In the pursuit of health and fitness, the gym is often our sanctuary. It's a place where we challenge our bodies, strive for physical excellence, and push our limits. To the average gym goer, it can be overwhelming navigating all the information out there about training and injury prevention in the gym. There are thousands of "experts" and social media icons chiming in on what to do and not to do in the gym. Often they are contradicting themselves and it is freaking confusing! We are here to simplify it for you. We will cover 5 things you should be doing in the gym to ensure you are making progress as well as staying injury free.
1. AVOID THE 4 TOO'S:
Too much too soon, after doing too little for too long. If you haven't played basketball in a year, then you probably shouldn't jump into a basketball league tournament. Instead, you should gradually expose yourself to basketball and slowly ramp up volume. If you haven't deadlifted in a few months, you probably shouldn't do a 1 rep max. Instead, you should slowly ramp up exposure to deadlifting.
2. TRAINING AT LONG MUSCLE LENGTHS:
Training through a full range of motion is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy in the gym. This allows you to build solid mobility while also strengthening these ranges. For example, instead of just squatting to 90 degrees, take a little weight off, elevate your heels and squat all the way down. This ensures we do not neglect strength in those deeper ranges. It better prepares our joints and muscles to withstand awkward angles and forces we may experience in the chaos of sports. This ability also builds and preserves good hip, ankle and knee mobility.
3. TRAIN YOUR SPINE
This is a big one. The spine is the single greatest source of fear mongering and misinformation out there. Why should we treat our spine any different than any other muscle or joint? It is a series of a bunch of joints, surrounded by a bunch of muscles. If it was meant to not move, I highly doubt it would be made up of a series of very moveable joints. As such, instead of locking up the spine, we should be moving and strengthening it, through a full range of motion.
4. VARIETY IS KING
Bruce Lee once said, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.". I disagree. Life is a game of variety management. No single step, squat, press, jump, pass, dribble is exactly the same. Throughout sports and life we are constantly varying our movements based off our external environment. It would make sense if you learned how to squat, kick, or throw only one specific way, when life hits you with the guarantee of variability you will be woefully unprepared. The more variety you are able to handle the better prepared you will be for sports/life. Instead of just getting good at one lift or jump or whatever exercise. Try to get pretty good at a wide variety of lifts and jumps.
5. SURF THE CURVE
I think playing with tempo is a great way to better prepare tissue to tolerate a wide variety of force and impact. A slow 5 second eccentric (lowering) on bench press compared to a fast drop on bench press is going to have different adaptations on the soft tissues in question. So instead of always using the same tempo, add in some slow lowers, pauses, and fast drops. Exposing your body to fast eccentric contractions can be a powerful stimulus to move the needle and better prepare your body.
Here is a good example of a fast eccentric movement.
Hopefully that make sense and gives you some actionable information you can take with you into the gym with you to make you a better more robust mover/athlete.
BIG CAT OUT🦁