Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why strength depends on more than muscle

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Taner Sagir is just one example of an amazing lifter without great muscle mass.

A concise article that gives more evidence to what any of us who train already know. Lift heavy to get strong and muscle size does not directly correlate to muscle strength.It also shows the fallacy of much strength training research. Using a single joint exercise like leg extensions with a small sample group for a limited amount of time doesn't necessarily translate well to real athletic strength and power training. But those of us who have trained ourselves and coached others for many years know that neural adaptation take place independent of muscle mass.

Neural adaptations could account for differing strength gains despite similar muscle mass

Date:July 10, 2017 Source:University of Nebraska-Lincoln Summary:Physical strength might stem as much from exercising the nervous system as the muscles it controls. The findings could explain why those who lift heavier weights enjoy greater strength gains than low-load lifters despite similar growth in muscle mass

A recent study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has given new meaning to the concept of brain power by suggesting that physical strength might stem as much from exercising the nervous system as the muscles it controls.

 Over the past few years, researchers have found evidence that lifting more repetitions of lighter weight can build muscle mass just as well as fewer reps of heavier weight. Even so, those who train with heavier weight still see greater gains in strength than those who lift lighter loads.

But if strength differs even when muscle mass does not, what explains the disparity?

Nathaniel Jenkins and his colleagues may have uncovered some answers by measuring how the brain and motor neurons -- cells that send electrical signals to muscle -- adapt to high- vs. low-load weight training. Their study suggests that high-load training better conditions the nervous system to transmit electrical signals from the brain to muscles, increasing the force those muscles can produce to a greater extent than does low-load training.

Muscles contract when they receive electrical signals that originate in the brain's neuron-rich motor cortex. Those signals descend from the cortex to the spinal tract, speeding through the spine while jumping to other motor neurons that then excite muscle fibers.

Jenkins found evidence that the nervous system activates more of those motor neurons -- or excites them more frequently -- when subjected to high-load training. That increased excitation could account for the greater strength gains despite comparable growth in muscle mass.

"If you're trying to increase strength -- whether you're Joe Shmoe, a weekend warrior, a gym rat or an athlete -- training with high loads is going to result in greater strength adaptations," said Jenkins, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at Oklahoma State University who conducted the research for his dissertation at Nebraska.

The dissertation randomly assigned 26 men to train for six weeks on a leg-extension machine loaded with either 80 or 30 percent of the maximum weight they could lift. Three times per week, the participants lifted until they could not complete another repetition. Jenkins was able to replicate the findings of several previous studies, seeing similar growth in muscle between the two groups but a larger strength increase -- roughly 10 pounds' worth -- in the high-load group.

But the researchers also supplied an electric current to the nerve that stimulates the quadriceps muscles used in leg extensions. Even at full effort, most people do not generate 100 percent of the force their muscles can physiologically produce, Jenkins said. By comparing the force of a participant's "hardest" unassisted kick with the maximum force they can generate when aided by electric current, scientists can determine how much of that capacity a person has reached -- a measure known as voluntary activation.

When adjusting for baseline scores, the researchers found that the voluntary activation of the low-load group increased from 90.07 to 90.22 percent -- 0.15 percent -- over a three-week span. The high-load group saw their voluntary activation jump from 90.94 to 93.29 percent, a rise of 2.35 percent.

"During a maximal contraction, it would be advantageous if we are activating -- or more fully activating -- more motor units," Jenkins said. "The result of that should be greater voluntary force production -- an increase in strength. That's consistent with what we're seeing."

Jenkins also tested his hypothesis another way, asking participants from both groups to kick out at 10-percent intervals of their baseline strength -- from 10 percent all the way up to 100 percent -- after three and six weeks. If high-load training does improve muscle efficiency better than low-load training, he reasoned, then high-load lifters should also use a smaller proportion of their strength -- that is, exhibit lower voluntary activation -- when lifting the same relative weight.

That's what the data generally showed. Voluntary activation in the low-load group did decrease slightly, from an average of about 56 percent at baseline to 54.71 percent after six weeks. But it decreased more in the high-load group, dropping from about 57 to 49.43 percent.

"If we see a decrease in voluntary activation at these sub-maximal force levels, that suggests that these guys are more efficient," Jenkins said. "They are able to produce the same force, but they activate fewer motor units to do it."

Placing electrodes on the participants to record the electrical signatures of their quadriceps reinforced those results. High-load training led to a substantially larger drop in electrical activity after six weeks, the study reported, and that activity was lower across most levels of exertion.

"From a practical standpoint, that should make the activities of daily living easier," Jenkins said. "If I'm lifting sub-maximal loads, I should be able to do more repetitions with fewer motor units active, so maybe I fatigue a little bit slower."

Jenkins maintained that low-load training remains a viable option for those looking to simply build mass or avoid putting extreme stress on joints, a priority for older adults and people rehabbing from injury. Still, he said, the new study lends even greater credence to the notion that when it comes to building strength -- especially amid a busy schedule -- heavier is better.

"I don't think anybody would argue (with the idea) that high-load training is more efficient," Jenkins said. "It's more time-efficient. We're seeing greater strength adaptations. And now we're seeing greater neural adaptations."

Jenkins detailed his findings in the journal Frontiers in Physiology. He authored the paper with former doctoral adviser Joel Cramer, associate professor of nutrition and health sciences; Terry Housh, professor of nutrition and health sciences; Nebraska doctoral students Amelia Miramonti, Ethan Hill, Cory Smith; and doctoral graduate Kristen Cochrane-Snyman, now at California State Polytechnic University.

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Mattie Rogers along with most female lifters as well.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Keeping the Bar Close

Another great article from Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. In our program we try to keep things simple as possible and tell our students to keep the bar close, move the bar fast, and get low under the bar. Of course doing these things takes some deeper understanding. This is a great explanation of what it means and what it takes to keep the bar close.

I’m comfortable saying it’s common knowledge that keeping the bar as close to the body as possible during the snatch and clean is one of the most important factors in successful lift technique, but it may be an equally common problem for learning lifters (and even a lot of more experienced lifters). There is a very real struggle in figuring out how to maximize aggression in the lift while maintaining this proximity—even conceptually for many athletes the two things seem impossible to reconcile.
 A million things can be said on the topic, and you may have heard most of them at one point or another, so I’m not going to write a complete treatise on it. Instead, I want to cover what I see as being the three most common causes of the bar moving away from the body in the snatch and clean, and what to do about them.
Forward Imbalance in the Pull
 Often with the issue of the bar swinging away, we get overly focused on the part of the lift where we notice the distance, which is reasonable, but it leaves out one of the major causes of this problem—being out of balance early in the pull.
 A critical part of the pull from the floor is establishing the proper balance over the foot (slightly behind mid-foot) as well as the initial bar path (slightly toward the lifter). If the bar starts over the balls of the foot, which is what we would consider correct, if it moves directly vertically, the combined bar-lifter system is out of balance forward—the bar does not have to actually move forward for you to be out of balance here, so if it does in fact move forward, the imbalance is even more pronounced.
 To work on this, you can use pulling variations with pauses between the floor and the knee, any pull or lift variation that uses an intentionally slowed first pull, or any lift variation with a pause or pauses on the way up. In each case, the idea is to give you more time and opportunity to feel the imbalance and make the correction, as well as to spend time in the proper positions in order to strengthen them so that the correct motion becomes more natural. Another option is a complex of pull or deadlift + snatch or clean—the pull or deadlift is more easily controlled, so you have a chance to feel the proper motion and then transfer it into the subsequent lift.
Bumping the Bar Off the Hips/Thighs
 There are quite a few possible causes of this cause itself, but I’ll focus on the two primary ones—excessive distance prior to the bar-body contact, and excessive hip extension and/or inadequate leg extension.
 The farther the bar is from the body before it comes into contact at the top of the pull (hips for the snatch and upper thigh for the clean), the greater the horizontal force of that contact will be; in contrast, the closer the bar is to the body leading into this contact, the less horizontal force it will received. I like Ursula Garza’s analogy of “skipping” a tennis ball on the ground—if you throw it from a height with a sharp downward angle, the ball will bounce back up at that same angle and high off the ground; if instead you lean way down and throw it at the shallowest angle you can, like you’re trying to skip a rock, it will bounce off the ground but remain very close to it afterward.
 I consider leg extension inadequate and/or hip extension excessive when the hips cross forward through an imaginary vertical line running through the lifter’s ankle, hip and shoulder when viewing them standing in profile. In other words, the lifter pushes the hips too far through the bar instead of bringing the hips and bar together so they can both move up.
 Use exercises like pulls, high-pulls, and muscle snatches/cleans to practice guiding the bar properly up the body by driving properly with the legs and achieving contact at the top in a way that helps the bar continue moving upward as much as possible and minimizes the forward motion.
Stiff Elbows
 Finally, in an effort to prevent bending the arms early in the pull, oftentimes lifters will lock their elbows. This makes sense, and will definitely keep the arms from bending early, but it creates a new problem in the third pull—it makes it far more difficult to keep the bar close when pulling under.
 If the arms are stiffly extended, when you reach complete extension, the only place the bar is able to go is forward—swinging around the shoulder joint. Even if you actively bend the arms to pull under the bar, it will be delayed and the outward bar path already established.
 The arms should be straight because they’re relaxed and being pulled by the weight of the bar, not because you’re actively extending them. If your elbows bend a little bit naturally when you pull, you’ll be OK—this is better than locked elbows in every meaningful way.

 Use pulls with straps so you can relax your grip as much as possible to get a sense of what it feels like to keep a tight back and loose arms, and of course, the easiest way to fix the problem of locking your elbows? Quit locking your elbows.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Old School?

A rare shot of the lineup of heavyweight winners at the 1938 World Weightlifting Championships held in Vienna (Which was then a part of Germany.) From left to right Josef Manger of Germany (410 kg. total), Steve Stanko of the United States (397.5 kg. total) and Arnold Luhaar of Estonia (390 kg. total).

Below is a very interesting video segment. It is taken from a Polish weight lifting video that is over an hour long. Other segments can be viewed on Youtube. Back in the 80's the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Assoc.) offered this in VHS format. I have a copy and have watched it and used it to teach many times over the years. It just proves that whatever is touted as "new", was undoubtedly done somewhere before by someone. It also shows the nearly infinite variety of movements that can be implemented in one's training over time. For throwers, especially, I believe that there is no reason to get into a training rut. While there are certain basics that should be included in a sound program, there are many variations that are limited only by lack of creativity. In this segment pulling exercises from various heights and starting points are illustrated along with eccentrics and many overhead variations as well. I also really like the combination lifts such as clean, front squat, and jerk. These types of combinations are great for conditioning and technique development, especially in the off-season. Good stuff and never "old fashioned."

Monday, July 17, 2017

What You Can Expect in Weightlifting When You Get Older

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Fred Lowe, one of the All-Time greats Matt mentions. Lifting much less than in his prime, but still elite for his age.

Below is another great article by one of our favorite authors, Matt Foreman. We have featured him in our posts many times over the years. He has a rare combination of real life experience in the Iron Game along with great writing skills. He nails this topic in his usual matter of fact way. As a 62 year old lifter who hasn't competed in about 20 years, but who still trains consistently, I concur with Matt. No need to be discouraged or give in to aging, but realize that your numbers are going to decline and you are going to have to make adjustments in volume and intensity. Even so, you can still enjoy the feeling of a great workout. It's worth the effort to persevere. 

I’m going to start this article with a post I put on Facebook recently. A masters lifter had tagged me in a separate post of her own where she was wondering out loud about what kind of performance decline athletes should expect as they get older and progress upward through the age groups.  Here’s what I wrote:
Somebody mentioned something this morning about wanting to know how much decline you can expect in your lifts as you progress upwards through the age divisions in weightlifting.
I’ve got tons of thoughts about this, so I’m going to write an article (maybe even a series of articles) about it. At least half of you are old masters lifters, and you’re interested in knowing what you’re up against in the future years if you stay in the game.
I guess one of the first fundamental things I believe about this is that you should never expect a decline in your performance. Your numbers might go down as your age goes up, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting worse. Let’s say you’ve got a 200 kg total when you’re 35 and that number gives you a 292 Malone-Meltzer Sinclair score (the Sinclair formula that factors in your age). Then, eight years later, you’re totaling 190 kg at the same bodyweight, but your formula score is now 300. Your total went down, but you’re actually performing better for your age.
The point is you have to look at “performance” a different way when you’re older. Hell, you might hang on to the same total for six years as you travel through your 40s or 50s. That means you’re winning the battle. If you’re not getting worse as you get older, you’re getting better. More to come.
 So there’s that, first of all.  Now let me go through some of the additional thoughts I had about this subject.
 People often ask me about what’s going to happen to their weightlifting results as they get older.   The nutshell question is always… is there any hope that my total will actually increase as I get old, or should I expect basically a steady drop-off over time?
 The answer to that largely has to do with how old you were when you started lifting.  If you’ve been a weightlifter since you were young and you hit a big performance peak when you were in your mid 20s, you can usually expect a steady decline as you get older…if you’re even interested in continuing to lift at all.  For example, if you started competing when you were a teenager and you won a national title with a 340 kg total when you were 27, you’re probably not going to total 352 when you’re 41. Most likely, your total will just kind of gradually slide lower and lower as you get older.
 You have to remember something…many of the top masters lifters in the world weren’t big-time lifters when they were younger.  There are occasional exceptions to this, like Olympians Fred Lowe and Michael Cohen, who have continued to dominate masters weightlifting in their 40s and 50s.  However, most athletes who won prestigious national or world championships in their 20s don’t continue competing as masters. Instead, the majority of the top masters in the world fit into two brackets:
 A) Lifters who were mid-level competitors in their younger years who have simply been able to hang on to their top lifts into their older years
 B) People who didn’t start weightlifting until they were older
 One of the main reasons why these people are able to lift big weights in their older years is their bodies simply aren’t as beat up as lifters who were top-tier competitors in their youth.  When you make an Olympic team, or win a national or world championship, you’ve put yourself through a hellish pounding that most people can’t even understand. That kind of pounding puts a huge level of wear and tear on your body and your mind.  Most elite lifters think about continuing with this kind of training in their older years and say, “Ugh, no thanks.”  Understandably so. They paid the price and earned their stripes. If they want to be done, more power to them.
 People who start weightlifting when they’re older simply don’t have that kind of mileage on their bodies. They’re new, they’re not wrecked, and they’re learning.  In these kinds of situations, you can absolutely expect continued progress…even if you’re older.  If somebody starts weightlifting when they’re 40 or 50, they’re going to experience the same early-stage progress every weightlifter gets. They’ll probably keep increasing their totals throughout their 40s or 50s because they’re improving their skills every year.
 When will it stop?  When will athletes like this hit their lifetime top lifts, and then everything else afterwards will be downhill?  There’s absolutely no way of knowing that for sure. It’ll be entirely individual.
 One thing I can say for certain is that injuries often result in permanent decline when you get older. Let’s say you’ve got a 46 year-old lifter who’s been training for seven years and has a 195 kg total.  He gets hurt, has to take some considerable time off, recovers, and then starts training again. There’s a high chance his total will take a hit that he won’t bounce all the way back from. You lose it fast when you’re old. This is why it’s so incredibly important to set up your training with the right priority list when you’re a master.  Staying healthy comes first, always. NOTE: I’m talking about real injuries, not little ones. The ones that take you out of the game for several months, or longer (possibly involving surgery).
 All of this gets back to the original point I made in that Facebook post. You have to measure your performance in different ways once you’ve passed your peak. That age-corrected formula I talked about, the Malone-Meltzer Sinclair formula, is a great way to do it. I totaled 303 kg at 122 kg bodyweight when I was 37, which gave me a score of 348 points on that formula. If I can total around 275 kg at 115 kg bodyweight when I’m 47, that will put me around 355 points.  So my total will have dropped almost 30 kilos, but I’ll be doing better lifting for my age. NOTE: The Queensland Weightlifting Association has an online calculator that does this formula for you.
 I know some people have argued about the accuracy and reliability of the age-corrected formula. But give us a break, for Christ’s sake.  We’re old weightlifters who want to feel better about our performance as we drag along towards the grave. We’re not splitting the atom. Cut us some slack.

 There’s a lot more to say about masters weightlifting, but I already said most of it in my books Olympic Weightlifting for Masters and Olympic Weightlifting Programming for Masters. Check them out if you haven’t already.

I highly recommend both books and have them in my own library.

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Fred in his prime years.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hard Work Is Smart Work

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There is no substitute for intensity when we want results

While I have always believed that any exercise is better than no exercise, this article that I ran across makes a point that more effort equals more results. That is a concept that I can live with.

Older people who regularly exercise at moderate to intense levels may have a 40 percent lower risk of developing brain damage linked to strokes, certain kinds of dementia, and mobility problems.

New research published Wednesday in the journal Neurology says the MRIs of subjects who exercised at higher levels were significantly less likely to show brain damage caused by blocked arteries that interrupt blood flow - markers for strokes - than people who exercised lightly.

There was no difference between those who engaged in light exercise and those who did not exercise at all.

Until now, studies have shown exercise helps lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol and insulin levels, all risk factors for strokes causing brain damage. Treating those conditions is helpful, but some brain damage is not reversible.

"It's not good enough just to exercise, but the more (intense), the better," says study co-author Joshua Willey, a physician and researcher at Columbia University's Department of Neurology. "The hope is with lower risk of having these events you'd also be at lower risk of dementia or stroke."

The research involves 1,238 participants in a study started in 1993 at Columbia and the University of Miami, and it focuses on risk factors for vascular disease.

Participants completed a questionnaire about how often and intensely they exercised at the beginning of the study and then had MRI scans of their brains six years later, when they were an average of 70 years old.

A total of 43 percent of participants reported that they had no regular exercise; 36 percent engaged in regular light exercise, such as golf, walking, bowling or dancing, and 21 percent engaged in regular moderate to intense exercise, such as hiking, tennis, swimming, biking, jogging or racquetball.

The American Heart Association's guidelines for cardiovascular health include 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly.

"We did not want this to discourage anyone from exercising, even if it's light exercise," Willey says. "The benefits of exercise are proven. We feel that's an integral part of general good health."

More research is needed, says Joseph Boderick, a stroke specialist at the University of Cincinnati who was involved in the study.

The research did not look at obesity.

One of the major reasons people don't exercise, he says, is because they're obese.

"Maybe the people who exercised less already had some (damage) and were less steady on their feet," he says.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

My glute story: Why you should train your butt

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Interesting story that supports the idea that "sitting is the new smoking". I agree that the gluteal muscles are very important and often misunderstood. The author does a great job of explaining the function and benefits of glute training.

I see people on a weekly basis with a range of injuries that are due, at least in part, to their weak, inhibited or misfiring gluteal muscles. The main culprits are:

1. Gluteus maximus (Gmax)

This is the biggest butt muscle, and its job is to extend, abduct and externally rotate the thigh in the hip joint.

This muscle can become lazy, demonstrating a delayed contraction or in severe cases, complete inhibition. The ramifications this can have are massive.

For a start, this places additional stress on the other muscles, which share some of its functions. The hamstrings often become overworked and tight, predisposing them to strains. The TFL and other hip rotators also have to work overtime. This can lead to sciatica, IT band syndrome and patella maltracking issues.

Work your way up instead of down and the lats also try to compensate for an inefficient glute max. They contract harder and longer to tighten the thoracolumbar fascia (band of connective tissue in the lower back) from the top, where Gmax isn't doing so from the bottom. 

If the lats get tight, shoulder pain can ensue. Where the thoracolumbar fascia isn't tight enough to support the lumbar spine, the paraspinal muscles become tense as they overwork to do the job of a much larger muscle.

Gmax is often known as the "powerhouse" of the hip. It is the largest and strongest muscle, which is capable of producing large forces to propel us forward in our walking and running cycles. 

If its function is diminished, we have to get that power from elsewhere. The hamstrings help out, but many of us will rely increasingly on our calf muscles to push us forward from the ankle. The calves aren't designed for such high-intensity work and so often become tight and painful, possibly even developing calf strains or Achilles issues.

2. Gluteus medius (Gmed)

The second-largest butt muscle, its main job is to abduct the hip joint — both in standing and nonweight-bearing. It does, however, assist other muscles in rotating the hip in either direction.

Weakness in Gmed is most commonly known for causing knee alignment issues. Where it is weak, it allows the knee to fall inward into a valgus position. This places stress on the medial aspect of the joint, potentially contributing to issues such as medial meniscus (cartilage) degeneration and osteoarthritis. It can also be the cause of patella misalignment, which is often known as patellofemoral pain syndrome and can lead to chondromalacia patellae and even patella subluxation and dislocation.

Similarly to above, the weakness of Gmed means other muscles work overtime — TFL, for example, which can develop painful trigger points and radiate pain into the lower limb.

My story

I have had issues with both of these muscles. They developed over time, initially as a lazy student, sitting around a lot and not doing much in the way of exercise, further compounded by five years in a desk job. This resulted in tight hip flexor muscles and an inhibited Gmax.

The problems started to become apparent when I took up running. I would always struggle with tight calf muscles, even on a short 2-mile run. They would gradually tighten up and never ease off. They rarely stopped me running, but they were uncomfortable and certainly slowed me down.

Despite this, I signed up for a half-marathon. Training went OK up until the last three or four weeks prior to the race. I started to get lateral hip pains and stiffness to the point I could only just lift my hips high enough for my feet to clear the ground. I completed the race, albeit very slowly and in a lot of discomfort. This was eight years ago.

After that disheartening experience, I stopped running. I don't think I made a conscious decision that I wasn't going to run anymore, I just wasn't enjoying it and so naturally stopped going out and started exercising in other ways.

I was working at a health club at the time, so the gym is where I ended up exercising. I also took up field hockey again and while, yes, this involves running, the short, sharp bursts felt comfortable to me.

In the last few years, I have become a lot more involved in weight training, and I really enjoy it. Gone are the days of slogging away on a cross trainer, rower or static bike.

I love the way that lifting weights makes me feel. Strong, in control — and, I'll admit it, a bit sexy! 

I also love the way it's changed my body. I can see muscles and more defined lines than ever before — even when I weighed in at a measly 112 pounds (I'm now 140). I don't look masculine; I just look fit and strong. But as well as my appearance and confidence, weights have also improved my mechanics.

I've worked a lot on my glutes for two reasons. One is pure vanity — who doesn't want a great-looking, toned, firm butt? But also, because I realized that my previous hip and calf issues were due to poorly firing Gmax and a weak Gmed.

I've worked a lot on glute activation exercises — basically forcing the Gmax to contract by isolating it as much as possible. I've worked on nonweight-bearing Gmed exercises such as the clam and hip abduction, moving onto weight-bearing versions such as hip hitches and single-leg squats. 

I now consciously squeeze my glutes when performing any exercise — be it squats, leg press, lunges, even upper body work — to help stabilize my pelvis and support my lower back. I am now aware of my glutes working throughout the day even when not consciously thinking to contract them.

And here's how I know it's worked:

My husband, in his infinite wisdom, decided to enter us for a charity 10K race that his workplace was sponsoring. We had not done any running for three years and had all of seven weeks to train from scratch. I am not condoning this short preparation period at all, so please don't copy his example. We are both fit and were aiming just to complete it — under an hour was an aim, but it wasn’t important.

We trained twice a week, working up from a couple of kilometers, up to 8.5 km as our longest prerace distance. Throughout this time, I felt pretty good. I had absolutely no calf pain or tension when running (a couple of instances of DOMS, but that's different), and my hips felt strong and flexible.

We completed the race in a time of 54:32, which I was over the moon with. I have continued to run since and am really enjoying it. Previously, it felt uncomfortable, painful even, and every kilometer went by so slowly. I never looked forward to a run like I do now.

While this is specifically an example of glute retraining helping with running technique, I do believe that every individual should make sure their glutes are working in tip-top form.

It's not only helped with my running, but I also experience fewer lower backaches, niggling knee pains and shoulder tension than I used to. I'm sure there are other reasons and exercises that have contributed to this, but as outlined above, the glutes can certainly help prevent all of these problems.

About the Author

Heidi Dawson

Heidi Dawson is a graduate sports rehabilitator based in the United Kingdom. She runs two successful sports injury clinics and the injury website Rehab4Runners

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rubber Bands

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I love bands for many reasons. They are portable, easy to store and carry on trips, very versatile allowing an almost infinite number of exercises, and relatively inexpensive. Bands can be used with weights as illustrated in the videos below, or they can be used without weights very effectively as well. This article explains their value in increasing the Rate of Force Development (RFD) as well. I don't particularly think there is any disadvantage to using weights, but I think bands can be a great adjunct and even a substitute when traveling or when weights are not available. I always take a set of bands whenever I am traveling or away from the weight room. My two sons and a daughter all served two year missions for their church and used bands during that time. They returned with a pretty high level of strength in spite of not spending more than 30 minutes a day exercising. I don't get carried away trying to determine the exact resistance. I just use thicker and/or multiple bands to find a resistance level that is appropriate. You can mimic most of the standard movements like presses, squats, pulls, and rows as well as doing movements at angles that are not possible with barbells or dumbells.

Many strength training programs focus on developing strength before speed or explosiveness because strength is a precursor to explosiveness. Explosiveness will improve as strength improves. This is the approach we take in strength and power sports at Athlete Physics. Much of the speed and explosiveness improvements come from the athlete intentionally thinking about lifting the weight as fast as possible.

However, one downside of this approach is that weight or resistance remains the same throughout the entire range of motion (ROM). For example, think of the Squat. The hardest part is at the bottom, while the top is easy. The easiness at the top of the Squat means an athlete is no longer driving the weight as hard as possible; therefore, that athlete is not becoming as explosive as possible.

Few training methods exist to ensure athletes are developing explosiveness throughout the entire ROM. However, adding resistance bands to barbells can overcome this shortcoming. This method of training includes using thick elastic bands in combination with traditional weight for resistance.

As the elastic bands are stretched near the end of ROM the resistance gets harder, ensuring an athlete continues to drive as forcefully as possible. A study at the University of Louisville compared light/fast Squats, heavy/slower Squats and Band-Resisted Squats with moderate weight. The Band-Resisted Squats were shown to improve strength equally to heavy Squats and improved power better than light/fast Squats and heavy/slower Squats.

So what does this mean for you? Because the Band-Resisted Squats improved strength just as well as heavy/slower Squats, they are likely to be applicable for both novice and advanced athletes.

In essence, you're able to use a lighter weight but challenge yourself through a full range of motion, increasing the effectiveness of the exercise and receiving the benefits of lifting heavier loads without the additional stress that comes along with it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dead Ideas?

Following is an article by Vern Gambetta, a performance coach whose career has spanned several decades. He has certainly seen a lot of trends come and go and knows how to cut through the BS. I like his list and will add a few of my own in Red.
"Do you ever wonder why we keep teaching and following certain things, never questioning them? This tyranny of dead ideas stifles innovation and holds us back in training and performance. It seems generation after generation fall prey to this and keep repeating the mistakes of the previous generation. Imitation is not innovation. We have to be willing to let go off of cherished beliefs that do not work and in many cases are counter productive. Here are a few dead ideas that I see day to day in my work:
-Necessity of an aerobic base for anaerobic, start stop intermittent sprint and transition game sports

I still remember the 4 mile runs I did to "get into shape" for high school football. It was very difficult and painful, so our coaches knew it must be good for us. No wonder we made up for our lack of size by being slow. lol
-Icing a healthy limb after exercise

Never done that one...-The traditional model of Periodization – volume to intensity, with a long period of general preparation to build a base
I agree. For an explosive single attempt sport like throwing or lifting early high volume doesn't do much for the final results.
-In the 400 meter relay the use of the down sweep pass
We've dropped enough batons to know something needs to change.-Using heart rate zones to dictate training intensity
You mean cardio vascular intensity and neuromuscular intensity are different? lol-Lactate as the cause for fatigue and soreness
In the 70's we knew that lactic acid build up was the enemy and needed to be defeated.
-Jogging to warm-up

I call jogging slow practice. It is the best way to develop slow athletes.-Static stretching to warm-up
You mean we really have to move to prepare to move?
-Training to failure
When is failure is ever a desired outcome? Failure is not an option, right?There are many more. I would love to hear from you on the dead ideas you encounter in your work."
Here are a few of mine:
-Printing off training programs on a computer with the number of sets, reps, and weights and passing them out to everyone in the weightroom.
-Trying to train on an unstable surface (stability ball, balance board...etc.) in preparation for an event that takes place on a stable surface with an unstable opponent or implement. (football, wrestling, volleyball, basketball, throwing.....and etc.)
-Thinking that you have learned all there is to learn. "I know what I am doing, don't confuse me with facts."
-Coaches who talk the talk, but never walked the walk. Like my venerable Father says, "If you know so much about training, then why are you so damn fat???"
What are some of yours?

Is the split snatch a dead idea? Not if you can do it like Norbert Schemansky!!!