Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Linear speed workout

This is the linear speed workout that various athletes performed before their lift yesterday.

Foam roll/Dynamic Warm - up

Band resisted footwork on agility ladder

Single and double leg quick hops on ladder

10yd band resisted sprint followed immediately by a 10 yd. sprint. 5 sets, 1 minute rest between

10 yard sprint, 5 yard backpedal, accelerate into a 10 yard sprint x 4 1 minute rest.

I like doing the resisted sprints in conjunction with regular sprints because it gives the athlete and over - speed feel. When they sprint with the band, I want aggressive knee and arm drive while they maintain the proper body angle. I then want to see the same thing when they do the regular sprints and the acceleration drill with the backpedal.

This is just one example of many different linear speed workouts that are done at SOAR. Notice that all sprints are kept to 10 yards.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Less is More

I have been designing strength and conditioning programs for athletes for 7 years now. Although my coaching style has not changed much through the years, my programming certainly has. I don't think that any of my programs in the past were not good programs, I just started to realize that I was trying to do to much. Athletes that trained 4 days a week with me were doing speed and agility two days per week and high intensity jumping 2 days per week in conjunction with their lifting programs. Over- training was a line that I never wanted to cross and I thought my programs were set up to avoid that. My athletes got stronger and faster - but I was not satisfied. I read and researched what the top strength and conditioning coaches in the world were doing. Some were doing things just as I was doing them, but some coaches who I highly respect were starting to do some things differently. I bought in - and it has paid off tremendously.

Athletes that train 4 times a week with me now perform high intensity jumping and sprinting/agility twice per week on Days 1 and 3. They also do their Olympic Lifting and leg work (squats, lunges, ect.) on those days as well. They do a double leg lift on one of those days and a single leg on the other day. Posterior chain work (hamstring, butt, low back) is done on those days a well. On Days 2 and 4 we only do some light agility ladder footwork and lateral hopping before they do there heavy upper body work. This gives my athletes more time to recover between high intensity leg workouts. For my athletes that train 3 days per week, the program is broken down differently but days 1 and 3 are still the high intensity days. I can honestly say that this is the most satisfied I have ever been with my programs.

Back when I was a student teacher through Ohio State, my mentor teacher John Blaine told me "Never be satisfied that you are doing the best job possible." Those are words that I have lived by and really apply to this situation. I knew I was doing a good job, but I also knew that I could do a better job. The changes really paid off when I saw a number of my high school football clients receiving All - District and All - State honors.

I would like to thank some of the top strength coaches in the world for helping me see the "light". If you would like to learn more about speed and strength for athletes, I would highly recommend searching the following names - Mike Boyle, Lee Taft, Joe DeFranco and Jason Ferruggia. One of the best things you can do is learn the philosophies of different coaches and begin to shape your own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Bench Press

It is the time of year that most high school weight rooms open up for football players....it should be open for all athletes but we will save that topic for another day. What is the most popular exercise?......the bench press of course. It was the most popular exercise when I was in high school and its the most popular exercise you see in any commercial gym.

I love the bench, but it is not the end all be all of upper body lifting. Here are a few principles I use when designing strength programs.

1.IF we barbell bench in a program, we only do it once a week. There is no reason to bench twice per week.

2. Every few weeks, we substitute another horizontal press for bench press. This keeps workouts fresh and helps eliminate plateaus. We will use DB's or mix up our grips.

3. Vertical presses such as Military press and Push press must be done as well. You must press in the horizontal plane and the vertical plane.

4. This is most important. For every press, there must be a pull. We do pull ups, horizontal pull ups, seated rows, Lat pull downs and many many others. If you do a ton of pressing and little pulling, YOU WILL experience shoulder pain. Have you ever seen guys walk around with huge chests and their shoulder rotated inwards? That is a guy that didn't do any pulling and a ton of benching. HUGE MISTAKE!

Again, I love the bench. I am all for athletes benching a lot of weight. But some things must be done to ensure the body is the strongest it possibly can be.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Olympic Lifting Made Easy

Like most strength and conditioning coaches, I use a variety of Olympic Lifts in my programs for athletes. The most popular Olympic Lift that is used in most school programs is the Power Clean or the Hang Clean. If you are not familiar, the Power Clean is performed with the weight starting on the floor and the Hang Clean is performed with the athlete holding the bar about knee height. I love Hang Cleans, but they are one of the most difficult lifts to teach. I usually use an 8 week progression before a high school athlete starts to Hang Clean in my program.

The Power Clean - often seen in football strength programs - is an even more complicated lift. In my opinion, its almost impossible for some athletes to get into the proper position to START a Power Clean, let alone perform the actual lift safely. The only time I have an athlete Power Clean is because I know they will have to perform the lift when they move on to play college sports. I know a number of high school kids each year experience L5 back fractures due to improper power clean technique.

The bottom line is if your athlete can't squat well, then they most definitely cannot perform a power clean. Most high school basketball players with very long femurs fit into this category. As a whole, it is difficult for any coach to teach and supervise any version of the Clean to a group of young athletes.

So here is my suggestion.....if you are not comfortable teaching the clean and your athletes just are not getting it right, then do not put them in your program. There are many alternatives to the Clean that are just as effective in developing power in athletes. So instead of spending hours and weeks trying to train an inexperienced lifter to be an Olympic Lifter, try this lift in the video below. The DB Snatch is by far my favorite Olympic style lift and most kids can learn it in 5 minutes. It's also a great lift for adults to do!

Friday, November 13, 2009

What is speed training?

100% of the people who call for information say that they want to get faster - or they want their child to get faster. Along with getting stronger, speed and agility instruction is the sure way to improve speed. But what is speed training?

Speed drills involve sprinting or multi- directional movements for a 2 - 8 second duration. Rest periods in between sets is crucial and should be at least 30 seconds. If the body does not recover, then you cannot run at top speed - then you are not getting faster. A solid speed training regimen include about 2 - 3 sessions per week for about a 45 minute duration. I highly recommend at least one full day of rest in between high intensity speed days, ideally I would like to see two. This allows not only for the muscles to rest, but also the Central Nervous System to recover. I won't bore you with a ton of scientific information, but if you want to learn how to truly train athletes for speed, then you should research how the Central Nervous System is affected by high intensity training.

Speed training is not : Running 400s or 800s

Jogging around your neighborhood

Running suicides until you puke

Running on a treadmill

I think you get the idea. The above can either be considered conditioning or long distance running. There is a place for conditioning, but don't mistake it for true speed training. In my opinion, long distance running for the speed athlete is just plain stupid. If you enjoy going on a run with the family every now and then, that's fine. But, making it a consistent part of your training week will accomplish one thing -being slow!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No Pain....No Gain?

We have all heard the popular cliches before..."No Pain, No Gain" and "Pain is Weakness". I have heard coaches, parents and athletes say them to me all the time. Lets take a closer look at what these quotes actually mean.

First of all, let's determine what pain is. According to Webster's dictionary, pain is defined as: suffering or distress of body or mind, also : a sensation marked by discomfort. Does that sound like something that will help you gain?

Now I am not trying to create a generation of athletes that can't workout because they stubbed their finger or because their brother hit them in the hip with a whiffle ball bat. That's not really pain. That is one of the few occasions when its acceptable to utter those popular words, "suck it up". For the purposes of this rant, let's separate pain (being injured, hurt or having something wrong with the body) from being nicked up or a little sore. Let's also agree that pain is not being winded from a conditioning sprint or feeling like your arms will fall off from a set of max rep push ups.

Pain means there is something wrong that needs to be fixed.

Let's just take a look at a common "pain" we see at SOAR from our youth clients on a daily basis - knee pain. Aside from the obvious tears, sprains and strains, kids can experience knee pain from growing, from being weak in the hips or having poor flexibility. The very first thing we do is determine what hurts it and what does not. We live by a very simple principle at SOAR: If it hurts, don't do it.

Once we determine what hurts it, we begin to put a program together to help eliminate the pain. It usually involves hip, hamstring and glute strengthening and flexibility work. The exercises we usually cut out are jumping, high intensity sprinting/agility and squatting to a depth that causes pain. On a weekly basis, we ask the client how the knee feels and add or subtract exercises accordingly. The whole goal is to eliminate the pain, then build from there. The growing body is a quite a puzzle. A good trainer must learn when to its appropriate to move forward, and when its necessary to take a few steps back.

After years of training athletes, I am starting to think that "No Pain, No Gain" is possibly the most senseless thing ever said. Think about it. If you are in pain when you are training, are you gaining? No, you are making the problem worse.

So I am starting a crusade to change some of the most popular cliches of all time. How about, "Pain, No Gain" or "Pain Means There is a Weakness". You probably won't see them on a poster any time soon, but it is definitely food for thought.

Friday, November 6, 2009

In - Season Basketball Lifting

Basketball try-outs have either started or are about to begin. For my clients who play hoops, there is no need for speed and agility development during the season due to the amount of stress that basketball places on the body. We do encourage our clients to come to see us at least 1 - 2 times per week during the season. This is a template of what the workout looks like.

Foam roll - to help with recovery and flexibility
Dynamic warm -up
Hip Mobility and Ankle mobility work

Explosive exercise - depends on the kid and how they feel on that given day
Core/Rotational exercise

Upper body Push - vertical or horizontal - we alternate between workouts
1 or 2 Leg exercise - low volume - 3 sets of 4 - 8 reps

Upper body pull - same as pushing - we alternate between vertical and horizontal
Posterior chain exercise - for the glutes, hamstrings and lower back - we alternate between straight leg and bent leg

We then may add some abs or arms depending on our time frame and the athletes schedule

All sessions end with some type of flexibility work.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What can hinder multi - directional speed?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to improving multi-directional speed in athletes. Keeping the feet moving, setting up shin angles properly and turning the hips are all concepts that we teach at SOAR on a weekly basis. One component of agility that is often overlooked is the position of the shoulders.........Yes the shoulders!

This video will show you exactly what I mean.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Off- Season Football Training

Football season will be over soon for most kids except for the high school players who will be participating in the playoffs. A lot of my football clients will be itching to get back to training - some of them have already started.

For my youth - junior high players, we just continue to build on the foundation that was established in prior programs. We take a look at any nagging injuries and aches and pains and try to eliminate them with corrective exercises. Other than that, the goal is pretty simple - develop proper technique and progress from there. Since most of these kids play basketball, baseball, hockey, ect., I may only see them for a short period of time and then they are right back to a season.

It seems that most of my high school football players do not play another sport - if they play basketball or wrestle I don't see them till spring. Taken that into consideration, there is no hurry to get into intense speed training, plyometrics and conditioning. We have 7 months before summer training starts and 9 month until 2 a days. We are going to take the first month to re-establish proper techniques, correct weaknesses, improve flexibility and improve work capacity. In the strength and conditioning world, this phase is called General Preparation.

For the kids who I know will eventually have to work out with their team, we work on the lifts that will be performed at school. A lot of high school kids have trouble with back squats and power cleans, so my goal is to teach them these lifts to greatly reduce the risk of injury from doing them incorrectly. As I teach them, I look for the reason WHY they are not doing them correctly. Is it poor flexibility? Lack of core strength? Weak hips and glutes? I then assign exercises that will correct the weakness and allow them to perform the squat better. As the off- season moves into the new year, we will continue to check on technique even though they are still doing the lifts at school. It's simple - If you are not lifting correctly, you are not getting stronger!

Stay tuned to the blog and I will be posting video clips of the common exercises we use at SOAR for our football players.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beginner Power Training

Increasing vertical leap (lower body power) is one of the most desired training outcomes of the youth athletes I train. I have said before in a few newsletters that rushing into a poorly designed "jump program" is always a bad idea for youth athletes. Most young athletes are not strong enough to handle the impact that repetitive high intensity jumping places on the body. The outcome is usually knee and shin pain.

At SOAR, we use a progression of basic jumping and landing exercises for our beginner clients. As they become stronger, we begin to introduce more intense forms of plyometrics (jump training) and Olympic lifts. Below is a short video clip showing our most basic exercise for lower body power.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Faster or Stronger?

I get calls and emails every week from people who want information about our speed and agility classes. Many of them are surprised to hear that age appropriate strength training is also a mandatory part of the program. Some people even say "No, we just want the speed and agility." After providing some information about what our strength training program entails for youth, almost every person becomes interested.

Yes, the speed and agility instruction we provide goes a long way toward helping our young athletes improve their speed on the field and court. But the improved level of strength, power and flexibility they gain is just as important. For instance, have you ever been to a 6th grade girls basketball game? Have you seen numerous girls jumping and landing with their knees touching together? It does not look like a very powerful jump and it also looks like an injury waiting to happen! This is an exact example of why the strength training is as important as the speed training. For one, it will help decrease the risk of injury to the knees and other joints. For two, a stronger athlete is always a better athlete.

I will be providing youth training information weekly on this blog. If you are a youth coach or parent, spread the word.

You can go to http://www.soarofcolumbus.com for more information about our youth training.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tour of SOAR

Here is a short video clip about SOAR Fitness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welcome to Soar's Blog

SOAR Fitness strives to offer the most effective strength and conditioning programs to athletes of all levels and ages. For youth athletes ages 8 - 14, our focus is developing a sound foundation of speed, agility and strength technique. All sessions involve expert coaching and age appropriate drills and exercises. For high school to pro - level athletes, we use the most effective training protocols to have you in peak condition for your upcoming season. For more information, check out http://www.soarofcolumbus.com. Stay tuned to our blog for the latest information on youth training.

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