The below are just a few of the questions I get, normally 5-10 on a weekly basis. If you’d like to start sending in your questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. Enjoy.
I just wanted to thank you so much for your strength and
conditioning program. I came to Hillsborough to visit Newell Strength in the spring and asked for programming designed around MMA. Well, I wrestled for the first time
this year and I made the varsity line up for my high school which was
very unusual because I was the only first year wrestler on the team.
Last Saturday I qualified for districts and placed top 4 in the league
for my weight class which is unheard of for a first year wrestler with
Pennsylvania being the hardest state in the country for wrestling. I
can honestly say there’s no way I would’ve been able to do this
without your programming. I always went into the match knowing I had
strength on my side which would not have happened if I only did the
team crossfit workouts prescribed by our coach. Unfortunately, I had
to end my season Wednesday due to a tricep injury that could’ve
threatened my dreams of being an Army Ranger if left untreated.
Do you have any suggestions on building neck strength? I ask this
because many in the mma world are saying having a good chin (ability
to take a punch) is directly correlated to neck strength.
Hi Sean, great to hear from you. I am happy for you and your accomplishments, very inspiring. Yes, cross-fit will not get you very far when training for a sport unless your sport is cross fit. But that is a different topic for a different time.
As far as training the neck, here are my best recommendations. If you have a healthy cervical portion of your spine, buy a neck harness and go to town with it. I used to bring my own to a public gym back in the day and people would look at me like I was crazy, meanwhile my neck was bigger than their thighs. Recently I have even been experimenting with isometric holds with the neck harness, thinking being that if flexion is not the greatest thing for the lumbar spine under a load, then it probably isn’t the greatest thing for the cervical (neck) region of the spine either. Try dropping a 50-pound dumbbell or heavier in the harness and holding your neck isometrically contracted for sets of a minute.
Stability ball isometric holds against the wall (4-way) is also a great thing to build isometric strength, with is the type of strength you are talking about if trying to ‘take a hit’. Isometric training is a big part of sport and doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Isometric means holding constant length. The interesting thing about isometric training is that it has a carry over strength effect 15 degrees either way in the movement.
Lastly, hook your neck harness up to a sled and do some isometric sled-neck walking. This is awesome. When I was talking to Louie Simmons last, he talked about this and how back in the day, when football players had huge necks, you weren’t hearing about as many head injuries, significantly less in fact. Now, guys don’t train the neck as much and look at the result.
Hope that helps!
I had a few questions concerning my workouts. I’m currently studying abroad in Italy, and I just joined a gym here. The main concern is that the gym doesn’t have squat rack. I know there is no substitute for getting under the bar, but I was wondering what I could do in the meantime until I get home in May that would not only help with size, but would have the most carryover so that I would not lose too much strength in my squat.
I also had a question regarding the deadlift. I know you have experienced quite a few injuries during your time training, so I figured you might know a way to help me. I have a growth disorder in my hip, which had me in a wheelchair and on crutches for 2 years when I was younger. During this time, there was no blood flow to the head of my femur, and as a result, I now have one leg shorter than the other and different mobility in my two hips. This makes it extremely difficult to deadlift, especially with a sumo stance. With the different length and flexibility, I can’t just pick the bar straight up off the floor like anyone else. I was wondering if you had any ideas as to how i can help build a big pull without hurting myself real badly. Thanks a lot!
Hi Tommy, hopefully I am not becoming known as a Coach that hurts himself training, lol. Let me be clear that the my injuries have been the result of sport, not the training itself.
For the first part of your question, its pretty simple. Do the Goblet Squat, with a dumb bell or kettlebell held up high on your chest. This is more difficult in my opinion than squatting with a barbell when done heavy. It has a more global effect since you have to support the weight rather than letting it sit on you. Do any rep scheme you can think up, do pyramids up and down, go heavy, go for 1-2 minute sets, do it dynamically to mimic your speed strength days. If you do this and do bodyweight squats and lunges for high volume, you will be just fine.
On to the second part of your question. Firstly, have you ever had traction done on that hip? I would traction it every way possible, walk with ankle weights, got to a qualified PT or strength coach and have them hook it up to a cable machine. Second, how big is the difference? I would buy and a good quality Airex pad or two and place your shorter leg on the pad. Make up the difference that way, if having a big pull is your main goal. One of the main things I do is look at a person’s biomechanics and structure and decide what the best exercises for him or her are, your situation is no different. Keep me posted!