Seven mistakes to avoid in strength training

A basic fact one needs to understand is that just because you are training like others or following the same protocols like any successful player does not guarantee success or prevent injuries.

Many want strong shoulders and chest, but too much focus on pushing exercises that can cause muscle imbalance. An ideal way to deal with this is to include one pulling exercise for every pushing exercise.   -  AM FARUQUI

Are you not there where you want to be in terms of performance despite spending a lot of time in the gym doing strength training? What’s the reason behind it?

It’s a familiar scenario for a lot of sports professionals at some point of time in their careers. The worst case scenario is getting injured at the wrong time or going through an unexpected dip in the performance level. What could be the reasons? A basic fact one needs to understand is that just because you are training like others or following the same protocols like any successful player does not guarantee success or prevent injuries. This is a huge blunder from the Strength and Conditioning (S&C) perspective. A small mistake can have a domino effect and derail your progress.

READ: The need to develop athleticism from a young age

MISTAKE 1:Too much pushing than pulling

Many want strong shoulders and chest. It’s logical, but it can cause muscle imbalance from anterior to posterior muscle groups leading to rounded shoulders and winged scapula which can further lead to injuries related to posterior chain muscle groups. An ideal way to deal with this and fix the issue is to include one pulling exercise for every pushing exercise to create a good muscle balance.

Example: Bench press and Prone rows

MISTAKE 2:Same weights again and again

It’s wonderful you are lifting weights in the first place, but failing to vary the weights will lead to poor results. Adaptation and plateau effect can cause a decrease in the performance and increase in the probability of injuries. Mindful progression is the key and creating a new neural adaptation helps in better results and performance.

Example: Small increment in the weights or resistance in tandem with the repetitions done at the highest point.

MISTAKE 3:You’re doing too many curls and lifting like a bodybuilder

Many athletes fancy having bursting biceps or triceps and do isolation exercises as part of their programme but it can be counterproductive for athletic performance. Isolation exercises are not bad, but they have to be done in tandem with multi-functional compound exercises for peak performance. Bodybuilding workout may not help a sportsperson attain peak performance. Developing a solid foundation for high school and amateur athletes is a vital cog in the wheel to carry over from gym to their respective sport.

Example: Box Squat, Bench Press, Back Squat, Front Squat, Deadlift, Clean and Press, and Pull-Ups.

MISTAKE 4:Unidirectional speed work

Doing repeated sprints will make you fast. But is it pertinent to the sport played? It’s a no-brainer that many sports are played in multiple directions, except for track events in athletics. Many do speed work in a linear direction and skip multi-directional work. It inhibits the ability to change angles or direction or cut angles when required. Working on multi-angle speed work with SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) or COD (Change-of-direction) drills in tandem with the gym work would bear phenomenal results on the field. Hip strength and mobility, core stability, functional stability and footwork drills can help with multi-directional training.

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Example: COD and SAQ drills with multi-angle approach to training can lead to a progression in performance. Vary angle from 45 degree to 180 degree patterns in training mode.

MISTAKE 5:Working out one muscle group of plane of movement

Athletes rarely use a single muscle group or part of the body exclusively in sports. Treat the body as a functionally integrated and well-oiled machine and not view it in segments for training. With sprinting or change of direction movements, lower body is involved, but the importance of arm creating the cutting edge difference in the movement is forgotten in creating the efficiency in movement patterns.

Example: Instead of just bench presses, incorporating single arm and unilateral stance may be beneficial. Cable push-pull exercises can also be added.

MISTAKE 6:You’re performing exercises that may be uncomfortable or painful

Strength, size and power get all the attention needed, but the important goal for every training plan and session is to prevent injury. The thumb rule in training is that one should never get hurt from something you do in the weight room. The problem is that many athletes don’t listen to their bodies and end up performing the exercises which they cannot handle or they are forced to do them by their S&C coaches. Humans come in all shapes and sizes. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect a player who is built differently with a different skill set to make him or her perform the same exercise pattern with another person with different build and skill set.

This can cause huge problems, including poor form and compensatory movement patterns and limits how much you can get from an exercise regime or may cause injury. If you have any previous injury, it may only make it worse.

Example: Pain-free movement with total control of the body with proper alignment and functionality. Any compound exercise like squats or unilateral exercise with proper form and range of motion.

MISTAKE 7:Narcissistic attitude

Some exercises are pretty cool to look at like Olympic lifts or squats with chains or bands, or jammer work with bands is certainly bound to impress everyone around you or the social media. But they may not be such a good idea if you don’t have a solid foundation of strength from the beginning. Too much loading without proper progression on the training model leads to faulty movements and injuries.

Progression from point 1(insane hard) to point 2 (relatively easy) to point 3 ( total domination on the field through proper transfer ) is the safest and most effective way to progress. Many players think they are better than they actually are and end up with an indigent performance and injuries beyond repair. Getting back to basics can be boring at times but that can help in redesigning the neural pathway for better movement patterns and efficient transfer on to the field.

A change in mindset and the ability to understand your body and not follow the S&C coaches blindly can help prevent injuries and improve performance. Fixing faulty movement patterns with proper progression in weight training can harness the best sync between mind and body for the desired results on the field.

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