To be great, you must always be doing something to better your competition. Good athletes work out hard, consistently eat well, and wait for their next practice to get better. Great athletes are always trying to get better, even during their down time.
To help you make the most of your time, here are five injury prevention exercises you can do while watching TV, taking breaks from studying or chilling on a recovery day. You don't need much equipment—just some drive and motivation to work on weak links in your body.
1. Advanced Band Pull-Apart
- Step on a mini-band with both feet placed slightly narrower than hip-width, and make sure the band is secure.
- Grab the top half of the mini-band with an overhand grip and perform a front raise just below shoulder level.
- Perform a Band Pull-Apart without letting the band pull you down; keep the band in constant tension and stay in the same plane of movement while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Sets/Reps: Start with 2-3x10-12 and work up to 4-5x15-25 while progressively using stronger bands.
This will strengthen the muscles surrounding your rotator cuff, as well as your upper back and trapezius, which are usually weak. It might also address shoulder issues by strengthening them and helping overcome imbalances. Learn why most shoulder injury prevention programs fail.
2. Isometric Adductor Glute Bridge with Hamstring Curl
- Perform a basic Glute Bridge while squeezing a block, a foam roller or a light med ball between your knees.
- Progress this exercise with heavier medicine balls to challenge your adductor strength.
Squeezing an object between your legs forces you to use better form. This exercise also gives you more bang for your buck. You will work your adductors while keeping your glutes and hamstrings engaged and squeezed at the top while performing a Hamstring Curl.
3. Wall Sit with Adductor (Groin) Squeeze
After the Adductor Glute Bridge with Hamstring Curl, go straight into a Wall Sit without resting.
- Sit with your shoulder blades and upper back in contact with a wall, your hips parallel to the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Dorsiflex your toes (point them up) and dig your heels into the floor.
- Place a med ball or foam roller between your knees to simultaneously work your groin and adductors.
- Perform 2 sets of this circuit with the Glute Bridge for as many reps as possible.
- Hold the Wall Sit as long as possible and progress to doing 3-4 total sets.
4. Lying Banded Clam Shell
This exercise is great for strengthening and mobilizing the external hip rotators. It specifically works the gluteus medius, which are notoriously weak in most athletes, often leading to knee and ligament injuries. When athletes can't control their hips, their hips pop outward, which causes their knees to go inward (valgus). This is a recipe for disaster; it screams ACL injury.
- Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent in hip flexion.
- Keep your legs and ankles together and loop a resistance band just below your knees.
- Open up your hip like a clamshell while keeping your ankles touching and stacked together.
- Keep a controlled motion the entire time and squeeze for a few seconds at the top.
- Sets/Reps: start with 2-3x8-12 and progress by using stronger or multiple bands and doing more repetitions.
5. Lying Resisted Hip Flexion
The hip flexors consist primarily of the iliacus and psoas, major muscles that work to flex the thigh and trunk. They are assisted in hip flexion by the sartorius and rectus femoris muscles. Strong hip flexors allow for a more powerful and quicker forward leg movement when flexing the leg to run. They are important for nearly every athletic activity, particularly those that require sprinting or quick bursts of power, like football and soccer. Strengthen these muscles with this exercise.
- Lie down and loop a band around your toes or mid-foot on both feet.
- Drive one leg toward your chest while keeping the other foot in place to keep tension on the band.
- Hold at the top position for a few seconds and slowly lower your leg down.
- Sets/Reps: start with a couple sets of 10-12 repetitions and progress by using a stronger band or by holding it for a longer duration at the top of the lift.
To bulletproof your body, perform this mini-program of easy exercises to address weak links at home on your non-training or recovery days. It will not impede recovery, but should speed it up by adding some metabolic stress and blood flow to your muscles. At the same time, it's not very taxing on the central nervous system (CNS), and it won't make you sore for your next workout.
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