View Full Version : The "pollution" of body building
09-14-2004, 06:34 PM
Been reading a number of articles and books recently on the topic of biomechanics and sports injury. One of the authors made an interesting assertion which has some real merit when it comes to tennis training. He talked about the pollution of Western sports training by the techniques of body building. Where the Eastern Europeans and Russians focused on training the whole kinetic chains involved in an activity, i.e. the service motion or slap shot, Western training was taken over by the concepts of body building, ala isolating muscles, whose main purpose is hypertrophy. His argument was that the increase in injuries we are seeing in athletes of all skill levels comes from the imbalances created by their use of isolation training and hypertrophy techniques (body building), instead of building strength across the entire kinetic movement.
Something to think about the next time you are looking to improve your serve and your personal trainer (or a TW board member), recommends you do lateral raises to strengthen your shoulder. A better approach would be to find exercises than engage the entire service kinetic chain, i.e. legs, hips, trunk, shoulder and arm at the same time. Plyometric exercises that challenge the service kinetic chain might be the better approach. Among the many great points he made was that the majority of advice dispensed in gyms has absolutely no basis in fact. As an example, we are told to exhale when exerting, inhale when recovering while lifting weights Yet there is not one scientific study that says this provides any benefit during the actual performance of an athletic activity. Not a single one.
Good stuff and worth thinking about as you craft your training routine.
I definitely plan to research further. I've already adopted some of his principles and seen a drop off in pain, shortening of recovery times and increases in stamina and strength on the court.
09-14-2004, 09:47 PM
So how should you train in the gym when you want a more powerful serve?
09-14-2004, 09:53 PM
Isolation work isn't really the backbone of bodybuilding anyway... Compound movements are where it's at. Of course I'm talking about serious bodybuilding here...
09-14-2004, 10:31 PM
It is like the the training of gymnasts, they train movements to improve a movement not to simply build bigger muscles. It is basically the specificity rule at work here.
09-15-2004, 07:30 AM
Actually, a good weight training programme will help correct any imbalances in your body.
To get stronger muscles, you have to use them. Wether with weights, tennis, lifting a fork, whatever. Some activities put more stress on the muscle than others, thus developing it better.
You can hit 1000 forehands per day, it WILL develop your abs (the obliques I think) which are a good part of what generates ball speed, or you can spend 10 minutes a day working on them using a weight training routine to achieve the same thing.
A serve is actually a good example of where weights can help ALOT on injury prevention. Serving isn't good for the shoulder. If you don't have a strong one, and you hit 100 serves a day putting a lot of effort to it, you will get hurt. Strength training helps you with this.
I do free-weights only training to actually weed out the muscles imbalances in my body. A good example is the fact that I have the muscles of my arms very developed from tennis and table tennis compares to my shoulders and mid section. I never did any arm weight training before (I do it now once a week just to maintain the muscles) and through sports I developed this imbalance.
Also, check out Max-OT, it seems to be the latest craze on weight routines, never tried it myself, but many people I know swear by it.
09-15-2004, 08:32 AM
Good discussion. Lets take the serve example farther. If you really study the biomechanics of the serve, you realize the power comes mostly from the legs and trunk. Look no futher than Andy Roddick to see this. He has stripped down the motion, removed all the superflous upper body motion. Power is generated from the legs up through the torso, which transmits the rotational force necessary to bring the upper body and arm around. Forearm movement and wrist snap drives the ball either down and forward or up and forward depending on the serve. What the shoulder is really doing in this sequence is acting as a controlling brake against the tremendous forward motion developed in the arm (which BTW is much longer , heavier and has higher leverage because it has a 27-28 inch, 12 oz racquet hanging off the end).
Now look at the traditional exercises taught in the U.S. to train the shoulder. Lateral raises, front raises, shoulder press, military press etc. They all emphasize a linear motion, essentially straight up and down. So you become good at using your deltoids to lift a weight straight up and down, but haven't done much to train the shoulder to handle the task of braking a highly levered, forward moving arm a hundred or more times in a 2 hour match. If you've over-developed the deltoid, it is now also adding additional strain on the joint, further increasing the forces trying to pull apart the ligaments and tendons that hold the shoulder joint together.
As kobble indicated, training the motion seems to be the key. Using a compound movement as Mikael mentioned, I would argue a better move would be to use a woodchopper exercise with an arm extension at the end. This brings the legs, torso, shoulder and arm into play and more closely mimics the actually service movement.
These are just my views, but after 30 years in the gym doing the same old stuff, I find it refreshing to see some real scientific work being done to further advance sports training. If anybody else has some other compound movements that help in tennis, please share them with us.
09-15-2004, 09:21 AM
Could you tell me where to find the referenced article ?
09-16-2004, 01:45 PM
atatu, sorry for the delayed response. Had to dig through a pile of stuff to make sure I gave you the right info. I would suggest you do a Web search on Dr. Stuart McGill to start. He is one of the main proponents of whole motion training, particularly as it applies to the back and trunk. The "pollution" quote comes out of his new book "Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance".
No one is advocating dropping traditional strength training altogether. The current thinking is evolving to the position that the primary exercise program for athletes in sports like tennis should really be focused more on whole chain or functional strength training augmented by traditional strength training as a way to reduce injuries and improve performance.
09-17-2004, 08:18 AM
I think we need to differentiate between the layperson looking to a home correspondence course-trained personal trainer at the local gym vs. college and pro-level athletes. The average person believes what they read in "Muscle and Fitness" or the goober behind the counter at GNC. If you played a team sport in high school or college, especially football, baseball or track and had a halfway decent coach/trainer, you performed the compound movements and olympic lifts and ran sprints and completed plyometric drills. If you stick to the basic lifts such as the bench press, clean and jerk, snatch, squats, etc. that's all you'll ever need. My PhD training is in nutrition and exercise physiology and I can tell you that I don't trust anyone that isn't ACSM (American College of Sports medicine) certified or certified by a comparable entity in another country. Most team sports do this type of "sport-specific/whole body" training. That's why football players hit the sleds and do "wood chops". Great comments, Netman. I can recommend a very simply written book called "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" by Dr. Greg Sheppard. It's written at almost a 5th grade level and geared towards high schoolers and college athletes but it lists specific exercises for particular sports along with compound movements practical for all athletes. It also covers plyometrics, stretching, etc. This guy's organization trained the Utah Jazz and Barry Sanders for years. Good, basic stuff.
Kevin T - Speaking of plyometrics, do you think there's any validity to the handful of articles and studies that have stated that this type of exercise can potentially do serious damage to joints, tendons and ligaments? Obviously plyometrics WORKS if done correctly, but I'm thinking more of long-term effects.
09-18-2004, 10:56 AM
Absolutely, Phil. The same goes with olympic lifts. The better coaches will not even allow weight on the bars until their athletes demonstrate perfect form on each movement. When the form is correct, then weight can be added incrementally. Proper form and alignment are critical with plyometrics. Most experts on plyometric training recommend no more than 2 days/week doing these explosive movements and that's if you are already in good shape. It's important to build slowly with plyo work, doing only one set of each exercise the first few weeks. Even if it feels super easy, your joints will thank you. Actually, many experts say that after the age of 30, unless you are an elite athlete, that plyometric workouts should be performed only 1 x each week. The research makes sense because the sports with explosive movements (track, tennis, squash, olympic lifting, hockey) by far have the highest tendon/muscle pull-type injury rates. You amaze me with your breadth of subject knowledge, Phil. Where do you get the time to read? Politics, sports med, nutrition, tennis, vegetarianism, etc., etc. A very well-read individual.
09-18-2004, 01:36 PM
The one time a week on plyo makes good sense. I've tried plyo in the past and it definitely hits your joints and tissue hard, even the simple moves. Once a week sounds like a good edition to a workout routine without putting too much stress on the old body.
Thanks for the book recommendation, Kevin. I'll check it out.
Kevin - Good post. I've been planning to add plyo again to my routine after several years and as someone of a certain age-over 30-a 1x-per-week regimen makes perfect sense to me. But I often have a hard time convincing myself that I'm not an elite athlete! I know people with Phd.'s who know their stuff and others who sprout b.s. Your academic expertise combined with a no-b.s. common sense approach is, I think, just the right mix.
Thanks for the complement...Reading's ingrained-not only as passion, but habit. So except for a few crunch periods, I don't think about finding the time to do it-I just do-somehow,someway. You'd be amazed at how much reading you can do if you commute every day by train! I never seem to stick to any one subject, or limit myself to my college majors-I'm all over the map with whatever catches my interest-a total layman; jack of some trades and master of none. As for the nutrition/fitness stuff, it's interesting to read about and discuss, but the added bonus in trying to keep up with it is that, ideally, it will help me to feel better and live longer.
09-19-2004, 08:41 AM
I have a hard time believing I'm not elite anymore, as well, Phil. I probably never was; definitely not these days. I often wish I lived in a larger city that allowed for mass transit. Hard to read and drive at the same time. Thank goodness for XM radio and books on CD! Rest is the almost always overlooked "ugly stepchild" of athletic progress. Once you get the body accustomed to the stress of plyometrics, you can really train to failure on your plyo day, then let those muscles rest, repair and grow. I've never been stuck on my MS and PhD degrees. The only difference between a person with an MS and a person with a BS is the MS person probably had to get the degree for his/her job or happened to be really interested in the topic. The only difference between a person with an MS and a PhD is 1. job requirement 2. wanted to teach 3. afraid of the "real world" 4. doesn't mind reading lots of research and writing really long papers. I was #2. I don't even allow my students to call me Dr. First name basis with me, baby. A professor once told me that the correct route is often the easiest/simplest yet the hardest to understand. That is absolutely true with diet and exercise. That's what happens when the untrained, from Dr. Phil to chiropractors give out nutrition advice. I've been thinking of going to the local mall and opening a "back cracking" service.
11-24-2004, 08:22 PM
The same goes with olympic lifts. The better coaches will not even allow weight on the bars until their athletes demonstrate perfect form on each movement. When the form is correct, then weight can be added incrementally.
Proper form and alignment are critical with plyometrics. Most experts on plyometric training recommend no more than 2 days/week doing these explosive movements and that's if you are already in good shape. It's important to build slowly with plyo work, doing only one set of each exercise the first few weeks. Even if it feels super easy, your joints will thank you. Actually, many experts say that after the age of 30, unless you are an elite athlete, that plyometric workouts should be performed only 1 x each week.
The research makes sense because the sports with explosive movements (track, tennis, squash, olympic lifting, hockey) by far have the highest tendon/muscle pull-type injury rates.
All very healthy recommendations.
11-25-2004, 05:23 AM
Thanks for your posts Kevin T. I'm glad we have an actual tennis player here that actually has credentials in the field of conditioning. Now I know who to ask and take serious advice from.
You and BB would be valuable contributors to this message board indeed.
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