Exercise Risk versus Reward

posted on March 8th, 2011 in Cycling, Cycling Tips, Reviews, Strength Training by Stephen

I know of a exercise regime that has people doing many things that are challenging exercises, however, one of the main things is that the routine doesn’t pay any attention to the Risk vs. Reward factor of exercise. And as such I found out that many people were getting injured doing the workouts.
And as an athlete “The Number 1 way to Improve, is to NOT get Injured”

Let me explain what I mean. The simple fact is there are more basic exercises that you can get as much benefit (if not more) and a fraction of the risk involved in performing them.

Some examples of low risk, high reward plyometric exercises are:

1) jumping rope.
2) squat jumps.
3) side to side hops over cones.

Some examples of High Risk with little reward are:
1) Anything involving standing on a stability ball. I’ve done it, but each time I let out a sigh after being finished – b/c I didn’t get injured. Sure, it’s a cool looking exercise, and people may stop to watch you, but the risk involved during, and finishing the exercise is way too high for any benefit that you would get from doing it.

I heard that Juan Carlos Santana tore an ACL getting off a ball at a seminar – that was enough to make me realize that it was a little risky too do.

2) Increased box size while doing box-jumps. Just because you use a taller box, does not mean that the proportion of benefit from jumping is increased, infact there is an inverse relationship. The taller the box, the less increase in benefit, and the greater increase chance of injury.

For example, if you are doing box-jumps onto a 24″ box, going to a 36″ box is going to barely increase the body’s ability to create more power, however, there is a much greater risk involved.

3) Using ‘the smith machine’ to do squats. I understand the reason people use the smith machine to do squats, but what I don’t think that people realize the hidden risks of using the smith machine. The risks are that:

A) you are loading lots of weight onto the back of your neck, and then attempting to squat that weight, during the course of doing this, you are likely to cheat in any way possible to raise that weight – pushing your neck further into the smith machine.

B) If you have bad mechanics while squatting & then add much weight to the squat (again, on the back of the neck), then the bad mechanics are going to be magnified – and at some point cause an injury.

Want a better exercise that will still challenge most athletes – Single Leg Squats! You don’t have to double the load on your neck, to double the load on each leg, just use 1 leg and your bodyweight.

Another difference is unlike basketball or volleyball, where the power creation may have to come from different muscle length during the course of an event, for cycling, the legs power creation goes through the same cycle (no pun intended, but hopefully appreciated) either seated or standing. So, because the pedal is attached to a crank-arm, your foot is going to do the same circle for every revolution of that crank.

Therefore, we use Plyometrics so that the Power Creation uses a similar muscle length tension relationship of squatting low and jumping, then landing back in a similar squat, then immediately jumping again.

Now before you race to the gym or the basement to hammer out a plyometric workout, please read this first and keep in mind that a risky exercise does not mean it has the most reward!
The biggest reward is to stay injury free.

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