Misconceptions of Strength in Athletics and General Fitness II

1.   Strength training will make you slow and inflexible.

Herein lies a situation which again is dependent upon how training is implemented.  I can attest (from my experiences in training when I was younger) that if you don’t implement mobility and corrective exercise as a part of your routine, your mobility will decrease and your chances of injury will increase.  The same idea is applicable when saying that heavy strength training will make you slower.   If speed and power are important components of your training, then you need to accommodate this.  And in order to be powerful and explosive, there is something you need to consider: you need to be able to apply force.  So getting stronger is absolutely a vital training component in a speed and power athlete.  There are countless ways to do this in your training; again the important thing is understand the process and how all training modes will help you achieve your end goal.  So while you can sit there and cite bodybuilders (particularly the ones that compete in heavier weight classes) who wouldn’t be able to run and move on a football field, remember that is NOT their goal in training

If you are worried about maintaining your movement while undergoing training the slow component of strength (i.e. lifting heavier weights), utilize mobility drills and corrective exercise prehab movements to prevent injuries.

2.  If you want to lose weight, cardio is all you need.

I would think in the internet age that most people are probably past this one, but I will address it anyway because I know there are people out there that still believe this.  I am also going to lump into this discussion all of the various types of group training “classes” that don’t include any significant level of resistance training into their workouts with the intent to “tone” muscles (For the record, there is not such thing as muscle tone in the way it is described by infomercials. Tone is a function of the central nervous systems in regards to muscle activity; the tone people are usually aiming to get through training involves having low body fat and MUSCLE MASS).  Yes that is correct, you need muscle in order to have tone.  How do you do this?  Strength Training.  Now this is not to say that some type of conditioning is not important.  Everyone at some point in their training should do various types of cardiovascular/aerobic/anaerobic conditioning as a part of their exercise for overall health and well-being; and if you are an athlete, training these energy systems is all the more important in training for your sport.

In summary, if you want a complete exercise plan regardless of your fitness goals, strength training should be included.

If you get this and want to post a question on how to incorporate these variables in your training, post in the comments.

Combative Warm-Up

Any form of martial arts requires a good amount of strength and mobility to perform optimally and avoid injury.  Even if one is not doing martial arts for the purpose of competing, being physically prepared to defend oneself will enhance the skills that are taught in self-defense.  Prior to training it would benefit one to perform a warm-up that includes elements of both mobility and corrective exercise to assist with performance enhancement and injury prevention.

The following is the first warm-up of a series that will be utilized in a Comabitives class that will be taught at the school where I learned Isshin-Ryu Karate (Moyer’s Karate, Shillington, PA).  This class is a new class that is being taught as an advanced self-defense class with a physical preparation component included.  This warm-up can be performed prior to any type of martial arts training (or any other sport for that matter).  Even though one can’t warm-up prior to a real life self defense situation, performing activities of this sort over time will enable one to be more mobile and less prone to injury.

Here is the warm-up.  For all stationary & ground drills, perform 5-10 repetitions each.  Movement drills (i.e. skipping) can be done for a distance of 10-15 yards.  Hold all static stretches for 15-30 seconds.

As mentioned previously, this warm-up will change over the course of the year; stay posted for updates.

For more information on this class or instruction in Isshin-Ryu Karate, visit the Moyers Karate website.

Simple Combo to Eliminate & Prevent Knee Pain

Many individuals experience minor pain and discomfort from chronic injuries over the course of their training.  One injury experienced by active individuals is patellofemoral stress syndrome.  This diffuse aching pain in the front of the knee plagues many athletes and non-athletes who strength train.  Even though it typically affects females more often than males, this injury may be sustained by anyone involved in physical activity.  Without getting too in-depth as to how this occurs, basically what happens is the patella (“kneecap”) doesn’t track right in the front of the knee, which causes friction and irritation as one performs activity. 

There are various reasons as to why this occurs in individuals; typcially muscle imbalances are the culprit.  One common imbalance that causes this is a tight and overtive IT band (long band of tissue that goes down the outside of your thigh) coupled with a weak VMO (the teardrop shaped muscle on the inside part of your quad).   This combination causes your patella to have a tendency to track to the outside (lateral) area of the knee, which causes the irritation. 

One way to both solve and prevent this problem would be to incorporate the following two exercises into your warm-up prior to lower body strength training days (especially if you are squatting):


Harder version with no support foot

Start Position- Band TKE

Finish. Drive heel into the ground.Heel touch TKE.


Begin by performing the foam rolling exercise for the IT Band.  20-30 Slow rolls over the outside of the thigh between your hip and knee (avoid going over the bony protrusions in both areas).  If you have never done this before, it will be uncomfortable.  Depending on how hard the roller is you are using (I actually use a PVC pipe, but I wouldn’t recommend you start there) will dictate how aggressive the rolling will be.  Pictured above are two versions of foam rolling for the IT band.

For the TKE, take a resistance band and wrap it around a stationary object and the back of your knee (you can place a towel between the band and your knee if it bothers you).  Do 2-3 sets of 10-30 reps for this exercise (this area responds better to higher repetitions).  It it better to do the foam rolling first, as this will relax the tissue on the outside of your thigh prior to doing the TKE exercise.  

A variation to the TKE is the heel touch TKE.  Using a low step or box, lower yourself under control and lightly touch your heel to the ground.  Driving your heel into the ground on the weight-bearing side, straighten your leg out completely.  Sets and reps for this exercise would be the same as for the band TKE.


Utilize this combination with some other lower extremity mobility exercises to complete your warm-up.  Post any questions related to including theses items into your warm-up.

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