Sep 17, 2011

Jim Bryan's New Site

Jim Bryan, long time strength training enthusiast and trainer, all around good guy and friend of ours has updated his site. In case you are not aware of who Jim is, here is a little bit of his bio from his site.

"Jim Bryan. 50 years of experience and Certified by National Federation of Professional Trainers and Accredited by NCCA/NOCA. Author of dozens of articles for print and online Fitness, Strength, and Conditioning magazines. Contributor to" Check out Jim Bryan's Strength Department

Sep 16, 2011

Joe DeFranco on Olympic Lifts for Athletes

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards.  -Benjamin Franklin

Joe Defranco over at answers questions from his readers. This one caught my eye. Specifically and athlete asks him about the importance of Olympic lifts for training athletes.
Q: First of all, great site coach! Strength and Conditioning is a passion of mine and here in CT, I wish more of us shared the same passion. Anyways, I had a quick question for you about lifting for football. I play OLB at Central Connecticut. I see most schools are very in tuned to using Olympic lifting as a large part of their strength programs. From your site, I see that you don’t use any Olympic lifts like cleans, snatches or jerks. But I also see that your athletes are ANIMALS! Just curious on your thoughts. Keep up the good work and any info you could give me would be great.

A: Brian,
You are correct; I do feel that the Olympic lifts are highly overrated. Yet, you are also correct in that most of our athletes are ANIMALS! How could this be? Aren’t the Olympic lifts the best way to become “explosive” and athletic in the weight room? My answer is an emphatic, “No!”

See the entire article here at Joe's site.

In his answer he goes into the technique required to properly execute the lifts and the weaknesses most athletes have that keep them from excelling from the lifts and finally talks about the most bang for the training buck.

in another answer Mr DeFranco writes:
I've discussed my stance regarding hang cleans and power cleans many times before on this website. Simply put, I don't feel they are necessary for any class of athlete (with the exception of Olympic weightlifters).

One of the reasons I feel coaches believe that cleans are making their athletes "explosive" is because they focus their attention on the barbell, instead of focussing on the athlete during the lift! The barbell bounces around and the weights make loud noises, so everyone thinks something "explosive" is happening! Unfortunately, the only things usually "exploding" are the athlete's lumbar spine, patella tendons and the tendons and ligaments that support their wrists!

Later in the same article
The final "clincher" for me this past year was when THREE separate Division 1 college football players entered my program with surgically-repaired wrists due to the "catch" phase of this exercise! All three of these athletes were forced to do hang cleans during their college careers and now their training will be negatively effected forever. FYI, two of the three athletes are now in the NFL and have to deal with an injury that was 100% preventable if their coaches would have provided them with safer, more logical, exercise choices!

So there you have it, straight from someone who knows something about Olympic lifts and training athletes.

In all fairness Mr. DeFranco does use methods we don't endorse such as explosive movements with other lifts. But he darn sure doesn't leave any ambiguity to the usefulness of olympic lifts in an athlete's training program. Useful - like tits on a turtle.

Sep 15, 2011

Stability Balls Are Unsafe for Strength Training

“I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.”  -A. Whitney Brown

That's one conclusion to be drawn from this posting. Francisco Garcia was injured in 2009 when a ball he was balancing on while lifting burst.

In the article the Sacramento Kings are seeking to recover several million in damages. This is certainly understandable from the perspective that they did suffer damages because their player was injured and could not perform. The Kings owner has smartly prohibited the use of stability balls in his athletes training protocol.

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to realize that sitting on something soft and inflatable and trusting it not to pop is always a safe bet. In fact we talked about such nonsense a long time ago. A long time, as in nearly a decade ago.
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 and we do not condone these activities.

Of course back then they were called Swiss balls. The term stability ball hadn't come into vogue and "core" training was just taking off. How in the world did we ever train athletes before stability balls and "core" training techniques were invented.

So let's take this to the high school level. Instead of a professional athlete getting injured, we've got a varsity stand out that gets injured. He doesn't have access to the best rehab available. He could miss out on an opportunity at a scholarship or more because he misses his senior year. More than that he misses out on the camaraderie of his fellow team mates and winning and losing and growing together.

Even if there were concrete benefits to this type of training, of which there are NONE [excellent article by George Chen of Stanford University], the price one may have to pay for such benefits is too high. The fact that there are no benefits makes the practice of strength training on a stability ball all the more troubling.

I see the same thing in commercial health clubs. Personal trainers with multiple "certifications" all in the guise of standing out -- being unique in the quest for clients, have 50 year old men balancing on stability balls doing dumbell presses. Congratulations, personal trainer, on taking an excellent exercise and making it less effective and adding the element of severe injury in the mix.

Strength coaches are a cut above personal trainers at ACME health club. It's time to start acting like it and get rid strength work on stability balls. It's ineffective and dangerous.


***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.***