14 November 2013

Trainability

Trainability is a crucial factor when it comes to whether or not you will see young athletes make gains and improve in a strength & conditioning program. As we briefly described in Determining/Limiting Factors of Strength, Trainability refers to an individuals potential to develop strength. Each individuals response to a certain training protocol is determined largely due to genetic factors & predisposition to gain in hypertrophy, strength & power.

We thought it would help to understand the factors that contribute to whether or not an athlete is "trainable" when they arrive day 1 to begin training in your weight room. Let's look at it in terms of two examples of athletes who come into your program and how they stack up.

Athlete A - High level of trainability
Freshman Offensive Lineman,  6'3" 285lbs
Pre-Training Status / Level of Fitness - Lifted weights in a structured High School program and has a good level of special fitness in terms of being able to handle training loads greater than bodyweight
- Optimal limb length & mechanical leverage across each joint
- Good proportion / ratio of fast twitch (type IIA & IIB) vs slow twitch (type I) muscle fibers
- No pre-existing injuries
- Motivated

Athlete B - Low level of trainability
Freshman Offensive Lineman, 6'6" 315lbs
Pre-Training Status / Level of Fitness - Minimal training experience with a qualified coach and a low level of special fitness, struggles to handle own bodyweight (push-ups, squats, lunges, pull-ups)
- Long limbs, disadvantageous leverage characteristics for squatting & weightlifting
- Greater proportion of slow twitch muscle fibers
- Injury prone, lingering injuries from high school

These are two great examples of what we see coming into our program. Obviously, all athletes do not fall all the way to the A or B side of the spectrum and there are many different and unique cases in between. These two examples help to illustrate the qualities that make up whether or not an athlete is "trainable." An athlete who has not had much experience training, which we refer to as a low or young training age, is going to be at a disadvantage in comparison to an an athlete who comes from a structured high school program.

When it is all said and done, "trainable" or not, our job as Strength Professionals is to help each and every athlete maximize their potential on the playing field. If an athlete is unable to Squat or Clean due to their inability to get in the proper position to achieve the desired results, we have diagnose and fix the problem, or find another way to get them strong & powerful. This does not mean you have to sacrifice your program or dumb it down for athletes who do not "feel" like Squatting or Cleaning. The benefits of "Why?", need to be clearly explained & presented so you can get them to understand the big picture and buy in to the program. When the athlete's trust that what we are doing is going to help them be successful, their potential for growth is exponential. PTG!

13 November 2013

Determining/Limiting Factors: High School Perspective

We received a great email from Chelsea High School Strength Coach (MI), Adam Taylor, regarding issues he faces at the high school level regarding determining/limiting factors of strength. Good points and perspective from someone who is impacting young athletes at a crucial point of development and growth in their athletic careers. Thanks AT!

After reading the latest post on PTG I have a few Q's and thoughts.  

Different but same limiting factors:

Neuromuscular Efficiency - This is an easy one, skill sets and athleticism is all over the spectrum unlike where you guys are.  An ever evolving process in the 4 yrs we get them. There is a lot of this for you guys as well, but not quite as much as we see.

Biomechanical Efficiency-  This is a crazy one for kids that are constantly acclimating to the growth spurts or that grow extremely fast and are very long as a 9th grader, but physically mature at a fast rate when combining strength training. Once again similar to you guys, but 18 yrs old is a big difference from 14, lol.

Psychological Factors-  This the one that can be frustrating.  To "Trust the Process" might be the largest limiting factor there is if everything is equal .  For a student to understand that they are going to be "ok" during and after a difficult workout or conditioning session, is a challenge when also adding immaturity.  Once students start to "trust the process" or trust the people they are working with, that is when I believe the gains that were to believed unattainable become attainable.  We are lucky here at Chelsea for the most part by the time kids get to the end of their soph year they trust, I also think that is why we have so many undersized / average athletes and we are still successful, but there are always 2-5 kids that continue to want to stay in the "Comfort zone"  not willing to become uncomfortable.   

Hope both of you are doing well, 

I know that you already know all of this, but thought I would drop and email coming from a HS setting.

AT
 

06 November 2013

Determining/Limiting Factors of Strength

Getting athletes stronger seems like a simple process: employ solid strength movements and exercises in your program and progressively increase the load. Can you break it down in a more simple equation that that? The problem is that there are so many factors that either contribute or limit the development of strength. Supertraining lays all these factors out for our understanding and benefit. Without a full grasp of what influences the production of strength and fitness, you will not be able to maximize the gains your athletes will see in your program. Here are the factors and descriptions from Verkhoshansky (p.11-14):

Trainability
- This refers to an individuals potential to develop strength. Each individuals response to a certain training protocol is determined largely due to genetic factors & predisposition to gain in hypertrophy, strength & power.

Neuromuscular Efficiency
- The skill with which one executes a given movement and relates to how efficiently and intensely an athlete recruits muscle fibers and muscle groups to initiate the movement pattern accurately & powerfully.

Biomechanical Efficiency
- Genetic factors such as leverage characteristics, relative strength of different muscle groups controlling the movement of each limb and neuromuscular efficiency which orchestrates all movement patterns.

Psychological Factors
- Sport performance depends heavily on factors such as: motivation, aggression, concentration, focus or attention, ability to tolerate pain or sustain effort, ability to cope with anxiety or stress, attitudes towards events or participants, attitude toward winning and losing, learning ability, attitude, mood state, personality, etc...

Pain and Fear of Pain
- Pain of injury is a protective response to any activity which is causing or has caused damage to some system of the body.
- Pain of effort is not necessarily a result of injury, but refers to one's personal interpretation of the intensity of a given effort. (RPE = Rating of Perceived Effort)

Injury and Fear of Injury
-An athletes return to competition or top level performance will occur only if the athlete perceives the rehabilitation process to be complete and fear of pain or re-injury is minimal.

Fatigue
- Fatigue determines ones ability to sustain a specific type of effort or intensity. Managing levels of fatigue also determines recovery and adaptation to training.

We will dive deeper into each one of these determining/limiting factors of strength in upcoming posts. Please feel free to send us questions or comments. PTG!

31 October 2013

We're coming back!

We have taken a year long hiatus and it is time to get back to work. We got into this profession due to the influence Strength & Conditioning has had on our lives and athletic careers. We have been impacted by countless sport and Strength Coaches and have a passion to help young Athletes maximize their abilities. We are in this profession to impact young men and do all that we can to help them have success in sports but more importantly in life. It is our job as Strength Coaches to take the information and lessons we have learned along the way and share it with other aspiring Strength Professionals who are always looking to improve their craft. Stay tuned for better content and more practical/useful information on a new and improved PTG!

19 October 2012

Force Production: The Clean


We introduce the Clean by preaching the benefits of developing power & how it directly applies to the field for our Athletes. Football is a fast & violent sport that is won by the TEAM that is faster & more powerful. Simply presenting the benefits of the Clean is the easy part. Getting the Athletes to "buy in" & actually perform the desired technique of the Clean is where the work really begins. We feel that the best way for us to progress the Clean is by drilling and teaching our Athletes the positions they will be in throughout the entire movement. It is a mistake to attempt to teach the full movement prior to 1st learning how to:

Initial Set‑Up

‑ Foot placement should be hip width to slightly outside, toes slightly turned out.
‑ Grip placement on the barbell should be thumbs width from the hip & firmly secured with the thumb around the barbell. The hook grip can also be used where the thumb is wrapped around the bar and squeezed by the index & middle fingers. This grip is more advanced and used primarily with Olympic Weightlifters.

Starting position

‑ As you pull yourself down into position, take in a breath & hold it as you would to brace your abdominals.  Your back should be flat w/ shoulder blades pulled down & back, chest covering the bar & shoulders slightly ahead of the barbell. Your weight should be evenly distributed in your foot w/ slightly more pressure in the heel.

1st Pull

‑ During the initial pull in the Clean, your hips & shoulders should be rising together as you are actively "sweeping" the barbell into your body, pushing your knees back slightly as the bar continues its upward path & passes the knee. The 1st Pull should be controlled & patient. A fast or uncontrolled 1st pull will tend to get the Athlete leaning forward which alters the optimal transfer of weight as we transition into the 2nd Pull.

(Drills: Lift to the knee, pause & lower back into starting position on Coaches command)

Transition

‑ All the stored elastic energy developed throughout the 1st Pull & Transition in the hamstrings and glutes is about to be unleashed! The Transition or Scoop phase of the Clean involves the involuntary reflex or double knee bend where the hamstrings and glutes contract & help to extend the hip. This is something that happens naturally and we do not attempt to coach.

2nd Pull

‑ This is the "meat" of the entire Clean. All of the preceding steps in the Clean have lead you to this Power or Jump position where it all goes down. As the hamstrings and glutes have violently contracted to help extend the hip, you are forcefully driving your feet through the platform or as we say, "Push The Ground!" You are pushing the ground away from you in order to accelerate the barbell.
 
(Drills: High Hang pulls or jumps with PVC or barbell, Rack or Block pulls)

The Catch or 3rd Pull

‑ The continued momentum & shrug that accompanies the 2nd pull is what allows you to "pull" yourself underneath the bar & finish the Clean. After the 2nd pull, the barbell ceases to accelerate and you must accelerate your body underneath the barbell by actively pulling into the receiving or Front Squat position.

 (Drills: Front Squat to familiarize with position, Muscle Cleans for quicker turnover)

 

This is just a brief description of the intricacies and mechanics of the Clean. You can go much further in depth in explaining the bio mechanics of the movement and further breaking down drills to improve technique. There are many great resources that we continue to seek out and learn from on a daily basis. The Clean is an extremely complex but beautiful expression of strength and power that is a vital component or cornerstone to any strength program.
 
Check out these resources for further explanation & drills for the Clean as well as other Olympic lifts: Catalyst Athletics, Mike Burgener, & USA Weightlifting
 
 
Keep Pushing...PTG!

17 September 2012

Forging Mental Toughness: Military Elite


Training elite Athletes physically and mentally is the business we are in as Strength & Conditioning professionals. To be successful in College Football you must push your players to the point where they are the most hardened and sharpened Athletes that step on the field Saturday afternoons. It is not enough to just assume that as you get them “Bigger, Faster & Stronger”, you will experience immediate success on the field. There is another component that must be trained, the mental component.

Our elite Military personnel are not the elite because they are the most physically gifted and talented individuals. They are elite because they choose to hold themselves to a different standard. They are elite because they subject themselves to training that the “regular” guy would not even dream of experiencing. They train for life and death situations in order to protect what, we as Americans, take for granted. On a daily basis, they protect and ensure our daily way of life here in the United States.

How does this draw any parallels to Sports and training Athletes?

We are doing our Athletes a disservice if we are only training them physically. Our job is to create situations in our training that simulate the hardship and struggle that will surely arise in the heat of competition. Through these trials that we lay in front of our Athletes, the goal is to help forge their character and will to succeed and overcome adversity. Our aim is to forge a brotherhood during the Winter & Summer phases of our training.

The U.S. Navy SEALs have a motto on their website, “Alone I am LETHAL. As a TEAM we DOMINATE.” Individually & collectively, they epitomize what it means to be elite. They are a brotherhood that fights for the man standing beside them, no matter the situation. They reach this point through the shared trials and situations they are drilled in, over and over, each and every day. They embrace any challenge that is set before them and take it head on without reservation.

That is what we want out of our TEAM. In the course of events in a Football game, just as in life, there will be numerable moments where things do not go as planned. There will be things that go horribly wrong and setbacks, which may be unfair or unwarranted, without action will cause you to lose or fail. Having a steel resolve and focus when confronted with these type situations is what helps you overcome. It is what makes the seemingly impossible or insurmountable obstacles in your path attainable.
Keep pushing...PTG!

13 September 2012

Training Injured Athletes

Throughout the course of the Football season, we are encountered with various injuries that force us to make alterations to an Athletes lifting program. Hands and wrists are a common issue for all of our Football players and although they are limited, they still must continue to train. The Pendulum series of machines from Rogers Athletic allow us to safely train our injured Athletes throughout the season. There are no drops in strength due to the ability to load our Athletes and strength train them effectively. Check out these 3 machines and other great products at Rogers Athletic.
Darl & Chad training on our new Power Squat Pro.

  • Power Squat Pro

This machine allows us to laod an Athlete as close as we can to a regular Squat, taking in consideration any wrist or hand issue they might be experiencing. If the Athlete is experiencing any shoulder, low back or lower extremity issues, this is not the machine we would use. We instead would use either the Pendulum Hip Press or Seated Squat Pro to achieve the training results we were looking for.







  • Squat Pro
The seated version of the Squat Pro gives us a machine where we can train both bi-laterally and uni-laterally. Some lower body injuries are not trainable unless you have a machine where you can isolate the healthy leg. This machine is also a great strengthening tool when re-habbing Athletes that are coming off surgery and a great way to progress their strength levels in the attempt to re-integrate them back into the general training population.



  • Hip Press
The Hip Press is a machine that we use not only for injured Athletes but also for our lineman. In-season, maintaining strength levels is important especially when the play up front on both sides of the ball dictates the tone and outcome of every game. The Hip Press allows us to load our lineman with heavier load while taking the some of the load off of their spine. Low back pain or tightness are common in-season and we want to avoid contributing to that as much as we can but still get good strength training in.

Keep pushing...PTG!

27 August 2012

Snatch for Football: In-Season

As we transition into training Football in-season, there have to be special consideratioons made in regards to continued training and application of the Snatch. Keeping our Athletes healthy and explosive is our primary concern so we still want to train for power/force production and use Olympic movements. Training the Snatch in-season can be done but we prefer to use pull variations to avoid putting our Athletes in that overhead position considering all the wear and tear they are getting on the field. Shoulder and wrist/hand issues are common throughout the season so we want to avoid adding stress to those structures when we can. Here are some of the variations we use that help us remain fast and explosive in-season.

  • Snatch Pull

  • Snatch Pull (from blocks)

Another alternative exercise that we use along with the Snatch in-season is the Vertimax. If an Athlete has a hand issue where he can no longer grab and hold onto a barbell, the Vertimax is a good tool to use. It is important to coach a solid landing position and control the volume of reps being done.

Let us know if you use these or any other variants of the Snatch.
Keep pushing...PTG!

15 August 2012

London 2012 Gold Medal Shoes

The two heavyweights when it comes to athletic footwear are Nike and Adidas. Both companies make a great shoe but are no doubt in competition to gain a stranglehold on Weightlifting shoes. With Weightlifting growing in popularity due to better access of coverage in London and increased interest in the sport due to CrossFit, this is a market with room for growth in the United States.

In what were hotly contested battles on the platform in London, Adidas edged out Nike in the amount of Gold medals won in Weightlifting competition. There were 5 new WR's set by Athletes sporting the Nike Romaleos to 1 WR set while wearing Adidas. Here are the results for both.

Adidas: 6 Gold Medals

Womens
  • 53kg - Zulfiya CHINSHANLO - Kazakstahn (WR C&J 131kg / OR Total 226kg)
  • 63kg - Maiya MANEZA - Kazakstahn (OR Total 245kg)
  • 75kg - Svetlana PODOBEDOVA - Kazakstahn (OR C&J 161kg / OR Total 291kg)
Mens
  • 85kg - Adrian ZIELINSKI - Poland
  • 105kg - Oleksiy TOROKHITY - Ukraine
  • +105kg - Behdad SALIMIKORDASIABI - Iran

Nike: 5 Gold Medals

Womens
  • 58kg - LI Xueying - China (OR Snatch 108kg / OR Total 246kg)
  • +75kg - ZHOU Lulu - China (OR C&J 187 kg / WR Total 333kg)
Mens
  • 69kg - LIN Qingfeng - China
  • 77kg - LU Xiaojun - China (WR Snatch 175kg / WR Total 379kg)
  • 94kg - Ilya ILYIN - Kazakstahn (WR C&J 233 / WR Total 418kg)