Metabolism: This is what is required for marathon runners and every day activities we perform over extended periods of time.
With an appropriate training program designed specifically for your goals, the above mentioned pathways can be manipulated to be more efficient in energy production. For strength and conditioning training to produce optimal athletic performance, one must include all areas of training specific to the demands of the sport or activity.
The inclusion of sport specific, individualized and functional training is essential as part of a training regimen. It is for this reason that appropriate strength training and body conditioning is essential to produce your best possible athletic performance.