How to train more efficiently
1) Dynamic Warms ups: Walking and/or jogging is a great way to prepare the body for the demand of weight lifting. However, if you plan to engage and attack certain muscles groups, those particular muscle groups should be properly accustomed to more intense similar movements. For instance, if I were going to do a barbell bicep curl (let’s say moderately to heavy weight) I would want to prepare both heads of the bicep for the demand. A few examples would be: isolated wall push-ups, arm swings or band front and side curls. Also, it’s important to engage the opposing muscle group (the triceps) even though you are specifically training the bicep. Why? The triceps become the stabilizer when training biceps. So, if the triceps are warmed up along with the biceps, and put through a series of R.O.M tests, you are going to perform better. You will also be able to lift heavier. Finally, it’s important to take this warm up time to get your head in the game. Leave any BS at the door, crank up your music, focus in on the task at hand and get yourself mentally prepared to kick some serious a**
2) Static Cool Down: Do not forget to stretch after strength training! Now, let’s get one thing straight: Stretching more does not reduce your risk of injury. That’s a bunch of crap. When you stretch, your muscles, tendons and ligaments become more pliable and that can actually increase your risk of injury. Also, there is zero evidence that supports that static stretches will help with D.O.M.S (Delay Onset Muscle Soreness) It varies from one person to another. Static stretches are primarily done to improve flexibility. That’s it! So, you should be intentional with your stretches if you want to improve flexibility in certain areas. For instance, if you desire to have greater depth on your squats, you should spend extra time after your strength training to stretch out your hip flexors and abductors. If you want a better shoulder grip on a barbell, you could spend extra time stretching out your external and internal rotation of the deltoids. If you looking to improve strength, power, speed and/or agility, focus more on the dynamic warm ups.
3) Foam Rolling: I hate to say it friends, but if you have been strength training for a long period of time, injury is part of the program. Now, I would never want any of my clients to sprain an ankle or break a wrist or tear a muscle and so on and so forth, but pulls, knots, bruises, cuts, aches, scrapes and lots and lots of soreness is inevitable. And every now and then, you can really injure yourself. So, we must prepare! That’s why we roll!
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what is a knot? Why do we get them and what is our body telling us? A knot is when various muscle fibers start to stick to each other and become adhered. We can tell we have a knot by a lump or bump that is typically sore to the touch. Knots can occur if you are in one position for too long (desk workers), injure yourself or become chronically dehydrated. Foam rolling is a great way to break up those knots. Foam rollers also do what’s called myofascial release. Now, this term is pretty complicated. I could do a whole separate blog on myofascial release. However, I will keep it short. Two main things to note: 1) Myofascial release is an applied pressure in the myofascial connective tissue that will help eliminate pain and restore motion. 2) The foam roller cannot target the fascia exclusively. You will also be rolling over nerves, muscles and epithelia. This is why it’s important to seek out a professional who is experienced with proper foam rolling. And again, you want to be intention and set a certain amount of time aside to do this. This way you can properly isolate, push and target the areas that need the most work.
4) Massage: Once again, if you train frequently, aches and pains are inevitable. Massage therapists are trained to break up those stubborn knots, dive deep into the tissue and provide relaxation techniques that will prepare your body –mentally and physically- for your next workout. Even better is a massage therapist who is rehearsed with sports specific massage, myofascial release and reflexology. Reflexology is fairly new to me and let me tell you: it has done wonders for my recovery! When you become injured, or have on-going pain in a certain area, it’s common to want to focus on the spot that is radiating the pain. However, that’s just the beginning of the healing process. Even more so, you are only addressing the symptom, not the cause. Reflexology is an alternative medicine technique that involves applying pressure to hands, feet or ears to correspond to different body organs and systems. This can help with anxiety, asthma, cancer, headaches, kidneys, PMS, sinus and muscle aches (that’s us!)
5) Really good, quality sleep: This one is the most overlooked aspect of proper recovery and by far the most important. #1: Your muscles build, grow and recover in your sleep. This is when all the magic happens #2: Your body does well on a sleep cycle and/or a routine. Meaning, try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day regardless of if you have a day off work in the middle of your workweek. Weekends and/or your days off of work are A-okay for sleeping in. That’s what days off are for! Right?! But, your work schedule should remain the same. I feel so bad for my clients who have sporadic work schedules, odd hours and weird sleeping patterns. It screws up everything… and I mean everything….
It is unbelievable what limited sleep does to your body. Mood is negatively affected, excess hunger occurs, energy is zapped, stamina is gone, mental clarity is low, the body is weak, focus is hard, work drags on, determination dwindles, check lists remain un-done, getting motivated is nearly impossible and let’s not forget the even bigger health concerns such as anxiety, depression, auto-immune disorders, insomnia, respiratory complications and so on and so forth. Sleep is your cornerstone of recovery. My own rule of thumb is: If I do not get at least eight hours of sleep, I do not lift weights that day. Period. I have come to the conclusion that I will only make my body worse if I push through something my body wasn’t ready for in the first place. If I get six to seven hours (which happens once to twice a week) I will do cardio, core, pilates or yoga. That I can handle. But weight training; Forget it! Five or less: I’m worthless. I need a nap if I’m going to remain productive. The big take away from this all is this: Put in a place a recovery program. It’s just as important as creating a strength training program. Listen to your body. You know yourself better than anyone else ever will. And take a nap for goodness sakes! ;)
Thank you for reading my friends!
<3 God bless,