As I have working on Emails from the book, “Easy Strength…”
I thought I would share some of the ‘streams of thought.’ Honestly, before you ask a question, it might be appropriate to read the book. What frustrates me the most with questions is:
One, clearly, the person didn’t read the book.
Two, clearly, the person doesn’t know about this blog and how to navigate on the innerwebz. So, first:
Following that sound advice, scroll back through my blog here and look around. I am coming out with a written version of Intervention, probably for Kindle only (and a few hard copies for me…to be buried with me), but the bulk of it can be found in my blog…sorta.
The following is answers to emails, I hope it helps.
Dan, where do I start?
‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
(Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland)
What about Stretching?
Joint Mobility is a must for Quadrant 1A (Think of “A” like Middle School or so). This is the time to work the joints. (Obviously, joint work probably will follow the same path as hypertrophy…well worth noting). In Quandrant 1B(High School aged kids), it would be appropriate to bring in “Relax into Stretch” concepts. Static Stretching still has its value in a program, it would “depend,” of course, on what we are doing, but any and all mobility work would be great. So, we want the neck rolls (a variation or two or three), traps, shoulders…you certainly know where I am heading. I would STILL include the Hip Flexor stretch in 1A because, and we need to talk about this, the amount of time kids and adults sit now. Moreover, if there is a “secret” to sport speed and jumping, it is a loose hip flexor
In 1B, it would be the time to introduce “flexibility.” When I was a young athlete, we “loosened up the joints.” Then, with the high carb, jogging craze, we had to add “stretching.” Honestly, as a kid, we did basic mobility moves and threw our arms this way and our legs that way. THAT WAS RIGHT! Relax into Stretch moves should include probably the big concepts (Create Space, using your strength to stretch) for only a few groups (If you have “Relax into Stretch,” it would be these one that I would encourage: 11. The Overhead Reach, 12. The Biceps and shoulder stretch, 16. The Wrist extension, 32 The lower calf stretch, 31 Hip Flexor/ Quad Stretch.)
So, Quadrant Two naturally will include Joint Mobility work and flexibility. It might be natural to say that a morning recharge of joint mobility is natural for all athletes and the post training tonic of Flexibility is well worth the time spent here.
Dan, you say “armor building.” Can you expand on it?
For the Quadrant Two athlete, the strength and conditioning coach must balance some factors:
Hypertrophy and Speed/Jump Training
Armor Building and Mobility (Too much mobility can be a dangerous thing in a contact sport)
Performance of the sport and performance in strength and conditioning tests.
On the armor building, the Zercher Squat is an appropriate barbell lift. A “better” choice might be the Double Kettlebell Clean and Front Squat. It is an exercise best worked in ladders:
1 Clean and 1 Front Squat
2 Cleans and 2 Front Squats
3 Cleans and 3 Front Squat. Doing this up to Five is an excellent way to understand the intensity needed for hypertrophy. A fun “test” is to do this up to ten reps (55 Front Squats without putting the weights down?), but that might be a once in a lifetime training test.
Let’s look at each of these:
Ideally, in the perfect program with optimal facilities, coaching, resting and nutrition, one should find the athlete increasing lean body mass and increasing jump test scores and lowering sprint times. It does happen. Not often, especially in a non-steroid environment. To increase the qualities most important to contact athletes, to become “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” as Greg Shepard coined the phrase years ago, takes program that systematically focused on these qualities that literally are at odds with one another. Certainly, we can find many athletes that have blossomed under programs like BFS, however, there does seem to be a ceiling on constantly trying to get bigger and faster. The late Stefan Fernholm, whose life has recently been discussed in rather staggering detail in a Swedish documentary, ran a 4.3 forty yard meter time weighing around 125 kilos. He once stated that he had let himself get “too strong” to throw the discus as far as he wished.
Mobility work is important, but the whiplash effect of collision sports makes some worry that too much mobility is a dangerous thing. Like so many qualities, there must be an intelligent approach to this dilemma. Whether or not it is true, if the athlete believes that excessive
The great insight of Richard Marks, who coached many of the great San Jose based athletes including discus world record holders Ben Plunknett and John Powell, that the athlete should “become weaker” in terms of load and volume and max lifts in order to throw something farther or perform any given sports task. The athlete often will ignore this sane advice and strive to go heavier and heavier than the plan dictates. There is a psychological comfort in heavy training, even at the expense of all the other important qualities that probably determine success. Although it is hard to pin down, the feelings of “freshness” and “in the zone” usually are not the by-product of more loading rather these feelings tend to come in a relaxed and refreshed state.
Quadrant Two training should be where we discuss the development of Armor. Generally, I like these movements:
Snatch Grip Shrugs
Curls (with a thick bar)
For speed and jump training, these are some moves that Pavel and I discussed:
One legged hops barefoot
Target Standing Long Jumps (Have the athletic “aim” for targets and vary with each jump)
One arm/one leg planks
Three Jump (Boing-boing-boing method)
Pavel liked the story of how Russ Hodges, former world record holder in the decathlon, explained to me the long jump: “It’s like you are running as fast as you can and you see a rattlesnake coiled in the path. You don’t gather up and go down, you just snap over it high and far and keep your legs from its fangs.”
Quadrant two is all about building qualities. It is the “this and this and this and this” time of a career. Moreover, those involved in games must also have specific prep with tactics over specific opponents, strategy for the program and extensive off-season preparation in technical aspects of the games. Individual athletes will quickly slide over into Quadrant Three naturally as the number of qualities that need to be mastered will obviously be less.
Dan, what about food?
It would also be appropriate to discuss some aspects of eating throughout a career.
Quad 1A: Understand the basic food pyramid. Understand the need to use food as fuel. The importance of not eating crap.
Quad 1B: Understand the role of food in performance. Understand the need to eat balanced meals. The importance of water.
Quad 2: More Protein, More Fiber, More Fish Oil. The role of digestion and elimination in performance.
Quad 3: Understand the importance in meal planning in a daily, weekly and, perhaps, yearly fashion. The importance of avoiding fat gain. Eating to support a particular activity.
Quad 4: Understand the fact that diet WILL impact performance. (Weight classes in lifting; lean body mass issues in bodybuilding)