Jul 22, 2002

25th Annual NSCA Convention

July 22 "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." -William Shakespeare


Although StrongerAthletes.com was not able to attend the 25th Annual NSCA Convention, Coach Gary Gant from Apple Valley, California was, and sent us this report. We sincerely hope that this forum can help to educate coaches that safe, productive, and efficient training methods are not unheard of or un-sound philosophies. Coach Gant serves as yet another voice, frustrated at the one-sidedness of
much of America's strength training discourse.

I had the privilege this weekend of attending the 25th anniversary and conference for the National Strength and Conditioning Association(NSCA). This was my first NSCA conference, my primary job is that of an athletic trainer and I usually attend NATA conventions. I learned a lot of valuable information, and most importantly information that I can use right away.

One thing that troubled me was the anti-HIT (High Intensity Training) rhetoric. I could not count how many times that I heard to "Train ballistically because sports are ballistic in nature".

Coach Mannie, who was referenced to by one of the speakers on this topic said it best, "Training ballistically because your sport is ballistic is like banging your head against a wall to prepare for a concussion". This is probably not an exact quote but you get the idea.

I heard how machine training is not functional to sport, because machine training does not mimic sport. My question is, "When did STRENGTH no matter how it is built not become functional?" There were many references throughout the conference about this and I could go with many examples.

One session that I would like to tell you about was called "Hit or Miss: a review of research relevant to High Intensity Training."

The first topic the speakers covered was the definition of HIT and the Anti-Specificity characteristics of it.

  • 1. The Use of Anti-Specific Training (However, HIT coaches encourage specificity, in practicing specifically for his or her sport, how sport specific can you get?)

  • 2. The Use of Machines (Despite the fact that HIT is pro barbell, dumbbell, sand bags, anvils, cars, etc. anything that will build strength).

  • 3.The Use of Pro body building techniques such as eccentric, partial reps, manuals, and slow motion training. (Regardless of who these techniques are associated with they make a strength session harder, thus you have made it more productive).

  • 4. They argue concepts of velocity specificity,and the transfer of learning. (How can lifting a weighted object be velocity specific? If it has weight then it must be moving slower. Transfer of learning to what? How can O-lifting transfer to almost every sport? I do not think that it can).

  • 5. They are Anti-weight lifting, plyometrics and dynamics, and ballistic training. (We are pro-Safety and pro-Muscle tension and force production of the working muscle.)

  • 6.Risk of injury is the rationale for most of the above. (Lifting weights quickly is either (A) safer than slower speeds, (B) same as slower speeds, or (C) more dangerous than lifting at slower speeds,what would common sense tell you A,B,or C? I believe the answer is obvious).

The two speakers presented themselves well, and I could tell that they are very knowledgeable men. They presented research that was relevant to their cause, but I am sure that a HIT speaker would have plenty of research to support his or her cause. One bit of data was on how common HIT is in athletics. From their data 15 colleges use HIT, one NBA and NHL team use HIT. 2 MLB teams use HIT, and 5 NFL teams use HIT. What was not mentioned that of these teams what is the injury rate, and also success.

More references were made about HIT with a lot of the information coming from Cyberpump.com

  • 1. Always add weight to the bar going all out not almost all out. (Progressive overload, even periodization believes in this fact.)

  • 2. Pick a weight that you normally do for 10 reps and do 20. (This is in reference to 20 rep squats, I can't describe it, but check out Dr. Ken squatting 407 for 23 reps on cyberpump.com).

  • 3. Minimal recovery between sets of 1-3 minutes. (If an athlete can perform the same amount or more work in less time, I would consider that an efficient workout).

Research on single sets vs. multiple sets - This always has to be explained to the public, the single set group usually uses 8-12 reps, and the multi set group uses very low to moderate rep ranges.

To check strength improvement the 1rm is used, if the 1rm is the test, then the subjects should be allowed to practice the 1rm. A 1rm is a skill unto itself, and may change daily based on rest, recovery, stress etc.

Also it was said that high volume allows more ability to workout longer. How does the old saying go? "An athlete can workout HARD for a short period of time or workout easier for a longer period of time".

In conclusion, I am proud to be a member of the NSCA, I am also proud of my CSCS credential. I believe the profession needs this organization and the credential to set a standard of professionalism. But this organization is obviously divided. There is a majority that is basically anti-HIT, and then a small group of HIT advocates. The USA came together liberal, conservative, black, white on 9/11/2001 and the country became stronger. For the NSCA to know it's true strength we need to be more accepting of each others ideas, myself included.

I learned a great deal about Functional Training and I can apply many of these ideas right away in re-hab protocols. We can all learn from each other, there is no one right way to train athletes, I just believe HIT to be a Safer and more Efficient training method. I will attend more NSCA meetings and try to become more involved myself and I hope others will do the same.

In Health,
Gary D. Gant ATC,CSCS

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