Written by Jorge Sanchez
Strength training has become such an integral part of an athlete’s training regimen for some time now. You would assume it is universally accepted as standard operating procedure. However, judging from some of the feed-back we’ve received, there still appears to be a fairly large contingent of well-meaning folks who are recipients of push-back regarding strength training’s efficacy and overall benefits.
Whether the concerns stem from uninformed parents/guardians, misguided coaches or athletic directors, or antiquated gender stereotyping and misconceptions, strength training still receives a percentage of bad rap in some small restricted circles.
Here are just three important reasons why you should incorporate strength training.
It is an injury prevention module.
Injuries are inevitable in sport competition. The cumulative effect of the constant, inherent pounding on the body eventually takes its toll. However, a comprehensive, well-organized, properly administered and year-round strength training program results in musculo-tendon units that are more resilient to the stresses and impact forces sustained in athletic endeavor.
Improvements in overall flexibility.
Full-range strength training, like that which focuses on movement patterns that complete the biomechanically correct concentric (raising phase) and eccentric (lowering phase) functions of the targeted area, will have an enhancing effect on mobility and flexibility of that structure. Keep in mind that muscles work in pairs, and while one compartment of a joint is shortened (contracted), the opposite compartment is lengthened (stretched). Hence, taking the time and effort to work a given strength training set in a focused concentric and eccentric manner pays dividends in long-term flexibility improvements.
Do not fall for the antiquated notions that strength training results in stiff, robotic, clumsy, unskilled athletes. On the contrary, you will find that your athletes demonstrate more power, speed, quickness and athleticism as the result of progressive resistance training program than ever before.
Increased bone mineral density.
“Ahh one of my favorites”. Strength training places stress on the body, but it is a good stress when properly administered. We’ve previously discussed on the positive benefits to muscle and connective tissue. In terms of bone material, progressive resistance training heightens protein and mineral content. Significant improvements in bone density have been shown to occur after a mere four months of dedicated strength training.
Increased bone density results in stronger bones that are more resilient to injury.
I can go on-and-on but these are just a few points from a plethora of “studies based facts” on why we should consider strength training for our young athletes and overall long term health.
ReferenceWestcott, W.L., Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health, Current Sports Medicine Reports, July/August, 2012; 11:4.