Proper form and technique
This is going to be a generalized statement, but I promise it will apply to 90% of the people reading this. When lifting any weight, you should be doing the concentric motion (muscle shortening) for 3 seconds and eccentric (muscle lengthening) for 3 seconds. I can’t tell you how many times I see people doing 10 reps in the matter of 10 seconds. Yes, you do get some benefit, but not as much as you could be. Slow down, get more out of it.
Secondly, when performing a lift, ask yourself if you know what muscle you are trying to develop. The second mistake that is most often seen is the “rocking” of the body to lift the weight. By rocking your body, you are actually taking away from the muscle focus and instead turning it into a physics equation. Do yourself a favor and control the weight in a manner that isolates the muscles you are working on. For example, when doing a bicep curl, you should never have to bend your back and swing the weight. Rather, you should be able to stand with good posture, hinge at the elbow, and move the weight in a motion that is controlled and deliberate.
For triathletes, cyclists, and runners, the biggest reason to lift weights is to balance out muscles and help with injury prevention. However, for many other athletes, there are different types of lifting you could do. There is power lifting which helps develop explosive movements and your body’s ability to generate power. There is hypertrophy where it may be the goal of the athlete to bulk up and get big. There is general strength which is the category most individuals fall into. Then there is muscular endurance where the goal of the athlete is to help develop the muscles ability to fight fatigue. All of these different types of lifting have a different rep, set, and recovery scheme to help stress the body in the correct way. Are you sure you are doing the correct scheme to maximize your results?
All of the methods above go off of an athletes max weight. Just as in endurance sports, it is a good idea that an EXPERIENCED lifter test their max output. Based off this test, 1 rep max (1RM), you will then have specific weights you should be lifting based on your goals. See example below.
Athlete 1RM Bench press = 200 lbs
Goal = overall strength
Strength lifting is 85% of 1RM for 6 reps and 2-6 sets with a 2-5 min recovery
Athlete should be lifting 170 lbs for 6 reps, 2-6 sets, with a 2-5 min recovery. This varies for experience level in terms of sets and recovery time.
Periodization of Weight Training
I’m here to tell you that just like other sports, you cannot lift all year and see massive “gains”. You should have a periodization schedule in place with your trainer or coach that highlights an out-of-season, pre-season, in-season, and post-season. Based on what season you are in should not only tell you how often to workout, but also what category of the lifting goal you are working on. This will be different for all sports, so it is important that you really sit down and think about what you want and when you want it to take place. The chart below is a rough guideline of workouts per week for an experienced lifter.
Part of Season Lifts per week
- NSCA Standards
There is a proper way to lift and a reason for what you are trying to do. I hope you take some time to relate this information to your own self and think about what you should be doing and when. The job of a personal trainer is to help you maximize your time in the weight room and to put all of these things into perspective for you. Lifting weights isn’t meant to be a fast, out-of-control movement. Rather, if done correctly, it can be one of the most beneficial things you could do for your athletic performance.
Lastly, I understand that what I mentioned throughout is a general blanket statement. You as an athlete are an individual so it is important that you realize you may be an outlier or have different requirements. Again, this is a great opportunity to consult with a personal trainer or coach in order to help out and maximize your results.