How To Become A Better Athlete - A Surprising & Relevant Tip
A Great Athlete is a Well-Rounded Athlete
“You don’t have to strength train to be an athlete, but to be a BETTER athlete, you MUST strength train.” This is so fundamentally true!
Here’s a story of one of my athletes, Ashley. She’s an avid runner and has been running for most of her life. For years she really enjoyed competing in marathon races. Running is basically all she knew. But over the years she suffered through numerous injuries like intensely painful Achilies tendonitis. This often left her sitting on the sideline, leaving her frustrated. But like most athletes, she bounced back, sucked it up, and kept on running.
What really reached the tipping point was when she developed Jumper’s knee which left her in a brace for a couple of weeks. Just the thought of taking another extensive break from running was a really hard pill for her to swallow.
At this point in her life, she felt defeated. She felt having no choice but to accept never being able be able to run as often as she liked, as fast, or compete again. She was increasing incredibly concerned that her old injuries would flare up.
Soon after, she was introduced to strength training. As her coaches, we changed her perception on why she acquired those injuries by helping her recognize muscular weaknesses that were causing them. The key was to not only strengthen those weak areas, but to help her body possess a well-rounded ratio of strength to endure the repetitive demands of running. After investing her time in proper strength training, she was able to get back to her running schedule while maintaining her lifting routine. Becoming a better athlete by incorporating strength training is not difficult, but it’s easily overlooked. Building a stronger body has such a positive impact on all areas of performance. It helps break the cycle of injury from sports which often leaves our bodies vulnerable due to muscular imbalances and naturally occurring faulty movement patterns.
This is one of many reasons, why weight training is essential to becoming a better athlete.
Train Your Opposite Muscles to Decrease Repetitive Injuries
I’ll give you another example: your goal is to build a bigger chest, but you’re dealing with shoulder pain on your right, front side. It’s likely due to heavy emphasis on chest press exercises, so the repetitive nature of that angle on the shoulder joint has caused it to flare up. Basically, your training needs to have balance with the opposite contraction, like a row exercise. Spending time in a phase strengthening your back and less time overworking your chest will give you a bigger return in your investment in building a bigger chest.
Train Your Weak Areas to Lower the Severity (and Frequency) of Injuries
To finish up here, I’ll give you one more example of one of my athletes, Kathryn.
She’s a Volleyball player who dealt with recurring shoulder pain which had affected her ability to produce overhead force when hitting the ball across the court, oftentimes keeping her out of games. But with a sport like Volleyball, it places repetitive demand on the shoulder by overloading the tissues around the rotator cuff, pec minor, and the deltoids (soft tissues surrounding the shoulder).
She realized if she wanted to maintain her strength and power in this high-paced and dynamic sport, she needed to strengthen her shoulder and the surrounding muscles. So, I put her through a progressive structural balance strength training plan. Within a couple of months she had noticed a difference in the way her arm and shoulder felt, moved, and how she was able to sustain herself while playing. Though her journey is far from over, she continues to improve by strengthening and balancing her muscles through training so that her performance doesn’t suffer on the court.
Ultimately, achieving structural balance and having all your supporting muscles assisting your bigger muscles to perform your actions is key to optimal performance in any sport.
In what I commonly find from most athletes is that they aren’t aware they have these structural discrepancies. Most of the time it this due to their training program where they may feel they are performing the right exercises. But they are spending too much time on strengthening areas that are already strong to further their performance, leaving out their weak areas. Or they may leave certain essential exercises to the end.
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If you find yourself struggling or dealing with injuries similar my two athletes, I would highly recommend our 6-month, BULLETPROOF athlete workout program that provides:
– Structure and strategic workout phases
– Video demo for all exercises
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