Recovery Training for Lifters

May 17, 2016

You unrack the bar…  the weight digs into your traps in that familiar divot on your shoulders and you begin to brace.

Your hips go back.

Core tight, chest broad…

and then you hit the stick. 

The eccentric range begins to feel week and limp, and the weight shifts into your braced spine and bares its entire pressure forward… Before you know it, the bar is to the rails and you are pinned to the floor with your 50% squat. Eventually, your typical day-to-day practices struggle and, for an athlete, lack of progression, in my opinion, is unacceptable.

Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning
Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning

Recovery practice must be a part of every athlete’s day-to-day regiment, and one of the key principles included in recovery practice is mobilization.

Warm Up

First, we get the body warm through light cardio… warm, supple tissues respond well to stretching. This is not a sprint, metabolic conditioning or crazy marathon. We are talking 5 to 10 minutes of walking, mild rowing or airdyne work.

Flow #1

Find a mat or solid surface and start on all fours. Most of you familiar with yoga will know these positions as Pigeon and Down Dog.

Plant the palms to the floor.

Push head through your locked arms. 

Pike up your hips in the air like a bad Miley Cyrus video.

Your spine should be straight, as well as your legs, creating a triangular shape from heels to hips and hips to palms. From here, “flow” one leg forward, knee to the chest. Interiorly rotate the lower leg at the hip by placing your foot around your opposite hand. Rest your body weight down to open the glute and lateral portion of the thigh. You should also feel a stretch throughout the hip flexor/quad on the outstretched leg behind you. Repeat back to Down Dog, then Pigeon with the opposite leg.

Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning
Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning

Now that we are nice and warm from our dynamic stretches, we want to move on to some myofascial release work. Hard foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and other trigger point/myo equipment are suggested. The fascial tissue is basically a sheath around your muscle…unmoving and tough. This tissue tends to stick or lose its ability to “glide” with your ROM when overly static, inflamed or injured. With that in mind, suggesting you are recovered and uninjured… This sticking limits range of motion causing issues with mobility under load making your squat depth questionable or possibly dangerous (Did you make sure you aren’t injured already?).

Work through multiple slow passes with a well-graded roller, around 20¬30 passes along the Quad, Hamstring, T¬Spine and Glute. 

Flow #2

Lastly, strength in ROM is also key to maintaining a proper execution of a squat whether it be weighted, body weight or what have you. In a lot of cases, poor squatting under the bar can be caused from lack of “Practice”. Tempo work (timed movement in the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement) help develop body awareness and range of motion within a movement.

In a good deal of cases, the squat breaks down from the athlete not being aware of the following:

  • Glute activation
  • Spinal alignment
  • Footing
  • Knee traction

Using a tempo squat and well placed bands, an athlete can help correct and locate weaknesses for their squat.

Set yourself or your athlete up in squat position, ready to go. With a 3 second eccentric and concentric count, execute your squat working to depth and maintaining full ROM. I find the hardest to first teach a lifter is abduction of the hip and tracking of the knee. To correct this and
teach awareness of this; place a band around the athletes low thigh, right above the knee.

Mobilization is key and breaking through ROM for most movements is important to aid and assist appropriate and safe movement for strength and hypertrophy. When ROM is lacking, movements become unsafe and lack appropriate performance output leading to plateaus or injury.

Rob Saeva is responsible for training some of the most savage competitors in the iron game.
Rob Saeva is responsible for training some of the most savage competitors in the iron game.

Written by Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.


The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.

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