Strength and conditioning is the practical application of evidence-based sports science to improve movement quality and therefore improving performance. But it’s much more than just lifting weights; a strength and conditioning programme focuses on tools to improve movement, balance and overall heath such as bone density, improved muscle mass and tone, and better posture.
So if you want to experience mega strength gains and become a real life Lara Croft or Thor: God of Thunder, develop power in your jump to rival NBA record holder, Michael Jordan, improve your balance to help you rock your yoga class and ramp up your bone density tenfold – in other words, be in the best shape of your life – you’ll need to follow a structured strength and conditioning programme. Be warned – it’s addictive!
If you are new to strength training a solid movement platform is essential to develop because it will provide you with a solid foundation for strength. Movements seen in a strength and conditioning programme are typically:
SQUATS AND VARIATIONS:
One of the richest tests of strength, the squat incorporates almost all of the muscles from your core downwards. Starting with bodyweight to perfect your form, squatting is a versatile movement that can be adapted to include holding dumbbells or a kettlebell, a barbell for a back squat or front squat, and you can also test your balance and proprioception with a weighted split squat.
DEADLIFT AND VARIATIONS:
Deadlifts are one of the best exercises to develop your posterior chain. Like the squat, there are so many variations including traditional and sumo stance deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, deficit deadlifts from a small platform, and snatch grip deadlifts for an accessory exercise to improve your Olympic weightlifting skill.
BENCH PRESS AND PRESSING MOVEMENTS:
The bench press is most likely the best-known exercises for developing a killer chest, which can be adapted to suit any lifter. You can use a barbell or dumbbells, complete an incline bench press or floor bench press to give you a developed shoulder, pec and tricep area. Alongside the bench press is the push press and strict press, both of which increase power and drive maximal strength to enhance muscle development and physical performance.
ROWS AND PULLING MOVEMENTS:
Rows, and other ‘pulling’ movements, contribute to great posture and help you complete your first pull-up! Rows are particularly effective because they counteract hunched shoulders due to office work, driving and texting which set shoulders forward. Variations include the bent over row, dumbbell row, reverse grip row and T-bar row, in addition to other pulling exercises such as the lat pull-down, all of which which work on your back strength and contribute to great posture and help you complete your first pull-up!
Plyometric movements such as vertical and lateral jumps from the ground and off boxes have been scientifically proven that the more explosive power you can generate, the more successful your overall athletic performance will be, whether that is strength and conditioning for day-to-day or sports specific, or Olympic weightlifting. A jumping programme is really, really good for you because it engages your largest muscles to lift you off the ground, and then demands that you absorb two-to-three times your own body weight in force when you land. All of this means that you build muscle power much quicker than focusing on stationary exercises alone.
There are essentially two baseline ‘types’ of jump that you can do when training: vertical and lateral. The vertical jump is one of the most effective tests of full body strength and is to athletic power what accelerating from 0-60 is to car racing. Ultimately, horsepower in a car dictates acceleration, much the same as the vertical jump relies on how well you use the horsepower in your own body. Lateral jumps also strengthen your lower body but really come into their own when considering balance and coordination benefits. Lateral jumping requires lateral stabilisation from your core in order to properly execute the movement with good form. Because of this, lateral jumps are also excellent in stabilising and strengthening your hips, knees, ankles and feet.
There are numerous programmes out there that you can follow and, as a beginner, you’ll improve your strength working out for times per week gradually increasing the weight and number of reps/set you complete. If you’ve already got a few moths of strength training under your belt you’ll want to follow something more structured such as tempo training, triphasic training, contract training or even German Volume Training (GVT). Following a programme like this allows you to work on your specific weaknesses and get through any plateaus in your training.
Short answer: Yes! I can improve your performance no matter your age, gender or experience level. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from strength and conditioning training with me, so if your goal is to run up a few flights of stairs with ease, strength and conditioning training is just as appliable to you as it is a professional rugby player. Drop me a message to discuss your goals and how you’d like me to support you in achieveing them.