Which Sports Should Be Weight Training?

Which Sports Should Be Weight Training?

Decades ago the only sport that truly committed to off-season weight training was football. Weights were, generally speaking, the primary domain of bodybuilders and football players only.
Today that dynamic has shifted, with weight training used for just about every sport.
Should that be the case?
To fully understand the answer to this question, there has to be a realization that weight training leads to two different adaptations to the body - increased muscle mass and increased strength.
You may be asking yourself, "Aren't these the same thing?"
They're not.
And though lifting weights is how you best increase both, they are not necessarily built the same way.
Building muscle mass involves a higher volume of training - more repetitions and sets - done at or very near total muscular failure. This sends a signal to the central nervous system that your current muscle size is not enough to handle the stimulus provided, and to survive it must adapt and grow.
Increasing strength simply involves testing the upper limits of how much overall weight you can lift, meaning you increase the intensity of your workouts. Repetition levels are lower because at higher loads you won't be able to lift the weight properly as many times.
The message your nervous system receives here is that it must improve intramuscular coordination to better handle the new environmental challenge you've given it.
One way of thinking of this is to compare it to the food you eat.
If you want to gain weight, you eat more food. If you want to get healthier, you eat the right foods.
In both weight training and the food analogy, there is of course plenty of overlap between the two.
An easy way to think of the changes you'll see from weight training are:
Increase volume - Gain muscle and a little bit of strength
Increase intensity - Gain strength and a little bit of muscle
Increase both volume and intensity - Gain both for a little while, then get injured
So how does all this answer our original question about which sports should weight train?
Well, strength training leads to all of these other benefits besides just being stronger:
  • It lowers your future injury risk
  • It increases your speed potential
  • It increases your power potential for hitting, throwing, kicking, shooting, etc
Since these are beneficial for just about every sport I can think of, the answer would be that properly planned strength training would help every athlete.
What WOULD NOT benefit every athlete is gaining muscle mass.
This adaptation is primarily beneficial for athletes in collision sports like football, hockey and lacrosse where your muscles serve as a sort of internal padding to help you survive the pounding you'll take over the course of a season.
Athletes who are undersized for a non collision sport would also stand to improve from weight training to build muscle, although that would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Done correctly, a properly designed weight training program would be beneficial for literally every sport there is.

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