12 Reasons Athletes Should Not Lift Weights!

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Q: Joey, my coach doesn’t believe in strength and conditioning or resistance training and says he tried resistance training and it made him slower and did not help his sports performance. What are your thoughts on this? Sam

A: Sam, thats interesting, I have met many coaches that hold that view point, however I’m going to dispel some of the biggest myths about resistance training. You can use this information to inform your coach about why strength and conditioning is neccessary to make you a better athlete.

12 reasons why athletes Should Not lift weights & a dozen a reasons Why they should!

1. Resistance training will make my athletes slow. Try telling that to Usain Bolt or any sprinting coach. The opposite is actually true. The only way an athlete may become slower is if only slow resistance training is performed or the athlete gains a large amount of non-functional muscle mass. When athletes combine strength training with their skills training they transfer their strength training gains onto sporting arena. Even with elite athletes specialised resistance training can enhance speed and performance!

2. The sport doesn’t require any strength or fitness! This is ridiculous as all sports will benefit from increased strength. Athletes can train longer and can compete more effectively. Besides the performance enhancing effects, a persons mortality is related to their strength levels.

3. Resistance training will make the athletes too big and muscle bound! If only if were that easy! Its impossible to develop large amounts of hypertrophy when athletes are performing large volumes of endurance training in combination with skills training. Hypertrophy like Ronnie Coleman pictured below is virtually unattainable with the help of vitamin s.

4. Resistance Training and Olympic lifting are risky in terms of injury. Are you sure about that? Reseach suggests the opposite. Far less injuries occur in the weight room than on the football field, track or court. Injury rates amongst olympic weight lifters are much lower compared with safe sports such as soccer, track and field, gymnastics and volleyball. A properly designed strength and conditioning program will actually serve to decrease incidence of injury.

5. Resistance Training will give my athletes heavy legs and they won’t be able to run as fast or be as agile. Increases in muscle mass are linearly related to increases in strength. Depending on training modes power increases similarly. Power to weight ratio will be increased. Speed and agility are correlated to leg strength and power.

6. Football is a running and kicking sport, don’t give my athletes any upper body resistance training because of the added weight. Football, AFL and Basketball are very competitive and combative in nature and involve the use of the upper body as well. All things being equal the stronger and more powerful athlete will win! Running power and speed requires balance in mass and power of the upper body. Exercises such as chin ups and bench press strength help enhance sprinting speed after all you use a powerful arm drive when you run!

7. The athletes need endurance not strength! Endurance is a matter of relative load. For example, if a swimming stroke requires 40% maximum pull strength, then a 10% increase in 1RM equates to a 10% decrease in relative load or you can swim/stroke with 10% more force oputput to work at 40% effort. The philosophy of increasing strength to enhance endurance helped Tay Zimmer break a world record

8. The athletes get all the physical conditioning they need in their skills practice. That’s not true, playing or training for a sport does not enhance your strength, nor does the skills training prevent injuries, this is a key reason why strength and conditioning is so important! Every single sport will cause muscle imbalances which lead to injury and ultimately reduce performance. For example, common patterns for right handed athleties such as golfers includes;

  • POOR RIGHT GLUTE RECRUITEMENT
  • TIGHT LEFT ANTERIOR HIP
  • TIGHT RIGHT LATERAL HIP
  • TIGHT RIGHT EXT. HIP ROTATORS
  • STRONGER LEFT LEG

With the problems and issues oultined above please tell me how the skills training aka hitting a golf ball addresses these issues? Resistance Training is hands down the most efficient form of training for increasing muscular size, strength, power development and addressing muscle imbalances.

9. Strength and conditioning sessions take up time that could be devoted to skills practice. It does take up time, but the benefits far outweigh the time taken to perform it. Strength and conditioning sessions allow the athlete time out of the pool, field or court which in itself is benefical due to reducing the risk of overtraining. How far can you develop a sporting skill such as kicking? If we want our footballers to kick further but only have them perform the skill of kicking, there’ll be a point of diminishing returns once the kicking technique is optimised. The only way to increase kicking distance is to fine tune the machinery-aka develop more strength, which is best achieved through systematic strength and conditioning.

10. Accuracy is a key component to the athletes sport and strength training will impact negatively on the athletes skills and precision. In truth this may be an issue if the athletes train too closely to competition. But if the training is managed and moitored preciseley this should not pose a problem. Scientific research has shown that strength training enhanced golf driving performance with no adverse effect upon putting accuracy. Accuracy based sports such as shooting and archery benefit from increased strength as it helps enhance the athletes stabilising muscle groups and reduces fatigue during training and competition due to increased endurance.

11. I trained Jim Jones in 1980 he came 3rd in the 100m sprint and he never performed any strength training! Congratulations, but the elite sporting landscape has changed significantly in the past 30 years. Today, athletes are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. There are a myriad of factors that contribute to sporting success-not solely strength and conditioning. Who knows what may have happened if Jim had maximized his physical preparation and performed weight training-he may well have placed 1st?

12. I was a good athlete until I lifted weights-Iwas never as successful since, so I don’t believe in resistance training for my athletes. Thats interesting, before you make generalisations do you mind answering the following questions for me? Who designed the program? Was it yourself? How was the program integrated into your overall preparation? Did you hurt get injured? Did you persevere with the program for longer than 4 weeks? We have made some tremendous breakthroughs and learnt a lot in the last 30 years.

The information above should be more than enough to convince any coach of the benefits of a properly designed strength and conditioning program.

Joey