As high school and college athletes prepare themselves for the upcoming season this summer they are doing anything and everything to get the upper hand on their opponent. Some of these tactics can be detrimental and harmful to their performance. But with internet at their disposal how is one to separate the legit information from the crap that is clogging the web? From garbage resources like http://www.Sparq.com and bodybuilding magazines, an athlete can be on information overload. So here are some points that athletes need to take into account. The first list is what many athletes are doing wrong:
Crossfit– A new spin on an old concept (Interval Training). This is nothing new, just an old workout style that has been repackaged. The issue I have with Crossfit is that the program requires individuals of all levels to perform complex and difficult Olympic lifts without proper guidance. For some athletes I train we might not even load a bar for a month until the technique is perfect. The Crossfit way is to have the person just jump into the system. Technique and form is thrown out the window in order to reach a number of repetitions and time. As a Strength Coach I could care less about either! Technique is my main focus.
Long distance running- Mike Boyle, the best Strength Coach in my eyes, wrote a great article about cardiovascular training called “Death to Slow Long Distance” where he says “We have already established that most running injuries are of the overuse nature.” Unless you are an endurance runner, stop running long distances. Your cardio training should mimic your sport. For instance, the average football play lasts about 3-5 seconds, why are you running 3 miles to get in shape? Perform short quick sprints, example 8×50 yards sprints.
Too much plyometrics- Mike Boyle writes in Functional Training For Sports that foot contacts should be limited to 20-25 contacts. Also split Linear and Lateral jumps days in order to take stress away from the body. High jumps can be traumatic to the joints in the lower extremities.
Ladder drills for speed- As I beat to death in my other Blog post about “speed” ladders, you can probably get a sense of what I think about them. Ladders are a great tool for proprioception and cardiovascular training but are worthless for speed. Do a few runs on the ladder but don’t expect it to make you a faster athlete.
Seated exercises (Leg Press, Leg Extensions, Leg Curl machines)- These machines have been proven time and time again to only stimulate the anterior muscles of the body. As an athlete you must look at the posterior chain to become more powerful, stronger and healthier. Get off your butt and do standing lower body exercises. You don’t perform your sport sitting down, why would you train sitting down?
Proper stretching- This is an easy method for better performance output. In a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2006 titled DYNAMIC VS. STATIC-STRETCHING WARM UP: THE EFFECT ON POWER AND AGILITY PERFORMANCE clearly proved that dynamic stretching before exercise will increase power output during the exercise. Also, performing static stretching before exercise can decrease power output. This further underlies the importance of dynamic stretching before any type of exercise.
Along with exercises that athletes do wrong, here are a few movements athletes should implement into their program:
Corrective movements: Corrective movements can be anything from pre-habilitation movements, tackling asymmetries, movement patterns and dysfunctions. Gray Cook, the co-founder of the Functional Movement Screen is a master at corrective movements and getting athletes moving properly. His website is a great resource on screens and exercises.
Single limb movements- This is a huge concept that many athletes don’t like to perform. Most athletes perform back squats, leg press and leg extensions. These exercises are all conducted with 2 legs. But what if one leg is more dominant then the other? Won’t the dominant leg help the least dominant leg? In sports aren’t you using one leg at a time? Ex- running. Train like you perform in your sport. Work on single leg movements such as split squats and single leg squats. These movements work on balance and strength without help of the other leg. Single limb movements aren’t only for legs but for arms too. Try alternating dumbbell bench press. Just like having a dominant leg, you also have a dominate arm. Separating the arms by using dumbbells can increase your overall bench weight as well as working on shoulder stability and injury prevention of the shoulder.
Olympic lifts- This is probably the most important aspect of athletic performance. If you want to become a stronger, faster and more powerful athlete, incorporate Olympic lifts into your program. O lifts are complex multi joint exercises that create force and works every muscle in the athlete. Add Cleans, Snatches and Jerks into your program.