Strength Training Basics

Strength training doesn't have to be hard. We've all heard these infomercial type statements below, and although they sounds catchy and great, rarely does it yield the results you're looking for.

"Keep your muscles guessing."
"Confuse your body to stimulate growth."
"Change up your exercise routine every time for fat loss."

Even more so, these statements can possibly put you at more risk for an injury due to giving you toouch variety. Let's go over some recommendations I give to fitness clients or athletes that are newbies to strength training.

The KISS Method

When it comes to my training and rehab approach, I abide by the KISS method: Keep It Simple Stupid. My feeling is if you can't master the basic, fundamental aspects of certain movements or exercises, then I'm definitely not going to give you "functional" earth shattering exercises on top of that as well. Not to mention, the flashy, so-called functional exercise being prescribed rarely is as functional as you think.

Don't be like this guy. No one should ever be like this guy.

Don't be like this guy. No one should ever be like this guy.

Exercise Selection

Squatting, basic hip hinging for deadlifts, loaded carries, and a press/pull movement should be the staple of many exercise regimens, especially for a beginner. Proper movement is something that can't be compromised in the programs I prescribe for people. Coaching movement should be the goal, not coaching exercise. A client's body type, structure, and ultimately their feel for a movement is paramount before we even consider adding any increased weight. This won't be the last time you'll hear this, but I will never increase weight or load on top of poor movement, as that usually is a recipe for disaster.

Master The Basics

"So Russ what do you suggest we do to improve strength, look better, and stay healthy?" I think the answer is it depends. Your strength training routine should have the main movements we discussed above to build a solid foundation. Exercise variation should be considered if someone has limitations that don’t allow him or her to perform a certain exercise properly, or if they are transitioning to another phase of their strength training routine. Changing exercises just for the sake of changing it up is something I rarely do for beginners.

So next time you see a flashy new exercise on YouTube, ask yourself if it is going to help with your long term goal of moving pain free and feeling stronger.

Happy Lifting!

Dr. Russ

Dr. Russ Manalastas is the owner of MANA Performance Therapy. It is located within Next Level Strength and Conditioning in Rochester, NY. Dr. Russ is a board certified sports clinical specialist by the APTA, a strength and conditioning coach through the NSCA, and is a certified orthopedic manual therapist by the Maitland Institute. He utilizes a combination of manual therapy techniques, strength training, and rehab principles to improve human and athletic performance. He has worked with athletes across all sports to help educate them on proper movement, strength training, and the importance of recovery for reduction of injuries.


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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS, spent 6 seasons as Head Strength & Conditioning coach of the Lakers and is renowned nationally for his evidence-based and scientific approach to training, nutrition and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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Timothy DiFrancesco

Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge. He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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