Why you need Strength & Conditioning for Sport

Updated: Apr 23


I love the quote pictured! The human body is very clever and so if we train it with a specific stimulus in mind, we can work to create desired outcomes in fitness and performance. It’s more than just training. We should see training as the method to develop certain attributes of our fitness in order that we become better in performance across each training year.






DEVELOPING FITNESS FOR SPORT


As we come out of lockdown and back into some semblance of ‘normal’ life, sports training, events and competitions will resume.


We want to make sure that your body is fully prepared for it… but was your body fully prepared pre-lockdown?


Research tells us that Strength and Conditioning for Sports is important if we want to develop the wider attributes of fitness necessary to perform well within our sport.


At the recreational level, all too often I hear sports enthusiasts talk passionately about their sport and how they love playing/training/competing/completing events. Yet few realise that sport specific training is only one element of the process available to us.


Everyone wants to do well in their sport, otherwise they probably wouldn’t do it in the first place. But seldom do people look outside of their sport specific training in order to develop wider aspects of fitness to help.


For example, runners often feel that strength training would make them too ‘bulky’ and hence don’t see the need for it and so just run.


Or team sports players like the camaraderie of the team environment and hence don’t think about doing other things away from the team training sessions to help improve their sport and team performance.

What we know about Strength and Conditioning for Sport


Developing strength will help

✅If we develop strength in the required muscle groups for our sport we will be stronger and faster in the movements of our sport.


Unless you begin training like a bodybuilder, which is a very specific way of weight training, you will not get bulky!


✅If we are stronger we can exert more force in a shorter time-frame and hence become quicker.


Even in running! Contrary to popular belief, running faster isn’t about having a longer stride length or moving the legs quicker per se, but rather it is about applying as much force to the ground as quickly as possible with every foot contact. Therefore, strength training is important in order to help increase our overall force production and rate of force production in order to become faster.

"To be successful, not only does a runner need to impart a large amount of force into the ground for propulsion, but they need to do so in a short period of time. Thus, [speed] is not only about force production, but also about rate of force production."

Steve Magness in the Science of Running

Developing structural strength and balance will help

If we only ever train sport specifically we may not be developing strength in the balance and stabilisation muscles required to help support us in our sporting movements.


💡I have trained many seasoned recreational runners who struggle with balance and co-ordination exercises. When I point out to them that running is essentially a single leg balance activity, they begin to have light bulb moments about the importance of developing strength in the muscles that help stabilise and balance us.


😀When I was a snowboarder participating in freestyle snowboarding, I never thought about developing my core strength and balance. I never saw it as important, I just loved to snowboard! However, after 8-months away from snowboarding and training in the gym, when I returned to snowboarding I was stronger and more confident performing jumps and tricks because my core strength and balance were significantly improved. I loved having a new inner strength that meant my snowboarding was more playful with ease than it had been previously.


👩‍🎓This was one of the experiences that made me pursue study in Strength & Conditioning as I realised the benefits of it for sports performance and enjoyment.


Developing correct movement patterns will help

Movement is an odd beast as we just assume we know how to move. However, with the advent of technology and a culture of inactivity, we have unlearned movement patterns from our early childhood and begun using poor movement patters and/or compensatory movement patterns if we have experienced pain or injury.


🧩Every adult has a movement puzzle that needs to be solved. What I mean by that is that we all have sub-optimal movement patterns in some of our movements. As we repeat movement, the patterns become encoded in the brain like a computer programme. Each time we move the brain calls on these programmes we have written for ourselves, whether they are good for us or not. The brain doesn't have an internal feedback loop as such to let us know we are not moving well, that is until the sub-optimal movement begins to cause us stiffness, pain or injury. In order to fix our movement problems we need a coach to spot the issue and then help us to work to improve it.


I believe, we all need to be coached movement. The main movements I advocate that we are taught and coached in are:

  • Walking

  • Running

  • Squats

  • Deadlifts/Hip Hinge


❌In the time I have been training clients I have seen the need to teach these movements since there is not one person I have worked with yet that has all four nailed.


I caveat this with the thought that movement is also unique to each person since we all have different anthropometrical measurements. For example, we have different length torsos and limbs and different ratios of limb length to torso length. For this reason it is even more important to be coached by someone rather than just follow general prescriptions online or from literature.


Most of us move without any external feedback but this does not mean we move well. We all need coaching and feedback to see where we could improve.


✅If we learn optimal movement patterns for our body, we begin to reduce our risk of injury and increase our enjoyment of movement.


Learning how to mobilise will help

We are innately lazy as humans and hence in sports we do the sport we like and don’t worry about much else, especially mobility. Mobility means more than stretching. It means ensuring we have full range of motion about each joint. Without a full range of motion about our joints, pain and discomfort can occur during certain movements and we may increase our risk of injury.


I don’t mean to insult anyone by calling humans lazy, I too fall into this category and as such I have to be disciplined to work on my mobility because it is not the fun bit of training for me. Some may enjoy stretching and mobility yet then neglect other aspects of health or fitness.


I have yet to meet the perfect human with everything all in keeping.


Mobility is an important part of the process because without it I would not be able to train how I train and continue to enjoy it and improve as I move forward.


😀Learning how to mobilise joints and learning the discipline to engage in mobilisation activities is key to help keep the body moving freely and allowing us to enjoy our sport without pain or discomfort.

These are just a few of the benefits of being coached outside of our sport in the world of Strength and Conditioning.


If you would like to find out more, get in touch to find out how Strength and Conditioning for Sport can help you.


"Training is not the work that you do but the effect it has on your body"

Renato Canova


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