Every once in a while coaches need a reminder that training in the weight room may or may not transfer to on-field performance. Increasing strength and power with exercises like squats and power cleans give the athlete the potential to run faster and jump higher. However, without specific training that enables the athletes to learn to express their newly attained strength and power in a sport-specific task, then there will likely be less transference. Therefore, continuing to train skills such as sprinting, jumping, change of direction and so forth will yield superior results to training the skill only, or strength/power only.
A new study published ahead of print in the International Journal of Sports Medicine does a good job of illustrating the synergistic effect of combing skill work with strength training concurrently. The researchers recruited 122 physically active college-aged individuals and divided them into 4 groups:
- Full squat training
- Sprint training
- Full squat + sprint training
- Control (no training)
Each group performed two training sessions per over a 6 week period. Before and after the training period the researchers evaluated each of the subjects sprinting speed over 10 and 30 meters. Post-testing revealed that sprint training alone and full squat training alone improved sprinting speed by 1.7% and 1.8% , respectively. Combined full squat with sprint training stimulated even greater improvements in sprinting speed with a 2.3% decrease in sprint time.
These results are not atypical. Strength training movements (e.g., squats) and sprinting are both skills that must be practiced and developed. Each requires their own unique motor pattern that must be trained to maximize performance. Training these skills concurrently can be done by training them separately in different sessions, or within the same session. Advanced techniques such as “complex” or “contrast” training involves alternating heavy squats with short sprints or jumps to take advantage of post-activation potentiation. It would most effective to start by training them separately (i.e., at different sessions) and progress to more advanced concepts like “contrast” training. Periodizing the training will enable the stimulus to remain fresh and effective.
Marques, M. C., Gabbett, T. J., Marinho, D. A., Blazevich, A. J., Sousa, A., van den Tillaar, R., & Izquierdo, M. (2015). Influence of Strength, Sprint Running, and Combined Strength and Sprint Running Training on Short Sprint Performance in Young Adults. International Journal of Sports Medicine. Ahead of print.