Love hurts – your performance that is.

Hope you guys are having a productive day.  This is the last week for all of my junior players, I just finished with one of the NHL guys, the other will be around for another couple of weeks before heading to training camp.  Add to that the fact that it was only 18C here at 8am and it is really starting to feel like Autumn is on the doorstep.  Which is just fine with me – probably my favourite season!  What’s not to like, hockey is back!  I have a birthday and I get back into my regular routine of keeping in touch with you guys consistently!

As a follow up to my post the other day about some upper body exercises for hockey goalies, I had an email from one of you who revealed something very personal about himself.  He had a confession that I think he had been carrying around for a long time – I could literally feel the weight being lifted off his shoulders as he finally revealed how much he LOVED – using the machines in the gym for upper body training.

Yes, I am talking about those machines where you sit down and it takes you about 12 different ‘seat’ adjustments to get through your upper body workout as you move from station to station before running into the guy who sits on the Pec Deck for a full 2-minutes between each one of his 17 sets.

Ah yes, the glorious machines… chest press, seated row, incline chest press, lat pulldown, triceps pressdown, preacher curl, shoulder rotation, dip machine, military press, pec dec, reverse pec dec, lat pullover – heck while you are at it add in some crunches on one of those stupid ‘ab machines’.

I hate to speak poorly of love – there is something to be said for personal fulfillment, but if you are a goalie who is spending time in the gym trying to improve your performance, rather than your chances of getting noticed at the sports bar after the game, then you need to drop that love like a bad habit!

Here’s why.

Why do some of you love machines – typically it is because you can lift more weight with them than you can using dumbbells or free weights.  Now let’s think about why that is by applying some logic.  What does the machine do – well some machines loop the cable through several pulleys so there is a mechanical advantage, so they make you feel good about yourself because you set the pin to 200lbs and away you go – however you may only be lifting 120lbs of actual load.

The ‘advantage’ of machine training that the big box gyms will try to sell you on is that the machine supports your joints so you won’t hurt yourself.  That’s right, you don’t have to stabilize a thing, the machine does it for you, your rotator cuff muscles can shrivel up like prunes – you won’t be needing those when you lift 200lbs on our machines!

I hope by now you can see how that builds some massive muscle imbalances between the big mover muscles and their corresponding stabilizers.  Once you step out of the machine and on to the ice, you are putting yourself at risk of injury because you are trying to apply force that you cannot stabilize.  Heck, most of us have way too many muscle imbalances as it is just from our regular old horrible postural habits – we don’t need to make them worse by creating more when we go to the gym.

Later in the week I will return with my 3 favourite strategies to combat your daily postural imbalances. If you are really interested in how muscle imbalances in the upper body create injuries and what you can do to correct them – this is for the strength coaches, trainers and off-ice training geeks out there for sure (do not check it out if you are not really into it, it will be a little too much information for you).

If that sounds like you, then my friend (yes, he actually is my friend – I am not just pretending he is my friend so I can sell you something) Rick Kaselj has teamed up with some of the top strength coaches in North America to bring you an in-depth program called Muscle Imbalance Revealed – Upper Body – check it out if it is something you are really interested in.  Yes, that is my affiliate link – I don’t know how much I get if you buy it through my link.  That is not why I am mentioning it I just want to direct you to a good resource.

Talk to you later in the week – Now get off that chest press machine and start tossing up some dumbbells!