My top tips for those getting into strength sports
What's the best advice you can give someone whos looking to get into strength sports or even resistance training at all? It's a good question so I composed a list of all the things I know now that I wish I knew then. let's call this the fundamentals of strength training.
1 - Develop Flexibility.
I get it stretching and mobility work is boring, painful and time consuming you could even go as far as to say soul-crushing. But unless you had the foresight as a child to preserve your full range of motion then it's not exactly an option you get to choose so just quit whining and accept you going to have to spend some time developing and maintaining your flexibility. Having good flexibility and mobility is essential to being able to achieve the correct lifting positions. 10-20mins per day is enough to make drastic improvements, my advice would be stick to the basics but holding your stretches for 5's isn't going to do anything 30's/60's every time.
2 - Strengthen Tendons and Ligaments
Tendons connect your muscles to your bones so you might say they are pretty important. Muscle strength improves faster than the strength of tendons and ligaments. I have seen enough biceps and pecs detach in my time that it's safe to say you probably want to avoid that happening. We perform stages of high volume very low load work to ensure the tendons and ligaments are adequately conditioned to handle the stress of heavy loads. It's also important to regularly break from heavy loading to ensure restoration and adaption take place. So firstly making sure the muscle and joint are able to move through a full range before you go about loading it up with weight, and also ensuring you do extra high rep load weight work I'm talking sets of 100reps with an empty bar kinda high rep low load, sets in order to strengthen them.
3 - Develop Core Strength
A weak trunk will lead to energy leaks and increased risk of injury. Making your legs and arms stronger in absence of the core muscles is a waste of time, we have all seen those guys who can leg press 400kg but can't squat 100kg I mean leg strength probably isn't their issue it's their core that's weak. During a maximal squat, clean and jerk or yoke carry the trunk flexors and extensions work together in an isometric fashion to help you stabilize and brace your trunk. You need to be able to hold these positions throughout the duration of the lift or event or you increase your risk of injury. Also, a strong and stable trunk promotes efficient body mechanics which allows you to maximize your force production. Do core work everyday bird dogs, dead bugs, planks, side planks, reverse planks, reverse hypers and good mornings. I opt for more strength endurance based core work so high reps or time.
4 - Develop the stabilisers
This one is simple really prime movers are able to work more efficiently when the stabilisers are adequately developed. Stabilisers primarily contract to immobilise or prevent a joint moving in order to allow another part of the body to move. During a squat, for example, the muscle the abductor and adduct the thigh contract to stop the thigh moving all other the place which in turn allow the quads and glutes to contract to make you stand up.
5 - Deload
Deloading allows your body to recover from your training block. And without recovery adaptations will be minimal at best. The easiest way to implement deloads is to cut %(intensity) and volume in half every 4th week of training. Cough... Cough....This is the perfect time to really work on flexibility and mobility.
6 - Become a Technician
Become a student of the game and learn how to perfect the technique of your competition lifts. Being technically good will allow you to maximise your leverages and lift more kg's. It will also enable you to lift in the safest way possible.
7 - Understand the difference between a Training Max and a Competition Max
Competition Maximal efforts carry a log of emotional stress and wreak havoc on the central nervous system and should be reserved for competitions or periods of heavy loading which should make up less than 10% of your yearly training efforts. The distribution of weights lifted by members of the 1988 USSR Olympic team where as follows 35% fell between70-80%, 26% fell between 80-90% with only 7% at 90%+. So 61% of their yearly volume was lifted between 70-90%. These percentages allow you to make good consistent progress without burning out.
7 - Appreciate the Process
Understand that becoming strong is a marathon, not a sprint. You remodeling the physiology of your body this takes time. The human body and its ability to adapt is amazing but adaptions take time. So settle down for the long haul!