Now that I’m back from school and starting to get involved again with training at SST, it has become apparent (as it did last summer) that I need to brush up on my training and coaching. Being away at school for 8 months where I’m only training myself and one of my friends, if I have a workout buddy at all, gets me away from the skills I acquired during the previous summer. I guess its like when returning to school and it takes a while to get into the groove of going to school and preparing for classes. Now all I have to do is come up with another analogy since I’m no longer in school…

Short and sweet today folks!

CB

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Most people know the saying you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Once the weakest link is known (usually found through the assessment) though, how should we go about fixing it?? Relating this to athletes changes the options a coach/trainer has because there is always that ultimate goal of improved athletic performance to consider. With that said, what is the right thing to do?? Does a muscle need to be isolated? Does it just need to get stronger? Is more flexibility needed or is the muscle stiff?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll probably guess my answer: It depends. Don’t you just love gray answers???

It depends on the nature of the weakest link — is a muscle just weaker than others, is there a motor control issue that needs to be addressed, do they lack the ability to perform a basic movement skill well.

What does this all mean??

If the weakest link can be any of these things listed in the above paragraphs, how can we try the same approach to fix everything?? Does a screwdriver equally work for both a screw and a nail??

CB

First off, just a quick note to celebrate my last exam being over as well as having my undergrad now completed — YAY!!

Alright enough feeding my ego. Here’s an interesting debate that just seems to go back and forth. I’ll actually come right out and say my stance on this isn’t the same as it was even a couple months ago. What  I used to think was teach the clean first then teach the snatch…so maybe you’re thinking “why did you change your mind?”

I think the snatch gets a bad rap as being excessively dangerous, and I was definitely in this boat until I tried them! Then until a couple months I just didn’t give it enough love to say that I’d teach them before cleans — I know my decisions are always changing (I prefer the term “evolving”) Anyways, let me be blunt: EVERY EXERCISE can be dangerous. The thing that worries many people about the snatch is catch a fast moving weight overhead. If you have never snatched before go read up on some form somewhere on the internet and try it next time in the gym, then please come back here and comment on your experience — did your arm fall out of its socket? did you get some shoulder injury that wasnt there before??

Your body naturally decelerates the weight, just as it would declerate the weight doing a shoulder press. As long as the athlete can get their arms up overhead, they can learn to snatch. Now does this mean I’m starting with a barbell?? — My experience until now says no. I would start with a 1-arm dumbbell snatch  because a) holding a weight in only one arm limits the amount of weight you can use (I guess I didnt need letters).

Now, just because I would dumbbel snatch doesn’t mean I would teach dumbbell cleans — I hate the idea of having dumbbells come crashing down on top of someone’s shoulders! So with the clean I’d start out with a barbell. Here’s how this plays into my decision: everyone wants to load barbells — especially adolescent males! If someone’s snatching a dumbbell overhead with one arm, they dont tend to be quite as obsessed with using the big weights, so in essence I can keep someone’s ego out of the equation to a greater degree with a dumbbell snatch than a clean.

On a final note, I have just personally found that dumbbell snatch allow me to focus on form easier than barbell cleans — I know, thats some  scientific data right there! Anyways, this has just been my observation. With the natural tendency to avoid the snatch as long as one can, I wanted to just point out that though it LOOKS dangerous, it really doesnt have to be and the learning curve might not be as long as many people think it to be.

Snatch away my friends, snatch away!

CB

Alright, I’m back at it now that I’m back at school to finish up exams and my 3 wisdom teeth are out of my life for good! Also with some time recovering from the surgery, I’ve been able to get back some energy which I really needed after writing 3 papers last week.

Since December one of the things I changed about by own training was adding in plyometrics. Now these were difficult to implement at my university gym, so I will talk about a more idea situation than what I did.

Basically we have 2 ways to make plyometrics more intense:
1. increase the magnitude of the effect of gravity
2. increase the demand on the Stretch-shortening cycle.

The first refers really to the hieght of anything you are jumping onto, off of, or over — this can be a box or hurdle usually. Anyways, when you jump onto a box there is a reduced effect of gravity since you are landing higher than your take off point. Think of when you jump, you go up and you come back down. Jumping up to a box obviously means your coming down part is shorter than the going up part, hence less of an effect of gravity on the landing. When you jump over an object your takeoff and landing will be at the same level and if you jump off an object there is a higher effect of gravity since your landing is lower than where you takeoff. Basically we manage this aspect of exercise intensity depending on safety and strength (which go hand in hand with eachother).

The second point is more sciency. The Stretch-shortening cycle is basically a physiological mechanism that allows your muscles to briefly store energy from a preceding movement to make the proceeding movement happen with less muscular demand. Using it is driven by the nervous system, so yes, we can train it. Oftentimes though athletes need to learn how to use this mechanism to be a benefit to their performance so we would start by doing consecutive jumps with a little bounce between that way theres not an excessive force absorbing demand on the muscles. Because the SSC happens very quickly, we just need to make individuals able to use it effectively — we can’t just throw them into the fire with the most advanced drill and hope their bodies will catch up before an injury happens.
Back to the progression — it will look like the above stage moving to consecutive jumps at a lower height which increases (think – jumping off a higher and higher box over time, or over higher hurdles — these make it more difficult to use the SSC efficiently).

Anyways I’m no Bill Nye the Science Guy (who remembers that great man??!!), but I hope you enjoyed this semi-science lesson on plyometrics. The reason I covered progressions is because most people generally can find where to start, but then results stop because they don’t progress difficulty or change things up.

Anyways its good to be back. With work starting up again in a couple weeks after school is finished, it should be nearing an exciting time for the blog since I’ll have much more hands-on stuff to write about!

CB

Earlier this week on one of the fitness websites/blogs I read on a regular basis, there was a discussion on the possibility that in New Jersey a bill mgiht be passed that will make becoming a trainer a lot more difficult and costly. Needless to say many responses involved current trainers who had an issue about this since they already believed they have put forth their own effort to raise the level of professionalism of the fitness industry, and I pretty much agreed with them. One of the big issues with the proposed bill besides increasing the difficulty of entry into the industry was that the bill would also limit our scope of practice which I again disagreed with since I beleive training is more than just instructing resistance training exercises — we do mobility, flexibility, basic nutrition, etc.

Not actually living in Jersey, I know that eventually this would become a matter in Canada since as we all know “what happens in America affects Canada”. I could see it just cascading to Canada after some more state governments climbed on board with this bill.

Back to the bill. Then this morning I read this article about those worst-case scenarios where some trainers really do some damage to clients (often during the first session with them).

Here’s the link >> Is Working Out the Newest Health Threat?

After reading this and remembering some of the idiotic things some trainers have done out there, I can’t help but be for the licensing to regulate the industry. Just for the sake of people who might run into these stupidly preventable situations in the future. If we can prevent fools like this from entering the industry or at least making them better educated before they work with a client, then I definitely cannot be opposed to that!

CB