Strength and Conditioning overview
First post, thought this might be useful to those who want to get a bit of background info on S+C.
All my own work except the stolen bits...lol.
1(a).1 What is training?
The term "training" refers to the planned, systematic presentation of gradually more difficult challenges in order to increase an athlete's state of preparedness, all for the purpose of achieving a specific goal or goals. To an athlete, these challenges are known as "workouts," but the important thing to realize is, without the bigger picture in mind, someone is not really training, but rather, simply exercising. This distinction reveals the significant differences between being an athlete and a being a regular gym goer. If you train in a regular gym you will see very few people actually engaged in systematically presenting themselves with ever-greater challenges - most are content to stagnate. This is NOT training. It may be socialising or exercising or something else entirely but it is not training. Training requires that you have a very definite purpose in mind when planning and executing your workouts.
1(a).2 How to train.
A mixture of three things will determine the actual ways in which you train on a day-to-day basis:
a) Your goals.
b) The means available to you to achieve them.
c) The technologies available to you.
Goals and means form the backbone of this publication but I would like to briefly discuss the various strength training technologies before moving on. The four technologies of strength training equipment are as follows:
1(a).3 Constant Resistance Devices.
Constant resistance devices are barbells / dumbbells and cable machines with round pulleys. Disadvantages of these pieces of equipment are that they do not provide increased loading in positions of increased musculoskeletal leverage, so the loading is determined by what can be utilised in the "weakest" part of the lift. This leads to less than maximal stimulation during the parts of the exercise where musculoskeletal leverages are better, although this can be at least partially circumvented by using compensatory acceleration training to increase force output at these points. For example the hardest point of the barbell squat is the low position with the knees fully bent. The load the athlete can full squat with is determined by how much weight he can lift in the low position, which will often be substantially less weight than he could lift from the mid-point upwards. The next class of technologies aims to remedy this potential problem.
1(a).4 Variable resistance devices.
Variable resistance devices utilise an offset cam, sliding fulcrum or some other means in order to provide a varying level of resistance through the rep stroke of an exercise. Examples of variable resistance devices are Nautilus and other similar exercise machines. The idea is to match the resistance to the athlete’s strength curve in order to maximise possible loading throughout the range of motion; in other words the resistance increases as the athletes ability to produce force increases. Unfortunately due to individual differences in leverage and force production, force curves vary from person to person so a machine is unlikely to be "perfect" for any one user. Some people believe that this variance from the natural force curve of a movement slows growth and development by "confusing" the parts of the brain that interpret force. I cannot comment on that assertion but obviously an athlete will not apply force in the competitive environment through an offset cam or sliding fulcrum. The principle of specificity dictates that any attempts to strengthen the athlete should be made under similar physical conditions to those in which the increased strength is to be displayed. Therefore I make limited use of variable resistance devices. This concept of specificity is discussed at length in chapter 2.
1(a).5 Accommodating resistance devices.
Accommodating resistance devices seek to achieve the same results as variable resistance devices but by a different means. They work by limiting the speed at which the rep stroke can be performed, so regardless of how hard they athlete pushes against the resistance, it does not move any faster. This allows the trainee to exert maximal force throughout the rep stroke without producing any ballistic movement. This allows for a greater loading throughout the rep stroke but has an inherent downside in that most athletic movements are relatively fast, and to remove the stress of incurring ballistic forces is to my mind to reduce any possible carryover to explosive athletic movement. Once again, if an athlete is to produce and receive ballistic forces on the field of play then he must train to do so in the weight room.
1(a).6 Static resistance devices.
Static resistance devices are those in which effort is exerted against an unmoving resistance. These movements are often referred to as isometric movements. The great problem with this type of training is that it only causes adaptation in the exact joint angle at which the resistance is applied. To make a muscle stronger throughout a range of motion you must stress the muscle throughout that range. For this reason isometric training has almost disappeared from the strength training programs of serious athletes.