Jan 13, 2003

Safety: Swiss Ball Example / Power Formula

January 13 "Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect." -Emerson

Safety: Swiss Ball Example


We make no secret about our emphasis on safety in the weight room. In the past we wrote a brief commentary on the use of the Swiss Ball in strength training. We felt that is was just another gimmick as well as a serious risk in weight room safety


It seems that Juan Carlos Santana, a highly respected strength trainer from Boca Raton, Florida thought it would be a good idea to depth jump off of a plyometric box onto a Swiss Ball. Obviously he suffered injury at the hands of unsafe training methods. Now, we mean absolutely no disrespect to Mr. Santana however we will use his folly to make our point. Why jump off anything? Why use a rubber sphere as a base of support? Why use both of these together to train?

We admittedly know very little of this event. However, the details are not our point. Our point is that safety should be #1. If it looks dangerous it probably is… so don’t ask your kids to do it!

A certain message board has begun asking, "What are some of the dangerous lifts done in weight rooms?" We were amused with the following exercise called, "The Jefferson Lift". The following photos and instructions were found at Chap.com











Straddle barbell on floor, feet about 24" apart. Bend and hold front of bar with right hand palm down, rear of bar with left hand, palm down. Squat until upper thighs are parallel to floor. Keep back nearly vertical, head up.
Rise with bar at arms' length until legs are straight, knees locked. Keep bar at arms' length, elbows locked.Do all lifting with thighs and lower back.Return to starting position. Inhale up, exhale down.

We think there might be some issues with performing the "Jefferson Lift" explosively!

Take a look at The Swiss Ball Plyometric Depth Jumping Experiment. This is a very funny example of the absurdity of many training methods. Keep in mind this website is not related to StrongerAthletes.com and we do not condone these activities.

We reported last year about a trainer who had his athletes performing an explosive bench press. He would actually drop the loaded bar from above the athlete who would catch the bar, lower it to his chest, and then rapidly push the bar up and throw it back to the coach. Wow.

So we ask our readers to help us find the craziest, most unsafe movements you have seen done in the weight room. In the meantime we encourage coaches to ask yourself why you are doing each exercise and most importantly, is it safe?


Dear StrongerAthlete: Power Formula


Coach Chris Thibaudeau has recently pointed out that our formula for Power that we use on our F.A.Q. is not accurate.

He writes, "You use the formula Power = strength x distance/time to prove your point, stating that you can increase power output either by increasing strength or reducing time. Your formula is inaccurate.

The real power formula is Power = FORCE x distance/time, similarly you say that Work = strength x distance while it really is FORCE x distance.

So doesn't it make a lot more sense to try to accelerate a load rather than lift it slowly?

Not trying to be confrontational, but if you are going to utilize biomechanics to prove your theories, at least use proper biomechanics. There are some coaches with no knowledge of the domain that can be fooled to believe something that isn't true."

We think Coach Thibaudeau is right on with his remark about coaches with limited knowledge will believe anything even if it is not true. That is the whole purpose of our website. We want to inform coaches who already have too much to do than get degrees in Exercise Science about safer ways to train than what is generally believed.

We use the term Strength as opposed to Force for a simple reason. When we first used that formula in an article we were attempting to make a point about the inefficiency of using momentum in developing strength. We wanted to use terminology and research by authors that are highly respected by the Olympic Lifting world. Thus the formula we used, which included Strength as opposed to Force, can be found in "Complete Conditioning For Football," by Michael Arthur and Bryan Bailey from the University of Nebraska. The University of Nebraska is widely recognized as the leading promoter of quick lift training for football. So, despite any other reasoning we may have for using the word Strength, we encourage you to take up your debate with Nebraska not us.

Furthermore, Olympic lifting advocates like yourself ignore the fundamental difference between developing and expressing power. To say that lifting slowly with little acceleration will lead to a very low force output does not take into account that towards the end of a working set, the athlete has the intention of lifting the weight rapidly.

Lastly, to increase force one must increase strength levels. They are directly related. Strength is the ability of muscle to produce force. If you increase your strength, you increase your ability to produce force. An increase in the ability to produce force results in an increase in athletic power. This is why we write the formula he way we do and the relationship between force and strength is indicated throughout various places in our website.