Proper conditioning is essential for athletic performance and health, as well as preparing your body for the rigors of competition and the demands of your sport. Adequate conditioning only takes a little talent, but it does take a certain amount of intelligence (to do it right).
Top conditioning separates men from boys, the women from girls. It seems all so simple; it makes you think about how it all can go wrong. It’s common sense, but it shows you that common sense is rare.
Here are a few of my top conditioning tips to help you raise your game.
Train Body Weight
Bodybuilding still has an iron grip on the iron game and, sadly enough, sports performance. The beginning of your strength routine should have nothing to do with iron in the first place.
Some overenthusiastic coaches will have the athletes start with benching, which could be better. The chance of acquiring an injury is too great; begin your strength training with the basics.
Train your body weight before using weights or any other external resistance. Many athletes scoff at mentioning bodyweight exercises, like bodyweight exercises are only for punks. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Body weight exercises are f—ing hard! Athletes have no business benching or squatting until they can control their body, stabilizing their shoulder girdle and core by doing push-ups and full squats.
I can’t count how many athletes I’ve witnessed load up the bar for their squat and bench press (and execute these exercises with poor form) while they can only correctly do a full squat or one-leg squat with no weight! Body control and stabilization are far more critical than Max strength.
With power and stabilization, stability is of use. Once you develop these qualities, you will be surprised how fast you progress.
Train with free weights.
Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about free weights. I am a strong advocate of free weight training over machine-based training. For every athlete training today, the benefits of exercise with free weights should be common knowledge.
Benefits such as stabilization and body control in three planes in motion cannot be acquired with machine training. But I still see too much machine-based activity in several of the strength and conditioning workout books I purchase (e.g., lots of leg extensions and curls).
People, we are “athletes,” not bodybuilders! As far as I’m concerned, machine-based training is only valid for beginners for a limited time and very sparingly.
Use various methods to train multiple joints to develop strength and power.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, which was said to me a long time ago (O.K., I admit getting old!–But aren’t we all?). Meaning there’s more than one to get the job done. But there’s only one way to get the job done if you want maximum strength and power – Training multiple joints.
Training multiple joints helps develop explosive force and coordination. It can do much more for you than a bicep or leg extension exercise, which has no place in an athletic development program. They’re more for aesthetics (show) than anything else.
Don’t limit yourself when choosing MJ exercises (In this case, for those that don’t know, MJ means multiple joints – not Michael Jordan!). For example, Back squats and leg presses aren’t the only game in town when it comes to developing leg strength to increase your vertical jump.
Try doing full-front squats instead. This version of the squat should be used more often, rarely. Great exercise! In one movement, you develop core strength and multi-joint flexibility (wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle).
Also, combine various lifts to cut training time and intensify your training effect. For example, deep front squats with a shoulder press, lunge with a shoulder press, or combining a Romanian deadlift with a back row. These lifts will tax your nervous system!
Train multi-planar and unilaterally.
More than 85% of your core musculature/powerhouse/pillar, whatever you want to call it, is rotational. And most sports, I’ll say more than 95%, take place in all three planes of motion simultaneously, backward and Forward, side to side, and up and down, with unilateral movements.
Yet most strength programs use exercises and activities with bilateral movements in the sagittal plane (Back to Front). How is that possible? More than 80% of the gait cycle (running and walking) is spent on one leg.
Every sports performance program on the planet should include one Leg squats, split squats, lunges, and step-ups. If these exercises are not in your schedule, you must seriously reevaluate your program!
Hey, nobody said that getting better was easy! Keep focused.
There’s nothing like old-school exercises for enhancing athletic performance. By adhering to these tips listed, you’ll already have a big jump in the competition. I guarantee it.