Things You Don’t Train But Should
Things You Don’t Train But Should
Four tips to improve your physique and performance while decreasing your risk of injury.
After a recent conversation with a friend about how people don’t do enough dynamic training, I got to thinking about all the other things people don’t train, but probably should.
And, after some thought, I compiled the list below of things I believe have a massive effect on how you perform, yet are often neglected. These points, if trained correctly, will also have positive effects on your physique, performance and decrease your risk of injury.
Interested? Well here you go…
Show me someone who can carry a heavy load for distance and you’ve shown me someone I know is an athlete. The benefits of loaded carries are numerous. They teach full body rigidity, especially the ability to brace your core and prevent spinal movement. They also provide a huge stimulus for muscle growth, as you’ll be under constant tension, and the conditioning effect is unparalleled, i.e. they make you a badass.
My favorites include farmer’s walks, bear hug carries and bottoms up kettlebell carries. The bottom up kettlebell carry is particularly effective in teaching you how to pack your shoulder, which is vital for maximum performance, as well as for reducing risk of injury during a collision on the field.
To pack you shoulder during the bottoms up carry, contract your pecs and lats while at the same time pulling your shoulder back. Now squeeze the kettlebell handle as hard as possible. Attempt to dispel any areas of softness.
So you may not lift anyone with your neck, but having a strong neck is imperative, particularly if playing a contact sport. Yet I never really see anyone train it. Neck harnesses are championed as the best way to train, but I prefer, initially, anti-movement exercises.
I believe that resisting motion at the neck is a fundamental skill, and to do so, you first need to learn how to pack your neck. Stand against a wall, put your head back and make a double chin. This is a packed neck.
Next apply force to the front, back, and side of your head while resisting. Do not let your head move. You can apply load yourself with your hands or get your training partner to do it with their hands, or via a band.
You are only as strong as your weakest link. In the case of many athletes, this is their grip strength. Sure you may be one of the strongest guys in the gym, but unless you’ve got a grip to match, you won’t be able to demonstrate force on the field.
Some of my favorite ways to train grip are:
• Towel pull ups
• Farmers walks
• Hand grippers
• Towel single arm deadlifts
I particularly like the last exercise, especially if using kettlebells. Grab a towel and thread it through the handles of the kettlebells. Once you get above a certain weight you have to use multiple kettlebells, which when lifted move apart meaning you have to actively stop your hand from opening.
Dynamic strength is the ability to display strength quickly. The vast majority of people focus on their maximum strength, and on how many reps they can do. They unfortunately neglect speed.
Now, there are many ways to train dynamic strength with and without weights, but here are some of my favorites:
- Vertical jumps (with and without weights)
- Box jumps
- Dumbbell snatches
- Speed deadlifts – try 5 sets of 2 repetitions with half your one rep max
I also think that speed work can be included as warm ups for your other lifts. A lot of people will waste their warm up sets when training. Instead, use these sets as dynamic work and focus on lifting as fast as possible. This will also better prepare you for the heavier weights ahead.
The Bottom Line
Four areas, all often neglected despite the huge role they play in athletic performance, for you to focus on. Try them out and see your performance improve!
About the Author
Joseph Lightfoot is a Strength and Conditioning Coach from Manchester, UK. He is the Co-founder of Results Inc. (www.weareresults.com) and coaches a number of clients and athletes including the England Under 19 National Lacrosse team. He graduated medical school in 2012 and also has a a first class degree in Anatomy. To contact or find out more about Joe, visit www.jplightfoot.com or follow him on Twitter @JosephLightfoot.
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