Monday, February 17, 2014

Lessons Learned from Westside Seminar

This past Saturday I took the time to attend the Westside Athletic Development Seminar in Grove City.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, Westside Barbell has produced the strongest people in the world under the expertise of Louie Simmons.   Although the training at Westside is mostly geared towards the sport of powerlifting, Louis has also consulted with and trained many athletes ranging from track and field to the NFL.  The seminar outlined Louie's philosophies and methods and a major part of it was dedicated towards strength and conditioning for athletes of all sports.  I have been studying the Westside methods for years now, but I felt it was the right time to really dive into the information with a group of like minded strength coaches.

Louie's system of training is called the Conjugate Method and consists of Max Effort Work, Dynamic Effort work, jumps and assistance work.   Each week there is a Max Effort Upper body day and a Max Effort Lower body day.   Exercises are rotated each week   (bench variations for upper, squat and deadlift variations for lower) and the goal is to always beat your 1 rep max on the chosen lift.   Its always 1....no sets of 2, 3 or 5.    ONE!     Louie was emphatic about this....    "You can't do 6 good reps at a weight worth lifting!" he said.   Once you break a personal record, max effort lifting for the day is over.

Dynamic Effort lifts are again bench and squat or deadlift variations and are performed with 40% to 60% of the 1 rep max for sets of 2 to 3 reps.   Chains and bands are added for accommodating resistance and the goal is bar speed at .7 to .9 meters per second.  You would need advance equipment to measure that precisely, so if you stick to the percentages of your max and progress, everything will be fine.

Jumps are cycled in throughout the week.   Jumps are performed with weights, without weights, to boxes and from the knees.   Jumping is speed strength and essential for athletic performance.

Assistance work comprises of 80% of their weekly training.   Basically you find your weakness and work on it at the end of each of the 4 main lifting days.   Hamstings, glutes, triceps, upper back and abs are the main focus of assistance work.

Here are a number of learning points I took away from seminar.

1.  Rule of 3

Louie is heavily Soviet influenced when it comes to his training philosophies and he talked about the youth training and the Rule of 3 in Russia.   Basically, all youth athletes in Russia have to dedicate 3 years to GPP  - general physical preparedness before they specialize in a sport.    Translation:   there is no year round baseball training for 12 year olds!

2. Everything works, but nothing works forever

Exercises must be rotated every 3 weeks or less to avoid overtraining and to continue to make strength gains.   This notion condemns the conventional Clean, Squat, Bench week in and week out for ever and ever strength program.   If you want training to go stale, do the same thing over and over again.

3  You must recover from intense training

72 hours separated the Dynamic Lower body day and the Max Effort Lower body day.  The same goes for the two upper body days.    Sled work and other forms of training are used at the end of workouts to restore the body, not to continue to break it down.  


One of the most popular slogans at Westside is "Often Imitated, Never Duplicated."   After spending  2 hours at Westside on Sunday, I would agree 100% with that slogan.  I would be crazy to even attempt to duplicate what they do with my athletes.    Keep in mind, that 90% of the kids I train are not even close to ready for that type of programming  - hence the rule 3! 

I left the seminar on Sunday very confident that I have been doing the right things with my athletes.  I have been a firm believer in foundational training for youth athletes  (GPP, rule of 3) and not trying to specialize them with advanced "sport specific" training methods.   I began experimenting with the Westside model with some of my advanced high school and college athletes and it has paid off big time with performance results.   Like anything else, the key is taken the information Louie provided and making it work in my setting.








Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lacrosse Pre Season Training

We are a few weeks away from the start of spring practice for my high school lacrosse clients.   To save time and essentially "kill 2 birds with 1 stone", I like to combine agility work with plyometrics.   Below is a drill we used this Friday.







Friday, November 8, 2013

Postural Restoration at Soar Fitness

For years I have been searching for the solution to the problem of crooked squatting that I see with a lot of my athletes.  After watching kids squat for years, it seems like a lot of them have the tendency to lean to the right.   I knew it was wrong and I knew that there had to be a way to fix it, but how?   The answer ended up being the Postural Restoration Institute.  After months of deliberating, I finally decided to enroll in the PRI Myokinematic Restoration Home Study course.   After two weeks of intense video watching and studying, I can honestly say that it was by far the best continuing education course I have ever taken.  The course I took involved a ton of in depth information about the body, so I will do my best to give you the major points of it in the simplest way possible. 

Below are the major points that I took from the course. 

1.  The Left Anterior Chain  (AIC) is the pattern that this course addresses.   A person in Left AIC, will have a forwardly rotated left pelvis, left foot pointed out and most of their body weight on the right leg.   How many people do you see that stand like this?



2.  The goal of the program is to get some muscles working that are "shut off" and more importantly inhibiting some muscles that are overworking.

3. After a series of tests, the protocol to reverse the AIC pattern is to first reposition the pelvis.  Once that is accomplished, a series of exercises are used to strengthen the Left Adductor group, the Left Glute Medius and the Right Glute Max.  After a certain level of strength is achieved, exercises that integrate all of the above muscles are introduced.

So how is this really going to help my clients?

1.  At lot of athletes experience general back pain because of poor posture.   By introducing these exercises, we can get some muscles working and other muscles to calm down.  Feel better, play better!

2. Internal rotation of the hip is crucial for speed and power and lot of athletes lack that range of motion  - especially on the left side.   The PRI course addresses this issue with a simple progression of exercises.

3.  This seems to be the solution to a lot of the ugly squatting patterns that I have seen over the years.  Fixing that will help with #1 and 2 as well.

So far, I have used the PRI methods with a few advanced and beginner level clients with great success.   One of my pro football prospects has already taken a tenth of his 10 yard sprint time with just 2 weeks of PRI exercises!  As time goes on, my goal is to find the easiest way to implement these exercises into our weekly group training sessions.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Importance of Grip Strength

Why do our athletes perform weighted carry variations on a weekly basis? Why do we preach strong grip on every exercise? Watch the video to find out.




Friday, August 23, 2013

Hip Mobility

This weeks video blog focuses on the importance of hip mobility. Whether you are a sprinting, squatting or jumping, if your hip mobility stinks, your performance will suffer.




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Importance of Ankle Moblity

There is a reason why we start every session at Soar with ankle mobility drills - the ankle is the last link in the chain between the body and the ground. If you lack ankle mobility, you lack the ability to put force into the ground. Watch the video to listen to me discuss this topic further.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Look at this Summer's Training

Its been a busy summer as usual at Soar Fitness. Lots of college athletes preparing to go back to school, high school athletes preparing for college camps and junior high athletes working their asses off to get better. More clients means less blogs and newsletters from me - so here are some short videos of what we have been doing this summer. For 3 weeks, we focused on horizontal power with a mix of broad jumps, sled pushes and sprints.

Of course, we are always working on lateral acceleration and deceleration. In this video, we are mixing it up with a tennis ball drill in one of our general strength and conditioning classes.

The 4th of July holiday week always throws a wrench in our college training schedule, so it always a great time to bust out a circuit of non - traditional exercises. In this video, you will see a pro lax player, a variety of college football and lax players and a high school football player getting after it.

Prior to the circuit, we mixed in some acceleration and deceleration work with quick feet plyometrics.


And last but certainly not least - we are always working on power!

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