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  February 11, 2002

Kraemer's Olympic Strength Training
Handbook Set to be a Winner
By Janice Palmer

Just in time for the 2002 Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee has issued its first handbook on strength training, and it is due, in large part, to the efforts of William Kraemer, director of research for the Neag School of Education.

"Strength Training for Sport" is the eighth in a series of sports medicine and science handbooks published by the Olympic committee. Kraemer, who has earned a reputation around the world for his work in strength and conditioning, was asked to recruit a team of international experts to write the book..

"This is the first handbook on strength training written by an international group of scholars for worldwide consumption and I was honored to lead the effort," says Kraemer, whose primary appointment at UConn is in the kinesiology department's Human Performance Laboratory

A strength-training program is the cornerstone of sports conditioning according to Kraemer. Until now, the Olympics handbooks have focused on individual sports, from alpine skiing to tennis. But Kraemer believes it was time to take a different tack.

"Strength training crosses all ages and sports," he says. "It has become a universal modality in our culture today. In fact, very few athletes are competing successfully without strength training as part of their sport conditioning."

In assembling his team, the UConn scientist called on a frequent research collaborator from the University of Jyvaaskyla in Finland to share the editing and some of the writing duties, and he asked five colleagues from Japan, Australia, and the United States to contribute chapters.

As the handbook points out, strength training has come a long way since the days of strong men who traveled the countryside showing off their feats of strength. Attitudes were slow to change until the 1960s, when professional football teams began hiring strength trainers. Until that time, a workout with barbells and dumb-bells was for weightlifters, power lifters and body builders, not volleyball players and distance runners, and certainly not women. But one of the major advances in the field has been the development of sport-specific training programs, because science has shown that one program does not fit all.

So the handbook, designed to educate athletes, coaches, trainers and physicians on the latest advancements, maps out the fundamentals of strength training and outlines the process of developing programs to meet the needs of various athletes.

"Physical conditioning helps an athlete develop strength and peak power, to enhance sport performance. Individualized resistance training works best in optimizing the athlete's performance and preventing injuries," says Kraemer, whose own work and publications have contributed to the field's evolution.

The scientists are not receiving royalties for their contributions to the book; instead, all profits from sales are going to the International Olympic Committee's Medical Commission. Kraemer was happy to volunteer his time because, he says, "Just being asked to head this project was payment enough. It's a prestige kind of a thing."

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