There are many types of measurable strength
– maximal strength, speed-strength, strength endurance, relative
strength, starting strength, etc, etc. – that can factor into
your sport performance abilities. Training with weights or heavy
objects is not the end-goal of too many sports; Power lifting, Olympic
lifting, and Strongman being the main exceptions. Training with
weights CAN, however, provide protection from injury, allow a greater
display of force and/or speed in your sport performance, and improve
your general conditioning (GPP) and work capacity. All of these
factors lead to improved sport results, and can be improved upon
through weight training.
So how do you best fit this into your sport training? Well, we’ve
book on this and it’s included
in the Faster
Swimming Manual, so the following description
is basic…Our Training recommendations involve lifting heavy
weights, lifting moderate weights explosively, and lifting moderate
weights for higher repetitions. Heavy lifting increases maximal
and starting strength; explosive lifting increases speed-strength
and force production; repletion lifting increases strength endurance
and work capacity. Relative strength is your strength level in relation
to your own body and is addressed in our program in the weight room
(pull-ups, dips, hanging leg raise, etc) and in the dryland program
– which also focuses on strength endurance, core strength,
and to an even greater degree on work capacity and active range
of movement. All of these methods will lead to some degree of muscle
gain (hypertrophy) which further increases your capacity to produce
useable force in your sport. One of the basic principles at work
within all of this is that of progressive overload; you must continually
and progressively increase loads (poundage and/or speed) to adapt
to a higher level.
Injury prevention can also be addressed with weight
training. Training with weights in a balanced program will lead
to greater overall body-strength and control, which leads to more
efficient and coordinated movement which leads to fewer injuries.
Specific injury-prone areas for a given sport can also be addressed
and strengthened as needed. Using swimming as an example, the shoulders
are a frequent site of injury. Injury prevention can be addressed
through specific exercises (Cuban press, faces pull, pull-ups, rack
pull-ups, pullovers, etc) and through repetition and movement work
with bands (internal/external rotation, distraction, etc.).
All of this can be fit into brief (around 1 hour)
workouts, done 2-4x per week, to increase your durability and sport
performance – which you can learn more about here (link).
So, back to the original question – How
strong is “strong enough”? As long as weight training
is not interfering with sport practice and/or competition, it is
our view that you can always improve performance by getting stronger.
Again – the end-goal is increased performance in your sport,
and being able to display more force and speed while lessening your
chance of injury will lead to this. Combine this type of weight
training with appropriate and balanced sport training and you are
on your way to improved performance!!