by Bob Vandersluis
The goal of training is to improve, not push yourself to the point of acute or chronic injury. We started our program based on the idea that it would be safe AND super effective, as ALL training should be.
Over the last 7 years of being a trainer, I have witnessed countless people injure themselves while doing a variety of movements, in various training settings, and that is NOT ok. I’ve seen teens, elite college, and adult weekend warrior type athletes all fall victim to poor training techniques or mindsets. ALL of these injuries can be avoided, without a doubt. As sure as I am that the sun will rise in the morning, I am sure of this.
Dan John explains it very well with this simple quote.
“One thing I’ve learned is that it is “almost” ok to get injured in competition, but it’s insane to get hurt in preparation. Stopping several reps short of failure or injury may not sound as courageous on paper, but coming back to train tomorrow is more important than an additional “junk” rep.
Here are 3 things to do if you want to injure yourself.
1) Speed, Agility and Power When Fatigued
If you want to do aerobic capacity work or cardio, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you’re not putting yourself at risk. If you are completing movements that require some precision or max effort, you will see more of a benefit doing these when you are fully recovered for each set.
Box jumps that are supposed to be executed to develop force and max power should not be done when fatigued. When the body can no longer execute the movement effectively, and the execution begins to look sloppy, the risk for injury is increased.
There is a time at the end of a training session that you can use box jumps as a conditioning exercise however. A couple of key points to ensure safety and maximize results.
– use soft boxes
-reduce the height of the boxes if the objective is cardio output, rather than power output.
-step down and don’t hop down from the box
– jumping and landing technique should be practiced and perfected utilizing this drill when tired.
Speed and Agility Drills
When is the best time to complete speed and agility drills? We recommend at the beginning of each training session, so that athletes have the energy and cognition to complete these drills properly and maximize the returns.
Movement patterns are programmed neurologically, and if these movements are sloppy because of fatigue, that ‘s how the brain will remember them, and keep them programmed like that until a change is made.
We sometimes will use low level agility drills at the end of a session as part of an athlete’s conditioning, but we always program simple movements so as not to tax the athlete neurologically, and so that no new learning is required.
2) Use the same weights as someone else
It’s easy, especially in a group setting to get lazy and avoid changes weights to match your ability and experience. We see this frequently when we have teams in to train, and one athlete who is 5’4, 120lbs, with little to no experience, thinks it is appropriate to lift the same as a 5’8, 140lbs, experienced teammate.
In our adult classes we ensure that there is time in between sets, especially for the compound movements, in order to adjust the weights. The last thing we want is for someone to get injured because they didn’t have time to change weights because we were moving the program along too fast, and they are unsuccessful, or worse, injured.
Another scenario we see is when people AREN’T lifting as much as they should because whoever had the bar before them was less experienced, or not quite as strong, and had less weight on the bar. This also is a great way to plateau quickly, and not see the results you desire.
Weight training should be individualized for the most part, and each athlete should be lifting an appropriate amount of weight.
3) Poor Form
The more technical the movement, the more attention should be made to perfect execution. If things like squats, deadlifts, cleans, and snatches are performed poorly, especially when tired, there is a significant risk of injury.
Olympic lifting especially is very closely monitored at Peak, and critiqued to the most minute detail. We want all of our athletes to have healthy shoulders, backs and knees for a long time.
3b) Prep work
Athletes should avoid just jumping right into these very technical compound movements. There is a variety of ways that you can prep your body to complete these exercises with efficiency, and when all the necessary muscles are firing properly.
Here are some examples of how we prep for each of the compound movements:
Squat- We first get the primary movers of the squat pattern fred up as well as the central nervous system.
In order to recruit the necessary muscles for the squat, we do a ton of posterior chain work: including hamstring curls, and glute bridges.
Next we will pattern the squat with some kneeling rock backs, or rock backs into a deep squat, or a deep squat stretch, or moving mobility.
Lastly, in order to prime the central nervous system, we complete some explosive exercises to unlock the true power potential of the squat, and some core stiffness patterns to ensure the body knows it’s time to get rigid in the midsection to protect our spine.
SImple things like depth drops, vertical jumps and box jumps work well from an explosive standpoint.
For core prep we like to use the med ball for anti-extension and anti-side flexion. Med ball slams, or underhand scoops for height are great. If you don’t have a med ball or space, low planks work great too.
The idea of training is to help your body long term, and feel good. If you are unfortunate enough to get an acute injury, or even something chronic from a movement that doesn’t hurt you immediately, but over the long term is not healthy, then you need to adjust your programming, intensity, or improve your motor patterns accordingly.
These can all be done under the guidance of knowledgeable trainers in settings where your needs as an individual are considered. Too often we see large groups, and atmospheres that don’t promote the individual attention as much as they promote go faster, longer and harder, and come up for air at the end.
Remember, if you are too sore or hurt to train tomorrow, the training you did today is counter productive.