1. Find the right weight and reps. As an athlete, improving your performance on and off the field required time and dedication in the weight room, regardless of the sport you played. Training post-career is no different, you must constantly challenge yourself. That does not mean load the bar down and try to lift as much as you can, and it also doesn’t mean you should start with a low weight and lift it as many times as you can. The weight should be appropriate to your goal, but rarely, if ever, intentionally light or exceptionally heavy. The load should be based on your strength level, not your buddies', and not based on what you used to do. When choosing an appropriate weight, look for one that is challenging as you work towards your goal, if your goal is to lift X weight for 3 sets of 10, the ninth and 10th repetitions should be difficult. If you can lift a weight 20 times but choose to do only ten, then you're wasting your time, increase the weight, it does not have to be a large increase, but challenge yourself. Similarly, if your goal is to lift the set weight 10 times, and you achieve only 7, lighten the load so you can achieve your target sets and reps.
2. Focus on your form. Attempting to lift without first evaluating and practicing the movement is one of the biggest mistakes anyone could do when starting in the weight room. Start by understanding the proper movement patterning and experiencing the load with your body weight. Once movement patterning is learned, you can gradually load yourself to your set and rep goals. After a few weeks have passed, you should begin to increase the weight placed upon you. In some cases, with more experienced athletes, this time frame maybe different. The key, again, is challenging yourself … SAFELY. Using proper form with all of your lifts will make you more efficient and ultimately stronger throughout the entire range of motion, and it will also help you to be less prone to injury.
3. Perform basic exercises with small modifications. Do not try and reinvent the wheel – There are some sound fundamental movement patterns that challenge you in multiple directions and positions. Small modifications to the basics are all you need to have an effective workout. For example, if you are back squatting, you can switch to a front squat, where the weight is going to cause more of an anterior displacement, challenging your pillar stability more while still focusing on lower body strength. Changing from a barbell to a dumbbell bench press can open up several different exercises, all still focusing on some sort of chest press. You can change the tempo; you can alternate; you can even change the angle or surface you are sitting on. Regardless on what you choose to do, focus on basic exercises, progressing them properly, challenging yourself safely and you will see results faster.
All of this of course, comes after a proper warm-up, keep following us as we will be reviewing that in one of our upcoming blogs!