Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dot Drill

 - Olympic Weightlifting, strength, conditioning, fitness, nutrition - Catalyst Athletics

Below is an article I pulled off of the Catalystathletics website awhile ago. Like the author, I have used the Dot Drill in with my athletes for many years. It is a quick and efficient way to get a quick warmup prior to a heavy workout. Once mastered it takes a minute or less. You can run large groups through quickly with either commercially made DotDrill mats, or merely paint circles on the floor as shown above. I first learned this in the early 70's at BYU where we did it each day prior to football practice. There were about 12 stations painted on a concrete pad that was at the entrance to the practice field. We all did as we entered the field. Greg Shepard, who was at BYU finishing his doctorate was working with team as a strength coach. As he tells it, the drill was developed at the University of Kentucky by the legendary coach, Adolph Rupp, for his basketball players. The purpose was to get tall players to move their feet, strengthen ankles, and develop some agility or change of direction skills. It worked out well for them and has for many others since. I like things that are simple and effective. This fits that bill.

My first experience with the dot drill came about in my high school football off-season strength &conditioning program. I remember one day as we went out to the track for conditioning seeing a whole gang of white dots spray-painted on the asphalt leading to the track. The football coach showed us a routine and I was hooked. Of course anything that is turned into a competition or race highly motivates me. In this article I’m going to briefly discuss how and why I use the dot drill as part of my strength & conditioning programs for college athletes.

Let’s start with where the dot drill came from. The Bigger, Faster, Stronger outfit didn’t invent the dot drill, but they did popularize it—it’s impossible to think dot drill and not associate it with BFS. Kim Goss at BFS was kind enough to let me use their nifty diagram for this article. I’m going to go off on a small tangent here, but over the years I’ve heard a lot people go out of their way to knock Bigger, Faster, Stronger in particular and other strength & conditioning programs in general. My questions are 1. Why bother? and 2. What have you done for the world of strength & conditioning? I’m a fan of Adam Corolla who has a morning talk radio program here in Southern California. Corolla has a philosophy of “If it doesn’t bring you happiness or money, don’t burn calories on it.” That’s the way I feel about this topic… don’t burn calories on picking apart every strength & conditioning program out there looking for the negative and then complaining about it to anyone who will listen. Instead burn calories on examining programs out there and finding the best ideas and practices of that program. Wake Forest Strength coach Ethan Reeve once told me to develop and stick to my own philosophy of training but keep an open mind and constantly search for new ideas that fit your philosophy. I’m constantly borrowing from other coaches & programs to make my program better. So my advice is stop looking for and hammering on the negative and start searching programs for the good ideas… the dot drill is one of many good ideas from BFS.

Back to the dot drill. The first question I’m going to answer is why I use it. Like Bigger, Faster, Stronger advocates, I often use it as a warm-up. The drill consists of low-level plyometrics and going through the routine certainly raises the heartrate and body temperature. I’ll generally follow the dot drill with a series of calisthenics (think Greg Amundson Crossfit warm-up) then a barbell warm-up… after that we are ready to start our Olympic lift for the day. In addition to a warm-up, it’s a great drill to develop quickness, agility, and ankle strength. Also I use the drill as a way to teach proper landing and cutting mechanics, which involve keeping the knees and hips slightly flexed. Approximately 90% of ACL tears happen when the knee is locked out completely straight. The dot drill is a time when we teach the athletes and have them then practice to land and cut with a bent knee and to never get caught with a locked out knee. This is particularly important for female athletes who tend to be quad dominant and perform these movements with their knees locked out. This is one reason they have up to a 9x higher ACL tear rate then men, and simple drills that teach them to cut and land properly have been shown to reduce their rate of injury. Also performing the drill with slightly flexed knees and hips allows the athlete to help carry their weight and control the movement with their posterior chain rather than only their quads, which is safer, more efficient and more powerful. And the beauty of the whole thing is that it’s timed—progress is measurable, and competition is a strong motivator. Not bad for a 60-second warm-up.

Now the second question to answer is how I use it. Most of the time I have my athletes do the patterns advocated by BFS (described below). In addition to this I have my dots lined up in a row and we will do “dot sprints” horizontally down that row utilizing a pattern similar to the first up & back pattern in the diagram, but instead of going back, the athlete continues forward to the next set of dots. The student-athletes love this as we will do individual and team races. Lastly you can also do a reaction drill numbering or lettering each dot and call out patterns they have to react to. As for set up, you can buy the pre-designed mats from BFS, or you can just spray paint some dots on concrete, asphalt, or your rubber gym flooring.

As a college strength & conditioning coach who has limited time with my athletes, I need to get as much bang for my buck as possible. The dot drill covers a lot of bases for me in a short amount of time.

The Drills

The following drills are courtesy of BFS. Each drill is performed six consecutive times.

Up and Back

A. Start with feet on A and B.
B. Now jump quickly to C with both feet
C. Then jump and split feet to D and E.
D. Come back the same way jumping backward.
E. Repeat 5 more times.

Right Foot

A. Your feet from up-and-back should end on dots A and B.
B. Now go to dot C with your right foot.
C. Now go in order: Dot D, E, C, A, B.
D. Repeat 5 more times.

Left Foot

A. You will end the right foot drill on Dot B.
B. Now go to dot C with your left foot.
C. Now go in order: Dot D, E, C, A, B.
D. Repeat 5 more times.

Both Feet

A. You will end the left foot drill on Dot B.
B. Now go to C with both feet.
C. Now go in order with both feet: Dot D, E, C, A, B.
D. Repeat 5 more times.

Turn Around

A. You will end the Both Feet Drill on Dot B. Now go to C with both feet.
B. Now go to dots D and E spread apart both feet as in the up-and-back (Drill #1).
C. Now quickly jump 180° clockwise to face the other way. You should still be on D and E.
D. Hit C with both feet and then A and B with feet split.
E. Now turn quickly again with a 180 spin to the left with your feet still on A and B.
F. Repeat 5 more times.
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Josh Everett has been the head strength & conditioning coach at UC Riverside since 2001. Prior to that he served as an assistant strength coach at UCLA. Josh started his career in strength & conditioning as an assistant at Ohio University under legendary strength coach Ethan Reeve.

The Dot Drill can be a great warmup before a heavy workout.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weightlifting History

Since we are on the theme of Weightlifting history with the last post,here is another short video that does a nice job of outlining the history of competitive weightlifting and has some great historical pictures and videos. By the way, our last post about Alexeev showed him demonstrating a leg extension device he developed and teaching a young lifter to use it. When I watched this, I have to admit I wasn't all that impressed. I figured he just "invented" an awkward poor man's leg extension machine substitute. However, since I have been having some knee issues, it stuck in my mind and I decided to give it a try. I set up on an orignal Louie Simmons style reverse hyper unit (with the nylon straps around the ankles). I faced forward and laid back like Alexeev demonstrated. I was amazed at how much different this exercise was than a seated leg extension. It worked my quads in a whole different way and really did help my knees to feel better. It brings home the point again that no matter how long you've been around, just when you thought you've seen everything, there is always something to learn or relearn. Enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More Vasily Alexeev

This is a really great documentary. It takes 45 minutes to watch, but if you are a weightlifting fan, the history and images are priceless. Even if you are are an athlete from another sport, this glimpse into the mind of a champion who completely dominated his sport for many years is telling. His ego certainly matched his physical presence. The physical sacrifices and the wear and tear on his body is also worth noting. He was one of those for whom training for high performance and health were not related, typical of most former Eastern Block athletes and many elite level athletes the world over.
He was most definitely one of  kind, training without a coach, using some really unique methods, and setting over 80 world records. His confidence was unmatched and he never even entertained for second that he was not in charge of whatever the situation was. Love him or hate him, there are lessons to be learned from his career and life.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Crazy Comparison

Here is an interesting video comparing the ability of 4 different iron game athletes to squat body weight for max reps in 5 minutes. There is a weightlifter, a powerlifter, a bodybuilder, and a strongman competitor.
Does it prove anything?
Or even shed some light on which type of training is superior?
NO, of course not.
There is no attempt to insure that these individuals are equally adept at their disciplines, have equal training experience, or are matched for lean body mass...etc. A single trial with a sample of one athlete per discipline is insufficient for serious study.
 Nor is the ability to squat bodyweight for 5 minutes straight a valid measure of anything relevant.
Yet, it was fun to watch (although not much fun to do) the different styles of squat technique and the different body types lifting simultaneously. Is it a good idea to replicate? I don't think so, unless you like lactic acid or want to know what rhabdomyolysis feels like.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fighting Obesity on the Navajo Nation

Let's get back to being Super!

While I am in support of this, I mean why not make it more costly to buy poor health and use the profits to invest in health promoting facilities? I do doubt the overall effectiveness of such measures in making a real difference in the health and fitness of the Navajo Nation. What we really need is an emphasis on how physical activity in integral to maintaining the culture of the Navajo people. We need leaders to lead out and set the example of regular exercise and healthy food choices. We need supermarkets throughout the reservation that sell us fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. We need to understand that frybread is not a traditional food and, in fact, is only a remnant of the Ft. Sumner experience. We need to realize that we don't have to be the largest consumers of soda pop in the United States and quit buying our meals at fast food outlets and the convenience stores that have become so common in our communities. We have developed some bad habits and become accustomed to the wrong kinds of tastes. In the end, it's a choice and each of us has the power to choose better for ourselves and our families. The tribal council cannot fix the problem by legislation. The war has to be won one warrior at at time.

Navajo Nation Council Approves Junk Food Tax to Fight Obesity
 Alysa Landry
  The Navajo Nation Council on Thursday approved a 2-percent increase in sales tax for junk food sold on the 27,000-square-mile reservation, becoming the first tribe in the country to install a so-called “junk food tax.”

The council approved the bill, known as the Healthy Diné Nation Act, with a 12-7 vote on the final day of its regular winter session. The bill was one of two passed Thursday that lawmakers and health care advocates hope encourage Navajos to give up junk food in favor of fresh, healthy food.

The Healthy Diné Nation Act increases the sales tax to 7 percent on sweetened beverages and snacks low in essential nutrients and high in salt, fat and sugar. This includes chips, candy, cookies and pastries. The bill also states that the revenue collected from the tax hike will be deposited into a special fund to develop wellness centers, parks, basketball courts, trails, swimming pools, picnic grounds and health education classes.

Bill sponsor Danny Simpson, who represents eight chapters in the Eastern Navajo Agency, said the tax increase will help promote healthy living and bring awareness to the diabetes epidemic on the reservation.

“Each one of us here has a relative that’s diabetic, and we face that fact every single day,” he told council members prior to the vote.

An estimated 10 percent of the Navajo population has diabetes, said David Foley, an epidemiologist for the Navajo Nation Division of Health. In numbers, that’s about 24,600 people. Another 75,000 people are pre-diabetic.

The junk food tax is unprecedented, not just in Indian Country but in the nation as a whole, said Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of the Notah Begay III Foundation, a non-profit organization that combats obesity and diabetes among Natives.

“This is the only one in the country, so the national significance of this cannot be underplayed,” she said. “Bigger cities have been trying to get something like this passed for years, and the Navajo Nation is the first to get it done.”

Passage of the Healthy Diné Nation Act began two years ago as a grassroots effort from members of the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance who studied rates of obesity and diabetes on the reservation and decided existing prevention programs weren’t doing enough.

“Even though there was a lot of education, people seemed to not be listening,” said Gloria Ann Begay, project manager for the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance. “So we looked at policies like the tobacco tax or the seat belt laws and we decided that taxing junk food might discourage the purchase of it.”

Begay estimates that between 55 and 85 percent of all food available in grocery or convenience stores on the reservation can be considered junk food. Store owners argue they are simply selling what the people want to buy, she said.
“Store owners claim it’s supply and demand,” she said. “They’re just giving us what we want.”

The tax does nothing to curb the purchase of junk food in border towns, where many residents already shop, Begay said. Some people drive as far as 200 miles round-trip to get to a grocery store in towns like Farmington or Gallup, N.M., or Flagstaff, Ariz.

Calling the tax a “first step,” Begay said she hopes it acts as a deterrent in check-out lines. Proponents of the tax also hope it persuades store owners to carry more healthy food so low-income residents who can’t afford to drive to border towns aren’t forced to shoulder the extra financial burden.

The 2-percent increase in sales tax for junk food expires at the end of 2018 unless the Navajo Nation Council votes to extend it.

The council also approved a second bill Thursday to eliminate the existing 5-percent sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables, water, nuts, seeds and nut butters sold on the reservation. The purpose, according to the bill, is to “diminish the human and economic costs of obesity and diabetes on the Navajo Nation.”

The vote on this bill was 17 to 1. Navajo President Ben Shelly has 10 days to sign the bills into law.

Both bills cite staggering statistics on the cost of living with diabetes – it can cost one person an estimated copy3,000 per year to treat the disease and copy00,000 or more per year to treat complications related to diabetes.

The Indian Health Service reports that American Indians and Alaska Natives experience diabetes at 2.3 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites. Obesity also can lead to increased risks of heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, respiratory or reproductive problems, sleep apnea and some types of cancer.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/01/navajo-nation-council-approves-junk-food-tax-fight-obesity-153376

Deezbaa Whaley a modern day Navajo Warrior going 19.28m (63')

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bulgarian System?

Bulgarian lifters are known for  being able to elevate great weights with little muscular development.

Below is a great article by Bob Takano, one of America's most renowned weight lifting coaches. He is a lifelong student (and teacher) of biology, physiology, and all things related to lifting heavier weights. He has been finding and training lifters here in the USA for decades with a great deal of success. He is always looking for what works and throwing away what doesn't lead to improved results. His take on the revered "Bulgarian System" is worth considering. There are many out there who still try implement the "Bulgarian System" without an understanding of what it entails in it's entirety. The highly publicized "training to the maximum" on a daily basis is only the tip of a large iceberg of athlete selection and preparation which is supported by a system that is unique to the socio-economic environment there. To attempt to take that one segment of their system and implement in another environment is a recipe for beaten up, burned out, and injured athletes. Can we learn from the "Bulgarian System"? You bet. Just be sure to learn the whole system, what it is based upon, and how it works over the long haul.  I would venture to say that it's application in a drug tested, free market economy situation is very limited.

Oh, and Don't Forget... The Bulgarian System
Bob Takano  |  Olympic Weightlifting  |  October 7 2013  
I continue to hear about lifters that are fascinated with the Bulgarian method of training, practice it and swear that it is THE WAY to train. I’m speaking about the practice of going up to max singles on every lift every training day.

We first heard about this approach when Dr. Terry Todd wrote an article about Naim Suleymanoglu’s lifting for Sports Illustrated in 1984. Most of us were stunned as we had never heard about such a radical departure from accepted training orthodoxy. I had the opportunity to go to Bulgaria as part of a NSCA Study Tour in 1989 and to listen to Abadjiev’s presentation on this particular approach.

We even had an opportunity to watch it during a training session in which each member of the national team worked up to a max single (many of them exceeding the existing world records at the time), then lowered the bar by 10 kg, lifted that, added 5 kg, lifted that and then repeated a single at the max weight. These progressions continued throughout the training until the time limit for the session was reached. This can also be observed in the video Secret Bulgarian Training which is available on my website.

The logical question that comes to mind after learning of this approach is “Yes, but how do they train during the Preparation mesocycle?” Both former national coaches Dragomir Ciroslan and Harvey Newton have posed that question during discussions we held about Bulgarian training. Since then I’ve had a number of discussions on this issue with very knowledgeable coaches about the training methodologies that must take place before elite level athletes are able to employ this type of training on a prolong basis.

I’ve heard that the Kazakhstanis, who did very well in London, only Bulgarianize their training of athletes after 10 years of Russian style training. I recently had an online chat with Lisandro Digiuni, the national coach of Colombia, a rising weightlifting power. He assisted Bulgarian Gancho Karuchkov as a member of the Columbian national coaching staff for several years. The Colombians only use Bulgarian methodologies for Master of Sport and International Master of Sport lifters. Up until that point they employ the more traditional Russian and Cuban methods.

When I was in Bulgaria it was immediately after the 1988 Olympics and a time period during which the Bulgars were riding high in the international rankings with multiple world record holders. Since so many are enthralled by the Bulgarian training methodologies, they might want to consider the following factors as they approach the issue of the preparation of weightlifters.

Candidates for the national youth development programs were selected at age 12. This doesn’t mean you automatically got in if you were 12. You had to be 12 and display great aptitude for weightlifting.
Selected candidates were enrolled in Sports Schools where academics were covered in the morning classes and the afternoons were dedicated to training by university trained coaches. These were boarding school situations.
There were 85 university trained (which means they had degrees in weightlifting coaching) and salaried coaches in Bulgaria.
The goal of the program was to start with 3200 select weightlifters at the beginning of each quad and end up with the 10 left standing at the end of four years. These 10 would form the Olympic teams. There is no mention of the fate of the 3190 who didn’t make the team.
There were 3 teams of 10 each in the national training center that used the Bulgarian style of training. There was a Senior A, a Senior B and a Junior A team. Quarterly trials that resulted in the worst 2 Senior A lifters being moved down to the Senior B, and the two best Senior B lifters moved up to the Senior A were a part of the competitive atmosphere. The same dynamic took place between the bottom of the Senior B and the Junior A.
The aforementioned 3 teams were made up of salaried professional weightlifters.
Abadjiev and 3 assistants coached the 30 lifters with assistance from personal coaches who would work periodically at the national center. This was possible because of the relatively small size of the country (110,994 square kilometers).
The national center had a full time sports physician and nutritionist.
Restoration centers that provided hydrotherapy, massage and other recovery modalities were available near training centers in Sofia and Varna.
There were only two Olympic sports in which Bulgarians expected to medal—Rhythmic gymnastics and weightlifting. It’s not hard to figure how government sports funding was being allocated.
Several Bulgarian lifters in the 1988 Games were found to be positive for furosemide, a powerful diuretic that is normally used to flush the last traces of metabolites of ergogenic aids out of the system prior to dope testing.

Now there is a good chance that many of these factors contributed to the great successes of the Bulgarians during their period of dominance. But if you want to think that only doing max singles everyday is THE FACTOR then go for it!

(Originally published at www.takanoathletics.com)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What's in a Name?

Something to think about on "Super Sunday". They didn't have the $$ to air during the "Big Game."