I recently ran across one of my coaches way back from my middle schools days. As always he was full of encouragement and still in great shape. We talked about our current training routines, past injuries, and our recovery from them. I then told him how much training for Track and Field, especially the sprints, has made me way healthier and stronger.
I told him, “I used to just lift weights and then hop on a cardio machine thinking that was enough. Then I got injured and re-injured.” I told him that I just kept pushing for more weight, but ultimately I would just get tight and eventually injured. He then told me, “Yeah, you have to do something with your strength.” Wow, very well said! It’s those simple statements that sum up concepts we often make overly complicated. Now of course strength training for sports can be VERY complex, but this simple idea goes to those who spend many hours in the gym just getting stronger and bigger for its own sake.
I understand if bodybuilding or powerlifting (both of which I greatly respect) is the main purpose, then you may not want to add another sport into your routine. For all the other gym goers though, you need to add some athleticism into your routine. Pick up a sport, even if it’s very casual.
Think about how a sports session is performed: 1) Warmup: a light jog, stretching (preferably dynamic and specific to your sport), light drills and range of motion exercises. 2) Drills and technique: specific drills at a medium intensity, specific technique work. 3) Game simulation reps, training reps, plays, scrimmage, or competition. 4) Cool-down: jog and stretch.
By adding 2-3 days of sports specific training, you will gain athleticism along with you strength. There is also no more need for cardio machines as you will get plenty of cardio during your sports practice. You will also be surprised on the increase in strength on your lifts.
Before I picked up Track & Field, I struggled with low back pain and because of it I lacked lower body and abdominal strength. I could only squat 175 for 8 reps stopping well above parallel, and then would likely be in pain the next day. I could deadlift a measly 75lbs! And that was raised up off the floor on a 45lb plate. The only things I could do well was bench press 315 and run a decent mile time.
It’s been about 2.5 years since I immersed myself into training for specific sports and events. Since then I have become stronger, faster, more powerful, improved my endurance, increased athleticism, and most importantly I became way more flexible. Lifting more weight is no longer my main goal, but because of all the sports training I am now able to squat 275 for 3 reps easily, deadlift 235 for 3 (still gotta watch my low back), and hang clean 185 for 3 (which I could rarely do before without injury). Now these are not amazing numbers, but compared to before I am strong everywhere, not just on one or two lifts. And the lifts just keep going up!
So go find a sport you love, and “Do something with your strength”. Your body will thank you and you may be surprised of what you will be able to do in the gym. Just be smart when getting back into a new activity. Warmup properly and ease into it. As your body adapts, you will able to raise the intensity and duration of practice. You may even find yourself competing again like when you were young.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
4193 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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