For those of you who missed my first 5 tips, check them out here.

My tips are an unpredictable mix concerning strength training, strength coaching, rehab and injury prevention so hopefully you’ll find at least one thing of interest that you can apply to your strength journey!

6. As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to talk more about back pain. It’s one of the most common ailments affecting adults (and indeed adolescents) and can be tricky to treat. The main point I want to make today from a strength standpoint is that you need to make sure you don’t forget the small muscles. These are your local stabilisers and they control the many segments of your spine.  Injuries usually lead to damage to these, which lie in the deepest layer and primarily involve the multifidus, transverse abdominus and internal obliques. They can become inhibited (‘switch off’ and not fire when needed). Rehab often concentrates only on the larger muscle groups such as the extensors, psoas, rectus abdominis, quadratus lumborum and external obliques. A little too long to go into right here but for those super interested, check out this paper that describes it more completely.

Morey, K. and Kristina, B. (2007) Lumbar Stabilization: An Evidence-Based Approach for the Athlete With Low Back Pain. Strength & Conditioning Journal. [online] Volume 29(2), p26-37. Available at: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Abstract/2007/04000/Lumbar_Stabilization__An_Evidence_Based_Approach.2.aspx

7. Sled marches are great for conditioning while simultaneously strengthening the lower body and indeed providing shoulder and core stability work! It is also an excellent way to train an athlete to have faster acceleration.  Traditionally there has been a recommended ‘cap’ of not using more than about 10% of your bodyweight on the sled in order to prevent you from ‘slowing down’. However, at MBSC they’ve been packing on the weight for a while now and have had no such negative consequences. So march on and march heavy (just make sure the movement is smooth)! [For specific strength work, choose sled running.]

8. Turkish get-ups are a fantastic exercise to learn. You can perform the full exercise or just part of it and gain advantages for many muscles and joints. One thing I’ve seen the athletes here do though is not transfer the weight correctly from side to side. When practicing with lighter weights it’s easy to just let the weight fall down to your side as you lay on your back and to swing it across your chest to get it to the other side. However, you’re not going to be able to do that (at least not without hurting yourself) as you progress in weight. Instead, you should curl into the weight as it’s by your side to get into the start position and ‘halo’ it around your head when switching hands. Check out fellow intern Wills in his video achieving a personal best in his 1/4 Get-ups for these tips in action. Practice these efficient and safe techniques right from the start so they become a habit that will be easy to remember and do even when you’re tired.

9. Careful to the end of your reps or you could lose a finger! Tragically, an adult this week was dropping a heavy dumbbell after bench pressing with it and got his finger caught on the way down, severing the tip off. The full details aren’t clear but this highlights the importance of a) having a spotter to help guide you down or take the weights off you if you’re too tired and b) understand how important it is to stay focused for the full set, which doesn’t end until the weight is dead. I see far too many people do a perfect 8 reps but on the last one just lose all form and discard the weight to the ground without control or thought. Likewise for moving weights around the gym to place them back, it is still important that you use good form. A big part of the training is aiming to teach you how to move well under load in everyday life too – you’re getting a lot less benefit if you only apply the principles while you’re being supervised in a gym and doing your reps.

Here’s a good description of how to get the dumbells safely up and down. A spotter will add extra support, especially for getting the dumbells into the start position for your first rep. Remember to spot at the wrists, not the hand.

10. Accumulative fatigue needs to be monitored. Some athletes are playing summer leagues or doing regular trainings, tournaments, etc. on top of the 4 day gym programme we have for them. Being young, their energy is good but they still need to be monitored closely from week to week to ensure they’re not being overworked. They’re also a lot less likely to be eating and sleeping well at their age. Checking in each morning during the warm-up to find out what they did the day before and paying attention to whether or not their numbers are going up each week is an easy and useful way to monitor this.