Golf Specific

Common Beginner Mistakes - Part 3

Part 3 of the "Common Beginner Mistakes" series is underway!  Like all the great series' out there (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Star Wars...), it's important that you check out each and every single one.  Take a look back at Part 1 and Part 2.  I'm sure you'll find a hidden gem or two in there that will help you make better progress in the weight room. As you may know, I'm a creature of habit.  I tend to order the same meal from Taco Bell (6 crunch tacos), dry my body off in the same sequence after taking a shower (I know... I'm weird), and I always choose the color blue while playing Settlers of Catan. With that, let's check out a couple of videos of incredible feats of strength.

Mistake #7 - Program Hopping

"Programs Hoppers" are a severe annoyance to all experienced strength and conditioning coaches out.  They typically suffer from a mild case of ADD, commitment issues, and a severe lack of gains.  These individuals can often be seen at your local Crossfit gym, never performing the same workout twice.  These people need a lesson in the mechanisms of musculoskeletal adaptation.  Mentioned in part 2, a major principle behind strength training is called the SAID principle.  This states that you body will form Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands.  In other words, your body will adapt to the stimulus that you apply to it, HOWEVER, it's critically important that you apply the stimulus for a sufficient period of time. If you're constantly changing the stimulus, the training effect will be negligible, and your body won't experience enough of the same stress to adapt and grow stronger.

This is why most of the established training programs are designed in blocks.  The exercise selection inside of a single block is typically static, and each block typically lasts 3-4 weeks.  This way your body has enough time to experience and adapt to the method of training.  Now, I'm not advocating doing the same exact thing for 3 weeks straight.  Another important principle of strength training is termed the Repeated Bout Effect.  This principle states that as you apply a stimulus and your body recovers and adapts to it, the same stimulus will not elicit an equal amount of adaptation.  Your body experiences a point of diminishing returns, and this is the reason we apply progressive overload and increase the weight on the bar over time.  In this way, we're applying a slightly greater stimulus, but maintaining the movement and allowing our body to adapt to greater and greater amounts of the same stress, and grow stronger because of it.  Here at SAPT, we program our clients in 4 week blocks, increasing volume over time, which in turn elicits progressive and consistent adaptation.

Mistake #8 - Sticking to the Same Program Too Long

Now, this may seem a bit contradictory to our previous point, but hear me out.  I touched briefly on the Repeated Bout Effect above, and this point of diminishing returns applies to whole strength programs/methods of training as well. Eventually, if you continue to do the same thing over and over and over again, you'll reach a point where you just aren't making measurable amounts of progress.  Once this occurs, you need to change the stimulus that you're applying to your body.  This doesn't mean do 1 week of 5/3/1, 2 weeks of the Cube Method, and follow it us with another week of Starting Strength.  You need to stick to a program to actually elicit the adaptation you are trying to achieve, and then mix it up and change the program once you've gotten all that you can from it.

This is a tricky concept, but in reality, you should be grateful for these training principles!  They allow you to gain valuable training experience.  All these programs are created using different training philosophies.  They utilize different methods of manipulating volume over time to elicit strength gains.  We're all unique human beings, and, because of this, we respond to stimuli in different ways and to different degrees.  Some people respond better to high frequency training with low to moderate intensity loads, while others adapt more efficiently to lower volume, high intensity training plans.  You may not respond to a training program in the same exact manner as your best friend, and you also may not adapt as well the second time you perform a program.  As you become more and more experience in strength training, you'll discover what works best for you.  You'll discover the style of training that meshes with your personality, lifestyle, and preferences, and, with a little bit of patience, you'll develop a system of eliciting strength gains progressively.

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.

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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.

Maximize Each Workout: 3 Practical Tips on Mindset

The mindset associated with any training plan is really what makes the difference in achieving your goals. Sets, reps, exotic exercise selection, equipment, etc. doesn't make a drop of difference if you are only 60% engaged, focused, and mentally committed. Here are 3 practical tips to get you in the zone - and keep you there - for your next workout session:

 

  • Music: I think everybody knows about this one, but it bears repeating. Music is so powerful because it has the ability to change your mindset and push you in the direction you want to go or need to be for a great training session.
  • Environment: Make sure your training environment is conducive to you achieving (and be able to focus on achieving) your goals. Constantly getting stopped by other gym members to chat? Always feeling ashamed of making any noise whatsoever? Tired of being harassed for breaking out chalk? Well, all these are signs that you may need to reconsider your training environment and get into one that supports your focus and goals.
Planet Fitness Lunk Alarm

Alright, you've got at least two of three tips that you can implement TODAY to get your training dialed up and instantly more productive.

Lessons the Shirt Taught Me

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Things got real weird on Friday night training with Ryan. What was scheduled to be a regular heavy bench session turned into my first time putting on a bench shirt. I have helped Ryan with his powerlifting gear many times before, but I've never really experienced first-hand how it feels to be in a squat suit or a bench shirt. Lesson #1: It's Not Comfortable

I learned very quickly that it doesn't feel too awesome being in the shirt. Getting it on was a pain, but I knew that was coming. I was used to being the guy on the other side of the shirt trying to force the shirt onto another human being, so I expected some discomfort. Luckily however, it was Ryan's old single-ply shirt and his enormous gunzzz stretched out the sleeves pretty nicely, making it a relatively smooth process to put it on. By the time we got the shirt on and got the sleeves and seams exactly where we wanted them I already wanted to take it off. It's super tight and forces you into a weird mummy-like position with your arms dangling out in front of you. You can't really do much about this situation until the shirt comes off.

I found myself rushing the rest periods between sets because I was more focused on getting the final set over with so I could take the evil thing off.

Lesson #2 I Couldn't Keep My Arch

The arched back seen in bench pressing is often demonized as being a flaw in technique or disadvantageous when trying to target the pecs. Whatever. I use an arch when benching because it helps to keep me tight on the bench, allows for better leg drive and provides better leverage overall to perform the lift. When benching "raw", I feel pretty confident about my arch, and I can keep it tight during the entirety of the lift. When benching in the shirt, however, I found myself losing my arch midway through the descending portion of the lift. This leads me to lesson #3...

Lesson #3 My Upper Back Is WEAK!

The shirt exposed my deep dark secret that my upper back is not up to par. When bench pressing in gear, the bar will not come down to your chest without a fight. You literally have to PULL the bar down while forcing yourself to maintain a proper arch. This takes some serious upper and mid back strength that I just didn't have. I could feel my arch collapsing and my once tightly packed shoulders becoming... not so tightly packed. Even when benching raw I always remember the cues to "row the bar down with the lats" and "keep the upper back tight," and I felt that I understood. The shirt let me know that what I originally thought was "tight enough" was an epic fail waiting to happen.

Although the shirt made me feel like a total n00b I walked away from the session with a lot to think about and a lot learned about my bench technique. I probably got some pretty good "overload" stimulation from the heavier weights that the shirt enabled me to use as well. Until next time, I'll just keep hammering away at heavy rows and pull-ups.

For your entertainment, here are a couple videos from the Friday night bench party.

What to Know About Competing in Powerlifting

“…Would be interested in hearing more about what it takes to enter a powerlifting competition: requirements, mentality, gear/no-gear, training, scoring/judging, what it takes to win, etc.”

This was a comment left on my meet write-up blog post from last week.  As soon as I saw it I thought what better way to talk about this than through a post for everyone!

Scoring and Judging/What it Takes to Win

Powerlifting consists of three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift (they are performed in this order).  At a meet you get three attempts at each of these lifts.  At the end of the competition your highest successful attempt from each of the three lifts will be added up for your “total”.  Your total is what determines your placing within your division/weight class.  In my opinion your placing should not be a focus for you especially if this is your first meet.  Your goal should be to show up and to perform because most people won’t even do that.

The scoring is based on a lighting system.  Each of the three judges has a light and if they deem the lift to be successful you will be rewarded with a shiny white light.  If they feel the lift to be unsuccessful they will ruin your life with a red light.  Have no fear because all you need is two white lights for the lift to count!

I’m not going to go into great detail about what the judges are looking for.  To learn more about this here is the link to the IPF rule book…. http://www.powerlifting-ipf.com/fileadmin/data/Technical_Rules/IPF_rulebook_01_2011.pdf

Gear or No Gear

This is the only place where I feel things get tricky.  People get WAAAYYYYY too bent out of shape about this to the point of ridiculousness.  You have three ways to compete in powerlifting; Raw, Single-ply, and Multi-ply.  This is entirely up to YOU and your GOALS and don’t let anyone sway you one way or the other.  As far as I’m concerned it really doesn’t matter what you choose because at the end of the day we all have the same goal… to get stronger.  Nevertheless you will come across the close-minded people who will tell you gear is “cheating” (not sure how it’s cheating because geared lifters compete only against other geared lifters) or “not true strength”.  These elitists’ get under my skin because they have probably never been in gear and have no idea what it’s like to train in it, so therefor, in my mind they have NO room to give an opinion on the subject.  More importantly why do they care what YOU do?  The people who care about what others do have their own personal issues to figure out.  I have competed raw and single-ply and I love both.  They both offer their own challenges and are both fun to train for.  It’s weird and ridiculous to me that people get so up and arms about the whole thing, it’s like 5 year olds fighting about whose toy is better.  If you want to lift raw, lift raw.  If you want to throw on a bunch of gear then do that.

My only caveat to this is that unless you have two solid years of strength training under you than you shouldn’t wear gear.  It takes A LOT of strength to even handle single-ply equipment so unless you're going two years strong, just start out with a few raw competitions.

Training

This is the easy part.  Just get better at squatting, benching and deadlifting.  The best way to do that is to perform the lifts several times a week.  It can’t get much simpler than that.  If you want a good set in stone program just do Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and I promise you’ll get stronger.  Don’t want to do that? Then use the Westside Barbell template.  People want to treat this like its rocket science.  They paralyze themselves with fear about what programs best fits their body, there strength level, etc.  If these are the questions you’re asking yourself then all you really need to do is get in the weight room and press something, squat something, and pick something up off the ground and work on doing it correctly and everything will fall into place.

Mentality

This encompasses a great deal of things which is why when talking about it I like to refer to Mike Robertson’s T-Nation articletitled, “7 Reasons Everyone Should do a Powerlifting Meet” (http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/7_reasons_everyone_should_do_a_powerlifting_meet ).  This is an awesome article and spells out everything in a very simple way.  In order to do a powerlifting meet you have to be able to do one thing… to truly say that you care nothing about what other people think of you.  Most of the time when people tell me why they don’t want to do a meet it’s because they are scared of other people.  They tell me they don’t want to embarrass themselves or they say there not as strong as everybody else.  No one cares that you’re not as strong as them and no one’s waiting to laugh at you for failing a lift or bombing out of a meet.  It is perfectly understandable to be afraid of putting yourself out there for people to see you fail.  However, it is unacceptable to allow that fear to control your actions.  It is your ability to face and overcome your fears that will define you as a person.  So what if you fail?  Failure is a marker of two things; that you actually tried and that you learned.

I don’t care who you are or how long you’ve been training; I implore you to go sign up for a meet.  It doesn’t matter what federation or where it is just sign up for it.  Find one that is 10-14 weeks away and go train for it.  Can’t squat, bench, or deadlift correctly?  Go turn in an entry form and your hard-earned money and I BET you will learn how to do all of those things pretty quick.  Don’t wait around saying “well, I’ll just wait a little bit until I get stronger” or “I’ll wait a little bit until I feel a little more comfortable”.  If your training for something you’re going to get stronger than if you aren’t, FACT!  Chances are if your excuse is that you’re waiting to feel a little more comfortable then you probably rarely step out of your comfort zone when it comes to other aspects of your life as well.  If you choose to test your limits then go to http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/and find a meet.

That first meet changed more than just how I approach lifting – because the lessons you learn from training and competition can be carried over to nearly every aspect of your life. -Mike Robertson

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2012 USAPL Richmond Open: Opening Attempts

The 2012 USAPL Richmond Open is a couple days away and I’ve officially switched into competition mode.  This has been a very up and down training cycle.  I’m attributing this to trying to get used to my gear and my own impatience.  This is my first geared competition (single-ply) and I spent FAR too much time trying to get a lot of weight out of my gear.  I rushed into trying to get a lot of support out of my gear which in hindsight was the worst thing I could have done, why?  People spend years trying to figure out and use their equipment correctly; I tried to figure it all out in about 11 weeks.  This took all of my energy and focus off the NUMBER ONE thing…. Getting stronger!  Instead of spending those 11 weeks trying to get the most weight out of my equipment I should have just been trying to get stronger.  After all this time I’ve gotten VERY little help out of my equipment and didn’t get much stronger at all.  It was extremely impatient and immature of me to do that and trust me when I say I have learned from my mistakes.  I know now that learning the gear will come I just need to focus on getting strong.  With all that said I’ve sat down and examined everything that has gone on and what I hope to accomplish out of the meet and it’s quite simple…. Perform to the best of my abilities and get at least an 1100 pound total. I put all of this behind me a couple days ago and am now completely focused on the positive.  I can tell everyone one thing, no one will compete as hard as me and no one will leave it all on the platform like I will.

Opening Attempts...

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  

-Theodore Roosevelt