If you are a strength training junkie, then you eat, sleep, and live for a heavy barbell in your hands. There is no doubt about it, locking out a heavy deadlift makes you feel like the strongest person on the planet.
Unfortunately, heavy lifting can lead to nagging aches and pains. This is something that most strength athletes have experienced at some point in their lifting career. The biggest reason for this is that strength athletes spend most of their time chasing more reps and more weight. That’s the nature of it.
You’d probably laugh at me if I said you should be putting in the same amount of time and effort into your prehab routine as your lifting. Well, you’re probably also the person that needs to continue reading this article.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Playing the Long Game
The ability to lift heavy and stay healthy during your strength career is the ultimate goal. Avoiding injury means that you won’t have any major setbacks, hence more opportunities to continue getting stronger.
Bottom line is that the person who can lift for the longest period of time and sustain limited to no injuries will be the strongest.
So how exactly do you go about staying healthy over the long run? Bulletproof yourself.
What Does it Mean to Be Bulletproof?
Bulletproofing your body is exactly what it sounds like. Your body needs to act like a bulletproof vest and be prepared to take a hit at any moment!
Think about it. We put our shoulders, elbows, wrists, back, hips, knees, ankles, etc. through a ton of stress while lifting. In order to keep all of those areas intact and ready to ‘take a hit’ we need to think about how we can bulletproof them.
The Bulletproof Formula
When I think about being bulletproof, there is a definition of strength that I live by; and it has nothing to do with how much you squat.
For me, the definition of bulletproof strength is:
Strength = Mobility + Stability
This means that the body parts and joints we mentioned above will require adequate attention in both mobility and stability EVERY training session.
The Injury Cycle
Many people will only begin to introduce mobility and stability training after they have become injured. They will end up spending 30 minutes performing crazy yoga poses, then knock out hundreds of banded pull aparts in an attempt to improve their injury. After 2 weeks of becoming a so-called rehab guru, they are back under a heavy barbell.
Now that they are back to their regularly scheduled programming, the mobility and stability training gets thrown out the window. A few weeks or months later, they get re-injured and start the cycle over again.
The key to not falling victim to the injury cycle is never bringing your mobility and stability training to a halt.
If you’re interested in building a bulletproof body while lifting heavy, then you should try implementing trisets.
The concept behind a triset is simple. Pair three exercises with little rest periods between them. The magic is in how we use the triset to keep your training efficient and healthy.
I like to call it a ‘Bulletproof Triset’ (I know, not very creative). The idea is that you will have a main compound lift for the day and during your rest period you will perform one mobility exercise and one stability exercise. Here is a template of how it would look:
- 1A) Main Lift
- 1B) Stability (specific to the main lift)
- 1C) Mobility (specific to the main lift)
Benefits of Trisets
1. Saves You Warmup Time
I’m sure we all know that one person that warms up for a half hour. In my opinion, this is a waste of time. Using a Bulletproof Triset, you can perform a 5-10 minute dynamic warm up and then jump right into your lifting. The stability and mobility work that will be performed throughout the triset act as your warm up.
I’m sure you also know that person who walks into the gym and starts lifting cold. A Bulletproof Triset would be perfect for this individual because they can still walk into the gym and start to lift… but they would actually be adding a warm up to their routine without even knowing it. They are bound to feel amazing once they introduce some stability and mobility work.
2. Automates Rest Periods
Most people rest anywhere from 2-5 minutes between lifts. What do they do during that rest period? They are on their phones.
Instead of staring at your phone, you’re better off doing something useful between your sets. Stability and mobility are perfect to use here!
It is actually useful to automate your rest period. For example, you perform a set of squats and plan to rest 3 minutes before your next set. After performing the remainder of your triset (stability and mobility), you don’t even need to think about how much time is remaining in your rest. Just walk over to the bar and start lifting!
Public Service Announcement: THIS WILL NOT RUIN YOUR GAINZ! Don’t worry, adding in these movements during your rest will not impact how much weight you are lifting. The main lift will always be the focus, whereas the stability and mobility are meant to be performed at a very submaximal effort.
As mentioned earlier, most lifters don’t spend enough time on the small things such as stability and mobility. Using a Bulletproof Triset ensures that you are putting in an equal amount of time for lifting and prehabbing your body.
Lower Body Example
1A) Main Lift: 5 back squats
1B) Stability: 8 banded terminal knee extensions (TKE) per leg
1C) Mobility: 30 second couch stretch per leg
The goal of this example would be to build strength in the squat, develop knee stability, and increase quad and hip flexor mobility.
Upper Body Example
1A) Main Lift: 5 overhead press
1B) Stability: 10 cuban rotations
1C) Mobility: 30 second banded shoulder distraction per side
The goal of this example would be to build strength in the overhead press, develop rotator cuff stability, and improve overhead mobility.
Bulletproof Trisets give you the best bang for your buck when you are trying to lift heavy and stay healthy. If you are in the strength game for the long run, then this is the type of training that you should consider using. You’ll be well prepared the next time the barbell tries to take a shot at you!