The two primary reasons why we want our athletes to take part in strength and conditioning training is to;
- Limit injury potential
- Increase performance
A lesser known or discussed benefit of strength and conditioning training may be its positive impact on recovery following competition. When comparing athletes with a higher level of strength and fitness to athletes with lower levels, who might recover faster following a game?
A recent study by Jonston and colleagues (2014) from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports investigated the influence of physical qualities on markers of fatigue and muscle damage following a rugby league competition in twenty-one male players (approximately 19 years old). The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YoYoIRT1), 3RM squat and bench press were assessed in the days prior to the match to designate players into high fit/strength and low fit/strength groups. Counter-movement jump, plyometric push-up and creatine kinase levels were assessed before the match, immediately post-match and again at 24 and 48 hours after the match. Game loads were assessed via GPS tracking and sRPE (serving as external and internal training load values, respectively).
Here are the main findings;
- High fit and stronger group had higher game loads compared to the lower group.
- At 24 and 48 hours post-game, the lower fit group saw larger reductions in counter –movement jump power.
- The lower fit group had greater levels of Creatine Kinase at 24 and 48 hours post-game despite having lower game loads and body contacts.
- The authors conclude that improving high intensity running ability and lower body strength (e.g., squat) can likely minimize the time for post-match recovery.
The results of this study clearly show that benefits of having a high work capacity, as the stronger and more fit group were stressed to a lesser degree physiologically compared to the weaker and lower fit group. A faster recover time allows for training to resume approximately one day sooner following a match. This extra day can be invaluable for teams, particularly during the in-season. Clearly, the benefits of being strong and fit go beyond performance enhancement and injury prevention as a greater resilience to physical stress was evident in the current study.
Johnston, R. D., Gabbett, T. J., Jenkins, D. G., & Hulin, B. T. (2014). Influence of physical qualities on post-match fatigue in rugby league players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.