For athletes competing at the highest level, every little detail counts. The smallest correction or the tiniest change to technique can provide the gains they need to overtake their competitors. But even if you’re not competing at an elite level you can get enormous gains by trying some new movements and adopting some new methods. Here's a handful of useful tips I use with our athletes to get them performing at their best. If you implement these strategies you WILL make continual improvements – end of story.
The Farmer’s Walk is weight training at its most primal – picking up heavy stuff and moving it from one point to another. Make them a regular part of your workout and you’ll quickly build your traps, core and grip while developing tremendous total body strength and stability.
If your gym doesn’t have Farmer’s Walk equipment just grab the heaviest dumbbells you can find and walk around the gym until your grip gives out. Do 2-3 sets a couple of times a week at the end of your workout and you’ll experience rapid gains.
DRIVE WITH THE ELBOWS
Improving your technique can be as simple as changing the way you think about a movement. When performing rowing movements or chin-up variations its easy to focus on the idea of pulling with your biceps. But if you concentrate instead on driving back with your elbows you’ll take some of the strain away from your biceps, allowing you to train longer and heavier, in turn maximising the benefits the big muscles in your back receive from these key exercises.
ROTATE THE RIGHT WAY
When doing rotational core work make sure you’re rotating from the hips, and not just curling your lower back. Brace your core and engage your hips to protect your lumbar spine from injury.
SHOULDER A MANAGEABLE LOAD
Because our back muscles are so massive it’s easy to get carried away with the weight you’re trying to lift.. But if you have shoulder issues this will quickly lead to injury. Instead of piling on the plates and throwing form out the window, perform all your rowing exercises with a weight that you can hold at peak contraction for a solid second or two. By using a weight you can control you’ll ensure your technique remains sound and drastically reduce the risk of injury.
ACCEPT THE ODD IMPERFECTION
I see tons of people doing unilateral (single limb) movements as they strive to make their right arm as strong as their left, or vice versa. However, the fact of the matter is the two sides of your body will never be 100% equal, so stop wasting time trying to make them so. Of course you can improve a particular limb by focusing on it, but you’ll never get it exactly the same as its opposite, so just accept the fact that you have some slight imbalances and move on with your training.
TAKE TIME TO TAKE STOCK
If you’re trying to hit a heavy 1RM and you make too big of a jump with your weights and miss the lift, take a few minutes to recuperate, and then try again with a reduced load. For instance, let’s say you were trying for 130kg on the bench. You felt good at 100, so went straight to 130, only to find yourself buried under the weight. In reflection you probably should have done a couple at 110, and a single at 120 to get used to the weight first. So wait a couple of minutes, strip 15 kilos off the bar, and smash out a solid 115kg. Not only will this help prepare your muscles for the maximum lift to come, but knocking out a smooth rep at a close-to-max weight will give you the confidence your need to hit a PB on the following set.
THE TRUSTY OLD PUSH-UP
Push-ups are a great way to improve shoulder health. There are heaps of variations of the humble push-up, and by throwing in a handful of sets on a regular basis you’ll reap huge rewards. THUMBLESS WONDER Try employing a thumbless grip when executing the military press. This altered grip will take pressure off the shoulders and elbows, and help keep the bar travelling the correct path.
LESS IS MORE, MORE OR LESS
If you’re not feeling a 100% warmed up, err on the side of caution and do another handful of warm-up sets. Work up to some low rep warm-up sets – you’ll find having a reasonable weight on the bar and doing 5-6 reps far more beneficial than a couple of high-rep sets with very little weight on the bar. It’s incredibly difficult to accurately mimic the technique you need for a heavy lift when you have nothing on the bar, so once you’ve eased your muscles into the day's work make sure you get some prep work done with a manageable, but still noticeable, weight.
These a just a few little things you can do to step up your training and enhance your strength and size gains. Implement some, or all, of them and you will see results!