SAPT

Powerlifting Training for Sports

You must clearly understand the difference between basic training and special physical preparation. [SPP] is different for everybody; one beats up on a tire with a sledgehammer, another does figure eights with a kettlebell, and someone incline presses. Basic training is roughly the same in all sports and aims to increase general strength and muscle mass. Powerlifting was born as a competition in exercises everybody does.

— Nikolay Vitkevich

Don't you want to know more?

I wrote a guest post over at Concentric Brain you can read it HERE.

Breaking Down The Broad Jump

In the second portion of our football testing series we will take a look at the standing broad jump. This test is a fantastic assessment of lower body horizontal power. This tool works great for football players, who have to explosively move of the line of scrimmage once the ball gets snapped. A common misconception is that you merely stand on a line and jump. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this assessment. Horizontal jumping can be a complex coordination pattern because the upper and lower extremities must move harmoniously in order to achieve optimal results. Let’s take a look at a few factors that can help you or your athletes add a few inches.

The Arm Swing

It’s no surprise that lower body power is what propels you forward during this test but the arms play a vital role in projecting you higher off the ground and further down the tape measure. The most efficient swing technique would be to start in a standing position with your arms out in front of you. As you drop down to “load the spring” your arms should sweep back, followed by an immediate, powerful swing forward as you takeoff.

http://youtu.be/lqc_pyG7ELk

Build Those Glutes

The hip complex packs a lot of useful muscles that are crucial in just about every sport and activity of daily living. Unfortunately, many people do not train this area of the body as much as they should. We often sit in chairs, whether at school or work, and that equates to hitting the “off” switch for this important muscle group. Driving through hips during the jump and getting this area fully extended will propel the athlete further. Simple hip extention exercises like glute bridges, whether bodyweight or weighted, will help bring life back to your butt. Below are a couple videos to help with the exercise selection:

http://youtu.be/pMQV6A8F8Qw

http://youtu.be/8j4kWFHRq9o

Own The Descent

Does it matter how awesome the take off was if a plane crashes near the end of its flight? The same theory (obviously to a lesser extent) holds true during the broad jump test. Height and distance are all based upon the action taken prior to take off but this in no way omits an individual from having to properly land each jump. When landing a jump it is important to land in a position that allows the force to dissipate. This is achieved by bending the knees and sinking back the hips. An athlete should never land in a stiff-legged position. When landing, it is also important that the knees land in a position stacked in-line with the ankles and do not collapse or cave medially. Both of these habits place a high amount of stress on the joints and can lead to serious injury.  Below is a chart with normative data to see how football players stack up in this test and other common tests by position. Check back next we as we move on to discuss the bench press.

Val
Val
Data
Data

References:

Lockie, R. G., Schultz, A. B., Callaghan, S. J., & Jeffriess, M. D. (2012). PHYSIOLOGICAL PROFILE OF NATIONAL-LEVEL JUNIOR AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN AUSTRALIA. Serbian Journal Of Sports Sciences6(4), 127-136.

Rate of Force Development: What It Is and Why You Should Care

No, sorry, this is not a post on how to become a Jedi by increasing your rate of using the Force. Shucks.

The Rate of Force Development (RFD) we're going to talk about is that of muscles and is *kinda* important (read: essential to athletic performance). Today's post will enlighten you as to what RFD is and why one should pay attention to it. Next post will be how to train to increase RFD. So grab something delightful to munch on (preferably something that enhances brain function, like berries.) Caveat: There is a lot of information and other stuff that I’m not putting into this post, sorry, this is just a basic overview of why RFD is important for everyone.

What is RFD?

It is a measurement of how quickly one can reach peak levels of force output. Or to put it another way, it’s the time it takes a muscle(s) to produce maximum amount of force.

For example, a successful shot put throw results when the shot putter can exert the most force, preferably maximal, upon the shot in order to launch it as far as humanly possible. She has a window of less than a second to produce that high force from when she initiates the push to when it's released from her hand. Therefore, it is imperative that the shot putter possess a high rate of force development.

Where does RFD come from?

motor unit
motor unit

Well, let me introduce you to a little somethin’ called a motor unit. Motor units (MU) are a motor neuron (the nerve from your brain) and all the muscle fibers it enervates. It can be anywhere from a 1:10 (neuron:fiber) ratio for say eyeball muscles, which have to produce very fine, accurate movements. Or 1:100 ratio of say a quad muscle which produce large, global movements.

There are two main types of MUs: low threshold and high threshold. The low threshold units produce less force per stimulus than the high units. For example, a low unit would be found in the postural muscles as they are always “on” producing low levels of force to maintain posture.  A high unit would be in the glutes, to produce enough force to swing a heavy bell or a baseball bat (even though the bat is light, the batter has to move that thing supa fast in order to smack a home run).

Also note the different stimuli required for the different units: small posture adjustments vs. a powerful hip movement. A low stimulus activates low threshold units and a high stimulus activates the high units.

Now, MUs are not exclusively low or high; MUs throughout the body are more like a ladder, low MUS at the bottom, with each successive rung being a higher threshold MU than the one below. And, like a ladder, you can just all of the sudden find yourself at the top of the ladder without having to climb the lower rungs. Unless of course, you’re a cat:

High MUs rarely (if ever) activate without the lower MUs activating first. So, the rate of force development is dependent upon how quickly the lower rungs of the MU ladder can be turned on to reach the highest threshold units (which produce the most force per contraction)… Not only that, but all those units working together produce more force than just the higher ones by themselves, so it's a good thing that the lower ones must activate too. The muscular force produced is the sum of all the motor units.

Why Care About RFD?

Since those higher threshold units won’t be active until the lower ones are on, force production will remain low until the higher ones can get their rears in gear, therefore, going up the MU ladder faster will result in more force produced sooner in any sort of movement.

Let’s take the example of two lifters, A and B. Both are capable of producing enough force to deadlift 400lbs. However, lifter A has a higher RFD than lifter B. Lifter A can produce enough force to get the bar off the ground in about 2 seconds and lock out (complete the lift) in about 3-4 seconds. Lifter B takes 3 seconds to get the bar off the floor and another 5 to get it near his knees. For those who don't know, a deadlift should be roughly 4-5 seconds TOTAL (typically, most people's muscles give out around then if the lift hasn't been completed). B-Man is going to fail the lift before he gets that bar to lock out and will hate deadlifting forever. Bummer.

Or, utilizing a Harry Potter for my analogy for this post, it is analogous to the rate of spell development; how quickly and how powerfully a wizard's spell is performed. In a duel, the faster and more forceful wizard will win. For example, when Professor Snape totally pwns Gilderoy Lockhart:

Hence, if one wants to get stronger, increasing the rate of force development is essential! Moving heavy weights is good (and high RFD helps with that as we saw with Lifters A and B from above); moving heavy weights FAST is even better when it comes to stimulating protein synthesis aka: muscle building. Possessing a high RFD is vital in order to move those bad boys quickly.

Next post, we’ll delve into training methods that can help increase the RFD so you won’t be these guys and skip deadlifting because your rate of force development is less than stellar…