5 Reasons Athletes Need Strength Training

By DuBose Fitness

As an athlete, you’re at the top of your game, right? You train, you practice, and you work out. There’s no need for you to strength train – you’re essentially training the muscles you need to perform your best as you play.

Think again! Whatever your sport, there are actually quite a few very good reasons for athletes to participate in a strength training program. Sure, you’re active and maybe you’re in better physical shape than your officemates. But consider these 5 reasons strength training is essential to you, as an athlete, then hit the gym!


1. Strength Training Reduces Risk of Injury

What’s your sport? Do you play tennis? Football? Are you a “jack of all sports?” Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, there’s a good chance you’ve suffered a sports-related injury.

Injuries, of course, can range from broken bones to pulled muscles, and it’s fair to say that sports injuries are virtually inevitable. However, research has shown that, by participating in a strength training program, you can significantly reduce the risk and the severity of the injuries you suffer during sports.

How does it work? Well, resistance training puts a load on your joints. As a result, your bones are reformed, increasing your bone density and decreasing risk of bone injury. Additionally, your tendons and ligaments are strengthened, become more flexible and less prone to strains and tears.

There’s more! As you know, your muscles work together. For instance, as you run you’re working your hamstrings, your quadriceps, your calf muscles and even your abdominal muscles. If any one of your muscle groups is undertrained, that could mean a increased risk of injury as you play your sport.

To put it simply, a comprehensive strength training program is essential to safe workouts. It’s all about balance!

If you have any doubt about the best way to begin strength training, or the correct form to use when you’re doing so, hire a personal trainer to show you the ropes. After all, safe strength training is just as important as safe sports play.


2. Strength Training Gives You Power!

Okay, that might sound a little obvious but hear us out. Humans, generally speaking, have two types of muscles: fast-twitch and slow-twitch. What’s the difference? Well, let’s take a look.

Slow-twitch muscles are built for endurance. These muscles are the first to contract as you participate in your sport, and it takes quite a bit of effort for an athlete to feel fatigue in slow-twitch muscles. Slow-twitch muscles are frequently used by, for instance, cyclists and distance runners.

Fast-twitch muscles are used differently than slow-twitch muscles. These muscle fibers are used to produce short bursts of energy, and while they’ve got some endurance capability they’ll fatigue much more quickly than slow-twitch muscles.

You can change the composition of your muscle fibers to a certain extent. By developing your fast-twitch muscles, you’re ensuring yourself that extra bit of power you need to, say, push to the finish line.

If you have doubts about how to strengthen your fast-twitch muscles, enlist the help of a personal trainer. He or she can tailor a strength training program to suit your sport, giving you the boost you need to improve your sports performance.


3. Strength Training Teaches You Muscle Mechanics

You know that when you’re on the field, you’re pushing your muscles to the max. But do you know if you’re doing it the right way? As mentioned earlier, using your muscles incorrectly can cause injury. At the very least, the improper use of your body can cause strain and fatigue.

Strength training is a great way to learn the ins and outs of muscle mechanics. For example, you may know that muscles work in pairs. For each contraction of a muscle, there is an opposing muscle that’s relaxing. Learning about how your muscles work together can help your performance while you play.

Furthermore, strength training doesn’t just teach you muscle mechanics, it teaches your brain muscle mechanics. When you work out or play a sport, your brain is naturally wired to send signals to activate the strongest of your muscles. However, the strongest muscles aren’t always the right muscles for the job.

Strength training improves the coordination and communication between your brain and all your muscle groups. That means a more efficient, smoother performance while you play your sport.


4. Strength Training Improves Long Term Health

Strength training is great for athletes; it improves endurance, boosts power and trains your brain. It should come as no surprise, however, that strength training is beneficial to your overall, long term health. Incorporating a strength training routine into your weekly schedule can mean huge long-term results.

First, strength training increases your bone density. Of course, that’s essential now, as an increase in bone density means a reduction in the risk of serious injury. However, as time goes on you’ll find that this increase in bone density means more resilient bones in the future. Strength training can make you less prone to disease like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis as you age.

Secondly, strength training increases your resting metabolic rate. As a matter of fact, three pounds of new muscle can increase your metabolism by as much as 7 percent. Today, that metabolic bump means a fitter, leaner, more athletic you. In the future? It translates to a lowered risk for Type II diabetes, heart disease and other serious ailments.

Finally, strength training improves heart health. When implemented just a few times a week, studies show that a resistance training program can lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL), raise your “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and lead to overall marked improvements to your heart health.


5. Strength Training Makes You a Well-Rounded Athlete

There’s a certain stigma that’s come to be associated with strength training. People have been led to believe that resistance training leads to a lack of flexibility, to unwanted “bulk” and even to a compromised immune system. Of course, there is also the association of strength training with steroid use and other no-nos.

If you’re an athlete, don’t be fooled: strength training is useful. To every athlete, regardless of ability. Strength training should be incremental and is safest when overseen by a certified personal trainer. But when done right, strength training can absolutely make you a better, more well rounded athlete.

Strength training helps add power to your punch (or your kick, or your swing). Working with a personal trainer, you can also improve your flexibility through strength training. You’ll learn how to better and more efficiently use your muscles while you play, and you’ll improve your ability to call on your muscles for that final stretch push to the finish line.

Think strength training is just for bodybuilders and gym junkies? Think again! Incorporating strength training into your weekly routine can, in fact, make you a better athlete.

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