Sports Magazine

Off-season Lifting Tips

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
For many players around the middle school/high school age, lifting weights can be somewhat of an intimidating process.  Many kids that age do not have a lot of experience in lifting and have a fear of looking bad or weak in front of others.  When I coached high school baseball, many of the incoming 10th graders were very shy about lifting.  Unless they had a football background or some older brothers who lifted, many visibly felt out of place.  Before our off-season lifting sessions began, I made it a point to emphasize some things to all my players but especially to those kids who wanted to be involved but were unsure how this all worked.  The last thing I wanted was for them to be so intimidated that they stopped coming.

Off-season lifting tips

This place can be a very scary one for the beginner.

To help them ease into the process, I made sure to go over my Top 10 tips for success.  These tips were for the seasoned lifting veteran as well as the beginner.
  1. Avoid skipping a workout.  Unless you are really sick or hurt, you should never miss a workout.   It is ok to cut back on your routine for a day if you must but develop the habit of coming every time.  One missed day usually turns into two, then three, etc.  Schedule it into your day and don't miss it.  
  2. Limit your time.  If your time in the weight room exceeds 1 ½ hrs, you are doing something wrong.  If you are just beginning, an hour is plenty until you learn more advanced lifts and techniques.  Most time that is wasted involves too much chit-chat in-between sets and exercises.  Cut out the talk.  You are there to lift not to socialize.
  3. Compete against yourself, not others.  Everyone enters the weight room with a different level of experience and overall strength when it comes to lifting weights.  Comparing yourself to others is unrealistic and a sure fire way to get intimidated and never come back.  When it comes to your workouts, look to improve a little bit each time in either the number of reps and/or the amount of weight.  You do the workout that is best for you.  Let the other guys do their workouts.  It's not a competition.
  4. Work with a partner.  This is a huge tip especially for beginners.  Having a partner who is counting on you helps get you there even when your motivation might be low.  Picking someone who is similar to your experience and strength is beneficial as well.  You can learn together.
  5. Record your progress.  This is a must for the beginner and actually should be done for all players at any level.  Tracking your progress is a big ego boost for the beginner since big gains can be seen relatively quickly.  Keep a journal or have an exercise sheet listing the exercises completed.  (Note: Tomorrow's post will provide an example.)
  6. Focus on the form.   Technique is just as important as the weight you are lifting.  Each rep should be under control with full range of motion to get the most out of it.  Cheating on your lifting technique might allow you to lift a little more in the short-term but it's not helping you reach your full potential.
  7. Alter exercises.  One of the biggest reasons why people stop working out is the monotony of doing the same thing over and over.  Within body groups, there are a number of lifts that target different parts of the group.  For example, there are quite a few exercises that target the triceps and each one targets them differently.  Performing the same triceps exercise is not only boring, it doesn't allow you to hit the muscle in different ways for maximum benefit.  Watch more experienced lifters for different types of lifts, look online, or just ask someone for examples.
  8. Be smart about throwing and running. If you plan to throw/run, do it before you lift whenever possible.  If you can only do it afterwards, be sure to give yourself plenty of rest (at least an hour or two) before throwing or running.
  9. Time your stretching properly.  Light, dynamic stretching (using muscle movement to warm-up and stretch out muscles) is ok to do before your lifting session but most of your stretching should be done in-between sets and especially after you lift.  Avoid just picking up your stuff and leaving after your last set.  At that time, your muscles are at their warmest and therefore are at their best in terms of stretching.
  10. Let a coach/trainer know of any injuries.  It is better to slow down for a couple days than be out for a month.  If you are a beginner, it might take a week or two for the initial soreness of lifting to wear off.  This is where a player must recognize the difference between "soreness" and "pain."  Soreness goes away after the body warms up and gets going again.  Pain lasts.  Don't let soreness stop you from showing up.  It's part of the process and will not last indefinitely. 
Tomorrow:  A basic lifting routine for a beginner.

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