Google the word "workouts" and you get thousands of sites offering ideas, programs, and exercises---most are exactly the same as the ones I used in high school in the 1980's. Flip through any muscle or mens magazine and you see the same cookie cutter, body part, isolation exercises that people in the gym have been doing for fifty years. Really? Are you telling me that the strength and conditioning profession hasn't progressed at all in the last few decades?
I refuse to believe the strength and conditioning profession hasn't processed at all in the last few decades.
Given that more and more athletes are performing at a higher level recently, I have to think that their training methods have progressed. So I set out to learn what methods are currently being used to take average athletes and transform them into division 1 athletes.
Enter Coach Robert dos Remedios, MA, CSCS and Coach Nick Winkelman from EXOS. Coach Dos coaches at College of the Canyons in Southern California. It is his job to transform average athletes into division 1 scholarship prospects. He is one of the best at what he does and his success rate backs this up. Coach Winkelman is in charge of the EXOS Combine Training Program. He is the one that trains athletes to perform at the college football combine. This is the strength program they use.
One way to think of the human body is to imagine it as a collection of linked segments. These segments move at joints , held together with muscle and tendons while enclosed is a large sack of fascia. Not a very appealing description, but certainly simple.
When the body moves, these segments all move in an ordered sequence. The movement pattern is then dependent on the functionality and coordination of the joints, muscles and tendons, and fascia. I've addressed how to improve the movement patterns of the muscles and tendons in the Train Movements Not Muscles article. Improving fascia was covered in the article entitled Roll With It. Now I'd like to address ways to improve the functionality of joints.
Mike Boyle and Gray Cook have been talking about a joint-by-joint approach to the body for years. Coach Boyle says it this way...
The olympic lifts are great at developing speed and power. Although they take practice to perfect, once you can clean and snatch, you need to decide how to incorporate them into your strength program. Making this decision should depend on the theme of the day and purpose of the program. So we need to understand the differences between the two lifts.
Let's start with a few assumptions. First you have the necessary flexibility and mobility to perform both lifts. If you have shoulder problems, it might not be a good idea to snatch. If you have wrist issues, stay away from the clean. Second you have the technical proficiency to perform each lift.
Beyond the obvious difference in grip and that the snatch is caught overhead while the clean is caught at shoulder height, let's examine the not so obvious differences.
Getting faster involves greater ground contact forces (GCF) over very short ground contact times (GCT). The greater the force, the faster you are. The shorter the ground contact time, the faster you are. Plyometrics, or jump training, is a great way to achieve greater forces and shorter contact times for track and field athletes.
The video below provides a fantastic explanation of how to produce more GCF and shorten GCT---in essence how to get faster. The inclusion of the optojump brings realtime data to this explanation. The data shows how GCF gets smaller and GCT gets longer (hence you are getting slower) during the exercise. This is why you train speed with full or near full recoveries.
The value of olympic lifts can not be understated to speed and power athletes. For awhile I've been working on these lifts, trying to get away from the power versions and doing more full snatches and cleans. In a previous post, I concentrated on the combo lifts of power snatch/clean to front squat. Lately, I've been focusing on the following progression of drills to help groove the overhead position.
Overhead Squat Once the front squat is mastered, it's necessary to take on the overhead squat, which is the most challenging squat variation. Nothing test your core strength, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle mobility like the overhead squat. It is absolutely necessary to get comfortable with this lift before progressing.
Once the overhead squat is mastered, it's time to introduce dynamic movement that precedes the overhead squat position.
Pressing Balance Snatch The first drill in this progression category is the pressing balance snatch. The goal of this drill to to press yourself underneath the bar into an overhead squat position. Ideally elevation of the bar will never change. This drill should be done slowly, ensuring proper technique.
Start this drill with the bar on your back using a snatch grip. Using the overhead squat stance, press against the bar causing you to drop into an overhead squat. Then stand up, keeping the bar overhead.
Jerking Balance Snatch The second drill in this progression category is the jerking balance snatch. The goal of this drill is similar to the pressing balance snatch, but instead of pressing underneath the bar, you add a slight hip dip and drive to initiate the movement.
This drill starts the same way as the previous drill, using a snatch grip with the bar on your back. Next, dip your hips slightly and then in one motion explosively extend your knees and hips. This should make the bar feel weightless. At this moment, drop into the bottom of the overhead squat position. After the weight is stabilized, stand up, keeping the bar overhead.
Balance Snatch The third drill in this progression category is the balance snatch. This drill is similar to the jerking balance snatch, but instead of using the same stance for the duration of the drill, you will start in a jump stance and finish in the catch stance.
Using a snatch grip with the bar on you back in a jump stance, dip your hips and, more explosively than in the previous drill, extend your knees and hips. This should create the minimum amount of space between your feet and the platform to quickly move into move into a catch stance and drop into an overhead squat. After the weight is stabilized, stand up, keeping the bar overhead.
Mastery of these lifts is obviously a work in progress.
Body parts don't exist in isolation. Every muscle, joint, tendon, and bone is part of a system. Every athletic movement puts this system in motion. Therefore, it is necessary to train the system not the muscle. Compound exercises, movements that require multiple levers and joints to work together, build better and more efficient athletes.
Compound exercises engage more muscle groups, which allows you to lift more weight, which translates into faster more consistent progress. Isolation exercises, movements that focus on moving a single joint through a range of motion, target only one muscle group at a time which means you will be lifting less weight and progressing more slowly.
What do you think will make you potentially faster, adding 100 pounds to your squat or 10 pounds to your bicep curl?
I came across the below clip today and was dumbfounded. Come on, "How many hours a day do you workout?" This is a stupid question. Do you really think the answer to this question means anything? It's not about how much. More isn't better. Sure it takes a lot of time to get good at something, but for some reason we think that just because we've put in the time should be rewarded. Thankfully, Jason Khalipa (starting at 1:10) had an intelligent answer to such a stupid question.
Now that you have stopped working out, have a good understanding energy systems, and muscle types, it's time to train for your event.
While it is the case that your genetics predisposes you to a certain ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch, you can alter this ratio to maximize performance the performance of your muscles. The key is targeting the type IIa fibers.
Foam rolling is a great way to begin a training session, end a training session, or simply do while watching TV. In the clip below Mike Boyle of MBSC takes you through a great foam rolling sequence. For those of us that loose count of how many times we've gone over a particular area, I've included a timer from Intervaltimer.com.