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The Principle of Transfer and Weight Training

The Principle of Transfer holds that the learning of one skill can influence the learning and performance of other skills. 1 Training practices based on this principle are similar to transfer strategies for training and development in adult learning.

The principle of transfer suggests that similarity of movement qualities between two skills determines the extent of transfer between them. The more common elements shared between the skills, the greater the transferability. 2 Leg Press

In simpler terms, the more similar two skills are, the more that practicing one of them will improve the other. If you practice throwing a softball, it will help you learn to throw the javelin because you have already learned a similar throwing movement. The common movements will transfer.

Squat In contrast, practicing freestyle swimming will do little to help you learn the backhand stroke in tennis because these skills are so dissimilar.

The skill learning factor associated with gains in strength, power, and coordination along with appropriate physiological adaptations set the stage for training transfer between weight training exercises and sport skills. 3,4,5,6

Weight training exercises are learned skills. They share common movement qualities with many sport skills.

Weightlifting exercises can have a substantial impact on the development of the fitness components and, if properly selected, can improve the coordination of gross (large) motor skills used in athletic performance.7

However, weight training exercises have little influence on sport-specific skills due to the absence of common elements between them.

For example, a weight training program can improve running speed to get you to a softball faster, but does not improve your hand-eye coordination needed to catch it. For basketball, training with weights can improve your vertical jump and increase your upper body strength, but will not help you learn the precise control required to make the basket.
Examples of How to Apply the Principle of Transfer to Weight Training
1. When designing your weight training program, match the common elements between the movement demands of the sport (or work) skills and the weight training exercises. Consider the qualities of movement, the muscles involved, and the fitness components required. See Weightlifting Exercises

2. When designing your program, use the Principle of Transfer to help you select the type of fitness equipment, exercises, and training activities you will incorporate.

3. For sports, include free weights and Olympic lifting skills that most closely match the movement qualities evident in your sport. See

4. If you are unable to train with an injured limb, lift weights with your uninjured limb in order to benefit from bilateral transfer of learning.

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