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Strength refers to the body’s ability to apply force during movement.
An athlete can implement a strength training program into their training schedule in attempt to improve their overall performance.
Generally, strength training involves a form of resistance training that develops strength, muscle hypertrophy or muscular endurance.
In terms of designing a strength training program, it is important to consider the different requirements of each athlete and their sport, as well as the following variables that can be manipulated to make the programs more individualised.
If the strength training program is not individualised, nor uses the overload principle, then the development of strength for the athlete will not be effective and/or plateau.
– How heavy the resistance is.
– Can be the weight of dumbbells, the weight on the barbell or body resistance.
– Beginners should use lighter load to focus on technique
– Muscular strength training = heavy load
– Muscle hypertrophy training = medium load
– Muscular endurance training = light load
– The number of repetitions grouped together without rest
– Muscular strength training = 3-6 sets per exercise
– Muscle hypertrophy training = 3-8 sets per exercise
– Muscular endurance training = 2-42-4 sets per exercise
– This is one complete movement of when a weight is lifted and lowered correctly
– It can be prevalent in both isometric and isotonic contractions. E.g. In an isotonic contraction it could be completing one bicep curl correctly. In an isometric contraction, one repetition could include holding a 5kg kettleball in each arm straight out for 20 secs.
– Muscular Strength training = 1-6 reps for exercise
– Muscle hypertrophy training = 8-12 reps per exercise
– Muscular endurance training = more than 15 reps per exercise
– This refers to the speed or tempo of the “lift”.
– Muscular Strength training = slow rate of lift
– Muscle hypertrophy training = slow rate of lift
– Muscular endurance training =medium speed of lift
– This is the time taken between sets to recover
– Muscular Strength training = 2-5 mins between sets
– Muscle hypertrophy training = 30-90s between sets
– Muscular endurance training = Less than 30secs between sets
– Resistance Training
Resistance training involves the muscles working against a resistance (load).
It can comprise of using elastics and hydraulics as a form of resistance.
The main idea behind this form of training is to improve stability, strength or muscle size.Elastics
Elastics or resistance bands are a great tool to use for rehabilitation or when you require lighter resistance.
You can buy a pack of different coloured bands, all of which have different resistance levels.
Advantages of the resistance bands:
– they are affordable
– they make your body activate your stabiliser muscles to keep the body aligned
– they are easy to use and portable.
They can also be used for sport specific movements, which can be handy in terms of rehab and gaining strength back into joints and muscles.
E.G. Attaching a band to the ankle of an AFL player going through their kicking motion to develop strength in leg and stabilising muscle groups.
Some of the disadvantages of this type of resistance training are:
– depending on the quality of the bands – they can fray or snap and, unless you know what exercises to complete
– they can be confusing and it is hard to progressively overload.
Hydraulic machines allow for tension/resistance to be applied to the movement in both the pushing and pulling phase of the movement.
The hydraulic machines do not rely on gravity to aid resistance; they rely on the machine to provide the tension. These machines are generally found in gyms.
The advantage of a hydraulic machine is:
– that they allow you to work both agonist and antagonists in the same workout.
E.G. – a quadriceps/hamstring machine allows you to extend your legs on the way out working your quadriceps and then also applies tension when squeezing your hamstrings back to your starting position.
These types of machines are great as part of circuit training.
The disadvantage of these machines are:
– they are expensive and you will probably need to join a gym to use them
– the fixed speed of the machine means that it is difficult to train all types of strength and generally targets one area.
– Weight Training
This type of resistance training relies on gravity.
Dumbbells, weight machines, free weights and barbells are some of the types of apparatus used to implement weight training.
This type of training is generally used to see gains in muscular strength, endurance, power and hypertrophy.
Beginners are usually encouraged to use weight machines as they are easy to use and guided, whilst still targeting a number of different muscle groups.
As you become more advanced and experienced, free weights can be incorporated, however in the beginning it is extremely important to focus on technique.
If done incorrectly (poor technique, posture), it can cause injury to occur free weights can incorporate the utilisation of stabilisers, variety and sport specific movements.
It is important to use training variables to cater for your type of weight training. Changes need to be made in terms of sets, repetitions, load, exercise speed and rest depending on the type of strength training that you are undertaking.
– These offer a wide range of movements and can be relatively cheap so you can purchase for home use.
– It is important to focus on technique as a beginner as you are at greater risk of injury compared to weight machines.
– Weight plates are placed onto bars and can be adjusted to suit your training requirements.
– Great variety in terms of training can be undertaken with plates.
– A disadvantage is that it does take time to change the plates if you want to add or take weight off which can be frustrating.
– If you want to lift heavier weights, you will need a training partner to help spot you.
– Isometric Training
An isometric contraction involves the continual contraction of a muscle without it lengthening or shortening.
This type of training is great for rehabilitation and can help develop strength in an area of weakness.
Isometric training sessions should include up to 8 repetitions lasting at least six seconds for repetition.
You can’t measure strength gains in this form of strength training therefore you need to combine this form of training with another to track any strength progress.
Athletes must be careful to utilise correct technique in isometric training to ensure that injury does not occur.