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Periodization is key to sport-specific strength training. Dividing a training plan into phases or periods, each with a specific outcome, allows sport-specific strength to peak at the right times, while minimizing the risk of over-training. Doing such allows more specific elements of strength to be assembled into a solid fitness foundation.

Athletes cannot progress week-in week-out indefinitely so periodization or breaking up the training regimen allows variations in intensity and volume to encourage performance enhancements for as long as possible.

Basic Strength

The less experienced an athlete, the more time they’ll need developing foundational strength before taking on more advanced forms of resistance training. Even experienced athletes set aside time during the year to complete a phase of basic strength training. It helps to address some of the muscle imbalances that occur with competitive sports. Basic strength programs prepare the body for more strenuous resistance training later on. The objective is to prepare the body by targeting all of the major muscle groups, tendons, ligaments and joints helping to prevent injury.


Larger muscles are not necessarily stronger and more adding body weight to your frame without allowing the body to have time to carry the extra load (even lean, active weight) can be a challenge and a hindrance in many sports because of the stress to ligaments and tendons.

Maximal Strength

Maximal strength is the highest level of force an athlete can possibly generate. The greater an athlete's maximal strength to begin with, the more of it can be converted into sport-specific strength endurance or explosive power.

Maximal strength programs aren’t designed to increase the size of a muscle (hypertrophy) but they do lead to neuromuscular adaptations that are favorable to most athletes. Even endurance athletes can benefit from maximal strength training.

Explosive Power

Even though an athlete can be extremely muscular and lack a certain level of strength, they can also be exceptionally strong but lack significant power. Most athletic movements happen very quickly and demand significantly more power than lifting maximal loads. If maximal strength is not converted into sport-specific power, athletic performance will not improve - certainly not to the extent that it should.

Muscular Endurance

While many sports are dominated by powerful, explosive actions most athletes are required to overcome a relatively low resistance but for a prolonged period of time. Just as power athletes should convert maximal strength into explosive power, endurance athletes should aim to convert maximal strength into muscular endurance.

Of course, many team sports require a combination of the two - power and strength endurance - and developing both without negating the other requires an acute knowledge of how the body functions.