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If you step into any sports training facility, you might see some exhausted athletes lying in a tub of ice after a workout. The ice bath has been around for years, but lately it has become a hot trend in recovery techniques.

Some facilities specialize in cryotherapy, which is the use of hyper-cool temperatures to speed up the healing process in soft tissue and joints.

These techniques are especially popular among athletes, and it seems that icing after workouts has become a standard method of recovery.

But what if I told you that using ice after a workout is the exact opposite of what you should do to speed your recovery? What if I told you that icing after a workout actually slows down and directly interferes with your body's natural healing process?

I really don't like to speak in absolutes, like "You should never ice after a workout again!" But in my opinion you should be doing other things instead.

The Beginning

Read more: Why You Shouldn't Ice After a Workout

Everyone has ups and downs in the weight room and on the field or court. Sometimes the downs last longer than you'd like, and you can't seem to get yourself back in gear. If your progress stalls for an extended period of time, you may be able to make some alterations to get back on track.

Here are the 5 most common reasons your training program could be failing, and how you can get back to making the progress you wish for!

1. Scattered Goals

5 Reasons Your Training Program is Failing (And How to Fix It)

I believe that good goal setting is essential to a successful training program. Unfortunately, setting goals like "I want to get super jacked, bro" is not an effective use of your time. Ineffective goal setting is one of the most common roadblocks I run into with clients, and it often happens before they even lift a single weight.

I see three major mistakes when people express their goals.

The goal is way too broad.

They set multiple goals that have no relation to each other.

The goal is based on another person's success.

Read more: 5 Reasons Your Training Program is Failing (And How to Fix It)

"Why do I sweat so much?"

If you walk around the gym with a trail of sweat on the floor behind you, this question probably comes to mind. Sometimes it might feel like you are constantly soaked, even if you're not doing an overly hard workout. Another person in the gym might be doing a similar workout, and he or she is dry as a bone.

What gives?

Several factors contribute to how much you sweat. But first, you need to understand why you sweat in the first place.

Why Do I Sweat?

Sweating at the Gym

Sweating is the body's natural process to cool itself down. Sweat can be caused by an emotional response such as anxiety, an illness or physical exertion, which is what we focus on below.

Read more: Why Do I Sweat So Much?

Stretching is only for improving flexibility, right? Ever since elementary school gym class, it's been ingrained in your head that stretching is to help make your muscles longer.

And this is true. Static stretching—the technical term for when you hold a stretch—improves a muscle's ability to lengthen. This is the intention behind the design of stretching exercises, and how they are typically used in a workout.

Side note: Static stretches should be done at the end of a workout, not during your warm-up.

However, according to new research by Dr. Jacob Wilson and his team at the University of Tampa, it appears that static stretching during the rest period of a strength exercise has the capability to cause serious muscle growth. You read that right: Stretching can increase muscle size.

Read more: A Stretching Technique That Increases Muscle Size

If you're looking for a strength training method that not only maximizes power and size but also corrects form and function, it's time to incorporate eccentric isometrics into your training routine. Eccentric isometrics involve lowering a load slowly (3 or 4 seconds), pausing in the bottom position for an additional 2 to 7 seconds, then powerfully driving the weight up.

Having used this method with my athletes and clients, I've found nothing more effective for improving lifting mechanics, muscle function, mobility, stability, strength, hypertrophy and power. Besides the fact that eccentric exercises have been shown to be highly effective for producing strength and muscle mass, there are additional reasons why eccentric isometrics enhance performance.

The Research

Muscles contain numerous sensory receptors known as muscles spindles. These proprioceptive mechanisms respond to stretching and provide internal feedback relating to body positioning and mechanics. The greater the stretch, the more feedback they provide. Because eccentric isometrics emphasize a controlled stretch, they essentially increase sensory feedback, allowing the lifter to fine-tune, modify and perfect his or her technique and body mechanics.

In my research performed at the University of Georgia, we found eccentric isometrics improved measures of both upper- and lower-body stability. This is most likely due to improved motor control and increased motor unit recruitment resulting from the deliberate eccentric motions. Besides improving strength training mechanics, this can have a profound impact on athletic performance, since the athlete will have greater control and awareness of his or her body on the playing field.

We also found eccentric isometrics to be highly effective for improving symmetrical loading (percent of load supported by left vs. right side). In essence, eccentric isometrics help eliminate uneven distribution between the sides of the body. The practical application for any athlete is significant, since eliminating imbalances and improving symmetry are critical for injury prevention.

Finally, eccentric isometrics are incredibly effective at inducing post-activation potentiation (PAP). This is fancy term for an immediate, albeit temporary, increase in power, speed, torque and force production.

Although there are several complex scientific explanations as to why this occurs, much of it comes down to improved neuromuscular efficiency and increased activation of available muscle fibers. The take-home point is that performing eccentric isometrics several minutes prior to an explosive event (jumping, sprinting, throwing or hitting) significantly enhances power, speed, force and movement mechanics. When performed near the beginning of a workout, it allows you to increase the amount of load you can handle on subsequent sets, ultimately producing greater gains in strength and muscle mass.

Tips for Performing Eccentric Isometrics

Rather than letting the weight press you down, focus on using your opposing muscles to pull the load into proper position. For example, during a Chest Press, squeeze your lats and use your upper back to pull the weight down, essentially turning the eccentric movement into a Row.

Don't collapse at the bottom. The goal is optimal and natural range of motion, not excessive range of motion.

Stay tight and keep your spine rigid throughout.

Don't breathe heavily during the actual repetition or you'll lose tightness and collapse. Think about sipping air through a straw, and take deep breaths between reps rather than during.

Go barefoot or minimalist. The feet provide plenty of sensory feedback for movement modification, but bulky shoes or inhibited feet can blunt the response.

Don't use the mirror. Focus on feeling your way through the movement rather than watching your way through. You may even want to try closing your eyes.



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