Workout Strategies for an Iron-Clad Body
Being a dedicated lifter is filled with days that require you to push through exhaustion, soreness, and lack of motivation to see the fruits of your labor. It also takes tremendous sacrifice to stick to a routine long enough to see results.
Being a dedicated lifter isn't for everyone, but if you're a card-carrying member of this club, you wouldn't have it any other way. Your dedication to such a grueling process deserves to be optimized. That means avoiding injury.
Here are five ways to bulletproof your body and make your training far more effective.
Many lifters embrace the grind to a fault. We all know the lifter who pushes too hard too often. He gets stuck in a lengthy plateau, constantly battles illness, or ends up sidelined. A smart lifter avoids these traps by factoring deload weeks into his training every 6 to 12 weeks.
Even a subtle dial-down in total volume of work can go a long way to keep you going. You can often keep intensity up and just reduce the volume to let your body catch up. Many lifters see noticeable progress in the week or weeks after a deload week.
Isolation lifts actually promote tissue health and durability. Lifters tend to focus on lifts that'll get them bigger or stronger on the squat, deadlift, and bench. The only problem with these approaches? They leave little time for isolated work on the supporting muscles and tendons.
Sometimes this is mobility work, but often this is the loading of tendons or tissues. A good example of this is shoulder or rotator cuff strengthening and shoulder mobility exercises. This is especially important for lifters who go hard on chest and bench press work.
It's hard to go heavy on single-leg work, so many lifters who let their ego guide their training have a hard time incorporating it.
Many think it's unnecessary and won't drive significant strength or growth. They're wrong. Single-leg work is a joint-friendly way to develop the strength and balance you'll need for the bigger, bilateral lifts. A few exercises built into your program can go a long way in promoting your longevity and performance. Try this:
Many of the bigger, more traditional lifts happen in the sagittal plane. The sagittal plane is an anatomical plane that cuts the body into right and left parts. This results in exercises that promote and require work in straight-ahead actions.
This can become a problem because our joints, muscles, and supporting structures are all designed to operate in many planes and directions. We are multidirectional beings.
So adding multiplanar exercises into your training is a great way to keep your muscles, joints, and supporting tissues away from chronic overuse injuries. Strengthening in multiple planes of action also bolsters the power and strength you need for your big lifts in the sagittal plane. Try these:
Many lifters don't see themselves as jump/land athletes, so they discard the idea of doing any form of plyo. The reason I like to sprinkle some ballistic work in? It can promote power, strength, and explosiveness that'll translate to better performance in your squats, deadlifts, or bench press.
Doing regular explosive or ballistic work is also a great way to prepare for major loads when you're under the bar. It'll help prevent quadriceps, hamstring, or pec strains and ruptures that can happen when lifting hard.
The overload that plyometrics and ballistic exercises create on the muscles, tendons, and supporting structures will be important for your next PR. If you haven't done much of this type of work, start with these: