We understand that some people don’t train strength just for general health or quality of life, but to improve their performance in a sport or physical activity. How do you both train strength and improve sports performance?
Right now, hyper-specific training is in fashion. For example, throwing an extra heavy shot or doing half squats with a narrow stance because it mimicks the football player’s stance.
This type of training neither offers productive training nor productive practice.
Training prepares the athletes physically for the sport. This can be structural or metabolic (basically, strength or conditioning).
Practice improves the performance of skills (eg throwing or kicking a ball). While physical stress comes from both of them, strength acquisition comes from strength training. Strength training improves the athletes’ ability to produce force, which they can then apply on the field of play.
A common confounding factor with sports is that while we know that strength and conditioning is important for sports performance, world-class athletes are genetic freaks and will remain world-class despite sub-par programming. Despite this, people too often look to the best athletes for their routines, when we really should look at average and below average athletes and see what works for them. How do you take, for example, the typical high school football player who might start squatting 135 on day 1 and get them to squat 405?
People have a limited time and limited ability to recover from stress. The bulk of an athletes strength training should focus on multi-joint exercises that train the most muscle mass over the longest effective range of motion with the most weight. This of course means that athletes should squat, deadlift, bench press, and press.
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