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Fitness Corner: Getting Stronger


When it comes to improving sports performance, athletes of all sports share a common goal and that is to get stronger. What does it really mean to get stronger? Common sense tells us that it means if you lift weights consistently, you get stronger. But there are principles behind strength conditioning that are much more complex then "you lift, therefore you are strong."

Without increased strength and endurance, your ability to run, jump, or react explosively is diminished. The body is a chain of muscles and joints, all of which interact with each other to propel the body in motion. As you strengthen each part of the chain, the body will become bigger and stronger, allowing speed and power to develop.

In order to increase muscular size and strength, a muscle must be stressed or overloaded with a workload that is beyond its present capacity. If manipulated correctly, the following variables can produce optimal strength gains:

• Number of repetitions of an exercise
• Number of sets of the exercise
• Intensity
• Recovery time between exercises

The common definition for strength is the ability to exert a force against resistance. The strength needed for a sprinter to explode from the blocks is different than the strength needed by a weight lifter to bench press 300 pounds. This phenomenon implies that there are different types of strength.

Strength can be classified into three general categories:
1. Maximum strength—The greatest force that is possible in a single maximum contraction. An example of maximum strength is an individual attempting to lift as much weight as possible for any given exercise.
2. Elastic strength—The ability to overcome a resistance with a fast contraction. Pushing a medicine ball in a chest pass motion as quickly and forcefully as possible against a wall is an example of elastic strength.
3. Strength endurance-The ability to exert force against some type of resistance repeatedly.

There are different exercises to improve these different types of strength.

Maximum Strength can be developed with weight training
Elastic Strength can be developed with conditioning exercises; plyometric exercises; medicine ball exercises; and strength training.
Strength endurance can be developed with circuit training; dumbbell routines; weight training and hill and harness training

*Assistant strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle joined the 49ers this off-season from the Philadelphia Eagles. He is in charge of directing all of the speed, agility, and conditioning programs for all positions on the team. He has spent the last 13 years pushing athletes to perform to their maximum potential. Carlisle has also developed workout videos which can be viewed, * by clicking here!

To have a question answered by our head strength coach Johnny Parker, please email Parker at

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