We’ve discussed that strength training and conditioning outside of sports benefit the athlete, but what exactly does that look like? When we say strength training for the athlete, what does that look like in practice?
Strength training generally uses the body or external loading to get the body to produce more force. By that standard, you may think that athletes should all train like powerlifters and spend all their time putting as much weight on their backs/ in their hands to push as much weight as possible. But that misses one very significant point – the speed of the lift.
The movement is often performed very slowly when we strength train with super heavy weights. While potentially super impressive, it isn’t all that athletic looking. And while there’s a time and place for heavy lifting, it’s certainly not always and probably shouldn’t be SUPER SLOW.
We want to train athletes to move FAST – at least as they push against the weight (as we’ve discussed, moving slowly down and pausing the weights are a different story). By training the body to move fast against an external load reinforces fast muscle contraction essential for most athletes.
Again, training with heavy weights and making an athlete work to move a load isn’t bad – but it probably shouldn’t happen all the time. Most of the time, loads should be such that an athlete can control the weight and move it well on the way up. Make the athlete work – yes – but don’t make them grind out reps.