Stu: This week we chat to strength and conditioning expert Kriss Hendy on the main reasons that you may not be experiencing gains with your program. Kriss outlines the reasons in 3 easy steps, so let’s jump straight into them…
1. Diverting from your goal
Unfortunately we often get sidetracked when it comes to strength training, with people opting to train the muscles that they think will look the best, exercises that are the most fun or even the ones that are easiest for them to perform i.e. their strengths. Too often we choose exercises that are going to make us look good as opposed to what is going to help our performance. We can also find ourselves in one of two categories, the ‘try an exciting new exercise every session’ sort, or the ‘been following the same program for a year’ type, neither of which are specific or particularly effective.
I’ll use an example of how you could be diverting from your goal. As a strength coach who predominantly works with endurance athletes the so called “strength training” programs that prescribe high intensity, high repetitions, star-jumps, sit-ups, burpees etc. really aren’t that beneficial for endurance athletes. These workouts are used as “fitness” workouts. Remember it is not fitness you are trying to achieve; you already get that through the miles you put in each week in the pool, on the bike or running the trails. What we should be focussing on is developing the structural strength around our joints. Performing jumping jacks in a strength for endurance program will not achieve this and could even cause injury and added stress.
So we need to remind ourselves what our end goal is. Endurance athlete or not, training well is not glamorous or always terribly exciting, but more about focusing on doing the basics well and doing them consistently. Every exercise in your strength program should have a purpose, how is it going to benefit you for your health or performance goals?
2. Failing to progress
Moving on from the last point, some of us fall into the trap of repeating the same program you have always done without making changes. Albert Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” If we keep doing what we have always done, our bodies will become accustomed to the work, the benefits will plateau and no progression will occur.
To be sure you are keeping your program and progression on track, change things up every 4-6 weeks to avoid a plateau in your training. Remember progression in strength training doesn’t necessarily mean increasing the load. Mixing up the time under tension, having an eccentric focus or increasing the instability can add to the difficulty, even if you keep the actual exercise the same.
3. Ignoring the warm up
The majority of us hitting the gym will do 5 minutes on a cardio machine and head straight to the weights or machines. Why? because that’s what we were shown to do in our gym induction… 10 years ago. Even though this will elevate the heart rate (as a warm up is intended to do), by solely doing this we aren’t using our time most effectively.
The real benefit of our warm up should be using it as a ‘early warning detection system’. All my clients are well rehearsed in performing a dynamic mobility routine that enables them to see what areas are tight, what is restricted and what needs a little more attention. Our findings from the warm up shouldn’t be ignored, spend time working on your mobility, it’s your time to take notice of what your body feels like, before injury occurs.
About the author:
Kriss Hendy is a well-known coach specialising in strength and conditioning for rehabilitation and endurance performance. Living by the philosophy that “If you move poorly, you will perform poorly” Kriss focuses on stripping back the layers, identifying any underlying weaknesses and re-educating the body and mind so that the foundations for health and performance can be built.
Known for his specialist work with endurance athletes, in 2016 Kriss founded ‘Strength For Endurance’ with the aim of bridging the gap between strength training and the endurance community. They deliver the essential first steps to strength training via clinics and workshops, as well as the ‘StrengthForEnduranceKIT’ a convenient and effective training solution that allows clients to implement strength sessions in around their lifestyle.