When it comes time to develop a workout program, training smart and efficiently are the keys. An athlete's biomechanics, proper program design around injury prevention and establishing a progressive load all provide the blueprint for a successful program. Let's dive into it a little more.
To put it simply, biomechanics are how an athlete moves. You must remember, an athlete is an individual, so there's no "turnkey" solution in which everyone can be on the same program. The first step is to establish and address any biomechanical imbalances including:
» Limited range of motion, whether a joint or muscle.
» Inability to activate certain muscles due to limited range, exercise selection or lack of understanding proper technique/limited coaching.
At Proactive Sports, we work with a variety of athletes from high school to professional whom are often too concerned with the amount of weight they are pushing as opposed to how and if they are moving the weight efficiently. Using leverage to lift more weight is not the most efficient way to gain strength. Make sure to understand there's a big difference between demonstrating strength and improving strength.
Let's break it down into an example. A big arch and a wide grip on the bench press might allow an athlete to lift more when they are testing or training. However, by lifting this way the athlete is limiting their range of motion and putting unnecessary stress on their joints. Narrowing their grip and limiting the arching of their lower back will properly load the muscles they're trying to strengthen as a football player.
When developing a training program, it's important to keep injury prevention at the forefront. Unfortunately, you can never fully guarantee safety or an athlete to be injury free, but a properly laid out and executed program will limit injuries.
At Proactive Sports, we take a very systematic approach when designing any of our running programs. The load should be progressive in nature, preparing the athlete for specific time periods. This is executed by always documenting what the athlete is doing, including exercise selection.
Work to establish a progressive program. Some athletes do too much change of direction too early in their training, which puts unnecessary stresses on their body. Some athletes do too little and try to catch up, which more than likely results in an injury.
Finally, lifting is a key factor in the realm of injury prevention. A consistent program provides the opportunity to develop a proper strength base, which minimizes loads on the joint. If an athlete doesn't ever activate their glutes, they will put a greater load on the hamstring. In a dynamic sport such as football, this is one of the reasons an athlete could possibly pull a hamstring. Remember, and this will be hammered in to your programming now, to keep proper exercise selection and individual load as your benchmarks.
Ryan Capretta is the founder and director of Proactive Sports Performance and an NFL Up! Fitness Ambassador. Capretta has trained athletes such as Aaron Rodgers, C.J. Spiller, Clay Matthews and Colin Kaepernick.