Fitness and Health Fitness Exercises

"Strength" in Your Training


Last week I wrote a blog on “good” weight gain and listed 6 reasons why gaining weight through strength training would help improve your quality of life and your appearance, http://valeriegoldstein.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gain-good-weight-4-reasons-to-build-muscle/. What I failed to mention from last week’s blog is the specific involvement of weight lifting in the quality of sports performance or any activity that may seem unrelated to strength training. There is much more to muscle training than meets the eye.
Weight training is not just about , good looks, “weight gain” and optimizing health.  Athletes, sports participants or anyone involved in work or any extracurricular activities involving movement will benefit from the specific association between peak performance and lifting.
Do you want to be more agile, boost your speed, obtain better total muscle coordination, improve precision and increase the force of movement? Do you want to minimize risk of injury or recovery time from an injury? Building muscle through strength training is the answer.
 Lift weights to max out peak sports performance. Here’s how it works:
1. Muscle memory: Muscle memory (memorization of movement by the brain so an activity is completed without conscious effort) involves the brain and nervous system: (http://valeriegoldstein.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/muscle-memory-do-it-do-it-and-do-it-again/, http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/fit-for-life?page=1).
2. Muscle coordination and speed: Nerves communicate or fire signals to muscles to move. Muscle training will help increase the speed of the signals between the muscle and the central nervous system to improve speed and coordination.
3. Muscle Synchronization or ” cross-transfer or cross-education”: “One-sided  resistive exercise, for example the right arm, will also result in training effects in the unexercised left arm.” Training effects is underlined so you do not mistake this for saying, you can train one arm and not the other and see the same improvements in both arms. This is not what it says, read again. If you are interested, you can also read a paper by Song et al., “Effects on contralateral muscles after unilateral electrical muscle stimulation and exercise”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23284946.
4. Motor Unit Plasticity, MUP (MUP is the ability of a nerve cell to  transmit impulses to make muscles contract): Training muscles have been shown to improve sports performance in athletes by enhancing the actions of motor units.  MUP changes with age, activity level etc…so it is imperative for those participating in high impact sports consistently like (martial arts) or fast paced sports (track) to be concerned with MUP. Frequency of impulses from the motor unit, or firing frequency, can range from 100–200 Hz. In one study published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews in 2003 entitled, “Training-induced changes in neuronal function”, strength training increased firing frequency by 40% in professional athletes. This translates into improved outcomes by lessening the time to for maximum muscle contraction.
5. Injury Prevention: Weight bearing exercise is well-known for strengthening bone and building bone density and its role in injury prevention from falling. Strength training also has a significant role in strengthening ligaments and tendons and supporting joint function and stabilizer muscles that help prevent the wear and tear associated with various types of injuries.
All five of these points are ingredients to help athletes improve performance, prevent or quickly rebound from an injury. So put a little, “strength” in your training.
Joe Defranco puts it nicely, “The stronger the muscles and the more forceful the contractions, the faster the athlete will run, higher he will jump, further he will throw/kick, and harder he will hit. It’s that simple!”, http://www.defrancostraining.com/articles/38-articles/55-why-is-strength-training-important-for-athletes.html.
Peak sports performance includes all aspects of preparation: practice, tight nutrition control and mental focus. Strength training is just as important, if not more important, as these other factors for the reasons I have mentioned and maybe even more. If anyone can add to this list, feel free. I’d like to learn more.
Here are a few of sites, I used for this article:
http://weighttraining.about.com/od/weighttrainingforsport/a/sports_specific.htm
 http://hprc-online.org/physical-fitness/files/HITTMETHODOLOGY.pdf
http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/10-essential-strength-exercises-for-runners?page=single
If you think strength training with kids is dangerous or you have to wait until the late teens to start your little ones with an exercise routine, you will be impressed with next week’s blog.

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.

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