May 24, 2018
Minor Adjustments

With such little time to plan and individualize movements, some coaches might rely on the same exercises for each of their athletes in the weight room. But not every player will have the same gains from doing identical movements. If you’re looking to upgrade your weight room playbook, but not do a complete overhaul, consider making small tweaks to the exercises that you already implement.

According to a blog from by Justin Ochoa, owner of PACE Fitness Academy in Indianapolis, Ind., making small changes to common exercises can make them more effective and appropriate for individual players. One exercise that is a staple of many high school athletic programs is the front squat. And while it is important for athletes to keep their elbows up during this movement, some struggle with their shoulders rolling forward and their elbows dropping. An easy tweak to fix this is starting each repetitions with a shrug.

“Now the shoulders elevate and retract prior to each rep, so if you keep that position, you get a nice bonus upper-back activation,” writes Ochoa. “If you slightly come out of that position, you go back to a ‘neutral’ position where your elbows are still forward and have yet to drop, simply because they started a little bit higher.”

Next, Ochoa discusses hamstring curls using a stability ball. To help athletes achieve full hip extension, he recommends propping the stability ball on a stable surface such as a small step up riser. This also serves as a way to progress the exercise for athletes who need it to be a little more difficult.

“If an athlete can’t execute the basic Stability Ball Hamstring Curl exercise effectively, drop the reps and have them really focus on the feeling of getting their hips extended via the use of an elevated stability ball,” writes Ochoa. “If the athlete has already mastered the basic movement, they can up the reps and make the Elevated Stability Hamstring Curl their new standard moving forward.”

Another common exercise is the dumbbell row. While used frequently, Ochoa says that many athletes engage in linear rows which can lead to compensation such as overworking the upper back instead of working the lats. To fix this, he suggests making a curved motion with the path of the dumbbell.

“This sweeping-style Row allows full motion of the scapula to glide along the rib cage and the concentric contraction now runs more in line with the lats,” writes Ochoa. “The path of the Row now mimics the path of the muscle fibers in the lats along the back, which allows for a lot more control in the contraction. It’s a subtle change, but one you should be able to feel.”

To see an example of the linear row compared to the sweeping row, check out this video from Ochoa.

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