Category Archives: Continuing Education

What it takes to succeed – A MUST READ!

This is a must read article for what it takes to succeed at not only golf but anything in life.  One of the best things I’ve read in recent memory and well worth the time for any athlete or coach.

grit

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Four Components of the Warm Up

One thing that often time gets overlooked is the warmup.  The warmup for my athletes is too important to brush over.  Time is a limiting factor in most of our day at the NCAA level so we use our warmup needs to achieve 4 things in each session:

1. Movement Skills – We utilize a variety of movements throughout the warmup as a means to increasing body temperature but even more importantly as a means of creating some kinesthetic awareness.  We want athletes to understand where their body is in space and recognize what is going on as they move.  This becomes even more important the younger the athlete.  Teaching a variety of skips, shuffles, bounds, jogs, all go towards improving movement skills.  We can then combine various arm swings, circles, etc. to add some complexity to the movement.  Coach Cal Dietz and his contributors over at http://www.XLAthlete.com have put together one of the best resources on general body movement and especially for young athletes.

XL Athlete Youth Dynamic Warm Up

2. Mobility – All warm ups should be geared towards increasing the movement around the joints.  The goal of any warmup should be to prepare the joints for loading and movement.  We can take time throughout our warmup to work on areas where more motion is necessary instead of perhaps using extra time throughout the training session.  Creating mobility throughout the hips and t-spine for example are the foundations of my warm ups.

3. Activation – Our lifestyles, genetics, imbalances all lead to inhibited muscle groups that need specific stimulation.  The most common of these tends to be the glutes in many athletes.  As I’ve written about before on this blog, in Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes the glutes are just one of many muscles that can shut down.  Doing activation work in a warmup on a daily basis can go a long way in brining those areas around.  Varieties of hip raises, alternating hip raises, single leg stance work, can all be included in warm ups to turn on the glutes prior to training.  The same goes for other inhibited areas as in the lower trap, psoas, or maybe the rotator cuff.

Lower Crossed Syndrome I

Lower Crossed Syndrome II

4. Injury Prevention – Injuries come in plenty of shapes and sizes and we have to look multiple places when preventing injuries.  We may have to look at the sport, the position, male vs female, etc. to determine the best route in injury prevention.  Whatever the case many of these issues can be touched upon in the warmup as well.  A thorough warmup including the previous three pieces in itself serves as great prevention already.

Looking at the four components above may seem like a tall task to perform all in one warmup but we achieve all of this in less than 15 minutes in every one of our warm ups.  You may be asking how…. I like to pair our movement skills with #2 #3 and #4.  We may perform skips or backwards jogs for a desired distance then drop down and perform mobility work on the hips and t-spine.  As we progress through the warmup we move from mobility to more activation ie: hip raises, SL hip raises, etc. and then to injury prevention work which may include some form of rotator cuff, or maybe a strengthening movement for someone susceptible to an ACL injury.

Ultimate MMA Conditioning and Energy System Development

One of my good friends, Joel Jamieson, from my early days in strength and conditioning at the University of Washington sent me his products a few weeks back.  He is the author of Ultimate MMA Conditioning, as well as The Ultimate Guide to HRV Training.   Joel runs a website at www.8weeksout.com.  It has a lot of great information as well as a forum for those in the sport of MMA to talk programming and trade ideas. 
 

When you really want to know how the body’s energy systems work and interact with each other, look into Joel’s Ultimate MMA Conditioning.  It’s so much more than an MMA piece.  It covers details and principles on each of the energy systems as well programming principles to get you started.  The great thing about this book is it isn’t a “copy and paste here” program.  He outlines principles so that an athlete or coach can integrate the material into their own program.  Athletes in generally, but especially in the case of MMA training a one size fits all does not, and should not, apply. 

I firmly believe this is the single best source there is on energy system development. The single most visible weakness for interns entering our program is the ability to understand and program energy system training for athletes.  Too often the “strength” side of the “strength and conditioning” is all anybody thinks about but its the biological power of the body to produce the necessary amount force, or speed, recover, and then perform this cycle over and over again over long periods of time that is important. 

Joel gives a great overview of why the aerobic system is so vital to the ability to recover and why it actually is so important to the alactic system in the grand scheme of things.  Another great thing Joel reinforces is that training does not occur in a vacuum.  Skill development as well as the physical preparation in the form of strength and conditioning must coincide and be in harmony together.  Although this is geared towards the MMA athlete the principle remains the same for everyone.  An athlete can’t train “strength and conditioning” with one coach for 2 hours, then go train with another coach on skill work for another 2 hours when coach 1 has no clue what coach 2 is doing and vice versa.  Everything creates stress on the body and when this stress becomes too much, the body breaks, in the form of injuries, sickness, etc. 

I could create a week-long lecture on the benefits of Joel’s manual and some of the issues that it brings to light in the field of strength and conditioning.  I do believe that he’s put together a great resource and recommend it to anyone who really wants to know how the body works. 

I’ve touched on a few of these topics before and here are some related links:
Soccer and Energy Systems

Heart Rate Variability

Low Back Myth’s with Stuart McGill

Here is a great video from Stuart McGill.  Those of you that have read the blog over the last two years will note that I’m a huge Stuart McGill advocate and believe in his spine principles wholeheartedly.  In this video he goes over some of the common myths associated with the back and training. 

Myth #2 may be my favorite.  This is one of the worst problems I see in sports.  When an athlete has a tight back, or possibly injures his back the first thing many physical therapist, or athletic trainers want to prescribe is “we need to stretch it.”  There’s always an underlying cause to why an injury occurs.  Generally in the low back its the hips that are giving us the real trouble.  The lumbar spine will always compensate for movement limitations, and/or activation issues  about the hips and thoracic spine.  I cringe when I hear people advocating stretches for the back and spine when their is an injury.

2011 CSCCa Conference Review

The CSCCa National Conference was this past week in Kansas City.  Our staff had a good time and it was a much-needed break from the grind of the semester.

I spoke on the topic of Training Considerations for Rotational Athletes.  I thought it went great and received some great feedback as well.  I enjoyed the opportunity and had a fairly large crowd for the time slot I received.   Those that are interested, the CSCCa is putting all the lectures on DVD.  I don’t know when they will be available or the price, but its a question I’ve been asked several times today.   I posted a link to some of the concepts I spoke about this weekend.  There are obviously a lot more on here than than sprinkling but its just what I came up with in a quick search. 

Rotational Movement Series

The best speaker of the weekend was easily Lee Taft.  His topic was Coaching Linear and Mult-Directional Speed.  I had never heard of Lee but one of our other coaches had and liked a lot of his methods.  I didn’t have that high of expectations but was definitely blown away.  I don’t feel like there are many people who have a strong grasp on speed, change of direction, deceleration training, but Lee definitely does.  He has some great progressions to teaching multi directional movement.   We actually have and use a lot of the same techniques, and methods. 

He extensively broke down the “false step” during his presentation.  The false step is the quick jab step backwards to get the body going forward from an athletic stance.  His take on it was right on. 

The false step is somewhat required to get going quick.  It creates the positive shin angle that creates the platform for acceleration.  So for those of you who try to eliminate that step, you may want to think again. 

Coach Taft went over the crossover step, retreating acceleration, the shuffle vs. the lateral running.  All in all it was a great talk.  One of the better ones I have seen at the CSCCa Conference. 

Another highlight of the conference was the chance to listen and visit with legendary Bulgarian Weightlifting Coach Ivan Abadjiev.  For those that don’t know, Coach Abadjiev basically created the most successful weightlifting program in the history of the sport and did that by essentially creating the true Max Effort Method. 

Coach Abadjiev basically scrapped the Soviets program when he took over the Bulgarian National team.  The Soviets at the time utilized sub-maximal percentages, lots of assistance / special exercises and around 2.5-4 tons loading / day as quoted by I.A.  He eliminated all the assistance exercises and began only performing the competition movements, nothing else.  He also took the loading from 2.5-4 tons / day to 20-60 tons per day.  They did this by spreading out the training over several small blocks throughout the day.  They were professional athletes at the time so all they did was train. 

The best part of the afternoon was actually the chance to meet and talk with Coach Abadjiev after most everyone had left.  Mind you he doesn’t speak English so everything was through a translator.  One of my questions was if they utilized the assistance exercises when teaching younger less advanced athletes.  His reply was they never used anything but the competition exercises, and said it was actually easier to teach the full lifts to youngsters as they hadn’t developed large technical problems yet.  His analogy was animals in the wild teach their young exactly what they need to know to survive, not a bunch of extra stuff.  Then that’s what he will do is teach athletes exactly what they need and not confuse them with extra. 

All in all it was a great week to be away from the office and with “family away from home.”

Year in Review

It’s been over a year since I started this site.  Since then I’ve met a lot of people and had a lot of good things come from it.  There’s been over 85,000 views, I’ve posted several articles, and even had an article published in Training and Conditioning magazine on the annual training of the TCU pitchers.  

Special Delivery

This site has also seen a lot of big things happen for TCU athletics and the teams I work with.  The baseball program made it to their 1st ever College World Series, the football team made it to their 1st ever BCS game with the Fiesta Bowl, then won the Rose Bowl this past January.

I’ve posted over 150 times and in the last year and one thing I’ve been wanting to do was to review some of the most popular posts in the past year.  These posts have been in the top few as far as traffic goes. 

Feel like a million bucks today!

Soccer and Energy Systems 

Internal Impingement of the Shoulder – Part IV

The Pushup, Interns, and Friday

Lower Crossed Syndrome II

Beginner Reads

Something I continually preach to our interns is that you should read anything you can get your hands on.    Read, read, read, and read some more.  Even when it may be something you disagree with, there is still an opportunity to learn from it. 

A question was recently raised from an intern about what literature I would recommend for someone starting out in the field of strength and conditioning. 

One of the first items on my list for interns to become familiar with is Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir Zatsiorsky.  I believe this book is an excellent resource for those starting out in the field.  It can be a little science heavy as interns have misunderstood certain concepts and theories but for the most part it is an easy read and gives great insight into true sports performance training. 

 

One my lightbulb went on moments happened in college when I read the 1st edition of Science and Practice.  One chapter went over rate of force development and used shot putters as an example.  An athlete taking his bench press from 50 kg to 150 kg would likely support the basis for increased performance.  However, the same athlete taking his bench from 200 kg to 300 kg would likely not produce the increased results in the shot put.  The explanation was due to explosive strength and the rate of force development.  Until that point, I had always believed you could never be too strong.  I thought maximal strength was the key to everything  During that year I had continued to get stronger in every aspect of the weight room but my VJ, 40 yd dash, etc. didn’t improve any, and maybe got a little worse. 

It all started to make sense.  Well, in reality it just confused the hell out of me but I began to look deeper into the sports training process and eventually started to understand the problems I had experienced first hand. 

Joe Kenn’s The Coaches Strength Training Playbook is a great book on setting up training sessions.  Even if you don’t use them in the exact Tier System format that Coach Kenn utilizes the book can go a long way towards understanding programming microcycles.  A great read for beginners especially. 

Another good resource for beginners to learn programming is Practical Programming for Strength Training by Mark Rippetoe, and Lon Kilgore. 

Another one of my favorite books is Charlie Francis’ Training for Speed.  Not only is it invaluable for speed training but outlines proper programming with the CNS in mind.  A great resource. 

Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training by Tudor Bompa.  This book is a little bit of a difficult read for beginners but I think its important to know basic periodization before delving into other avenues.  Coach Kenn once told me that too many people want to talk about advanced Eastern Bloc training methods when they have no concept of Bompa’s basic periodization. 

Lastly is Stuart McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance This book contains great concepts on movement, motor skill development, programming, etc.  It isn’t just for low back health.  This book is quite possibly my favorite strength and conditioning book.