Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pat Mendes Update

This is a major display of strength and power. This guy is the real deal.
Videos include a 240kg clean, 800 lbs squat, and 330 kg deadlift for 4 reps....talking with him at the olympia expo, he said he recently has jerked 240kg as well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



Monday, October 25, 2010


I have to admit that there was a time when I disdained anyone doing curling exercises in my weightroom. There is still no doubt that this arm flexion exercise is way overused among adolescent would-be athletes. The group who comes in and wants to immediately stand in front of the mirror and begin curling seems to be a constant, although I have devised ways to get them squatting, pulling, and pressing first. Most of these young men labor under the illusion that girls like big arms, so they persist in spite of the fact that their arms never get bigger as a result of their efforts. It is a false premise anyway, girls really find big bank accounts much more attractive than big arms. (I come up short on both fronts.)
But, you know what, as the years pass, I am realizing that there are legitimate reasons to include curls in your workout, even if you are not a "cosmetic performer" (bodybuilder). Back in the late 70's Mark Cameron became the second American lifter to Clean and Jerk over 500 lb. (Ken Patera was the first American)
The amazing thing about Mark was he only weighed about 240 lb. at the time. Nearly 100 lb. less than Alexeev or Patera. Arm curls were included in his workouts. He was not overly muscular or thick, and felt that curling helped his elbow stabilization. I have also read that Al Oerter also included curls in his training. These were not a strict, flexing type of curl, but a heavy full body type of reverse clean almost. No one can argue with his success. A few weeks ago someone commented in response to one of our posts asking about adjustments in training for someone with elbows that tended to hyperextend. I neglected to mention that curling is important in strengthening the elbows in this type of athlete. While I am not claiming that curls should be a major part of a throwers or lifters workouts, in fact arms that are too large could inhibit proper positions. I do believe that curling exercises have their place in stabilizing the elbow joint and strengthening it for the stresses of throwing. Of course it is vital that these be done through the full range of motion, not to excess, and preferably not in front of a mirror! lol

Friday, October 22, 2010

Parry O'Brien: Shot Put Explosion

I recently found this article and video about Parry O'Brien. Parry O'Brien as many of you know is considered by some to be the best shot putter of all time. He was a 2x Olympic gold medalist and went undefeated in 116 competitions at one point in his career. The article and video have great photos and video footage of some of the great shot putters of the past. I like in the video how Parry explains how he came to develop the modern day glide technique, and how he explains some of his psychological tactics he used in competition. I found these to be interesting and hope you enjoy! (to read the article I would click on "full screen" to see it better...)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Indoor Javelin Throwing

Saw this article about indoor javelin throwing in Finland and found it interesting. They even have a Finnish indoor championship in javelin...now that's pretty sweet! Here at BYU we have a huge indoor practice facility which was built for football. Our javelin throwers have tried to go in there and throw but they won't let them. If they read this article maybe they would change their minds. Here is the article-

Welcome to the world of indoor javelin

Never heard of indoor javelin? Well, one country has built halls so big it can accommodate throws more than 85m long, spikesmag.com finds out more.

Finland is to javelin what Jamaica is to sprinting or Kenya is to distance running. The nation of a little over five million has an enviable record in spear chucking. No country has supplied as many Olympic men’s javelin champions – seven in total. They also boast the reigning men’s world champion in Tero Pitkamaki and three of the top five in the men’s final at the Beijing Olympics.

If track and field is Finland’s national summer sport then javelin is its passion.

Yet it’s success requires overcoming 6 months of snow a year and the indoor facilities, so familiar in Europe and North America, present only part of the solution for a javelin-loving nation such as Finland.

That is because a regulation indoor track is 200m long – far too small to accommodate the long throws. However, this presents no such problem for the innovative and practical Finns.

To solve this problem multi-purpose sporting arenas have been built all over the country during the last 30 years,” said Mika Noronen, the communications manager of Finnish Athletics. “When building the halls, the requirements of the two most popular summer sports in Finland – football and athletics – played a decisive role. The halls have been planned in a way that they can fit a full-size football field and facilities for all athletics events including the javelin.”

At least five venues in Finland – Pori, Tampere, Vaasa, Joensu and Kuopio – can host indoor javelin and the bulk of training is carried out in special metal cages in which the javelins fly 5m to 10m before hitting massive elastic curtains.

However, a number of competitions are held during the winter months and athletes, such as former World bronze medallist Mikaela Ingberg, regularly use the indoor arenas for full throwing sessions.

Indoor javelins are modified by putting a round, plastic cover around the sharp end of the javelin and officials mark the distance as the spear strikes the artificial turf, in the same way an indoor shot put is measured.

The plastic is known to hamper the aerodynamics of the spear and they are expected to fly some 2m to 3m less than they would outdoors, although Noronen warns of the potential hazardous nature of indoor javelin.

If the hall is too small, the javelin might hit a cover and break it in a way that the entire hall collapses in a couple of minutes,” he explained. “Partly, for this reason the top male throwers often don’t train in these halls.”

However, despite the lack of big name male competitors the Finns thirst for javelin competition is satisfied with several women’s and top junior events taking place indoors during the long, dark winter.

The national indoor championships represents the high point of the short indoor javelin season while javelin and also, interestingly, high-class discus competitions are a key feature of the Botnia Games in Vaasa or Tahtien Kisat in Tampere which regularly attract a couple of thousand people and TV coverage.

Besides Ingberg other international Finnish throwers such as Kirsi Ahonen, Taina Kolkkala and Paula Tarvainen have used the indoor javelin competitions to sharpen their skills. While the men’s world record which dates from 1996 is an impressive 85.78m by Matti Narhi.

Ingberg, a former European and World javelin medallist is Finland’s most high profile female javelinist and she throws at least once-a-week at her home town indoor facility in Vaasa.

Since winning her first major championships medal – a bronze at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg – she has been given free-use of the arena for life and she believes it has proved a critical training tool.

“It is a lot about the quality of the training [I can do] particularly if you are trying to improve your technique,” she told spikesmag.com. “The javelin is a very technical event and it is really difficult if you can’t see the flight of the javelin as that tells you a lot about whether you hit it right. I think [to train indoors] is a huge advantage.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Do You Think of CrossFit?

It seems that I get asked this question more and more often. I don't think any one involved in athletic training of any type has not at least heard of Cross Fit. It is the latest fitness trend and seems to be sweeping the world. For a quick summary, Crossfit combines lifting with calesthetics and bodyweight expercises as well as strongman type training with various implements like tires and sleds. It is a continous circuit type of workout where different expecises are done with minimal recovery in between. In fact, the point is to lower the time it takes to do vaious circuits. Do I like it? Yes, and no. How's that for a PC answer? Seriously, I think the good things about it are:
1. It has gotten alot of people excited about fitness.
2. It is intense and simple. I like that. No gimmicks or promises of quick and easy results.
3. It has done more to introduce people to real weightlifting in the U.S. than USA Weightliftng has.
4. If you get in soon on the ground floor,and know what you are doing, you can make some honest money off of it.
There are also some things I don't like about it:
1. It is a hybrid of aerobic and strength training and doesn't really result in maximum results in either.
2. Exercise technique is often very sloppy. I see too many round backed pulls and dangerous positions that will eventually result in injury.
3. I don't llike to see lifts like snatches and cleans done for high reps for the same reason. it promotes sloppy form and runs a high risk of injury.
4. It may be too intense for Joe Average to stick with over a lifetime.
In short, I think CrossFit is great for military, police, fire fighters,..etc. For athletes......? perhaps wrestlers and mixed martial arts types of competitors. Obviously for serious lfters or track athletes, this is not the way to go. I kind of think of it like what we here in the U.S.A. call a Swiss Army knife. These are little gadgets that contain all kinds of blades and implements like screw drivers,scissors, saws,..etc. in one foldable knifelike implement. They are great for camping or survival situations. They can get the job done in an emergency. However a carpenter or mechanic would not use it for their specialized work. They would buy a real saw, file, or screwdriver and keep a toolbox that was designed for their specialty. Most athletes would be far better off doing strength training, skill training, and whatever aerobic fitness they may need separately. I don't see CrossFit as being a viable training tool for most serious athletes.

Here is an innovative CrossFit routine!! Wrestle a shark then carry him home.
Below is a video clip of David Morgan, a great British lifter setting a new CrossFit record in a sequence they labeled King Kong. David doesn't train as a crossfitter, but in a traditional fashion. He is an amazing speciman.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Russian perspective on the Bulgarian system

I just ran across this article by Glenn Pendlay of California Strength. This is a group of serious lifters here in the U.S. Glenn has been very successful here developing young lifters. I really agree with what he is saying. Learn from everyone, then find what works for YOU. I believe this applies as much to throwing techniques and training as much as lifting. Good stuff.

by Glenn Pendlay MS

My new friend Ruslev Khomenko, a Russian coach of Junior athletes, and I talked a fair amount about the Bulgarian system of training. When I first brought this up, I expected him to dismiss it as inferior to how he trained athletes. He did not do this, in fact he said it was a GREAT system, maybe the best. The qualification was this, it is the best, IF IT WORKS FOR YOU!!! In his opinion, it only works for some people… and if you dont belong to this select group, you can still be a great lifter, you just have to try something else. His best results were 135/160 at 62kg bodyweight, not good in his estimation, and the Bulgrian system hadnt worked for him. According to him, some people get a real deterioration in technique when they train to max all the time, others, for whatever reason, get more and more effecient. Some people thrive on frequent squatting, some simply dont.

This strikes me as a common sense attitude. Do what works. The Russians believe their “system” works for a wider variety of people, and doesnt produce as many injuries. But they, or at least Ruslev, agrees that the Bulgarian system is the “ideal” for a person with no weak points.

All of this brings up another interesting observation. There doesnt seem to be that much discussion among coaches from other countries about whos system is better or worse, who is right or wrong. Based off of a weeks worth of conversation with coaches from multiple European and Asian countries, it seems they agree on a few things. One is that effecient technique needs to be taught. Another is that a lifestyle has to be provided to the athlete and followed by the athlete that allows them to handle a high training load. Another is that the athlete has to continue to follow the program, increase the workload and increase the weights. Concerning training programs, I get the feeling that a lot of Europeans feel about the same way about this as Americans feel about the brand of shoes that a lifter wears. Yes, everyone has a preference, but does anyone really think that the brand of shoes that one wears will determine whether he or she will become a champion or not?

I got the feeling over and over while talking to coaches who have a history of producing multiple Junior World champions, World Champions, and even Olympic medalists that we here in America are worried about the wrong things. I got the feeling that we might better worry about sleep habits, eating habits, and various recovery methods than how often we go to maximum. Of course, all this only after we worry about picking the right people to coach in the first place. But I prefer to concentrate on what I can control.

This is not to say that how you train doesnt matter. It shouldnt be hard for anyone to think of several training programs that would not work at all with little problem. But the parameters that a successful program must exist within are well established, and it is also well established that many different programs exist within these parameters.

What are these parameters? Based on conversations with 8 of the male medalists and 3 of the female medalists at the 2010 Junior Worlds, as well as conversations with the Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Turkish coaches, here is how the best are currently training. The minimum training sessions per week that I encountered was 5, maximum 12. Minimum hours spent training per week was about 8, maximum about 18. I did not talk to the Chinese, who I dont doubt top this number. Everyone snatches. Everyone clean and jerks. Everyone squats and front squats. Everyone does power snatches and power cleans. Most do pulls. Many do some sort of pressing or push pressing. This group of exercises makes up most of the work done. Many have some sort of exercise which they do which isnt as widespread, some do jumping exercises, some bench press. A few do some sort of good morning exercise or stiff legged deadlift variation. Some do some variation of back raise, back extension, or Glute Ham raise. In no instance which I encountered did these “extra” exercises make up any sigificant part of the training load. No one does only singles. No one does sets of 10. Most use a variety of reps between 1 and 5. Most do snatches and/or clean and jerks, or some close variation, every workout or almost every workout with significant weights. The most interesting thing I encountered was a Russian coach from Chechnya who advocated lots of Kettlebell work for beginning lifters, including the throwing of the KB behind ones head. He only advocated it as a warmup for lifters who are not beginners.

If the preceeding has closed one mystery, it has certainly opened another. If the sets and reps, and time per week we go to maximum arent what is holding us back, then what is? If we dont do enough pulls, or do too many… if this is not the problem, then what is? Well, I do not know if I know the answer or not. But if the answer to that question is the same answer as to the question “what are the differences that I saw between us and the medalists?” then I have a few observations.

And that will be another post…


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recovery Techniques

There are many different kind of post workout recovery techniques. A lot of people have their own ideas and philosophies. Over the years I have found through trial and error many ways to help reduce pain and promote recovery after hard workouts. I am going to talk about some of the ways and methods I have found to be the most useful.

Warm Up/ Cool Down-A proper warm up and cool down can greatly reduce the amount of DOMS and post workout pain in an athlete. An athlete should never stretch cold muscles as this leads to injury. A proper warm up and cool down should include exercise or sport related movements. Taking the time to warm up and cool down properly is worth it, so don't be impatient.

-I have found that after a proper cool down, stretching greatly reduces stiffness and pain caused by the work out. I try and stretch all my major muscles including upper and lower body extremities and my core. PNF stretching or static works depending on what you like. I like PNF stretching and usually try and find a partner to help me out.

Massage- Massages are one of the best ways to reduce pain in muscles post workout. Many of us don't have this resource readily available (foam rolling is a great alternative) but if you do I would make the most of it. Foam rollers are used for myofacial release and massaging tight muscles. I do my foam rolling after my stretching. I find "rolling out" to be most beneficial for my back and legs. Foam rollers aren't too expensive but if you want to go even cheaper, a 6" diameter pvc pipe could be used as well. Many athletes also use "the stick" to self massage their muscles. I have found a simple rolling pin to work better because it doesn't bend and is harder, so it's easier to work out those knots in my muscles. I usually do foam rolling right after a work out and use my rolling pin at night before I go to bed.

Cold/Hot Baths-
There are a lot of conflicting ideas about whether cold or hot baths are better. After living in 3 different continents throughout my life I have come to believe that Americans are in love with ice baths. In Europe and Asia for the most part it seems that heat(saunas, steam rooms, etc.) are used more frequently. The research has shown that neither one is better than the other but it's more up to the individuals preference. I love using hot baths for recovery and have found them to be very helpful for post workout recovery. I do use cold baths every so often and even do a lot of heat/cold contrast baths. I have found contrast baths to be the most useful after a hard workout and would recommend that. The problem with most cold tubs and hot tubs is that the temperature is either not cold enough or hot enough to see results. Most of us might not have cold or hot tubs available so instead hot or cold showers could be used. On track trips while staying in hotels I use contrast showers all the time. The key is to put the cold water as cold as you can stand it and same with the hot water. You should switch temperatures after you have become accustomed to either the cold or hot. What I tend to do is switch around what days I do either just hot or cold or contrast. Me and a lot of the throwers here at BYU also like to use Steam rooms post recovery. Going into a steam room also helps me relax well and helps me have a good nights rest that night. I try and implement all of these because I never want my body to become accustomed to just one. If you do have an injury, then chryotherapy is the best and throwing some ice on there is smart.

Supplements- There has been some recent studies that have shown that supplements after work out show better results than cold/hot tubs for post workout recovery. Besides the basics of protein, bcaa's and other post workout supplements, here are a few of the supplements I have found to be the most useful- fish oils, some sort of cartilage formula, calicum-magnesium, vitamin C, and Big Mac's (just kidding!). Rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin D, fish oil has proven to reduce triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation and reduces the destruction of cartilage from osteoarthritis. A lot of cartilage formulas contain glucosamine, chondroitin, and msm which has been shown to repair cartilage and help over-all joint function and health. Calcium-magnesium is a supplement that has been shown to reduce muscle pain and relax tight muscles. Calcium builds and maintains bones and teeth. It regulates the rhythm of the heart, eases insomnia, helps regulate the passage of nutrients in and out of cellular membranes, and assists in blood clotting. Calcium is also very valuable in maintaining proper nerve and muscle function, as well as normal kidney function. Magnesium is a mineral that is potentially involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Magnesium plays a crucial role in regulating the neuro-muscular activity of the heart, maintaining normal heart rhythm, converting
blood sugar into energy, and metabolizing calcium and vitamin C properly. Vitamin C will decrease the harmful oxidation that occurs during post work out recovery. Current research indicates a reduction in muscle damage by 11 percent post-workout when

taking Vitamin C prior to workouts. Epsom salt baths are also really beneficial and while doing a post workout hot tub bath I would throw some Epsom salt in there as well.

Ointments/Liniments- I think there are some great creams and sprays that can be applied post workout to help reduce pain and inflammation. Here is a list of the ones that I like- Traumeel cream, voltaren cream, Zheng Gu Shui (previously mentioned in another post) and woodlock oil. Traumeel’s basic benefit is anti-inflammatory effects, and the product enjoys a strong reputation for being good for muscular pain, joint pain, bruising, and sports injuries. Voltaren is a strong anti-inflammatory and also helps reduce pain. It carries
many of the same risks of other NSAID's so be a little cautious if you try it out. Zheng Gu Shui and Woodlock Oil are ideal agents to warm up muscles before exercising, maximize muscle strength, and prevent muscle damage from over stretching. With advantages of good penetration, instant effectiveness, long lasting and prevention,these two oils helps those suffering from muscle pains, arthritis and sprains.

Others- Getting enough sleep at nights and eating a proper diet will also help reduce pain and promote recovery. I always try and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. If that means I sacrifice watching The Office some nights and not doing homework...I do it. Our bodies recover while we sleep so it's important to get enough at night. For those of you who might not know which food are good eat, go to mypyramid.gov to figure it out. Reducing stress in all forms will also help our bodies reduce pain and feel great.

These are just some of the ways I have found to help me recover from workouts. Hopefully it all made sense and if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to comment. I hope some of you find this information useful and actually end up applying it to your post workout routine.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Teaching Weightlifting to Athletes From Other Sports

In a post last week we talked about the Olympic lifts and how we felt about them as training tools. A good discussion followed. A couple of the comments made clear to me that two of the main obstacles that keep many coaches from implementing these lifts are the idea that it takes too much time and that they have too many athletes. I would like to put these two myths to rest. First, it doesn't have to take alot of time. Of course, if your goal is to develop high level competitive lifters this is a time consuming labor intensive task. But to get athletes from other sports to master the basics safely need not take more than a couple of sessions. In that same vein, it isn't that difficult to teach a large group of athletes togather at the same time. Of course that is not how to train champions lifters, but athletes can pick up the essential skills in this fashion. Below are 2 segments of a friend of mine, Mike Burgener, who is well known among lifting enthusiasts. His son, Casey,has been and is one of the top American lifters recently. Mike is a humble high school coach, recently retired, who now is heavily involved in the cross-fit craze as an instructor. These segments demonstrate how to teach large groups in a short time.A solid enough foundation can be developed in a few sessions which will allow your group to get started and then refine and develop their technique. I could explain in greater detail, but as the cliche goes, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth ten thousand.Watch and learn from a master teacher and coach. Mike is not alone in doing this nor is this the only way to accomplish it. Many other coaches across the world are getting the job done. Tell me you don't like the lifts, fine. Tell me you don't know enough to teach them effectively, I say learn.Tell me you don't have the right equipment, I say find a way. But don't tell me you don't have enough time or that you have too many athletes. I won't accept that lame excuse. Below that are two videos produced in Canada to promote lifting. It depicts the progression of someone who starts at a young age. I have witnessed my own children follow this pattern. They started with sticks, then naked bars, and on to some very respectable weights as they grew in stature and maturity.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Athletic Pubalgia

Many athletes don't understand and even know what a sports hernia is. Athletic pubalgia is often referred to as a sports hernia, groin disruption or Gilmore's groin, it is a common groin injury experienced by athletes. Athletic pubalgia involves severe muscle and tendon injuries that result in chronic groin pain and a dilated superficial inguinal ring. Generally a tear in one of your lower abdominal muscles (oblique muscles, rectus abdominus muscle) near the back wall of your inguinal canal , or in your connective tissues where your muscles meet the bones and other tissues of your pelvis and/or pubic bone will be present. Athletic pubalgia results in a "hidden" hernia that has no visible bumps or lumps but causes pain in your lower abdomen and groin (especially when twisting or turning while running at a high speed). Often you will experience a torn adductor muscle along with this injury. Many throwers have sports hernias due to the high volume of twisting and turning. Because a sports hernia is hard to diagnose and recognize it is not uncommon for athletes suffering from this syndrome to not get the proper treatment. Symptoms include pain during sports movements, particularly hip extension, and twisting and turning. This pain usually radiates to the adductor muscle region and even the testicles, although it is often difficult for the patient to pin-point the exact location. In April of 2009 I had a sports hernia operation on my right groin. Recently I had an MRI on my left groin to see if I have another sports hernia on that side. I have suffered chronic left groin pain for the last year. My older brother Niklas had a sports hernia operation in 2005 as well and my oldest brother and many of my cousins have had inguinal hernia (which is different than athletic pubalgia) surgeries. I guess my family just has weak lower abs..which is something that I will have to deal with. Athletic pubalgia is a very frustrating and horrible injury to have. Even with all the treatment and therapy I have had, the only real solution is surgery. Not only has it hampered the last 3 years of my career but if I eventually need surgery again in the next months it might mean I won't compete this year or maybe an early retirement. I would strongly advise any athlete suffering from prolonged groin pain to go see a qualified doctor and get checked out...the sooner, the better.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Alternatives to Olympic Style Lifts?

Strong Alternatives
My first reaction when anyone talks about alternatives to the Olympic lifts is to say, "No, there are no alternatives!" I will readily admit to having some bias on this issue. I come by it honestly. This is coming from someone who grew up in Pennsylvania in the United States, not too far from York, the Mecca, Muscletown, USA. I visited the old York Barbell Company as often as I could when I was growing up. My daily choice of clothes usually included a York Barbell T-shirt. I have always been fascinated by weightlifting and what it could do for a person's body.I have conversed with John Grimek, Bob Hoffman, (I still have my signed copy of Strength and Health magazine) and watched Bob Bednarski,Bill March, Rick Holbrook, Gary Glenney, Bill Starr, Tommy Suggs and many others train. In other words, lifting is in my blood. All my children (both sons and daughters)grew up with a love for lifting that paved the way to competitive success as well as a solid physical consitution for other sports.So when someone talks about alternatives to the lifts, there had better be a good reason and the alternatives better be really good. As the years pass and maturity sets in, I have to admit that there are circumstances where an alternative or variation can be beneficial, if it is for the right reason. Following is an article I came across recently. I have to admit, I agree with some of it. As usual I will include some comments in Blue.

By Rich Jacobs, MS, SCCC, CSCS
Though Olympic lifts are great in many ways, like any training tool, they have limitations such as environment, training goals, or sport coach's expectations. These days, there are many (I would say more like a few )alternatives the strength and conditioning coach can use to build a comprehensive program that will increase power while mimicking the movement and results of Olympic lifts.
Before discussing alternatives, let's take a look at the purpose behind the Olympic lifts. Touted as the most powerful lifts by research and practitioners, they are primarily used to train powerful triple extension and utilize a full body movement that requires coordination and skill. Triple extension is the explosive concentric contraction of the glutes, quadriceps group, and gastrocnemious in unison to provide acceleration in all planes. Therefore, these lifts make sense to be used in athletics since every movement in sport requires triple extension. This is not the only reason however. The lifts are also great for developing total body coordination and summation of force. They stimulate the metabolism and promote a balanced "finernails to toenails" development. They are also fun and add a level of competitiveness to training, not to mention promoting dynamic flexibility. While these lifts are fantastically effective, there are a variety of ways (as effective?)to achieve powerful triple extension without requiring the extensive amount of time to teach these very complex movements. Does it really take that much time to teach an athlete?And in some cases, the alternatives are better when athletes display a lack of lifting skill. Why not work with them and improve their lifting skill? It's not "rocket science." In addition, performing an Olympic-only program may not provide sufficient opportunity to benefit from injury prevention techniques and body composition changes. Arguable, I think the lifts do. Another disadvantage is the limitation of multi-planar training. Olympic lifts are performed in the sagittal and frontal plane, and the transverse plane is left untrained. But the stabilization required for overhead lifting supports rotation. Other rotational exercises can easily be added.
Am I saying that Olympic lifting may not be the best option for a strength and conditioning program? No. Good judgement there.It is important to understand that some strength coaches are met with many obstacles that may get in the way of developing their ideal training program. My opinion is: remove the obstacles. Don't let limitations define your program. Sport coaches may not like certain exercises, the facility may not have the proper equipment (bumper plates and/or platforms), or the head strength coach has a different philosophy regarding weight training. But no matter the obstacle, there are other ways to achieve an explosive triple extension without using a traditional Olympic lift.

At Xavier University, we do not have platforms, bumper plates, or the space to perform many Olympic lifts, so I am forced to adapt to the environment by using plyometric boxes, dumbbells, Olympic bars, the Vertimax, and kettle bells. This doesn't make much sense, a good bumper set, while expensive, is still probably cheaper than all that other junk. I hope in the meanwhile you are doing all you can to get the right equipment. Armed with these alternatives, my objective is to achieve an explosive triple extension through movements other than the traditional Olympic lifts.
The Olympic lifts have been scientifically proven to be very powerful, so I feel that alternatives must also have some validity to them as well. Through research, it is proven to achieve a positive adaptation with 0-15% of the athlete's body weight when training for lower body power. It is also possible to increase power through an increase in strength according to the power formula (Mass x distance/ Time). By using scientific data, the possibilities appear to be endless.
All of my programs start with a foundation of what I want to implement. As I have mentioned in past articles, I always meet with the head coach to understand what he or she wants accomplished for their team. Good job.After the coach has voiced their expectations, I complete the program to please all parties.
Working with the women's basketball team here provides me with opportunities to highlight explosive movements in all three planes. Our off-season program consisted of two arm kettle bell swings, barbell power shrugs, high pulls, and push jerks. These movements are building blocks to the clean and snatch, but I am not actually performing the catches/rack and recovery. Why not? These athletes can learn those movements if they can learn to play basketball. However, I am achieving triple extension and activating the full body to incorporate a core component.
In the past, I have used the Vertimax to achieve an explosive triple extension. I like how easy the Vertimax is to set up and use to enhance vertical power, so it is a good tool to have in the box.
The preseason program builds on the off-season program. I progress the movements to a single-arm dumbbell snatch. The post players perform the dumbbell snatch, (actually more complex than the two arm movement) two-arm kettle bell swings, and the barbell power pull once a week on separate days. We do lateral and rotational reaction foot drills to incorporate the other planes of movement.
The guards went through the same progression from off-season to preseason. The preseason program for the guards is a little different from the posts because I add single-leg rotational jumps and broad jumps to attack the other planes. The entire team performs medicine ball work that focuses on extending the hip upon release of the ball to produce as much force as possible. Some examples are the lateral rotational throws and overhead throws. These power movements are done in two to four sets of a 15 set program. The bulk of the program is strength and effort to affect the 'mass' variable in the power equation and injury prevention.
I explain that we are working the muscles being used to rebound the ball or shoot the gap on defense and our team takes pride in working to improve these aspects of their game. They feel like the program will help make them better players.
When it comes to baseball, most coaches want to avoid compromising positions like the catch phase of a clean or anything overhead for pitchers. Why? I don't get that.That can be somewhat limiting when using Olympic lifts. We as strength coaches understand the importance of training in full ranges of motion and the benefits of catching the bar at the end of a clean or snatch. However, as discussed earlier, we may need to compromise with the sport coaches or do a better job of educating them on what we know. I prefer the latter, but ego sometimes dictates the former.
To incorporate power movements into the baseball workout, we perform power shrugs. Through this movement, I am able to train explosive triple extension without compromising the wrists. Why not develop wrist flexibility? As a result of performing this movement without the catch, I am able to progress weight a little faster which will also increase power through strength. Following fall ball, we add another day with power movements by incorporating kettle bell swings.
To achieve multi-planar power for baseball, I use landmine rotations, rotational dumbbell presses, and medicine ball throws. These movements require the body to rotate through the transverse plane while achieving the triple extension needed to produce force quickly. It is usually not hard to motivate a baseball player in the weightroom, so convincing them that these lifts will help is easy. However, I take the time to show them how a powerful hip extension through the power pull may help them on the bases and that exploding through the hip with the medicine ball or landmines builds power in their swing and throwing motion.
Strength and conditioning coaches should be versatile in their philosophy when developing programs in order to adapt to the situation. There are many options for the strength and conditioning coach to build a comprehensive program that will increase power using alternatives to Olympic lifts. No matter what your resources or situation, there are enough options for achieving an increase in performance regardless of philosophy.
I believe that the lifts can be used safely and effectively in most situations. Injury or other problems may dictate some variations, but usually the reasons the lifts are not used is lack of flexibility on the part of the athlete,....so improve it! Or lack of knowledge on the part of the coach,... so improve it! Lifting a weight from the floor to overhead is becoming a lost art and that is only to the detriment of the athlete.
Rich Jacobs, MS, SCCC, CSCS is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Xavier University. He can be reached at: jacobsr1@xavier.edu.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top Ten Healthy Energy Foods

Here is a list of energy foods that can easily be integrated into your daily diet.

1. Apple- Apples have fiber to maintain a healthy bowel, and apple pectin which supports overall wellness. Apples have also been shown in some studies to "wake" people up in the morning more than coffee.
2. Banana- Bananas contain a good amount of fiber. Bananas also help reject impurities and provides potassium. Cramps are often caused by lack of potassium.
3. Eggplant- Eggplants are a good pre-workout food. They help fight exercise induced free radicals. Eggplants also contain carotenoids which promote bodily wellness. One study done shows that people consuming diets rich in carotenoids from natural foods, such as eggplants , are healthier and have lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses.
4. Apricot- Apricots contain B vitamins and are also said to be an aphrodisiac.
5. Grapefruit- Supports overall health and contains Vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to help with post workout recovery. Grapefruit also contains more fiber than other fruits.
6. Yogurt- Full of B vitamins, and shown to help body convert other nutrients into energy. Also contains protein and calcium. Probiotics in yogurt can also support immune health.
7. Cheese- Contains calcium, which is essential for bone health and also is involved in muscle and nerve function.
8. Orange- Contains Vitamin C, which can support your immune system and are also beneficial during times of season change.
9. Tuna- Contains Vitamin B-12 which is needed for red blood cell production. Tuna is also rich in Omega 3. Protein is also abundant in tuna.
10. Kidney beans- These things taste nasty, but are good for you...so eat them.

These are just some examples of cheap, natural, foods that can help keep your body healthy and give you some natural energy you may need.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Four great articles to read...

There has always been a big Swedish track connection here at BYU. Throughout the years there has been 21 Swedish throwers at BYU and all of them have been All-Americans and many of them have been NCAA champions and record holders. Recently I found four old Bigger Faster Stronger articles on four of the great, Swedish throwers of the past here at BYU. Bigger Faster Stronger was started by Greg Sheppard who used to be the Strength Coach at BYU and BFS is still a Utah based Company. The four articles are about Stefan Fernholm, Soren Tallhem, Goran Svensson, and Kjell Bystedt. Here are the links to the articles...

Stefan- http://www.biggerfasterstronger.com/uploads2/85_Nov_UpperLimit.pdf

Soren- http://www.biggerfasterstronger.com/uploads2/85_Sep_SorenTallhem.pdf

Goran- http://www.biggerfasterstronger.com/uploads2/82_FullYear_GoranSvenssen.pdf

Kjell- http://www.biggerfasterstronger.com/uploads2/90_Apr_HammerThrow.pdf