Written by Matt Vincent
Training with a purpose is something we should all be doing, but chances are most of you don’t. I see people who just seem to be getting nowhere in their training. Even when training logs of people who compete in various strength sports, you see a lack of focus on the end goal. Many people think that simply getting stronger will improve their sports performance. While it is true in most areas, that strength gains will bring about improvement in their specific sport. If you are guys who simply go to the gym for general health or vanity (Dant looking at you) I’m not talking to you because I have no experience with this. I guess just keep doing whatever you are doing. However if you are training to compete in a sport then you need to have a plan. This is the difference in making steady gains or just spinning your wheels.
Thinking about your training correctly is first on the list. If you are doing training that is not improving your performance then stop. As a thrower I will never be caught doing bicep curls or calf raises, this is a waste, I could be spending doing something like cleans or squats. In fact all of your time in the gym should be looked at as GPP (General Physical Preparedness) for your sport. What I mean by this is that there are no reasons that a guy in the NFL needs to speed a ton of time trying to master technique of Olympic weight lifting. While hip, back, and leg strength is extremely important this can be accomplished without learning how to properly drop under the weight and catch in the bottom position of a clean.
Being prepared for your sport isn’t as specific as you may think. All the weight training you are doing is GPP and should be strengthening your major muscle groups. Strength sports all require the same base of strong legs, back, hips, shoulders, arms, and core. After realizing this you know that your major lifts should be the big lifts like squat, dead lift, bench, and overhead pressing. These compound muscle lifts are the best for sports. Compound movements are any lift that requires multi-joint movement and several muscle groups working together to accomplish. There are no sports where you are going to do anything that is going to use just your biceps. Accessory exercises should help build muscles that support the major areas and be more sport specific. Conditioning with the prowler or box jump are good examples of this. It may sound wrong to think that simply max strength is not the answer all the time. I know that I can squat more when I weigh over 300lbs or more, but the sacrifice of mobility weakens my throwing performance. It is all a balancing act of strength, speed, and power. When all three areas are high, that is where you are going to be your best. No one wants to be the biggest and strongest and the guy who can’t perform in competition.
Train with a purpose and train hard, but be smart as well. Take some time and look more in-depth in to your training and ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Life is really short and we all have a limited number of days to truly attack training, so don’t waste it. If your training is as important to you as mine is to me then you will understand. There is tons of info out there and all of this is supplemental as well. No amount of magazines you read or articles on training are going to make you bigger, faster, or stronger. Only the focused time you spend sweating and pushing yourself will. Since the time is precious make sure you are using it effectively.Matt Vincent is a top Professional Highland Games World Champion. Matt has spent the last 15 years strength training with a focus on functional strength for athletics. Track and Field for LSU as a shotput, discus, and hammer thrower, two top 3 finishes in SEC and two top 5 Regional finishes in Discus. In the last 6 years he as traveled all over country and trained with many of the top coaches and athletes in various fields form Weightlifting, Strongman, Powerlifting (both Geared and Raw) and now focus on Highland Games. Matt also has competed in all of these different disciplines to make sure he has a 1st hand knowledge of training and competing. With success as a top AM Strongman qualified for nationals 3 times. Powerlifting numbers of (875-700-700 in APF @275) and (675-425-665 @ 275 RAW). Weightlifting numbers of (319 Snatch and 400 Clean and Jerk @ 105+). Highland Games he won 3 AM World Championships and 1 Professional World Championship as my first year Pro. Matt is also the Author of Best Selling Highland Games Training Manual for Developing Max Strength and Power: Training LAB. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter