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strength training

The Importance of Strength Training for Athletes

Strength training, also known by many as resistance or weight training, is an essential part of every athlete’s workout program. It’s embedded in every type of training which aims to empower and strengthen. But why is it important and what is its difference from other types of training?

Sports Events Egypt will introduce you to strength training and its benefits and importance for athletes, fitness professionals, and even regular individuals with fitness goals.

What Is Strength Training?

Strength training is any type of workout or a combination of exercises that requires body weight or equipment—the use of resistance—to improve muscle mass, endurance, and strength. It’s also called weight training resistance and plays an important role in many fitness routines, especially athletic training.

Types of Resistance For Strength Training

The existence of resistance in strength training is what makes it work. You need to move your body against some or any type of resistance every strength training program, such as the following:

  • Own body weight
  • Other person’s body weight
  • Free weights (e.g., dumbbells or barbells)
  • Resistance or workout bands
  • Parallettes
  • Gliding Discs
  • Resistance machines (e.g., cable machines, single-exercise machines)
  • Sandbags

Strength training is a versatile and flexible activity that you can do with almost anything and almost anywhere. Strength training is an essential exercise option at gyms, but you can also easily build a robust strength training program in the privacy of your home if you’re also considering factors such as budget, comfort, and location.

What are the Types of Strength Training?

There are many types of strength training that can specifically target your fitness goals. They differ in terms of intensity, type of resistance being featured, and parts of the body being targeted. Determine your fitness goals as an athlete and know the following types of strength training:

Circuit Training

Circuit training targets the full body, like a boot-camp style workout. The goal is to burn calories, improve strength, and hone your entire body. Despite its full-body benefits, circuit training only requires lighter weights and offers a variety of movements. Moreover, it only uses little to no equipment. As such, it is perfect for athletes who have just started strength training and aims to balance the overall strength and shape of their bodies.

Circuit strength training exercises:

  • Squats (squat curl and press, sumo squat)
  • 360 plunk
  • Deadlift
  • Push-ups
  • Lunges
  • Biceps Curl

Explosive Strength Training

Explosive strength training is one of the most demanding resistance exercises. That’s why it’s mostly used by athletes in training. Explosive strength training exercises simultaneously require speed, strength, and power training and turn them all into functional movements, so the individual can generate force quickly without losing much physical effort. Explosive strength training exercises will always keep your heart pumping, so it’s good for maintaining and improving your cardiovascular health. Moreover, it also aims to improve muscular endurance and strength training.

Explosive strength training exercises:

  • Box jumps
  • Power cleans
  • Snatches
  • Squats
  • Ball throws

Bodybuilding Strength Training

Bodybuilding strength training is for bodybuilders and other athletes who need a bigger and more refined body. It’s training that only aims to achieve a specific goal: to make muscles bigger, defined, and proportionate. As such, it may involve heavy equipment and stronger resistance. Bodybuilding training, however, only offers functional strength. Its main focus is to make the muscles bigger and focus less on building power and strength.

Bodybuilding Strength Training:

  • Military Press
  • Burpees
  • Barbell Squats
  • Leg Curls
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press

Powerlifting Strength Training

Powerlifting is a type of strength and conditioning training. It’s a combination of methodical workouts that focuses on moving weights and improving your core. It only requires low reps but needs heavy loads, so heavy equipment and stronger resistance are necessary. If bodybuilding is for muscle growth, powerlifting is for muscular strength.

  • Skull Crushers
  • Bench Press
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Leg Press
  • Leg Extensions

Powerbuilding Strength Training

If you both need muscle growth and muscle strength, then powerbuilding strength training is the right method for you. Powerbuilding combines the requirements and principles of bodybuilding and powerlifting. You can get major strength gains from powerbuilding because of its diverse body movements.

  • Overhead Press
  • Deadlift
  • Split Squats
  • Military Press
  • Dumbbell Chest Press

High-Frequency VS. Low-Frequency Strength Training

Strength training, in general, the effectiveness and efficacy of the training depend on the right frequency. You can either do high-frequency or low-frequency strength training based on your fitness level, needs, and goals.

High-frequency strength training focuses on a specific movement or workout three or more times per week. Low-frequency strength training, meanwhile, also focuses on a specific movement or workout once a week or less. The two frequencies, of course, offer varying benefits. However, both are proven to be equally effective.

According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, “both frequencies demonstrate that strength and lean mass improvements are similar in prior strength trained participants when comparing a training frequency of once vs. three times per week completing nine sets per muscle group. Perhaps coaches, therapists, and exercise professionals could use both training frequencies within a periodized training program.”

How Often Should You Do Strength Training?

For strength training to be effective, you must know the required amount and frequency of strength training based on your fitness goals. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the recommended guideline for adults is twice a week.

“U.S. exercise guidelines recommend that adults do strength training for all major muscle groups twice a week. This can be accomplished through a variety of workouts, including weightlifting, exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, and some types of yoga,” said the study.

If you aim for consistency, you can follow the guidelines wherever you are—you can do strength training at home, at the gym, and outdoors, among other locations. The venue should never be a problem, but you should always keep in mind the frequency of your strength training.

Why Is Strength Training Important?

Strength training, as a form of workout, offers numerous benefits to one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Its benefits are given, but its importance should be tackled a lot more. Strength training is an important activity for athletes and fitness professionals to improve their capabilities and eliminate weaknesses—both in the body and mind. Here are the reasons why strength training is important:

Physical Health

Resistance training or strength training is considered to be ‘medicine’ by many scholarly studies because of its benefits on physical health. Aside from its proven effects on muscle growth and other body-building factors, studies also stated that it can enhance cardiovascular health and bone growth. Athletes need a good heart and strong bones.

Resistance training may enhance cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Resistance training may promote bone development, with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density. Resistance training may be effective for reducing low back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia and has been shown to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscle,” said a study published in the National Library of Medicine. 

Additionally, the study also shared that short strength training sessions a week can already offer benefits: “the study found that just 30 to 60 minutes a week of strength training may be enough. Those who worked out for this duration had a 10% to 20% lower risk of dying during the study period from all causes, and from cancer and heart disease specifically, compared to those who did no strength training. The benefits plateaued after one hour, and decreased after two hours.”

Aid in Weight Loss

Strength training, among other types of workout and exercise, is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Lifting heavy weights and going against resistance can eliminate fats and help athletes reach their goal weight for training, competition, and maintenance. With a proper diet and the right amount of strength training exercises, you can achieve your goal weight.

“The selected studies show that strength training (ST) can effectively collaborate with the weight loss process as a complement to aerobic exercise training and diet. Mentioned cooperation occurs mainly through the increase or maintenance in the resting metabolic rate, the energy expenditure of the activity itself, and also under the effect related to excessive oxygen consumption after exercise. Moreover, in general, ST periodization is ideal for long-term success because it enables combinations of the beneficial effects of ST-related weight loss,” shared a study published in the Journal of the Health Sciences Institute (JHSI).

Preservation of Lean Body Mass

Strength training can help athletes and other fitness professionals preserve or improve their body mass, depending on the requirements of their physical activities. It’s essential for athletes who need the strength and endurance to train and compete while maintaining the type of body the sports require.

“Strength training is essential for athletes in sports that require speed, power, and strength. Additionally, strength training may benefit athletes involved in distance running, cycling, or weight class events such as wrestling and boxing for the preservation of lean body mass,” confirmed a study published in the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Lessen Injuries

Strength training is a proven way to lessen the risk of injuries among athletes and fitness professionals. Since the training improves one’s strength, range of motion, muscle growth, and mobility, it offers additional protection against injuries brought about by muscular imbalances and other factors.

“Investigations to date suggest resistance training can aid in injury prevention. The incidence of various types of overuse injuries, such as swimmers shoulder and tennis elbow, may be reduced by the performance of sport and/or motion specific resistance training activities,” confirmed a study published in the National Library of Medicine. 

Boost Self-Esteem

Strength training is an essential workout for those who want full-body transformation to boost their self-esteem. Studies have shown that strength training and its positive results offer satisfaction and comfort, especially to female athletes and fitness professionals.

“Strength training was associated with significant improvements in several dimensions of body image, health-related quality of life, and physical activity behaviors, satisfaction, and comfort among rural aging women—an often underserved population that stands to benefit considerably from similar programs,” concluded a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Improve Brain Functions

Strength training is also essential in improving brain health, offering protection against cognitive decline and boosting cognitive function. It’s a good workout for people vulnerable to cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s as it’s a proven way to improve cognitive performance.

“Researchers have found that six months of strength training (lifting weights) can help protect brain areas especially vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease up to one year later. The long-term study found that strength training led to overall benefits to cognitive performance, benefits linked to protection from degeneration in specific subregions of the hippocampus.” noted a study featured by the University of Sydney in Australia.

Strength Training As Part of An Athlete’s Success

Athletes should remember that strength and athleticism go hand in hand—one cannot exist without the other. Regardless of the type of sport you are in, strength remains a crucial factor since your body needs to function at its peak capacity every competition. That’s why strength training lays the foundation of your capabilities as an athlete, and in the long-term, your overall success. This is how important strength training is.

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