Athletes require more strength to become more powerful, and lifting weights is the easiest way to get stronger.
But, the “type” of lifting that an athlete should do is quite a bit different from the way non-athletes lift.
In order to maximize performance, get the best use of your time, and reduce the risk of injury, you as an athlete should follow these two guidelines and do the “right type” of lifting.
1. Focus on compound movements, and not isolation.
Isolation exercises serve two purposes – to rehab an injured joint, and to increase the muscular size of a single muscle.
The former is prescribed by doctors and physical therapists to patients who have just had surgery or are experiencing joint pain. The latter is used by bodybuilders to shape their bodies in a particular way.
Because athletes need to be powerful, isolation exercises will have no use in an athlete’s lifting program.
2. Focus on simple compound movements, and not Olympic lifts.
Olympic lifting (e.g. the clean & jerk and the snatch, as well as their variations) are wildly popular with coaches because they are explosive lifts.
Indeed, they increase power and speed, and Olympic weightlifters usually have awesome 100-meter sprint times and vertical jumps.
However, Olympic weightlifting is its own sport … these lifts take months, usually years, to master.
It’s akin to telling a football quarterback to learn how to pitch a baseball in order to throw a football faster and farther.
It doesn’t make any sense. It takes up too much time, interferes with the athlete’s current skills, and doesn’t provide enormous benefits in a reasonable timeframe.
The common, simple compound movements – such as the deadlift, squat, bench press, and row – should be the “meat and potatoes” of an athlete’s lifting program.
Their program should not focus on individual muscles, but should not involve overly complicated movements such as the Olympic lifts.
Following these two guidelines, you will get the most out of your lifting program and become a stronger, faster athlete.
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