A simple list of the most common mistakes athletes make, and how you can avoid them.
It’s clear in pre-season who did their part to come back to campus in shape. It’s also clear who’s done a little too much. Chances are, if you look like American Psycho Christian Bale, you may have done too much calorie cutting and have no long term fatty acid energy reserves. Working hard and eating well is one thing, but going hard 6 or 7 days a week on a 1500 calorie a day diet is a recipe for disaster. So lift hard 3-4 days a week, eat big, and see a major difference in the way you look and perform, without experiencing the negative side effects.
2. Forgetting Agilities, Speed Work, and Sport Specific Exercises
Believe it or not, being a better athlete isn’t all about moving heavy weight. One thing I wish I’d done more of in the off-season is sport specific drills. Ring sprints, L-drills, and other agility drills/speed work would have paid dividends as a Defensive End had I not waited until the pre-season to do them. You may be asking yourself how sport specific am I talking here? MMA guys and boxers train with timed rounds and so should any other athlete relative to their sport. If you play football, you can go through power or compound movements for 5-8 seconds with about 30 seconds between as those intervals seem to be the average times per play and rest period between each down.
3. Poor Nutrition
The bottom line is that poor nutrition is avoidable and inexcusable. A can of black beans, some eggs, tomatoes, and some brown rice and you have a true power meal for $2 bucks. Check out some other ideas that CB’s laid out in this article if you’re having trouble piecing it together. Remember, you are what you eat, so suck it up and eat well if you want to perform well and look better.
4. Not Working on Ankle Mobility
Lack of ankle mobility can be the difference between making huge leaps and bounds in your lower body strength and sprint work/mechanics. Most of the shoes we wear cause our ankles to tighten up which effects our squat form, sprint form and other athletic movements. Work some of these exercises into your training program and you’ll see much better results in terms of strength and speed.
5. Not Eating Enough
If you’re complaining about not gaining weight, record what you’re taking in, go by the 4/4/9 rule and see if you’re devouring enough to pile on the layers of muscle you so desire. The 4/4/9 rule is the caloric value system for grams of protein, carbs, and fat, in that order. Don’t let the last one scare you. Without essential fats (i.e. unsaturated fats), our endocrine system would not function properly and, without getting into too much detail, really hurt your chances of building the body you want.
6. Sacrificing Form for Heavier Weight
No matter what, DO NOT sacrifice form for heavier weight! I know you want to go to school and brag about your 135 pound bench but if your feet flew off the ground, your elbows shot out to the side like you were doing the chicken dance, and it took you 10+ seconds just to get through the movement, then there really isn’t much to brag about. Watch any elite Olympic lifter and you’ll see little difference between his technique work and his or her lifts during a competition. Proper movement patterns must remain consistent to ensure a healthy and effective progression.
7. Not Working on Hip Mobility
Lack of hip mobility will have also a negative impact on any athlete and their ability to perform transitional, straight ahead, and all forms of speed and agility work. Simply put: proper hip flexion and extension is imperative for any athlete looking to out maneuver and out run the competition.
8. Using an Isolated Training Program
While bodybuilders and total meats break down their training into isolated workouts (i.e. chest day, back day, legs day, etc.) athletes should focus on doing total body lifts 3-4 times a week. By doing complex and Olympic lifts across a number of different muscle groups you’ll effectively work your body as one functional unit. These types of workouts will actually have a positive effect on your on-field performance as you’ll be quicker, faster, stronger, and more athletic. Can’t really say the same about a full day of bicep exercises.
9. Not Warming Up Properly
If you aren’t sweating in your warm up then you aren’t warmed up! For all of you who think you don’t need to warm up, look at any college or professional athlete and see what they do during their pre-game routine. Need ideas? Give this circuit a shot for a few rounds after you’ve done some soft tissue work on the foam roller and let me know how you feel.
10. Not enough correctional work and Pre-hab
As much as I sometimes dislike NASM’s milking process of convincing clients to train with you for 10 years, the correctional work they highlight can really provide great preventative injury work for athletes. The use of bands, cable machines, Olympic rings, and posterior chain development tactics will lead to healthy shoulders and rotator cuffs both on the field and in the weight room.
In order to properly cover your nutritional bases, 1R would also recommend the following supplements: