Strength and conditioning is about using what we know about the body and applying it to achieve optimal sports performance. It is based on careful research into anatomy, physiology and how exercise improves the body. It can be used as a training tool for people at all levels in sports, athletics, performing arts and more.
Beginners can use it to boost baseline fitness. Meanwhile, those with Olympic and elite performance aspirations can add it to their training regime to fill performance gaps and build stamina.
Strength and conditioning and optimal sports performance
Strength and conditioning is designed for optimal sports performance and overall fitness. It focuses on improving the quality of movement and building strength, speed and power. It helps prevent injuries and encourages better movement patterns and habits in athletes to keep them healthier and fitter for longer.
Strength and conditioning is used by sports and performing arts professionals from rugby players to ballet dancers to gain optimal sports performance. It is also done by people of all ages, although young people should only do so under close supervision. The Royal Ballet School in London uses strength and conditioning as part of a wider ‘Healthy Dancer programme‘ to help keep their young dancing students (aged between 11 and 19) fit, healthy and at the peak of their performance abilities.
What does Strength and conditioning involve?
You can see massive results in a relatively short period of time when you embark upon regular strength and conditioning. Training methods and areas exercised used include:
- Plyometrics (also known as jump training; muscles exert maximum force in rapid or explosive movements with the goal of increasing power)
- Cardio conditioning (for the heart)
- Endurance and stamina
- Core stability
- HIIT training (high intensity interval training; a form of cardiovascular exercise based on intense but very short bursts of exercise)
- Weight training
- And more, depending on the individual…
How does it work in optimal sports performance?
The process starts with a full assessment of the person’s abilities, movements, injuries and general fitness levels. Some people work with a personal trainer on a highly individualised programme. Others prefer to do strength and conditioning as part of a group for peer support and friendly competition. It can also be prescribed by a physiotherapist or sports performance coach. As part of a rehabilitation programme after illness or injury to build the body back up to optimal sports performance.
A programme is developed to address stated goals and to strengthen the body overall. This can consist of the same exercises each time or a series of movements on a rotating scheme. If there are any injuries or weaknesses in the joints, it may be wise to wear a wrist support, shoulder support or ankle support to prevent further damage. You should do strength and conditioning in comfortable sportswear with a mat or towel for comfort. Drink plenty of water and warm up and cool down at either side of the session.
What are some benefits?
As well as general fitness improvements, enhanced stamina and injury rehabilitation, strength and conditioning can also help in several other ways for optimal sports performance. The exercises involved can strengthen bones, improve posture, lift a low mood and increase muscle mass. It can also support a healthy metabolism and burn more calories. The variable nature of the exercises also helps make keeping fit more enjoyable. Finally, it helps you to understand your body and how it works better. This is because most of the exercises focus on different areas and you can feel and see results quickly.
Strength and conditioning in everyday life
It’s not just athletes and professionals who obtains optimal sports performance from strength and conditioning. It can really help people struggling with physical health or aspects of everyday life. For instance, older people finding it hard to walk or get in and out of the bath can find a solution in strength and conditioning. It can provide an physical outlet for children with excess energy to burn. It can also help people with physical disabilities strengthen and condition their body to help it handle daily life.
Finally, it is well known that exercise releases endorphins. These are mood enhancing hormones that promote feelings of happiness and euphoria. They are released after physical exertion. So, strength and condition session can help people battling depression or living with mental health concerns.