The Benefits of Strength and Conditioning
By Lachlan Darch
Strength and Conditioning is quickly becoming a staple in many peoples lives, and I would argue that it would have benefits for almost every, if not all sports. As a student of Exercise and Sports Science, I say that resistance training should be undertaken to some degree by almost everyone, not just athletes. Recently, the team including myself have begun or restarted a strength and conditioning program, run by FORM Physiotherapy, and within three weeks of starting the program, we are already seeing some big improvements with Liam Lawlor saying “yeah, it (S&C) has definitely helped”. Today, I’m going to look at why strength and conditioning is important both on and off the bike.
Mechanical Efficiency – Strength training causes long term adaptations to the nervous and muscular systems to increase the maximum force a muscle can generate. This is achieved by a few different ways, recruiting more muscle units, increasing the frequency your nervous system stimulates the muscle to contract, and reducing the activation of muscles working in the opposite direction. Simply, the more adaptations you get from resistance training, the more force you will be able to produce, will result in you being able to stomp on the pedals harder for longer. Win.
Reduced Risk of Injury – Studies suggest that incorporating strength training into a training program can reduce the risk of developing injuries. Overuse injuries which can be seen frequently in cyclists are commonly fixed by making the problem area stronger, so by increasing whole body strength, injuries become less common. Resistance training also assists with increasing the strength of bones due to the higher amount of stress that weights place on the body.
Reduced Risk of Diseases in older age – Prevention is better than a cure. Unfortunately, as we age, our muscle mass and bone mineral density decrease, and while we can’t stop the effects of aging completely, resistance training can slow the decline. Using resistance training, studies show that a person’s bone mineral density and muscle sarcopenia (muscle degradation) decreases at a slower rate if the person is incorporating strength training into their lives. This reduces the risk of injuries at an older age which may result from things like falls due to greater muscle strength, and stronger bones.
Resistance training can be an invaluable resource for athletes, and non-athletes and should be at least considered by anyone wanting to make a positive change in your life. For anyone who may be interested in beginning a resistance training program, I would advise them to go see a professional (which can be found in any good gym or similar) who will be able to assess your needs and assist you in meeting whatever goals you may have.