Secret strength behind record medal haul
Secret strength behind record medal haul
Strength training is a critical part of Team GB's athletes weekly training programmes, and the English Institute of Sport proudly assisted with the strength & conditioning programmes for over 1000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Strength and Conditioning training is arguably the most supported element of an elite athlete’s training programme. If most athletes in physical sports train six to seven days per week, then two or three of those days will include specific strength & conditioning sessions of up to two hours.
One of the lesser-known successes within the support system is the 30-strong team of full-time strength and conditioning coaches within the English Institute of Sport, led by Dr. Raphael Brandon.
Strength and conditioning involves the design of specific training programmes to compliment sport-specific training, and the direct coaching of those programmes with the Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Based over 15 EIS sites across England, each site offers strength and conditioning support to athletes across 20 Olympic and 7 Paralympic sports in London 2012.
Dr Brandon easily pinpointed the effect in which EIS' talented team of practitioners had on this summer's impressive results.
"The key benefit for the athletes is that a critical aspect of training is designed and supervised by specialist experts," he explained.
"For example, Rowers will perform up to five sessions per week in the weight room. Whilst the rowing coach will oversee the whole programme, a specialist strength coach will focus entirely on ensuring the weight training sessions are optimised for the squad."
Dr Brandon has implemented an EIS strength & conditioning assessment system which profiles and monitors each athlete across all Olympic sports.
The Strength and conditioning coaches also work with the EIS physiotherapy team on rehabilitation programmes, to return athletes from injury back to full competitive fitness levels.
"We can tailor each program specific to the individual," he added, with an example being two-time Olympic medallist Christine Ohuruogu, whom Brandon has worked with for the last six years.
Heading-up the central region's strength and conditioning team is Jared Deacon, who oversees 10 practitioners across the four central EIS sites, Loughborough, Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham, Birmingham and Lilleshall.
"A typical day for an EIS strength and conditioning practitioner will involve a range of things from programming, meeting with coaches, delivering new exercises to athletes and coaching them how to do the exercises," said Deacon.
"We also assist with rehabilitation or even some benchmark testing for the governing body of the sport if they require it."
"Each sport has different requirements. Sometimes its not what you do from an exercise perspective, but how you communicate that information back to the coaches, as some sports like it differently.
In gaining that element of trust, Deacon explained that the level of knowledge and expertise his staff have is all the more valued when they've experience working across a wide spectrum of sports - essential when working towards an Olympic Games.
He advised any strength and conditioning coaches to pursue opportunities in a variety of sports when building their profile.
"In the main our strength and conditioning team is pretty experienced," he added.
"It's getting harder and harder for people as there are Bsc and Msc degree courses specifically in Strength and conditioning available now. But to be honest, sport and exercise science and strength and conditioning courses have a massive crossover, and if a student chooses the right modules at Msc level, they may even be better qualified.
"They need experience too, and need to apply their knowledge to a variety of different sports. Sport-specific coaches also have an advantage, and it also helps if they are training themselves.
"Building experience whilst you are getting an education is a good thing, as you are building all bases."
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