Sunday, December 04, 2005

Focus During Weight Training

This week was a clear reminder that strength training is very challenging when it comes to maintaining focus. Not only is maintaining focus a way to dramatically increase the quality of a strength workout, but I view strength training as a means to increase my ability to focus over long periods of time, specifically Ultimate games. When I am tired or distracted, there are consistent signs when I am losing focus during strength training:

1) I rush through my reps.
2) I "bounce" my reps. For example, if I am doing pull-ups, I will use my momentum on both the up and down points of the rep.

I think taking a passive approach, mentally, to strength training is very common. We do our bit, show up at the gym, get into a machine, and let it do the work. I am as guilty as the next person of mailing it in during strength training, but being passive basically wastes the time spent in the gym. So use strength training as chance to increase your focus and mindfulness. Your Ultimate game will get a lot out of it.


_dusty_ said...

I'm curious why you've suggested to focus on "slowing down reps" and that "rush[ing] through reps" is a bad thing? A workout consisting of many reps done slowly very common in body building, but not many(any?) sports. When you lift slowly, you are training your muscles to fire slowly, hardly a desirable muscle trait for an explosive sport like ultimate. When I lift, my goal is to maximize the bar speed while keeping the weight high (75-90% of max) to train for maximum firing speed and power. Personally, I think that speed and quickness are more important in ultimate that sheer strength or endurance.

Who/where did you get your lifting workout from? I've never heard of anyone advocating slow reps as a good lifting technique for ultimate, but then again, I've hardly seen anyone advocate any specific routine as a good lifting technique for ultimate. I'm just interested in hearing the scientific foundation behind your off-season training regimine.

gcooke said...


I was not clear. My program was designed by Bryan Doo. He played for Dog and is now the strength coach for the Celtics. For these first 6 weeks, he wants me to slow down the "down phase" (going with gravity) of my reps. The "work phase" (going against gravity) is done more quickly. The main purpose of this beginning part of the year is to lay a foundation and concentrate on correct form.

I do the kind of explosive work you describe as we move into spring. I agree with you that going really slow is not appropriate, but even if you are moving quickly with heavy weights, it should not come, in my opinion, at the expense of proper form.

It was interesting this week. On Thursday, I was not focused and, when doing pull-ups, my heart got to 122bpm. On Sunday, though, I really focused on my form (and speed). My rate was 136bpm.

So, I appreciate your comments. I am sorry if I was less than clear. It sounds like you have a good program going.


_dusty_ said...

Yep, I've heard of Brian and his work with DoG and the C's. I thought you were talking about "burn out" reps, where you go super slowly through the concentric and eccentric phases resulting in 20-30 seconds per rep.

I definately agree, being controlled in the eccentric phase is important, especially for safety reasons. Thanks for the clarification.

gcooke said...

I was trying to remember those damn eccentric and concentric words........

Thanks, Dusty

luke said...

i JUST learned today the hang clean. i do full parallel squats, chin ups and abs, as my basic weight routine. (threw in some bench, ya know, just for kicks)

but i'm now working out w/ one of the sprint coaches (of a state champ team) on olympic lifting... so it's hang cleans, then more complex.

the benefits are huge, but i leave it to you to do the research.

in the long run, i hope to move away from squats to all olympic style lifts and plyos...

the nice thing: an efficient workout program should take no more than 30 minutes...