When you walk into the weight room at the University Of Nevada you’ll see a number of things: athletes stepping on the scale for a weekly weigh in, a football player getting his mind right for max squat day, volleyball players lining up to get their daily recovery shakes, etc. Along with an abundance of my fellow Nevada athletes, you will see our amazing strength and conditioning coaches. Everyday they’re there planning workouts, teaching proper technique, and helping us reach our highest potential. All of our coaches love what they do; we witness their passion for it every day. But there is one coach whose drive and enthusiasm is a little more blatant than the others, and that’s Dylan Hall.
Coach Hall was born and raised in Gig Harbor, Washington, and came to Nevada just three years ago. He is only twenty-six years old, but already he has learned what it takes to train a Division 1 sports team. The amount of time and effort that coach Hall puts in for his teams is very inspiring. I am lucky enough to reap the benefits of his labor, because coach Hall is the strength and conditioning coach for me and the rest of the volleyball team. I sat down with coach Hall last Thursday to talk to him about the role that weight lifting plays in an athlete’s career. What he had to say is something that all athletes need to hear.
Why is it important for athletes to lift weights?
Lifting weights is critical to injury prevention. When you’re stronger you can accelerate and decelerate better. Weak muscles cause for high chance of injury because your body isn’t able to completely control itself. A strong muscle is a resilient one.
Why are olympic lifts beneficial?
Olympic lifts (clean and jerk, snatch) teach you to accelerate your body while applying and absorbing force. These movements require you to extend your hips and apply a great amount of force to the ground, and then absorb all of that force when catching the weight. There are direct correlations between these olympic lifts and sport specific movements. Take for example a volleyball player whose sport is filled with a lot of starting, stopping, jumping, and landing. If that volleyball player is strong in the movements of accelerating her body, applying force, and absorbing it, then she will be able to react quicker, jump higher, and land safer. These lifts allow you to apply a lot more force due to the strength you have built up from doing them. Along with added strength, olympic lifts give you more total body awareness and control. The movements put a lot of muscles and joints to use, so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.
What is your favorite olympic lift?
The clean. Hands down. It’s such a complex movement that requires a lot of strength, power, and coordination. Strength to pull the weight off the floor, power to get underneath the weight and catch it, and coordination to absorb it. Cleans are a very technical lift and can be hard to master, but once you get them down, they are a beautiful thing to watch.
Why is recovery so important?
Recovery is HUGE. You need to be able to recover within the day, week, month, and season. We want to be able to get the most out of your body everyday that we train, and we can’t do that if you aren’t recovering properly. As a strength and conditioning coach, it is my job to devise training programs that allow for recovery in-between sessions. I can’t make my athletes squat heavy every single day and expect them to perform at a high level. Your recovery depends on two things; sleep and nutrition. Training at a high level breaks your body down, but the right amount of sleep and a healthy diet allows your body to build itself back up.
What is the most important reason to engage in strength training?
The most important reason to engage in strength training is so you can experience longevity and success in your athletic career. If you’re always hurt you won’t have the opportunity to even have an athletic career. We see this more and more often nowadays. We are living in a day and age where athletes have a high playing age; meaning kids start playing sports extremely young. The focus is placed on sport specific skill and ability, and not strength training. When these kids grow up and start playing at a high level, their skills are out of this world, but they aren’t able to do basic body movements. Their general preparedness and strength level is greatly lacking. Because of the missing strength, we see a lot of over-use injuries. Injuries that can be prevented with simple strength training.
I thought I knew a lot about weight lifting already, but after my interview with coach Hall I realized there’s so much more to learn. Lifting weights is not just about getting big muscles; it’s about strengthening those muscles so they are able to withstand the pressures of your sport.
SK’s Food Of The Day
Bell peppers are often mistaken for vegetables, but these colorful guys are actually fruit. They rank very high when it comes to nutritional value; promoting eye health, cell renewal, and powerful immune systems. You can chop them up and add them to a savory dinner, or capture the sweetness by eating them raw!
Feeling inspired? Let me know what you think about this post in the comments section below!