Tom Whitaker, Strength & Conditioning Coach at Pyramid Performance & Health, talks you through why strength training is the biggest piece of the training puzzle you’re missing, his top tips for integrating strength training into your routine, and what to look for in an effective programme.
Strength training is one of the most effective additions to any athlete’s training programme, however, it is easy to get caught up in the ever-growing amount of content online that claims to be the key to going pro! With everyone claiming to have the ‘secret’ no other coach knows, it is hard to know who to listen to, and more importantly, where to spend your money when looking to take that next step and get some coaching. So, as my first blog, I thought I would offer some advice as to how to get into strength training when trying to improve at your given sport. By the end of this short piece, you will be able to make more informed decisions for your training.
1. Your Sport Comes First!
This seems like something that shouldn’t need to be said but is often forgotten once in the gym. You shouldn’t be training exactly like a bodybuilder or powerlifter if your focus is your sport. You should decide what the important things are, train those, and leave. Doing endless amounts of work that has little benefit to your sport will only eat into your recovery. While throwing in some extra bicep curls or whatever it is you like won’t be the end of your athletic career, you need to make sure the time you are investing is giving you the return you’re looking for.
2. The Best Programme is The One You’ll Stick To
While there are certainly some poor programmes out there, there are also plenty of good ones too. The most common strength training programmes you might find online are ‘Starting Strength’, ‘Texas Method’, ‘5/3/1’, etc. Many have their merits, however, only work if you follow them properly. When you’re first starting out and you’re highly motivated it is easy to pick the one that sounds the most hardcore, but, and I speak from experience, the novelty soon wears off when you find yourself training at awkward times, not feeling good due to constantly being fatigued or not seeing the progress you expected. Therefore, finding one that fits around your schedule, focuses on lifts/styles that you prefer and hopefully is aimed at/adaptable to your specific sport is going to make you stick to it long enough to see the results.
3. Don’t Skip On Your Recovery
Think of training like baking a cake. The training in the gym, on the field, or whatever yours involves is the mixing of the ingredients, using the right amount of each to get the best result. However, all of that mixing (training) doesn’t count for anything unless the mix is left in the oven to bake. ‘Leaving the mix in the oven’ is the same as you recovering. Without going into the science of why sleep is the greatest recovery tool we have, or the use of ice baths, massage, etc, it is important to point out that training is the stimulus your body needs to want to change, but recovery is when the changes take place. If you cut your recovery short, you reduce the time your body spends actually changing, therefore, limiting results.
4. Leave Your Ego At The Door!
If you’ve spent any time in a commercial gym already, you have no doubt seen at least one person loading up a bar with loads of plates, or grabbing the heaviest dumbbell on the rack, only to move it 2 inches before getting up like they’re champion of the world. These are not the people you should be aiming to imitate. They have let their egos and their desire to appear like the biggest, strongest person in the room overtake their desire to get a good training response. Be realistic with the weights you need to use to make the exercise challenging without letting technique go out the window. The better you execute an exercise, the more you’ll get out of it. The better you stick to a programme, the better your progress will be. Letting your ego take over and just aiming to lift the heaviest thing possible will only fast track you to being fatigued and increase your risk of injury.
Tom Whitaker, our Strength & Conditioning Coach at Pyramid Performance & Health, holds a Masters Degree in Strength & Conditioning in addition to a wealth of experience and qualifications in Sports Science & Rehabilitation. To book an initial consultation with Tom, click below.