If you're an athlete, strength training helps you look good on the beach. More important, it has a direct impact on your on-field performance. Not only is strength training crucial for athletes in power sports (like football and rugby), studies show that endurance athletes who follow a well-structured strength routine turn in better performance times in their events.
Good strength training options are plentiful (see How to Decide the Best Workout Equipment for You); but we wanted to find out which one's your favorite. According to the results of our Facebook poll, when it comes to developing muscles, most athletes prefer free weights.
The greatest benefit of training with free weights is the freedom to move in any plane. Since each limb works independently, athletes can quickly identify and target weaknesses when they train with dumbbells. Free weights also allow athletes to imitate sport-specific movements.
Although free weights are highly effective, they do carry an injury risk. The American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that over 90 percent of weight room injuries involve free weights, most of them among teenagers. Learn how to stay safe in the weight room this season by checking out Weight Room Injuries on the Rise: How to Buck the Trend.
If you're looking for a great way to build up your free weight workouts, check out our exclusive training videos with All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. Visit his page to get the lowdown on his personal lifts and Get Ripped With Patrick Willis.