Wednesday, October 12, 2011

8 Types of Strength for Sports Performance

What type of strength do you as an athlete need to perform at a high level? No, you don't need to win a strong man contest, but you do need a certain amount of strength to enhance your power and, here it is......

Here are 8 Types of Strength you may need for performance at a high level of competition:

1. Optimum Strength – The ideal level of strength needed to perform in your sport. Continually getting stronger will not continually increase your power. Every athlete needs this level of strength.

2. Relative Strength – It is the maximum force that you can generate per unit of bodyweight regardless of the rate-of-force production. Wrestlers, football players (especially linemen) and rugby players need high levels of relative strength.

3. Maximal Strength – The maximum force that your muscles can produce in a single voluntary effort regardless of the rate-of-force production. Maximal strength is rarely needed during sports competition.

4. Limit Strength – The maximum force that your muscles can produce in a single contraction. A few elite athletes have this type of strength.

5. Endurance Strength – The ability to produce and maintain force over an extended period of time. This type of strength is critical for athletic success.

6. Stabilization Strength – The ability of your body’s stabilizing muscles to provide dynamic joint stabilization and maintain postural control during athletic movements. Core strength would fall within this category. Many athletic injuries can be traced to inadequate core strength. No athlete will be successful without this type of strength.

7. Speed Strength – The ability of the neuromuscular system to produce the greatest possible force in the shortest period of time (power). Obviously, every athlete wants and needs this type of strength. While it is very important, other types of strength cannot be ignored.

8. Functional Strength – The athlete should train movements during strength training sessions. Producing dynamic, multi-planar eccentric, concentric and isometric contractions quickly and efficiently is the goal of training for functional strength.

Do your strength training in all 3 planes of motion.

Strength train your muscles with all contraction types (eccentric, isometric, concentric). All muscles function eccentrically (reduces force or deceleration), isometrically (stabilizes force) and concentrically (produces force). Eccentric contractions are able to produce the most tension development followed by isometric contractions and lastly, concentric contractions.

If eccentric contractions are able to produce the greatest tension development, then more time should be devoted during training for eccentric contractions to reduce the risk of injuries such as knee ACL tears. Also, strong eccentric contractions are critical for athletes to produce maximal power since all force production (concentric) must be preceded by force reduction (eccentric).

So, where do you stack up when it comes to types of strength? You can't just show up at the gym and do any kind of workout! Train for the types strength you will need to compete and win!

Train hard and smart!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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