29 March, 2002

Tampa Bay: Post Asanovich

StrongerAthletes.com would like to thank Jim Bryan for the heads up on this article from www.buccaneers.com. Mark Asanovich, former Tampa Bay Strength Coach and now with the Baltimore Ravens, is well known for his emphasis on safety. “Accepting a risk of injury in training... is unacceptable, unprofessional, and unethical.”

Johnny Parker has taken the reign under John Gruden’s Tampa Bay team and StrongerAthletes.com knows he will do a great job. However, we would like for other coaches to consider this; Is weight room safety a high priority?

According to Buccaneers.com,
"Before the arrival of Parker, the team’s new strength and conditioning coach, this room was densely packed with weight machines, so many in fact that they spilled out onto the back porch, covering that entire area as well.” -

And that is a bad thing?

The article continues,
"Parker favors the functionality of free weights, which now run several rows deep on each wall of the room, and the player’s initial reaction to the change was positive. The new coach chalks that up to a ‘honeymoon period,’ but he’ll likely keep their attention if he can produce the eventual goal: better and more highly conditioned football players.”

First, free weights are great training tools but as Coach Bryan said, “What did they do with all those machines?” We have found that the proper use of machines can lead to super workouts in regards to reaching muscular failure... not to mention safety. Second, the assumption that free weights build better and more highly conditioned football players is classic BUNK. Again, free weights are a great way to train but to claim that it is the best way is the mentality that holds back coaches at all levels who refuse to think for themselves. Despite being fired, Tony Dungy’s Bucs have been pretty well conditioned considering the climate they have to play week in and week out. Does anyone remember when Tampa Bay flat sucked? I do. They were not only orange but they sucked too. (Can you believe they had a pirate in an orange jersey?) I am not claiming that Coach Asanovich’s strength program is any better than Coach Parker’s, safer...yes. In Coach Parker's defense, I know he is not trying to injure athletes. In fact, I'm sure he doesn't think his program is unsafe or he wouldn't use it. But the risk is inherently greater.

Parker explains,
“Our goal is to make the players functionally stronger on the field, to regulate the exercises that have a carryover benefit to their performance on the field and to make the players more functionally flexible.”

I’m sorry did he say “carryover”? Principle of Specificity: In order to “carryover” training must be exact not similar. Principle=Fact.

We wish Coach Parker the best of luck in Tampa as well as coach Asanovich in Baltimore. However we encourage coaches across America not to buy-in to the “perfect program myth”. Find what works for you and your team/athletes, but know why you do it and keep the safety of those you train in mind. We owe it to our athletes to provide a safe training program.

Repetition Speed

“I don’t wake up every morning thinking I’m the fastest man in the world; I wake up every morning thinking I’ve got a lot of work to do to get better.” -Maurice Green

We apologize to our regular readers for not having our website updated on Wednesday. We had some internet provider issues. I can hear you coaches out there saying, “No excuses!” I know, you’re right. FYI- for new readers we do our best to update the website on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We hope you have a great Easter!

A simple element that many strength training programs may overlook is repetition speed. We believe that in order to properly track strength progression a coach must
teach athletes to use a consistent repetition cadence.

StrongerAthletes.com
maintains that the repetition speed can vary among programs as long as momentum is minimized. At the 2002 Strength & Science Seminar we came across many programs that believed in a 2-second concentric, movements away from the ground, and 4-second eccentric, movements towards the ground, rep cadence. We respect that and think that is a very productive way to train ensuring that the athlete reaches full exhaustion of the working muscles.

StrongerAthletes.com
has always trained athletes on a 2-second concentric and eccentric cadence. Again, in both examples, momentum is at a minimum.

We have witnessed other variations such as 5-seconds for the concentric and eccentric and 10 or 3 for both etc... John Thomas, the Penn State Strength Coach, tells StrongerAthletes.com that the trainee does not have to use a set cadence but the important thing is that the athlete is not bouncing the weight at the bottom position which will create momentum.

We believe that the most important thing is that the athlete keep consistent in repetition speed so that progression can be tracked accurately.

25 March, 2002

Power Training

“Ours is the age which is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to." - Howard Mumford Jones

At a recent Track & Field clinic a vendor was handing out flyers from a company called
"Powernetics."

Barney Fuller, President of Powernetics, wrote,
"The first point I want to make is that we cannot build a powerful explosive athlete by training and conditioning him with slow strength movements, such as slow heavy squats. The reason is simple; the ingredients necessary for power development are not present."

He went on by indicating that by the time type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers are recruited in a set of a slow controlled movements this will instill slow motor impulses into these fibers.

StrongerAthletes.com could not disagree more. Good scientific research that we have found that is not misleading, does not indicate that fast movements in the weight room develop powerful and explosive athletes. In fact it says the opposite. A movement that creates momentum could not possibly develop power in the athelte because the tension on the muscle is not constant. Fast movements mearly express power. [See Expressing vs. Developing Power].

Fuller continued stating that he tested an athlete on his jumping and squatting machines. One athlete could not jump as many times as the athlete that trained on their machine. Could it be that this athlete is not adapted to expressing his power with that machine because he never apparently used it before?

StrongerAthletes.com
claims that Fuller is defying the Principle of Specificity by saying that the squat and jumping machine will transfer to better athletic performance. [See Specificity I & Specificity II].

It was our understanding that we are trying to improve our athletes performance in their specific skills of the sport they are training for. As soon as a leaper machine is introduced in a football game on the 40 or 50 yard line then this athlete will do great.

The rest of Fuller’s article went into several other studies such as this jumping machine increased an athletes vertical jump 30 inches over his high school career. What does this tell us? That he is a good vertical jumper, period. We are also sure that he practiced this skill as well but that was not mentioned.

Fuller went on by saying that training in this fashion will recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. If this is so, did the athlete reach momentary muscular failure on the leaper? Obviously not, because it is impossible! Everyone should read a physiology text illustrating the principle of muscle fiber recruitment.

There seems to be a contradiction with what he is claiming and what science indicates from what we have found. He does state that muscle fiber is recruited in an orderly fashion but says fast movements are the best to train the type II fibers. StrongerAthletes.com asks the following question: If this is the most productive way to train for power and explosiveness, then why are there athletes such as Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Lavar Arrington, Ray Lewis, etc... and other athletes that are on the teams of our Teams page? Did the strength trainers of these programs develop an unproductive program?

We do not think so. We respect what Fuller is trying to do, which is develop better athletes and his equipment probably can develop some power and explosiveness but we believe it is narrow minded to think that it is the only and the best way. StrongerAthletes.com believes that slow controlled training coupled with sport specific training is the most productive way to train. Not to mention the safest.

Coaches, there are many training philosophies out there that are very productive and successful that are Olympic-lift based and some that are not Olympic-lift based. However, all coaches should seek out the safest, most productive, and efficient program possible.

22 March, 2002

Mental Conditioning

 “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." —Douglas Adams


Nicole Black-Lavoi, Ph.D.
At the recent 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar in Blaine, Minnesota, Nicole Black-Lavoi, Ph.D. Student at the University of Minnesota, gave an informative seminar of preparing the athletic mind for top performance. She emphasized

that the prevailing myth that the use of imagery is NOT sports psychology. Rather, sport psychology should be thought of as finding the most efficient means to motivate an athlete.

Intrinsic motivation, (the self-determination that an athlete uses to push them self), claims Black, burns deep and lasts longer than any form of “pep talk.” Find out what that athlete desires from athletics and fuel the fire. She addressed the following points that coaches can use to develop intrinsic motivation from their athletes.

  • Tip #1: Define success as a process not the outcome. Tom Osborne, the legendary Nebraska football coach, addressed this basic element in his book, “Faith in the Game.” He was afraid that if players were to set their goals on such things an an undefeated season or winning a national championship that an early season stumble would ruin the next 3 months. Osborne guided his team leaders to focus on setting goals that focused on the process of a successful season not the outcome. These goals would include measurable outcomes of a weekly game such as controlling the time of possession or turnover ratio. In this manner, win or lose an athlete can re-focus and “get-up” for the next game.

  • Tip #2: Make it FUN! In a survey of college athletes asking what was the most effective motivating tools their coaches used having fun was #1. Contrary to most coaches, winning wasn’t even in the top 10. Find out what your athletes think is fun and apply it to your program. In the weight room, we may assume that getting stronger is fun. But in reality it’s hard work for young Johnny. Some programs incorporate “game-time” into their work-out sessions. Following the work-out you take the kids into the gym, divide up and play dodge-ball. Invest in a tug-o’-war rope, or have a water balloon fight. These activities may seem trite to the coach but if it’s fun to be at the work-out session Johnny might come back tomorrow.

  • Tip #3: Encourage self-comparison. This is along the lines of developing that intrinsic motivation. Stress to your athletes that ”how much weight they lift" is not as important as lifting more than last week. You will find that the self-confidence this breeds in your mediocre to lower contributing athletes will turn them into productive and important members of your program. (I love to talk about these kids, because they are the ones who are impacted by sports the most. I’ve seen it happen and transform young men. It is with these kids that I have developed my best relationships, not the star athletes.)

  • Tip #4: Engender feelings of control. This may be a tall order for many coaches. However, athletes want to feel important and that their opinion means something. The old-school idea is “My way or the highway.” The trend however is leaning toward the only one hitting the highway is the coach. Give kids a sense of ownership. This can be as simple as picking out the team shirts or team goals.

  • Tip #5: Encourage athletes to set goals. I personally was never a big Dallas Cowboys fan however, Emmett Smith made a comment in a Sport Illustrated article that blew me over when I read it. “A goal is just a dream until you write it down”. An athlete needs to be bombarded with his own goals on a daily basis. Hand out index cards and they’ll the athletes to tape them to their bathroom mirror. This is another way to help athletes develop that intrinsic motivation.

  • Tip #6: Give feedback, especially to novices. Human beings must be affirmed for optimal success. Athletes many times have an ego problem, either too large or too small of an ego. A coach should find a way to give feedback in a positive manner to all athletes but especially novice athletes who may need affirmation or just need some guidance. This is where a coach, regardless of technical knowledge can build lasting relationships with their athletes.

Black gave several other examples of athlete motivation but these were the ones that I felt were the most applicable to strength coaches.

She made a great point is saying,
“You coaches have sat here all day discussing ways to develop the body without paying a single moment of attention to the development of the mind.”

I concur. Coaches, this is an untapped element of many athletic programs, imagine a weight room full of excited athletes who are intrinsically motivated to getting stronger. Wow! That would be a fun place to work.

20 March, 2002

Myth Debunking 101

“Excuses are no good. Your friends don't need them and your enemies won't believe them. So why make them?" -Jake Gaither, Legendary Florida A&M Football Coach

As mentioned before we would like to re-cap several of the speakers from the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar. Dr. James Peterson, who currently works as a sports medicine consultant out of Arizona, was formerly responsible for strength training at West Point in the 1970's. Dr. Peterson encouraged us to go home and thank our parents for
Dr. James Peterson
helping the U.S. Government research one of the most significant strength development studies ever. He based his claim on the fact that West Point provided him with the most efficient control group available.

Dr. Peterson opened his talk with a Clinton joke... Which obviously turned off some of our liberal friends in attendance but it was funny! "Bill Clinton had to get a physical... few people know this but he is hard of hearing so Hillary went with him to translate for the doctor... The doctor said, "We're going to need a urine, stool, and semen sample." Bill turned to Hillary, "What?" Hillary replied, "He needs to see your underwear."

Dr. Peterson, in a very light hearted, yet at times very compelling and passionate address gave us several "Myths of Strength Training."

Myth #1 Strength training will make muscles bigger.

Fact Each individual is different... but chances are if a man is abnormally large he is supplementing his natural chemicals.

Myth #2 More is better.
Fact Research shows that multiple set routines are not more effective in developing strength than single set routines.

Myth #3 Strength training is a contest.
Fact It should be approached by athletes to get better themselves, not Bubba or the girl working out across the gym.

Myth #4 Protein will enhance muscle development.
Fact No matter what "Cool Name" the bottle has, MegaProtien, Muscle-Tien, etc... He went on to emphasize steroid education. "When you try to educate kids about steroids don't tell them about death. Tell them about girls sounding like Johnny Cash and boys that their rocket launcher will turn into a starters pistol!"

Myth #5 Women can't lift weights.
Fact What is good for the goose is good for the gander... or something like that. Women should not do push-ups off their knees for example. FYI- Dr. Patterson's studies found that women were better than men in some areas such as balance.

Myth #6 Celebrities know everything about strength training.
Fact Avoid gimmicks.

Myth #7 Osteoporosis can not be avoided in women & the aging process in inevitable.
Fact Strength training can greatly reduce the deterioration of the bones. Not that he was elderly, but for an older gentleman Dr. Peterson was obviously not hindered by age.

Myth #8 Mind don't matter.
Fact Mental toughness is imperative for proper strength development. John Thomas, Penn State's Head Strength Coach gave an example of how important training the mind is for his program. Obviously training football players to run long distance will not improve their on-field performance. However, training the mind to overcome pain in distance running has a great effect on their self-confidence and translates to strong mental performances in the weight room. (More on John Thomas and the Penn State program in a future issue.)

Myth #9 Re-hab injuries with isolated joint exercises.
Fact In order to re-hab an injury one should strengthen the entire area but most importantly is the muscle opposite the injury.

Myth #10 Knee injuries should be re-habbed on an exercise bike.
Fact The bike will only work to re-hab the quad not the hamstring.

Myth #11 Training has to be expensive, time consuming, and complex.
Fact A coach can make a weight facility a priority and seek out avenues of fiscal integrity and programs that are efficient and simple.

Myth #12 Strength training will make you "muscle-bound".
Fact Proper training will make you more flexible if you use a full range of motion.

Myth #13 You gotta make noise to be intense.
Fact Whatever works for you but intensity should be thought of as the ability to fully exhaust the muscle.

Myth #14 That there is a free lunch in some training programs.
Fact To get stronger you have to WORK plain and simple.

Arthur Jones was a great influence on Dr. Peterson. "He taught me to challenge everything and not to take anything for face value." At the time many universities were beginning to see the benefits of strength training for their teams. These coaches were going to the only people in the world who were lifting weights at the time... Olympic Lifters. So, logically these coaches took these techniques to their teams and their athletes got stronger. However that is not hard to do when one goes from doing no strength training to anything, including Olympic lifts. Jones however challenged that idea with the concept of training the muscle to failure... following the principle of fiber recruitment to make athletes quicker... and employing a safer environment for training athletes.

Now, the science of strength development has come a long way since Jones hit the scene however his "Challenging of the System" is what remains important. Coaches, StrongerAthletes.com strongly encourages you to find out why you teach the things you do in the weight room. Know the reasons and be confident in your approach regardless if you follow Olympic, Non-Olympic, or even the dreaded Swiss Ball training.

18 March, 2002

How Heavy Of a Load Do I Use?

 “Labor disgraces no man. Unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor." -Ulysses S. Grant

Arthur and Bailey are the authors of "Complete Conditioning for Football," a very popular book among high school football coaches. In it they "explain" how to develop power,

“The highest power outputs are at about 30% of the load maximum (1RM). At lighter loads under 15 % of 1RM, the velocity of the movement is very fast, but the power generated is low. This is because the load is too light to generate effective power. As the intensity goes over 65%, power decreases rapidly. The load becomes so heavy that the speed of movement is too slow to generate power. Therefore the highest power outputs are in the range of 15-65% of a person s 1RM, and intensity is related to the velocity at which the load can be lifted to develop maximum power. Thus, to develop power the intensity of training must be adjusted to the speed of movement.”

Did you get all that?

If an athlete trains at 15-30% or more of his one rep max, this seems too light to develop power. Ken Mannie addresses this concern in his article, Power Point, “The point we are making is that there is a clear distinction between developing power and expressing it.” [See Expressing vs. Developing Power].

Mannie recommends to use heavy weights in a given rep range, 6-15. Control the speed throughout the set and maintain constant muscle tension. Then go out and have quality practice to improve your sport specific skills

But wait, there is still much more to clear up!

Arthur and Bailey further state,
“To develop power using the explosive lifts such as the power clean and snatch, 75-85% intensity for three to five repetitions is best.”

To recommend that the athlete perform 75-85% of their 1RM seems contradictory because they recommended 15-65% earlier in the book. According to their definition of developing power, the speed will be too slow at this load. So which is it? 15-30% or 75-85%?

Arthur and Bailey continue,
“Do slower multiple joint movements such as the squat and bench press at 50-60% for three to five sets of three to five repetitions.”

StrongerAthletes.com believes that this weight is still too light to develop power and the repetition range should be high to fully train and exhaust the working muscles.
“Do jump squats at 30% intensity for three to five sets of three to five repetitions," Arthur and Bailey advise.

We believe again the repetition range is too low. As far as the jump squats is considered, this is not a safe exercise, just as all Olympic type of movements have an inherent risk of injury. These types of exercises express power, they do not develop it.

StrongerAthletes.com recommends that athletes use heavy weights in the 6-15 rep range and that the momentum be minimized as much as possible. This will stress the muscle continuously throughout the entire set.

 

National Strength & Science Seminar Recap

We had a great time in lovely Blaine, Minnesota. The drive was perfect, no major automobile problems, (as far as my father-in-law knows anyway!) Scott Savor and Luke Carlson pulled off a super clinic. Highlights for us included visiting with Penn State Strength Coach John Thomas and his counterpart at Princeton, Matt Brzycki. Dr. James Peterson, formerly of West Point and has been on the ground-floor of much strength research, was also very informative.

We would like to thank all of you who stopped by to visit, especially Coach Inforzato, Head Football Coach at Richfield High School, MN. Coach shared with us stories of his team's success and their transition from traditional training to non-olympic, controlled movement training. Over the next few weeks we will share some of the great information that we heard at the clinic.

 

New Coaching Resources

At the 2002 Strength & Science Seminar StrongerAthletes.com introduced our new resources for strength coaches and athletes. We now offer a video supplement to our Coach's Manual that explaines in detail some of the finer points of the StrongerAthletes.com Training Program. Also just released is the Opposing Viewpoints: Traditional vs Non-Olympic Training video. For more information on these products please See Our New Products.

15 March, 2002

Minnesota or Bust and Dear Stronger Athletes

 “You've got to be careful if you don't know where you are going, because you may not get there." -Yogi Berra

By the time you read this we'll be halfway across Iowa... We've decided to turn this road trip from Kansas City to Blaine, MN one big progressive dinner. We'll start with a light pre-breakfast of a cup of coffee from my local Quick Trip guy. By the time we hit the Iowa border we may be ready for a full blown truck stop steak & eggs breakfast. In Des Moines one may find us sampling the local Mexican cuisine and so on... I think you get the picture.

We are so pumped to get to the National Strength & Science Seminar. If you are going to be there please stop by our booth and tell us you read our site, we would love to meet you. For those of you traveling some distances please drive safe... and maybe we'll run into you in St. Paul for our evening salad buffet.

Dear StrongerAthletes.com


Dear Coach Rody,
I just found your website on the flyer for the Strength Seminar at Blaine HS and plan on attending. Having run a [Non-Olympic] program at several schools and now most recently at Richfield High School, once athletes see what it is all about, not to mention coaches, they see that you don't have to be married to the weight room to be successful. Case in point. It could just be coincidence. But, the Richfield program had struggled for a number of years averaging 1 -2 wins per year. Last June upon my arrival, we implemented our [Non-Olympic] program and added our total conditioning program (speed, agility, and NO PLYOS) in July. The end result was a trip to the section championship. Our kids had to be in condition, since we put a premium on running a no huddle offense and stress all out pursuit to the ball on defense.

I think it should also be said that we like to use all tools in our program. We do like using machines for most things since it is more efficient. Coaches can find machines for dimes on the dollar, many less than $500. I teach a "zero" hour class one hour before the regular school day with nearly 70 students in the class. . The class keeps on growing. We weight train twice a week, do agilities and cardio once a week. Friday's are used for a make up day. The list of [Non-Olympic Teams] are growing in the Twin Cities. Look forward to the clinic. - Kyle Inforzato, Head Football/Strength Coach, Richfield High School, MN

Coach Inforzato,
We appreciate your comments and the story of the success you have had with Non-Olympic, Non-Plyo program. Do come by our StrongerAthletes.com booth so we can talk. If you have other success stories or know of others who have had success we would like to hear from them and post them on our website. We have tried to post as many teams as we could on our Teams page. If you know of other schools with a Non-Olympic Training philosophy, please let us know. Looking forward to seeing you in Blaine! -S.A.
Dear Coach Rody,
First of all congratulations on a great informative site. Secondly thank you to Jim Bryan for bringing your site to my attention. I have had the great fortune to be a volunteer helper for Mark Asanovich when he was the strength coach for the Buccaneers. I was involved for 5 years with Coach and his great staff. Not only was Mark kind enough to let me have an inside glimpse of the NFL, I also was exposed to tremendous strength-training protocols. Mark's program is truly outstanding, productive, progressive. In the summer camps we worked out 80+ players at a time in a very time efficient manner. I will say that the Bucs made a tremendous mistake going from a "high intensity" program, to the O-lifting style. It is their loss for sure.

I'm an assistant football coach at Jesuit High School here in Tampa. I have a terrific home gym set up and run a pretty good personal training business from there. I utilize only the [Non-Olympic Training] protocols that I learned from Mark Asanovich. My full time job is as a science teacher at another school which precludes me from running Jesuit's strength program full time....but we have implemented a "high intensity" program that is run by teachers full time on there staff. Several of our players drop by my gym for a "stimulating" Saturday morning workout. In any event I am very fortunate to have worked for and with Mark Asanovich.

Finally I'm 55 years old and have been around strength-training for 35 years...the first 8 years I competed as an Olympic-Style lifter. I fortunately have adopted a much safer style of lifting which enables me to continue to train progressively even at my age. Thanks for listening. To all other coach's...I strongly suggest you read anything written by Mark Asanovich...you won't be wrong. Coach Joe Ross

Coach Ross,
Thanks for your e-mail! It sounds like you have a wonderful situation for working with those kids. Coach Asanovich obviously has a huge impact on other coaches like yourself. In the future, we would love to follow the success of your team on and off the field. -S.A.

12 March, 2002

Strength Coaches to the Test

 “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Chinese Proverb

Last summer, we at StrongerAthletes.com got together with an Olympic lifting advocate coach, a believer that it requires more than one set to failure to trigger the necessary strength and growth. He agreed along with another coach to try the StrongerAthletes.com program, which requires that the athlete train all working sets to failure after a warmup set only on certain exercises.

We added one twist to the program to accommodate him in that he wanted to do 2 sets to failure. (It is important to note that both of us have been training before this workout session.) We had told them that if you cannot perform more reps at the same weight on the second set then that second set is not necessary because you should be fully exhausted after training in an all-out-manner to complete muscular failure on the first set.

We started with the bench press training in pairs. We made it clear that we should choose a weight in which we will fail in the 6-10 rep range. The opposing,(non-believer), coach did his set at a certain weight to failure which was 10 reps with two forced reps. (A forced rep is one in which the spotter assists the lifter to complete more reps.)

One of us went second and trained at a certain weight and failed at 9 reps along with 2 forced reps. He then said, "O.K., lets do another set with the same weight," and he said that he could perform more or at least the same amount of reps as the previous set. (Which is a standard practice in many training programs.) He ended up doing 9 reps.

Then I went next at the same weight as my previous set and I warned him to make sure he spotted me well. I could barely control the bar on the way down and could not perform 1 repetition.

Now, he tried to claim I did not try to lift the weight in order to prove my point. However, it was obvious I was putting forth the necessary effort. Similar things happened throughout the entire training session.

Now lets analyze why this happened. Well, I had been adapted to training that way for many years and was at an advanced level. I put forth an all-out-effort in as little time as possible (one set). In other words I knew how to work to failure. He had been accustomed to doing 3-4 sets per exercise sometimes reaching "failure" on more than one set on the same exercise usually reducing the weight on the second set to failure. On his set first set he did reach failure but apparently he did not put forth the effort especially at the end of the set that I did. He really did not know what true intensity was. (This is not a knock against him or another multi-set lifter. Rather, this level of INTENSITY is more than a catch phrase. It must be coached!)

He also did not do equal to or more reps with that same weight like he thought he could. If you are training to failure on any set, you should not be able to do that anyway. I just tried to merely tell him that it can be done in one set as evidence by my set and as well as the athletes that StrongerAthletes.com had been training.

The advanced athletes we train progress almost every time doing one set to failure and when they do not increase in reps or weight we make adjustments and progress does continue the next training session.

This is just another example that proves intensity must be learned first in order to train with one set to failure. This makes the workout more efficient and productive. Efficiency means training the least amount of time as long as the progress is there. This will allow more time for other things in the athletes life as well working on sport specific skills.

11 March, 2002

Ballistic Training

“I'm not allowed to comment on lousy officiating." -Jim Finks, New Orleans Saints G.M. 1986

Olympic weight-training is often referred to Ballistic Training. StrongerAthletes.com would like to cite more quotes from strength coaches who believe that the quick lifts develop power. It is still believed by ballistic training advocates that the only
exercises that are considered explosive are the power clean, hang clean, snatch, power press, clean and jerk etc... StrongerAthete.com maintains that exercises like the squat, bench press are explosive because the athlete has the intention to move the weight quickly towards the end of the set.

An article written by Sean Flanagan in Strength & Health Magazine called “Improve Performance with Ballistic Training," states,
“In order to realize one’s true athletic potential in most sports, ballistic training methods must be employed.” He continues, “Let’s take a look at why ballistic training methods are so important for the development of power. Scientific studies have determined that maximal power is not developed with maximal force or with maximal velocity, but with an optimal interaction between the two.”

StrongerAthletes.com believes that these scientific studies leave out the difference between expressing power and developing power. How can an exercise that does not stress the muscles throughout the set be very productive in developing power?

Flanagan addresses this,
"Research has shown as mush as 75% of a movement can be devoted to slowing the bar down.”

Flanagan is trying to point out that speed reps develops power in a very narrow range of motion so that they hinder power development. He says that this is why moderate to heavy loads should be used to prevent the deceleration of the bar. He then claims that this is why the power snatch or power clean are appropriate exercises to develop power.
“After the final pull, the bar is air borne-it is now a projectile. That’s why the last movement of the upward phase is called the catch.”

StrongerAthletes.com does not buy this reasoning. Performing speed reps or Olympic lifts do very little to develop power they merely express it. We do not believe this is scientifically sound. Isn't the constant tension on the muscle important? It is a crucial factor in order to train the Type IIb fast twitch muscle fiber. [See Fiber Recruitment.] He calls the snatch and clean a full range of motion exercise before it becomes a projectile. How? The athlete initiates the movement, then momentum takes over. This does not stress the muscles. How can the bar being in mid air develop power? As far as the catch is considered, we believe this is not very safe. [See Potential Injuries.]

Flanagan also concluded that other beneficial options include dumbbell jumps releasing them in mid air so the deceleration does not occur. That one really tops it off! Does having 30 athletes training in the weight room doing jumps with dumbells releasing them and bouncing on the floor all over the place sound safe? Besides, that exercise is still unproductive for strength and power development. [See Express vs. Developing Power.]

That being said, it is time that coaches open their eyes and use a logical training approach. Understanding how power is developed is crucial in creating the best program possible for our athletes.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual


We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes. Please contact us for availability.

08 March, 2002

Dear StrongerAthletes.com

 “He said on my death bed I would achieve total consciousness, so I've got that going for me, which nice." -Bill Murry, Caddyshack

Coach Rody, The seminar is coming up soon. I'm looking forward to meeting with you at the seminar. I hope everything is going well. -Scott Savor

Everything is going very well! Our readers
keep coming back and giving us great feedback. We're looking forward to the trip to Minnesota and visiting with other coaches. Thanks for all your help. -S.A.
Coach Rody, I found your argument that cleans do not transfer to sprints very interesting. Your main point is that in the clean the body is in the vertical position, while in sprinting there is a forward lean. You say that this means there will be no carry over. But what about bench press, which you advocate tremendously. You lie down when you bench. Who plays sports lying down? -Dan Meyers

Mr. Meyers, I appreciate your comments. We do not believe that transfer occurs with any lifting movement. Performing a bench press and other slow controlled lifts develop strength and power because the tension on the muscle is constant thus training the muscle to complete failure. We feel a stronger athlete will enable him to perform sport specific skills more efficiently and with more power and explosiveness. The Olympic lifts do not keep constant tension on the muscle because momentum takes over the lift. This type of lifting a very inneficient in terms of training the type IIb fast twitch muscle fiber. After the athlete has trained their muscles properly in the weight room performing slow, constant tension movements it is necessary to go out and practice those skills such as tackling, throwing the shot, sprinting or whatever the skill may be. The problem with the Olympic lifts is that the neuromuscular pathways used is totally different when performing the sport specific skill. The Olympic lifts go against he principle of specificity as well and the principle of muscle fiber recruitment which is backed by scientific research. Feel free to respond to any other articles that we have written or any other issues that pertain to strength training. -S.A.
Coach Rody, As far as the coaches that rolled their eyes during your talk. I'd like to roll their eyes shut. I've done the Olympic lifting, I loved it. BUT it's not the safest way to train and I'm not convinced it helps ANYTHING but Olympic Lifting. All this talk about [Non-Olympic Lifting] coaches being closed minded is hogwash! Most came from a lifting background and have chosen a safer way. -Jim Bryan

Coach Bryan is exactly right. Most coaches, who were athletes, have used olympic lifting in their own training. Being closed minded in not an option. Those coaches who have expereince on both sides of the issue are justified in their opinions one way or the other much more so than those who refuse to hear an argument. For those that may not know, Coach Jim Bryan is a highly respected strength coach who has been working with athletes for several years. You can find out more about him at his web site: Jim Bryan Strength-Conditioning-S.A.
Coach Rody, To all those interested: on March 23rd, 2002 at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky there will be a "two man" strength training clinic with Kim Wood, Strength Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals since 1975, and Richard Sorin, the first Captain of Crush. This will be Kim Wood's only clinic appearance in 2002. He will talk about [Non-Olympic Lift] training for football. Information is available from Dr. Ben Oldham, Athletic Director, Georgetown College (502) 863-8000. -John Wood

Coach Wood, We appreciate the update and would encourage those interested to contact Dr. Oldham for more information. -S.A.
Coach Rody, So is the clean a worthwhile exercise or not? -Jason Sopko, Head Football Coach, Forest City, Iowa

Coach Sopko, Assuming you mean, "So is the clean a worthwhile exercise or not FOR FOOTBALL?" In short: We say absolutely not. For Olympic competition: We say absolutely. For a more detailed response we encourage you to read our previous posts as most of them give several reasons why Olympic lifts are not safe, productive, or efficient when dealing with developing Stronger Athletes. -S.A.
Coach Rody, I just wanted to reiterate the importance of recovery in training. My progress was slowing and coming to a halt because I was gradually getting into an over-trained mode and decided to take a 2 week layoff from training. I came back stronger on each set of each exercise performed. Rest is definitely the key to successful training. -Chris Hankins

Coach Hankins, Thanks for sharing your story. Rest can be very beneficial if coaches could ever be comfortable with prescribing it. We understand that coaches who run a strength and conditioning class could be put off by individualizing an athlete's program. However, it is not necessarily difficult. Simply have the athlete skip 1 particular exercise for that day but do the rest of the workout. This way the athlete is still participating but getting the rest they may need to improve in a particular exercise. -S.A.
Coach Rody, Andrew Willey, currently attending Missouri Southern State College, asked our strength staff to view your website. Well done!! It is especially pleasing to note that you have a valid interest in promoting safe, productive, and practical programs at the high school level. If our staff can be of any assistance, please let me know. If possible, we would be interested in viewing a workout next time we are in Kansas City!!

Best wishes for Continued Success...
Mike Lawrence, Head Strength Coach, Missouri Southern State College

Coach Lawrence, Thanks for the support from your level. We believe the college coaches across America can influence high school coaches in this regard. We look forward to sharing some ideas with you in the future. -S.A.
Coach Rody, What are those manuals you guys are selling like? Do you think I should buy one? -Aaron Vitt, Head Wrestling Coach, Moberly High School, Moberly, Missouri

Coach Vitt, Of course we think you should buy one! No, two! Seriously, these manuals include how to incorporate this philosophy into a class or team and the reasons why. Also included are techniques you can use to teach your athletes how to workout more intense. The manual is @30 pages and includes workout sheets that can be photocopied for classroom use. However, in the works is a video to go along with the manual that the coach can use to gain a greater understanding of the program as well as witness athletes using these training methods in action. We should have those ready to go by the Blaine, Minnesota Clinic.

It should also be said that Coach Vitt has recently coached his third straight State Champion. Coach Vitt is constantly on the lookout for effective training and coaching strategies and we look for him to have continued success. -S.A.
Coach Rody, Looks like Tampa Bay will join the Olympic lifting side. They get stupider and stupider over there. -[Name Withheld]

We checked the Tampa Bay web site and Mark Asanovich is still listed as their strength coach but that may not be the case. Tony Dungy has a history of incorporating the Non-Olympic lift philosophy in his programs both in Minnesota and at Tampa Bay, we can only assume the Colts will follow suit. If anyone can shed light on Tampa Bay's future please let us know. Thanks. -S.A.
Coach Rody, Coach Mark Asanovich Will join the Baltimore Ravens as an assistant March 17th. He was not retained as Strength Coach for the Buc's. Buc's loss! Coach Asanovich is a proven Coach and a leader in the NFL. -Jim Bryan

Thanks for the update coach! -S.A.

  StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual


We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes. (StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Video Coming Soon)

Please send a check or money order for $14.00.
Contact us for availability.

06 March, 2002

Swiss Ball: The Super Tool

 “There is a sucker born every minute." -P.T. Barnum

How fitting I thought when my wife came home with the latest fitness tool this winter: The Swiss Ball! "Look at all the exercises I can do," she said as she showed me the pamphlet which illustrated all kinds of exercises from dumbbell bench to crunches with this big, obnoxious green ball right in the middle.

Before I go on I should say
that my wife is twice the athlete I am. An avid runner, she has finished a marathon in the mountains of Norway for crying out loud! However, like most shop-a-holics she saw a deal too good to refuse.

It is our concern that this "new & improved" strength develepment device is misleading more and more coaches who are incorporating them into their training..track coaches specifically.

A study done by George Chen, of Stanford University, set out to determine if claims made by Swiss Ball advocates were true. These claims included that:

  • "training improves nervous-system function that results in strength gains."

  • a variation in training will reduce injury "because the unstable swiss ball surface, [makes] each repetition different, potentially decreasing the risk of repetitive stress injury."

  • "the shape of the ball enables athletes to train certain muscles through greater range of motion." Specifically, the abdominals.

Chen finds, in regards to strength gains through an
"unstable enviornment, [that it] elicits changes in postural muscle activation. However, the postural muscles are distributed throughout the body and their differential recruitment is probably highly task dependent. It is possible that training these muscles directly in a non-postural task may be more effective in developing strength in these muscles. However, recruitment of these muscles in a non-postural task may not be as beneficial to athletic performance since training effects are task specific."

[Hmm.. I've heard that before...]

Chen continues,
"The support for improvements in functional strength from training on an unstable surface like the swiss ball comes primarily from motor control theory, [key word theory], and anecdotal experiences of physical therapists. The functional strength gained is most likely due to improved motor coordination in tasks which deviate from traditional weight training exercises. Therefore, it would be difficult to assess the strength gained using standard forms of strength testing."

In regards to reducing injury,
"The mechanisms of overuse injuries are poorly understood for many exercises, and the rep to rep variability provided by the swiss ball only addresses one of the many possible causes. Therefore, it is doubtful that swiss ball training can significantly reduce repetitive stress or overuse injuries in general. Training at multiple angles and through a full range of motion is important due to training-effect specificity. Some of the versatility of the swiss ball in aiding athletes to train at multiple angles and through greater ranges of motion can be derived from variety and creativity in traditional weight training exercises."

Lastly, in regards of using the swiss ball for increased range of motion for abdominal work, Chen finds,
"The swiss ball facilitates training the abdominal muscles in the stretched position. Abdominal muscle strength in the stretched position is believed to be important in many dynamic athletic movements like the tennis serve and various throwing motions. Therefore, swiss ball training can facilitate functional strength development at multiple angles and ranges of motion from it's versatility in positioning athletes in novel exercise postures. However, some of the benefits can be similarly derived from training with a variety of conventional pieces of equipment.

It is our hope that coaches, especially those who work with high school athletes, can avoid these gimmick products and stick to the task at hand...building stronger athletes.

And as for that big, lime green ball that my wife brought home last winter... when it is not sitting in the corner looking abnoxious, my daughter really enjoys bouncing on it!

Please read for yourself the entire George Chen article Swiss Ball Training.

Another Non-Olympic Team

It has been brought to our attention that Lewman Christy High School in Jackson, Michigan trains safely, productively, and efficiently. We look forward to increasing this list as we meet some of you coaches in Blaine, Minnesota March 16th.

04 March, 2002

Workout Organization

“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." -Soren Kierkegaard

Speaking to many coaches over the last few months, many state that they only have 3 power racks, 3 benches, and limited equipment. If this is the case, the coach can still put their athlete through productive training sessions.

Some coaches want their athletes to all
start with the squat or some other exercise. This is not necessary. On the StrongerAthletes.com program and many others we would like our athletes to start with one of the major exercise: squats, deadlift, or bench press. If you only have 3 squat racks, 3 benches, 3 areas for deadlift, group them into 3's and start them at one of those stations. This will involve 27 people training at the same time, which is usually the amount for high school classes for weight training.

If you have your athletes train after school and have 40-50 athletes and have limited equipment then you might want to consider having them train 2 times per week. Half of the athletes con come in Monday-Wednesday, the other half Tuesday-Friday. This has worked very well with many programs and strength gains are still very good.

Remember, StrongerAthletes.com recommends that athletes train 1-3 days per week. For most high school and college athletes 2 or 3 days seem to be equally productive. Coaches that do not believe in 2 days should give it a try for a few months. I think you will find in to be very successful. Remember it is not the number of workouts per week that is important, it is whether the athlete is progressing or not.

The weight room that has 5 or 6 of everything can have a higher capacity of athletes in the weight room. If the athlete starts with the sqaut, deadlift, or bench then they can move into other floor exercises such as dips, bent-over rows, and shoulder press. It is very important that a coach not just give a list of exercises and tell them to make sure they do them all because some athletes will do shoulder press or dips before bench press which should be avoided or curls or pulldowns, before deadlift again this could potentially cause injury to the bicep when doing dead lifts. Athletes should not do deadlifts with a tight bicep.

Organize the athletes so that your program is productive for all. Do not just take the attitude that I just want them to do the lifts just to get through them.

We would love to hear some of your methods to train your athletes for a practice or class period.

Coach Rody

StrongerAthletes.com

 

Tampa Bay Changes Training With New Coach


We regret to inform you that the Tampa Bay Bucs are no longer a Non-Olympic lift team. However, we wish Tony Dungy, and the Indianapolis Colts success with their Non-Olympic training.

 

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual


We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes.

Contact us for pricing and availability.