Aug 3, 2017Training Smart
The goal of most strength and conditioning programs is for athletes to get bigger, faster, and stronger. But none of that matters if an athlete isn’t able to make it through the season. In order to maximize the gains made in the weightroom, be sure to avoid these common training mistakes as compiled by Pete Williams for Team EXOS that could make your athletes more susceptible to injury.
Especially when an athlete is focused solely on one sport, it can be easy for them to overtrain. This happens when the same set of muscles are constantly being used and undergoing too much stress. In order to avoid overtraining, identify the muscle groups that your athletes are always using because of their sport/position, and be wary of pushing those too hard in the weightroom, especially during the season. When training these muscles, try to stay away from too many one-dimensional exercises and incorporate multi-joint movements and increase range of motion.
Not only does overtraining lead to burnout and over-fatigue, it can also contribute to chronic overuse injuries. These can become very troublesome and inhibit an athlete’s performance for a long time. Every strength-training program needs to have a balance between time spent building muscle and time spent recovering and helping muscles heal.
A lot of training programs stress the importance of power. And while having explosive, powerful muscles is essential for athletic performance, too much power can actually be a bad thing. While athletes spend time building size and strength, they also need to work on improving stability and mobility so they can transfer that strength into performance. It can be easy to focus on getting bigger while disregarding the importance of flexibility and range of motion. Be sure to integrate exercises that promote movement skills into your program so that athletes can tap into those powerful muscles.
“You might have an abundance of horsepower but lack the ability to transfer it effectively because of bad mechanics and a lack of stability,” says Brent Callaway, EXOS Performance Director. “If your movements aren’t clean because of a bad suspension, you’re a walking time bomb in terms of injury.”
The weightroom is a place where athletes should be pushing themselves to get better. But this can become dangerous when they are thrown into an exercise without being prepared. Before having athletes do advanced movements or increase weight, make sure they have already mastered the simpler movement with less weight. The same goes for training outside of the weightroom. It’s important to push athletes to promote mental and physical toughness, but if you push them too hard before they are physically prepared, this will only make them more prone to injury.
Recovery should be an integral part of any training program. Incorporating a full regimen of sleep, nutrition, soft-tissue work, and active recovery exercises will take your strength training to the next level. Not only will it help the athletes be more prepared for the next time they walk into the weightroom, but it will also help their muscles regenerate and be protected against injury. Traumatic injuries during competition often get all the attention, but with proper recovery techniques, you can help your athletes avoid the multitude of injuries that can be picked up throughout the course of a season.
“The goal is to implement these perfect-day strategies so that you address everything from sleep to fueling to corrective strategies,” says John Stemmerman, EXOS Performance Director. “The regeneration piece is often missing from other programs but it’s really the key for avoiding injury and improving overall performance.”