Archive for the ‘Dear Stronger Athletes Q&A’ Category

Dear StrongerAthletes: Compound vs Isolation Movements and the Deadlift

5th of April, 2004

April 5 Not by might nor power but by my spirit says the Lord Almighty.” -Zechariah 4:6

Dear StrongerAthletes: Compound vs Isolation Movements and the Deadlift

Dear Coach, I would like to talk about compound vs. isolation movements. I know that you feel that machines are safer (and they are), and, despite the principle of specificity, I believe that compound movements are more functional to sports. Functional strength is what you need in sports. Squatting may not be tackling, but they do both use similar muscles, meaning the hips, thighs, and back. Throwing involves the hips, legs, arms, back, and shoulders. You can see where I’m going.

Also regarding the specificity principle, while lifting will not make you a better player, it does increase your athletic potential on the field as long as you use your newfound strength in conjunction with sports related skills. For instance, in the example I used above, squatting isn’t tackling, but it does increase your overall potential to become a better tackler, because your muscles will be more receptive to higher impacts.

Also, What’s your viewpoint of how deadlifting should be done? Do you think you should just touch the bar to the floor and go up, or do you think a reset is okay? Or is it a comfort thing, like the stance? Personally, I like the reset method better, especially if I use heavier weights in the 6-10 range. I don’t slam the weight on the way down, nor do I use momentum going up, so I feel I’m still executing an efficient movement. I just feel that holding the bar the whole time puts unnecessary stress on the lower back. Also, resetting allows you to reposition your hands if they slide a bit, and it allows you to get in proper form again. I think it helps incorporate the legs better, too. I feel that either way will still stimulate trap and lower lat development.

Also, what “goes out” first when deadlifting properly? For instance, if you’re doing a bench press, your shoulders or triceps might be exhausted before your chest muscles. When deadlifting, what exhausts first–your legs or some part of your back?

I think when it comes to teaching kids how to deadlift, no matter how they end up actually doing it, I think you should make sure they reset early on. I think this forces them to monitor their technique at all times. Plus, it keeps the tension off their lower back, which isn’t always fully developed in adolescents or young adults. Also, I think it gives a better gage of their strength, because there’s always a fine line between touching the floor and bouncing off the floor.

When I said I reset, I don’t really mean I start over. I still have the bar. I just get myself in position to do another pull in correct form. There are so many things that go wrong with the deadlift, that I want to make sure that I’m ready for that next rep. And those mistakes aren’t always injuries. It can make you more inefficient. If I don’t wear wraps, my hands slide all over the place, and I end up off balance. If I reset, I can get my body in better position to get a couple more reps, and they’ll be in better form.

Jay Tusch

In regards to your comments about isolated movements versus compound movements, yes what you say is true, however, we also will give credit to isolation movements as they increase strength which also aids the athlete in performance. We are still squat advocates and prescribe several compound movements to our athletes. (more…)

Dear StrongerAthlete: More Common Sense

2nd of February, 2004

February 2 “To believe in something and not live it is dishonest.” -Ghandi

Dear StrongerAthlete: More Common Sense


(APPLAUSE)……..WELL DONE! Great website. How refreshing it is to see something like this, considering the internet is littered with opposing viewpoints, opinions/theories and flat out misinformation. With regards to Olympic style lifting for athletes, plyometrics, Swiss balls, various “quickness enhancing” drills, and other gimmicks many coaches use to enhance athletic ability, you guys are RIGHT ON 100% with your articles.

I am a Certified Athletic Trainer who also “specializes” in the training of athletes. I currently practice/teach sports medicine at the high school level as well as work at a health club and I do several yearly public speaking (local) engagements on these very topics. I literally had to do a double take when I came across this website and started reading your articles. The articles are pretty darn close word for word to what I lecture about and have been for the last 6 years.

I was a college football player/track athlete and was brought up on the Olympic style/plyometric philosophy (I didn’t know any better at the time and trusted my strength coaches that this was the safest, most effective way to train). It wasn’t until I went through a formal education program and did a lot of research in Exercise Phys/Kinesiology and studied motor learning that I “converted” and started doing just the opposite, so to speak, of that style of training.

I just simply cannot understand what part of “not transferable”, “violation of specificity” and “overload principle” many strength coaches do not understand (especially the ones that claim to have an educational background in some exercise science field)! It seems that no matter what research I provide and how credible it is, many coaches choose to not go for it. I guess its either pure ego, lack of common sense or just plain old being stubborn.

As you probably would agree, it is very frustrating and also very hurtful for athletes who are often caught in the middle. I admire your ability to remain calm, cool and collective in your articles having to continually explain the same things over and over again. Then there is the safety issue. Even if all those “explosive” movements did work and they did make athletes more explosive, the safety issue alone should deter any coach from recommending them to their athletes (especially the skeletally immature ones). But, they don’t work as advertised…and as you have stated many times, elegantly at that, the only thing doing power cleans will make you better at is…power cleans! Trying to get people to believe that explosiveness, balance, quickness/agility are all TASK and SKILL SPECIFIC is one of the most difficult things to do, in my experience anyway.

Great informational site here and I have book-marked it to use as yet another very credible resource for all the “non-believers” out there. Thanks and I look forward to future conversations and dialog with you guys.

Dan Davenport


Dear StrongerAthlete: Help Me Understand Your Thoughts on Olympic Lifts

13th of January, 2004

January 13 “The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder-a waif, a nothing, a no man.” -Thomas Carlyle

Again, we have gone way too long without a post. Please forgive. Today’s is a good one though and we have removed the name of the author because of the sensitivity of the issue. However, we believe this is just another example of how people with different backgrounds can have open diologue. (more…)

Applying Safe Principles to High School Programs

26th of November, 2003

November 26 “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” -Galatians 6:7

Applying Safe Principles to High School Programs

Its been nearly a month since our last post. We apologize to those of you who check back on a regular basis. The end of October and early November was a season of mixed emotions for us. Our team clinched a conference title, defeated a rival opponent in a high-profile game, clinched a district title, finished the regular season 10-0… and then lost in a first round playoff game. While it was an outstanding season for our players we all felt that it ended too early. We wish success to our opponent who will play for the Missouri State Championship this weekend. (more…)

Dear StrongerAthletes: Sport-Specific Training

22nd of October, 2003

October 22 “If you are killing time, it is not murder, it is suicide.” -Lou Holtz

Dear, I understand your stance on the principle of specificity, that you cannot directly better a specific sports skill (hitting a baseball, throwing a football, tackling, shooting foul shots) by doing a particular lift (i.e. the belief that doing power cleans will make you a better tackler because you’re more explosive).

However, couldn’t you argue that lifting can supplement sports skills? For instance, if a defensive lineman works hard to improve his hand strength by doing forearm and grip work, he will be better at shedding blocks as long as he couples his new strength with his line techniques.

Secondly, about your June 17, 2003 article on a sample workout, it sounds like you used that program for all of your athletes. But don’t certain sports emphasize different muscle groups. Actually, many positions in a sport may require different muscles. A pocket quarterback will want to build his back and shoulders, so they’re more responsive to getting smashed by linemen. A wide receiver will want to work on his hand strength for catching, and he will work his legs more so they will be responsive to building speed and acceleration. -Jay Tusch

Jason, Thanks for your comments.

First we think you are on the right track with grip strength for defensive linemen. Hands are a very important part of the teaching progression at that position and therefore any additional hand strength will aid the player at that position. That logic should apply to all positions regardless of type of player: a stronger player is a better player.

The drop-back QB would be better served to work on a quick release and skilled associated with passing or sack avoidance, not necessarily altering his workout from that of the option QB.

Thanks for your comments and good luck to you.

Dear StrongerAthletes: Quick Lifts and Muscle Fiber Recruitment

30th of September, 2003

September 30 “I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” -Muhammad Ali

What follows is what we consider mature dialog on the controversial topic of the use of quick lifts and athletic training. While we at maintain that the use of these lifts are unnecessary for the training of traditional sport athletes one could generate some uses for them if they are willing to accept the risk associated with them. We will use safety as our guiding light and acknowledge that there are safer, more efficient ways to train the fast-twitch fibers. (more…)