Okay, I admit it. I am a closet TV sports fan. But not basketball, football or baseball. I am a car race fan. And each weekend I faithfully set the PVR to catch the latest NASCAR race. Most sports fans have their favorite athletes or team players that they follow. I am no different. I have my favorite drivers that I am always rooting for and over the years as drivers retired I have had to rethink who or what team I was going to support. As the pole positions are announced, I waited to see where my favorite drivers were starting the race.
One of the drivers I have followed for a long time is Mark Martin. This driver is one of the oldest drivers at 50 years old. This in considered old in the sport of stock car racing. I have followed this driver for over 15 years. I remember the first time I saw him interviewed. He was speaking about the physicality of the sport of car racing. I remember seeing his well muscled physique and was impressed with his dedication to his weight
lifting program, and this was at a time when strength training was not considered all that necessary except for the very physical sports such as football, etc. It was certainly never viewed as a requirement for the sport of stock car racing. He proudly showed off the gym he had in his home and talked at length about his training and his opinion of how it helped him cope with the demands of racing at 200 mph for 4-5 hours at a time, bumper to bumper with cars in front and behind. I got to experience this in a very small way last summer. Last July while I was in Las Vegas (at a conference of course), my husband and I went out to Las Vegas Speedway for a "ride along". This is where you get to ride along with a professional driver in a stock car. Speeds reached 170 mph with the passenger doors being just inches from the wall.
To say it was a thrill is an understatement, but the ride lasted only 20 minutes. I could only imagine how "in shape" you would need to be to withstand the rigors of a 4 hour race with 30 other cars all travelling in excess of 200 mph. As I watched the cars roll out of the pits I thought of how long Mark Martin has been competing at such a high level and how important his training must be today to keep him not only driving in the Daytona 500 at age 50 against rookies 18 years old, but to be a contender to win as well.
It also got me thinking of other sports and how other athletes prepare and in almost all competitive sports now, strength training has become an integral part of their overall preparation for their sport. We all know that weight lifting is popular with athletes involved in sports such as football, rugby and even baseball. But I think most people are now aware of how important strength training has become to athletes involved in sports such as golf, tennis, cycling and other sports that don't automatically lend themselves to the gym scene.
Most, if not all elite golfers today, strength train. It is not just about being strong. It is just as important to remain free of injury. Take a look at Tiger Woods the next time you see him on T.V. You will notice well muscled arms under that golf shirt. Anika Sorrenston, probably the best female golfer in the sport was an avid weight lifter. In fact, she regularly squatted over 300 lbs in her workouts, and yet she did not look like an overly muscled bodybuilder. She looked like a woman in shape and prepared for the demands of her sport. More and more participants in any sport are beginning to realize the importance of strength training. It is also nice to see that health magazines are finally beginning to tout the benefits of weight lifting for all women, regardless of age, occupation or activity.
It doesn’t really matter what your occupation or interest is. Whether a PGA Pro or the weekend duffer, they will both benefit from strength training. I would doubt that there is a sport now that doesn’t incorporate some form of strength training in their preparation. And, we should all consider ourselves athletes. Our bodies are designed to move and to be strong, no matter what the demands.
Till next time,