Strength & Conditioning

Develop Your Strengths

Develop Your Strengths Knowing your strengths provides a sound basis for building for the future. They are the best basis on which you can build. You need to recognise your strengths, grow your strengths, observe your strengths and look after your strengths. Strengths need nurturing and cannot just be taken for granted. Strengths are not just what we perceive about ourselves but how others perceive about the particular qualities we bring and hold. While our strengths important there is a danger that you’re not accurately aware of your strengths and talents. Often as people grow, they become experts in describing their own weaknesses and spend time trying to address these faults rather than building on their strengths. As a result some of their strengths can lay dormant and ignored, as a consequence these strengths are undeveloped and anthrop overtime. However when you are fully aware of your strengths and confident in them, you are able to do things that you might have been much more hesitant about in the past. As you use your strengths you become ever more confident in their value and application.

Recognise Your Strengths A good starting point is to articulate what you think your strengths are. You can supplement this by honestly summarising what you think other key people, such as your family, colleagues and boss, would regard as your strengths. Looking at your strengths through different perspectives alerts you to begin to see yourself as others see you. At one level you can do this by imagining yourself standing in other people’s shoes and commenting on your strengths. Another approach is to ask people directly what they perceived as your strengths, or to request a colleague or coach to ask them on your behalf. You might be able to use a kind of 360° written feedback tool that many organisations have available for their staff. It can help to write a list covering

• What do you think your five key strengths?
• What do you think your colleagues would see as your five key strengths?
• What would your close family members or friends think are your five key strengths?

Another approach is to look at some common strength’s and assess which might apply particularly to you. In their excellent book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton they talk about each individual needing to become an expert at finding, describing, applying, practising and refining their strengths. They talk of distinguishing natural talents from things you can learn and seeing strengths as a combination of talents, knowledge and skills. To them, talents are your naturally recurring patterns of thought, feelings of behaviour, with knowledge consisting of the facts and lessons learned, and skills as the steps of an activity. These authors approach it to encourage the reader to identify their five strongest strengths some of which may not be strengths as yet. They identify 34 themes of strengths to find your profile of five key strengths. A few from the identified themes are as follows:

• Achiever
• Activator
• Analytical
• Communication
• Competition
• Consistency
• Futuristic
• Learner
• Strategic
• Focus
• Empathy

Growing Your Strengths Your strengths never stand still. You are either growing them or if you allow them to stagnate they will be declining in effectiveness. As you look back you can often see how your strengths have been changing. You can identify the strengths that have been consistently a valuable part of your assets and those that you have adapted and grown as a consequence of circumstances and experiences. Growing your strengths is all about making what is good even better. You need to understand how you would effectively identify strengths that need nurturing and growing. For all his natural talent Tiger Woods still practices regularly and draws on the expertise of coaches. Key questions for you to ask yourself as you grow your strengths are:

• Which strengths have I built in the last six months?
• Which strengths do I want to use more over the next six months?
• What are the key strengths I need to make more use of?

Look after Your Strengths A consistent message in challenging times is to be optimistic, energetic and enthusiastic while being rooted in realism. Drawing on your strengths means that even in the most challenging circumstances you can see opportunities. Confidence and optimism building on your strengths can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Success is about being self-assured with confidence, having as much impact as capability. You have to believe in yourself as well as being honest about yourself. It enables you to believe that there is a solution, however tough the situation might seem. How you build on your strengths will give you a competitive advantage. So building on your strengths means being positive and being objective. Optimism might not come across as denial. People who lose heart are those who have lost their belief that there can be a successful outcome. You have to believe that your strengths will mean that you can become part of the future (and its solutions) and are not part of the problem. Growing your strengths can give you confidence that you can make choices, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Summary Lessons

• Be clear about what you think your strengths are.
• Seek the views of others on what your strengths are.
• Understand how your strengths have grown and developed over recent years.
• Be positive about how you can use your strengths in the future.
• Be clear what specific strengths you want to develop further over the next few months.

5 Ways to Improve Strength Training for Runners

runner’s training includes a number of things to build endurance, flexibility and to prevent injury. Runners need strength training,however, to improve their speed. A runners strength training usually involves weight lifting combined with endurance training. Here are 5 simple tips to improve a runners strength training.

One way to greatly improve your strength training is to focus on the proper form when doing weight lifting exercises. Using the proper form will ensure that you are working the right muscles and will help prevent injury during training. You should focus on the form and motion of the exercise first with a very light weight. Once you have the correct form, add weight to increase your strength training. It helps to watch yourself do the exercise in a mirror so you can analyze your form.

A runner’s strength training program should emphasize balance. Our muscles typically work in pairs so you need to make sure that you are working both sets of muscles and in the proper proportion. For example, our quadriceps and hamstrings complement each other. Distance runners will need to work them more equally where a sprinter might put more emphasis on the quadracep.

Your training program needs to have periodic lulls to maximize your strength training. A runner’s strength training should follow a cycle of some sort whether it be in days, weeks or months. This gives both the mind and the body time to rest. It also helps condition both mind and body for peak performance on a cyclic basis. It is usual for these cycles to culminate in competitions or marathons so that a runner is at their peak fitness right before an event.

Give your muscles proper rest and recovery. Strength training works by tearing down muscle tissue. When you lift weights and work your muscles, they develop small tears in the muscle fibers. The process of repairing these small tears is what makes you stronger. Your body needs time to do its repairs or you may injury your muscles rather than improving your strength. Any muscle group should have a minimum of 24 hours rest before it is trained again. This is why it is typical to rotate strength training by working the upper body one day and the lower body the next. Make sure you’re getting your sleep while training too. Lack of sleep will run your body down and make it harder for your muscles to recover.

Finally, you need to be consistent. To be successful, you need to do your strength training regularly. Work out on the same day. You do not want to have big gaps between workouts. If you skip days or vary your schedule too much, you will not get the results that you want. You also need to be consistent with how much weight you add and how frequently you add weight. Keep a journal of your workout so you know how much weight and how many repetitions of each exercise you are doing.

Why Would You Want to Boost Your Metabolism?

The subject of boosting one’s metabolism is often equated with physical appearance. That is, when you boost your metabolism, you reduce the amount of body fat that you are storing. This, in turn, leads to an improvement in the way you look. But, as the old saying goes, looks are not everything. There are various other benefits found in boosting one’s metabolism. One of the lesser known secrets is that boosting your metabolism will increase the quality and duration of your life.

Some may think such a statement is pure hyperbole. Assuredly, it is not. When you reduce the amount of body fat you carry, you are reducing the risk of a number of adverse health issues. Namely, you have lowered your risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other serious ailments. Obesity is an extremely serious condition since it can seriously undermine a person’s health. Much like smoking, the impact of obesity does not always develop right away. Many people will not take the impact of obesity serious because they see it as only a physical issue. However, when serious medical conditions develop, the true impact of obesity becomes apparent. By this time, it is almost too late. However, if you can boost your metabolism, you will be able to counter the development of obesity. Thankfully, it is not always as difficult to boost the body’s metabolism provided you understand how the process works.

What exactly is the body’s metabolism? This basically refers to how the body operates in order to maintain its life. In other words, it is the metabolism that delivers the energy for our organs to function. One way the body does this is through turning food into energy through the calories we consume. The healthier a person is, the faster the metabolism will be due to a strong heart and the presence of lean muscle mass. When the metabolism is expedited, the body will burn more calories which will lead to the reduced storage of fat.

Speeding up one’s metabolism often involves engaging in a decent exercise regimen. This involves a mix of cardiovascular conditioning programs and weight training. Cardio exercise raises a heart rate so that it burns fat. Strength training increases lean muscle mass which will absorb more calories to maintain its size and shape. Again, many will look towards the physical appearance benefits of such workouts but there is much more to these exercise plans than that alone.

When your heart is exercised through cardio work it becomes stronger. This reduces a great many problems deriving from cardiovascular disease. When you develop lean muscle mass, your ability to perform physical tasks is made much easier as well which reduces a number of physical maladies. Again, these represent many of the great benefits derived from boosting the metabolism.

The human metabolism is a complex entity and when it operates properly it can yield many desirable benefits. One of the most important benefits is the highly positive impact it can have on one’s health. That is probably its best kept secret.

The Many Different Types of Strength

There are many different types of strength… and they all need to be taken into consideration when forming an effective physical training program.

What makes someone strong?

Well, that is not an easy question to answer… because it depends on which of the many different types of strength you are talking about.

Someone can exhibit great competence in one aspect of strength while being completely lacking in another.

To understand this better, let’s talk about three of the most important types of strength: Maximal Strength, Explosive Strength and Strength Endurance

Maximal Strength is the amount of force that can be generated from one all out effort… regardless of time or bodyweight.

Maximal strength can be displayed through three types of muscle actions…

Concentric Strength occurs when the muscle shortens as it overcomes resistance, like when lifting a weight.

Eccentric Strength occurs when the muscle lengthens as it yields to or attempts to overcome a resistance, like when controlling a weight on the way down.

Static Strength occurs when the muscle contracts against an immovable resistance, or contracts to prevent unwanted movement.

Explosive Strength is strength per unit of time, and is also known as Speed Strength.

There are different types of explosive strength…

Starting Strength is the ability to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible instantaneously at the start of the movement… It is the type of strength necessary to quickly accelerate a load that is at rest.

Acceleration Strength is how long you can keep the maximum number of muscle fibers recruited after Starting Strength. Once the initial movement begins, the rate of force development is the acceleration… It is what will get the load moving very quickly.

Strength Endurance is the ability to be as strong as possible, as long as possible.

Strength endurance is characterized by being able to perform a movement repeatedly for an extended period of time without being overcome by fatigue or sacrificing form.

Now let’s add a couple more types of strength…

Relative Strength is the amount of force that can be generated from one all out effort… relative to bodyweight.

For example… if two people have the ability to lift the same object, but one person is small and lighter in size, they exhibit more relative strength.

Relative strength comes into play when you are measuring your strength abilities against others, competing in a sport that has weight classes or competing in a sport where you have to overcome your own bodyweight to perform a task.

Absolute Limit Strength is the amount of force that can be generated from one all out effort… with the use of drugs and/or supplements.

I personally am the least interested with this type of strength because I am only interested in strength improvements that come from proper, effective physical training… and not through biological manipulation.

As you can see… there are a lot of types of strength to take into account when planning a strength training program.

My suggestion…

Do not concentrate on the training of one particular type of strength at the expense of all others unless you have a very specific reason to do so.

For most of us, we do not know which type of strength will be called into question as we go through our lives… so train them all.

Therefore, vary physical training methods, stresses and intensities while training maximal strength, explosive strength and strength endurance to bring about the greatest performance improvements for sport, work and life.

Powerful Periodized Strength Training Basics For Volleyball

Strength training dominates most athletes’ fitness and conditioning programs through out the year. In particular, volleyball players are well-known to have one of the highest levels of strength training dedication. These elite athletes realize the benefits of a proper periodized strength training program.

Volleyball pushes players to the extreme. Each athlete is expected to excel in explosive movements, vertical jumps, power hitting and intense serves. The position rotation in volleyball signifies the definite need for comprehensive players. Being a great blocker is a huge plus, but volleyball thrives off of all-around spectacular athletes. Strength training is a massive component to any elite athlete.

Strength training for volleyball requires the knowledge of periodization. Periodization means changing one or more variables within your strength training program on a regular and consistent basis. These variables can include the exercise, the frequency of lifting, the intensity of lifting, or the method of lifting.

Volleyball players, as well as most other athletes, work on a yearly periodization schedule. They break their year down into 4 distinct segments or cycles. Each new segment means they should change their strength training program to match that cycle’s goals.

The four segments can be broken down into the off-season, the pre-season, the in-season, and the post-season. Each season has unique goals and a unique strength training program. Athletes allow time for resting, building strength and building sport specific functions before the start of the official game season.

The off-season’s goal is to build power and strength. The off-season utilizes power exercises and higher weights to increase muscle size and strength. Typically, the strength training program is most intense during the off-season. Athletes invest a lot of time to their basic fitness foundation.

The pre-season focuses on actual sport specific functions. Squatting, jumping, lateral stepping, hitting and spiking are all common volleyball movements. The pre-season volleyball strength training routine is less intense than the off-season. The goal is to maintain that strength and power, but to perfect sport specific movements. Most of the routine is dedicated to mock volleyball games and drills.

The in-season purely focuses on maintaining the off and pre-season’s goals. The off-season built power and the pre-season put that power to use. Athletes enjoy the fruits of their labor during the in-season. The spike that flies past the opponent’s head and drills into the floor is proof that strength training for volleyball works.

The post-season’s goals are about relaxation and repair. This is a time of year that includes low intensity workouts. The goal is to allow the body to heal after grueling months of high intensity workouts. These few weeks of rest and low intensity strength training and cardio bring the entire training year to a close. The post-season delivers a skilled and healed athlete to begin the off-season strength and power building again.

Off-season ~ Pre-season ~ In-season ~ Post-season ~ Repeat

Regardless of the season, a few things remain constant. Volleyball players should always perform one or more exercises for each muscle group. Each exercise should be performed through a full ROM (range of motion), and each strength training routine should steer towards sport specific movements.

Strength training for volleyball players is an essential and organic component of their fitness and conditioning program. Strength training delivers the edge that all athletes need to succeed. Periodization is necessary in all strength training programs. Volleyball and other sports have taught us the importance of a proper fitness routine based on specific goals.