The Characteristics of Developing Maximum Strength, Power and Muscular Endurance

1.Characteristics of developing maximum strength

The main characteristic of a maximum strength training program is the involvement in exercise of all or at least most of the neuro-muscular units. Therefore everyone aiming to develop maximum strength has to employ maximum and supermaximum stimuli very frequently. Among the sports requiring maximum strength development are weight lifting, shot put, discus, and hammer throw. Other sports requiring power or muscular endurance may benefit from maximum strength development at least during certain parts of the preparatory phase.
Since the strain placed on an athlete’s body is very high, especially when employing maximum or supermaximum (negative method) loads the alternation of muscle groups for each training lesson seems to facilitate a higher volume of work as well as a better rate of recovery between lessons. Therefore in one lesson the legs may be worked, while the next the arms and shoulders.

2. Characteristics of developing power

The principal stimulus in power training is the performance of a movement very dynamically linked with the force magnitude taking place in the same exertion. For instance during sprinting an athlete’s force of leg impulsion is 3.5 times that of his/ her own body weight while the force used to throw a javelin is much smaller (Ivanova and Weiss, 1969). Thus the force of acceleration is the main stimulus for power training. 
In acyclic sports (i.e, jumping events) power is the determinant ability to achieve a good result On the other hand, in cyclic sports (i.e., sprinting) power is brought into action repetitively and very rapidly. These general characteristics of the sports requiring power has to be considered and reflected in one’s strength training program.
Throwing and jumping events in athletics, most gymnastics elements, fencing, diving, and every sport requiring a take-off (i.e., volleyball) are among the main beneficiaries of developing acyclic power. For these sports or athletic elements power performed acyclicly is the dominant factor in the performance. Although maximum strength is an important element of progression, exercises using lower loads but being performed extremely quickly (i.e., exercises with medicine balls) ought to be part of the program as well.

Most strength training exercises are from the weight lifters repertoire (power clean, snatch, clean and jerk) but this does not exclude other exercises like weight belts and vests, various jumps, and the like (i.e., deep jumps, over benches, bounding exercises). The load for acyclic power is between 50-80%, the movement is performed very quickly, and 4-6 sets are recommended with a rest interval of 3-5; minutes for an almost full recovery. Adequate recovery is paramount because only an almost completely recovered body can perform acyclic power exercises efficiently.

Cyclic power

A characteristic of sports requiring cyclic power (sprinting in athletics, swimming, speed skating, and cycling as well as all sports requiring speed) is that their relationship with speed is extremely pronounced. The strength component of a strength training program employs slightly reduced stimuli (load: 30-50%). The improvement of cyclic power has to be linked with sprinting endurance, which assists the athlete to avoid a decrease in stride frequency towards the end of a race.

The load for cyclic exercises is recommended to be 30-50% of one’s maximum, performed in a very dynamic rhythm, with up to 10 repetitions, and a long recovery interval (5 minutes). Relaxation exercises throughout a training program, and the alteration of contraction with relaxation is a mandatory requirement, since rigidity may affect the rate of a muscle’s contraction.

3. The characteristics of developing muscular endurance

Acyclic muscular endurance
Acyclic muscular endurance can be improved by either repeating parts of elements (routines of the sport) with an intensity slightly higher than-that employed in competition, or by using weight training. In the latter case a load between 50-80% of one’s maximum should be employed with a number of repetitions between 10-30. Those involved in gymnastics, wrestling, and martial arts are among the athletes who may benefit the most from this method. Considering the fact that the needs of the athletes often are very complex, they have to combine the development of acyclic muscular endurance with the development of other strength components, which calls for the employment of other methods.

Cyclic muscular endurance
All cyclic sports that have a performance time in excess of 2 minutes ought to regard the development of cyclic muscular endurance as one of the main factors which would lead to performance improvement. Thus, sports like swimming (400-1500 m). canoeing (1,000-10.000 m), rowing, speed skating, and cross-country skiing, can evidently benefit from the perfection of this strength component. In order to model a strength training program to the specifics of the sport, the exercise has to be selected and performed in such a way that phases of muscular contraction are alternated with a phase of relaxation; The load for this type of duration is 20-50% of the maximum.

In most of the sports/events listed above, aerobic endurance is an important if not dominant component. Strength, especially muscular endurance is also a key element since in most of the above sports the athletes perform against water resistance. A strength training program has to be related to the distance and therefore to the objective requirements of the event. Consequently, for events of shorter duration (i.e., 400 m swimming, 1000 m in canoeing) the load may be between 40-50% or even higher.

The number of repetitions should be between 30-100. For events of longer duration the load is slightly lower while the number of repetitions increases (up to one’s maximum). The frequency or rhythm of repetitions again has to be related to the dynamics of the event, but generally between 30-50 repetitions per minute is adequate.

The heart rate, as a guidelines to the physiological reaction to training demand, has to be, as suggested by Schroeder (1969), between 150-160 bpm. As a summary of the means and methods employed in strength training, the reader is invited to study table 27 which was proposed by Hane (1932). Although Harre holds slightly different opinions than those explained in the present section, one still may gain a better comprehension of the subject

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