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Strength Training:
The Importance of Building Muscle in Athletes

The weight room in a typical high school can be seen as a place mainly for Football players and bodybuilders. However, all athletes from tennis to swimming in junior high to high school can benefit from a strength training program.

What is strength training?

Strength Training Goals

Reduce risk of injury

Improve performance in sports

Increase bone, ligament, tendon and muscle strength

Strength training is defined as an activity which causes muscles to resist a given force. The goal of strength training is not to see how much an athlete can lift at one time, but instead is designed to improve musculoskeletal strength. Strength training can involve resistance against weight machines or bands as well as against gravity or one’s own body. Athletes wishing to improve sport performance and decrease injury should use a combined strength training program including Olympic lifts and resistance training, focusing on single- and multi-joint exercises.

When should an athlete lift weights?

Athletes should participate in weight lifting all year long. During the offseason, athletes should work on muscle development, strength and overall conditioning. Pre-season weight training needs to involve sport-specific strength training drills. Athletes should also learn which muscles may be weaker and concentrate on strengthening those specific areas. During the season, athletes need to switch to a resistance program emphasizing muscle maintenance.

Sets and reps: What should I do?

  • Sets of 6-12 promote muscle strength/power
  • Sets of 13 and more promote muscle endurance
  • Reps of 3-4 develop muscle mass/strength
  • Each rep should be completed with enough weight so the muscle is fatigued at the end

Concerns with weight lifting:

  • Always warm-up and stretch before lifting weights
  • Proper mechanics are the key to weight training
  • If a specific exercise causes pain, stop the exercise and correct posture
  • If the exercise causes sudden sharp pain, seek medical help
  • Avoid overtraining by not working out the same body part two days in a row

 
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