- individual body weight (i.e push-ups) exercises with a partner (i.e., grip the hands and perform arm pulls against partner’s resistance) —medicine balls (i.e., lifts, throws, etc) —elastic bands and cords (either fastened to solid object or held by partner. Ascord stretches resistance increases)
- barbells exercises with or against apparatus —fixed resistance (isometric contraction)
4 Rule Strength Training
Since most strength training programs are performed with free weights (barbells) the coach should consider the following rules:
- A strength training program should use free weights in connection with other means of training (medicine balls, apparatus, bounding, etc.) since the training effect is more complex, they compliment each other, and therefore are more beneficial to the athlete.
- Weight training exercises may use both analytic and synthetic exercises since their training effects are different An analytic exercise involves a small group of muscles or a body limb, and as a consequence the effect is strictly local. The main advantage of such an approach is that muscle groups can be alternated continuously, and as such the summation of training loads could reach high levels. However, although local strength may be improved dramatically, it has a low transfer effect to the individual’s general endurance. Therefore, sports requiring an endurance component should consider synthetic exercises, which simultaneously involve several limbs and muscle groups. Such exercises may not permit equally high amounts of work but do provide a superior general and specific functional component.
- Before working the active limb, the passive segment should be exercise. In other words, before strengthening the arms, the muscles and ligaments of the supporting segments (the vertebral column, and the scapulohumeral girdle) must be exercised. This concept is also valid for the warm-up prior to a weight training lesson.
- Before developing muscular strength good flexibility should be developed in order to avoid eventual joint rigidity. Flexibility exercises should not be incorporated only during the second pan of the warm-up (please refer to the planning of a training lesson in Chapter Eight) but also during the rest periods between weight training exercises. This will facilitate a faster recovery in the muscle because the muscle will reach its normal resting length more quickly when flexibility exercises are employed (Pendergast, 1974). In addition, the efficiency of a movement does not depend only on the force of the active muscles but also on the degree of relaxation of the antagonistic muscles.
Methodical parameters relevant to strength training
Strength is one of the most important biomotor abilities and its role in an athlete’s training is often paramount. A correct understanding of the methodology of developing it is of prime importance since it affects both speed and. endurance. The construction of a strength training program has to consider several parameters (explained below) which are paramount to any successful program.
Number of exercises
The key to an effective program is adequate selection of exercises. The establishment of an optimum number of exercises is often overlooked by some coaches. In their desire to develop most muscle groups coaches select too many exercises. Obviously the outcome is an ineffective and fatiguing training program.
The selection of exercises has to be done in light of the aspects explained below:
- AGE AND LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE. One of the main objectives of a training program designed for juniors or beginners is the development of a solid anatomical and physiological foundation. Without such an approach consistent improvement will certainly be less likely, Therefore, as far as strength training is concerned, the coach should select many exercises (9-12) which are addressed to the main muscle groups of the body. The duration of such a program may be up to 2-3 years, depending on the age of the athlete and the expected age of high performance (table 3). Considering the above circumstances one of the coach’s high attributes is patience.Training programs designed for advanced or elite class athletes should follow a completely different approach. For such athletes a main objective of training is the elevation of performance to the highest possible levels. Strength training has its own rote in accomplishing such an objective. Therefore a strength program for elite class athletes (especially during the competitive phase) has to be very specific, directed precisely to the prime movers, and containing only a few exercises (3-6).
- NEEDS OF THE SPORT. Exercises selected for strength training, especially for elite class athletes, ought to be selected to meet the specific needs of the sport. Thus, an elite class high jumper may perform only 3-4 exercises, while a wrestler has to elevate the number up to 5-8 so that all prime movers are adequately strengthened.
- PHASE OF TRAINING. During the commencement of the preparatory phase a general strength training program is desired. Following the transition phase the coach starts a new annual plan the beginning of which ought to be designed to build the foundation of training to come. Since such a program has to involve most muscle groups, the number of exercises for strength training during the early preparatory phase has to be high (9-12) regardless of the specifics of the sport. As the program progresses the number of exercises is reduced, concluding with the competitive phase when only the very specific, essential exercises are performed.
The succession of strength training exercises in a training lesson
Strength training exercises were found to be more effective when they follow exercises aimed at developing speed (Baroga, 1978). Apparently powerful stimuli, like those applied during speed training, seem to arouse the athlete’s body and CNS for strength development. Often, this concept is applied by weight lifters from Eastern Europe, although in niost cases strength training programs begin with exercises aimed at developing strength.