Any strength training program should apply these three strength building rules to ensure that adaptation takes place in an injury free environment.
These principles of training promote a gradual and specific increase in strength and when administered properly the end results can be a lot more substantial. They are basic principles that can be applied and adapted to fit all strength work outs; regardless of the difficulty level to begin.
The three principles are not rocket science but they do lay a solid foundation for building strength properly. Please read on!
#1: Develop joint flexibility
Most lifters exercise using the full range of motion at the major joints. A sound level of joint flexibility at the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and wrist will in the long term prevent strain and discomfort from occurring.
In essence good joint flexibility does help to prevent certain stress and overuse musculoskeletal injuries.
The best method of developing flexibility is to perform whole body PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretches after your stretch work out.
#2: Develop the strength of the ligament and tendons
Your muscular strength develops quicker than your tendon and ligament strength. The major of injuries occur in the ligaments and not the muscle. Therefore overlooking strengthening the ligament is one of the biggest causes of injury when training at high intensities.
Both ligaments and tendons grow through anatomical adaptation to training; this increases their diameter which allows them both to withstand more tension/direct force.
Ligaments are made up of collagen which is a fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone. The strength of the ligament is actually dependent on its cross sectional area and when lifting weights their primary role is to lengthen to allow movement at the joints.
When a high load is placed onto the ligaments they stiffen to limit the joint beyond its natural range of movement.
If the load is too high or there is a direct force placed on the ligament then this can lead to injuries and different grades of ruptures. This scenario occurs because the ligaments are unable to deal with the additional load.
The best way of avoiding these injuries is to condition the ligaments properly, so that they can deal with this additional stress.
The conditioning of the ligaments is performed during the adaptation phase of the training cycle via loading and unloading. This strategy allows the ligament to be stressed adequately with enough rest time built in for recovery.
By progressively adding more weight when training boosts the visco-dynamic movements which improves the ligament’s capacity to deal with higher stresses and loads.
In terms of the tendons, their principle role is to attach muscle to bone and they also redirect the force from the muscle so that the limbs can move.
Tendons also store energy and having strong tendons equates to a higher storage capacity. Without strong tendons you will struggle to provide the energy to your muscles to lift heavier weights. This weakness can have negative effects on your training.
Unknowingly tendon weaknesses could be one of the reasons why your training has plateaued because they are unable to supply the force to the muscles to lift higher loads.
However they are trainable, as both the thickness and strength can be boosted by up to 25%. Follow the same training principles as strengthening your ligaments.
#3: Strengthen your core
A strong core supports your whole body when lifting and core training should be part of your training regime.
The core muscles act as shock absorbers, they stabilise the body and they are the link between the limbs.
Therefore having weak core muscles will limit your success when lifting and overloading or improper positioning of the body can lead to lower back injuries.
Stress on the spine and the pressure load on the discs does increase when lifting and a strong core is vital to prevent injuries.
This is the main reason why performing your main lifts with the correct technique is vital to prevent back injuries and engaging your core is an important part of this mechanical process.
Many lifters do have weak abdominal muscles in relation to the other major muscle groups. Specifically the rectus abdominus pulls your trunk in line and helps to maintain a good posture.
Undeveloped abs can lead to the hip tilting forwards which is the main underlying issue behind lower back problems. Strong internal and external obliques help the abs to bend the body forwards and aid with the twisting motion of the body from side to side e.g. when performing any core twist exercises. Planks are an excellent exercise for engaging all of the core muscles.
The hip flexor and extensor muscle are also important part of the core and they can be developed with squatting, side/front lunges and kettlebell swings are brilliant exercise for engaging all of the core muscles.
The hip muscles are important stabilisers at the pelvis, they aid with movement of the legs and if they are weak then this will impact on the main lifts because you will not be able to lift heavy.
Let’s not forget about the deep back muscles that help with trunk rotation and back extensions. They also acts as neurotransmitters between the limbs and back hypers are an excellent exercise for isolating them.