Increasing strength in the weight room is paramount to improving performance on the playing field. How the athlete lifts weights and progresses their routine will dictate how much of that strength is transferred to the playing field to be unleashed as “useable strength.” However, many athletes end up getting hurt in the weight room as a result of these 3 factors:
1. Too much momentum
When an athlete lifts weight, every inch that they move the weight needs to be absorbed slowly by the muscles. The weight needs to be moved slowly without momentum to create tension in the muscles and not stress the joints. If the weight is moved too fast and the athlete is simply trying to lift as much weight as they can, the end result is there is more stress on the joints than muscles which can result in joint limitations, less useable strength and less speed and power output on the playing field. There are lifts that require a higher speed element, but most don’t.
2. Lack of head to toe strength
Athletes need to be strong from head to toe. Sometimes too much focus is placed on the upper body and not the lower body. For every upper body exercise you do, a lower body exercise should follow. Training the whole body each lifting session is better than isolating the upper body one day and the lower body the next because in sports, your body works as one linked unit and remember, your feet are always in contact with the ground in sports so if anything, your legs are more important because your leg base drives your upper body strength in sport movements. You want to build strength through your whole body from head to toe to be able to express sport skills with more functional strength.
3. Not keeping spine neutral
If your spine flexes (rounds) or extends (arches) you will eventually get hurt. You want to keep a neutral spine when lifting weights. If you can’t, you are either using too much weight, have a weak core or are not concentrating on form. We see many athletes perform common lifts like RDL’s, Bent Over Rows, Squats, Power Cleans and even Pushups either flexing their spine or extending it. If poor form continues over a long period of time, the end result is injury and subpar performance. One tip to keep a neutral spine is to breathe out when exerting against the resistance which helps the athlete brace and tighten their core which helps keep it neutral.
Mike Caza is the Founder of Premier Fitness & Performance in Twinsburg. Mike’s unique, innovative training methods, results and world class team have attracted thousands of athletes and coaches to seek out Premier’s training system since 2004. Mike was a former Olympic level athlete and was mentored by some of the top speed and power minds in the world which influenced the design and delivery of the Premier training system.