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Building Both Base and Peak in Strength Training for the Athlete

Strength training for an athlete is very unique. Because we are trying to build so many qualities for an athlete, we do a very broad range of things.

There are times we are moving light weights really fast like you may traditionally think for an athlete. But there are times we’re doing big movements using pretty heavy weights for just a couple reps like a powerlifter.

Still other times we’re doing more isolation-type movements for pretty high reps like a bodybuilder. So why all the different styles of strength training – can’t we just lift one way and be done with it?

If we think about strength training for an athlete like a pyramid, we are trying to build the base just as much as we are trying to build the peak – you can’t have one without the other.

The base is where the big base of different movements and higher rep ranges come into play. An athlete that can move in a bunch of different ways and has a high capacity to repeat movement will be in a much better position to have success getting into (and be capable with) all the different positions their sport demands.

The peak is where the heavy weight/speed work comes in. An athlete has to be able to produce force and produce it fast in order to be effective at their sport.

So, we have to train all the different aspects so the pyramid can grow in proper proportions. If we spend too much time only working strength and power, we’re maybe getting a bit too specific to the movement and not preparing athletes for the demands of the sport. In addition, the athlete may not be ready to stay strong for the entirety of the game/match.

Conversely, if we spend all of our time only building the base with a ton of different movement and super high rep ranges, we’re missing the strength/speed work that is absolutely necessary for an athlete to get the most out of a strength training program.

Jack of all trades, master of none? Maybe – but isn’t that what most sports demand? An athlete has to be quick/fast, but also produce lots of force, but also be conditioned enough to do it over and over again.

So, shouldn’t the training reflect that?

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