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                                         STRENGTH TRAINING / 力量訓練

There are basically three ways to improve strength:

1. Muscle Enlargement - growth of the cross section of the muscle (proliferation of contractile material-myofibril)

2. Improvement of Nervous-Muscle Connection - through shortening time of recruitment of motor units, increasing firing rate (from 6-8 up to 50) and more synchronized discharge time allowing a greater number of muscle fibers in a shorter period of time.

3. Improvement of Intra-muscular Coordination - between agonists, antagonists and synergists muscles during movement.

A sedentary person forced to intense physical effort is able to recruit, through one synchronized discharge, only about 20% of muscle fibers in the working muscle. Training to improve recruitment of more fibers on shortening time of discharge does not lead to enlargement in muscle mass. The growth of the muscle is a result of intensification of anaerobic metabolism. The result of prolonged anaerobic work is domination of breakdown of proteins process over re-synthesis. As a result of this deficit during rest period body overbuilds protein (supercompensation) creating growth of muscle mass. The effectiveness of this process decreases when intensity is close to maximum or during aerobic efforts.

The entire process of strength preparation consists of three phases:

A) General- strength development of all muscle groups as a foundation for all sports.

B) Directed- strength development with characteristics of the work close to the demands of the sport functional foundation

C) Specific- strength development in the muscle directly involved in the sport with structure of the movement as close as possible to dynamics of the sport

The major methods of strength development training are:

1. Maximal Loads Method-maximum strength development with minimal muscle enlargement and great improvement in the tonus of the muscle. Load of 90-100% using short maximum efforts with slow execution of motion. An example of some variations of this method used by power-lifters:

slow motion - 3x(3x60%), 1x(3x80%), 1x(2x90%), 1x(2x95%), 2x(1x100%), 2x(2x90%)

medium motion - 3x(3x60%), 1x(3x70%), 1x(3x80%), 2x(2x85%), 2x(2x90%), 1x(3x70%)

fast motion - 3x(3x60%), 1x(3x70%), 1x(3x75%), 2x(2x80%), 2x(3x75%), 1x(3x70%)

An interesting variation developed by my Rowing Coach Team, successfully used by several rowing teams for strength development:

special: fast/medium motion, enough rest  between each attempt!

1 x(6 x75%), 2 x(6 x95%), 2 x(6 x90%); (for  lightweight rowers)

               if hypertrophy is desired too

1x(10 -12 x75%), 2 x(10 -12 x95), 2 x(10 -12 x90%)

2. Body Building or Muscle Enlargement Method-characterized by a large number of sets of repetitions with sub maximal loads of 60-80%. The execution of the movement is rapid to slow and ends with complete muscular failure. There are several variations of this method:

low number of sets leading to complete failure at the end of every set

higher number of sets leading to complete failure only in the last sets

every set and number of sets done to complete failure

Initially, the athlete starts with a load allowing for execution of 8-10 repetitions. After approximately four weeks he/she must increase the load and/or shorten the rest between sets and/or increase the number of sets to maintain progress.

3. Circuit Training Method-combines improvement of strength, speed and endurance. Used for general development and by all sports in which resistance to muscle fatigue is an integral part of successful performance. It is also used as a warm up before main strength training and in the preparatory cycle. The circuit should consist of a minimum of 8 - 12 exercises. The choice of exercises depends on the goal and the sport. Load varies from 30 - 60% or can be simply body weight. Exercise should be done fast.

4. Muscular Endurance Training Method-similar to circuit training with resistance varying from 40 - 60% . The number of repetition is 30 or more per set. The speed of the work is slow to medium. It is the basic method of maintaining strength for athletes in endurance sports.

There is another method, which will not be discussed here called the Isometric Method.

Within the annual cycle, goals for strength training vary depending on the time of the year. In the first part of the preparatory period you should reach the level of strength from the previous year. During the second part of the preparatory period you should strive to improve chosen parameters of strength. During the competition season you should maintain the level of strength from the preparatory period. And finally, during the transition you sure are sure to prevent major losses of strength. The method of specific strength development depends on dynamic characteristics of the chosen sport. Taking under consideration motor requirements and the form of movements, we can generally divide sports into four groups:

1. Strength-Speed Sports-characterized by maximum intensity of work-jumps, throws, sprints, etc.

2. Endurance Sports-running, cycling, cross-country skiing, rowing etc.

3. High Coordination-Precision Demanding Sports-gymnastics, figure skating, diving, etc.

4. Complex Sports-characterized by regimented mixture of highly developed motor skills-judo, boxing, wrestling, soccer, basketball, etc.

In the case of strength-speed sports, specific strength development will focus on explosive strength. Endurance sports specific strength should be developed simultaneously with muscular endurance. In high coordination-precision demanding sports specific strength development should be combined with development of high coordination skills. Activities here include all types of static and dynamic strength. It is important to note that strength workouts are most effective when the athlete is relatively rested. Plan a day off or low intensity, different characteristic workout using different groups of muscles between strength sessions. In the competition period, even in sports requiring maintenance of a high level of strength, the specific strength workouts are limited to one, maximum two sessions per week with simultaneous decrease in volume and increase in intensity.

                                                                                                                 Copyright 1999 Sport is Life / January, 2000