The strength training has become an integral part of training for any of the sports. Along with improving agility, sharpness, speed and technical ability, the athletes are required to improve strength as well. The leading athletes in various sports have also proved that how beneficial strength can be for your game. Cristiano Ronaldo owes his success to his superhuman strength as much as he owes to his finishing skills. Similarly, Lebron James’ game has also been improved because of strength training.
However, despite this apparent importance of strength training, most of the young athletes have no clue about strength training. Most high school and college athletic departments lack proper strength and conditioning programs, due to which students often have to figure out everything about lifting weights on their own.
The regular bodybuilding is great for a regular guy. However, it would be completely unsuitable for an athlete who needs development of specific body part or physical attribute to improve his game. So, here are some tips that could help a young athlete starting out in the weight room.
Nutrition is just as important as exercise
The secret to building stronger and bigger muscles is proper nutrition. If you aren’t eating right, then no amount of work in the gym could help you out. Have you seen that hulky guy walking around with swagger in the gym? Yes, the same one who always inspires awe. In all probability, he has been extremely diligent about the nutritional needs of his body. And, if you take a look into his gym bag (it is a metaphor, never do it in reality. Whatsoever.), you will find that he carries around a box of post workout snack. So like bodybuilders, it’s also very important that athletes take special care of their diet. It would be better if you plan your meals ahead and carry them around. This will ensure that you never miss out on a post workout meal or indulge in unhealthy snacking while traveling around.
The bodybuilders in bid to achieve their best body for the competitions often go to extremes, which should be avoided otherwise. Whether it is avoiding carbs, fluids, fat or calories, majority of bodybuilders starve themselves of important nutrients to achieve the shredded and ripped physique.
For example, the bodybuilders often go on a low carb diet to get the superb physique. In such diets, the daily intake of carbohydrates is decreased to 1/5th or 1/10th of daily requirement. And, at the same time, they continue their grueling and taxing workout regimes. This depletes the glycogen stores in the body and leads to production of ketones. The negative effects of ketosis (production of ketones) include fatigue, dizziness, abnormally low blood sugar content, sugar cravings and diarrhoea. Other serious health problems include stress on kidneys and even possibility of heart disease.
The extreme measures may speed up weight loss process and could build muscles quickly, but it could cause serious performance issues. So, stay away.
Feel the Burn
To maximize your gains, you need to feel the burn. You need to feel the movement of the muscle fibres. The bodybuilders have developed this ability and can feel the muscle movement as they move weight from one point to another. This phenomenon is also called muscle mind connection.
The first step towards the muscle contraction is the signal sent by the brain to your muscles telling them to contract. The better communication between the mind and muscles, the more muscle fibres would be recruited in the movement. And, better the muscle contraction, the better quality of the workout would be.
Movement quality is very important for improving your muscles. While doing bicep curls, you need to feel the contraction of biceps brachii. And, during the squats, you need to feel every muscle that is employed in completing the movement. The best way to do so is concentrate. You need to focus your mind on your physical routine.
Body Splits aren’t Useful
Training a specific body part, is the usual way to go for those looking to build muscles. They are so ingrained in the bodybuilding workout routines that even those who have set a foot in the gym just once, would be aware of this workout routine. Yes, they are the best way to build bigger muscles. But, they often lead to extreme soreness and are loaded with too many isolation exercises.
The athletes with practice sessions, games and skill work already have too much physical burden on the body to do isolation exercises. The body split workout works well, when you can rest a specific muscle after the split for at least three days. And, when you have to report for a training session every day, the prospect of resting specific muscles is nearly impossible.
The full body workouts are the best option for the athletes. Or, you can go for the upper body and lower body training splits. Such workouts rely on compound exercises such as snatches, squats, rows and deadlifts that will improve your power as wells as strength.
Go Easy on Supplements
Any bodybuilding website, you open or any bodybuilding magazine you read, you will often find that they are half filled with supplement ads. You can’t even find any bodybuilder interview that doesn’t have reference or endorsement of any supplement. Basically, the multi-billion supplement industry relies heavily on endorsements by professional bodybuilders, whether retired or active. So, if that guy with awesome biceps is telling you to take so and so supplement, it doesn’t mean you have to.
The biggest problem with supplements is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has little power to regulate the supplement industry, which means you can’t be really sure about the quality and ingredients. In fact, many supplements contain ingredients on the NCAA’s List of Banned Substances. The bigger and stronger muscles won’t do you any good, if you fail a drug test because of a supplement.
Consult a Doctor or a Trainer
Before taking any supplement, it is wise to consult a doctor or a physical trainer. A doctor along with letting you know, which supplement is beneficial and which is not, can also help you identify whether the supplement contains any banned substance or not. Also, the doctor can tell whether there is any substance to the boisterous and tall claims made by the supplement company. Though, most athletic training rooms have a list of banned substances, but if you have any doubt, you can always consult your athletic trainer.
The athletic trainer can help you judge whether the bodybuilding training, you have selected can be beneficial or not. Also, you can discuss what kind of training will be beneficial and which body part you should focus on more.