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Strength and conditioning is fast becoming an essential element for all sports people training to a high level. But there is always concerns over women completing strength training although there is nothing wrong with women taking part!

What is strength and conditioning?

Strength and conditioning is a physiological and physical development of athletes that uses more than traditional weightlifting. The goal of a strength and conditioning coach is to improve an athletes strength, power and speed to become faster and more flexible allowing them to be able to take part in their sport to a higher level. The training involves more than lifting weights, including plyometric training, speed and agility, muscular endurance and flexibility training to give the athlete a well rounded fitness base. The work of an S & C coach is to work with a sports coach who works on specific areas of a particular sports skills such as a basketball coach working on shooting. A program would be developed to include all elements of an athletes training to get them to the peak of their physical fitness at the appropriate time in their season.

S & C is mostly used with athletes or sports teams but it can be done on an individual basis for the general population. But its important to understand the limitations of the body and the appropriate exercises to complete to make sure you don't cause any injury. If you wanted to improve your own ability there are lots of resources to found online designated to the types of exercises that strength and conditioning involve. 

Make sure when planning your own training that you consider enough rest between workouts and if you are a beginner three or four workouts a week should be enough to get you started.

Should women do strength and conditioning training?

There is a lot of stigma associated with women and strength training. But as S & C is more intense than simply lifting weights there are even more arguments that women should not complete this level of training. However there is no physical or physiological reason that women cannot take part. Of course, females need to lower the level they train at and wont be able to train at the same level as men but they can still develop programs that suit their smaller frames and lower muscle mass. 

In particular women tend to be better at the agility and flexibility elements of S&C training.

Research in 1991 in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that after 12 weeks of off season strength and conditioning training for female volleyball players improved a number of factors.  They found improvement's in sport-specific peak and mean isometric force (contraction while remaining still), vertical jump (VJ), shoulder flexibility, maximal strength for the bench press, military press, squat and hang power clean. This was one of the early investigations into the effects of this type of training on women and it has proven that significant improvements can be seen after only a 12 week program.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Article 1: Fry et al (1991) The Effects of an Off-season Strength and Conditioning Program on Starters and Non-starters in Women's Intercollegiate Volleyball. Journal of Strength and conditioning research.
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