In all honesty I wasn’t going to blog today, but something blogworthy surfaced. To give you guys the abridged version, I just came back from my “elite athlete training” class lab. Today’s lab was about heart rate/lactate threshold training so it involved a 30 minute warm-up “jog” followed by some aerobic & anaerobic intervals (6,4,2 minutes with 90 secs rest between repeated twice). So that was absolutely insane fun!! Right now I’m typing this at my computer feeling some residual soreness in my feet/ankles and knees (also fun), and all in all, I think it was a good and useful experience.

Here’s why:

The vast majority of sports that utilize strength and conditioning as a method of physical preparation for competition are strength or power sports which need high force output usually in a limited amount of time followed by a rest period of some length. Until now, my education (both academic and practical) in fitness/training athletes has led me to believe that for these sports, there is a better way to get the athletes in shape. Looking at cost/benefit ratios, my thinking is that I don’t want to subject my athletes to any risk that doesn’t even resemble the nature of their sport.

Thats all well and good that part of my training philosophy is that, but then what made this lab useful??

It re-affirmed my beliefs about proper training for these athletes! You see, I hadn’t done any sort of long distance running or aerobic intervals like this in probably years (besides a lab or two in the lab couple years). This is important because I learn best by doing so having an experience actually re-affirm my training philosophy or not is a lot more powerful than just gaining the knowledge through reading or listening.

If I experience something, it also tends to make me a better coach since I can relate to what the athlete is experiencing — another plus.

With all this said, I’m not against aerobic training or aerobic intervals, etc…I’m just against these things when they’re the wrong tool for the job. After all you never hear of cross country coaches having their athletes run repeat 100m dashes, but in strength and power sports, its still common to hear of coaches that prescribe long slow cardio.

Thats it for me this week, have a great weekend guys!!

CB

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This week has been light for blogging, but here’s a post for today!!

A lot of things can go on outside of the gym to compromise results!

A lot of things can go on outside of the gym to compromise results!

Once you go home from the gym for the day, life can get in the way of results. Specifically geared towards training athletes, we can see two distinct issues, although the first one can be generalizable to any population.

1. The 23-to-1 Rule.
The norm is that we get athletes in the gym for between 1-2 hours a day 4 days a week, which brings up an interesting issue: they have a ton of time to compromise the efforts in the gym! To say it a little differently, we can have them work on core stability, moving at their hips instead of the lower backs, teach them proper running mechanics, etc, then with all the time they are out of the gym there are many opportunities to take steps backwards.

This is basically called the 23-to-1 Rule. The gist of the rule is that we can help an athlete out 1 hour per day, but they have 23 hours of the day to practice bad habits (eg. sitting for long periods of time).

Needless to say its fairly evident how reforming habits becomes a sort of uphill battle, which means that it can have an impact on how quickly or how well an athlete sees the adaptations that we are trying to get.

2. Another big issue is fatigue.
When the body gets fatigued, movement gets sloppy. This isn’t a huge concern in the gym unless someones doing 50 rep squats or the like, but on the sports field/court/ice this is a concern. This is part of the objective behind conditioning. An example here is that once an athlete can perform fundamental agility skills properly (deceleration, acceleration, change of direction) we need to train the athlete to be able to perform these skills properly when they are tired (ie. in the fourth quarter). Failure to do so results in the increased risk of injury, which when combined with other factors (such as being a female athlete) doesn’t paint a very rosy picture.

Type foruth quarter injuries into a google search...not pretty!!

Type "fourth quarter injuries" into a google search...not pretty!!

The thing to be aware of is that we can fix a lot of things in the gym, but there’s still many opportunities to jeopardize all that effort once you leave.

As a strength coach, I have to plan for these things to make an effective program, so that progress is continually made and that injury risk is actually reduced.

Good to be back!!

CB

Today since I’m in a sort of “homework groove”, I feel like I have some ammo for a blog post…we’ll see how it goes…

Among proponents of functional training (REAL functional training, not that bosu ball, stand on one foot with your eyes closed crap), single leg training is a significant part of any strength training program. But for the sake of program design balance this is too simple; there’s different classifications of single leg exercises that we need for different reasons in a program.

Dont confuse functional training with this!!!!!...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't confuse functional training with this!!!!!...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t want to get too complex since this isn’t a full article, so a simple distinction is that some single leg exercises can be classified as supported single leg exercises and obviosuly on the flipside, you have unsupported exercises.

In supported exercises the working leg is supported by having the non-working leg in contact with the ground too. In unsupported exercises, only the working leg is in contact with the ground.

From the description, you can see that one will require more of a balance component (unsupported) than the other (supported).

So back to the title of this post…

My troubles lie in the unsupported exercises…in one leg only (my right). Knowing my history of playing baseball for all those years, it really isn’t that surprising considering the lower body mechanics of throwing and hitting from one side: one side always is the stabilizing side and the other is the power producing side.

Rear-foot elevated split squat

Single leg supported exercise: Rear-foot elevated split squat

Relating this to unsupported lower body exercises, my left leg, having a high stability demand from all those years of playing baseball, doesn’t have a problem with these exercises. I can keep my balance easily and as such, its pretty easy for me to ensure that I’m actually performing the exercises PROPERLY.

Over to my right leg…he’s a fickle lil’ bugger! For whatever reason (there’s more than just baseball), I have pretty poor balance. This makes proper execution of the exercises tougher since at times I’m more concerned with being able to maintain my balance.

With all that said, what have I done to work on this/my “tips”??

1. Work your less stable leg before your stable leg. Regardless of what kind of single leg exercise I do, I always do all reps of a set with my right leg first! Thsi way your not fatigued yet, so that little bit of extra focus can be applied.

2. Do what you suck at — OFTEN!!
What I’ve done in my program now is put single leg deadlifts two days a week, that way I’m creating an increased need for adaptation for my body. What I’ve noticed is that my balance has started to come around rather quickly, compared to when I would try the lift for only one day a week and never seem to get anywhere.

Avariation of the single leg deadlift

On top of these two tips, a little persistence goes a long way. You should never just drop an exercise because you’re not seeing results right away — especially if its a motor control adaptation you’re looking for.

If you have played other sports, or if you haven’t played sports at all, have you or haven’t you noticed problems performing single leg exercises?? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the weightroom!!

Happy Saturday!!
CB

A Common Sprinting Mistake

January 21, 2009

About a week ago, (yes, I’m a lil’ behind with the news…) Rickey Henderson got voted into the baseball Hall of Fame. At the top of his list of skills was his basestealing ability. Watching the highlights, Rickey does something important: he stays LOW!!

Watch this video to see some examples:

He doesn’t pop up after a couple strides! This is a common mistake among young athletes learning proper sprinting technique. Athletes eager to get up to top speed quickly erect their bodies after only a couple strides…unfortunately this actually impairs their acceleration (read: makes them slower). To go forward quickly energy must be used for driving the body forward, not to straighten up the body.

Standing up is great once top speed is achieved, however during acceleration not so much. This becomes an issue with team sport athletes since the vast majority of sprinting in these sports is too short to reach top speed. Think of the percentage of hits that are singles versus triples or the percentage of catches by the receiver in football that result in long touchdowns vs. those that cover the distance of a first down.

This is one thing I’ll pay attention to during a 10 yard dash during an athlete’s initial assessment since 10 yards is way too short a distance for an athlete to have reached top speed.

Feel free to add any comments or suggestions below.
Happy Wednesday!! (Power’s out at school, so day off :) )

CB

Time for a good ol’ Sunday post! :)

I was watching tv last night and one of those ESPN Classics specials was on. This one was a replay of one of Tyson’s earlier fights (way back in 1986 when he was ridiculously awesome!) Anyways, background on the fight: He was fighting Trevor Berbick, a former heavyweight champ, for an opportunity to fight for the world heavyweight title.

A few things:
1. Tyson’s size. At 5’11” he was a LEAN 221.5 lbs!

2. The thing I enjoy most about watching Mike’s earlier fights is the combination of speed and power he possessed. His punches just looked so much more powerful than those his opponents throw, and on top of that, those powerful punches were on his opponent so quickly too!

3. His aggressiveness. He didn’t wait around once the bell rung, he got right after his opponent and dictated the tempo of the fight. He also wasn’t afraid to get hit.

Now as a strength coach, I can do a lot to get an athlete better such as improve their strength, power, speed, etc, but there are also aspects that I cannot train. The last point is a big one in contact sports: a fear of getting hit/hurt. Sometimes there are those athletes that just have the right combo of skills AND intangibles, and Tyson in his hey-day was one of those special talents!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

CB

Is physiological data going to tell me how good they are at playing soccer??

Is physiological data going to tell me how good they are at playing soccer??

Yesterday I had my lecture for a class that I’m taking called Elite Athlete Assessment and Training (or soemthing like that). At the beginning of the week we had an assignment due in which we had to design an assessment protocol for an athlete in a sport of our choice. Then in lecture yesterday, thats what we learned about from the prof: assessments.

One thing became clear towards the end of the lecture — an emphasis on the importance of using physiological testing and the resulting data. (Also, the prof wasn’t fond of body composition testing for elite athletes — not sure whether I agree or disagree with that yet tho…)

Anyways, why does it matter what a person’s VO2max is?? Now some sports this can be important (eg. endurance cycling, marathon running), but for sports that are anaerobic in nature, why is there such an emphasis on knowing how well the body can use oxygen??

Anyways, in my assignment I didn’t put any physiological testing in I’m pretty sure, so we’ll see how that goes.

The point I’m trying to make is just what’s up with the disconnect between what is taught is universities (obviously not 100% of the case) and what is done in successful gyms??

CB

For those of you who may not be so familiar with foam rolling, its a recovery method that is often called a “poor man’s massage”. Basically it helps with tissue quality (getting to or maintaining GOOD quality).

Anyways I picked one up went I came back to school back in September, and its essentially been a 20 buck dust collector since then. For whatever reason though the past few mornings after I’ve gotten out of bed, I’ve hopped on it for several minutes to hit any tender areas.

So why’s tissue quality such a big area of focus when it comes to recovering from workouts??

Around each of your muscles is a type of connective tissue called fascia. Think of your muscles being wrapped in plastic wrap. Anyways as a result of training and muscle activity during prolonged postures (sitting) it can become tight and in turn restrict the amount of movement a muscle is capable of producing. Not to mention, it can produce pain in a related part. An example of this is adductor magnus tightness (the large muscle on the inside part of the thigh) causing medial knee pain.

Anyways I’ve heard a clever little saying repeated by numerous coaches and trainers: Take of your soft tissue and your soft tissue will take care of you.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to get done, but consistency of efforts is extremely important! You will end up feeling better (especially after a very strenous workout) and moving better as a result.

Its -20 up here today…WooHoo, nice and warm!!!!!!!!!! (Note: sarcasm)

CB