ATHLETIC CONSULTING TRAINING REPORT -
"How should an athlete train for strength and power?"
- "What's a better warm-up?"
- "Ask the Experts!"
"A little help for health"
- ATHLETE TRAINING Q & A
As an athlete, I often hear about exercises that sound
so complex, such as squatting while standing on a wobble-board.
Is this stuff really going to be any better than heavy
squatting? It's starting to get very frustrating with
a new training method being touted every week...So what's
the best way for an athlete (a rugby player in my case)
to get stronger and more explosive?
to hear that you are frustrated but you should understand
that training isn't black or white. There are a lot of
gray areas and therefore you will get a lot of opinions
on the best way to train. So it's not unlike anything
else in life...after all, you won't get the same opinion
twice when it comes to buying a new car, right? However,
your frustration is very understandable, considering there
is no research on these new training methods.
need to be explosive and powerful, and every good coach
should know that Power = Force x Velocity. Therefore,
one should train an athlete to improve strength (Force)
and speed (Velocity) if they seek to improve power. Fortunately,
it's that simple. Exercises that have been shown in numerous
research studies to produce increases in strength, speed,
and power are the squat, bench press, jump training, and
Olympic lifts (cleans, etc.).
contrast, there are few, if any research papers documenting
an increase in strength, power, or performance from a
program of wobble board squats (or the like). So stick
with basic exercises and brute force until it is otherwise
proven that these novel exercises can live up to their
claims. Hopefully someday, someone will be able to put
a little substance behind these techniques, but until
then...Put it this way, if an athlete that trained to
deep-squat 400 lbs ran head on into an athlete that wobble-board
squats 135 lbs, who would you put your money on?
players, and many team sport athletes, also need to be
fast, agile, injury resistant, and powerful. Unfortunately,
from that description it sounds like you'd need to be
training 8 hours a day, 6 days per week. Fortunately that
is not true, and the athlete may only need to be in the
gym lifting 2-3 times per week in order to make great
strength coaches recommend that athletes perform some
type of Olympic lift at least 3 times per week. While
this is not mandatory for success, it does fit in well
with the goal of training in the weight room 3 days out
of a 7-day training cycle in addition to helping meet
the goal of increased explosiveness and power.
key area for most athletes is leg strength. Unfortunately,
leg extensions and leg curls get more attention than the
classic and more effective exercises such as squats and
deadlifts. Even when the squat and deadlift are performed,
the exercises are not manipulated to provide their full
potential. Traditional squat and deadlift exercises strengthen
the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes (see ISSUE #75).
While these benefits are obviously very important to any
athlete that wants to be faster and more powerful, there
are still 2 key areas being neglected, namely the groin
and the hip flexors.
hip flexors are muscles that bring the knee to the chest
during sprinting. It's also the muscle group that many
guys feel pain in after a day of touch football or their
first day in the outfield after a winter without sprint
training. Why the pain? Hip flexors are a tough muscle
group to work in the gym with regular resistance exercises.
The traditional full sit-up will stress the hip flexors,
along with many sprinting drills (i.e. "high knees",
"skipping", and "Frankenstein walks").
Lunges may also stress the hip flexors slightly. Unless
you do any of these exercises, expect to be sore and stiff
in that area after any repetitive sprinting.
groin-specific training, have a look at ISSUE#74. Many
athlete training and preparation programs do not address
the groin in strength training or speed-agility drills.
Thus, lateral movement and groin strength development
will suffer. One easy method to incorporate the groin
in your strength training is to simply spread your stance
beyond hip width while squatting or deadlifting.
are 2 workouts that fit the bill for "athlete development".
You could perform both workouts in a week, or follow Workout
A twice a week for 4 weeks before switching to Workout
B. Note that each workout contains an Olympic lift, a
squat or deadlift, a press, and an abdominal-hip flexor
exercise. Now you can do all the squatting on a Swiss
ball that you like, but it is unlikely to build the strength,
explosiveness, or "Core strength" that the following
Hanging Leg Raise
the season gets closer, an athlete could be lifting Monday
and Thursday and performing speed-agility Tuesday, and
Friday (or Saturday). If any additional Olympic lifting,
conditioning or sport-specific training is required, it
could be performed on the Wednesday or Saturday.
- WARM-UP Q&A
Before I lift, I always ride the bike for 10 minutes and
then do 1-2 warm-up sets. The thing is, I don't really
feel like it is preparing me for my heavy lifts, especially
when I bench press. However, my trainers and coaches have
always said that I have to increase my core temperature
before I lift. Is this the best way to warm-up?
not core temperature that you need to increase, it's muscle
temperature, specifically the muscles you are going to
use. An increase in your core temperature (as measured
by a rectal thermometer) is not going to prepare you for
heavy bench presses, or even heavy squats. The following
resistance circuit has been prepared as a warm-up that
will help specifically prepare you for the task at hand.
So blow off that 5-10 stationary cycle and grab an empty
45 lbs bar for the following warm-up. Then add your specific
warm-up sets for your muscle that will already be primed...
Each exercise is performed for 10 reps with the bar. Do
Clean Pull (Explosive wide-grip upright row)
- EXPERTS Q&A
Let's finish off with some quotes from various
experts on miscellaneous topics:
"I was reading about ART in ISSUE # 67 and I was
wondering who would benefit from ART? Does it hurt?"
from Mike Zappetelli, ART practitioner:
can use ART on pretty much anyone with a soft-tissue injury,
acute or chronic. Of course, in either situation, you
will not want to approach to close to the tissue limitations,
especially in the acute situation. Tissue tolerance is
another important aspect of treatment to be conscious
of because some clients can tolerate more pain while others
can not. Treatment can be very uncomfortable in situations,
so discretion should be used on every procedure. An experienced
provider will know the limitations better for individual
"I am interested in training for a triathlon over
the winter. How many miles do I need to run to prepare
for a long-distance triathlon? 50?"
from Sheldon Persad of Personal Best (www.personalbest.ca):
the elite marathoners and Ironman triathletes that I train
don't run in excess of 50-60 miles/week and they usually
average no more than around 30 miles.
"I don't like to do the squat exercise. Besides,
I'm already really strong in the leg press. How do the
two exercises compare?"
from Dr. Mel Siff, moderator of Supertraining (a Yahoo
leg press with 700 lbs could conservatively be estimated
to be equivalent to a squat of less than 250lbs.
- HEALTH Q&A
"Does weight training have any benefits aside from
just helping me gain muscle?"
American Heart Association has issued this statement endorsing
to moderate resistance training can provide an effective
method for improving muscular strength and endurance,
preventing and managing a variety of chronic medical conditions,
modifying coronary risk factors, and enhancing psychological
it is safe to say that weight training provides preventive
health benefits, as well as everyday functional benefits
and increases in muscle mass.