Full Spectrum Strength Training

May 21, 2023

Many gifted athletes participating in the ongoing National Games in Quetta were seen lacking the understanding of full spectrum strength training

Full Spectrum Strength Training

Strength training is perhaps the most important aspect of athletic development. Strength and all its manifestations play a vital role in maintaining the correct posture of athletes. It is a prominent factor in injury prevention, which can compromise the professional career of any sportsperson.

Traditionally strength training conjures images of huge muscles. This certainly is part of strength training, but for the majority of athletic environments this is not the case. Strength is a term that incorporates a spectrum of activities and training methods, all of which are designed to meet the force requirements of the particular sport.

I saw many gifted athletes participating in the ongoing National Games in Quetta. These gifted athletes hardly had an opportunity to learn the necessary motor skills in their early years, and lacked the understanding of full spectrum strength training.

The functional path in strength training requires a significant shift from conventional wisdom. It is not just about methods and modes of strength training but about the interaction of body, gravity and the ground. From sport science research we now have a good grasp of the application, timing and sequence of various methods.

The functional path is a multidimensional approach involving athletic movements designed to transfer into improved performance. It
involves a progressive spectrum of resistance modes culminating in high speed and high force activities. Strength training involves the training of movements and not just muscles. It guides athletes to train core before any other training and build strength from bottom up.

Strength training serves a multitude of functions depending on the sport and the athlete. A low volume, high intensity explosive lifting session will stimulate the nervous system before a high quality sprinting session. A strength training programme is a delicate balance that must fit within the context of the whole athletic development process. The most important contribution of strength training is what is not measurable and visible.

The benefit of structural integrity in strength training is mostly overlooked. Some trainers call it stabilisation strength. Whatever you name it, it is the strength that lends quality to the movement. It is not measurable but athletes can feel its obvious results in the performance.

Remember that a weight training room is not a prerequisite for strength training. As you look at the variety of resistance methods available and the infinitesimal application of modes and methods, this concept becomes very clear. At this juncture I must clarify that this doesn’t mean not to lift weights.

If the sport is a contact-sport like basketball or American football, then there should be an investment in gaining muscle mass for protection and power.

In athletic development, with the obvious exception of the preparation of a weightlifter, strength training should be a means to an end. At times it will be the focal point of training and at other times it will play a subservient role. As athletes move through the spectrum, the goal is strength that athletes can use and apply in their respective sports.

It takes at least .6 of a second to generate maximum strength. Most sport performance takes place in less than .3 of a second. Sometimes it is very measurable in terms of weight lifted and number of reps: at other times it will manifest itself in less tangible ways. Developing applicable strength requires a vigilant approach so that athletes and coaches do not get caught up in one method only.

Strength is thus the ability to exert force. There are no time constraints. Power on other hand has a significant time element. Thus power is the ability to express force in the shortest time. Power is further broken down into speed dominated and strength dominated power. Shot put, discus, and American football demand strength dominated power, whereas throwing a cricket ball and swinging a golf club, tennis racket or power hitting in cricket characterise speed dominated power.

Coaches, trainers and sportspeople should remember that there are several factors involved in gaining strength: neuromuscular, muscular, biochemical, structural and biomechanical. All these must be taken into account in designing and implementing the optimal strength training programme because they are highly interdependent.

The neural component development is most ignored in our training regimes because it is harder to see and quantify. Eminent strength training researcher Dr Digby Sale sums up the role of the nervous system: “Strength & power performance is determined not only by the quantity and quality of the involved muscle mass, but also by the extent to which the muscle mass may be activated by the voluntary effort.”

Remember that muscles are slaves of the brain. Ultimately it is the neural component that drives the system and enables the muscles to work. The brain does not recognise individual muscles; rather it recognises patterns of movement.

One programme is not suitable for all sports and all athletes. It is possible for the exercise to be the same, but manipulation of sets, reps, rest and load can significantly change the training effect.

The purpose of this write up was to raise awareness for both professional athletes as well as fitness freaks, who go to expensive gyms and pay heavy amounts, without gaining the desired results in terms of performance output. Self-awareness and knowledge of full spectrum strength training would help you and the trainers to acquire targeted strength training for optimum results in the shortest possible time, so that you can shape up and condition yourself to gain the winning edge in demanding competitions.


Full Spectrum Strength Training