Different Strengths for Different Seasons

Different seasons during your year call for different goals of training. Resistance training is generally done during the off-season to develop a strong foundation through muscular endurance. Both circuit and strength training are completed in the pre-season to develop muscular strength. Resistance, circuit, and strength training all help you create a strong level of fitness for your pursuit of excellence.

Resistance training is a specific type of strength training performed against resistance. It is typically done during the off-season to develop muscular endurance. You lift against a force by pushing, squeezing, stretching, and bending. Exercises include isotonic and isometric. Isotonic is when your body part is moving against a force (i.e. bench press) with a change in the length of the muscle; concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening). Isometric is when your body part is holding still against a force (i.e. wall push).

The goal of this type of training is to develop the strength and size of your skeletal muscles for functional use and overall fitness. You accomplish this by consistently overloading your muscles. “A muscle will only strengthen when forced to operate beyond its customary intensity (overload)1”. Maintaining a regular resistance training program will strengthen and tone muscles and increase bone mass. This training requires full range of motion to effectively overload the muscle at the specific angle of the joint being worked. Examples of resistance training are rehabilitation exercises for your throwing arm (empty can, wrist curls) and strength building exercises in the weight room (leg press, overhead press). Do not confuse resistance training with weightlifting, powerlifting or bodybuilding, which are competitive sports more than training exercises.

Circuit training is a type of interval training where you combine strength exercises with endurance exercises. Usually you include this type of training during the pre-season to challenge your strength system while maintaining your cardio (typical to athletic competition). The idea of a ‘circuit’ is to work a collection of activities, typically at stations set up in a large gym that you rotate through quickly. Each stop includes either a resistance exercise (i.e. shoulder press, hamstring curl), body weight activity (i.e. triceps dips, tuck jumps), or other exercises that test strength and/or endurance. You can set up each station for a certain number of repetitions or a time limit.

Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. This type of training is also good to do during the pre-season. With this area you use the force of gravity (in the form of weighted bars, dumbbells or weight stacks) to move against the force generated by your muscle shortening or lengthening. There are several types of equipment that can be used for weight training with the focus to target specific muscle groups and types of movement. Weight training differs from bodybuilding, weightlifting, powerlifting and strongman, which are competitive sports not typical training exercises.

Your off-season and pre-season are good times during your training year to develop resistance, circuit, and weight training. Include exercises that challenge your pushing, squeezing, stretching, and bending with and without gravity. Make sure that some aspect of your training challenges strength and endurance while also focusing on certain muscle groups. Some good examples of exercises can be found at the following website (http://www.exrx.net/Lists/PowerExercises.html)2. A strength and conditioning coach is the best resource to help you prepare for your season of competing. Spending strength training time during the off-season and pre-season can give you the right strength for your competitive season.

1. Resistance or Weight Training to develop strength. . http://www.brianmac.co.uk/weight.htm. Accessed 6/26/2008, 2008.
2. ExRx.net Power Training Exercises: Olympic Syle Weightlifts and Plyometrics. . http://www.exrx.net/Lists/PowerExercises.html. Accessed 6/23/2008, 2008.

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