In earlier days, the world of strength training was primarily confined to weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders. But with the advancements made in the field of sports sciences, a direct correlation was found between strength training and improved athletic performance. From there on, strength training in the form of progressive resistance training became an important part of any athletes’ training regime. It became imperative as it boosts overall athletic performance.
There are myriads of people who are curious to know about “why strength training is important for athletes?” or “what are the benefits of strength training for athletes?” This article will throw light on the advantages that an athlete can avail through strength or resistance training.
When it comes to the current scenario of sports, every athlete includes some form of strength training in his regime. Whether it’s a footballer who is aiming to take his game to the next level, or a baseball player who is working on his mobility; strength training has become an important aspect of their sport-based training.
Strength or resistance training enhances the athletic performance of an athlete by subjecting his/her body to resistance which further aids in improving his athletic capabilities. Strength training also prepares his body in a way that minimizes the probable chances of injury.
Apart from these, there are numerous other benefits that an athlete can avail by including strength training sessions in his regime. Let’s have a detailed overview of them.
Benefits of Strength Training for Athletes
Greater levels of flexibility
Well structured strength training programs focus on full range of motion. This further results in improving the flexibility of athletes along with enhancing their overall mobility. With increased flexibility and mobility the probability of any potential injury, which might include muscle tear and ligament tear, gets minimized. This provides the athlete with longevity of performance in his/her specific sport.
A better overall body composition
Body composition basically refers to the relative amount of lean tissue which includes muscles and connective tissue. Inclusion of strength training supplemented by proper diet and rest, aids in providing the athlete with a well-rounded body composition. This also enhances the efficiency of an athlete which helps in upgrading his performance.
Improved speed, power, and agility
Strength training programs primarily utilize the principles of progressive resistance training. As the athlete progresses with a strength training routine, an athlete’s overall power and speed get enhanced. This happens due to increased muscle strength and muscle mass. With strength training, an athlete can also target reducing his body fat levels to the desired percentage which promotes agility to a great extent.
When an athlete trains the fast-twitch muscle fibers through strength training along with practicing his/her specific skill work, it results in producing a higher rate of overall muscle explosiveness. However, it must be kept in mind that the resistance training should be progressive in nature in order to reap the benefits of greater explosiveness and efficiency.
Better bone mineral density
Strength training aids in heightening the level of calcium and mineral content. Researches have shown considerable improvements in bone density that occurred after just four months of proper strength training. Enhanced bone density makes the bones stronger which further makes them less susceptible to any kind of injury. Therefore well-structured strength training programs not only give you stronger muscles but also provides you with stronger bones.
Enhanced rate of resting metabolism
In order to facilitate tissue maintenance while the body is resting, every pound of new muscle tends to burn around 30-40 calories in a day. When you gain muscle by following a resistance training protocol, your body tends to burn calories that aid in weight control on one hand and keeps a check on your body fat levels on the other hand. This further translates into efficient athletic performance. It fine-tunes your thermoregulatory system which further helps in targeting and maintaining your body weight goals, even when you are not working excessively hard in the weight room.
Injuries are an unavoidable part of sports because of sports’ physically demanding nature. With the inclusion of strength training in an athlete’s regime, the probable chances of injuries can be reduced to a great extent. Strength training helps in training all the major muscle groups in your body which leave no room for a muscle that is undertrained. Due to this, the whole body works as a single unit to enhance the overall workability of the body. Also, the risk of injury to the undertrained muscles gets completely eliminated.
Quicker neuro-muscular activation
Neuro-muscular activation refers to the process by which the brain sends signals to the muscles to recruit specific muscle fibers for performing certain movements. The muscles in turn act by sending feedback to the brain by creating a loop. This mechanism aids in optimizing and improving such movements overtime. Including progressive resistance training in an athlete’s regime improves both the quality and speed of those signals which determine the amount of force that will be required to perform any particular movement in an efficient manner.
What sports benefit from strength training?
There are numerous sports that benefit from strength training. These include baseball, basketball, track and field, hockey, rugby, boxing, wrestling, rowing, soccer, and many more. Now, the field of strength training is not only confined to weightlifters and bodybuilders.
How does strength training improve performance?
Strength training basically aids in laying a firm foundation for athletes which enhances their muscle movements and coordination. Gradually, it leads to improved performance over time.
When it comes to strength training programs that are designed specifically for athletes, they are primarily designed to improve their speed, power, mobility, balance, and endurance. Hence, the inclusion of a well-structured strength training program in an athlete’s regime aids in taking his performance to the next level.
There have been numerous researches that have established a directly proportional relation between strength training and improved athletic performance. However, it must be kept in mind that the “benefits” of strength training are primarily dependent on the specific “methods” of strength training. If out of ignorance, an athlete goes out with a program that is not suitable for him, it may lead to undesirable adaptations which can further hamper his performance in his specific sport.
Therefore, it is recommended to get a well-structured strength training program designed by an expert or coach. This will aid in improving athletic performance on one hand and preventing injuries on the other.