Giving Thanks 2020
Each year around Thanksgiving I ask the staff to come up with a few things that they are thankful for. This is usually gym related and I think it’s always nice for the clients to hear the coaches thoughts.
I started this a few years back and with this year being the first with a new staff I wanted you all to get a little insight into the tough but amazing year with this crew….
I’m incredibly thankful for The Strength Feed family. It’s been a weird year for everyone, but making the move to split my time between Asheville and Raleigh has added an additional strange element to 2020 for me. Without the support of TSF coaches and members, this would have been a much more daunting task. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this gym family.
I can honestly say that the Strength Feed saved me. Before working at TSF, I wasn’t happy where I was, I didn’t feel like I was being challenged or supported moving forward with my career. I have been challenged to push myself physically and mentality to expand my horizons to become a better athlete and coach.
Besides my career, I am extremely thankful to work with this staff. They all bring a unique expertise and perspective to The Feed. I am also very thankful for the community we have at TSF, consisting of a variety of amazing different people who are always hungry for growth. These, are just a few things I am thankful for at TSF. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
What a year it's been. I couldn't have asked for a better place to be, and better people to be around (whether it's in person or virtually) during this year. I am thankful for each and every interaction with the Strength Feed community, and all of the coaches for allowing me join them in an effort to change lives.
I truly believe I have the best boss, coworkers, clients, and community ever! I am thankful for you all pushing me to be a better professional and a better athlete each day.
At the beginning of COVID, I went through a panic. We had sent off Graham with a bang and wished him all the best. Then the bottom dropped out with Erin and we were left with nothing. I am so thankful I stuck with my gut when Jess came along because she has been a godsend. She is so organized, beyond helpful and just a kind person to be around. She has exceeded all expectations and continuous to impress everyday.
We also got super lucky having Rae recommended to us. I wasn’t sure what situation she was in but her former co-worker told us she wasn’t challenged. He actually tried to steal her to his gym in Fuquay first.
Rae came in without an ego, but just a chip on her shoulder to be better and work harder than anyone else. This has been seen time and time again. She makes sacrifices all the time for TSF. Above all else it is noticeable what a happy person she is and there is always a smile waiting for you at the door when you come to train with Rae. I am so thankful that Rae decided to take the job here, and I am so thankful to work with her each day.
I also couldn't be luckier having my brother in law coaching with me. This may be one of the easiest things in the world. Not only do I get to see him at work and coach with him. He also lives two doors down, so it's really a non stop discussion on training. This I think, has made us both better coaches.
I want all the clients to know how helpful and meaningful their support has been through this unprecedented year. Without the love, the need, or the lasting help with any and everything I truly don’t think that TSF makes it. We have had tons of referrals and that quite possibly is one of the biggest helping hands. Keep us coaching, and we will always be thankful for that.
Many of you reading this are going to get offended. Crossfitters, bodybuilders powerlifters, etc, stop calling yourself athletes!
“But bro, I have a triple bodyweight squat.”
My response, “Who cares? Your knees would explode from a broad jump.”
Anyone who competes in powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, crossfit, bodybuilding and any other “strength sport” is not an athlete, however athletic they may look. I will give it to you, some of these people are the most athletic looking people in the world, but they just aren’t athletes. Their training can be some of the most grueling, intense training you will ever witness. However, there are a number of variables missing from their training to consider them an athlete.
There is even a point of diminishing returns of strength when it comes to most athletes and their sports. Look at the best dunkers in the NBA or the best NFL receivers; do they have 40 “ verticals because they have a 3x BW squat?
Is walking across a stage in a banana hammock athletic? Even if you have a 58” chest 36” waist and 22” quads?
Since college I have had this conversation with many other coaches and clients in the industry. What constitutes a sport, and what’s the difference between being an athlete and being athletic?
Well the dictionary has one definition, your body has another definition, and I also have an opinion of my own.
Let me explain. The dictionary says sport is “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.” This is pretty simple to comprehend; however, during an elite level chess match the body has a similar hormonal reaction to physical sport. Adrenalin and norepinephrine elevate your blood pressure for even days after a big match. It also has a set of rules and people compete against each other, so why is it not a sport? It wouldn’t be considered a sport because there is no physical activity, even though the hormones in you body say differently. There is a lack of apparent physicality, even if your body is registering it the same way.
Now comes my opinion. I think it is important to clear the air. Training between sport and competition differs greatly. This difference is crucial for understanding how to train an athlete verses a competitor.
A sport, by definition, should be anything that requires defense, and playing that sport makes you an athlete. There must be an element of physicality to it. Thus, bringing in the reactive component to the mix. Without this it is clearly just a competition, and 99% of the challenge is that competition against your self.
Let’s use some other examples. When you run in a track meet you are only capable of running the absolute fastest you can run. If the guy next to you can run faster there is nothing you can do, only hope and pray he or she is about to trip.
Take competitive cheerleading and gymnastics, they practice 1,000s of hours to produce their best performance and then can loose due to observational judges. This doesn’t take away from the fact that these men and women are some of the most athletic people I have ever seen.
Now lets take soccer. Soccer requires you to play defense against a person or persons to prevent the ball from advancing or scoring. You have to actively try and prevent scoring. This is the key point in recognizing the difference between sport and competition.
Now I know this will cause uproar, but if you consider the training, it is all too clear. Sports, real sports, require a litany of explosive reactive training that forces you in and out of uncomfortable positions of the body. It is a constant reaction to an outside force or stimulus. You have to be an athlete, and most of the time the more athletic you are the more successful athlete you can become.
Competition on the other hand does not require any of this. Powerlifting, running (short and long distance), CrossFit, swimming, and the majority of Olympic “sports” are all the same. You do not have to be an athlete to compete and be successful, you just have to be athletic, and in some cases you don’t even have to be the latter. I mean, have you seen some of the powerlifters and marathon runners!? I have literally walked outside in the middle of a USAPL meet to find 1-3 guys smoking a cigarette, in between lifts!
Now I am not out to say elite level marathon runners, powerlifters, crossfit-ers, swimmers have an easier training regiment, I am just saying it is a much different regiment.
A lot of what I do with my athletes is to work to make them comfortable being uncomfortable. With competition everything is predicable. If you’re swimming, you swim in a straight line, if you run the 800, it’s two laps in a circle. Even a highly complex gymnastics routine requires thousands of hours of practice for it to become the most predictable and require the least amount of thinking. That’s the point of practicing it right?
Now take hockey, when you step on that ice you have no idea how the game will play out or what the requirements will be on your body. Basketball, tennis, baseball and the majority of other ball sports require you to change approach and responses in milliseconds.
As a strength coach, it is required for us to know the differences in sport and competition from a biomechanical and energy requirement standpoint. It is also good for us to know the difference, so we can apply things like the SAID principle to our training. I use the term athlete verses athletic to describe the requirements of that training. Bottom line, competitors shouldn’t be offended when they aren’t referred to as athletes.
Training For Longevity
Hey y’all my name is Ansley! I am currently a senior at Meredith College studying nutrition and hoping to pursue P.T school once I graduate. I am and have been a workout enthusiast since my early years playing competitive club soccer. My passion for sports and fitness has evolved over the years, crossed many disciplines and many gyms in both Raleigh and in Charleston, SC (my hometown.) After playing soccer my first year at Meredith, I decided to switch gears and joined the track team where I now run the 400 meter and throw the javelin! Being part of a team and working towards goals were what drew me to soccer as a kid and what drives me now in pursuing a career in the fitness industry.
I have been training at TSF ever since Joe convinced me it was better than the mindless programming he watched me do by myself every day in the Meredith gym. Two years later and I wouldn’t want to be at any other gym or working with any other coaches than the ones at The Strength Feed! My training at TSF started as an Olympic weightlifter and evolved into more of a conjugate system. I am learning more and more about strength & conditioning to be able to bring said knowledge into PT school which is, hopefully, the next step for me. I am also studying for the CSCS as well as completing an internship with Athletic Lab. In my spare time I have found that I enjoy researching and writing blogs, so I have been writing for Prime Performance Rehab in Charleston and for Coach Joe at The Strength Feed.
When we talk about longevity, we are not just speaking on the quantity of life but also on the quality. Longevity encompasses our ability to move functionally throughout our lifetime. Ideally, we would want to be 80 years old and still be doing triathlons and hitting PR’s. But at the very least, we want to maintain our independence in seemingly elementary tasks like carrying groceries, getting on and off the toilet, and playing with our kids/grandkids. Below we have highlighted some training principles that aid in longevity:
1. Strength Training
There are many benefits to strength training at all stages of life. As we age, the development and maintenance of muscle mass becomes even more important in counteracting illness, maintaining bone density, preventing falls, decreasing the rate of neuromuscular and balance deterioration, and improving overall wellbeing. It is very important, both for coaches and the individual working out, to understand their specific goals when it comes to strength training. Strength training for muscular adaptation involves appropriately surpassing your baseline tolerance so that strength gains can be evoked. However, when strength training for longevity, it is important not to surpass physical or psychological tolerances (Bergeron 2020). While younger athletes training for peak performance require a push past these tolerances to evoke muscular adaptation, it is not as necessary for someone trying to attain or maintain their general physical fitness. It is important to acknowledge that strength training does not have to include consistently training at maximal work levels (hitting PR’s) in order to be effective.
As coaches, when programming for longevity, individualization becomes more important and periodization becomes less important. Strength training for longevity should be highly individualized, so as to accommodate each particular person and allow for modifications among varying ability levels (Maren et. al 2019).
The utilization of periodization in higher level or sport specific athletes is sensible because these athletes are working towards achieving peak performance at a race, game, or competition. Periodization becomes less important when training for longevity, because there is not a peak performance, in terms of a sport, that the individual is working towards. With periodization being less important, this does not mean that progressive overload can be ignored. Progressive overload is still going to be necessary for muscular adaptation, and this is best done through increasing resistance or load (Lorenz et. al 2010). Progressive overload is also desirable when training for longevity because it motivates individuals when there is notable, tangible progress in their exercise programs, and this is also more likely to encourage long term maintenance of the training plan.
2. Avoid Stress Overload and Overtraining
It is important to consider the fact that exercise is a stressor that is perceived by the body the same way as the other stressors in our life. These outside stressors (financial, professional, physical, emotional) tend to be present in greater amounts in adults, as most people have greater responsibilities during adulthood than they did during adolescence. From a physical standpoint and also due to these psychological stressors, the majority of people will not be able to sustain the same volumes of exercise at 50 years old that they sustained as a collegiate athlete. Therefore, when training for longevity, the intensity and frequency of sessions must be gauged with this in mind.
Ensuring adequate recovery time between sessions, incorporating myofascial release, like foam rolling, into your warmup and cool down, and adjusting training parameters based upon stress-load are crucial when training for longevity. Incorporating breathing work into the end of training sessions is also a tool that could assist in the management of overall stress. With myofascial release, it is important to remember that this is a great method to supplement training and combat muscle soreness, but it should not be utilized as a standalone. Rather, it should be treated like a tool that opens up the window for good movement and mobility.
3. Emphasize mobility/working range of motion through all joints
In addition to resistance training coupled with adequate recovery periods, mobility is an aspect of training that must be prioritized. Dr. Satariano of U.C. Berkely states, “Optimal health is being able to safely and reliably go where you want to go, when you want to go, and how you want to get there, is a key component of healthy aging.”
Data has also shown that in terms of mobility, shoulder, trunk, and hip mobility, start to decline the most rapidly in the fourth and fifth decades of life (Medeiros et al. 2013). Because movement in these areas is critical for independence and functionality, mobility and strength through these areas must be emphasized and incorporated more heavily in training programs as we age.
4. Hone in to the Hips
Do movements, preferably loaded ones, that involve some sort of hip hinge. This will translate into simple tasks we don’t think about like getting up off the ground and going from seated to standing and vice versa. Sound hip flexion and hip extension are critical for effortless tasks like bending over to tie our shoes, so this “hip hinge” pattern of movement should be trained often to ensure functionality throughout our lifetimes. Movements like the deadlift, squat, kettlebell swing, and good mornings are exercises that work the hip hinge and require little technicality, while also translating seamlessly into daily movement patterns outside of the gym.
Moving loads through large ranges of motion is also going to aid in developing our midline stabilization and core to extremity movement patterns (Bergeron 2020). What does this mean? When training the hip hinge, the core is also simultaneously being strengthened, which will protect the lower back and make all movements through our legs more fluid. Simply put, move large external loads through a large range of motion, and do it at a relatively fast pace (Bergeron 2020) in order to maintain adequate hip functionality.
5. Move Things
Think: Pushes, pulls, carries. These types of movements mimic the activities we do daily while simultaneously working midline stability, muscular strength, and cardiovascular endurance. Farmers carry, prowler pushes, and sled work are great examples of these movements.
Moving things from Point A to Point B is arguably one of most valuable indicators of functional movement and health, so training this in the gym is a valuable asset in terms of longevity (Bergeron 2020). Think about walking: this is simple displacement but it is one of the first things to deteriorate as we age. Studies have shown that 31.7% of adults over the age of 65 report difficulty in walking just 3 city blocks (Satariano et. al 2012).
Therefore, moving things from Point A to Point B under load will make moving your body from Point A to Point B feel effortless. If you pull a sled or push a prowler at the gym, then walking long distances or hiking with your kids will be a breeze. Carrying dumbbells in the gym will make carrying groceries and moving boxes into your new house feel like a piece of cake. And they are movements that can be progressively overloaded very simplistically. Farmers carry with 40 lb dumbbells too light? Do 50 lbs the next session.
At a certain point, when our life goals shift away from being a competitive or sport specific athlete, our training goals must also shift. Training for longevity is a direction in which we can shift our focus so that we can maintain functionality and quality of life as we age. Programming should include displacement under loads (just think pushing, pulling, or carrying heavy things as we move), coupled with strength and mobility work, especially through the hips. These training patterns, with the help of sufficient recovery time, will assist in our fluidity of movement as we age, and will increase the likelihood of us continuing to hit PR’s when we are 80 years old.
Bergeron, Ben (Producer). 2020, August 31). Chasing Excellence [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved form URL.
Fragala, Maren S.1; Cadore, Eduardo L.2; Dorgo, Sandor3; Izquierdo, Mikel4; Kraemer, William J.5; Peterson, Mark D.6; Ryan, Eric D.7 Resistance Training for Older Adults: Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 8 - p 2019-2052 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003230
Jesse C. Dean, Arthur D. Kuo, Neil B. Alexander, Age-Related Changes in Maximal Hip Strength and Movement Speed, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 59, Issue 3, March 2004, Pages M286–M292, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/59.3.M286
Lorenz, Daniel S et al. “Periodization: current review and suggested implementation for athletic rehabilitation.” Sports health vol. 2,6 (2010): 509-18. doi:10.1177/1941738110375910
Medeiros, Hugo Baptista de Oliveira et al. “Age-related mobility loss is joint-specific: an analysis from 6,000 Flexitest results.” Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands) vol. 35,6 (2013): 2399-407. doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9525-z
O'Keefe JH, Franklin B, Lavie CJ. Exercising for health and longevity vs peak performance: different regimens for different goals. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89(9):1171-1175. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.07.007
Satariano, William A et al. “Mobility and aging: new directions for public health action.” American journal of public health vol. 102,8 (2012): 1508-15. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300631
The New Strength masquerade
Within the last few weeks the fitness world saw a lot of change, and it all started thanks to some insensitive, tone deaf, and hurtful comments regarding the murder of George Floyd from the founder, owner, and CEO of CrossFit Inc, Greg Glassman. Within the last week more news regarding his behavior, specifically accusations of sexual misconduct and creating an uncomfortable work environment at CrossFit Inc, have begun to surface. Because of all of this news thousands of CrossFit affiliates around the world made the choice to drop their CrossFit affiliation, and try to make their own way in the fitness world. WIthout the ability to use “CrossFit” in the name of the gym, all of these facilities have been looking to replace that word with some they feel suits the gym they are running. A lot have adopted the name “Community Fitness”, others just “Fitness”, but some have turned away from that side of things just a bit and gone with “Strength and Conditioning” or just “Strength”. The name on a building is likely going to play a big part in getting customers in the doors, but there is a big potential difference between an established Strength gym, and a recent CrossFit affiliate searching for a new name.
In almost all cases all of these former CrossFit affiliates are not changing their gym programming, and keeping things the same is a big selling point for many of the members. Most owners are reassuring clients something like this, “Just because the name on our building is changing, doesn’t mean you should expect anything different from our programming.” This is obviously a great reassurance for current members, but for those former affiliates that have gone from “CrossFit Blank” to “Blank Strength and Conditioning”, they are also making a promise to potential new members that they may not be ready to follow through on.
CrossFit gyms all program very similarly, and yes, there is an element of strength to the programming. You’re likely to see most CrossFit gyms program in days where they Back Squat or Deadlift heavy, or they go for a 1RM Clean & Jerk, but that is not the sole purpose of the program. CrossFit outlines 10 components of fitness (cardio/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy), and the majority of daily programming culminates with a high intensity interval style workout. A lot of gyms don’t program a specific strength cycle, but rather, more randomized (constantly varied) movements because the goal of CrossFit is to be ready for the unknown and unknowable. Another thing to mention is that a person who programs for a CrossFit gym is not likely to have more than just a CrossFit Level 1 certification (a weekend cert, which does not require any knowledge of strength cycles, and only very basic knowledge of energy systems). Contrast that with a Strength gym run by a lead trainer with years of education, and certifications to back up the programming approach.
The whole approach from these former affiliates is in many ways the antithesis of a true “Strength” gym. One is meant to be constantly varied without a specifically planned long term goal, and to help improve strength to some degree, but also seeks to improve athletes in many other areas. The other (the Strength gym) is likely to have a highly knowledgeable staff, with goal oriented specific plans for clients, and will use data and understanding to achieve a specific outcome, not just constantly varied exercise.
How could I possibly know this all to be true? My name is Daniel Muto, I am the current owner of Pisgah Fitness (formerly CrossFit Pisgah) located in Asheville, NC. I have worked as a CrossFit coach for over 5 years, and have owned, operated, and programmed for the gym for nearly 3 years. Prior to my CrossFit coaching days I worked as a personal trainer for 2 years at a number of gyms, just trying to understand the craft. As a former affiliate owner myself, I know many other affiliate owners, there are some that take time to learn and grow and understand their clients, and there are others who write workouts to try to make people tired, and that’s it. I was not satisfied with just a weekend certification, and took it upon myself to read, learn and grow as a trainer and programmer. I tried my hand in multiple disciplines from bodybuilding, to weightlifting, to powerlifting, to assist with that learning and truly understand each client. My reason for writing all of this is to help everyone make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a “strength” gym, understand the background, the coaching, the programming, and the abilities that gyms have.
In this new age of strength and conditioning gyms, not all are created equal.
Owner of Pisgah Fitness
Crossfit Level 1
PREHABILITATION: WHAT, WHY, HOW?
Orthopedic rehabilitation takes place after an injury, surgery, or any disruption in the musculoskeletal system. Sometimes, rehabilitation can be used to prevent or postpone surgery. Physical therapists, occupational therapists and orthopedists use various techniques to restore function to affected limbs, movement patterns, and daily life activities. These techniques may include stretching/strengthening/stabilization exercises, manual therapy, heat/cold therapy, electrical stimulation, kinesiology taping and dry needling just to name a few.
For the athlete, at any performance level, this may take weeks and sometimes months out of your training or competition schedule.
Sports medicine physicians and training professionals are making themselves more familiar with the concept of PREhabilitation for the young athlete.
Prehabilitation is a preventative measure, not a performance boosting tool. It is a system of education, training, and evaluations to prevent injury in the young athlete. However, the athlete will see faster, more consistent improvement in their performance because of a decrease in recovery time and injuries.
We, as sports professionals, are making it our responsibility to prevent non-contact injuries due to poor training habits and poor biomechanical movement patterns and imbalances in muscular development
Your Trainer’s Role
Trainers function to guide young athletes and improve their performance through training and education. It is the trainer’s responsibility to demand proper movement patterns, safe training habits, proper nutrition, and consistent recovery practices.
A successful prehab system includes:
Recovery and Tissue Health
Trainers and health professionals need to work together to maintain the muscular tissue health of all athletes.
Physical therapists and massage therapists work to improve muscular length, decrease recovery time, improve circulation, decrease the occurrence and severity of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), reduce the accumulation of scar tissue, and eliminate trigger points in the muscle tissue.
What Does It All Mean?
By teaching proper movement patterns and good training habits, we can prevent most non-contact injuries from occurring in the young athlete. We can also track and adjust training based on the individual needs of the athlete.
Bodywork professionals help prevent injuries by maintaining the functional length of muscle fibers and reducing tension and strain on connective tissues as the young athlete grows.
Together, we prepare the athlete’s body for the demand that the sport will put on it. In the event of a contact injury, the tissue is healthier and more capable of responding to the trauma. When the muscle is properly prepared, it can recover faster and with fewer
lasting effects that might hinder the athlete’s performance.
Stacey Meek, USAW
Owner, The Body Shop
Sports Massage Therapist
Thanksgiving is always a wonderful time of year. You get to spend your time with family, watch football and take a brief pause to be happy and understand how fortunate we are in the things we have and the people around us.
As the gym now passes its two-year birthday I wanted to again take the time to tell you how much I appreciate all of you. The gym has been a family for me. Each member that walks in the door is a new friend and TSF family member.
I am so lucky that each day I get to go to work with my friends. You guys give me the opportunity to be alongside you to help make fitness and exercise a part of your life.
I also get to work with two coaches that have molded me to be a better leader and business owner. It’s not often you have three people that mold together so well. It is a privilege to work through the everyday problems we face as a gym together as a crew. This aspect of the job is priceless and I thankfully get to work on all those things with Graham and Erin.
I’m so grateful for clients and athletes that are eager to learn and grow. It’s so rewarding to see clients progress through injuries and dysfunctions, correct imbalances, and get to a happier healthier place than they were in when they started with us.
Lately, I’ve been able to watch a lot of our athletes in action playing the games they love and seeing all their hard work and dedication pay off is incredible. I’m thankful for the new individuals and groups that have been so receptive of the direction and coaching we offer them as it is such a pleasure to be a small part of so many peoples journey to achieve their hopes and dreams.
This year I am thankful for the atmosphere that surrounds the feed. We have had a lot of new faces come in and many of these faces are friends and family.
I’m very thankful for all of the members who have felt like this is a place where they can bring ones close to them into the gym with out a second thought. The close-knit atmosphere is a crucial part of what we work so hard to develop and you all have done a great job helping us do so.
can you make my kid quick?
Often times when youth athletes are just starting off with us, parents will ask us a series of questions that goes a little something like this:
“My kid so and so is a great athlete and could obviously use a little more strength, but what can you do to make them quicker? They have speed and are fast, but they aren’t always the quickest to the ball/puck/off the line. What do you guys do to work on that? Is that something that we will see them improve in?”
When asked these kinds of questions, there really is no short answer. I mean obviously, yes. Yes, we can and will make them quicker. Does that mean we are going to do nothing but speed, agility, and quickness drills with them? No. Quickness is developed in a plethora of ways across several training adaptations. These parents are exactly right in that there is a major difference in quickness and speed. You can have an athlete that is very fast linearly, but incredibly slow in change of direction situations. The quickness these parents are speaking of is quite simply reaction time. What they are really asking us to do is decrease the amount of time it takes for their kid to see/hear/feel a stimulus and then generate a physical response to that. So much of success in sports is dependent on the ability to read and react more efficiently than your opponent.
So how do you improve this? When it comes down to it, any exercise or drill that creates a quick twitch muscle fiber contraction will give the athlete an opportunity to increase their speed in that contraction. If we ask the athlete to create that reaction in response to some outside variable (sight, sound, touch), then this creates an even more “game-like” exercise that allows the athlete to practice and improve in these situations.
What do these exercises look like?
From the moment your kid begins their dynamic warm up until the moment they begin a post workout foam roll they will be given countless opportunities to train these quick twitch muscle fibers, and no two ways will look the same. This could look like the falling starts, shuffle to sprints, and get-ups that are almost always included in our dynamic warm-up; it could be in the med ball work that we use to wake up the coordination and cognitive function of the athletes; almost all of our plyometric drills include a reactive factor in them; there is also a great many of strength exercises that are intended to be explosive in nature. By requiring the athlete to fire muscles rapidly they will, in turn, be working on “quickness”. It is, however, crucial that the athlete keeps this intent in mind. They should be pushing themselves to “be quick, but not in a hurry” as you’ll hear us say.
Intent begins between the ears and has a heavy impact on the result that is displayed. Several of these methods are fairly clear in how they are directly affecting an athlete’s quickness. However, we often see there is a disconnect with the parents understanding of how increasing strength (and power) will result in increased quickness on the court or field of play. By increasing general strength, the athletes are going to see improvements in certain areas we test such as their vertical and broad jump. Increases in a vertical and broad, directly relate to explosive power in a stride.
For example, increased stride length will directly decrease the time it takes to get from point A to point B. Now if we are able to couple an increased stride length with an increased recoil response time during the change of direction (which is learned through the explosive power exercises) we will see that desired increase in quickness. Increasing the speed of which an athlete can accelerate and decelerate their lever arms will impact any increase in their stride frequency, which is an essential part of the “quickness” equation.
Increase stride length + increase stride frequency = increased linear speed. Increased linear speed + increased reaction (deceleration/acceleration) time = increased quickness.
The last and most overlooked factor in this process is having efficient movement patterns. The most efficient movement patterns are not only the most effective, but the safest as well. Think of a simple vertical jump. It’s not rare to see young athletes with a great deal of knee valgus (caving inward) in their vertical jump. When this presents, if you were to watch them jump in slow motion you would see the knees take a dive in during the loading phase of their jump and then dive back out as they explode up. This is not only incredibly dangerous for their knee ligaments, but inefficient when it comes to the speed and power they are generating off of the ground. Not to mention this is a waste of energy by adding this extra unnecessary movement. By correcting this we are preventing injuries, increasing power, and increasing speed.
Training athletes can either be very complex or very simple. For us coaches, there are many complex ideas and methods that we put into the programming we do with these athletes every day, but for the parents we can break it down fairly simply. By increasing strength, power, and practicing more efficient movement patterns, yes, your kid will get “quicker”.
-Erin Bratcher MS, CES, PES
TSF Head Coach & Manager
March 31st, 2019
The transference of strength
The transference of strength can be a controversial subject for a few, and for others it’s a part of their philosophy. Specificity within training means that if you want to get better at running you should run more, which is absolutely true when you are preparing for a competition. This is where the American Weightlifters have that method down. But the American Weightlifters are diehard specificity followers and fail to take advantage of many other types, methods and means of strength training. This may be because, someone, somewhere hinted that training other than the high bar back squat and front squat wouldn’t transfer to Weightlifting.
This idea caught an enormous amount of momentum and those who heard this took off and ran with it. Let’s use the squat as an example, we all know that squatting is hip dominant so let's take a look at 3 common squat variances. The front squat exactly resembles standing up a clean which the knee is more flexed than the hip meaning the quadriceps are more engaged than in a low bar back squat.
Next the high bar back squat is just slightly more hip dominant than the front squat having more of the load to the posterior chain in the hamstrings and the glutes. Finally the low bar back squat is almost completely hip dominant meaning the knee angle barley breaks 90 degrees putting almost all stress on the posterior chain with increased use the glutes hams and low back.
All three of these are squats so how could the first two be considered to transfer to Weightlifting while the final low bar back squat not transfer? The low bar back squat allows you to overload the posterior chain stressing more of the glutes and hams and much less on the quads, resulting in a stronger hamstrings, glutes, and low back. Now think of the muscles used in ripping weight off the ground and getting into triple extension….Hamstrings, glutes, low back.
The free body diagram at the top of the article does a great job breaking down the movement arms of all three squats described above. Efficiency is measured in amount of torque being applied to the bar which is calculated by Torque=(mass)(gravity)(distance)(back angle). Even though the front squat replicates the standing up of the clean, the low bar squat is optimal for strength due to the fact you can load the most weight on the bar.
More weight=more force applied=increased neurological benefit and higher tensile strength within the muscle fibers.
As coaches, we have a tool box from which we pull from, if we have a small tool box we can’t develop our weightlifters as a whole. In order for our lifters to be well rounded and resilient Weightlifters, they have to be strong as a whole through the vastly different planes of motion, angles and loads to get the most out of training. The majority of the successful American Weightlifters have played sports at a high level and having that huge athletic foundation, they perform better than those without that base.
For example, Wes Kitts played collegiate football and Maddie Rogers was a competitive cheerleader with gymnastics background, and with that they created huge base a motor function and muscular capabilities to pull from. I can promise you a great athlete can be successful in weightlifting, great weightlifters would most likely not make great athletes (or else every heavy weight WL would be playing d line in the NFL). We can't deny the fact that a stronger and faster athlete can lead to more success no matter the discipline they chose.
Stagnation is the enemy when we are strength training and this is the result from a lack of variance of movements and modalities. The best way to prevent adaptation is through variation and using that huge toolbox.
We can't forget about our special single joint exercises that strengthen each joint system. Again this goes back to optimally training. We showed you that the low bar can create the best strength gains as a unit (from increased muscle units). The same theory applies to single joint training. Deadlifts train the lats. This isn’t arguable. But the DB row trains the lats optimally. See what we did there?
I've seen many programs that don't have any single joint exercises in them leading to imbalances and eventually injury. Myself along with most of the Weightlifters I know have some kind of knee pain, shoulder pain, lat and tricep tightness, and hip variability, more than likely resulting from too much specificity of the small derivatives of the clean, jerk and snatch, due to lack of variance and volume. A good morning is one of the best ways to load the posterior chain and is rarely seen in Weightlifting programs, it not only is another variant for hip extension but also core stability.
If we break down the snatch and clean and Jerk the most common breakdown is the upper mid back curling over or a break in the shoulder from the traps, spinal erectors and lats. We can do pause pulls from the top to the bottom of the pull and for as long as we’d like, but the optimal way to train a muscle group is from special specific exercises like bent rows, pull ups, good mornings and reverse hypers, shrugs, and elbow extension. The best way to train is optimally so why not train those muscles optimally? We should have those as staples in our programming.
Again, the best way to train is efficiently, and optimally, in order to get the maximal results from training. This is very important if you have decided to specialize and will be training for one goal over a long period of time. Our main principle that I train my weightlifters to believe in, is that strength in fact does transfer across different training techniques, it is not only efficient but therapeutic for the body and mind. Training differently through cycles helps you target any weaknesses and combats those imbalances.
All this put together can keep an athlete mentally focused for longer, build resilience and eradicate imbalances caused by specific training modalities.
Soreness is somewhat inevitable when it comes to strength and conditioning, however, that doesn't mean there aren't several methods that can aid in reducing stiffness and speed up the recovery process. One of the most common “go-to” methods these days is self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling. We say foam rolling but it doesn't actually have to be on a foam roller, and any ball or device that allows you to “roll” out a muscle would qualify as an SMR tool.
Foam rolling is intended to mimic a massage, in a method where it can be applied on your own. With a similar effect (on a smaller scale) as voodoo flossing, the pressure from the foam-rolling device will displace fluids momentarily and as the pressure is removed, fresh fluids and nutrients rush back. Skeletal muscle tissue contains Golgi tendon organs (GTO), which are neural receptors that have the ability to decrease muscle spindle activity when pressure is applied to the trigger point. This is good, and we want this, because this means the muscle fibers are then able to stretch, unknot, and realign.
When muscles are tight they physically shorten. To exercise with a shortened muscle puts you at great risk of a compensatory injury as your body is forced to then lengthen or stretch the opposing muscle in order to function and this creates muscles imbalances. SMR will reduce the chances of your body entering the Cumulative Injury Cycle in which these dysfunctions ultimately lead to altered neuromuscular control and serious muscular imbalances.
There are also several huge benefits that are proven by numerous studies, as foam rolling has been a hot topic for the past 15 years. Here is short list:
How to properly execute SMR
Ironically, as much as we just discussed the “rolling” process, to get the most out of foam rolling there should actually be more of a pause than a continuous “roll”. The rolling portion is used to find the most tinder area, in which there should be a 30-45 second pause to allow the tension to release. Adding in some mobilization while maintaining this pressure is optimal, but not always possible (ie. Laying a sore hamstring on a roller while flexing/extending the knee or on a sore calf while performing dorsi/plantar flexion). Focus on breathing can also aid to the relaxation of said muscle group. Big deep breaths during soft tissue work can help relax the tense muscle groups allowing the “blunting” of pain receptors.
To truly replicate a massage there should be various movements involving the pressure, so shifting around especially when using a ball, increases the overall effectiveness. Foam rolling is a method to supplement warm up/cool down, not to be the isolated singular means of recovery.
There are many other forms of recovery that all seem to have similar affect. These usually all go by the name of “instrument assisted soft tissue therapy” they include: