Use Proper Blocking To Prevent Strength Training Injuries

From the July 7, 2007 edition of The Lancaster News

A large percentage of Americans will experience some form of injury while lifting weights or through resistance training.

However, most of injuries can be prevented if proper blocking techniques are applied. This is not the same blocking technique that an offensive lineman does to protect his quarterback.

Nor is it the same as a 7-foot-tall basketball center blocking the jump shot of a 5-foot, 8-inch-tall point guard who is trying to win a game.

Blocking is a term rarely used by new age personal training professionals. It refers to tightening up your abs while simply “sucking in your stomach.” Instead of blocking, I prefer the phrase activate your core when referring to a technique to stabilize chest posture and tell clients to do that before performing and exercise or movement.

Over time, the term blocking has changed, but the benefits of using the correct form and methods have not.

When to block

I train a variety of clients from housewives to advanced athletes and retirees in their mid-to-late 60s.

When it comes to strength training, all of them are coached to use the blocking technique when performing most types of resistance training and exercises.

It’s especially encouraged in exercises that involve the back and lower back muscles. Some of us have mastered the technique over time and some have naturally trained their posture since birth.

Dead lifting and buttock and thigh muscle exercises require the blocking technique. It is very important to use it when performing these exercise to use the blocking technique so they are executed with perfect form.

Blocking technique tips

Here are some tips to help you develop the proper blocking technique that can help you from experiencing unnecessary injuries:

  • Before lifting heavy weights or starting any resistance training exercise, take a deep breath. As you inhale, your rib cage expands, forcing you to stick out your chest. It also stiffens your rib cage and prevents your upper torso from bending forward. At this point all of your core/ab dominal muscles should be contracted.This will increase internal abdominal pressure and also helps to generate power and strength for the particular movement that is anticipated. If the exercise or movement permits, you should contract the lower back muscles to arch your lower back and extend the bottom of the spine.
  • It’s important to simultaneously perform all steps of the blocking technique. Plus, you can easily practice and perfect it through the use of lighter weights. In the long run, proper blocking can help anyone who participates in strength training and conditioning.It will help you avoid rounding the back (flexing the spine) which can cause a number of serious injuries, such as a slipped disk, a strained or pulled muscle or, in some cases, even worse injuries.

– Fitness expert and bodybuilder Kennett Washington is president of Healing Strength Personal Training.