As we train any athlete, we have to understand a few things:
1. their goals
2. their experience
3. their mental capacity for learning or following (ill touch on this later, some people dont care about the why)
4. their physical strengths and limitations
5. their schedule
This post will talk about limitations because I think that has the most to do with prep, base and build phases of training. With physical limitations, we are not only talking about handicaps such as loss of motor skills or loss of appendage. I mean more things like flexibility, body type and range of motion.
But arent flexibility and ROM the same thing? No. Flexibility is the “ability of a muscle to stretch to its fullest extension”. ROM is the ability of muscles to move joints synergistically through its full range of contraction (or flex), abduction, adduction, and extension. Without diving into a dictionary to explain these, ill leave that as homework for you reading this. Just remember that everything in the body moves together, there is NO SUCH THING AS AN ISOLATION EXERCISE. I will lose my voice telling people over and over on this one.
But Nick, what about a preacher curl, or a leg curl, or lateral raise.
No. Lets look at this for a bit. Say you are on the preacher curl machine, you might be putting more stress on the bicep, but you still have to use your wrist muscles and shoulder muscles for stabilization.
Flexibility is a given trait that can be trained, but up until the persons specific body type or muscle make up and joint activity limits them from attaining a full stretch. Its also important to train exercises through the full ROM unless you have a specific goal in mind that will limit ROM, like training a fighter to Gorilla Press someone out of mount. For this, you may limit them to get under a barbell on the floor with a spotter and train from the lowest point their elbows hit the floor up to full extension. But by doing this, you cannot neglect the rest of the ROM, you will just have to train it in a different way.
Body Types, as given to us by science through bodybuilding, are as follows
Each of these 3 types of bodies have different traits. Many Pro Bodybuilders and MMA Fighters are Mesomorphs and Ectomorphs. Mesomorphs have an easier time putting on muscle where Ectomorphs have an easier time staying very lean. This doesn’t mean that an Endomorph cannot look closer to one of the other 2, it just means that they have to learn how their body adapts to food and training.
Range of Motion Training is very easy to do. Most of it is done unloaded, meaning no weight or very light weight. If we are correcting someone’s ROM we need to do it unloaded because more than likely they have an instability and training a loaded joint with an instability= injury.
Point to take from this: Understand the principles of Body Type, ROM and Flexibility and understand how they may limit your training, but its up to you to find ways to correct imbalances and work with what you have. Never give up and don’t be so hard on yourself. It takes a long time for people to understand what works best for them.