29 April, 2002

StrongerAthletes.com Classic: Fiber Recruitment - Yet Again

 "Every generation has the obligation to free men's minds for a look to new worlds." - Ellison Onizuka

Mystery Guest


This week's mystery guest is not a strength coach. He "played linebacker and tight end as a senior for Oceanside High School. He earned CIF San Diego Section defensive player of the year, all-state and USA Today All-USA honorable mention as well as
North County and Avocado League offensive player of the year. He was named to California's All-Academic team with a 3.6 GPA.

As a pro player, he established a charitable organization designed to benefit local San Diego youth programs. In 1994 he was named the True Value Hardware NFL Man of the Year.

In 1997 his bar & grill was voted "Best Sports Bar" by the San Diego Restaurant Association. And he trains in a Non-Olympic training program.
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another web site. We will give credit on Friday.

StrongerAthletes.com Classic: Fiber Recruitment


The time has come for us to revisit some fundamentals of a safe, productive, and efficient training program. As our readership grows we are receiving a lot of e-mails asking us to defend our views against using Olympic lifts to train traditional athletes. This article explains the Principle of Fiber Recruitment, which is a basic element in terms of developing the quick twitch muscle fibers. This article first appeared in December of 2001....

Muscle fiber is recruited in a certain way during a set in any exercise. There are 4 types of muscle:



To illustrate when an athlete trains to failure on the bench and happens to reach failure on the 8th repetition, the first 2 reps have trained the Type I fibers, the 3rd and 4th reps have trained the Type IIA fibers and so on.



Matt Brzycki, Coordinator of Recreational Fitness and Wellness Programs, expresses a concern over the misconception that quick lifts can defy the fiber recruitment pattern. “It is believed that explosive movements [power clean, etc..] will somehow bypass the Slow Twitch fibers and target the Fast Twitch fiber population, which would be a clear violation of the orderly recruitment pattern suggested by Henneman’s Size Principle of Fiber Recruitment.”

In an Olympic movement such as the power clean, Type IIB fibers do not get trained to the fullest extent because failure was not reached in any particular muscle. The momentum of the clean reduces the intensity of the exercise, which takes stress off the muscle never allowing the muscle fibers to get fully exhausted.

Tim Swanger, Strength Coaches at the University of Cincinnati, Mike Bradley, former Strength Coach at Stanford University, and Steve Murray, Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Toledo, give a proper analogy of this principle. “As fatigue sets in on the playing field, you are gradually bringing more fibers into play. It could be during a long drive, the fourth quarter, or halfway through practice. If your training consists of a few heavy reps or stopping your exercise short of fatigue, you’ll eventually be using muscle fibers on the field that you didn’t strengthen in the weight room.”

26 April, 2002

Productive Lifting Styles and Validity of Athletic Transfer

 "Words can do wonderful things. They can urge, they can wheedle, whipe or whine. They can forge a fiery army out of a hundred languid men." -Gwendolyn Brooks

This exchange continues the validity of athletic transfer argument from a few weeks ago. Please feel free to send us your take on the matter.
Coach Rody,
I have been involved in weight training for over 40 years, over that time I have seen many different "systems" come and go. These have included
"Static Contraction", "Isometrics", "Isotonics", "HIT", etc. the list can go on. All of these programs have a plethora of "scientific" research to back them up and yet over time they seem to drift away and the traditional or "Olympic Style" lifts seem to continue to endure. Can you tell me why?

I have used slow controlled lifting as part of an overall lifting program, I believe it has a place in an overall lifting program, I do not believe it should be the entire overall lifting program. I think it has a benefit as part of rehabilitation of an injured area, muscle isolation for rehab can be beneficial. I think it has benefit as part of an annual cycle for building size and strength. Where we differ is with two fundamental premises' of the HIT philosophy, those being 1) That there is only one kind of strength and 2) The HIT definition of specificity of training. I believe that exercises such as the Power Clean and Snatch have direct applicability to developing as well as expressing explosiveness.

Can you point to specific errors in the writings and systems proposed by Tudor Bompa?

I believe the speed with which an athlete can move a bar in bench press is an indication of how well that athlete can throw the shot. I believe the ability to sprint and jump can be improved by doing heavy squats and by doing plyometrics, (not in the same day). I also believe it is the HIT community that has the closed mind regarding training by trying to sell a one size fits all system that ignores all the other data available that does not support the HIT system. As I said earlier, HIT and slow controlled lifting has a place in the program, but it is not the only place.

Is there an elite level thrower or jumper today, in any weight or jumping event, that uses the HIT system? Male or female, for shot put, discus, javelin, long jump, high jump, triple jump, pole vault. Also please include participants in the "Heavy Games" or Scottish or Highland Games, (whatever name you use for them).

Name Withheld

Dear Coach,
First of all, we are not "HIT" or some fly by night outfit. [We are two coaches who are concerned with the profession of coaching athletes.] We do agree with most aspects of HIT though. HIT has a wide range of beliefs in its philosophy. We agree with most of its beliefs. If you think that static contractions and (which is a very productive technique to increase intensity) and HIT etc... has drifted well, think again.

HIT has been here for decades and is here to stay. In fact, it is growing in popularity and is and will continue to be on the rise. Coaches are getting educated on the science aspects of lifting and are asking the question why they do what they do. They cannot come up with sound scientific research to support their philosophy. Why is that? Obviously the Olympic lifting style is still the most popular and accepted method of training. Does that make it the safest, most productive and efficient way to strength train for athletics? Obviously not. Its popularity maintains because that is the way coaches were taught to train athletes. Most current strength coaches maintain that philosophy because Nebraska or some other successful team does it. They don’t know why.

The Principle of Specificity is not a HIT definition. I have an extensive background in Biology and have emphasized physiology in my studies for years. This principle of science can be found in most any physiology text. Take a look. How can a movement that creates momentum and takes the stress off the working muscles develop power? It directly violates the most widely accepted scientific principle: The Henneman Size Principle of Activation.

Continuous tension on the muscles throughout the set is a requirement to train the Type IIb muscle fiber. If you can’t train Type IIb muscle fiber then very little power can be developed. Don’t tell us that you believe the body can magically bypass Type I and intermediate fibers and directly train the Type IIb fibers. It doesn’t and cannot happen. The speed of the bar is important in movement such a bench press. The movement should be slow and controlled.

There is a fundamental difference between expressing and developing power. See Expressing vs. Developing Power. Moving the bar quickly in the bench press has nothing to do with the shot put. Believe me, coaching the shot put is one of the things I do for a living. I have helped develop some of the best shot putters in the state and never have performed an Olympic type of lift.

Anyway, a successful shot putter is one that is able to get his/her hip into the throw. The majority of the power comes from the lower body not the upper body.

Heavy squats can develop strength, power and explosiveness. Then the jumper and sprinter needs to go out and practice their event. As far as plyometrics, they are not necessary for any event. They do create many injuries as I have witnessed in programs every year.

We do not believe the HIT community or ourselves are close-minded. Olympic lifting advocates cannot stand it when other philosophies have hard scientific facts and principle that do not support the Olympic lifts. This research is real and is here to stay. Each year we have seen injuries that occur in various programs from the Olympic lifts. Unfortunately, coaches do not want to believe this. We owe it to our athletes to provide them with the safest program possible.

The throwers I can tell about are Steve Albert who is a world class thrower. He did away with cleans because of the aggravation to his wrists. Imagine that.

Scott Lofquist who was an All American thrower who tells us that he threw in the upper sixties when he did the hang clean and power press. Some years he decided to bench and squat primarily with heavy weight and still threw in the upper sixties. Could that mean that these Olympic type of lifts are not necessary?

We have a pole vaulter who took first place at Nationals last year.

I would like to bring your attention to the greatest discus thrower that has ever lived- Al Oretor. He did not believe in sport specific weight training. He feels that it is nonsense. He also indicated that the athletes he competed against (East Germans and Russians) all had back operations. Who are we to argue with this man. He believe on get strong in weight room and going out and practicing your event.

We maintain that if the current elite athletes that perform Olympic style lifts take them out for awhile they will still be top throwers. We do respect your thoughts and opinions and wish you the best of luck.

Coach Rody
StrongerAthletes.com
Dear Coach Rody,
You have not answered my question concerning Tudor Bompa, what part of his program is wrong? Also I will again say that your system has its place in a year round lifting program, but I do not believe it can be the whole program. I will refer you to the writings of Dr. Fred Hatfield and the work he has done in the applicability of Olympic Style Lifts and their ability to DEVELOP strength and power, not just express it. The definition you use regarding the principal of specificity is correct; however, it is an incomplete investigation of the principal. Power Cleans will not teach you to be a shot putter, but if you cannot power clean you cannot be a good shot putter. You mention several athletes in your answer to my original post to you, not that I know everyone, but I have never heard of any of them with the exception of Al Oerter, furthermore I have known several elite athletes over the years and none of them did anything but Olympic Lifts and they have various colors of Olympic medals to show for it. This includes shot putters, discus throwers, decathletes and Javelin throwers. I also know several sprinters who use Olympic Style lifts and while the volume is less than a throwers, the quality is the same. Al Oerter is somewhat unique, but if you ever see him, ask him how he used to do his 230 lb. "Cheat Curls", I'll tell you, he did them fast as hell and if you analyze the movement it is a hang clean with a reverse grip.

I will agree with you that the opportunity to sustain an injury in Olympic lifting is somewhat greater than the slow controlled style of lifting but I also believe that the athlete who uses your system EXCLUSIVELY is subject to more in sport injuries. I will be glad to forward Dr. Hatfields writings to you, along with some protocols from Louie Simmons Westside Barbell Club. I still stick to my original premise that your system has a place, but it is not the only place.

Name Withheld

Dear Coach,
I have read many of Fred Hatfield's publications and agree with some of them but most of his research in our opinion is not based on the current findings of science. We read a little bit about Tudor Bompa and are still looking into more. We will respond to your comment about an athlete cannot be a good shot putter without doing power cleans. This is a false statement because like I said, I train these throwers at the high school level and we always have some of the best throwers every year.

You say that my definition of Specificity is correct.  Then why do say that if an athlete can't power clean he can't be a good shot putter?  This is a direct contradiction. All a power clean shows is that an athlete can power clean. Good for him. It does not relate to throwing. Coaches in this Country are so fixed into thinking that the Olympic lifts are the best way to develop power and explosiveness. That's too bad. Most coaches have their athletes do them and really do not know why. We keep asking for the science behind why the Olympic lifts are the best lifts for athletes to do and never receive any.

Can you tell us how muscle fiber is recruited during an Olympic lift? How do these lifts train the Type IIb muscle fiber efficiently? In previous articles we have outlined how muscle is recruited during an exercise. The stress on the muscle during the quick lifts is not constant. The Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment and the Principle of Specificity show that the Olympic type of lifts are the least efficient exercises to perform for power. We would like to see some of this so called sound science sent to us.

Lofquist at Arkansas agreed with my beliefs that the Olympic lifts are not necessary to be a great thrower. He told me this immediately after a presentation I gave at a Track and Field Clinic.

You also mentioned that if an athlete uses my program exclusively that they will be subject to more injuries in competition. Come on! That's not even science. It's just common sense that the Olympic lifts predispose you to injury in competition if you already don't get hurt while doing them. I think Al Oerter was telling the truth when he said his competition all had back injuries because of these lifts. Why would he lie? He beat all of his competition.

You mentioned Al Oreter and his cheat curls. I have performed cheat curls with 200lbs and it was nothing like a hang clean. During the execution of a hang clean the barbell does not travel in an arc path away from the body to the shoulder area. This is a problem many athletes have when performing the hang clean. They swing the weight forward away from their body in an arc path to the catch phase. By you mentioning this, I can assume that you are saying that cheat curls are responsible for his success. I don't think so.

Obviously there is more than one way to train an athlete. You believe in yours and we believe in ours. But to say that an athlete can't be good with out doing lifts like power cleans. Please, I prove that wrong every year and so do many colleges.

Coach Rody
StrongerAthletes.com

Mystery Guest

Coach Bryzcki gave us the idea to use a question mark as opposed the the picture of each mystery guest to make them harder. It was after his urging to get tougher mystery guests we chose to use him! We had the opportunity to meet Coach Bryzcki this winter at the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar in Blaine, MN. He spoke about the fundamentals and guidelines for running a high intensity program. [Correctly naming Coach Matt Bryzcki were Fred Cantor, University of Maryland-Baltimore; Scott Savor, Shokapee, MN; Joe Ross, Tampa, FL; Jim Bryan, Winter Haven FL; and Matt Byzcki correctly naming himself, "The question mark is definitely an upgrade compared to the face that I was given!" (Coach, thanks for being a good sport! -S.A.)]

"Coach Matt Bryzcki served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975-1979 and then earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Penn State in 1983. From 1983-84, he was a Health Fitness Supervisor at Princeton. From 1984-90, he was the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Rutgers University. In 1990, he returned to Princeton University and is now the Coordinator of Health Fitness, Strength and Conditioning. He has authored more than 160 articles that have appeared in 32 different publications and three books. He has also co-authored a book with the coach of the Boston Celtics. He has been invited to speak at local, state, regional and national clinics and seminars throughout the US and Canada."

Coach Byzcki has written several books and well over 100 articles on safe, productive, and efficient strength training. Check out what he has to say about strength training on Cyberpump.com
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from the Princeton University website. The link to Coach's articles is hosted at www.cyberpump.com.

24 April, 2002

Conditioning For Football Players

"Honesty is the best policy and spinach is the best vegetable." -Popeye the Sailor-Man

We would like to thank Coach Jim Bryan for bringing this issue to our attention. As many high school football coaches gear-up for pre-season training they should be prepared to get their athletes conditioned now as opposed to the last minute.

Dr. Ken Leistner in his article, "DR. KEN'S  2002 FOOTBALL RUNNING PROGRAM", gives coaches a wonderful resource to use. [StrongerAthletes.com note:  The article mentioned was in a forum post on Cyberpump.com.  It is no longer to be found on the internet.]

Dr. Ken believes coaches should take an active role in the conditioning of the athlete in the spring not the summer.
"The cardiovascular system and local musculature involved in the sport of football must be strengthened and conditioned NOW so that [the athlete] can peak in the latter stages of July and August.  This will allow [the athlete] to report in the best possible condition. Maintain careful records so that you know exactly what has been accomplished in each workout."

He reminds athletes to follow a healthy diet and strength training program for the optimum results. His program starts with a 6 week build-up phase consisting of runs of up to 12 minutes. We know that many coaches are anti-timed runs or distance running. However this lays the foundation for sport-specific training in the mid-summer.

From mid-June to mid-August he lays out a detailed practice plan prescribing warm-ups and sprints. It is the athlete's desire to arrive at training camp in primed condition. Using Dr. Ken's advice the coach can get his team to that point of optimum fitness specific for football practice.

We encourage you to check out the whole thing at www.cyberpump.com You will have to register with Garage Gym to view their articles.

If you are interested in the entire program please drop me a note and we will forward it to you. Good luck coaches as you begin you summer training. We would like to hear from you in regards to what your athletes and teams use to cardiovascular condition.

22 April, 2002

Limited Budget?

 "I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people." -Indira Gandhi

Mystery Guest

"This week's Mystery Guest served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975-1979 and then earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Penn State in 1983. From 1983-84, he was a Health Fitness Supervisor at Princeton. From 1984-90, he was the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Rutgers University. In 1990, he returned to Princeton University and is now the Coordinator of Health Fitness, Strength and Conditioning. He has authored more than 160 articles that have appeared in 32 different publications and three books. He has also co-authored a book with the coach of the Boston Celtics. He has been invited to speak at local, state, regional and national clinics and seminars throughout the US and Canada."

If this one is too tough, comeback Wednesday for a clue!
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another website. We will give credit on Friday.

Limited Budget?

StrongerAthletes.com understands that there are some programs, high schools, particularly, that have a limited budget. Due to the cost of most weight equipment, sometimes fundraisers just don't cut-it. Buying quality machines takes quite a bit of money, even when used. However, there are some great machines out there that make for a great workout.

If you are a coach that would like to train 45 or more athletes at one time and do not have the equipment, because of low budget or failed fund raising, have no fear. All you need is 5 power racks, 5 bench presses, 15 barbells, and weight. The cost of this equipment is under $8000 easy.

Can you get an efficient workout using this limited amount of equipment? You bet you can. Athletes can work in 3’s and train 45 athletes in a 45 minute period. 15 athletes start at the bench press, 15 at the deadlift, and 15 at the squat. That is efficient. Sure you might not be able to do some exercises like dips and pulldowns, but there are other effective exercises that you can do. We have come across facilities on a low budget before and trained these athletes with much success.

What ever you use, train hard, brief, to failure and increase reps or weight every time you can. Strength gains are based off of these factors no matter what equipment you use. Remember, you can always find a way to gain strength. There is no replacement for hard work and it can be done with minimal amounts of equipment. Top name equipment is great but not 100% necessary for a successful strength training program.

We would love to hear some of your strategies for planning a weight room budget.

Coach Rody
StrongerAthletes.com

19 April, 2002

Dear StrongerAthletes.com: We Are Not Alone

"Son, looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject." -Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four F's and one D.

Dear StrongerAthletes.com: We Are Not Alone

As the word is spreading about our website and our purpose we are receiving a lot of e-mail from coaches who think we are from outer space. We include two recent e-mails we have received that appreciate our efforts. We share these with you to 1) Prove that we are not alone in our approach to a safe, productive, and efficient training style and 2) recognize the fact that people who keep open minds about issues can in fact "learn new tricks".
Dear Coach Rody,
Our staff thinks that you are doing a great job with the site, informative, yet non-threatening. It is my experience, that those employed in the strength field have good intentions yet little understanding. In my opinion, two factors jump to mind. The almighty dollar (recreational fitness) & ego (coaching industry) as well as the current hiring practice of strength coaches. You have individuals engrossed with self-promotion in order to enhance their career. I feel these people have painted themselves into a corner as far as philosophy and now can't back out because this is their niche to a better career--path to DI or pro level.

I teach a fitness/strength training course and find many students who proclaim themselves as gurus (wannabes). These students have little regard as to how and why to strength train. Instead of focusing attention on sound training principles and advice, the concern lies within what they can do to create an imaginary trait such as speed strength and market it to the masses. For lack of terminology, they are in search of the perfect program yet they haven't grasped the fundamentals. Therefore, nebulous terminology and myths abound.

We have had a few coaches visit in the last few weeks from high schools as well as DI programs home on spring break. It is interesting to note how these coaches were hired in their current position as strength coaches. No formal education and no practical experience. What other industry hires people into what I call middle management positions without those two criteria? I am not suggesting that these individuals can't get the job done, but because a person coaches or plays a sport doesn't make them an expert in strength training. We identify these individuals as commoners among the masses. Individuals who have had contact with athletics in some capacity but very little knowledge with strength training.

The typical individual joins the masses because surely so many people preaching the same training principles can't be wrong. How can we expect these individuals to identify the difference between creating athleticism and strength training? Everyday these individuals are being preyed upon that athletes can be created through sport specific training protocols. Now, enter an inflated ego into that equation. I remind my assistants that are job is to keep our athletes in the headlines and us out of the headlines.

So, keep fighting the good fight and don't back down in what you believe. Be open to suggestions but pick your pathway and stick with it. We have enjoyed the site and look forward to future postings.

BEST WISHES FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS...
Mike Lawrence
Missouri Southern State College

Coach Lawrence,
First, thanks for your support. It is important for high school coaches to know that strength training at the next level is not monopolized by "Olympic Lifts". We agree with your thoughts about coaches who have the best of intentions in regards to training their athletes but lacking the education.

That is the state of high school athletics. Everyone knows that they need to have their athletes in the weight room to be competitive at the high school level. However, these coaches may not realize that just because they have a background in lifting from the athlete's perspective it may not apply to their role as the strength coach.

We hope to bridge that gap for the high school coach. Obviously most schools cannot afford to hire strictly strength coaches and the football, track or wrestling coach ends up championing the weight room cause. If these coaches can keep an open mind and admit that we can all learn something from somebody they can greatly improve their weight room time. This also frees up more time for coaching their sport, which they were hired to do.

Although we may disagree with their philosophy, BFS has met this need for high school coaches. They make the strength training element of the coaches life simple... in a box. Coaches are always better off seeking out various coaching strategies for their sports. The same is true for the weight room. Unlike the BFS system however, we would like for coaches to seek out safer training methods.

Thanks again for your support coach and we look forward to visiting with you in the future. -S.A.
Dear Coach Rody,
I have recently started your work, amidst my skepticism, and I love it. I can already feel an improvement. The lifts that I had gone stagnant on have new life and I love it. I am glad I gave it a run and I hope some day to use it in my program. Thanks Coach, good luck and God bless.

Keep Preachin', people tend to be stubborn in their wise old ways,
Mike

Mike,
We are glad you like the workout and are happy that you are making improvements. Let us know if we can further assist you and how you are doing from time to time. We like to hear about how people are progressing in their training. Keep training hard.

[It took a lot of courage for Mike to try our program. My partner also went to school at Mike's college and we know that they are strong olympic lifting advocates. They do a great job and have super coaches but, nevertheless, would look crosswise at an athlete working on slow and controlled lifts. This is a great example of someone keeping an open mind and reaping the benefits.] -S.A.

Mystery Guest: Kim Wood, Cincinnati Bengals


[Correct answers this week came from Coach Jonathan Gray, Assistant Strength Coach, Missouri Southern State College; Coach Jim Bryan, Winter Haven, FL; Coach Matt Bryzcki, Princeton University who writes, "BWAH! These are too easy." (We'll do better next week coach!); Fred Cantor, University of Maryland-Baltimore County; Aaron Vitt, Moberly, MO]

"In his 27th season with the Bengals, our mystery guest is the dean of NFL strength and conditioning coaches. A hard-driving coach who still maintains an easy rapport with his players, Coach Wood has set up strength and conditioning programs for a number of NFL teams.

Coach Wood is known nationwide for his outspoken stance against the use of steroids in strength training. His team’s training program was aggressively steroid-free long before official sanctions against the drugs became a nationwide norm.

Coach Wood has seen many of his athletes perform impressive feats in the weight room, but that’s not his goal.
“We train very hard, but we’re not training our people to be weight lifters or power lifters,” Wood says. “We always keep the perspective that we’re working with these guys to be the best football players they can be.”

An outstanding running back at the University of Wisconsin during his college days, Coach Wood has worked under all eight head coaches in his team’s history. He joined the club in 1975, Paul Brown’s final season as head coach, and has since coordinated strength training for Bill Johnson, Homer Rice, Forrest Gregg, Sam Wyche, Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau.

PLAYING AND COACHING HISTORY — 1964-66: Played running back at Wisconsin. 1975-2001: Strength and conditioning coach, Cincinnati Bengals".
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from the Bengal's web site which can be found from the NFL.com website.

17 April, 2002

Who Are the Best Athletes?

 "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way." -Babe Ruth

Mystery Guest


"In his 27th season [in the NFL], our mystery guest is the dean of NFL strength and conditioning coaches. A hard-driving coach who still maintains an easy rapport with his players, he has set up strength and conditioning programs for a number of NFL teams.

He is known nationwide for his outspoken stance against the use of steroids in strength training. His team’s training program was aggressively steroid-free long before official sanctions against the drugs became a nationwide norm.

Our mystery guest has seen many of his athletes perform impressive feats in the weight room, but that’s not his goal.
“We train very hard, but we’re not training our people to be weight lifters or power lifters,” he says. “We always keep the perspective that we’re working with these guys to be the best football players they can be.”

An outstanding running back at the University of Wisconsin during his college days, he has worked under all eight head coaches in his team’s history. He joined the club in 1975, Paul Brown’s final season as head coach, and has since coordinated strength training for Bill Johnson, Homer Rice, Forrest Gregg, Sam Wyche, Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau.

PLAYING AND COACHING HISTORY — 1964-66: Played running back at Wisconsin. 1975-2001: Strength and conditioning coach, (Just 1 AFC Team the whole time!)".
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another website which will be recognized on Friday, as we don’t want to just give away the answer now do we?

Who Are the Best Athletes?

StrongerAthletes.com has recently received many comments from various readers, and some of these are coaches, who are Olympic lifting advocates. Many of them maintain, and we agree, that elite Olympic lifters are some of the best athletes in the world. They use this logic to support their use of the quick lifts. Many coaches think that they can make their athletes, (who participate in football, basketball, wrestling), the best in the world as well.

If this were true, why doesn’t the NFL, NBA, and other professional sport organizations get these elite Olympic lifting athletes to play on their team? They’re the best athletes in the world, right? Because these elite Olympic lifters are good at Olympic lifting... period. It is their sport.

We have great respect for the elite Olympic athletes and know that they are very good at what they do. That is the point. These athletes are the best in their sport. That is why they are not brought over to participate in the other professional sports.

So why make our high school offensive linemen, who have enough trouble getting down in a stance, quick lift? Do we think this alone will turn them into football players even though awesome Olympic lifters from Bulgaria have trouble playing football?

It is important to understand that comparing athletes many times is like "apples & oranges." They are not the same and thus cannot be compared. Take Zach Thomas, linebacker for the Dolphins, for example. He is one of the best athletes in the NFL at his position. However, you cannot compare him to athletes at other position such as guards, tackles, wide receivers etc...

Let’s not say that Olympic lifters are the best athletes in the world. Separate the sports then separate them out in positions and you even separate them out by philosophy as well.

The past week or so has been spent discussing Olympic lifting and defending our position against them. Friday, we are going to post a supportive article that we hope will show that we are not alone and in fact are growing. See you then!

Coach Rody
StrongerAthletes.com

Internship Opportunity

Coach Fred Cantor at the university of Maryland-Baltimore County has a paid internship available this fall. Those interested should send a resume, references and sample workouts that they have developed or used to Coach Cantor at UMBC, Athletic Dept, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore,Md 21250.

15 April, 2002

Increasing the Intensity

"The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyus." -Carl Sagan

Mystery Guest


"In his 27th season [in the NFL], our mystery guest is the dean of NFL strength and conditioning coaches. A hard-driving coach who still maintains an easy rapport with his players, he has set up strength and conditioning programs for a number of NFL teams.

He is known nationwide for his outspoken stance against the use of steroids in strength training. His team’s training program was aggressively steroid-free long before official sanctions against the drugs became a nationwide norm.

Our mystery guest has seen many of his athletes perform impressive feats in the weight room, but that’s not his goal.
“We train very hard, but we’re not training our people to be weight lifters or power lifters,” he says. “We always keep the perspective that we’re working with these guys to be the best football players they can be.”

An outstanding running back at the University of Wisconsin during his college days, he has worked under all eight head coaches in his team’s history. He joined the club in 1975, Paul Brown’s final season as head coach, and has since coordinated strength training for Bill Johnson, Homer Rice, Forrest Gregg, Sam Wyche, Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau.

PLAYING AND COACHING HISTORY — 1964-66: Played running back at Wisconsin. 1975-2001: Strength and conditioning coach, (Just 1 AFC Team the whole time!)".
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another website which will be recognized on Friday, as we don’t want to just give away the answer now do we?

Increasing the Intensity


There are some elements of strength training that, regardless of training protocols used, remain true. One of these “truisms” is the fact that through increased intensity an athlete can gain strength. As coaches we should try and introduce as many various techniques to intensify our athletes' workouts.

First, it should be understood that for optimal work of the type IIb muscle fibers, also known as the fast-twitch fibers, the muscle must be worked to failure. StrongerAthletes.com believes that there is a difference between muscle failure and cardio-vascular failure and the two should not be confused during a workout.  It was acknowledged at the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar that any intensifying techniques used should not exceed 60 seconds following the point of muscular failure. This ensures muscle exhaustion rather than cardio-vascular exhaustion.

The following list is just a sampling of many techniques to increase the workout intensity. Also, the ones below work well with our program in terms of being able to apply them following the set to failure by the athlete. So for example, if Johnny fails at 8 reps on the leg press his spotter or coach would help to incorporate the following techniques.

  • Forced Reps Most coaches and athletes are already doing this. When the athlete can no longer push or pull the weight, the spotter gives slight assistance in order to finish the rep. We like to perform 2 forced reps following the point of failure.

  • Negatives Studies have shown that the muscles have to work up to 40% harder on the eccentric movement of the exercise. This would be the downward movement on the bench press and leg press and the upward movement on the pulldown for example. The negative is performed by lowering the weight slowly, lasting up to 10 seconds. It is recommended that athletes perform this technique on a machine for safety purposes. We like to perform a negative following the 2 forced reps.

  • Static Holds At the point of failure athletes should resist the urge to rack, drop, or lower the weight. Rather, hold the weight where it is continuing to push or pull, depending on the exercise. Some athletes have a strong static hold and the spotter may be forced to add resistance to the weight. When the static hold begins to fail, the athlete can turn this into a negative. **Note the static hold should be done 3/4 of the range of motion and not with the joints locked-out. We want to keep the load on the muscle at all times.

To fully exhaust the muscle, a routine we like to recommend on the bench press for example... following the reps to failure then the 2 forced reps...and a negative...an athlete can then roll off the bench and begin push-ups... at the point of failure- static hold into 1 final negative.

Some additional intensity builders are listed below. Thanks to Coach Jim Bryan and Coach John Thomas for sharing and modeling these for us.

  • Breakdowns As the athlete reaches the point of failure the coach or spotter can start removing weight from the bar/machine to keep the athlete working. We saw Coach Thomas use this with an athlete on the leg press. It is important to remember that you should try and keep the athlete under 60 seconds post-initial point of failure.

  • 10 or 30 Second Holds After completing a rep, hold the weight in a static hold for 10 or 30seconds before completing your next rep. Continue until the point of failure. We think it would be hard to gauge progress with this technique but feel this would be a great supplement to an exercise periodically. Remember, it is also important to individualize an athlete’s workout program depending on their needs. If you notice that an athlete is having trouble gaining strength on an exercise and you have added a rest period, try prescribing a technique such as this.

  • Manual Resistance This is a terrific and efficient way to fully exhaust the muscle. Coach Thomas modeled this with an athlete for shoulder and neck work. We use it for bench, shoulder, leg and neck work. A coach or spotter simply gives manual resistance to the athlete as opposed to using a bar or machine. Again this is difficult to track progress but if it is simply used as an intensifying technique an athlete can still track their initial point of failure before incorporating manual resistance.

  • Finishers What Coach Bryan calls finishers we have used in our high school programs as “games”. For example, following a team work out we divide the athletes into squads and then perform relay races with a “Farmer’s Walk,” or “Tractor Tire Flips.” The “Farmer’s Walk” is done by carrying heavy dumbbells a certain distance. The “Tire Flip” is simply flipping a large tractor tire a certain distance. Why? The farmer’s Walk is a great way to work grip, forearms, shoulders etc... The tire flip is fun. As mentioned before these were used in our sports programs to end our training sessions in a competitive manner while getting that last bit of strength work in.

We encourage you to try some of these intensity techniques in your next workout. You probably already do some of these. It is so important to maximize every second of the working set when we are attempting to lift to failure. Remember, to get faster you must work the fast-twitch fibers. These can only be worked in a manner of exhausting the muscle entirely. These techniques can help your athletes reach that point effectively and efficiently.

12 April, 2002

Mystery Guest Revealed and Creatine: Our Stance

"All words are pegs to hang ideas on." -Henry Ward Beecher

Mystery Guest: Dan Riley, Houston Texans


[Correct guessers included Rusty Whitt, Sam Houston State; Jim Bryan, Winter Haven; Aaron Vitt, Moberly, MO; Joe Ross, Tampa, FL; Fred Cantor, University of Maryland-Baltimore County; Jonathan Gray, Missouri Southern State University; Scott Savor, Shakopee
, MN (FYI- Scott is looking for a Strength and Conditioning Graduate Assistantship if anyone knows of any openings); Matt Byzcki, Princeton University (Coach Bryzcki worked with Coach Riley at Penn State and refers to him as "D-BOY")]

This week's guest, Dan Riley was one of the first people hired on the NFL's newest franchise, he was hired even before the head coach!

Coach Riley "spent the previous 19 seasons [as the head strength and conditioning coach] with the Washington Redskins where served as an integral part of three Super Bowl champions, four NFC champions and five NFC East champions."

"Coach Riley is known as a leader in his field. He has written several books and served as a fitness columnist for the Washington Post."

"Prior to his stint with the Redskins, he spent five years as the strength coach at Penn State. The Nittnay Lions won their first national championship after his last season. Before arriving at Penn State, he served as the strength coach at Army from 1974-77."

His tenure in the NFL has produced several head strength and conditioning coaches who have worked with him. Steve Wetzel, last week's mystery guest, recognizes Coach Riley as one of his biggest inspirations.
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from the Houston Texan's website which can be found at www.nfl.com

Creatine: Our Stance


Editors note:This article is outdated with respect to current information regarding the safety and efficacy of creatine.   I is important to remember that the information contained herein was written with the knowledge of the time.   It is left here for historical purposes. 

 
Type "creatine" in any major search engine online and you will no doubt be bombarded with e-literature promoting its benefits. Chances are however that there is a sale of health related products somewhere near. Does the fact that somebody is trying to make a buck make their position wrong? No, we try to sell a product here for example, but the content of their literature must be scrutinized. For example, we make no secret that we are promoting a safe, productive, and efficient strength training program. If coaches or athletes are interested in learning more we have products for them. If we were selling food supplements such as creatine it would make sense that we would promote its use. However, we are not selling any food supplements and consider ourselves unbiased commenters on this subject.

High school coaches are the ones on the front lines of this issue. This article is aimed at bringing these coaches up to speed on the current stance on this popular supplement our athletes are so crazy about.

Although the research on creatine's affect on the human body when used as a supplement is incomplete there are some established facts. The "benefits" and "risks" are listed below. As we do not claim to be experts on this subject we encourage you to follow up on our listed sources.

Benefits

  • strength gains (Dryfuss)

  • increased anaerobic endurance (Mackie)

  • weight gains (Mackie)

  • quicker recovery time (Mackie)

  • ability to maintain high levels of intensity in a work-out (Benzi)

Risks

  • cramps (Dryfuss)

  • diarrhea (Dryfuss)

  • dehydration (Buccaneers.com)

  • heat related illness (Buccaneers.com)

  • nausea (Brianmac.demon)

  • blood pressure related illnesses (Mackie)

  • kidney related illnesses (Mackie, Benzi)

  • influence on insulin production (Benzi)

  • lack of knowledge on the effects over the long-term (Buccaneers.com)

  • not a properly regulated substance as it does not fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Buccaneers.com)

  • advertisement schemes directed at impressionable youth should not be trusted (Buccaneers.com)

  • creatine is produced from sarcosine, which could be found in bovine tissue, "the risk of contamination.. of bovine spongiform, or mad-cow disease, can not be excluded. Thus French authorities forbid the sale of products containing creatine." (Benzi)

As you can see, there are a variety of risks, (far reaching as they may be), ranging from muscle cramps to mad-cow disease. The origin of this debate can be traced to 1997 when three college wrestlers died while working-out. It has been assumed that because they were under high heat stress, combined with poor dietary habits they were prone for disaster. However it has been found that creatine will cause dehydration combined with the previous conditions could be fatal.

Last fall America saw several high profile athletes die due to heat related illnesses. Those events have influenced school boards to dictate practice times to coaches in some area of the country, including Kansas City. Coaches, be aware that many of your athletes may be combining a high heat stress level with creatine use this summer as you begin your 2-a-days!

Can that horrible event be avoided? Yes, to a certain extent it can. First, high school coaches, take a stand against creatine use on your team! Is this uncalled for or over-reactionary? Not according to the NCAA who has outlawed participating schools from giving the supplement to their athletes. John Thomas, Head Strength Coach at Penn State, goes as far as to ban it entirely from his program. Meaning just because the school does not provide creatine that they will turn a blind eye to those athletes who buy it themselves. Fact: Penn State athletes are highly discouraged from using creatine!

There is another development in the creatine discussion which should make high school coaches take heed. The National Federation of State High School Associations advises coaches and school officials not to condone the use of creatine.

NFL teams are also becoming aware of the potential hazard of creatine use. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers "do not endorse creatine supplementation as a training [aid] for their players."

Let's take an objective look at the creatine issue as it pertains to high school coaches.

  • Is creatine use by athletes at the high school, collegiate, and pro levels legal? Yes.

  • Is creatine use by athletes safe? Yes and No, see above.

  • Are coaches putting their athletes at short or long terms health risks? Short term risks seem minimal if you consider muscle cramps, dehydration etc.. minimal. Long term risks are still unknown as studies have not run their course on long term risks.

  • Are coaches putting themselves at risk should long term risks prove to be severe and they are condoning or promoting their use? Yes. If people are suing McDonald's for spilling hot coffee on themselves I think you can be sure coaches can be held responsible for this!

  • Is creatine use by athletes with the coach's knowledge ethical at the high school level? Not according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Many coaches are unaware of the Code of Ethics they are expected to follow as coaches. Go dig out your NFHS rule books and you will find in the back the "Coaches Code of Ethics." "Each student-athlete should be treated as though he or she were the coaches' own, and his or her welfare should be uppermost at all times.... The coach shall take an active role in the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse... The coach shall be aware that he or she has a tremendous influence, for either good or ill, on the education of the student athlete..."

Many times coaches who openly condone and promote creatine use with their teams are "on the take". Nothing illegal mind you. But diet supplement companies have been known to approach coaches, who they know have an influence on their players and their peers, and offer to pay them for the promotion of their product. This fact was shared with those in attendance at the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar by Penn State Strength Coach, John Thomas, who was hounded by one of these companies for his endorsement...that never came. Is this practice of marketing illegal? No. Unethical? Quite possibly. Is the long term health of our athletes at stake? The answer to that question is not known should the answer turn out to be yes then the answer to the latter questions may both prove to be true.

StrongerAthletes.com does not advocate the use of creatine due to unknown long-term risks involved. For further research on creatine and sources we used for this article:

  • Benzi, G. "Is there a rationale for the use of creatine either as nutritional supplimentation or drug administration in humans participating in a sport?" Pharmacol Res. March 2000.
  • Benzi, G. Ceci, A. "Creatine as a nutritional supplementation and medicinal product." Sports Med Phys Fitness. March 2001.
  • Dreyfuss, Ira. "Young athletes try creatine; adults hold their breath." C-Health. December 11, 2000. www.canoe.ca/Health0012/11_fitness-ap.html
  • Mackie, John W. "Creatine-Does It Really Work?" www.theberries.ns.ca/Archives/creatine.html
  • www.buccaneers.com. Creatine Suppliments. September 21, 2002.
  • www.brianman.demon.co.uk/creatine.htm. "Creatine."
  • University of Mayland-Baltimore County

Coach Fred Cantor informs StrongerAthletes.com that his athletic department supports his non-Olympic approach to strength training. UMBC competes in the Northeast Conference at the D-I level. They have won the Commisioner's Cup, awarded to the school with the most successful overall athletic program for the past several years. Thanks for your support coach.

10 April, 2002

Dear StrongerAthletes.com: Various Topics

“There never were in the world, two opinions alike. Their most universal quality is diversity.” Michel De Montaigne

Mystery Guest: Day 2


(So far we only have 5 correct guesses..come on guys this is easy!) Just like last week we present a Mystery Guest. If you think you know who this pioneer in strength training is drop us a guess, via the contact form, and our correct winners with be posted on Friday. Good Luck!

This week’s guest was one of the first people hired on the NFL’s newest franchise, he was hired even before the head coach!

He “spent the previous 19 seasons [as the head strength and conditioning coach] with the Washington Redskins where served as an integral part of three Super Bowl champions, four NFC champions and five NFC East champions.”

“This coach is known as a leader in his field. He has written several books and served as a fitness columnist for the Washington Post.”

“Prior to his stint with the Redskins, he spent five years as the strength coach at Penn State. The Nittnay Lions won their first national championship after his last season. Before arriving at Penn State, he served as the strength coach at Army from 1974-77.”

His tenure in the NFL has produced several head strength and conditioning coaches who have worked with him. Steve Wetzel, last week’s mystery guest, recognizes this man as one of his biggest inspirations.

**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another website which will be recognized on Friday, as we don’t want to just give away the answer now do we?


Dear StrongerAthletes.com: Various Topics


Over the past week we have been kept really busy with comments and questions from several Olympic lift coaches. These guys run successful programs and they are genuinely concerned about the profession of strength training. We think that by posting these comments and our responses that our readers can benefit from our discourse. Ken Mannie, Head Strength Coach at Michigan State University, informed us that he thinks this element of our website is very beneficial to others. We think so too.

Both of the coaches presented below have been very open-minded while making their arguments. We hope they have gotten as much from our discussions as we have. It is important to keep in mind that we will not respond to flaming e-mails. Our purpose is to present a philosophy on strength training not bash others. We welcome comments and questions either for or against our positions but we will not respond to those who cannot have a professional conversation.

In the following letters some of the major topics addressed are frequent ones such as developing power vs expressing power, safety, and principle of specificity. However, both of our e-mail writers use the term HIT and refer to Arthur Jones. It should be noted that StrongerAthletes.com has never used the the term HIT referring to High Intensity Training. HIT has a large following but it is not a uniform, come in a box recipe that many coaches are used to, such as the BFS program, which many high school coaches use and are comfortable with. For example, there are factions of HIT strength programs that preach very slow movements and other that preach anywhere from 1 to 3 working sets. Some preach free weights others machine weights. Believe it or not some HIT programs use olympic lifts! So please be careful not to stereo-type training programs from what you may have heard at gyms or read in magazines.

In regards to Arthur Jones, although we have never mentioned him he is a great credit to the field of strength and conditioning. His early work in the 1970’s helped to pave the way for modern training practices and present day coaches should recognize him for his trailblazing efforts regardless if they agree with him or not. Others such as Boyd Eply, Nebraska’s Strength and Conditioning coach served a similar role in the “early days”. It is not our place to be critical of these men’s efforts only to take what they have given us and continue.

Due to the length of these e-mails we have placed the links below for you to read at your leisure as opposed to 1 long posting.

Coach Burk responds to our last Dear StrongerAthletes.com from April 5.

Dear Coach Rody,
Where can I get scientific evidence that training in a slow controlled manner develops power? How do you go about testing power? Besides anecdotal evidence and an example of a single instance from a doctor, what studies have shown increased risk of injury with olympic lifts? Where can I find these studies (medical journal…). 
Olympic lifts and plyometric lifts are not necessarily specific to movements performed in sports (however many jumps do seem similar in basketball). But if I have the ability to generate more power and recruit more muscle fibers – more quickly, wont this help me become a better athlete? [**Note** This thinking violates the Principle of Fiber Recruitment -S.A.] Yes we will practice skills that are specific to the sport, such as tackling. But how does overload factor into drills of this nature. Efficiency is vital, and time should be spent on practicing the sport. But Im not sure a good in season lift including olympic lifts will take longer than 20 minutes – tops. Where does the coaching come in to play, if we are looking for the easiest method to train our athletes. I’m not sure this should be a strong consideration. We should search for the most effective method, not the easiest to teach or implement. 
Lets don’t compare what one program does versus another, lets look at what science says, and site our sources from peer reviewed literature from journals, not other websites or what other coaches say or believe. Much of what Arthur Jones wrote in his bulletins is not scientifically found, or may be dated. I’m not sure, but I think somewhere in there he encourages the consumption of raw eggs, should I suggest my athletes also do this?
James Burk

Coach Burk,

We appreciate your new comments. We respectfully address your concerns.

In regards to our thought on power please read our Expressing vs. Developing Power article as well as other articles related to power. There is a fundamental difference between Expressing and Developing Power. In order to effectively train the type IIb fast twitch muscle fiber. The athlete most train with heavy weight. If momentum occurs during the repetition, the muscle tension is released.

The most widely accepted scientific theory of how muscle fiber is recruited is called the Henneman Size Principle of Activation. Ken Mannie, Michigan State Strength Coach, explains in his article, “Explosive Weight Training, ” “Henneman states that the size of the newly recruited motor unit increases with the tension level of which it is recruited. Smaller motor units are recruited first, with successfully larger units firing at increasing tension levels. Slow twitch units (type I) tend to be smaller and produce less overall force than the intermediate and fast twitch units (typeIIa, type IIab, and type IIb).”

You either can lift with high intensity or with speed, you can’t do both. Fast twitch muscle fiber will be trained with a high amount of intensity. That makes the Olympic lifts the least effective for developing power and training the Type IIb muscle fiber because the weight is too light and momentum is involved. Tell me another way of how fast type IIb muscle fiber is trained? You can’t bypass the slow twitch and directly train the fast twitch, muscle is recruited in an orderly fashion.

The article posted on April 8 is one incidence of how an athlete can get injured during an Olympic type of lift. Please read other articles we have written to get more safety related articles and there will be more to come. These will be posted over the course of our future postings. In the meantime you may wish to visit PubMed, a web site for finding medical related publishings.

Like I said there are piles of medical research that have shown similar results. Can you show me medical research that indicates that slow movements create injury more than quick lifts?

You mentioned plyometric lifting. When an object such as a barbell is used to increase the vertical jump of a basketball player, the neuromuscular pathways used in the exercise are different than the ones used in the jump without weight. This is maintained by the scientific Principle of Specificity (Please see our previous article explaining this as well.)

If a basketball player wants to increase his vertical then he must develop power through heavy, slow controlled lifting then practice vertical jumping. If an athlete generates power more quickly then he begins to express power. We want our athletes to develop power in the weight room then express it on the field.

As far as overload, this pertains to weight training. Weight training and movements on the field are entirely separate entities.

We are not seeking the easiest method of strength training, we want he safest, most productive and efficient method. That method happens to incorporate the less complicated lifts. We are not training our athletes to become Olympic lifting competitors, we are developing strength and power to enhance our sports such as football, volleyball, basketball, track & field, etc…

You said it best when you said, “Look at what science says”. Science says that slow controlled lifting is the safest most productive and efficient methods to train. I encourage you to read our other articles and you will understand where we are coming from.

In every physiology text you will find Principle of Activation. This is science. There is no scientific evidence that indicate slow training causes more injuries than fast weight training. We need to look at sound scientific evidence, not misleading, contradictory science of Olympic lifting for athletes.

You mentioned out dated information. In the 1960’s Eastern Block countries were very successful in the Olympic lifts. At this same time American coaches discovered that stronger athletes were better athletes. They looked around and saw that these Eastern Block countries were the most successful weight lifters. American coaches saw this and learned their methods thinking that this is the best way to train our athletes… but not knowing why. Just because they, the Eastern Block countries that were good in the Olympic lifts doesn’t means that our football players, for example, should be doing their lifts.

We believe that we must continue to challenge our current knowledge levels and find the safest, most productive, and efficient programs for our athletes.

Coach Rusty Whitt, Strength & Conditioning coach at Sam Houston State describes his role as a collegiate strength coach that uses Olympic lifts.

Dear Coach Rody,
I recently read this post on your website. I found it of interest. First of all, I have worked with Olympic athletes, Division III, Division II and 1.
I work at a small college and find myself having to develop athletes, more so than a Michigan State or a Stanford. You have to agree that the stronger, more flexible, more powerful, more mature and coordinated players out of high school will get to the higher collegiate levels. Your training methods are governed by the type of athlete that you train. 
Now, I have friends at the NFL and collegiate levels who perform various degrees of HIT (High-Intensity-Training) training. They do what works, and are qualified, conscientious fellows. I believe the best coaches have open minds, and are not afraid to try various techniques out. These guys do just that. With that said: I love teaching the Olympic lifts. I like the hang snatch overhead squat–it requires a high level of balance, coordination, and flexibility. 
We don’t do much weight, you don’t need to. I’m not training Olympic weight lifters, (Who I believe are among the greatest athletes in the world) but exercises they do are very beneficial. I like the power clean, hang clean, and every variation of these lifts. The position coaches I work with would not want it any other way–they see the improvement in ATHLETIC ABILITY that these lifts foster. As far as injuries go, I have not had an athlete ever miss a competition because of any injury on the platform. I believe that occasional wrist discomfort is actually worth the benefits they receive. 
More importantly, the athletes respect these lifts, and they do a great job of following instruction. They see the benefit, they understand the intensity required, and enjoy the improvement that they see in their abilities. We start on the platform, and then do powerlifting–they complement each other well. I have witnessed a 198 pound competitive Olympic lifter vertical jump 42 inches, no approach–he did little powerlifting so I know where his power came from. 
I am tired of the HIT vs Olympic lifting debate–any coach that says you cannot benefit from both, is being close-minded and insecure about their own approaches. We are paid professionals who must teach complicated exercises–good coaches can teach a complete, safe clean technique in 1 week, and the athlete can benefit from this for years. I know, I have seen it done for a long time.
Thanks for the time,
Rusty Whitt

Coach Whitt,

Great comments. Thanks for your input.

Please understand that the purpose of our website is not to be closed minded in fact what we really want to do is get many coaches who look down their nose at high intensity coaches to understand that we are not crazy. I hope we don’t come across as close minded ourselves.

I should explain that my partner is new to non-Olympic training. He coaches high school football, played small college football and cleans were normal, everyday exercises. He never asked why he just did it.

After taking a new job and meeting myself he challenged himself to look at the why in regards to cleans. He couldn’t find the answers. As he read and visited with many coaches he has found something he is comfortable with.

However, like yourself he took the time to COACH in the weight room and has not experienced quick lift injuries. [However, a great point was made by Coach Jonathan Grey, Strength Coach at Southeast Missouri State, that Olympic lift injuries can be long term. Coach Grey writes, “The thing that many of these coaches fail to realize is that they may be predisposing their athletes to injury. In other words, injuries may occur on the field that are either a direct or indirect result of Olympic lifting.] Many high school coaches just sit behind a desk or even worse sit in their office while the kids lift.

I hope you can understand our perspective and get something out of the articles we post.

-S.A.

Addendum:  Coach Whitt wrote: "I have witnessed a 198 pound competitive Olympic lifter vertical jump 42 inches, no approach–he did little powerlifting so I know where his power came from. "

S.A.  I would answer that to say that you don't know where that power came from.  I'd argue it came from luck of the genetic draw.  Read Nature vs. Nurture for a greater understanding.

Coach Whitt, continues the discussion.

Coach Whitt continues… 
We use sport specific drills AND weight lifting exercises to teach sport skills. why not do both, if you see progress, if you have a system that works? One can complement the other. I am a strength coach first–the position was created to get players stronger–then I implement on field drills to take what they learn in the weightroom and apply it to the field. 
As a college coach, I had better understand the correlation between strength gains, wins, and losses. I cannot separate the three, because having a job depends on if the team wins. At the levels that pay the best, a strength coach is as much a part of the coaching staff as the Offensive Coordinator. 
Now I do agree that high school coaches must be great teachers, they have to stay out of the office. They can do a good job of teaching powerlifting and Olympic lifting.
FYI- Thursday we did power cleans at 60% of their max-4 sets of 4– today, after our scrimmage, the guys did 1 set to failure on DB alternating incline press. 
Thanks,
Whitt

Coach Whitt, [Going back to some of your earlier comments…] First of all, we respect your opinion. We all have our beliefs and opinions and can learn from each other. The sites purpose is to share ideas and thoughts like you have done but also to educate coaches on what we believe is the safest, most productive and efficient approach to training for athletes to use to prepare them for their prospective sport. We believe Olympic lifting and Powerlifting are not necessary.

You mentioned that you have to develop athletes more than a Michigan State or Stanford. I am a strength coach at the high school level and believe me I have my work cut out for me. I have trained some of the best athletes in the area and they never performed an Olympic type of lift. Believe me, some of these athletes were not naturally talented genetically to begin with.

As far as the best coaches having open minds, I couldn’t agree more. The longer I am in this field the more I realize many coaches are closed-minded.

Early in my career I tried to incorporate some of the Olympic lifts in my program and wound up with injuries that prevented some athletes from performing on the field. They too had good technique, which proves the point that even with perfect technique, the athlete can still get injured. But I do understand that good technique does reduce the injury risk.

You said that he Olympic lifts require a high level of balance, coordination, and flexibility. I agree but this will not transfer to better tackling, blocking etc. I do not believe one compliments the other. It has been scientifically proven that neuromuscular transfer does not occur from lifting movements to the field or from any activity to the next. The activity that you are wanting to get better at must be practiced. Doing similar types of activities will not help athletes become better at the activity they are wanting to perfect.

As far as coaches seeing improvements in athletic ability, I’m sure you have other lifts that do train fast twitch muscle fiber effectively, such as heavy squats, heavy dead lift and heavy bench.. That will increase strength, power and explosiveness that will help athletes in their sport not to mention I’m sure that these coaches have them do drills that are specific to their position. I believe that is where the increased ability comes from. You also had mentioned that you do not use heavy weight in those movements. Heavy weight is a requirement to train the type IIb fast twitch muscle fibers effectively. That is why I believe in heavy, slow controlled movements are best so the athlete can achieve overload. Olympic lifting is overtaken by momentum during each repetition. Overload cannot be achieved because the stress is taken off the muscle each repetition. This is an ineffective way to train the muscles.

I disagree with your statement that occasional wrist discomfort is actually worth the benefits they receive. A few years ago, I had an all state shot putter insisting on doing power cleans behind my back at another gym because no athlete is allowed to do these type of lifts under my supervision. His wrist injuries got increasingly worse throughout his senior year to the point where he could not compete anymore because of the injury and pain the cleans were creating. My other 2 all state throwers placed well in the top five never doing an Olympic type of lift. For the injured athlete, this not only caused him to never throw again but it cost him a possible scholarship. I this in one incident I have witnessed first hand. One of my others all state throwers did receive a an athletic scholarship and went to a college that does not believe in doing the Olympic-type of lifts as well.

As far as the Olympic lifters vertical jump being 42 inches, I don’t feel that that is relavent because there are non-Olympic athletes that can vertical jump like that as well. Strength coaches should be trying to strengthen athletes for their sport that is why I think the vertical jump is a poor indicator of an athletes athletic ability but it is still used widely by many teams. I had an athlete that could vertical jump higher than most his age and played football. He wasn’t a very good player either. I have seen many athletes that perform the Olympic lifts but can’t vertical jump very well at all. Now, where did the power come from? The point I am making is that there are so many other variables involved in why an athlete is a good vertical jumper.

We do not powerlift either. I don’t believe an athlete should ever perform less than 5-6 repetitions in any one set of any exercise. This is only necessary for the sport of lifting competition. We do believe the exercises performed by powerlifters are very productive if the repetitions are high enough to train the muscle effectively.

You stated that you are tired of the debate. Change the word “debate” to “discuss”; this makes us better coaches. Coaches, including myself, have learned a great deal from opposing viewpoints. I think it has made them and myself a better coach. If the debate and discussion discontinues, it will leave coaches not knowing why they do what they do and they will be close-minded.

I believe teaching complicated lifts are unnecessary. It wastes an athletes time. They have enough going on in their lives without us making them stay in the weight room longer than what is necessary. By the way, I have spoken to many Olympic lifting advocates and they said that it take months and sometimes years to learn and master the Olympic lifting exercises. That is why Olympic lifters for competition are constantly trying to perfect their technique. It is an ongoing process. There are so many things that can go wrong in a power clean alone. Imagine how many things could go wrong in a lift that requires lifting the weight overhead.

Our site is not based on philosophical mud slinging. It is a site to discuss/debate philosophies to better ourselves as I feel we are doing with this good discussion. Readers can follow our points of view and decide for themselves.

I have read a lot of research that promotes the Olympic type of lifting for athletes and haven’t found any 100%scientifically sound research yet, that is not misleading. What is supposed to be sound research is often misleading and contradictory. Coaches need to stop doing certain exercise just because other top schools do it. That doesn’t make it right. You listed some schools that do Olympic lifts then said “then you have Michigan”, Did you see our Teams page? The Teams page is there to show coaches that we are not alone in our thinking. I have found that coaches do not know any other type of program other than an Olympic lifting based program and that is too bad. They are missing out. The Teams Page is not there to say, “This team is better than that team.”

I feel that I have done my research and understand various philosophies of strength training and have chosen the non-Olympic approach because it is backed by science, it’s safe, and it develops our athletes like I’ve never experienced before. Do you think if Nebraska, Miami etc… were to take the Olympic type of lifts out of there program, they would still be a top team? The answer is obviously yes. There are plenty of successful teams that do not do them. Nebraska still does the squat, deadlift, bench press and other slow controlled lifts to my knowledge. I believe these are the exercises that have developed their power and explosiveness not to mention their athletes already being D-I athletes.

Many coaches do not want to hear about other philosophies and that hinders the learning process. I recently spoke at a clinic and turned off many close-minded coaches because they didn’t want to believe that a program would not incorporate the Olympic-type of lifts and insinuated that I was lying when I told them about the teams that do not do them. I’m tired of going to clinics and listening to coaches say that you are doing a great disservice to your athletes if you do not incorporate the Olympic type of lifts. I feel just the opposite. I enjoy watching the sport of Olympic lifting but I feel that these lifts are for the purpose of the sport of Olympic lifting and will have very little benefit in other sports.

I do disagree with a lot of what you said. Yet I do respect your thoughts and wish you the best of luck. I did get something out of our debate. Again I firmly believe that coaches need to have a place for discussion and debate to learn as much as they can about other philosophies and to understand why they train their athletes the way they do. Let the viewers decide what philosophy they buy into.

Thank you, -S.A.

Coach Whitt, counters with a pretty good point about our Mission Statement.

Dear Coach Rody 
I must say a website dedicated to “debunking” the philosophy of Olympic lifting is a bit odd. I feel a more responsible approach would be to debunk bad coaching, and promote sound, scientific based training methods–a resource for coaches of all types, not a base for philosophical mud slinging. Can an average athlete benefit from HIT training? Of course. Can he benefit from qualified Olympic coaching? Of course. Why do coaches get into a groin kicking contest about each other’s philosophies? Is it the testosterone? 
I do believe that the most recent collegiate national champions have benefitted from Olympic lifting. The University of Montana (1AA) has a strength coach trained at Nebraska. The Miami Hurricanes use Olympic lifting to develop their athletes as well. The Oklahoma Sooners, Florida St, and Nebraska all use Olympic philosophies. Then you have Michigan, who won a title recently (HIT-there you go). So if coaches know their field backwards and forwards, push their methodology so that members of the program believe in it, and push the kids, good things will happen. 
Personally I implement one set to failure on occasion, and know that it works–but I prefer to go a different direction based on my personal experiences–If I am successful, I must be doing something right–if my kids fail, well, guess what… 
Thank you again, Rusty Whitt

Coach,

[**Note** When we wrote the mission statement back in December we really went around about using the term “debunk”. Coach Whitt brought us back to that point and we have decided to keep it and this is why. Too many high school coaches teach the olympic lifts because they were taught the olympic lift by their coaches or because it is associated with successful football programs. If a modern collegiate football team won a national championship utilizing 170 lb offensive linemen and then spoke at several clinics in the off-season claiming their faster, more agile kids on the line caught their opponents off guard… 200 high schools would be doing the same thing. We want high school coaches, who many times also serve as the schools strength teachers, to know why they teach what they teach. Is it safe? Productive? Efficient?]

I love you point about groin kicking. But keep in mind most coaches, especially high school coaches are not as open minded as you seem to be. So, the website is intended to show that non-Olympic training is a valid training method.

Your question about using it with high school athletes…. I have been using it with my track kids for @ 5 years and has had a lot of success with them. We measure success in terms of strength gains not just wins and losses. That is determined just as much by our coaching on the field.

Again, we would ask you why you use weight room movements to teach balance and such… Why not use a sport specific drill?

Thanks coach, I look forward to bouncing topics off you in the future!

-S.A.

Coach Whitt continues the exchange.

Coach Rody,
Obviously we have differing opinions because of our different experiences as coaches. I have never had an athlete develop a injury on the platform that has impaired their performance. The wrist “discomfort” I have mentioned is due to the low position of the elbows during the catch, and is corrected with increased flexibility in the wrists and triceps. 
In one week, a coach can, in fact, teach an athlete how to correctly clean the 44 pound bar. Then weight can be gradually added as technique allows. I believe that although in the learning stages of the clean, while the athlete is performing “non-power” developing resistance, they are learning a skill. 
You mentioned that the weight I described for the hang clean, overhead squat was inefficient for power development. I use this exercise for flexibility. Our primary exercise for power is the power clean–with no jerk. We will work up to 88% of an athlete’s 1 rep max–our periodization scheme will start at around 65% and increase. 
Now reviewing [Coach Whitt may be getting a little sarcastic here, but we forgive him as we feel we are like long lost buddies at this point! -S.A] : Power = force x velocity, or power is the derivative of a force on an object, and the speed of that object as it is moved by the force. So the way one develops power is by an all out exertion against a force, right? That force can be a truck, as one pushes it, it can be with dumbbells as an athlete wielding them jumps on a box, or a weighted vest, or bungee cords as one jumps against that. It could be a weighted bar as one squats, weight on a leg press–etc…… 
Now, I do not believe that you think an Olympic lifter is absent of power when training or performing. They are performing basically a vertical jump against the weight, which is a form of power development. If I understand you correctly, you think that the injury potential outweighs the benefits of Olympic lifting, or even powerlifting. So I assume that you incorporate in your program the leg press, bear squat, and a variety of other machine style and free weight equipment exercises. You instruct your athletes and you are happy with your strength gains and performance. The coaches you are working with support you. So why change your philosophy? 
Now, in my position, I work with coaches who support what I do. Some aspects are similar to what they have seen in the past, yet some are different. They went out looking for a coach like me, called around, and liked the way I presented my program. In the last 3 years, we have broken 28 of the 50 all-time school records for strength and power (based on position, sports, etc) They put healthy players on the field–we had one starter go down with injury in 13 football contests. We have won 23 games in the last 3 seasons. The coaches continually give me much credit for our recent success. Is it in my best interest professionally to change my philosophy, in the hay-day of my career? I’m not irresponsible in my teaching, I emphasize safety first, and we power clean, squat and bench press. Like I said earlier–if you are careful and qualified, you can instruct complicated exercises. That is not a waste of time. I have two hours a day in the off-season. I have plenty of time to teach, and our athletes like the exercises. 
Now, you said you were open minded–but, will you believe me when I say that one can incorporate various philosophies (Olympic and HIT) in an effective, successful program? To reach my goal (a head NFL strength position) one would benefit from being able to implement a diverse program, depending on what staffs want. 
Sorry for the length, Coach Whitt

Coach Whitt,

You are fortunate not to have any injuries in your weight training program. I have found that many athletes do not tell their coach if their back hurts after performing a power clean for fear of what the coach may think of them. I am not saying that this is the case with your program. In high school I have found this to be true very frequently. That makes the exercise not worth it.

During the power clean, momentum is still involved. How can momentum (no stress on the muscle briefly) create much power. I agree on various activities can build power to various degrees. I want the best ways which I believe is the heavy, slow controlled movements. I did not say the an Olympic lifter is absent of power. They obviously have a degree of power but for our athletes it is a poor way to develop it.

[Your formula is classic misleading. The formula for Power is correct but to develop power one must overload the muscle. In overloading the muscle you cannot move quickly. In order to move quickly you express the power you developed by overloading the muscle… and so on… The example you give is expressing power not developing power.]

I believe it is a mistake to say that any strength program is to be given most of the credit for success in an athletic program. We are only a small part of a large amount of variables that will create success on a team. We are an important part but then every aspect is important in a successful team.

As far as myself being open-minded, sure, I believe one can incorporate many philosophies in a program. But I have to tell you, you still do squat, bench press etc. as you indicated. You are doing the right movements. Our program involves primarily free weights and a few machines not a squat simulation although some schools are moving in that direction.

We appreciate your comments.

-S.A.

08 April, 2002

An Injury Incident

 "The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind." -William Blake

Mystery Guest


Just like last week we present a Mystery Guest. If you think you know who this pioneer in strength training is drop us a guess, at Coach Rody, and our correct winners with be posted on Friday. Good Luck!

This week's guest was one of the first people hired on the NFL's newest franchise, he was hired even before the head coach!

He "spent the previous 19 seasons [as the head strength and conditioning coach] with the Washington Redskins where served as an integral part of three Super Bowl champions, four NFC champions and five NFC East champions."

"This coach is known as a leader in his field. He has written several books and served as a fitness columnist for the Washington Post."

"Prior to his stint with the Redskins, he spent five years as the strength coach at Penn State. The Nittany Lions won their first national championship after his last season. Before arriving at Penn State, he served as the strength coach at Army from 1974-77."

His tenure in the NFL has produced several head strength and conditioning coaches who have worked with him. Steve Wetzel, last week's mystery guest, recognizes this man as one of his biggest insperations.
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another website which will be recognized on Friday, as we don't want to just give away the answer now do we?

An Injury Incident


A common critisism that we receive at StrongerAthletes.com is of the importance we put on safety. Many Olympic lift coaches inform us that they have never witnessed a weight room injury related to quick lifts and that to remove them from a training program is unjust.

We respect the views of those coaches who are coaching quick lifts but would like to point out an example of a weight room injury that is quick lift related. In an article, “Lumbar ring apophyseal fracture in an adolescent weight lifter," Dr. Timothy D. Browne relates in a case report that a 16-year-old male had low back pain extending down the left leg, the morning after a heavy weight lifting session in physical education class. “His weight lifting routine the previous day had included bench press (160 pounds), power clean (160 pounds), and deadlift (225 pounds). He had some mild pain immediately after doing a set of power cleans.”

In our coaching experience, we have found that athletes have often complained about having back pain after performing Olympic lifts. The pain is usually in the bone structure of the back not in the muscles of the back.
"After of week of various back problems caused from that training session, the athlete [in Dr. Browne's case study], was taken to the operating room and underwent decompressive laminectomy and attempted reduction of the L-3 apophyseal fracture.”

Obviously this is one of those extreme cases that does not happen very frequently to this extent. But do you as a coach want your athletes to take that chance? We owe it to our athletes to provide the safest program possible. Are injuries possible in slow controlled lfits? Of course, but the frequency is much less because momentum is not involved in the lift.

To reply that risk is inherent in everything is silly. Yes, kids can get hurt playing football or even walking across the street so its logical to assume they might get hurt training. However, we maintain that it is not logical to assume this as a coach can increase the strength of his athletes without momentum.

Browne continues, “Strict control of the amount of weight and types of exercises is essential.” Strict control training is not only essential for safety but for productivity and efficiency as well.

For our Olympic lifting brothers, and we know you're out there because we visit with you daily, we respectfully say, There is a safer way to train, and you may find it to be just as productive or maybe even more productive that what you currently do... as we have found. Please let us know if you have any other experiences with weight room injury.
**Note** Browne MD, Timothy D., Yost MD, Robert P., McCarron MD, Robert F. "Lumbar ring apophyseal fracture in an adolecent weight lifter." The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 18, No. 5, 1990.

Reader Registration


In order to better serve coaches we would like to put together a mailing list for future promotions that we may have from time to time. Your information will not be given, sold, or anything else to anyone else. The information you give on this form, found at Reader Registration is sent directly to us at StrongerAthletes.com where we simply put you on our mailing list. Thanks, Coach Rody

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 explains in detail some of the finer points of the StrongerAthletes.com Training Program.
I just got through reading my copy of Stronger Athlete's Coach's Manual. I recommend this manual to any Coach needing help in setting up a Strength Training Format for their team. It's easy to read and the advice works for a Free Weight Program as well as Better known Strength Training Machines such as Pendulum Fitness, Nautilus, MedX, and Hammer. Good solid information without boring you with unnecessary pseudo science. They have a video companion and although I haven't seen it, I would bet it's the same good quality. -Jim Bryan, Strength & Conditioning Coach

05 April, 2002

Mystery Guest and Fundamental Questions

"When one helps another, both gain in strength." -Latin American Proverb

Mystery Guest: Steve Wetzel, Minnesota Vikings


We had several responses to this week's Mystery Guest but only a handful of correct answers. Correctly identifying Coach Wetzel were Jim Bryan, Winter Haven; Fred Cantor, University of Maryland-Baltimore County Strength Coach; and Joe Ross, Tampa, FL.

Steve Wetzel has been working in the NFL for 12 seasons and 2 teams including the
Champions of Super Bowl XXVI in 1991. He got his start in the field as a collegiate power-lifter and then as an intern at the University of Maryland. While working with the Terrepins, he worked part-time with the Redskins before getting hired by George Mason University. He was working at George Mason just 3 months before being "called-up" to the Redskins as a full-time assistant.

Currently serving as the head strength coach in the NFC, his staff's #1 goal is injury prevention. He takes some pride in the fact that his team's work-outs do not change from off-season to in-season, with conditioning serving as great a role as strength development.

He enjoys teaching his athletes he works with, "By training guys one-on-one, there are a lot of teachable moments that come up, a lot of time for interaction as far as finding out about them, answering their questions about their training. A lot of guys have done programs since they were in high school. They do them but they don't know why they do them, so there are a lot of teachable moments that come up when we are training guys, which I really like. They have questions. We always tell them if we don't have the answer then we will go find it. That's what I like about it. Basically we are teachers, just like the football coaches. They teach the position and we teach them how to prepare their body to play the game of football."

Steve's photo and quotes were found at the Minnesota Viking's web site where he recently gave an interview about the Viking training program. Coach Wetzel also spoke at the recent 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar were he discussed in great detail what an NFL athlete does in the weight room.

Dear StrongerAthlete: Fundamental Questions


We have received a great e-mail from one of our new readers. Coach James Burk has concerns over some of the most important elements of a safe, productive, and efficient strength program. Others, no doubt, may also have these concerns and questions so this informative "e-dialogue" makes it on "Dear StrongerAthlete."
Dear Coach Rody,
I have a few questions:
1.) How is a bench press, leg curl, pull-down... specific but not an Olympic lift?
2.) By listing teams that are non Olympic lifting teams, does this imply that they are more successful than Olympic lifting teams?
3.) Teaching these lifts takes time, so does implementing a new offense or new plays, should we also avoid doing these things?
4.) What studies show a higher level of risk and injury in Olympic lifts than non olympic lifts?
5.) How is power developed in this type of training? Are plyometrics and medicine ball training used to cover this aspect. If you are training slowly but with great resistance and muscle tensions, when does the velocity component of power come in to play?
Thanks,
James Burk

Coach Burk,

We appreciate your comments and questions and will address them one at a time. It is important to note that many of us have been where you are at: that point of realizing there is another way of doing things and challenging ourselves to find the "best" way. There is no perfect program only one that the strenght coach can justify as the "best" for his athletes.
1.) How is a bench press, leg curl,pulldown... specific but not an olympic lift ?

The bench press, leg curl, pulldown etc. are not specific lifts that mimic sport skills because there are none. No exercise can transfer to better skills other than the skill of that exercise itself. This is mentioned in previous articles we have written. The Principle of Specificity states that to improve sport skills you must practice those skills not do other activities that are close to the movements in that skill. The neuromuscular system is very specific, the neuromuscular pathways used to do a skill are different than the patterns used in a strength training exercise.
2.) By listing teams that are non olympic lifting teams, does this imply that they are more successful than olympic lifting teams?

No, it does not... The purpose for listing the teams that perform non-Olympic lifts is to show that the Olympic lifts are not essential for a successful strength training program for athletic teams like many coaches think. We recently spoke at a clinic about our style of training and most coaches could not believe a team would not do the Olympic lifts because they thought that was the most effective or the only way to develop power and explosiveness. We believe it is a fairly poor way to increase power and explosiveness. As we have said in previous articles, we challenge the top teams that perform Olympic lifts to take these lifts out of their program and we believe they would still be top teams as they currently are. This will just prove over time that these quick lifts are not necessary for success. These teams still do the slow controlled movements such as the squat, deadlift, bench press etc... so we know they are doing the movements that we feel are the most productive for developing athletes. Non-Olympic lifting teams as you can see from our Teams Page can be just as successful.
3.) Teaching these lifts takes time, so does implementing a new offense or new plays, should we also avoid doing these things?

As far as the Olympic lifts taking time to teach and master, it sounds like you agree. Implementing a new offense or plays does take time. We believe in an efficient strength training program. In order to be efficient, we need to have our athletes train in as little time as possible with exercises that are not so technical so that we can go out and practice the necessary skills or implement a new offense. These activities are entirely 2 seperate entities. Efficient strength training allows for more practice time. Athletes learn to perform the squat, bench press etc... with much greater ease than a power clean or snatch.
4.) What studies show a higher level of risk and injury in olympic lifts than non olympic lifts?

As far as what studies show a higher level of risk and injury in Olympic lifts than non-Olympic lifts, I have a pile right here next to me. We periodically post an article indicating medical research that indicates that the injury potential in Olympic lifts are much greater than the slow controlled movements. We will post another article on safety next week. It will indicate another incidence of how quick lifts can be dangerous. We have safety articles posted from previous days that include several of the studies to which you refer. However, many of the sources we use on this web site include Dr. Ted Lambernetes, Dr. Gordon Bell, Dr. Ken Leistner, and Strength Coaches Mark Asonavich and Ken Mannie from the Baltamore Ravens and Michigan State respectively.
5.) How is power developed in this type of training? Are plyometrics and medicine ball training used to cover this aspect. If you are training slowly but with great resistance and muscle tensions, when does the velocity component of power come in to play?

Understanding how power is developed is very important. There is a difference between expressing power and developing power. [See Expressing vs. Developing Power]. Power is developed through slow controlled movements because because there is constant tension on the working muscles which will enable the athlete to effectively train their fast (type IIb) twitch muscle fiber. This type of training also allows you to overload the muscles which is a necessary component of effective training. We believe overload cannot be achieved in Olympic lifts because after the initial part of the lift momentum takes over and the tension is taken off the muscles. How can this develop power? When the muscle tension is taken off this will make the exercise a very poor way to train the fast (type IIb) twitch muscle fibers. [See Muscle Fiber Recruitment].

In training for power, remember, it is the intent of the athlete to move the weight quickly. For example, during a set of squats to failure at about 10 repetitions the weight will feel progressively heavier with each succeeding rep until the end of the set. It is important that the athlete try to maintain consistent speed throughout the entire set and when he reaches the last rep or two the speed will slow but the athlete will be trying to lift the weight as quickly as possible but the weight is moving slow. That intention to move it quickly develops power and explosiveness. Going all out on the last reps of the set is very explosive.

As far as plyometrics and medicine balls are concerned, we do not believe that these are a necessary part of training. We would rather go out and practice our sport specific skills to become more efficient at them. [See Specificity and Specificity II].

We hope we have answered your questions. Let us know if you have further comments.

Thank you,
Coach Rody
StrongerAthlete.com

Reader Registration

In order to better serve coaches we would like to put together a mailing list for future promotions that we may have from time to time. Your information will not be given, sold, or anything else to anyone else. The information you give on this form, found at Reader Registration is sent directly to us at StrongerAthlete.com where we simply put you on our mailing list. Thanks, Coach Rody

New Coaching Resources

At the 2002 Strength & Science Seminar StrongerAthlete.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 StrongerAthlete.com Training Program.

I just got through reading my copy of Stronger Athlete's Coach's Manual. I recommend this manual to any Coach needing help in setting up a Strength Training Format for their team. It's easy to read and the advice works for a Free Weight Program as well as Better known Strength Training Machines such as Pendulum Fitness, Nautilus, MedX, and Hammer. Good solid information without boring you with unnecessary pseudo science. They have a video companion and although I haven't seen it, I would bet it's the same good quality. -Jim Bryan, Strength & Conditioning Coach