You see, at a ripped 223 lbs, Jeff was one of the most jacked guys out there. He has an impressive physique that truly turns heads. His look symbolizes strength, health and athleticism.
So when we decided to get involved in a beach volleyball game Saturday morning, it was no surprise that Jeff would be picked first. I knew the team captain who picked him made a mistake by “judging a book by its cover”, because I knew exactly how Jeff had trained during the last 15 years.
He strictly adhered to a classic bodybuilding protocol: split routines, isolation movements and bodybuilding rep ranges. This style of training can definitely lead to a nice looking physique, but function, on the other hand, is usually terribly hindered. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way back when I was bodybuilding.
I was sure that he would gas out after a few short minutes and lack explosiveness. And just like my crystal ball had shown me, I was dead on. In no time, he was lumbering around like Frankenstein. At one point, I actually felt embarrassed for him.
But feeling bad for him took on a whole new meaning when he jumped up to block a spiked ball and then landed on the ground looking as if he had been shot in the leg by a sniper. I ran over to him immediately to see what had happened.
He was holding his left knee, and in absolute agony he moaned, “I heard something pop!” Based on the pain he was in, I knew it was bad. We got him over to a beach chair and examined his knee. It was loose and already beginning to swell.
We then helped him off the beach and off to the hospital we went.
About an hour later we got the official diagnoses. He had torn his ACL. Man, we were bummed. This would require major surgery and a lot of rehab.
The question I have is this: could this have been avoided? Did his style of training make him more injury prone? I strongly suspect it did just that. The other question is, “Did his routines make him gas out in embarrassing fashion?” The answer to that one is, “Absolutely!”
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t say for sure that Jeff would have avoided this injury by training differently. But I do see higher rates of injury and decreases in athleticism in those who adhere exclusively to bodybuilding methods.
So even if your training goals are purely for aesthetics, I strongly suggest that you incorporate some athletic-based movements into your regular routine so you don’t suffer the same fate as my buddy Jeff.
Here are some simple suggestions that you can incorporate right away:
1) Instead of doing calf raise exercises, use advanced rope jumping techniques to train your calves. Unlike calf raise exercises, rope jumping improves your conditioning, coordination and timing. Additionally, the rebounding effect helps to prepare your body for higher intensity jumps and landings.
2) Switch your current cardio exercise to sprinting. Sprinting, when done correctly, has many benefits. For starters, there is no better activity for jacking up your metabolic rate. Sprinting also activates your fast twitch fibers, which greatly contributes to strength and power, and thus, athleticism. And last but not least, sprinting encourages the release of muscle building and fat burning hormones better than just about anything else out there.
3) Incorporate exercises that require you to move your body as the source of resistance. This is truly a natural way to train. When you do this, your stabilizers become activated, thus helping to bullet-proof your joints from injury. An example of this would be performing a dive bomber push up instead of a seated db press.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please drop a line in the comment section. I look forward to the dialogue with you!