Tag Archives: sport-specific exercises

Resistance Training, Part 2: Exercise Selection

1 Oct

Exercise selection involves choosing exercises for a resistance training program.  The Strength and Conditioning professional must understand and apply several factors to the design of a resistance training program, including types of exercises, demands of the sport, the athlete’s exercise technique proficiency, and available training resources (equipment, time, etc.).

There are literally hundreds of resistance exercises to choose from, using a variety of equipment, when designing a resistance training program:

  • Core exercises recruit large muscles (chest, shoulders, back, hip, or thigh) and involve two or more primary joints (multi-joint exercises).  Core exercises often have direct application to athletic performance.
  • Single-joint exercises usually recruit smaller muscles (arms, lower legs, etc.) and are considered less important to improving athletic performance.
  • Injury prevention exercises (for example, shoulder exercises for pitchers) are important because they develop muscles that are predisposed to injury from the unique demands of the sport.  These exercises often isolate a specific muscle or muscle group.
  • Structural exercises, which emphasize loading the spine directly (barbell back squat) involve muscular stabilization and strength.
  • Power exercises are structural exercises that are performed explosively, like Olympic lifts (power clean).
  • Sport-specific exercises correlate the training activity with the actual sport movement, increasing the likelihood that there will be a positive transfer to that sport.  For basketball and volleyball players, the power clean is a good choice because it’s specific to jumping.

Exercises chosen for the specific demands of the sport should maintain a balance of muscular strength across joints and between opposing muscle groups.  At Athletic Performance Training Center, we employ agonist-antagonist paired sets (for example, pairing a quadriceps exercise with a hamstring exercise) in our Strength training.  In addition to Strength development, this approach has been documented to help reduce the incidence of injuries.

The exercises selected for a resistance training program should reflect the demands and characteristics of the sport.  Exercises should be similar to the movement patterns and ranges of motion, and involve similar muscles (and muscle groups) as the sport.  The program design should also emphasize balance to reduce risk of injury.

Proper exercise technique should be observed and evaluated for all athletes.  If the athlete is incapable of performing an exercise with correct technique, the Strength and Conditioning professional should provide thorough instruction and demonstration.

Obviously, exercise selection will be dependent upon the availability of resistance training equipment.  Additionally, the Strength and Conditioning professional must weigh the value of certain exercises against the time it takes to perform them, given the available time for a training session.


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