STRENGTH TRAINING AND THE 'SWITCHBOARD EFFECT'
Strength and stability training isn’t just about training for your next event. It’s about developing and strengthening your body for longevity in your sport and life in general. Yes, you have your goals and you want to train as hard as you can to reach them, but not at the cost of your physical well-being. Your body can only go along for a certain period of time being ‘flogged’ before it begins to break down.
By strength training, we are applying controlled loads during functional movements that will reinforce the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments) creating stable, strong and durable bodies. We need to consider this work as ‘pre-habilitation’, which basically means that we are preventing injuries before they happen. A basic strength program performed on a regular basis will go a long way to support the extreme demands that you put your bodies through on a daily basis.
By following a simple and effective program you will experience significant results. For most athletes starting such a program, the first 3-4 week window is where you are likely to see the largest strength gains. These initial strength gains come from various ‘neuromuscular adaptations’, and can be very exciting as you watch your body quickly adapt, learning new exercises and techniques.
"Your body can only go along for a certain period of time being ‘flogged’ before it begins to break down."
Simply put, as an athlete trains they are increasing the number of motor units firing within the muscle fiber. Imagine the muscle group you are training as a ‘light switchboard’, at present you are lighting up 50% of the lights, as a trainer our job is to help you light up or ‘activate’ the rest of the board.
Activation is a key component within any training program. One of the most common occurrences found within endurance athletes is the lack of activation in the rear posterior chain, such as hamstrings, glutes and back muscles. As a result we are finding that there are imbalances which have or will ultimately lead to restricted performance or injury.
What you have to remember is that your body is very efficient; it will always look to conduct given ‘work’ in the easiest way possible and using the least amount of energy. Activation of specific ‘dormant’ muscle groups is a learned skill and can take time. Athletes that have predominantly relied on certain muscle to do the majority of the work will find it difficult at the start to even feel these dormant muscle groups working. However, once they realise what they have been missing they will never look back.
The realisation of an athletes glutes firing on the bike and run, the day after a strength session, leads to feeling stronger and more stable on the bike, this literally all from 2-3 sessions of glute/hamstring activation work. So don’t be quick to ignore or dismiss the small band work that you have been prescribed by your trainer or physiotherapist, as these activation exercises can be some of the most effective at improving your strength and stability.
Our 'StrengthforEnduranceKIT' comes will a thorough and structured program designed to activate the essential muscles for you endurance performance. Check out more of the features here