May 29, 2003

How Important is Safety?

"You can observe a lot by watching." -Yogi Berra

Is Safety The Number One Priority In Your Training Program?

We have visited with many coaches that provide various types of strength programs for their athletes. Many coaches take the issue of safety in the weight room very seriously while some coaches will put safety, “certainly in their top 8 priorities”.

The latter attitude is a big problem. With some sports being so demanding to our athletes bodies, more attention needs to be directed toward safety in training for those sports. We still find that many coaches have their athletes perform a 1RM on the Olympic lifts as well as the power lifts. This is not necessary nor is it safe for the athletes.

Roger Schwab in his article, “Personal Reflections on Weight Training and Spinal Injuries,” reflects on his own experience in lifting. He performed heavy bench presses, squat snatch, and below parallel squats with a pause at the bottom with significant weight. Schwab explains the result of this type of training, “My choice of exercises caused structural damage that would manifest in long term chronic pain. Advanced spinal pathology at 20 plus years old! Disc herniations throughout my neck (cervical spine) C3-C7, a reversal of my lordotic curve and spinal stenosis at C-7. My lower back suffered severe degenerative change as well with disc herniations at L4-5 L5-S1.”

Roger Schwab currently works with Main Line Health & Fitness in Bryn Mawr, PA. He has a series of outstanding articles which can be found at the Main Line Health & Fitness web site. does not advocate the squat snatch, 1RM in bench press, or pausing at the bottom position of a heavy squat. None of these movements are safe nor do the positives outweigh the negatives. Using common sense in an athlete's training is mandatory. As Schwab indicates, “Rather than finding out for themselves what does and does not constitute safe, result stimulating exercise, trainees are being taught training regimens that are outright dangerous and lack the fundamentals of common sense.” This is unfortunate but true in many programs.

We will leave you with a suggestion from Roger Schwab on the proper approach to strength training. “After too many years of repeated mistakes, I finally "woke-up" to the fact that if anyone is going to lift weights to improve functional ability and build stronger muscles, do so in a slow, deliberate focused manner. Choose exercises wisely. Follow sound routines that emphasize quality rather than quantity and which do not leave the overall system depleted and ripe for muscular or skeletal injuries. Fast movements do not build fast muscles no matter what any "expert" might tell you. Even if fast lifting did build fast muscles, it would never be worth the risk of injury.” Well said, don’t you think?

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

May 15, 2003

Top 10 Mark Asanovich Quotes

"Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved." -Albert Einstein

Although we have never had the opportunity to meet or visit with Coach Mark Asanovich we really like the things he has to say about strength training and the use of supplements. What you find below is his bio taken from the Official web site of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and our list of the Top 10 Mark Asanovich Quotes. Enjoy.

"Mark Asanovich is in his first season as the strength and conditioning coach for the Jaguars and his ninth season as an NFL coach.

In 2002, Asanovich was the assistant strength and conditioning coach of the Baltimore Ravens. He was the head strength and conditioning coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 through 2001 working under former coach Tony Dungy. Asanovich brought to the Jaguars a new strength and conditioning regime that emphasizes individual supervision of player workouts. The cornerstone of his program is to ⌠coach reps rather than merely count reps. It is his belief that players who are coached in the weightroom will develop better results from what is inspected rather than what is expected.

With the support of Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, Asanovich oversaw a $260,000 renovation of the Jaguars weightroom before the start of the 2003 off season conditioning program. Wayne Weaver has given us the resources to win and Jack Del Rio and his staff have given us their support, Asanovich said. The players have responded and have garnered the results.

Asanovich spent the 1995 season as assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Minnesota Vikings. From 1987 to 95, he was the strength and conditioning coach at Anoka High School (Minneapolis, Minn). In 1984, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State, staying there two years. In 1986 he coached at The Citadel.

Asanovich, 43, has published several articles in his field of study and served as a member of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Health & Physical Fitness. He earned a bachelor's degree in education from St. Cloud State and a master's degree in exercise science from Ohio State.

Asanovich was born May 20, 1959 in Duluth, Minn. He played guard and linebacker at Duluth East High School and attended St. Cloud State.

COACHING BACKGROUND: 1984-85 Ohio State, 1986 The Citadel, 1987-95 Anoka High School (Minn.), 1995 Minnesota Vikings, 1996-2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002 Baltimore Ravens, 2003 Jacksonville Jaguars"

Top 10 Asanovich Quotes

  • 10) "You have to take a look at the paper trail," he says. "It's skewed. Small numbers (of test subjects) were used ... and it tested football players, who were told that at the end of the study, they'd be given a free can of Creatine."
    Discussing the use of studies that shed a positive light on the use of Creatine by athletes.

  • 9) "Over and beyond telling them about the four-game suspension, which is a pretty loud message, the thing you tell them is that when you buy a dietary supplement, you're dealing with a product that's totally unregulated," he said. "It's like buying something on the black market. It may contain an ephedrine-containing product, but it may be something different. It may be totally inert. So we tell them what you're doing is you're playing supplement roulette with your health."
    Discussing the risk of over the counter supplements.

  • 8) "Players that are deconditioned and lack appropriate strength levels are most susceptible to [knee] injuries. However, past injuries, improper training protocols (i.e. Olympic lifting, depth-jumping and other ballistic training protocols), and over trained athletes can also exasperate risk of injury."
    Discussing what may predispose athletes to certain injures.

  • 7) "The fact of the matter is that ballistic resistance training is unproven and/or unproductive at best, and potentially dangerous at worst (especially in prepubescent athletes). Ballistic resistance training, like any momentum-assisted movement, violates the most fundamental principle of strength development, that being, the Overload Principle."
    Discussing the risk vs benefits of ballistic training methods for traditional sport athletes.

  • 6) "As a Strength & Conditioning Coach, it is my job to maximize our players' performance and minimize injuries in a manner that is prudent, productive, practical & purposeful. As such, my recommendation to our athletes is to consistently train hard, rest, eat right and live right. In regards to anything beyond these fundamental principles, I advise them to use their common sense and beware of sensationalized gimmicks/supplements that make hyperbole claims."
    Discussing the stance his organization takes on nutritional supplementation.

  • 5) "Our in-season training or exercises are a direct reflection of our off-season training or exercises. As such, the training protocols that we employ in the off-season are identical to the protocols that we employ in our in-season protocols."
    Discussing the fact that training is training off-season or in-season.

  • 4) "Unfortunately, well-intended (but not well-educated) athletes, coaches, and parents are easy targets for such commercially hyped hocus-pocus."
    Discussing the pitfalls of effective product marketing on eager consumers.

  • 3) "Accepting a risk of injury in training... is unacceptable, unprofessional, and unethical."
    Discussing the role safety should play in strength training.

  • 2) "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."
    Discussing the role safety should play in strength training.

  • 1) "The principle of specificity states that training/practice must BE SPECIFIC to an intended skill in order for skill improvement for 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."
    Discussing the false notion of using the quick lifts to develop better tacklers.


***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the 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.***