Thursday, February 25, 2010

Importance of aerobic capacity for football

In America, the most popular of all high intensity sports would easily be Football. On the outside looking in, you would assume that the majority of all the conditioning would be an accumulation of sprints and repeated bouts until your legs could take no more. Although there is a time and a place for this sort of energy systems training, many people fail to see the importance of the aerobic energy system and it’s ability to improve the performance of an athlete in a high intensity sport. Remembering that football is aerobic/alactic in nature it is necessary to address the aerobic component of this sport to best prepare the athlete.

Why would you do aerobic work for Football?

The are numerous studies indicating that the lack of blood flow to the muscles increase the recovery period between high intensity bouts of exercise. When the muscle experiences high intensity bouts lactate will accumulate along with excess amounts of H+. If these metabolites are not removed, acidosis will occur and that fatigue will limit contractile rate of the working muscles. The majority of lactate is removed through oxidation. This oxidation largely depends on the capitalization and mitochondrial density to allow for the blood flow to transport the lactate/H+.

The adaptations that occur during aerobic training:

1. Increased blood flow because of an increased cardiac output/hypertrophy(eccentrically).

2. Increases the density of capillaries and mitochondria especially in the localized muscles that are used during training. This is important to keep in mind when constructing what tool you use for energy systems development. You want to work similar muscle regimes, as you would use during sport to enhance the density to the muscles that need it the most.

3. Increases the vasodilatation abilities of vessels, which of course allows for blood flow and oxygen to reach 02 myoglobin and working muscles faster.

Aerobic training does have its drawbacks. It has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of power development, which is a primal component of most high intensity sports. There is also evidence showing that there is a ceiling for how much of an influence an enhanced aerobic capacity has on your recovery from repeated bouts. Keeping this in mind, it would only be necessary to develop your aerobic capacity to a point that would make it optimal for recovery and limit its volume extensively during blocks of power development. As I mentioned earlier, be aware of the specific muscles in use for your sport. For example, due to football being an upright sport heavily reliable on the backside dominant musculature (Hamstrings, glutes) it wouldn't make a ton of sense to condition sitting down such as a bike (front side dominant).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Training Residuals: Don't use it you lose it!

When preparing an advanced athlete for sport it is necessary for the development of specific abilities. In one block model that would include a accumulation block, transmutation, and realization. Using this block model you are able to focus your efforts to advance the capacity for the certain abilities that are necessary for sport form to a much greater extent than that of a traditional approach.

The key to maintain the ability throughout the entire stage and what will likely determine the length of each block would be the residual effect of the abilities trained in the previous blocks. The residual training effect would refer to how long the adaptations developed in your block will last. For example, in my current training, the accumulation block was focused on development of strength-aerobic capacities. This lasting approximately 30 days, I then moved into the transmutation block which is more anaerobic in nature. Knowing that the residual for the strength-aerobic capacities is ~30 days, it is necessary to plan its prolonging in the subsequent blocks.

The answer to this problem would be a mini-block. A mini-block is usually placed at the latter half of a microcycle at a time just before the residual effect from the previously trained ability would diminish. A transmutation block will suppress the aerobic abilities and the heavy strength exercise will make recovery much more difficult. The addition of a mini block will not only prolong the residual, but it will also allow for the needed recovery from the CNS intensity of the transmutation block.

An example of this in my current training is during the 3rd week of my transmutation block I will use a mini cycle at the end of the week consisting of the exercises utilized in previous accumulation blocks. For me this is Tempo squats/push ups, and plenty of tempo runs and low intensity energy systems work. A way to track my maintenance of this ability is by monitoring my heart rate and comparing it to the previous weeks. As of now, since the end of my first accumulation block in September, I still am able to keep my heart rate around 142 during tempo squats of 3x 60/60 for 3-4sets.

Note: Tempo Squat/Push up=2 second eccentric/2 second concentric w/ no pause.

By attaining to this principle you will not lose out on the hard work that you put forth in previous training stages. This is also a great advantage of the block model of focusing on specific abilities in which you can train based off physiological principle.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blast Strap Row Progression

It is amazing how fast the off season is going and just how close we are to Spring Football Practice! The football team has been doing nothing short but outstanding and are now challenging themselves more and more as we progress them in various movements and lifts.

One movement pattern that I really value is horizontal pulling. Especially in football, where a lot of what you do on the field is push. Think about a lineman. Virtually every play they are pressing the opponent away from their body. That is why in the off season I feel that it is very important to combat that movement by making sure the ratio of pulls outweighs that of pushing.

In the football program we cover each movement pattern at least once with certain pairings of exercises and at the end we will do supplemental work which usually consist of a tri-set. One of which is a blast strap horizontal pull progression, shoulder prehab, and a core exercise. This tri-set will be utilized on a day we do vertical pulls so that we can get a horizontal pull in multiple days a week.

I really am a huge fan of the blast straps due to the freedom it gives your shoulders to move through a natural rotation and the added stability component. Using a bar is not a bad thing, it is just the fact that as you pull yourself closer to the bar, your shoulders are forced to internally rotate to achieve the full ROM which can end up eliminating this as an option for athletes who have a history of shoulder problems. Here is what we use as our Blast Strap progression for horizontal pulling.

Also note that we often use weighted vest for most players during most all these exercises.

Bilateral row w/ Slow eccentric

Feet Elevated Bilateral Row with 1/0/1 Tempo

Side to Side Row

1-arm Rotational Row

Some key coaching keys that apply to all of these are as follows:
"Stomach/Glutes tight" (this keeps hips extended but not allowing lumbar hyper extension)
"Squeeze shoulder blades" (by initiating the movement by retracting the scapula will prevent anterior migration of the humeral head)

DVD Review: Block Periodization

Recently I have been watching a great DVD called Block Periodization. It is a wonderful lecture with non other than Dr. Issurin as the main speaker. If you are familiar with his books or with his methods, you know that his programs, writings, and articles are very well sourced and can be scientifically explained in every detail. This DVD is no different, but you get the advantage of some more specific commentary and some Q&A at the end.

Issurin does a great job at starting off the lecture by bringing to the light how important it is to focus on only a minimal amount of abilities to be developed when training and advanced athlete and how the traditional methods just are not able to accomplish all. Here are a few notes from my outline dealing with this subject:

Block= highly concentrated focus on a specific ability.

Traditional approach negative -inability to prolong effects until competition., inability to provide high level of development of any particular ability. Multi-performance prep.

Tendencies (reasons for blocks).

Multiple performances: # of competitions increased in advanced level sports due to popularity.

Training workloads replaced by competitive workloads: total training volumes decreased. Now coaches train more selectively, purposeful, and focus on mastery within these cycles.

It is important to note that this sort of athletic development is for the advanced athletic population and that concurrent or traditional methods will work fine in the development of beginner and novice athletes. Dr. Issurin is easy to understand and lays out the concepts of his methods clearly and concise. It is a four hour lecture in which he doesn't hold anything back and you can supplement this with his book on the subject as well.

This and many other amazing resources can be found at ultimate athlete concepts

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wildcats HS team Killin' it!

I have talked a few times and wrote an article about my work with the local high school sports teams and how great they are doing. So far they are on the right track to a life time of quality physical preparedness and sports dominance!! Take a look!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anterior Core Progression: Part 2

A while back I posted the anterior core progression I was putting the team through. I must say that they have done a great job at maintaining neutral spine through these movements all the way through the med ball roll outs. Now that they have adequately done this with a tool that is fairly stable it would only make sense to throw some instability in the picture. This can be done in many ways but what we will be implementing is variations with the blast straps. Also a popular choice would be the TRX which set ups would be very similar.

We will star
t with the first step of the progression:
Fall Out

This can be enhanced to player capability by adjusting how steep the angle.

From there you can add an anti rotation component to the exercise by doing various movements uni-laterally with the arms. (lines, circles, etc...)

Finally, an exercise that doesn't include a blast strap or TRX but still serves to be very dynamic and challenges you in multiple planes.
Spider Man Push Up

What is important to remember is that you progress to all of these. Many of the athletes that can now do these would not be near as proficient at them if they didn't start with the standard plank hold->PB roll out->ab roller->med ball roll progression. This was the foundation that allows them to be able to add this dynamic action to these movements while avoiding unwanted compensations.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Random News and Info

Just keeping it light today and just thought I would let everyone know of some great information that has come up as of late.

New Info

New article up on Elite FTS. It is based off the work I have posted about with the local high school team I work with. I will be implementing a similar program with another high school soon and am excited to get that started as well.

Not exactly a new video but gives a short glimpse at different types of caffiene and the effect on performance.
New Favorite Websites
These are some sites that I have found myself unable to stay away from. They are filled with articles and some great video from some of the best in the business.

Power Development INC

JMU Strength and Conditioning

Bret Contreras (THE Glute Guy)
New Products

Transfer of Training in Sport: Volume II by Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk

After a very comprehensive first volume, Bondarchuk has released a second book concentrating on developing a quality program based off heavily researched methods of training for advanced athletes. While utilizing many of these block principles in my personal training right now, I can assure that these methods are something any coach or advanced athlete should look into and catch up on.

Elite FTS Short Bands

I made a large purchase of these new style of bands from EFS and couldn't be more satisfied with the quality. We utilize these in our warm ups as well as with the advanced group of our athletes in certain dynamic lifts. They definitely make the set up of the bands more efficient due to not having to double them over. Also after "abusing" them for several weeks, there is zero fraying and they have barely worn. EFS has also provided some great videos on their web site with great ideas on how to get the most out of these short bands.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lower Body Warm Up: Band Routine

Continuing with the previous post on our warm up, I have included some pics and vids of example our band warm up. Here is the schedule of our tasks on this day:
Roll-out/Tennis Ball
Hurdle Mobility- Lateral

Kneeling Psoas
We always incorporate a stretch for the hip flexor complex in hope to get better recruitment of the posterior musculature in the following activation drills.

"Squeeze glute, lean toward knee, Look at hand"

Wall V Stretch
This stretch is great to get a quality stretch of the adductors to really help open up the hips before a lower body session.

"Squeeze glutes, keep toes dorsi-flexed and pointed toward you"

After these stretches we get them set up in lines and give them a band for the specific band warm-up. These exercises are done in a controlled yet higher paced routine.

Straight Leg Lateral Walk x5 ea

"Legs straight, toes forward. Don't Sway"

Straight Leg Forward/Backward x5 ea

"Keep tension on band, don't lean forward"

Monster Walk Forward/Backward x5 ea

"Chest Up, Heel to toe, keep knees out"

Leg External Rotation x10

"Toes forward, Bring back slow, squeeze glutes to pull band!!"

Tall Marching x5 ea

"Stomach tight, Don't Bend at the waist, stay tall"

Dot Drill 4-6 movements 15-20 sec
Movement Drills

One of the first comments I got from an athlete after doing this quick and simple routine was "Wow, My legs feel so...Free!" It is not uncommon to see the athletes moving their legs throughout the new found range of motion after activating many dormant muscles. Most of these movements are geared toward activation/strengthening of the glutes and psoas, essential muscles to help stabilize the athlete under loads during a lower body day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Slow Cooking Your Athletes: Part 2

Back in November, I posted about my philosophy on how I would train younger athletes. So far I have incorporated these methods with not only the featured athlete of that post but also incorporated it into the high school program with great results. After getting the results from the athlete, it was amazing how he has gradually progressed from some humbling numbers up to weights that are turning some heads. The best part of this is that his form is still amazing due to the increases being so gradual (2.5# pr week) that he isn't breaking form to "grind" out that last rep.

Making load increases in this manner requires a lot of patience from the athlete and coach. But if you hold out after about 2-3 months these numbers start to look great. Like I have said before missing reps is one of the main reasons why a progress fails, and this will avoid missing these valuable reps any way possible. Here is an example of some of the lifts and how the athlete has progressed recently since the end of November.

Front Squat x5- Start- 185-210 +25#
Hang Clean x3- Start- 175-200 +25#
RFESS x10- Start- 105-135 +30#
Bench Prs x 5- Start- 150-170 +20#
RDL x 8- Start- 175-200 +25#

This has been great progress for this athletes freshman year. Being introduced to a progressive approach this early on in his training will keep him away from staleness and being able to manage his weight in order to safely and effectively get stronger.

A program very similar to this one has been implemented at the local high school as well as well as a modified version of the warm up we do here at the college. It is pretty unanimous that the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat is the most dreaded of all lifts they have to perform but this has also been one that the athletes make great progress with.

I will try to get video as soon as possible of the younger athletes in action through warm ups and lifts. Congrats to the Saints!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Give Back to get more!

After settling into a comfortable routine and with all my strength and conditioning duties set, I realized I had a lot of time on my hands. I figured if I want to be getting to seminars and buy the continuing education resources some extra cash flow would be a good idea. So what better way then to pick up some clients.

I figured for the advertising/marketing I would go with the cheapest(free) method available...flyers, and a free ad. The response was fairly well. After the one week I got several replies and was off to a good start. The best form of marketing however, word of mouth, was what I needed to utilize in order to establish a name for my programs so that I could be sure to gain more clients throughout the process.

Usually this process is one that takes a while. Typically you get your clients, train them, if your successful by the end they will tell friends and coworkers. Well, I was a little impatient and wanted to kick start this process so I decided to add some extra incentive to spread the word a little more quickly. Initially, I charged them the fee for the program and while meeting with each client for a consultation I let them in on a plan to help motivate them and spread the word. After establishing there goals and evaluating their initial training history I flat out gave them a money back guarantee. If my program did meet the needs of the clients goals (specific) they would get a fair percentage of the initial fee back no questions asked. My hopes were that eventually the word would get out and I would re-open at the halfway point and see how many others would like to join. Well, it really did not take that long. Recently, I have gotten several emails from husbands, wives, fathers of the clients all wanting to join and some of their friends who might want to join.

By no means am I a genius, super star, celebrity trainer, but I am confident in my coaching and that with the goals established this will be a great experience. It just simply demonstrates that in many cases marketing does not have to be an investment that takes a lot from the initial profit of your current fees. Not only with this hold me incredibly accountable for making progress but this will get my clients to realize how serious I am about getting them to where they want to be. Of course there are stipulations with attendance and effort but finding ways to establish a clientele has more to do with what people have to say about you over what you can say about your skill. Find ways to get people talking and you will never have a problem generating a clientele.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

As a promised earlier I have example videos and photos of the specific exercises we do in our Stick Routine. This is the the routine that takes place after our hurdle mobility prior to lower body days. Things to remember on day 1. Make sure you teach them proper position so that they know every time you cue them to get into position what it is. Use your resources to obtain the materials needed. We have PVC, Broomsticks, and cut up poll vaulting poles from the track team. Also use this time to take note of obvious movement patterns or stiff areas that may need attention too. If you notice that a majority of the athletes are having trouble keeping there heels down, maybe some extra ankle mobility work is needed and so forth. Also, if you are running a large group get an athlete with knowledgeable understanding of the drills to lead the counting and reps so that everyone is at the same pace.

ARM PLACEMENT: Place stick across head and place hands so that elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Press overhead with arms straight.

OH Squat w/ band around knees-2x15 sec hold in hole

(My Glutes Are Screaming Right Now!!)

T-Spine Rotations- 1x10 each

"Chest Out, Stomach/Glute tight, Knee Straight"

OH Squat w/ 1 sec pause in hole- X10

"Knees out, Arms straight, Spread floor w/ feet"

1 Legged Good Morning- X10

"Maintain neutral spine, Back leg straight"

OH Lunge W/ Alt Twist- X10 each

"Squeeze glute, knee straight, stomach tight"

Monster Walk- 5 Forward 5 Backward

"Big steps, Heel to Toe, Chest Out"

This is a stretch that we will perform on a box prior to this routine. It really frees up the hips and allows them to get into position much easier. We just set up plyo boxes for after the hurdle routine.

Lunge w/ Ext Rotation- 1x30sec each

"Stay tall, Back Leg Straight"

From here we go to ladder drills and then on to multi-directional speed drills. With the Hurdles, Stick Routine, and Movement Drills, it will take 12-15 minutes. We encourage our athletes to move through all the drills quickly yet under control. This routine does a great job at hitting the wide variety of movements, activation, and stretching that is required to get our athletes prepared for increased performances.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Missing Reps=Missing Out

Everyone who has ever been a part of the iron game for an extended period of time knows what missing reps can do for your progress. Often, inexperienced lifters will set themselves up for failure when they see a prescribed amount of reps with out any inclination as to what weight they will be using. Usually the athlete will load the bar with some absurd weight and fall short by a couple reps or call on the great spotting assistance of their partner to finish them out. This is why it is hard for me to simply prescribe lets say 4x5 and expect all the athletes to take progressive fatigue, subjective readiness, and RPE into account and complete every rep. Because when you miss reps the thing you are missing out on is progress.

The solution that I utilize is relative intensities. As stated before I use a form of the 531 method to prescribe the reps for the athletes. In the first cycle we used 90% of their one rep max to calculate the intensity of the lifts which is called their workout max. They then find the percentage for the lift based off this number. Here is an example of a running backs current set up:

Max Bench 310
Workout max:280

The significance of working under your max is that it makes it nearly impossible to miss the recommended reps prescribed. But you may ask how then do they attain progressive overload? The beauty of this system is that on the last set you perform until technical failure. This takes care of subjective readiness by giving them an easily attainable weight that they should get at least the prescribed reps. So if they are not feeling great that day they should still be able to complete the reps. But when feeling great this also allows them to push up the RPE by working the last set up to a rep max close to or passing the previous PR. In the end we don't get missed reps, guys are setting PR's because they are able to get in the needed volume to progress, and the psychological aspect of knowing you have to get as many reps as possible makes the athletes focus hard on surpassing previous PR's. Here is that same running backs results from today's workout:

2 weeks later
Prescribed reps-3
Prescribed percentage-98
Last set-275x6=320 PR!

This has been a regular occurrence with many athletes on many of the lifts many whom had plateaued coming into the season. This has been largely due to the fact that they are no longer missing reps. Not only does missing these reps on a prescribed set render it nearly useless, the mental tole from the shear disappointment has a negative effect on the rest of the workout too. Remember, competitors hate to fail at anything. Missing reps is failure. With the next cycle coming on quick and therefore the increase in relative intensity, I am excited to see the numbers continue to climb.