In any type of sport, strength training is important, not only for building muscle but to prevent injury. Bones that are consistently stressed with strength training movements become dense and more resistant to breakage. It's an important factor to consider when you are in contact sports. Incorporate strength training with total body conditioning for a well-balanced body.
There are several methods of strength training. You can use dead weights, those standard weight lifting plates and bars. You can use strengthening machines. And you can use your own body weight. Whether you use a combination of these or a specified method depends on the requirements of your particular sport.
Strengthening your heart muscle is also important. You'll need that added endurance for running, more oxygen for longer runs and more ability to concentrate on the run, all reasons for strength training the heart. With 30 minutes of endurance training at least three times a week, in three weeks' time a new fitness student who is consistent with exercise will have a much stronger heart.
Strengthening the total body may take a little longer. But the rewards are every bit as important to body health as strengthening the heart. Three months will give you stronger leg and arm muscles. Weight bearing exercise movements strengthen bone tissue, and that means lifting your own body weight or using the dead weights or machines, pushups, knee squats, lunges, running, any movement that carries weight.
You might feel that strength training will cause a slowing down of your body movement during competition; only if you are building bulk muscle continuously. If your sport is one that requires a lot of flexing of the muscles and joints, you might find a decrease in range of motion. If you have large chest and arm muscles and plan to golf or pitch, your range of motion may be inhibited by that muscle bulk. Consider the sport you are training for and strengthen needed areas without building body bulk.
With strengthening exercises you also need flexibility. It is an important factor in injury prevention. Strengthen the body to hold a position safely and to allow the body to give easily without pulling and tearing muscles or joints. Both factors work together for good total body control during competition of any sport. A gymnast is a typical example. Gymnasts must have tremendous strength to hold positions and yet are able to relax and stretch to extreme lengths.
Don't leave out the strength training part of your fitness.
Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and Healthsmart.