[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
By saying that you are “an athlete” you don’t give much info.
A football player is an “athlete” and so is a gymnast. Both require power and strength but their training wont be alike at all. I would need more info. For example a linebacker will benefit from added muscle mass even is his weight goes up but a long jumper should try to keep his body weight lower while increasing strength and power (a lighter body is easier to propel in the air far).
Can an athlete do “bodybuilding work”? Sure, but to what extend depends on your level of development and the need of your sport.
An athlete who is undersized or one that is frequently injured could benefit from more muscle even if that added muscle doesn’t directly increase his speed or power.
However at one point it becomes a question of investing your resources in the right place. Your body has a limited capacity to positively respond to training. You can’t just pile on more and more work and expect everything to always be alright.
You have a maximum amount of “training money” (amount of work you can do) to invest, and that money should be spent on what will give you the most benefit as an athlete.
You didn’t mention your sport. But you mentioned improving your explosiveness and strength. So I will assume that it’s a sport in which you need speed, explosiveness, agility and the capacity to overcome an adversary (or heavy implement).
If these are the things you need to excel in your sport, right off the bat, without even talking abiut strength training you’ll need to do jumps, sprints and agility drills. Not to mention conditioning work if you need some endurance.
That cuts into the amount of lifting work you can do. And if you have to practice your sport, that also reduces the amount of lifting you can do.
For lifting itself the first priority is to do the lifts that will help you be a better athlete.
Understand that LIFTING DOESN’T IMPROVE YOUR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE. Lifting makes your muscles stronger and more powerful, but it doesn’t directly lead to an increase in performance. You need to become efficient at utilizing your new capacities during your sport, which is why if you don’t run, jump and practice your sport you will not see that much improvement.
The main objective of lifting for an athlete should be to get stronger overall. That’s your no.1 priority. Lifts like the deadlift, military press, push press, squat, front squat, bench press and chin-ups are all things in which you need to (1) become very strong and (2) become very strong with perfect technique and body positions.
The second objective (performance-wise) is to use lifting exercises to build power. I’m partial to the olympic lifts. They are by far the best option to build explosiveness with a lifting exercise. However if you can’t do them properly and can’t find a coach who can teach you, it might not be the best option.
You can also do speed work a la Westside in which you do the basic movements (squat and bench for example) with 50-60% done for sets of 3-5 reps as explosively as possible. Not as effective as the olympic lift variations, but a good alternative.
There are also loaded ballistic exercises like jump squats with 20-30% of your max back squat, jump lunges with 10-15% of your body weight and medicine ball throws.
The third objective is to reduce the risk of injuries. This means strengthening the core, smaller muscle groups like the rotator cuff muscles and doing mobility/activation work.
When that is all done well you can think about adding isolation/bodybuilding work.
When I worked with a lot of high level athletes I would either give them 10 minutes of “beach work” at the end of their session or allocate half a workout per week for bodybuilding/ego work.
The 10 minutes of beach work was basically a free period where the athletes could do whatever they wanted as long as:
- it was only isolation exercises
- it was kept fairly light (6 reps or more)
- it didn’t interfere with the next workout (e.g. if they bench presses on tuesday they couldn’t do pecs, delts or triceps isolation work on monday)
- it didn’t last more than 10 minutes (YES we used a timer)
- it was done at the end of the workout, when everything was done
The second option was doing 30 minutes of bodybuilding work once a week, as the second half of the least demanding performance workout.[/quote]
First of all CT, thank you very much for that response! Very helpful! I should have specified which sport I’m involved in- MMA. I have trained for years, but it is more of a hobby for me and a way too stay in shape. I’m not scheduled for any fights, and I go to school full time at the moment, so I only get to train in MMA two or three times a week.
As of right now, I am lifting four times a week and adding jump rope, sprints (and incline treadmill sprints) as well as core training into my weekly routine.
Basically, I want to keep my speed, explosiveness and agility as I’m not training as much as I would like to for MMA. I just need to follow the right template and I should be good to go.
Thank you for you time, CT!