One of the common responses I get to my emphasis on strength training is statements like, "why [is] this is so important compared, say to flexibility or speed which for me seem more important?"link
Part of the answer lies in not ranking these different attributes. Instead I advocate for people to engage in a complete program. A complete program benefits the fighter, the athlete and general health and well-being.
- Strength improves a variety of general health outcomes. The ACSM recommends that essentially all people engage in (appropriate) strength training. The benefits of strength training are separate from the benefits of cardiovascular and neuromotor training (balance and agility) that are already common amongst HEMA people.
- Strength reduces the likelihood of injury. More so than either cardiovascular and neuromotor training - although the neuromotor training is a good layer to add onto strength training. Strength training also improves recovery from muskuloskeletal injury.
- Strength training improves the capacity for technical training. One of the factors which normally limits a persons training capacity is the number of repetitions in a row they can do before needing to rest. Strength training increases that number of reps. Strength training is not the only means of doing that. Obviously, volume of training increases that attribute as well, however, volume of training is not always sufficient, and even if it were, strength training increases the efficiency and rapidity of results.
- You will gain more from your technical training, time and effort, if your program includes strength training as a component. The reason is that strength training increases the excitability of the neuromotor pathways from brain to muscle. This in turn increases motor learning.
- Strength training is necessary for a person to reach their personal best. That is because a complete program is necessary for a person to reach their personal best. Strength training will increase acceleration and power. Both which will effect the outcome of a fight. They are clearly not the only aspects of who wins, but they do effect the outcome, so improving them allows a person to reach their personal best.
In fact, each of these reasons is good enough on it's own. They're each strong enough in terms of both evidence and effect to stand alone. It depends on what matters to you - what motivates you.
These reasons are ranked from most important to least important. At least according to my personal feelings on the matter. Public health is #1. Ability to keep doing what you love is #2. Improvement in what you do are #3 and #4. Performance is #5. Although the last entry on the list is not unimportant to me. I think they are all important.
And their is another reason for my emphasis on strength training. And it's in two parts:
B) Many people are not aware of what real strength training is. They think that conditioning work like 100 pushups or 200 squats is the same as strength. And it's not. So these people understand A but they aren't actually doing it.