Strength is often trained is an independent motor quality, I certainly have made that mistake. Strength is a highly interdependent motor quality. Unfortunately it took me too many years to really understand and apply that. I think some of the problem and confusion lies in the definition of strength training. In order to clarify what strength training is it is important to have a good operational definition of strength training. When I was first exposed to the work of Frans Bosch ten years ago he defined strength training as: “Coordination training under increased resistance.” Just that concept got me thinking again about how much strength is enough and are you ever strong enough? I thought his definition was a step in the right direction to help me answer those two questions but it was not comprehensive enough. So over the past few years I have worked to come up with my own operational definition of strength training incorporating Bosch’s ideas. For the definition to be operational it needs to be applicable to all training environments. The definition I use for Strength Training is: Coordination training with appropriate resistance to handle bodyweight, project an implement, move or resist movement of another body, resist gravity and optimize ground reaction forces. Let’s parse this out and look at the elements of the definition in detail.
Coordination training is that aspect of strength training that Incorporates both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination. The key to efficient movement and effective force application ultimately is intermuscular coordination. Basically it is training muscles synergies to apply force at the correct time, in the correct plane and the correct direction.
Appropriate resistance is determined for each of the following demands:
- Handle bodyweight – If the sport demands handling bodyweight then the emphasis is on relative strength working in various percentages of bodyweight resistances.
- Project an implement – The weight of the implement will determine the necessary resistance to develop strength to move that implement at the required speed.
- Move or resist movement of another body – This will determine the type of resistance and duration and direction of force application.
- Resist gravity – Sports that demand work against gravity necessitate more eccentric and isometric emphasis to express the necessary force.
- Optimize ground reaction forces – Sport with high ground reaction forces demands realistic reactive strength
This definition better directs the training and incorporates a spectrum of training methods to address the varying strength/power needs of different sports. Remember the goal is develop strength that the athlete can use. Some is measurable and some is not. Hopefully this will stimulate discussion and feedback.