Feb 17, 2003

Slow Rep Speed StrengthTraining

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." –Vince Lombardi

Slowing down the Rep Speed

A January 30, 2003 article published in the Omaha World-Herald, Slow Burn Catches Fire, by Corey Ross discusses some of the issues surrounding this training practice. Ross visits with those who wish to promote this type of training as well as those who are staunchly opposed.

  • "Lifting so slowly, advocates say, stimulates the muscles more than traditional training and reduces injuries by eliminating momentum and encouraging good form." –Corey Ross

  • "A claim that SuperSlow isn’t for athletes, Colleen Allem, a trainer from Colorado, says that couldn’t be further from the truth. SuperSlow not only produces adequate intensity, she said but it also spares athletes from injury. She also noted that the Australian bicycling team uses SuperSlow." –Ross

  • "Most athletes overtrain. They don’t allow enough recover time." –Allem

  • "According to the Boston Globe, a YMCA study found that SuperSlow produced a 50 percent greater strength gain than conventional lifting. But only two people reportedly continued the workouts after the study. The others found it too taxing." –Ross

  • "It’s intense. It’s challenging. It takes as much mental strength as physical strength." Allem
We maintain that in order to recruit the most efficient number of muscle fibers, especially the fast twitch fibers, one should train in a deliberately slow manner. First and foremost this creates the safest environment both for the lifter and those around him, but additionally allows the muscle to become fully exhausted in a brief training session.

While Ross spends most of his article discussing the Ken Hutchins’ SuperSlow technique, one can apply these same principles with a more conservative cadence. In SuperSlow, coaches want their athletes to use a 20-second cadence: 10 lowering and 10 lifting. We like for our athletes to work a 4 down, 2 up but we do not split hairs over this issue assuming they are not using momentum or training too fast.

As expressed by Allem, training to failure is NOT EASY! The coach will be required to push the athlete to the limits. Penn State Coach John Thomas makes no secret about the fact he trains the mental strength of his athletes just as much at their physical strength.

In conclusion, The "old-wives-tale" that is perpetuated by football coaches that one must train fast to be fast is simply untrue. Again we maintain that the weight room is where we develop the strength and power of the athlete and the field is where we express the power of the athlete.

If you have questions or comments about this web site or strength development or training please drop us a note.

Feb 6, 2003

NFL Team / Program Fundamentals

"Look for players with character and ability. But remember, character comes first." –Joe Gibbs

Another NFL Team to Train Safe, Productive, and Efficiently

Mark Asanovich was named Head Strength coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this week. Coach Asanovich brings a philosophy committed to weight room safety and productivity to Jacksonville. He recently has served under Brian Billick in Baltimore and Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay. Congratulations Coach.

Training Program Fundamentals

advocates a fairly low number of sets in one training session. There are many very good programs that require the athlete to perform anywhere from 12-22 sets for one workout. We have had great success with our approach and know that others have had very good success with the high volume, or multiple-set, training.

The entire workout can last anywhere from 20-60 minutes depending on the athlete’s level of experience. We believe that the more advanced the athlete is in training, the lower the amount of exercise that is necessary to continue making progress. However, doing less exercise means that every set performed must be taken to muscular failure using the highest amount of intensity possible. There is no magic substitute for work.

Coaches must be careful in developing their program. For example, a problem may arise if one performs several chest exercises followed by the shoulders and triceps. The shoulders and triceps can be easily overtrained if not careful. Some of the smaller muscle groups do get trained sufficiently indirectly through other exercises. Depending on the selection of exercises, we do have our athletes perform 1 set for these smaller muscle groups and at times we will not.

Now, we do advocate some direct neck training because we have found that many exercises do not train the neck like we would like. Again, the exercises that you choose will determine if you must do direct work in all areas. We understand that many philosophies do emphasize direct work in all muscles. There are many factors that should determine this though. Intensity, exercises, technique, etc...

The least amount of exercise possible should be the goal of the trainer if they are wanting the most efficient program possible. Remember, the training in a lower volume session must be extremely intense. The more intense the athlete is the less he/she needs to do for progression to continue. Our program ranges anywhere from 6-12 exercises depending on the athlete.

Every athlete should eventually be on a program that is individualized to their level. It is not necessary nor productive to have all of your athletes performing the exact same program. While we understand that many programs do this with success it is important to keep in mind that every athlete recovers at their own rate. Adjustments, although minor, at times can easily be made by having an athlete skip an exercise for a few workouts if he needs more recovery time.

There are obviously many excellent programs out there and it is important that you sell your philosophy to your athletes. The bottom line is that your program should be safe, productive, and efficient. If one of these aspects is missing, then you should reevaluate what you are accomplishing in the weight room. Most importantly, all strength coaches, regardless of philosophy should understand why they are doing what they are doing. For the sake of your athletes don’t simply be a sheep following the herd… (or flock, gaggle… whatever you call a bunch a sheep.)

Let us know if we can assist your program in anyway and please send us your ideas as well as we would like to learn from your program and what your teams are doing. Nobody has the perfect program and we all can learn off of each other.

Feb 2, 2003

Becoming Mainstreamed: Coaching Videos & Books

"If the enemy opens the door you must race in." –Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Often times when we meet other coaches and begin discussing strength training, we find that most, if not all, have never heard of training philosophies similar to the one we promote at StrongerAthletes.com. These coaches either respond in one of two ways. Some develop a keen interest as we tell them that our so-called, "non-traditional," methods have been around for decades and that the likes of high schools through NFL teams use these methods. Others will disregard us as if we were the newest cult since Hale-Bop.

We do not blame these close-minded coaches for their perception. They have been brought up with a background that training must be done a certain way. Chances are these coaches train their athletes the way they were trained by their coaches. These guys, assuming they are football coaches, probably run the same offensive and defensive systems they ran as players for that is what they are comfortable with.

Many coaches turn to popular literature and coaching videos to help educate them on the current trends. A popular catalog that is distributed to coaches all over the country is published by Championship Productions. (Let us say this is not an ad for their company just an example of popular coaching products.)

The Championship Productions catalog offers a variety of books and videos on topics from "Wing-T Schemes" to "Defensive Line Play". Contributing authors of these books and videos include coaches from the nation’s top programs including Kansas State, Iowa, Iowa State, Miami, Georgia, Texas, Washington State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Marshall, Nebraska, and Florida State. Many coaches, who receive this catalog use these resources to grow and learn from the best.

On the Strength & Fitness page of the January 2003 catalog, 11 books and videos are listed. Assuming that most coaches are unfamiliar with our training philosophy one would think that resources about that philosophy would be limited. However, I was pleased to discover that 4 of the 11 products were aimed at safe, productive and efficient training methods. Another 4 were aimed at training that would promote what we feel are unsafe movements, but would fall into the mainstream. The remaining 3 of the 11 items are most likely of little use to the traditional sport coach doubling as the strength coach such as, "Strength Ball Training" and "Buddy Lee’s Instructional Jump Rope Video & Magic Speed Rope Cross Trainer".

Our point being that 1/2 of the products aimed at strength training for football, or other traditional interscholastic sports, promote safe, productive, and efficient methods. It is our hope that more and more coaches will become aware of these and increase their working knowledge of strength training.

Listed below are the items a coach seeking sound strength training instruction might want to purchase. Again, this is not an advertisement for Championship Productions, but it should be known that the following images and descriptions come from their website.

High Intensity Strength Training for Football with Ken Mannie, Head Strength Coach and Tim Wakeham, Asst. Strength Coach, Michigan State University

Mannie had developed a weight training program designed to enhance players’ performance potential, specifically their strength and explosiveness, along with decreasing chance and severity of injury and enhancing body composition. The top exercises for each body part are demonstrated while Wakham provides key teaching points for success. Sample training programs are also included. 2000. ISBN 1-56404-463-7.

FV-1285-FB08(High Intensity Strength Training) 37 minutes…..$39.95

Manual Resistance Training with Tim Wakeham, Michigan State Strength and Conditioning Coach and Jim Kielbaso, University of Detroit Director of Strength and Conditioning

Wakeham and Kielbaso introduce an intense training methodology used by many of the top strength coaches, personal trainers and rehab specialists in the country. Manual Resistance Training is body on body, heavy-duty resistance training. A perfect mode of training when expensive equipment and/or time isn’t available! The video covers a comprehensive list of over 30 manual resistance exercises for all major muscle groups and sports needs. Each exercise is described using sport-specific training cues and demonstrations. 2000. ISBN 1-56404-491-2.

GV-1307-FB08(Manual Resistance) 32 minutes…..$29.95

Fundamental Strength Training for All Sports with Chip Harrison, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Penn State University

Harrison introduces the concept of training to momentary fatigue and of the benefits of such an approach. Athletes are taken through a complete off-season workout from start to finish. Harrison provides an in-depth view of the implementation process for strength training, from proper training technique to guidelines for spotting, exercise selection, and training intensity. He also shows how to devise a year round strength training program, underscoring all the components of a safe, well-designed program. 2000. ISBN 1-56404-431-9.

GV-1208-FB08(Fundamental Strength Training for All Sports) 36 minutes…..$39.95

A Practical Approach to Strength Training (3rd Edition) by Matt Brzycki, Princeton University

Matt Brzycki examines all aspects of strength training, including: specificity, high intensity training, explosive training and plyometrics and offers advice on organizing individual and group strength training programs. Featuring Nautilus, Universal Gym, free weight and manual resistance exercises, this revised edition also includes chapters designed for those who teach strength training at the high school and college levels. 1995. ISBN 1-57028-018-5.

GB-45-FB08(Strength Training) 249 pages…..$17.95

We feel that all coaches who work with kids in the weight room should continue to grow and learn about their profession. If you are new to safe, productive, and efficient training ideas or you are already a believer we suggest you make these products a part of your curriculum.

You can contact Championship Productions online at www.ChampOnline.com or by phone 1(800) 873-2730.

If you know of any other products of this nature that would be useful to the strength coach please let us know and we’ll post ‘em up!


***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.***