This summer, Zlatan Ibrahimović moved to Manchester United and immediately set a new club’s record in muscle strength testing. As we all know, England’s Premier League is known to be the most physically demanding league in the World. Therefore, Ibrahimović, Agüero, Vardy, Lukaku, Payet, and company have to put a lot of work in their strength and conditioning. Workouts in a gym are extremely popular among football players. They are not only popular but also useful to fulfill the demands of modern football. Taking care of your body and developing muscle strength and power should be your main priority. Before you go to the gym ask yourself these questions.
1. Do I want to improve muscle strength, power or endurance?
Some football players rely on their pace and others, like N’Golo Kante, rely on stamina and endurance. They can run from box to box even after the referee has already signaled the end of extra time. There are many reasons why football players differ in these two important areas of strength and conditioning. One of the reasons is the type of muscle fibers. Before you go to the gym and put some weights on your shoulders, you should know that there are 2 different types of muscle fibers: Type I and Type II.
Most muscle fibers contain Type I or slow-twitch, aerobic muscle fibers. Characteristics of Type I muscle fibers, which are mainly used for the aerobic activity, are slow contraction time, high resistance to fatigue and low force production. You use these muscle fibers all 90 minutes playing football.
Type II or fast-twitch, anaerobic muscle fibers are mainly activated in anaerobic activities. Such as jumps, sprints and quick changes of direction. Type II muscle fibers can be further categorized into Type IIa and Type IIb muscle fibers. Type IIa can use both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism to create energy. While Type IIb muscle fibers are responsible for the powerful burst of speed.
Motor units are used in a sequential order by their size. First, are smaller Type I muscle fibers and then bigger Type II muscle fibers.
Practical application: using lighter resistance (13 – 20+ repetition maximum) has a better impact on developing muscular endurance, however, heavy resistance training is more effective for developing power (1 – 2 or 3 – 5 repetition maximum) and strength (1 – 6 repetitions maximum). For gains in muscle mass use moderate resistance (6 – 12 repetition maximum). Heavy resistance training recruits all muscle fibers so all of them get larger with proper training.
|Repetition max.||13-20+||1-2, 3-5||1-6||6-12|
Repetition maximum indicates the heaviest weight you can lift with maximum effort in a single repetition. It is a test that helps you set your training weights for developing muscle strength, power or endurance.
2. Why is it good to know my repetition maximum?
Not knowing your repetition maximum (RM) and training in a gym is like taking wrong medications when you are ill. RM indicates the heaviest weight you can lift with maximum effort in a single repetition. It is a test that helps you set your training weights for developing muscle strength, power or endurance (see above).
How to perform this test? It is simple, however, you must provide maximal effort. If you can perform 5 repetitions with 100 kg in the squat exercise, the 5 RM is 100 kg. Then use one of many online 1RM calculators to decide your 10RM, 15RM, 6 RM or any other number you need for your training. You don’t actually need to test your 1RM. Testing 1RM can be dangerous because of heavy resistance used at the maximal effort. Especially if you don’t have so much experience testing 1RM or you are a novice in this type of training.
3. How many repetitions and sets should I do to improve my strength & power or gain weight?
Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t be so fast if he was doing a high volume of training all the time. He needed to develop his muscles to develop proper strength and power and now he has to maintain this state. Volume assignments are evidently not the same for a different type of training. Increasing the size of your muscles demands high volume workout so make 6 to 12 repetitions and at least 3 sets of it. Concentric part of the movement (for example when you lift yourself from a squat) should be done in one second, whereas eccentric part of the movement (for example when you lower yourself in a squat) can take you 2 to 4 seconds. Rest between sets should be short. Take only around 1 minute to 1,5 minute of rest for building your muscle mass. On the other hand, strength and power training demands longer rest between sets. Between 3 to 5 minutes of rest using heavier resistance will bring you improvements. For strength training use 6 or fewer reps with 2 to 6 sets, and for developing power 3 to 5 repetitions with the same number of sets. When developing power, try to finish the movement as fast as you are possible.
4. Should I combine aerobic endurance training and training to improve muscle power?
If aerobic endurance training is high in intensity, strength and power gains won’t be as high as you want. They can even decrease. Resistance training is characterized as anaerobic training and combining anaerobic and anaerobic training on the same day can’t get you the best results. Follow this advice: do not combine resistance and aerobic endurance training if you want to progress in strength and power. Keep it simple and stick to training one component of your fitness in a single day. If your goal is to improve muscle power don’t go tired of your training. Feel fresh and ready to train at your maximal level. You can run to improve your aerobic fitness the following day.
Working out in a gym can be dangerous if you are not familiar with the technique of movement when and if you are not strong enough. So be cautious when trying to set a new club squat record. Compete with yourself, follow your progress and results will come.
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