Feb 27, 2002

Track Clinic Reflections

“The value of any action lies in seeing it through to the end." -Genghis Khan

This article is in response to the clinic that I spoke at opposite a coach who was an Olympic lifting advocate. This is also a message to collegiate strength coaches primarily. It is time to stop influencing high school coaches to do the Olympic lifts. Collegiate coaches are brainwashing high school coaches into thinking that these quick lifts develop power and explosiveness while ignoring the safety of our athletes. This is unprofessional and unethical.

These may sound like harsh words but I'll tell you just what I told those in attendance at the clinic, "I am not judgmental or argumentative about strength training. I know, we as coaches, all want what is best for our athletes and I honor and respect that. I am passionate about what I believe and mean no disrespect concerning what you may or may not do with your kids in the weight room." However, it seems that many in attendance were turned off as soon as I gave them an alternative idea. Why?

Athletic directors and strength associations should put a stop to this bashing of non-Olympic philosophies for the sake of our athletes well being. Looking the other way and ignoring athletes complaints about back injuries is flat out WRONG. Research that StongerAthletes.com has found that support the use of Olympic lifts are misleading and not scientifically sound. We have not seen one bit of evidence that these lifts are safer than slow controlled movements and are productive in developing power.

The Olympic lifting coach's view point in the clinic indicated that the slow controlled movements such as squats and bench press are the exercises that athletes get injured. “I have never seen a single injury in 13 years when athletes perform Olympic lifts.” However, when speaking with a different coach after the session, he indicated that he had numerous injuries with his athletes when he had them do Olympic lifts. He no longer incorporates them in his program and has the some of the best pole vaulters in the state at the high school level and has coached some of the best in the nation at the collegiate level while not doing the quick lifts. Guys, all this means is that the Olympic lifts are not mandatory for athletic success!

StrongerAthletes.com maintains that programs that involve Olympic lifts are inefficient because of the amount of coaching that is involved to do these exercises with perfect form. The Olympic lift coach responded that it doesn’t require that much coaching.

After the session, a coach approached us and told us about her rehabilitation of her torn ACL, she said that her doctor told her to do Jump Squats to strengthen the area as part of her rehabilitation. Is this sound advice? Come on!

Our previous article indicated that many coaches are closed minded when it comes to new philosophies. [See Be Open Minded] We believe that most coaches in the audience were very attentive and really tried to see our viewpoints. The only individuals that did not try to see the logic in our viewpoint was a local football coach who rolled his eyes at every statement I made and my fellow speaker who advocates Olympic lifts.

All this being said, I really look forward to visiting with many of you at the upcoming conference in Blaine, Minnesota. Hopefully we can share some ideas and strategies for others in our profession to take us and the issue of weight room safety more seriously.

Coach Rody


Feb 25, 2002

The Overload Principle

“Little strokes fell great oaks." -Benjamin Franklin

The overload principle refers to an athlete stimulating a muscle beyond its current capacity. This involves training with a high amount of intensity. Which brings us back to the Olympic lifts. Olympic lifting advocates as well as non-Olympic lifting advocates for the most part agree that the overload principle is a necessary part of training. In order to trigger muscle strength and growth, an athlete must train to failure and performed either more reps or more weight, or both. this is overload. In addition, other techniques such as forced reps and negative can be incorporated as well to overload the working muscle. constant tension on the muscle is a must inn order to achieve this type of stress on muscles.

Matt Brzycki in his article “One More Rep," explains,
“This principle states that in order to increase muscular size and strength, a muscle must be stressed -- or "overloaded" -- with a workload that is beyond its present capacity.”

StrongerAthletes.com would like to know why coaches still believe that they can use the overload principle when doing the Olympic lifts? Let's get into the execution of a power clean. The athlete initiates the movement then what takes over? Momentum. During the momentum phase of the lift, the tension was taken off the working muscles. How can overload be achieved with these type of movements? Reaching muscular failure in a muscle group is impossible when doing these quick lifts.

Mark Asanovich, strength coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers comments,
“The Overload Principle states that muscular development will only occur as a result of the application of a stress that exceeds the muscles volitional contractile capabilities. Therefore, if the application of the stressor is "momentum-assisted," the amount of stress is lessened once the load has been accelerated. As a result, muscular development is compromised. Consequently, performing exercises at maximal speeds will yield minimal muscular results.”

Again coaches need to know why they are doing the program they are doing. If a coach believes in using the Overload Principle then they need to incorporate the right kind of movements in their program.

Feb 22, 2002

Be Open Minded

“If you do not understand something, you cannot successfully oppose it.” -Adam Guasch-Melendez

Over the past 3 months StrongerAthletes.com has attempted to seek out the logical arguments for opposing strength training philosophies, specifically, Olympic lifts. As a reader, Adam Guasch-Melendez, pointed out to us, “If you do not understand something, you cannot successfully oppose it.” However, we seek to do more than know the opponent. We want to find the best methods to train our athletes safely.

What we find frustrating is the closed mindedness we receive when presenting our philosophies. As those other non-Olympic lift advocates seek out research and studies of prominent training staffs, such as Husker Power, and use many of those finding in their programs, in turn Olympic lifting coaches should seek out research and studies from prominent non-Olympic staffs, such as Michigan State University. Instead what could be constructive discourse invariably turns to finger pointing and bashing.

StrongerAthletes.com has been invited to speak at an up-coming high school track clinic. We will be speaking opposite an Olympic lift advocate. It should be a productive, informative session for other coaches to see both sides. However, more than likely the coaches in the room will have made up their mind who is right and who is wrong before we even get started. That is not in the best interests of our athletes.

In order to take the desired step, which is to build a program of stronger athletes, we as coaches need to “beg, borrow, and steal,” as much information that we can. There will never be that 1 perfect system. However, with a little open mindedness and communication we can get a little closer to that perfection in our own systems.

Feb 20, 2002

Specificity Part II

“The principle of specificity states that training/practice must BE SPECIFIC to an intended skill in order for skill improvement—or “carryover” to occur. -Mark Asanovich

Specificity, to StrongerAthletes.com, refers to the following: In order for the athlete to improve a skill such as tackling, he must practice tackling. In order to improve at the skill in volleyball, he/she must practice those skills. This definition of "specificity" is clearly stated in Physiology texts. Yet many coaches still
interpret sport specificity different.

One interpretation, by John Garhammer in his article "Sport-Specific Program Development," states the following: 
"Free weight resistive exercises in standing postures similar to positions used in one's sport not only involve sport specificity, but can stimulate increases in bone density and strength".
He goes on comparing weight room exercises with sport skills, for example, volleyball players would benefit from stiff-leg deadlift or Romanian deadlifts, and barbell bent-over rows because this is similar to a volleyball players defensive receiving position.

StongerAthletes.com would like to point out that he did say that the lifts are similar to the defensive position. Specificity means the activity must be exact not similar. That is why weight room exercises should not be used to simulate sport specific movements. [See Specificity Part I]

Mark Asanovich, Strength Coach for the Tampa Bay Bucs, in his article, "Power/Explosive Training Considerations" relates, 
“The principle of specificity states that training/practice must BE SPECIFIC to an intended skill in order for skill improvement—or “carryover” to occur. “Specific” means exact or identical, not “similar” or “just like.” Therefore, accelerating a bar from the floor or knee-height-position by a forceful rolling of the hips may somewhat assimilate driving off the line of scrimmage-but the truth of the matter is, Olympic lifting will only improve one’s skills at Olympic lifting – and nothing else.”

However, Garhammer also says, 
"All these athletes (basketball, football, or soccer players) benefit from the squat to improve straight running and jumping motions. These players in the team sports mentioned should also practice running and agility drills that mimic their mulit-directional movement in competition."

StrongerAthletes.com could not agree more with him on this one, provided that the squats are done with a heavy load to failure. An increase in leg strength and power will help the athlete become a more explosive in running, agility, and actual movements on their sport.

Garhammer also feels that jump squats could be used to increase the speed of joint motion. 
"Recent experiments have examined strength and power athletes using specialized equipment that mimics a "throwing action” with a barbell. Such studies have indicated that maximal power output in bench press and squat related movements occur at about 55% of the 1 rep max loads in the corresponding lifts performed with a straight barbell.”

StrongerAthletes.com believes using these loads, (55%), will not work the muscle to complete muscular failure. It contradicts the principle of muscle Fiber Recruitment for training for power and explosiveness. Also we believe that using 55% of your 1 rep max will only express power not develop it. [See Expressing vs. Developing Power] Garhammer concluded that sub-maximal loads would be best to use for power development but did state that loads closer to the 1 rep max will increase strength. We feel that is a contradictory statement.

Ken Mannie, Strength Coach at Michigan State University, in his article, “Explosive Weight Training” also explains specificity: 
“Movement specificity” is a term that has long been misinterpreted by some explosive training proponents. To say that “the snatch and clean are very similar to other athletic movements such as “jumping," is to contradict many of the basic principles of motor learning.”

StrongerAthletes.com believes loads that allow the athlete to perform 6-15 reps to failure will develop strength and thus, power. Strength must first be developed before the athlete can better express power with greater force. [Again, we point you to See Express vs. developing Power] StrongerAthletes.com also maintains heavier loads should be used with controlled movements if the athlete wants to develop power and then they can go to the field and practice their sport skills.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual

We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthlete.com philosophy into training sessions or classes..

2002 National Strength & Science Seminar

StrongerAthletes.com is pleased to announce the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar which will be held March 16 at Blaine High School in Blaine, Minnesota. The mission of the seminar is "To Educate Coaches and Exercise Science/Sport Medicine Professionals Concerning a Practical/Scientific Approach to Strength Training and Fitness."

You will find "valuable information from world-renown professionals across the country, practical ideas and handouts giving you information needed for your situation, and answers to your questions regarding coaching and all aspects of exercise science." Speakers include:

Luke Carlson-Strength Coach Blaine H.S.
Matt Brzycki-Coordinator of Recreational Fitness and Wellness, Programming Princeton University
Steve Wetzel
-Strength Coach MN Vikings
Ryan Carlson-Strength Coach Chaska H.S.
Scott Savor- Strength Coach Shakopee H.S.
Steve Ritz-Owner/Operator Fitness First
Dr. James Peterson-Ph.D., Sports Medicine Consultant
Dr. Arthur Leon-M.D. , Cardiologist, Kinesiology Professor Univ. of Minnesota
John Thomas- Strength Coach, Penn State University

Scott Savor tells StrongerAthlete.com, "We are having some of the best professionals in the nation speaking and are expecting approximately 400 people in attendance. Until now there has been nothing like it." If you have any further questions about the 2002 National Strength & Science Seminar we encourage you to contact Scott Savor at scottsavor@hotmail.com.

Feb 18, 2002

What are our Athletes Training For?

"College students have a number of daily and weekly obligations and commitments: class attendance, study time, part-time employment, meals, sleep and personal matter. This can be a job in itself." -Tom Kelso

StrongerAthletes.com believes athletes should spend 1.5 hours to 3 hours in the weight room per week. In order to do this the athlete must be on a productive and efficient program. Strength training is an activity to help athletes perform their sport specific skills to the best of their ability.

Then why do coaches implement Olympic lifts in their program at the college level and especially at the high school level? Athletes at these levels are very busy with classes, practice, study time, social life, and rest. It takes quite a bit of time to learn and master the proper execution of the quick lifts. Athletes must have a proper balance in life; Weight room time being just a fraction of that time.

Tom Kelso, Strength Coach at the University of Illinois Chicago, in his article “Strength Training the Collegiate Athlete” explains,
“Valid research studies and empirical results obtained from hands-on experience have all proven that a minimal amount of very demanding training is all that is necessary to stimulate strength gains. Common sense then dictates that if a low volume is effective, then it should be used because of its many virtues, most significant being the time efficiency factor.”

Kelso continues, “College STUDENTS have a number of daily and weekly obligations and commitments: class attendance, study time, part-time employment, meals, sleep and personal matter. This can be a job in itself. College STUDENT-ATHLETES have the same, including all obligations relating to their sport: practice, meetings, contests, team functions, travel, strength training, conditioning, etc. It is a “no-brainer” then that the most logical approach to all sport-related commitments be quality oriented and done as efficiently as possible. If the existing time allotted for strength training can be reduced-and yet produce the same or better results-one should take advantage of it.”

In order to implement Olympic lifts in a program, athletes must spend a considerable amount of time in the weight room. Certainly more that the 1.5-3 hours we recommend. StrongerAthletes.com realizes that many of these programs still only spend only 2-3 hours per week in the weight room but these coaches may not really be concerned if the athletes are executing the Olympic lifts with perfect form. We have heard many coaches say, “Well I haven’t had any major injuries yet.” These athletes do get those minor injuries and what about how these kids' backs will be when they get older. We talked to many former athletes and they do attribute Olympic lifting to some of their back pain in life today. Do they know for sure, well probably not, but we believe there are more former players with back pain that used to do the quick lifts than the athletes that did not. We would like some feedback on this.

JP O’Shea reported, in “ Principles and Methods of Strength Fitness”, 
the major causes of low back pain among athletes using weight training or Olympic lifting are due to: 1) lifting weights improperly from the floor, 2) overhead lifting, 3) loss of balance when lifting, 4) trying to catch oneself after a slip, and 5) insufficient warm-up.

StrongerAthletes.com will not be a possible contributor to an athlete's back pain now or in the future. Good form performing Olympic lifts will help reduce the amount of injuries in athletes but much more time spent in the weight room teaching these lifts is a must. Not only that, proper supervision is also a necessity. We have not seen the proper supervision and coaching especially at the high school level.

One coach training 30-40 athletes is an impossible scenario for proper supervision using Olympic lifts. Even with necessary time, the Olympic lifts have been known to cause many injuries when athletes have very good form. If a coach did demand this kind of time from their athletes, we ask: “What are you training your athletes for? An Olympic lifting competition?” We maintain that these lifts do very little to help athletes in their prospective sports as our research indicates in previous articles.

Get your athletes in the weight room and then get them out. Spend proper time on specific skills for your sport and spend more time studying, your athletes will be much better off.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual

We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes.

Contact us for availability

Feb 15, 2002

Split vs. Full Body Programs

"Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide. -Marcus Tullius Cicero

An athlete can make good progress from a split or full body routine. Split routines are for the intermediate, more advanced athletes. They can still make great gains doing full body training sessions but it depends on the athletes’ recovery ability and schedule.

StrongerAthletes.com suggests that the beginner train 3 nonconsecutive days per week performing each exercise on all 3 training days. At this level, the weights being used are not very heavy because the athlete is learning the movements and is learning how to train with intensity.

We suggest that the intermediate athlete train 3 days per week as well. Body parts trained should be split into a push/pull type of routine or an upper/lower body type of routine. For example: upper body on Monday, lower body on Wednesday, upper body on Friday, lower body on Monday, etc… StrongerAthletes.com has had great success training athletes on this type of split routine.

The athlete whose schedule is very full, we suggest training 2 times per week on a full body routine and occasionally skipping a session if the athlete does not feel recovered from the previous training session to continue making strength gains. For example, an athletes trains the entire body on Monday and Friday, If he/she does not feel recovered on Friday from Monday's session then they should wait again until Monday to train.

Advanced athletes can continue strength gains training 2 times per week as well on a split routine. Some may progress training 2 times per week, 1 time the next. The latter is for only advanced athletes that no longer make substantial gains at the intermediate level.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual

We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes.

Please contact us for manual availability

Feb 13, 2002

Strength Training Layoffs

 " There are some things that can beat smartness and foresight; awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no. The person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him." - Mark Twain (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court)

StrongerAthletes.com believes in athletes being consistent in their strength training regimen. One of the main challenges a strength coach has with his athletes is to make adjustments to each athletes program when necessary to make sure progression in strength continues. This could mean that an athlete take a layoff once in awhile.

It has long been believed that if an athlete does not train a certain muscle frequently, it will atrophy and lose strength. StrongerAthletes.com maintains that this 96 hour rule is false. This is simply one of those theories that people have inherited without really giving it much thought themselves. Similar to performing Olympic lifts, people do them because someone said that is the way to develop power, not because they have researched the benefits. Both of these theories have not been backed up by much scientific research.

A one week layoff could be very beneficial to the athlete that has been training with a high amount of intensity and to muscular failure. We recommend taking a week layoff every 8-12 weeks. Again this is an individual thing, each athlete recovers at a different rate.

One exception to the 96 rule is the athlete that trains with a lower intensity and never reaching muscular failure on many sets. This athlete can recover much quicker and layoffs would be less frequent. Another exception would be the athlete that performs primarily Olympic lifts. These lifts do not involve the muscles being trained to failure and are at a lower intensity. Technique is important in these lifts and are done more frequently.

One example of how an extended layoff can be beneficial for the athlete was witnessed last winter. We had an athlete train consistently from December to the end of May and took a 3 week vacation in which he could not train at all. He came back at the end of June and performed more reps on every exercise at the same weight. How did this occur? We believe that the 96 hour rule is bogus for the athlete that trains with a high intensity. If anybody else has another opinion or story, we would like to hear from you and post-it up.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual

We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes.

Contact us for availability

Feb 11, 2002

A Return to Safety

"Yet, regardless of which training protocols may be right or wrong, as health/fitness professionals our first responsibility is to the safety of those who have entrusted their health to us." -Mark Asanovich, Strength Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

StrongerAthletes.com often asks coaches who implement Olympic lifts in their program, "Is it really worth it?" We say no as far as safety is concerned.

We have asked many high school and college level athletes how they like the power clean exercise. Most all of them respond by saying something like, "My back hurts when I do them, but other than that they're o.k." Time and time again we get this type of response.

It is important to note when observing these athletes, some have good form but most have poor technique. Coaches in many sports realize the potential for injury but still incorporate them into work-outs. Why add to this injury potential by implementing an unsafe exercise?

In addition to safety, we find that much of the research in this field does not support the use of Olympic lifting for athletes in their sport other than the weightlifting sport itself.

In an article, "Olympic Lifting Movements Endanger Adolescents," written by John P. Jesse, a recognized expert in the field of strength training and a member of the American College of Sports of Medicine, Jesse discusses a study by Kotani and associates. 

To sum it up: They performed an intensive investigation of 26 weightlifters between the age of 18-24. The study found that all but 2 lifters had had recurrent episodes of lower back pain. 
"The stresses imposed by weight lifting (Olympic Lifts) occur mainly in the lower spine." 
This study was referring to the Olympic lifts that involve pressing and holding weight overhead.

Some coaches may say, "Well we don't do Olympic movements that involve lifting weights overhead, we just do hang/power cleans." However, further research indicated lower back problems from weight cleaned to the shoulders or snatched overhead. 
Jesse continues, 
"I am convinced that one other position in Olympic lifting places shearing stresses on the lumbar spine. When a heavy weight is cleaned to the shoulders or snatched overhead to a full-arm position. Thrusting the hips forward throws the lower back into a hyperextended lordotic position and creates tremendous shearing stresses on the lumbar vertebrae."

Some coaches may look at this and say, "Well those athletes in this study were competitive weightlifters not athletes of other sports." This is true but it should also be pointed out that these athletes have very good technique in their lifts as well and still have many injuries. Just think of the potential injuries that can occur when high school and college football, wrestling, basketball, volleyball players do them. They obviously do not have the technique that the competitive lifter has which will increase the chance for injury.

would like some feedback from coaches who support our beliefs as well as coaches that implement the quick lifts in their program. For the latter, "Do you think your program is safe? Obviously, risk of injury is inherent (and accepted) in sports competition. However, to suggest that there be an inherent risk of injury in training for sports competition is certainly unacceptable, unprofessional, and unethical. After all, the primary objective of any training program is to enhance one's physical potential, not endanger it! Consequently, one should be encouraged to perform strength-training exercises in a controlled manner. To do otherwise, is to invite musculoskeletal injury." Mark Asanovich Strength Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

To sum up, Mark Asanovich, Strength Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers believes,
"Certainly many controversies exist relative to training methodologies, ballistic training and Olympic lifting being a major concern. Yet, regardless of which training protocols may be right or wrong, as health/fitness professionals our first responsibility is to the safety of those who have entrusted their health to us. By denying, ignoring, or overlooking the risks involved in training protocols/devices, we do a great disservice to the individuals we train. For these reasons, I would encourage coaches to be very discriminating in selecting training protocols. After all, as with anything in life that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ballistic resistance training and Olympic lifting are no exception to the rule."

Feb 8, 2002

Dear StrongerAthletes.com / Q & A

"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since we have "opened the doors" here at StrongerAthletes.com in December we have seen our readership skyrocket. In order to make things more consistent for our readers we will try to update every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

We would like to thank Scott Savor and the National Strength & Science Seminar for helping us get the word out. Also, Jim Bryan, Tom Kelso, and Ken Mannnie have been a big help and would like to thank them for their support and cooperation.

In this week's Dear StrongerAthletes.com we would like to share some comments various readers have made during or first 2 months.
Dear Coach Rody, I checked [the website] out a bunch and showed people the stick figures. Everyone's reaction was just like mine, laughing out loud. You don't even have to read what you wrote to laugh. It's hilarious, and "but who is going to do that" tops it off. It's definitely an interesting website too. Overall, I think it's a really sound webpage; I don't think you're ever too blunt or reactionary. -Brian Woodward, University of Missouri

[Thanks for helping us spread the word. -S.A.]
Dear Coach Rody, I just ran across your website. Thank you for having this forum for discussion. I agree that we all share the same goal of strengthening our athletes. -Troy Baxendell, Jaguar Ironworks

[We hope we can continue to have productive discussions on various topics in the future. -S.A.]
Dear Coach Rody, Thank you for your website. What you have said regarding the olympic lifts really makes sense to me. WOW! Thank you for the information. You were exactly right, my son is a Junior. His experience in lifting... I would characterize as moderate. He lifts with his football team going from station to station. I read the comments on your website about the challenges of supervision in this environment. He lifts regularly in the summer and sporadically at other times. So you can probably gauge his experience from this. Thank you for your concern, your advice is very sound. -K. M., concerned father, St. Louis, MO

[Thanks for your question about a training program for your son. I hope our suggestions helped. -S.A.]
Dear Coach Rody, I do see a transfer from the power clean or hang clean to the sport of wrestling. In wrestling lifting techniques are used that are practically identical to the above mentioned lifts. The triple extension mentioned in one of your first postings would be better represented by a finish to a high croth takedown rather than a sprinter's start that Huskerpower illustrates. I hope this makes sense. -Aaron Vitt, Head Wrestling Coach, Moberly, MO

[Coach, if the triple extension is the sole desired outcome for Olympic movements, why incorporate the clean/snatch/catch phase of the lift? Try using the high pull element of the lift to reduce possible injury. However, we maintain that it does not transfer. -S.A.]
That is an excellent idea and we will incorporate that movement into our next workout. Thanks. - Aaron Vitt

Dear Coach Rody, I am the head football coach at Ritenour HS in St. Louis, MO. The reason I am contacting you is to try and get a strength training program to use with my players during an 18 week course I will be teaching. I have used various approaches in the past with some gains. I would like to get your opinion on a set program which will increase strength while increasing flexibility and conditioning. The class is designed to improve our players physically specifically for football. I would appreciate any program you would suggest which tells the lift, reps, sets, percentages, and days in between lifts. I appreciate your time in considering this matter. Also, I also wanted to get you opinion on a new piece of equipment we are demoing right now. It is called a "power runner". Have you heard of them? It is a resisted running machine. The athlete is in the machine at almost a prone position. The athlete then locks in the pedals and adds weights behind and begins a running motion. Seems like a great idea to me. It was developed by the strength coach for the Seattle Seahawks. Any opinion you have would be appreciated. Rick Shelton, Head Football Coach, Ritenour HS, St. Louis, MO

[Coach, we have had several inquiries to this regard and are more than happy to share our thoughts with others. Those interested in further information and details about the StrongerAthletes.com Program should know that we are about 1 week away from having a manual available.

As for the "power runner" it is our belief that any weight room movement machine or otherwise cannot transfer to athletic movement. Possibly the money you would spend on that piece of equipment could be used to update your Power Racks or invest in other weight room upgrades. This is not to say that it is not a good piece of equipment and fits your needs however, it should not be considered an alternative for good 'ole sprints. -S.A.]

Dear Coach Rody, Excellent site. Keep up the regular updates and you'll have tons of hits. Between this, thinkmuscle.com and totalcoaching now on the Cyberpump website, my daily reads are set.

[Thanks for the support. -S.A.]
Dear Coach Rody, Interesting exchange on SA -- that's the kind of stuff that will make for an excellent website. It wasn't confrontational, yet very informative. -Ken Mannie

[Thanks Coach, we hope we can continue to put out interesting perspectives on strength training. -S.A.]
Dear Coach Rody, I have sent your site to other coaches and I have bookmarked it for later. looks very interesting. -Jim Bryan

[Thanks Coach for your help. -S.A.]
Dear Coach Rody, Jim Bryan sent me an email recommending this site. I was not aware it existed, but I am glad it does now. It is good to see another voice out there promoting safe, practical, and time-efficient training. If I can help/contribute in any way, please let me know. Keep up the good work. -Tom Kelso, M.S., C.S.C.S., Head Coach, Strength and Conditioning University of Illinois at Chicago

[Thanks for your support coach, we look forward to working with you in the future. -S.A.]

Feb 6, 2002

How Many Sets Per Exercise?

"There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." -Morpheus...The Matrix

StrongerAthletes.com realizes that multiple set training can produce strength gains in our athletes. However, one set per exercise is also a very beneficial method of training, assuming an athlete is warmed-up properly. In an article written by Ken Mannie, "High-volume or High Intensity," research is sited from R.N. Carpinelli and R.M. Otto. The investigation involved 35 studies comparing single-set to multi-set strength programs. The results indicated 33
of the 35 studies showed no significant difference in strength or muscular size between the single-set and multi-set groups.

Carpenelli did a follow-up review of 12 studies with same results. Mannie concludes, "The fact that 45 of the 47 [groups] indicate that the single-set training is just as effective as multi-set strength training is compelling evidence for the efficacy of the single-set protocol." In other words it should not be thought of as outrageous to use single-sets as opposed to multiple-sets in stregth programs.

The research sited by Mannie is current research. It shows that the more efficient method would be the single-set approach. One of StrongerAthletes.com's goals is to provide an efficient strength training program. As we have stated before, an athlete at the high school and college level has a very busy schedule. That is why we believe that coaches owe it to their athletes to provide the most efficient training program possible.

Matt Brzycki, in his article "Is One set Enough?" explains, "Remember, the most efficient program is one that produces the maximum possible results in the least amount of time. After all, why perform several sets of an exercise when you can obtain similar results from one set in a fraction of the time?"

Intensity is another factor that should be addressed. Brzycki illustrates, "In order to train at a reasonably high level of intensity, you must train for a relatively brief period of time. So, increasing the number of sets or exercises that you do will add to your training time and actually lower your intensity level." [See "Efficiency"] Brzycki continues, "In fact, numerous research studies have shown that there are no significant differences when performing either one, two or three sets of an exercise provided,of course, that one set is done with an appropriate level of intensity (i.e. to the point of muscular failure)."

The only exception that should be made is the athlete at the Beginner level of training. This phase may last a significant amount of time depending on the athlete. StrongerAthletes.com believes that this athlete should perform more sets to develop efficient neural pathways. Once these learning patterns are developed then the beginner can reduce their amount of sets. in other words, look at the multiple sets as practice as well as a warm-up. However, use only the last set to measure strength development.

Mannie points out, "Science has not been able to define an exact number of sets to be performed," but in the meantime is appears that one is as good as three. If any coach would like to share their thought on sets send it to us and we'll post 'em-up!

Feb 4, 2002

Efficiency in Training

"Forget yourself and start to work." -Gordon B. Hinckley

StongerAthlete.com believes in short intense training sessions. Many coaches are adopting a similar philosophy of time spent on training due to class period restrictions or efficiency issues.

  • The beginner level should train no more than 3 hours per week split into 3 one-hour sessions.
  • The intermediate level athlete should train a little less. 
  • The advanced level even less than that. The more advanced an athlete is the more recovery time that is needed.

Occasionally we still here coaches brag about their athletes training 4 days per week 2-3 hours per session. These coaches assume that time spent in the weight room is time well spent. Now, a coach can make the argument that an athlete is expressing some effort of commitment to the program and developing good work habits. However, this certainly is not a very efficient approach when we consider strength development.

An article written by Richard Borden “Building Stronger, Faster Players In The Off season” in American Football Coach Magazine explains of work-out sessions,
“The total time should be no more than 40-60 minutes in the weight room or on the field (referring to speed and conditioning drills on the field).”

This is a pretty good rule for the athlete that requires the use of type II muscle fiber. [See Fiber Recruitment].

We promote training at a high level of intensity. Athletes cannot train very long if they are truly training hard. Athletes in the weight room for more than an hour are flat out not train hard. Jane Musgrave in American Football Coach discusses this issue with Boyd Eply, Nebraska's strength coach.
Eply describes his program, "A lot of people think Nebraska is a lifting factory-that we mass produce athletes. We probably lift less than any school you can think of. We pride ourselves on being efficient. We try to get more out of the workout, not just make it longer.”

Like these collegiate strength programs, StrongerAthletes.com believes efficient program as well. The high school and college athlete has a very busy schedule that includes, training, practice, film sessions, classes, study time etc… We owe it to our athletes to provide an efficient strength training program.

Feb 1, 2002


"Let the punishment match the offense." -Cicero

About this time coaches all over America are watching their weight room numbers dip a little. As the weather takes a turn for the worse and kids are not thinking about their sports, especially if it is football. (I mean come on... it still 6 months away!)

Although kids' minds may be thinking that way a coach operates on a different calendar. We need our athletes in the weight room on a consistent basis. Getting kids to buy-in to what you are doing is part of the coaches job and weight room participation is a major player in a team's success.

Obviously, strength gains are the biggest reasons we want our kids in the weight room but there are many intangibles that cannot be overlooked. First, coaches can quickly determine who are the dedicated players he can count on once the season arrives. Also, players build relationships of accountability as they sweat together. These "fringe" benefits are just some of the additional reasons coaches should establish weight room sessions for their athletes.

The problem is. "How do coaches get the players to attend these sessions?" The answer is not so easy and a coach should put careful thought into how this is done. Ideally, a school may offer weight training for the students and all the athletes are allowed to register. Many schools offer these classes but limit them to upperclassmen. A drawback to this is that many of these environments are also co-ed which can be troublesome for teenagers to concentrate on training. Also, too many schools have PE teachers who are not trained in strength training fundamentals and can do more harm than good for your programs.

In order to allow for all of his athletes to train together a coach has to operate outside the regular school hours. Several coaches make weight room training mandatory, resigning all non-participants to JV squads. Others use attendance charts and try to motivate by peer pressure or recognition. Whatever you decide it is important that a coach stay consistent with his policy. If adjustments need to be made to the "rules" it is always wise to change them next season. This allows for your dedicated kids to be rewarded while setting a tone for your younger impressionable kids. However, it is important not to cut off your nose to spite your face. Meaning, there is always a kid who can help your team who will not step 1 foot in the weight room. These kids need to be thought of as you write your policy. It can be working additional weights into your in-season conditioning for that athlete or additional conditioning. Some coaches reward their weight training athletes to watch as those who skipped training run extra sprints once the season starts.

We would love to hear your team's or school's policies on motivating athletes to attend work-out sessions.


***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the StrongerAthlete.com website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***