Please stop training like a bodybuilder in the weight room; especially if you're an athlete training to improve your performance on the court or field!
This is why...
I received a text from a high school athlete this week asking for my thoughts on his current weight room routine. He sent me this photo:
(click "read more" at the right to continue reading)
"What's wrong with this program, Trent? It looks just like the one I'm currently doing!"
Before we get started, I feel it necessary to make it known that whenever I see the word "abs" on a training template (like the one above), I feel like doing this:
So why shouldn't athletes train like bodybuilders? And what's wrong with the progam above?
1) Bodybuilder Aren't Athletes
Intuitively, it makes sense to find programs on bodybuilding.com and T-Nation.com and train just the way they do, because, well, "those guys are JACKED!"
Just like Mr. Sarcev said, these guys are mannequins. They may LOOK good, but when it comes to optimal functioning (think athletic movements), most fail miserably.
*This is a good time to mention that I have nothing against individuals who consider themselves bodybuilders. I have quite a few friends that compete in figure competitions. What I do have a problem with though (the point of this article), is that because bodybuilders look so dang good, athletes think their performance will improve if they copy the same program.
2) Isolation Exercises Aren't "Functional"
Our body does not function in isolation. Are we ever sitting down contracting only our quads? I don't think so. Especially in athletics, our body relies on the ability of each segment to operate in harmony with every other body segment. The best way to "groove this pattern" is to train using multi-joint, functional exercises.
Now, isolation exercises are beneficial to those that are weak in certain areas, or those who are rehabbing.
BUT for 98% of the population, isolation exercises are not an optimal choice.
3) Most Bodybuilder Programs Use Too Much Volume
Not so fast.
There is a point of diminishing returns that is reached (varies for each person), and most athletes shouldn't even come close to this point (volume wise). Looking at the picture of the program above shows that even though the sets and reps for each exercise aren't listed, the number of exercises each day is too much. Even if you were only doing a few sets of each exercise, there are too many listed. This is a common theme in most programs.
More isn't always better.
What Type of Program Should Athletes Follow?
With that being said, here is how I typically set up training programs for my athletes:
*if you are reading this article on a mobile device, the embedded document might not be displayed. Please view this article on desktop or laptop in order to view my programming template.
Efficiency is key!
Also, this template isn't an "end-all be-all" type template either. I will make adjustments accordingly and for each individual athlete, but for the most part, I find that most athletes can follow this template.
One thing I'd like to re-emphasize is the strength portion of the workout. I didn't go into detail on the actual lifts performed in the strength portion of the workout, but I'd like to mention that I typically only do 2-3 upper body and 2-3 lowerbody lifts during this time. An example would be:
1a) Single Leg Squat
1b) Palloff Presses
1c) Neutral grip pull ups
A strength session doesn't have to be:
"perform 8 reps on the bench press and walk around for 5 minutes to rest."
That's old school stuff. Or, bodybuilding stuff. Not optimal for athletes.
Take Home Message
2) Most programs have too much volume; don't be afraid to throw out a few unnecessary exercises
3) Train for PERFORMANCE, not for APPEARANCE; appearance will be an indirect result!
"I don't want my athletes to train to look better, I want my athletes to look better because they train."
Make it happen.
P.S. I blame my lack of dunking ability on not having this knowledge in high school. Don't let the same thing happen to you...