Saturday, June 30, 2012

Iowa still learning from football team's rhabdo incident

Simple phrases and tough talk do not replace smart work! 

Still learning? I guess learning is an ongoing process which never stops, but what is the mystery about what happened? A bonehead football-centric "strength and conditioning coach" fell into the trap of hard work vs. smart work and crossed over the line of common sense. Anyone can design a program that will inflict pain and injury. It takes a real coach to maximize an athlete's potential. Smart work will be hard and challenging enough, without devising crazy challenges purely for the sake of testing an athlete's pain tolerance. The NSCA and NATA have both come out against the type of workout that was administered. There is no one with any credibility who has come out in defense of this protocal as appropriate for football.  Go ahead Iowa, continue to "investigate" and get all of the information, but it's pretty obvious what happened.
After 13 football players were hospitalized in January of 2011, the University of Iowa launched an investigation to determine the common cause of each athlete's injury and subsequently changed procedures to prevent future incident.
All 13 were diagnosed with rhabdomyolyis, a stress-induced muscle syndrome that can damage cells and cause kidney problems, after an off-season workout in January. They were all released from the hospital later that month.
According to Terry Noonan, Iowa's Director of Athletics Training Services, the investigation revealed that the common denominator in each hospitalization was the time off before the intense January workout.
"That was the only thing we came up with," Noonan said in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.
The incident stirred up controversy and criticism of the football program for putting the athletes at risk. Dr. Douglas Casa, Chief Operating Officer at the Kory Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, said in an interview earlier this month that Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle should have lost his job after the incident.
"That strength and conditioning coach should have been fired and the university really embarrassed itself," Casa said. "Those injuries were 100% preventable. There needs to be more oversight and people need to be more accountable."
But the investigation did not lead to the ouster of Doyle or any other Iowa employee.
"It's easy for people like Dr. Casa to make a statement without knowing all the information about what happened," said Noonan, the only athletics department official made available by the school. "I understand his passion. I don't know if I agree with it.
"For someone to make a statement for someone to be terminated is like saying that we need to stop playing football because there are too many concussions or saying we need to stop driving cars because there are too many accidents."
Casa and the National Athletic Trainers' Association on Wednesday announced suggestions for preventing sudden death in collegiate conditioning. Casa said incidents like the 13 hospitalized players caused him and his peers to analyze best-practice methods.
"Someone has to advocate for the athletes because it's not going to be the football coach," Casa said. "This incident strikes a chord because our focus is health and safety above all else."
The announcement stressed the importance of communication between athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches and also suggested that all workouts designed by strength and conditioning coaches be approved by athletic trainers.
Since the hospitalization incident, Noonan said that change has already been implemented at Iowa.
"We communicate and review the workouts before they happen," Noonan said. "The biggest prevention here is now we communicate beforehand."
The NATA statement also said that cases of rhabdomyolyis, or "rhabdo," are increasing: "Excesses in strength training and conditioning — workouts that are too novel, too much, too soon, or too intense (or a combination of these) — have a strong connection to exertional rhabdomyolysis."
According to NCAA Director of Health and Safety Dave Klossner, the NCAA will soon be releasing new guidelines on rhabdo.
"There's some talk about whether (rhabdo) is a growing trend, but there's confusion about what it actually is," Klossner said. "We want to identify the best practices…and how it can be prevented."
The rhabdo incident created confusion among Iowa's athletic trainers and medical staff, Noonan said, and university officials are now trying to learn more about it.
"We're doing more research to learn about that condition because we're realizing that there was a lot we didn't know," Noonan said.
Liz Martin, AP

Smart work is hard enough!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

9 Reasons to Olympic Lift For a Better Physique?

Sergio Oliva Snatching...


......and flexing.

We have always advocated the Olympic lifts as a valuable training tool for almost any sport or activity. Invariably those who argue to the contrary generally do not understand how to teach, coach, or perform them correctly. Sure there are individual situations where prior injuries or unique body proportions require adaptation, but most trainees can perform the lifts if taught properly and time is taken to develop sufficient flexibility.
I have never been a great advocate of training for asthetics or cosmetic reasons only. (read bodybuilding as a "sport") But if you are into such things, and I have to admit that as the years fly by, my own training is more about maintaining a strong look than actually lifting really heavy weights.
It used to be that I only worried about what I could do, but as my capabilities decline, I at least try to look the part. lol Anyway, the article below gives some reasons why even those who want to look strong should include the lifts in their training.
Indeed, many of the past bodybuilders trained early as Olympic style weightlifters. Arnold was on the Austrian National team as a young man. Sergio Oliva was a member of the Cuban weightlifting team when he defected to the U.S.A. Tom Platz got his start training with Bob Morris's weightlifters in Michigan. Then of course reaching farther back John Grimek lifted in the Olympics and Tommy  Kono actually won some high level physique contests while he was lifting. This is only a very quick example of a few men who proved the point of this article. I realize that some of you are maybe too young to know who these men are. Do yourself a favor and google any of them, you don't know. Your life will be better for it.

Experts say the Olympic lifts are awesome. Most trainees would certainly agree, thanks in part to the scores of articles written about the effectiveness of Olympic lifts at increasing explosiveness. However, not many lifters are using them for the primary purpose of improving their physiques. This is a mistake, and as you'll see, costing them some serious growth potential.

Here are nine reasons why even the most pecs and abs-focused lifter should incorporate the Olympic lifts.

1. Monster Traps

As a college strength and conditioning coach, I always told our football players, "If you want to protect your neck, get rid of it." Our preferred method of "neck elimination" was the clean pull.

When I started coaching in the private sector, I was amazed to see guys blasting away at their traps with very heavy shrugs, often four or five plates per side, yet with no increase in trap size.

If you want the traps of a Big Ten linebacker, you need to train like one. Put the shrugs away for the next eight weeks, add in some clean pulls, and watch your neck vanish before your eyes. Be sure to emphasize the top portion of the lift.

The key to this method of trap development is the movement speed and rate of force development in the clean pull. The speed causes an insane amount of muscle activation and type II fiber growth, leading to traps so big they restrict hearing.

2. Meat Hooks

Most guys think the first thing a woman notices about a man is his pecs or bulging biceps. Wrong, my friends. The first muscle a woman notices is a man's left forearm – because she just checked out your ring finger. Now that you're in the clear (or maybe not, you slimeball), you better be showing off a Popeye-inspired forearm.

To get massive forearms, park the wrist curls next to the soy milk and cable crunches. Snatches or cleans will add serious real estate to your lower arms while developing the kind of grip strength that would get the thumbs-up from Thor himself.

Performing the Olympic lifts – without straps – will have your mitts working overtime, and your forearms will flourish as you learn to pull from the floor and then transition your body under the bar. Expect to see a set of meat hooks hanging out of your sweatshirt in no time.

3. Type II Muscle Fiber Recruitment

What red-blooded American male doesn't want more muscle? We know that to achieve maximum size, the type II muscle fibers must be trained. However, traditional bodybuilding programming often fails to sufficiently stimulate this important fiber type. Sure, some bodybuilders hit the type II fibers by working on maximum strength, but what about maximum speed?

Doing cleans teaches the body to move weight fast. This leads to increases in force production, and more force production means more type II fibers being recruited. More type II fiber recruitment equals bigger, stronger, denser, and fuller muscle bellies. This is a classic rich-get-richer scenario.

4. The Squat is the Basis for the Clean

A couple years ago, I was having a conversation with a physique-minded co-worker about obtaining the elusive teardrop. Sure, thousands of leg extensions will eventually get you there (maybe), but why not develop the quad thicker and quicker?

Some of the best legs on the planet belong to some very successful weightlifters, and one of the best teardrops you'll ever see is on Pyrros Dimas, holder of numerous world records in the clean and jerk. What he didn't do was a single, solitary leg extension, but he did do tons of cleans and front squats.

In case you're not aware, the front squat is the foundation of a good clean. So if you could clean 140+kilos, what do you think your quads would look like?

Put the leg extensions on hold for a while and try full cleans for 5 sets of 4. Then tell me what puts on more muscle!

5. Physique Balance

Any successful person, whether they're running a Fortune 500 company or competing at the Olympics, will tell you that the key is balance.

A physique athlete needs balance too, or symmetry. While a freak show set of biceps or quads is cool, bodybuilding judges will tell you it's not ideal to look like a compilation of body parts.

Full-body movements such as the snatch provide the body an opportunity to act as the unit it's intended to be. If you can't hold a bar overhead in the full squat position, you'll quickly learn where you're strong, where you're weak, where you're tight, and where you need to improve. There's a reason coaches like Mike Robertson use the overhead squat as an assessment tool – it provides a whole-body view of symmetry.

6. Initial Pull is all Gluteus and Hamstrings

This list wouldn't be complete without mention of the posterior chain, the powerful musculature along your backside that can make or break bodybuilding success.

Misguided bodybuilders often toil away at various leg curl machines in hopes this will be enough to build massive glutes and hamstrings. Not a chance.

The snatch and power clean are near perfect posterior chain developers. They're explosive lifts that can be loaded significantly and they start with all that weight on the floor – meaning you're going to need massive glutes and hamstrings just to get the bar moving.

7. Abdominal Development

Plenty of research has been done demonstrating the negative effects of spinal flexion, i.e., doing crunches. With crunches out of the physique game, you're going to need a complete exercise to fully develop your "core." And if you want thick, slick abs, look no further than the snatch.

Any version of the snatch is going to develop superior abdominals. The reason is, the further you move an object away from your center of mass, the more strain it puts on the midsection to stabilize the object.

In the case of the snatch, a heavy load is as far away from your body as it can get. This challenges the obliques, rectus abdominis, and the rest of the core to get stronger. More strength equals more muscle!

8. Mobility and Stability

At IFAST, we see a ton of jacked-up people. Every day, someone walks through the door exhibiting a severe imbalance (not just mentally, but physically as well).

But never my Olympic weightlifters. The reason is, to be successful at completing the lifts, you have to have a great amount of stability and mobility in the necessary places. Good technique requires good positioning, which requires stability and mobility (and practice).

For physique athlete just starting out with the lifts and moving minimal weight, you'll soon start obtaining some serious mobility. This is going to help you stay healthier longer while increasing the amount of muscle you can activate. More activation means more muscle!

9. Superman-Style Lats

I saved the best for last. Nothing says, "I'm about to dominate, life, business, and the gym" like a set of lats that makes your shirt look like a cape. Olympic lifters are known for having huge backs.

In order to properly perform the snatch or the clean and jerk, you have to keep the bar tight to your body. On every lift you're essentially using the lats to actively pull the bar back in.

If you're performing the snatch, this is going to build a ton of strength and size in your upper back. If you're doing cleans, your lats will get lit up. Start performing the O-Lifts and don't be surprised if Lois Lane wants to pin you up in a phone booth.

One Final Word

As a physique athlete you don't have to stop your current program to delve into an Olympic weightlifting program. Incorporating the lifts, or even part of the lifts, to bring up a weakness is what it's all about. Pick one area where the lifts can help you get better, implement it properly, and enjoy the success!
by Daniel J. Brown – 6/26/2012

Daniel Brown is the founder of FORCEBARBELL LLC, a company dedicated to the pursuit of all performance and physique goals. In addition to coaching, speaking and writing, Daniel offers private consulting for scientific solutions to training. Prior to establishing Forcebarbell, Daniel coached a variety of athletes at the division one level. Mr. Brown is proud to have obtained his MS degree in Kinesiology from the highly acclaimed Purdue University where he has been pursuing his PhD in Kinesiology. Mr. Brown currently holds a CSCS credential by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as well as certification by USA Weightlifting. To contact Daniel please visit www.forcebarbell.com.

Of course if you don't want to get too big..........

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lifting in a Free Market Economy

Dr. Koji Murofushi is no one-dimensional athlete.

Below is a nice interview with one of our top American lifters, Danica Rue. She gives some insight into setting priorties and keeping balance in life. She recently finished law school and still manages to compete at a high level in a demanding sport. While I love the Olympics and am looking forward to the amazing performances of the world's best athletes, I have come to realize that many, indeed most, of the medal winners have achieved their success at great sacrifice. Sacrifice that goes beyond just spending hours of physical exertion and effort to master their sport. Many have also sacrificed education,career advancement, marriage and family relationships....etc. Of course there are some great exceptions who have maintained a balance and their accomplishments are all the more amazing.
Recently I had the privilege of accompaning my youngest son, Orrin, as he competed in the Utah Summer Games. In spite of classes, working two jobs, and training sporadically, he managed to PR and break the state records in snatch, clean and jerk, and total. He worked out in the student weight room for less than an hour a few days a week doing squats, presses, and other basic stuff like rows, pullups, ..etc. There were no platforms or bumper plates and real weightlifting was not allowed. Once or twice a week he got to do the lifts in his brother Oliver's driveway. In spite of the limitations in training and sleep, he still managed a great performance snatching 101 kg. and jerking 121 kg. at 77 kg. bodyweight and 18 years old. Not world class, but pretty darn good, especially under the conditions. Unfortunately I don't have any footage to post. The footage we posted last week of Oliver's strongman competition was accomplished holding down a fulltime job while taking 9 credit hours of graduate school and being a husband and a father to two boys. I guess my point of all this is you don't have to be an olympian to do great things and you can live a balanced life and still compete well. Best wishes to our olympians and also to the rest of us who still train to be the best we can.
Here is a quick clip of Danica in action. She was red lighted for this lift which would have given her the National championship in 2011. It was a controversial call.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Teaching Technique

Understanding technique is vital to success even in the most primal events.

Technique, or the most efficient means of performing a movement, is a great determining factor in success. Obviously proper technique in lifting, throwing, or any event contains cetain key factors that are universal and must be understood and implemented to compete both effectively and safely. Given that, there is still a great deal of room for variation based on individual characteristics. Sometimes coaches can get bogged down trying to "correct" certain aspects of an athletes's performance when maybe it would be better to overlook certain "errors". Below is an article by American lifting coach Jim Schmitz that presents this idea in a concise and commensense way.

“Teach according to the textbook technique, but take what you can get.”

When I teach someone how to snatch and clean and jerk, I try to have the lifter do exactly as diagramed in all books on Olympic-style weightlifting. I call perfect technique “textbook.” Also, if I’m working with an experienced lifter, I see if they can do the lifts with textbook technique. However, you can never achieve perfection, so as the famous American football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “Pursue perfection and you might achieve excellence.”
I coach lifters to have the best technique they can have according to their mental and physical capabilities. I tell them we will try to achieve the best technique possible for them. Good technique takes a while to acquire and you can lose it very fast. Once you develop your technique to a fairly good level, the next thing you have to develop is consistency. You need to do each lift exactly the same way, from warm-up weights to maximum weights.
Don’t get hung up on small technical aspects of the lifts—even though you have to correct your technical flaws, you have watch out for “paralysis due to analysis.” This problem comes from thinking so much about lifting perfectly, you stop or move too slowly to complete the lift at all. It’s a very common thing with beginners. That’s why when I’m coaching someone and see this happening, I tell them: “Just pull as hard as you can and move as fast as you can.” I also say if you pull hard and move fast, you have a chance; but if you pull slow because you are trying to have perfect technique, you have virtually no chance.
There are many World and Olympic champion lifters who have near perfect technique, but two I would like to mention here are Anatoli Khrapaty (90 kg, URS & KAZ) and Alexander Kurlovich (110+ kg, URS & BLR). Khrapaty made all of his snatches in the 1985–1987 and 1989–1990 Worlds, and also in the 1988 and 1996 Olympics. Each of his lifts was as close to perfect technique as you can get. At the 1993 and 1995 Worlds, he missed his second attempt, then made it on his third. Usually he would win his class with his first clean and jerk and then would go for the world record, so he wasn’t as consistent but still averaged making two clean and jerks.
When looking up Khrapaty’s competition records, I realized there was another lifter who didn’t miss very many, and that was Kurlovich. He made all of his snatches in the 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 1994 World Championships, as well as in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. He won all those events except the 1983 Worlds, where he lost to Anatoli Pisarenko on bodyweight, 124.1 kg to 123.7 kg! I heard that they both took saunas before the weigh-in, fighting for the bodyweight advantage. Kurlovich also usually made two clean and jerks, missing the world record attempt. These are two great lifters who had superb technique and were extremely consistent, and that’s why they made so many lifts and won so many championships.
When I talk technique I also have to mention that there are some great World and Olympic champions who have less than desirable technique. Two who come to mind are Naim Suleymanoglu (60 kg, BUL & TUR) and Pyrros Dimas (85 kg, GRE). Both of these men won numerous World Championships, and each has won three Olympic gold medals, which is just phenomenal. Even though Suleymanoglu made all of his attempts in 1988, and Dimas made all of his in 1996, their success rate over their careers wasn’t as high as Khrapaty’s or Kurlovich’s. Suleymanoglu and Dimas had some technical movements you wouldn’t teach. Suleymanoglu did a little hitch with the bar as he lifted it off the platform and lunged forward on his jerk. Dimas threw his head back too far at the top of his pull. These were just things they did naturally, not coached to do, idiosyncrasies that they did every single lift, not once in awhile, so they didn’t detract from their lifting.
Therefore, a coach has to study a lifter’s body movements to see what can be corrected and what needs to be left alone. There are many little variations people perform, so you have to determine what can be changed. Two things lifters must do to be successful are:

1) The back must always be straight or flat throughout the lift.

2) If they have a little idiosyncrasy that works for them, they must do
it on every single lift.

Don’t throw technique out the window—the lift must be as good as you can do it, and it must be consistent, done the same way every time.
But don’t get hung up on technique: “Teach according to the textbook, but take what you can get!”

By Jim Schmitz

U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team Coach 1980, 1988 & 1992
Author of Olympic-style Weightlifting for Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifters Manual and DVD

Friday, June 8, 2012

Girls Can Hang Athletically With the Boys, Says Study

Even the most amazing female athetes can't match their male counterparts in strength, power, or speed events.
Another entry in the Dumb Study of the Year category.....
Apparently some brilliant researchers at Indiana Unversity have found evidence that before puberty, there is not much difference between girls and boys....then after puberty hits..... Big Difference! Is that ground breaking or what? As a father and a coach of both genders, I have to say I concur!
Yes, puberty is a game changer. Testosterone will serve much better than estrogen in any event that requires strength, speed, or power. However I am grateful for that difference. As my high school French teacher used to say...."Vive la differance!"  Funny, that is the only thing I remember from that class.
Although as anyone who has ever been involved with female athletes can tell you, well trained females can out perform male slugs. One of my daughters insists on only dating someone who can clean and snatch more than her and she has narrowed the field quite a bit. lol

Who said girls can’t hang with the boys? At least according to one study, the young ladies can perform just as well in certain sports as their male counterparts.
Researchers from Indiana University examined data from USA Swimming-registered boys and girls ages 6 to 19. The total data included 1.9 million swims between 2005 and 2010.
The research showed no difference in swim performances among girls and boys younger than 8 years old. The study also found little difference in 11- and 12-year-olds. It was only when children started hitting puberty, around 13 years old, that boys started beating the girls.
It is a commonly held belief that girls and boys cannot compete equally due to differences in physique and skill, Joel Stager, professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University at Bloomington and lead author of the study, wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.
“Our data would seem to argue that this is not always the case,” he said. “Due to differences in developmental pace it seems to be true that at least in some sports there are periods of time during which girls and boys might be athletic equals.”
The increased muscle mass found in boys compared to girls does not happen until puberty, said Dr. David Rubin,a psychiatrist at NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“As a result, the finding that boys and girls aged 8 and under perform the same in a task driven by muscle mass and function makes sense,” said Rubin. “The 11 to 12 year old group is interesting, in that the girls overall are likely taller, and more of them would be in puberty compared to the boys.
The relatively fewer boys that are in puberty in this group, however, are likely developing more muscle mass and increasing performance,” Rubin continued. “Overall, the groups again even out.”
After everyone hits puberty full swing, results begin to mirror what is expected in adults. Boys, due to their increased muscle mass, will often outperform in tasks specifically related to muscle mass.
“It’s important to remember, however, that sports often rely on more than just muscle,” said Rubin.
Sports are a place to foster the development of identity, self-esteem, social skills, collaboration, discipline and the ability to perform under stress, experts said.
While authors said they are not suggesting that boys and girls compete against each other, the findings indicate they could.
Nevertheless, Cook said “it is far better to participate in regular exercise and active forms of leisure that can be lifelong, like biking, jogging, hiking, swimming, versus competitive sports. Parents can and do role model this in good ways to their children, both boys and girls.”
Who really wants men and women to be exactly alike?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why Chicago Schools Brought Back Gym

Friday, June 1, 2012

Great Discussion on Weightlifting

Executing the Olympic lifts properly is both safe and effective in developing rotational force.
Below is discussion that appeared earlier this week on the GOHEAVY Olympic Weightlifting site. It was in response to a post on why most collegiate strength coaches use variations of the olympic style lifts, but few use the full lifts or get involved with competitive weightlifting. Kim Goss, whom we have quoted on this site before, gives an excellent response on why the olympic lifts should be a part of almost any athletes program. He also does a great job of explaining why twisting movements are not the way to develop rotational force. He also shoots down the "risk" factor often sited as a reason for not including the lifts. To quote Meg Stone again, "There are no dangerous lifts, just dangerous coaches." There are too many "internet experts" out there who don't have a deep understanding of, or experience with, the lifts. Yet they don't hesitate to make broad sweeping claims about things they don't have a clue about. Heavy overhead work will do more to strengthen and injury proof the shoulders than years of "sports specific" work with bands or light dumbells. Thanks Kim. This is good stuff.

Steve, I love the Olympic lifts,but I totally agree with you, why expose an athlete pursuing another sport the risks of learning a complex athletic movement that neither emulates or enhances that sport. I played baseball and I would not risk shoulder or wrist damage by teaching the lifts to players, who need rotational power rather then vertical power. I would not want anyone who throws a baseball or football to do full range bench presses, for that matter.
There are ways of using explosive pulls and plyometric drills to enhance CNS response and muscle activation.
Vic Davy

And how do you develop rotational power? As strength coach Charles Poliquin says, these so-called “core” muscles are “force transducers, not force producers.” Take a look at any anatomy book and you’ll see the oblique fibers of the abdominals are aligned vertically to trunk, and as such are not effective in twisting the trunk horizontally.
What this means is that exercises such as cleans and snatches can increase throwing and batting power. If the snatch and clean were not good exercises for throwing, then discus throwers would not be using them -- can you name me one elite thrower who does not do Olympic lifting exercises? Further, overhead movements such as the snatch provide counter rotation, which influences the neurological coding of rotational movements – in other words, the ability to rotate in one direction is influenced by how much rotation you can create rotation in the other direction. Let me give you an example.
In the early 80s American discus thrower Carol Cady had to stop throwing due to extreme back pain. Physical therapist Don Chu gave her exercises to balance out her muscular development, and a few months later she shattered the American record – I believe this throw stood for over 20 years. Such is the importance of counter rotation. Oh, and after that throw Cady took up Olympic lifting and became a US weightlifting champion and world team member.
The snatch also trains the external rotators of the shoulder, which help decelerate the arm during throwing. One of the problem with chin-ups, which have become extremely popular in many so-called “functional” training programs, is that they primarily strengthen the muscles that internally rotate the humerus. A muscular imbalance in the external rotators can contribute to shoulder impingement syndrome and increase the risk of shoulder dislocations. Are you telling me that you played baseball and did not lift and never injured your throwing arm or shoulder?
As for wrist injuries, I was a strength coach at the Air Force Academy for eight years, and during my final year there I was writing the workouts for 865 athletes. Every sport did cleans, and I don’t know of a single athlete who had a wrist or shoulder injury from lifting that forced me to modify their workouts.
You don't like Olympic lifting exercises or are not comfortable teaching them, fine. Don't practice them and don't teach them. But exercise science proves that these movements can help a baseball player achieve physical superiority on the field.
Thank you,
Kim Goss, MS
Former Strength Coach, U.S. Air Force Academy

Kim, I was talking about throwing a baseball or football and the risks to shoulders. I was doing the Olympic Lifts in 1960's and have been teaching them for years. There many forms of strength training besides the Olympic lifts that are used by elite athletes.

I love the sport of Olympic Lifting, but to say it is a panacea for training is ridiculous. Irrational zealotry is not a realistic approach to training athletes.
Vic Davy

This is what you wrote:
“I played baseball and I would not risk shoulder or wrist damage by teaching the lifts to players, who need rotational power rather then vertical power.”
Vic, your arguments don’t make any sense from an anatomical or biomechanical perspective. This isn’t a case of me expression “irrational zealotry,” it’s simply repeating what has been found in the scientific literature. Now let’s follow some of that science.
You use the terms “horizontal power” and now “rotational power” to describe movements in baseball, when you should be using the terms “negative torsion with extension” and “positive torsion with flexion” in describing movements of the trunk. Biomechanics 101.
Rotation on a single axis in not a natural movement pattern Try throwing a baseball with your arm extension our to your side and you will not be able to generate much power – again, the obliques have a vertical alignment with the trunk (Anatomy 101). This is why T-ball is so dangerous – you’re creating high shearing forces on the spine, which is a great way to blow out a disk! Especially if those baseball players do not perform exercises such as the overhead squat that develop counter-rotation strength. (For a reference, I would consult the work of Stuart McGill, one of the foremost authorities on lower back pain.)
You’re throwing out terms such as “CNS response” and “plyometrics.” German sport scientist Dr. Dietmar Schmidtbleicher is considered one of the foremost authorities on both these subjects. He developed a scale of motor unit recruitment, rating exercises on a scale of 1 to 6 based upon their degree of muscle activation. Level 6, the highest level, included complex exercises such as the Olympic lifts.
You talk about the “risk” of performing complex exercises such as the Olympic lifts. What risk? A study in the United Kingdom found that the lowest injury rate was in the sport of competitive weightlifting, with a .0017 rate (0.17 percent). The authors noted the following: “Britain’s Schoolboy Championship has been staged annually for at least 18 years and has involved some 54,600 competition lifts (maximal or nearly so) and at least 54,600 lighter but still heavy warm-up lifts. In this period one boy suffered a concussion when he fell onto a weight after losing control, and another was bruised when he dropped a weight onto his upper back. In neither case has there been any evidence of a long-term consequence.”
Compare this to the recent study on Canadian youth hockey, which found that in the 2010 season 700 concussions occurred in the 11-12 year-old age group out of 9,000 participants! Again, just one season! You apparently never had a serious arm or shoulder injury from baseball, OK: N = 1. But I saw one study that found that the risk of a youth pitcher developing a serious injury within 10 years is 5 percent, and these risks are 3.5 time higher if a kid pitches for more than 100 innings in a year. Let's see, .17 percent versus 5 percent -- maybe we should ban baseball?
Regarding your comment about elite athletes. Can you tell me the name of a single world class discus thrower, male or female, in the past 40 years who does not use some variation of the Olympic lifts? The same with the shot put. And by the way, in 1974 shot put world record holder Al Feuerbach won the US National weightlifting championships with a 341-pound snatch and a 418-pound clean and jerk, and several women discus throwers have also won the US Nationals in weightlifting.
Vic, if you want to bash weightlifting as a method of strength training for baseball, fine – but your arguments would have more credibility if you would back up your opinions with some science, or at least a reference to a textbook on anatomy or biomechanics.
Thank you,
Kim Goss, MS ,Editor in Chief, BFS magazine