Importance of In-season Strength Training
Proper periodization is important in the training of any sport. Generally, the year is divided into four seasons: Pre-season, Competition, Transition, and Off-season. Many know the importance of training during the off-season and pre-season, but competition strength training is just as important as performing the actual sport. Not only does competition strength training sustain muscular strength and power throughout the competition season, it also prevents injury. I will also outline a couple exercises to try at home.
After the age of 35, sarcopenia begins. Sarcopenia is the natural loss of muscle as we age. Regular strength training helps to combat this muscle loss. For endurance athletes, both muscle mass and bone density can decrease at a faster rate that those involved in power sports. During the competition season for cyclists, runners, and triathletes, strength training will help to lessen the loss of strength and power throughout the season. It should be the goal to maintain gains made in the off-season through to the end of competition.
The repetitive nature of sport often leads to overuse injuries. Maintaining a strength training routine through the competition season will not only prevent injuries but it will also improve body mechanics, coordination, and posture.
It is important to have a good base of strength before embarking further into strength territory. Proper core stability and activation are key to gaining strength safely.
Try this for starters: Sit in a comfortable position and take a deep breath in through your nose, and into your belly. Now, exhale forcefully through your mouth. When you think you have blown out all the air you have, keep going. Your abdominal muscles will shake but the deepest core muscles will be engaged. The superficial muscles, or the ones that give you a six pack, are primarily movement muscles. The diaphragm, intercostals (muscles between the ribs), and transverse abdominis are the primary stability muscles of the core. Deep breathing exercises help the properly engage and strengthen them.
Maybe you have shoulders that roll forward and low back pain. The muscles between your shoulder blades are called the rhomboids. They help with posture and are often stretched out when people sit at desks and type on computers often. In a push-up position, practice squeezing the shoulder blades together, and away from your ears, and spreading them apart, without bending the elbows. Gaining proper movement in the shoulder blades can help improve posture of the upper back and shoulders.
Give these two exercises a shot! If you are new to strength training, come on in to TCR and have a chat with me. I will guide you on the right path to help improve performance through the competition season.
-Brianna Horton BKin, CSEP-CPT, NASM CES