Keys to Training
The success of any program lies on the willingness of the athlete to work hard. It is a simple equation, the harder you work, the greater the results will be. Since hard work is the key to success, it makes sense that each training session cannot last for a long duration of time or the effort would have to decrease as a result. Maximize your efficiency in the weight room. Do not waste time by socializing or taking extensive rest periods between sets. It is a common myth in the field of strength training that the longer the workout, the greater the results will be. Nothing can be further from the truth. The workouts you receive should never take longer than one hour.
2. Warm-up Properly
A general warm-up increases heart rate, blood flow, and core body temperature. A warm muscle exhibits a greater amount of flexibility and is thus less susceptible to injury. A comprehensive body weight warm-up will enhance the muscle's ability to perform work, and thus greater gains are achieved.
3. Train the Entire Body
The body is a system that is designed to exact specifications. Overtraining one area will lead to an imbalance and thus disrupt the system. In turn, this will lead to a decrease in the normal range of motion found by the joints and again increase the chance of injury. The muscles of the body work together and must rely on each other to perform at optimal levels during competition. Follow your program as closely as possible.
4. Train the Full Range of Motion
One of the most common mistakes made in strength training is that athletes do not allow the muscle to work through the full range of motion. Strength gains found in muscles from training are specific to the joint angle at which the muscle is worked. Therefore, if repetitions are cut short, there is a percentage of the range of motion that is not being trained. Training through a full range of motion will also maintain the flexibility of the muscle as long as it is done through the safe and proper range. Do not overextend or force the muscle through any range that is unnatural.
5. Allow the Muscle to Lift the Weight
In order to allow the muscle to do the work, the weight must be lifted slowly and under control. If the weight is moved to quickly, it will increase in velocity until the muscle is no longer in control and the weight is actually moving itself due to momentum. By increasing the velocity of the movement, the exercise becomes less taxing on the muscle and potentially far more dangerous. This does not mean that there will not be a time that you will not try to move a weight with maximal effort. As muscles fatigue throughout the course of a set, it will be necessary to exert more effort to move the weight. The obvious exception to this rule would be the Olympic style lifts (Cleans, Snatch, Jerks). With these lifts proper technique is critical.
6. Emphasize the Lowering of the Weight
The weight must also be lowered in a slow and controlled manner. This ensures that the muscles are doing the work and since the muscles used to lower the weight are the same muscles that are used to lift the weight, it assists in preparing the muscles for the exercise. This will decrease the chance of muscle pulls and injuries to the tendons or ligaments involved.
To obtain optimal results, any strength program must be followed exactly as designed. You have to take the responsibility to get to the weight room and work hard to reach your maximum potential. This means that strength training must become a year round event, even during the season. The program simply needs to be adjusted to the time of year. The volume of exercises is decreased during the season and some of the exercises themselves might be altered. This does not mean that the intensity of the training changes. Strength gains can occur during the season. Just give yourself ample time to rest before competition (preferably 48-72 hours).
To get stronger, it is important that you are constantly overloading the muscle. This means that within your program, you should always look to increase the weight or increase the reps (sets to failure) every time you train. Constantly raise your level of expectation, your body will respond with an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in body fat. However, if you do not push yourself, you will not see these results and you are wasting your time.
9. Rest and Recovery
Strength training is destructive by nature. When you lift weights the muscles being trained are actually broken down (protein degradation), and forced to rebuild. The body then rebuilds the muscles bigger and stronger to accommodate the need to produce the forces necessary. To gain optimal results from strength training, an athlete must assist the body during this recovery stage by not training that particular muscle group for close to 48 hours. Muscle groups should never be trained on back-to-back days. It is also important that an athlete maintains a healthy diet and healthy sleep patterns to optimize the recovery stage.
Always be certain that you exploit all your options in the weight room. In most facilities it is obvious that there is more than one way to perform a certain exercise or train a certain muscle group. Leave your options open so your body does not accommodate too quickly to the training program and so you do not get bored with your training. A simple change such as using dumbbells or a machine instead of a barbell for a bench press is enough to stimulate a greater response from the body. Use all the tools that you have available to you. Keep the workouts fresh. The more excited you are to train the better the results you will achieve. At the same time, remember that progression is the key to the success of any strength training program. It is important that you track your exercises, the weights you used, and how many reps you performed. This will allow you to progress properly and to overcome a plateau. If you do find that you are having trouble increasing in weight on a certain exercise, that is the first sign that your body has fully accommodated to the task and you might need to change it up slightly with the methods mentioned earlier in this section.