By: Dr. Yessis
To be prepared for doing compound (multi-joint) strength exercises means that your body is physically capable of correctly and safely doing the exercises. Today, however, many athletes want instant success and typically ignore the need for prerequisite or prior training.
They begin to do complex exercises and use heavy weights very quickly and as a result, usually come down with serious injuries. Thus, to make progress, most athletes believe that you have only two alternatives: go slowly (i.e easily and safely) or push it hard and increase the odds for getting an injury.
There may, however, be a middle ground if you understand the concept of “being prepared.” This means that you first prepare your body before doing a particular exercise.
In essence, you must develop all the qualities, especially pre-requisite strength, that is needed to successfully do the exercise. When this is done, each new exercise is within your capabilities.
This concept derives from a new but not necessarily successful, trend in the training of athletes. Most athletes, in order to improve in their sport, play only one sport more and limit the number of strength exercises to a few (usually compound) that are considered essential.
The main philosophy is that if you want to become better in your sport, you must do more of the same. This is why there are so many individuals who play only one or at best, two sports and do not do more than a handful of strength exercises.
Scientific research and practice has shown that it is much more effective to first condition yourself, i.e., prepare yourself. A few concrete examples will help illustrate this concept.
For example, before learning the kip, the basic movement in gymnastics, most novices have difficulty in raising and holding themselves on extended arms on the parallel bars, or horse. After many hundred or more attempts at doing the kip, they eventually develop sufficient strength and the ability to do the movement, even though it is still not perfected.
A much more effective way is to first develop sufficient strength of the arms and the hip and abdominal strength needed to learn the movement. In this way you cut down greatly the amount of total time involved.
Even more importantly is that there is less chance of injury because your body is prepared for the stresses that are involved. In essence, you prepared yourself to learn and master the skill.
Understand that by doing special physical preparation in advance of playing or doing specific exercises, not only would injuries be prevented (or decreased greatly) but it would improve your performance. Merely playing the game or only doing a few multi-joint exercises, may get you stronger, but not quicker, faster or develop your ability to jump higher unless you are a low level athlete.
Many injuries occur in weight training where “be prepared” applies. You lift weights to become stronger, which should be sufficient to prevent injuries and to a good extent, this is true. However, there are many exercises that can be done more effectively to bring about greater gains sooner and more safely. Understand that the number of injuries in weight training is quite high.
The squat exercise can serve as a good illustration. In order to do this exercise safely and effectively, you must first have strong back muscles, ample flexibility in the hip and ankle joints and adequate knee and hip strength.
For prior preparation you should do several different exercises such as, good mornings, back raises, lunges and calf raises. For most individuals it would take 1-2 months of doing these exercises before sufficient strength and flexibility is developed to do the squat correctly and effectively. With this prior strength development it would take only a few sessions to master the technique needed for a safe and effective squat.
If you first develop sufficient flexibility and strength in this and other exercises, learning the correct execution would be relatively simple and fast. Because many athletes avoid such prior preparation, they do not make fast, safe or effective progress.
Thus, to be a great athlete, be prepared to do multi-joint exercises. You must have good technique and body strength before doing specific exercises. This is necessary for the prevention of injury and for making progress in your sport. In this way you will speed up your progress greatly and, most importantly, make your playing better than ever.
For more information see Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise, Build a Better Athlete, Explosive Running, Explosive Basketball Training, Explosive Golf, Explosive Plyometrics, Explosive Tennis and Secrets of Russian Sports Fitness and Training.