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strength

Strength Training For Athletes

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Strength Training For Athletes

Strength training for athletes is not primarily used for improved strength and power, however for injury prevention. What they don’t realise is that you can not build strength and power without a body that is balanced left to right and trying to add heavy loads to an already faulty structure can lead to injuries. If an athlete is injured they can not train in the gym and even more importantly they can not train at their particular sport. If an athlete is not assessed after each season, their chances of injury get higher each season.

Cam Bolton’s - Germany World Cup Win - February 2019.

Cam Bolton’s - Germany World Cup Win - February 2019.

One thing that needs to be understood from the start, is that all sports have certain patterns that cause imbalances. Take basketball for instance, most basketballers will tend to jump from one leg and land on the other leg. This means that their jumping leg is always working very powerfully and their opposing leg is absorbing the landing, causing it to take a huge load and stress. Over the corse of even one season, this is always going to result in an imbalance between the jumping leg and landing leg. If we multiply that by many seasons, the imbalance becomes even more pronounced.

Firstly, the role of a strength coach is to ensure the athlete can perform training and games in an injury free state. If they get injured at any point of the pre season or season this is time away from their sport training, which will decrease their ability. It is very hard to be a value if you have to miss training each week, just in order to play each week. If an athlete is in a balanced state their likelihood for injury is much less. You only have to use professional sports as an easy example, the teams with the least amount of injuries are usually the ones in the finals and take out the ultimate prize. Any athlete that has played injured will understand that they can not perform to their full ability when they are injured.

Matt Targett & Hayden Stoeckel - 2012 Olympic Medalists

Matt Targett & Hayden Stoeckel - 2012 Olympic Medalists

At Energie4 we train athletes from junior levels all the way to the Olympic podium. All of these athletes do at least one if not two phases of structural balance work in a competition year. This is why we have had so much success at all levels of competitive sport. Energie4 athletes are educated and understand the importance of having are balanced body and notice it’s value to their strength, power and performance throughout the season of their sport.

To move into more detail about strength training for athletes, we first have to look at having a solid base/foundation from where we can build on. Athletes at Energie4 always start with unilateral work, meaning using single leg/arm exercises, like a split squat and dumbbells like a dumbbell bench press before they are progressed to barbell work like a barbell squat or barbell bench press. Any time you create balance between the legs or the arms and go back to a squat or bench press, the athlete has not got weaker, in fact they get stronger, even without doing the exercise the coach was concerned that they would lose strength.

The second major point when you consider the balance between left and right, is that power can’t be developed without first having strength. For example, any athlete who has had an ankle injury that has not been rehabilitated properly, they will have trouble pushing off the ground, effecting running, changing direction and jumping. As the body is extremely clever, it will look to other muscles to try and generate the strength and power it needs in order to perform at the level the athlete is use to. The result however, is that this compensation, causes the exact imbalances that we have been discussing, which can directly relate to an injury in another part of the body. This only frustrates the athlete, as they only want to train and play their sport. Athletes are generally very impatient, as is their competitive nature, so they need to be educated on the value of what you are trying to achieve, in addition to encouraging their patience, so they can be a bigger, stronger, faster athlete.

Thus, strength training for athletes is ALL about injury prevention. If the body is balanced, there is less chance of an injury to the athlete. If they strength train and build a solid, balanced base, they are able to train in the gym and also fully train for their sport. This already gives them a huge advantage over their team mates and competition. Finally, the more base and foundation they have the less time they have to work on structural balance and the more time they can use strength training to increase strength and power.


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Adversity

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Adversity

Cameron Bolton

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Cam Bolton Olympic Snowboarder in Boarder Cross dispcipline.

In the 2014 Sochi games, Cam was boarding extremely well, but it wasn't with adversity.  Just before the Olympics he slightly strained his adductor.  This caused him to have to rest totally for the 2 weeks before the Olympics.  This is not only a huge inconvenience to an athlete's preparation but extremely frustrating.  Athletes do not like to rest, especially Cam!

2014 Sochi Olympics

After having to rest for the 2 weeks leading up to the Olympics, the Boarder Cross was put off for a day, because of the snow and visibility was terrible.  This also, didn't play into Cam's benefit, as he wasn't a high ranked athlete.  As a result of this qualifying was cancelled and they went straight into heats the following day instead, but meant that Cam would always be disadvantaged by the bad gates.

However, once Cam came out of the gate in the first heat, he was on fire.  He went through all the qualifying rounds easily, winning them all.  So now comes the semi final, with 6 riders in each semi final, the top 3 of each advance to the final with a 50/50 chance of a medal.  With Cam yet again leading the semi final, he only needed to  stay on his board and finish the race.  Unfortanately, sometimes in sport and life, things are out of your control.  An Italian rider went into a corner far too fast and as Cam who was leading and about to take a jump, was collected from behind, as the Italian athlete tried to use him to break his speed and careering of the course.  The collision took Cam out and in the process giving him a concussion, cut on his face and a right arm with several fractures. 

To Cam's credit he managed to compose himself and race the small final, only minutes later.  Sign of a true competitor, even with the injuries he sustained in the semi final crash.

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The pins, screws & plates in Cam's right arm, as a result of the very unnecessary Olympic Semi Final crash.

The pins, screws & plates in Cam's right arm, as a result of the very unnecessary Olympic Semi Final crash.

2014/2015 World Cup Season

Once Cam was back in Melbourne, he had his surgery but continued to train his legs even though he was unable to use his right arm.  After several months of training the rehabilitation at Energie4 began to increase the strength in Cam's wrist.  The 2015 World Cup season, Cam returned bigger, stronger and learning from his great results in the Olympics.  Unfortunately, at the start of another race he was taken out again in the start section and fractured his upper arm bone, in the shoulder region.  Again, ending a season ending injury, Cam came back to Melbourne for more rehabilitation which can be a very slow and frustrating time for an athlete.

2015/2016 World Championships Season

After yet another pre season of rehabilitation before Cam could start training for performance.  He had set himself a goal of increasing his muscle mass, so going into the 2016 season he was the heaviest and strongest he had ever been.  Several races at the start of the season were cancelled due to lack of snow.  However, Cam was focused to train hard and continue his quest to get back to his Olympic form.  

The first race of the season and Cam was ready to go after a couple of seasons of disappointment.  Cam was back! He raced well in every preliminary heats and finals making his first World Cup Final.  After leading the entire race a small mistake cost him his first World Cup win and instead he ended up finishing 4th, still his best World Cup result.

Since, he was looking so good at the previous race in Germany they asked him to test the course.  When disaster happened again as a result of the course.  Cam went too far off a jump and landed on his feet but the shock of over shooting the jump caused him to hit his coccyx on the snow and sent extreme force up his spine.  Ultimately fracturing a vertebra, yes a bone in his spine.  Even this did't damper Cam's snowboarding ambitions.  6 weeks after fracturing a vertebra he entered an ocean swim and came top 10.  This is after 6 weeks of lying on his back as he couldn't have too much force on his spine, so he was basically bed ridden.

2016/2017 World Cup Season

Finally, injury free for a season this season didn't produce the results Cam would of liked.  Thus, even though results didn't come there was still a great chance to learn about racing, competitors and courses.  Again, fuelling motivation for the next season and his preparation for the Olympic season.

2017/2018 Olympic Games

Coming into an Olympic season, the pressure and expectations are very high, both to make the team but also improve on the previous Olympics result.  Cam's World Cup results haven't been his best but it is enough to get his second spot on the Olympic team.  Now, all those past performances mean nothing.  Cam is at the Olympics and has the same shot at winning like all the athletes competing.  The most challenging part of the Olympics is performing when it counts, handling the pressure.  There is so much prestige being an Olympian but even more when you stand on the dais and become an Olympic Medalist. 

Cam was the best performing male & female Boarder Cross athlete in 2014, I know that he can do even better this year in a couple of days.  Look out for those dread locks flying down the course in Pyeongchang, this time he will be out in front and stay there to the final.

 

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It is always a pleasure and honour training athletes, assisting them to achieve their goals.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a Energie4, perform on the biggest athletic stage, the Olympics. 

From everyone at Energie4, we wish Cam an even better Olympics 4 years on and to see him go one better and contest for the medals in the Boarder Cross final.  If there is one athlete that can overcome all this adversity and win a medal for Australia, it's Energie4’s Cameron Bolton.

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Discipline

It takes a lot of discipline to get this lean.  Hugh Jackman in Logan who I trained. 

It takes a lot of discipline to get this lean.  Hugh Jackman in Logan who I trained. 

By Dieter Roylance

Discipline is being strict, having self control and restraint! 

So how disciplined to you need to be to reach your lifestyle goal?  There are a number of factors, the first being how far away you are from your goal and then also the time frame.  For example losing 10kgs in 4 weeks or gaining 5kgs of muscle in 4 weeks.  Both are very ambitious goals, so discipline is going to be crucial, because time isn't on your side.

Life does and will get in your way, however it is the people who have the strategies to counter them, that often succeed.  Here are two things that you can do for a disciplined approach, to assist you in achieving your body composition goals.

Corporate group Texco who train as a team 3 times every week for the past 3 years.

Corporate group Texco who train as a team 3 times every week for the past 3 years.

1.  Exercise

To lose 10kgs of body fat in 10 weeks, takes a discipline approach to your exercise.  You need to know how many strength training sessions and energy training sessions you can fit into a week.  I like to break the week into week days and weekends.  Their are two reasons I do this.  Firstly, people are usually more motivated at the start of the week, so they often get 2 of their 3 sessions done by Tuesday, giving them three days to get one more session in.  Secondly, adding at least one session in on the weekend, takes discipline to ensure they train but also keeps their focus.

The discipline to eat well, wether eating out or eating at home, is all about planning & preparation

The discipline to eat well, wether eating out or eating at home, is all about planning & preparation

2.  Nutrition

Is it hard to be disciplined with your food?  No.  So why do so many people struggle with their nutrition.  The easiest way to stay disciplined with your daily nutrition, is to start your day with a great breakfast.  It is very easy to prepare something at home before your day starts or order something at a cafe, that has the right carbohydrates, proteins & fat.

To reach your goals you need this kind of disciplined approach to your training & nutrition, every day & week.  You can't go half a week on, half a week off, or have a week off and expect not to go backwards.  At the end of the day, it comes down to how badly you want to achieve your goals.  If you are committed to your goal, then being disciplined will be much easier.

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