Different Types of Strength Training
Unlike bodybuilding, where the only aim is to increase the size and appearance of muscles, strength training programs for sport ultimately must develop either explosive power or muscular endurance (2). However, rather than immediately embarking on a program to improve either or both of these fitness components, a more effective approach is to first build a solid foundation…
Basic strength training programs adapt the body for more strenuous resistance training later on. It’s objective is to prepare the body by targeting all of the major muscle groups, tendons, ligaments and joints helping to prevent injury (2).
The less experienced an athlete is, the more time they will need to spend developing foundational strength before progressing onto more advanced forms of resistance training. But even experienced athletes should set aside some time during the year to complete a phase of basic strength training. It can help to redress some of the muscle imbalances that inherently occur with competitive sport.
Some athletes will benefit from increasing their lean body mass by adding extra muscle bulk. However, the number of athletes that require hypertrophy training or a phase of bodybuilding is far fewer than most would expect. Larger muscles are not necessarily stronger and more weight – even lean, active weight – can be a hindrance in many sports.
Bodybuilders have exceptional muscle mass but they are typically bigger than they are strong. Maximal strength training programs do not necessarily increase the size of a muscle (hypertrophy) but they do lead to neuromuscular adaptations that are favourable to most athletes. Even endurance athletes can benefit from maximal strength training (5,6).
Just as an athlete can be extremely muscular and lack an associated level of strength, they can also be exceptionally strong but lack significant power. Most athletic movements occur much more rapidly and demand significantly more power than lifting maximal loads. If maximal strength is not converted into sport-specific power, athletic performance will not improve – certainly not to the extent that it could.
While many sports are dominated by powerful, explosive actions some athletes are required to overcome a relatively low resistance but for a prolonged period of time. Just as power athletes should convert maximal strength into explosive power, endurance athletes should aim to convert maximal strength into muscular endurance.
Of course, many team sports require a combination of the two – power and strength endurance – and developing both simultaneously without one negating the other requires careful consideration.