By Adina Puleo
Believe it or not, resistance (read: strength) training has its benefits for the serious gamer. This post will help you up your game, with a targeted training program that will give you physical strength, where you need it most. You may think that working out is taking away from your precious gaming time, but I’m here to tell you that the time you spend in the gym will actually help your game. Here’s how:
Weight Training Prevents Gaming-Related Injury
Now more than ever, gaming injuries are on the rise. Everything from repetitive strain injuries to posture problems can put you on a gaming time-out, for weeks, months, or even permanently. By strengthening the primary muscles that you use while gaming, you can prevent these injuries from happening. More on all of that later.
Strength Training Improves Overall Health
The benefits of strength training are numerous, with the biggest of them being their hugely positive impact on overall health and wellness. In addition to adding muscle size and tone to your frame, strength training benefits your body in other ways, too.
Increased Bone Strength - strength training has been shown to prevent the loss of bone density with age. Stronger bones mean better posture, and fewer injuries.
Improved Body Mechanics - Strength training has been proven to benefit your balance, coordination, and posture. Strengthening your body’s muscles strengthens your body’s sense of balance, naturally.
Prevents Weight Gain - Besides the fact that muscle at rest burns more than fat at rest, the act of strength training in and of itself burns calories - helping you keep weight off your frame, and to perform better.
Boosts Energy & Mood - Strength training naturally elevates endorphin levels, which help to boost your energy and improve your mood. The more energy you have, the more you’ll be able to focus, and dominate.
Improves Your Confidence - The better you feel about your body, the more confidence you’ll have in it, and its abilities. It’s as simple as that.
Core Components of Gamer Strength
When it comes to talking about strength training in general, it is obviously beneficial to work each large muscle group, at least once a week. If you want to be specific, we can say that you should work your back, arms (shoulders, biceps, triceps), chest, core, and legs at least once a week. Depending on the amount of time you want to devote to strength training, you can come up with a strength training plan that works best for you and your schedule.
Honing in on the main components of a gamer’s “strength”, there are two main muscle groups you’ll want to focus on, in addition to the main groups mentioned above, in order to not only improve your game, but also to prevent the injuries associated with long-term, prolonged, and competitive gaming.
Grip Strength and Gaming
Grip strength is defined as the force applied by the hand to pull on or suspend from objects. In simpler terms, it is the muscular force and power you can generate with your hands - a gamer’s instrument of choice. Grip in general will be classified by position, and grip strength will be quantified based on the way a hand is being used (for example, to pull something up versus supporting a suspended object).
Grip strength is utilized in 5 major types of strength exercises, with different muscle groups being trained in each. These are:
Crush - closing your hand around something and squeezing
Pinch - holding an object between your thumb and another finger, and just squeezing with your fingertips
Support - supporting an object with a crush grip, while your fingers support most of the load
Open Crush - a crush grip where your fingers don’t overlap (as in opening a jar)
and Extend - the opposing force in all grip strength exercises
The main muscles being recruited in grip strength are that of the hand, forearm, bicep, tricep, and shoulder.
Here are a few grip exercises to try!
Barbell Holds: Set a loaded bar up in a squat rack, with the height of the bar being just a few inches under where you would lock out in a deadlift. Grab the bar with a double overhand grip at shoulder width, stand tall, and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat for sets and reps.
Farmer’s Carry: Grab two kettlebells or dumbbells (one in each hand), and walk for distance and time. Keep your core tight, and your body straight, and feel the burn.
Band Extensions: Place a thick band around all 5 fingers, and extend your hand (fingers pushing outward) for reps.
Core Strength and Gaming
In regards to gaming, your core is what keeps your posture in check - improving your balance, stability, and general motor skills and functions. Sitting and playing a game for hours on end can obviously wreak havoc on your posture, making you more prone to aches, pains and even injuries. A strong core prevents all of that, and then some.
Here are a few core exercises to try:
A fundamental exercise, the plank is a good overall core move that works not only your core, but your shoulders, arms, and legs, too. To execute, assume a modified push-up position, with your arms bent at a 90 degree angle, and your forearms braced on the floor. Your elbows should be positioned under your shoulders, and your neck should be in neutral position, staring down at the floor. Your pelvis is tucked in, and your body forms a straight line, parallel to the floor. Push up into plank position and hold for as long as possible, and you’ve got the move down.
Most think that sit-ups rule in terms of ab exercises, but sit-ups are actually terrible for your back. Much better for you are crunches, which are performed in a similar way to sit-ups. Executable in a number of different ways, one of my favorite types of crunches is the double crunch. To execute, lay on the ground, place your hands on your ears - elbows out - and bend your knees. Contract your abdomen and bring your your shoulders up off the ground while simultaneously bringing your butt up and knees toward your chest. Exhale as you curl up, and inhale as you go back down to start. Never use momentum to propel yourself, and really focus on form as you perform reps. This move will work both upper and lower abs.
An advanced variation of the crunch, v-ups are performed with your arms and legs straight. To execute, lie down on your back and extend your arms up over your head. Exhale as you endeavor to bring your hands to your toes, until your body essentially forms a V shape. Inhale as you lower yourself back down to start. An easier, modified version of this exercise involves the same motion, but with your arms and legs bent.
A little time spent in the gym can lead to a lot of serious gaming gains. Don’t sleep on strength training, and boost your score, today.