As I was performing one of my three early conditioning sessions at 4:45 AM last Wednesday, I had a clear mind and 30 minutes to let the thoughts run free. I am currently motivated by goal to get into the best health of my life and every time I am aiming for something, all other areas of my life come into hyper-foucs as well. This means that I have been reflecting on my methods at Newell Strength, and how I can help turn everyone there into a champion. Now, not all members are current athletes, so my definition of ‘champion’ simply means making each person their own best version. I deal mostly with the physical….
For the atheltes, we are constantly trying to get stronger. Strength is the foundation of all other athletic skills, including: agility, power, speed and endurance. We use a conjugate system to keep the exercises, body and mind fresh and every other week we are going for a PR in some variation of a move. I am a big fan of contrast training methods, meaning we pair our power or strength exercise. Even as I strip the fat off my body and try to gain a little more muscle, I will always keep an element of strength in my own workouts.
For the man that want to dominate their bodies and workouts, we use a lot of the same exercises. However, we switch up the order and the pace is much faster. I find that the men are much better at keeping pace in the workouts. The younger atheltes and high school athletes are used to what they see at the regular globo gyms and taking 5 minutes between sets. This is not good for body composition or performance. For body comp, the faster we can go and still maintain performance, the more body fat we will lose. For performance, I am not too sure of many sports that get 2-5 minutes rest between exertions.
The older members train more for body composition, so they don’t necessarily have to be in ‘game shape’, however this does not mean they can escape some good old fashioned Newell Strength conditioning, such as a barbell finisher complex comprised of squats, curls, lunges, overhead walks and hi-pulls. Even had the guys perform a fast one mile the other day to give them a runners high and let the joints ‘get out and go’. For the athletes, we do almost ZERO agility work unless they are really young, in which case it is really coordination work. Remember, agility is a function of strength, just like speed.
For their conditioning (the athletes), I make sure to work anaerobically and aerobically, usually a blend of the two as most of the sports atheltes we get use a combination of the energy systems. This might mean Tabata running one day, which has been shown to increase VO2 max much faster and more so than distance running. For the longer runs, lets say 1/4 miles, I will continually increase the reps from week to week while cutting down on their rest time. During the initial off-season, we don’t do much conditioning at all as it normally only takes 6 weeks to get the athletes into top shape. So it is not like I am increasing conditioning for weeks on end, its only 6 at the max.
I also address nutrition a ton with the members as this along with lifestyle will effect recovery and performance much more than anything else. I am adamant about eating food sources that are ‘wild caught’ as it will improve body composition and performance much more than the regular toxin-laden foods. I encourage hard work, obviously, but smart work. If someone is slacking at Newell Strength, they don’t last too long.
I am currently doing very well under John Meadows coaching and he is teaching me a great deal. I am eating much more than I ever allowed myself while trying to lean up and I feel better than ever and the fat is melting off. I am documenting everything and reading up on fat loss like a mad-man. I will be sharing all of this at the seminar this April. Keep working hard and put this stuff to use!
I am having an awesome Sunday! I got to spend the day at DeFranco’s up in Wyckoff with Joe D and Smitty from Diesel Crew. This was the second part of the series of the seminar that I went to back in June. These guys are some of the leaders in the industry and I picked up a lot of cool things today! Med ball work for athletes, variations on the Olympic lifts, contrast training methods and so on. I am going to be putting this all to use this week on my men and athletes:) Lucky them! And tonight at 10 PM I have an hour consult with James the Thinker Smith. We are going to talk shop about training and all types of fun science. It has definitely been and will continue to be a productive day.
Power development and program design, doesn’t get any better than that….
I had the great honor to speak with Dave Tate the other day. We talked about a wide variety of topics, but one thing that stuck out about what Dave said was that athletes are more interested in playing their sport and practicing their skills, not numbers in the weight room. I find that many strength coaches and sports coaches are more concerned with the numbers in the weight room than if they are actually getting better on the field.
This is a very interesting conundrum, one that will be around for a while. So, what does it mean? It means that if you are a strength coach, the main goal of all of your programs should be to enhance athletic performance. Read that line again, it is simple yet profound. The goal of athletic strength and conditioning is not to become a great power lifter. In another interview with coach Steve Maxwell last week, he said there comes a point in which strength will bring with it diminishing returns. Again, simple, yet very useful. How strong do you need to be, how strong do your athletes need to be? This means that with few exceptions, there should not be a lot of down time during an athletes training program. The main, working part of the workout should be no longer than 45 minutes in my opinion which has been backed by research (research shows after this time period, your body goes into an unfavorable hormonal profile). This does not include soft tissue work, warm-up, stretching or cooling down.
To break it down even further, correct movement patters must be learned, imbalances must be corrected (to a degree), applicable speed and power must be developed, core strength must be increased in functional and non-functional positions, flexibility must be developed. You have a lot to consider when making an athlete more athletic, too much time used up on purely chasing numbers in the weight room will do nothing to benefit the athlete. Dave said the other day that if numbers are what you are after, hammer home the form and numbers will increase rapidly on most cases. Compare this to the strength coaches that cannot get the lifts to improve year after year despite working them to death.
Athletes would rather be out playing pick-up, working on skills with their position coaches, playing games, practicing. With a few exceptions, they are going to a strength coach to enhance their performance, period. Give them what they want and need and you’ll be a better coach.
I will be putting my first dvd out this summer along with an outlined program of how I am getting my hoops players to dunk with ease. Obviously these kids are gifted, but when they came to me a half year ago, they were not dunking consistently. I now have 3 players that are dunking with ease, 2 handed! That means they have had a substantial increase in their power and vertical jumps. I understand the principles of power and rate of force development and how to get my athletes to maximize their power potential. It also helps greatly that I am still and active basketball player and I understand the mechanics of the game. I will be posting video within the next week or so of my guys throwing down. I am even going to put myself through a self-experiment with going from where I am now to dunking to prove to you that it works. Win the week!
Too often, many strength coaches want to start using maximum effort methods with their young athletes. Athletes that are inexperienced in the weight room and don’t have the muscle mass to lift a broom stick, yet their coach will have them doing as much as they can during a box squat. Are you kidding me!? For many athletes, max effort does not need to be employed until the athlete stops progressing on their current rep schemes, lets say 10 to 12. An athlete must develop adequate muscle mass and neurological control first and then we can start sliding the weights up. What is neurological control? Simply watch a newbie lifting anything and notice the shaking, uneven movement of the bar-that is a lack of neurological control. There are many things that go into putting together a program for a young or new athlete. What ever happened to bodyweight programs for beginners? Keep it simple stupid!
While reading the book Brawn this morning, the author made a great point that many coaches and athletes often overlook. “There’s no need to jump to an advanced technique until you need that technique.” (p 145, McRobert). A lot of coaches out there and a lot of the athletes I work with often forget this. They want the bells and whistles such as depth jumps, heavy ass squats and deadlifts, chain bench press and so on when what they need is basic strength and hypertrophy. My athletes starting out will hardly touch any weights besides the sled for the first few months. I will know and they will know when they are ready to progress. It is like medicine, only give what is needed for the desired results. Once that stops working, time to up the dosage. Peace!
I recently wrote an article for a very big web site about in season strength training strategies for basketball players. One of the things I said was not to train in the 1-3 rep max range because it places too large of a stress on the CNS. One of the replies I got was from either a D1 player or strength coach (he didn’t make it clear) about how he does both squats and cleans in the 1-3 RM range during the season and so there is nothing wrong with it. He failed to specify was if it was truely max weight he was using. Also, the thing that pisses me off is just because he should be an expert at that level if he is a coach or if he is a player and his coach has him doing this, he doesn’t know the CNS and training very well. The goal during the season is performance on the court and maintenance in the weight room. Once a week will get the job done. I DO NOT want my athletes trying for records or frying their ‘system’ in the weight room during the season. I am more concerned with keeping muscle mass, keeping flexibility, especially through the hips and making sure they feel good. Be careful who you get your advice from-Kyle
It is very important to schedule in recovery weeks into your program and for you coaches out there, your athletes programs. You should not try to go balls to the wall every workout. This is part of the art of being a good coach. Today marks the 5th week of my own current plan. I have been breaking records literally every week! However, this week, I am not hitting the heavy stuff. I am getting a touch of a cold and I know that the CNS has to be carefully monitored. But I find that every 4th to 5th week should be more of a repetition week (hypertrophy, recovery, bodybuilding) and then get back to it. Now instead of squatting 500 this morning, I put 135 on the bar and squatted it for 3 straight minutes! The video will be up on the site tonight or so. I am not sure how many reps I got, but I am pretty sure it was more than 50! The point is, I got plenty of blood to the lower body and I have not been training for strength endurance at all, but I have been getting strong as hell and to make my point even more clear: STRENGTH LEADS TO ENDURANCE!!!! Peace-K
Friday I had a really intense lower body workout and yesterday I did a big time back workout at Rutgers University with 2 other strength coaches. We really went at it! Today I played a little pick up hoops first thing in the morning. Why I am telling you this? Because I had to take this into consideration when designing today’s upper body workout. For starters, I started outside with a sled doing backwards sled drags. This helps facilitate recovery in the quads by way of the fact that there is no eccentric muscle contraction-the part of the exercise that is known to cause the most muscle damage. I did this to bring more blood and nutrients to the area which will help in the recovery process. I have mentioned before that the bike is a nother good alternative for lower body recovery. Secondly, I did an explosive style pushup instead of dynamic bench and I really focused on traps/upper back and some triceps. The whole point of this post is that sometimes you need to design your workout with what needs to be done in the overall scheme of things. If you asked me on Friday what my Sunday workout will look like, I usually have only a partial idea. Something to think about….
While I was away the past few days, I had a chance to catch up on some reading. As I have stated in a few of my recent posts, I am reading Mark Rippetoe, a great strength coach in his own right. In the one chapter I just finished, he made it very clear that too many people think or market that they can train you for purely aesthetics, which is a bunch of baloney. I have been the victim of this type of thinking before as well. When I get my bodybuilders ready for a show, I train them for performance and as athletes, not some guys looking for a bigger bicep. Why? Because what we are after, even if you don’t actually have to perform, is an athletic physique. Now, that can vary widely; you may be after a gymansts physique, a sprinters, a linebackers or a dancers. But how did they achieve those looks? Simpy, they trained for performance and ate like an athlete. There are no secrets besides this fact. If you are a coach or a trainer reading this, train your clients for performance. If you have athletes, well then you should always be training them for performance. If you are a trainee reading this, then tell your trainer or coach what look you are after and have them design a program based on what an athlete would in order to perform. Happy New Year!