Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just Another Case for Getting Stronger

One of my college softball clients came into the gym the other day with the kind of news that I love to hear.

 Her:  Guess What?

Me:  What?

Her:   I ran the fastest 20 yard sprint time on the team the other day at testing.

Me:  Not surprising  - but nice work!

So what did I have her do this summer that brought about this increase in speed?

Mondays  -    run 50's 100s and 200s

Tuesdays -  Total body strength circuit

Wednesdays   -  Run Stadium Stairs until her legs felt like they would fall off

Thursdays  - Core

Fridays  - Long distance running

If you believe that, then surely you have never read my blogs thoroughly before.   That would be a recipe for being the slowest and weakest girl on the team.  Unfortunately there are way too many female athletes training like that for power sports just as softball.

Not hitting many homeruns this season!

What did I really have one of my longest standing clients do this summer?

First of all, she had a lot of conflicts with work this summer that shortened  our sessions.   There were some weeks that we didn't have any time for speed work  (if time is an issue, I always go for strength work over speed.)   For the most part, she made it to the gym 3x per week from June to mid - September.   Here is a overview of what her weekly workouts looked like:

-   Full Dynamic Warm up each day

- Linear, vertical and lateral plyometrics

- Sled pushes, sled resisted sprints and short burst sprints  (when we had time).   At no point did she sprint over 20yards.

- MB throws, weighted jumps and snatchs

-  Dead lifts and squats  - both max effort and dynamic

-Single leg lifts and posterior chain  exercises

- Upper body presses and pulls.

-  Core work  (bridging, chops and other necessities)

  This is just another case of an athlete maximizing their training time in the off-season by getting stronger.  The strength and power that she gained transferred right onto the field for fall ball. What's great about this case is that we have all winter to get even stronger and more powerful!

Are you a coach looking for the same results for your team in the off -season? 

Are you unsure of how to put together a proper strength and power program for your team?

Look no further than Soar Team Strength!   

Imagine if you had all our exercises and programs at your fingertips.   The best part is that all workouts can be performed in any high school or college weight room.

Here is an example of a Soar Team Strength video from our exercise library.


If you know any team that needs to gain strength and power, then they probably need a complete overhaul of their off -season program.   Please pass this blog onto any coach that is willing to make a change for the better.

Soar Team Strength

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Improving Your Bench Press

It's no secret  - every man that lifts weights wants to get stronger at the bench.   Almost every high school kid I train is obsessed with their bench press max.   I have said it before  - bench press max determined who suited up for varsity football at my high school!

As a strength and conditioning coach, I am fully aware that bench press does not have a whole lot to do with performance on the field or court.  Vertical leap, sprint time, conditioning shuttles, pull ups and squat/deadlift max are probably much better indicators of who the best athletes are.   However, it is never a bad thing to be really strong in the upper body.   Even if you are a weekend warrior or a fitness enthusiast   - getting stronger should always be your focus in the gym.

The video below will show you a few basic mistakes that I see most kids and adults make when they bench press.   If you are looking for specific power lifting advice, I would seek advice elsewhere from the many power lifting experts available on line.   If you have been benching the same weight for the last two years and have never addressed your technique  - definitely watch this video.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

3 Questions Any Legit Trainer Should Answer Easily

 Walk into any large indoor sports complex and I guarantee that you will find some sort of SAQ or Sport Performance program.  Search online and you will find any person who was ever fast or big and they will give you their expertise for a price.   When I started this business 10 years ago, I could count on my hand the number of Strength and Conditioning businesses in Central OH.  In 2012, I can't count on my hand the number of Strength and Conditioning programs within 10 miles of me!

On top of that, more and more high school sport coaches are now providing strength and conditioning programs for their athletes.   I have heard of everything from popping in P90X DVDs to hiring sound Strength and Conditioning coaches.   I give any coach credit for taking time to try to help their athletes get stronger and faster.   Not all families can afford expert training and as a result the coach has to have something in place at the school. 

I am not saying this growth is a bad thing  - it definitely means that the fitness industry is growing by leaps and bounds.   However, there are a lot of pretenders out there.   A LOT!!!!  

I will give you a very simple analogy. 

I used to play baseball and I was pretty good.   I know how to hold a bat and swing it.   HOWEVER, I would be flat out stealing money from clients if I started giving hitting lessons in here.   Why?   Because I am a Strength Coach, not a Baseball Coach.

The opposite also applies.   There are a ton of coaches/trainers who were great athletes, ran fast and used to lift weights.   They have bench pressed and squatted before.   But, have they performed over 10,000 hours worth of research in the Strength and Conditioning field?

  In my opinion, ANYONE who is in charge of supervising lifting and conditioning sessions is a trainer.  It might not be there full time gig, but if they are training athletes a few times a week, they are a trainer to some degree.  

How can you tell if your trainer is legit?    Here are 3 very simple questions that any knowledgeable strength coach or trainer should be able to answer with ease.

1.   What is your warm up?

Acceptable answers:   Anything that has to do with mobility and elevating body temperature or heart rate.
Unacceptable answers:    Nothing,  jogging, static stretching or they are already warm from open gym 

A good trainer has a very sound warm up system.   If they can't tell you about it, they don't have one.

2. What is the template for your program?

There are a lot of right answers here.    It could be as simple as Upper body on Monday, Legs on Wednesday  and Total Body on Friday.   Whatever it is, the trainer should be able to lay it out for you and demonstrate balance in program design.  The template should allow for progression and will include a combination of strength and explosive exercises.   Here are few things to look for:

Upper body pulling volume should at the very least equal pressing volume.

Sets and reps should change from week to week.

There should be a progression of exercises that are rotated every couple of weeks.

There must be posterior chain exercises  (butt, hamstrings).

Here is an example of a typical dry erase board workout I have seen in a lot of high school weight rooms.

Bench 3x10
Lunge 3x10
Chin ups 3x10
Curls 3x10
Dips 3x10

This workout is not bad, but it would be if it was your workout every Monday for 8 weeks.   Anyone, and I mean ANYONE can write a workout on the board for 30 kids to follow. 

3.  How to Assess Squat Technique

The squat is a crucial exercise.   Do it correctly with the right amount of weight will most definitely lead to increases in speed, strength and power.   Doing squats with shitty technique will lead to weakness and probably aches and pains.   It is that cut and dry.   A good strength coach will tell you exactly what they look for when watching an athlete squat  (back flat, sit back, push knees out, breathing, ect).  They also know the progressions to take with a young athlete who struggles with their squatting.    A pretend trainer will allow mediocre or shitty technique to slide over and over again.

 I have said it before, Quality reps breed quality athletes.    Shitty reps breed..........

If you are concerned about the level of training your young athlete is receiving either at school or in a private setting, try asking these questions to the coach or trainer.   Don't look for elaborate scientific answers.   Do look for confident answers that make sense and show knowledge.    If they can't answer these 3 questions, they are pretending!

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