Let's face it, training is incredibly demanding. It's a beautiful thing to see what your body can do when you push yourself; but there's no reward if you're not willing to do that. At the same time, you also have to appreciate that more isn't always better.
There's a delicate balance between being conservative and getting out of your comfort zone—and you'll find that operating between two extremes can produce positive outcomes, especially when you're trying to boost your performance on the field. Work out smarter, not harder.
1. Perform Face-Pulls and Band Pull-Aparts to keep your shoulders healthy
The shoulder is perhaps the most commonly injured area, not just in the athletic community, but also in the general population. They're a ticking time bomb because at some point they're going to flip you the finger, whether it's from inappropriate training or from poor posture.
The simplest, most effective way to reduce the likelihood of shoulder pain is to develop the muscles of the upper back. Hear me out: Face-Pulls and Band Pull-Aparts are not just corrective exercises or activation drills. Applying them appropriately in your training can strengthen the weak links in your upper back and improve your posture. Win-win.
2. Use Fat Gripz in your warm-up sets
Focus, concentration and technique are more important than many people think. They are all critical when working up to an appreciable load on compound movements like the Deadlift or Bench Press.
Fat Gripz is a great tool to improve your grip strength. Another cool thing is that adding them to your warm-up sets actually enables you to lift more weight once you take them off. You essentially make the exercise slightly more difficult to trigger the heightened involvement of your nervous system. By definition, you're recruiting more muscle with less loading.
3. Prioritize single-leg work
Before you throw the yellow flag, I'm not against traditional squatting and deadlifting. They're vital to a well-balanced strength training program. Your body, however, takes a beating. There's only so much load it can tolerate before you start to get diminishing returns. Splitting the load in half and prioritizing single-leg work provides a comparable training effect, if not better.
You don't impose a ton of sheer and compressive force on your spine, and since sports are played on mostly one leg, it's much more sport-specific.
4. Perform Banded Sumo Walks to activate your glutes
Your glutes are responsible for producing a ton of force, so you're not doing yourself any favors by ignoring them. If they're firing on all cylinders, your knees and/or low back end up taking a hit. Activating your glutes by adding a mini-band around your knees and forcing your knees out while you walk side to side enables you to move and perform better.
5. Pair your strength work with mobility drills
Freakish levels of strength should be commended and appreciated, but I've learned the hard way that being strong doesn't mean a thing if you move like a tin can. Emphasizing mobility goes a long way, because if you can't move well, guess what? You're not going to perform well.
Have fun sitting on the bench.
Understand that being strong and mobile are inseparable—the two go hand in hand. A great way to avoid the monotony of mobility work is to pair those exercises with your strength work.
Main Exercise Mobility Drill
- Front Squat Stationary Spiderman w/ Reach
- Bench Press Quad Hip Flexor Mobilization
- Deadlift Prone One-Arm Trap Raise