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General strength exercises

Athletes and many fitness participants, typically desire to develop both general strength and specialized strength. In general strength training exercises are done to strengthen the muscles in a manner that does not improve athletic performance.

In specialized strength training exercises are done that relate specifically to the sports skills. They have an immediate effect on performance. However, before the athlete can effectively do specialized strength exercises, it is necessary that he or she develop a strength base which is best developed with general strength exercises.

In general strength training it is important that you develop all of the major and minor muscles and joints of the body.  Because of this, you should do many different exercises that hit each area.  To adequately strengthen the entire body, over 20 different exercises are usually performed in the session.

For example, a sample program can be as follows:  Lower body: (1)  calf (heel) raises, (2) toe raises, (3) leg extensions, (4) knee curls, (5) squat, (6) hip extension with Active Cords, (7) hip abduction with Active Cords, (8) knee drive with Active Cords,

Midsection: (9) 45º sit-up (crunch), (10) reverse sit-up, (11) reverse trunk twist, (12) back raises, and

Upper body: (13) full range lateral arm raises, (14) full range front arm raises, (15) overhead press, (16) lat pulldown, (17) bench press, (18) reverse fly or bent over dumbbell row, (19) biceps curl, (20) triceps pushdown, (21) supination/pronation with the Strength Bar, (22) wrist curls, (23) reverse curls, (24) finger exercises with Exer Rings.

Not all of these exercises have to be done in the gym. For example, some of the finger and hand exercises and those with Active Cords can be done at home.  Those requiring major equipment should be done at school or in the gym.

Because of the high number of exercises, you only do one set working up to 20 RM (maximum repetitions). In essence, you follow the 1 x 20 RM program which is most effective with young or beginning athletes. Its applications with older and higher level athletes are more specialized

When first getting started, do only 5 or 6 repetitions to get the feel for the exercise and learn how to do it correctly.  If you need a good source of instruction, see Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise. It is the most detailed and comprehensive book on execution of strength exercises presently available.

As you become familiar with and accustomed to each exercise, gradually increase the number of repetitions until you reach 20 or more consistently for two or three workouts.  At this time, increase the resistance which will bring you back down to approximately 14-15 repetitions and then gradually work up again.

You will find that you do not improve in each exercise at the same rate of speed.  Thus, the number of repetitions will vary greatly from one exercise to the other.  As you complete this phase of training, which can take anywhere from 2 to 4 or more months, you will then be ready to start more specialized exercises and training.

The intensity increases at this time but the volume must be adjusted to each individual athlete.  The same concept holds true when developing the aerobic and anaerobic abilities. Understand that all programs should be individualized to the athlete or fitness participant.

It is also possible to do select specialized strength exercises at this time for the more important skills. For example, if you run in your sport you can incorporate some key running specific exercises such as the knee drive and pawback with the Active Cords. If you want to improve your throwing you can do exercises such as the weight shift and hip rotation exercise with Active Cords.

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