Archive for the ‘General Training Info’ Category

Squats? The Answer Is MAYBE

3rd of November, 2017

Morality is contraband in war. -Mahatma Gandhi

Question the importance of squats on any lifting forum on the internet and typically you’ll get back a range of responses from necessary evil to better than sliced bread. Some people love pushing the squat so much they’ll tell you you need to do it if you want a bigger chest or arms. And then a breath or two later explain the principle of SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) without blinking.

Squats, though a good leg exercise for many, aren’t necessarily the best choice for every single athlete that comes through the doors of the weight room. In other words, as we stated in a previous article, We would like to emphasize that there is nothing magical about placing a bar across ones back to develop lower body strength.

Whether or not the squat is the right choice depends on several things:

  1. Does the movement fit the subjects body. Is he 6’10” or 5’10”?
  2. Do you have a safe setup for performing squats? If a power rack is unavailable, do you have competent spotters available? Enough racks or spotters that you can run the team through the lift in a time efficient manner?
  3. Are there prior injuries that need to be compensated for, or that make performing barbell squats difficult? For example, if a players injured shoulder doesnt allow the hand to get back to grip the bar properly, then you should be looking in another direction than the barbell squat for leg and hip strength.

There are various squat machines, leg press machines, hip sled machines, lunge movements and body weight squatting movements that also strengthen your legs as well as squats do and possibly in a safer manner.

Sufficient strength can easily be acquired with movements and methods other than the barbell squat. Many athletes are too tall or don’t have the right lever arms for proper (safe) form in the squat.

I am working with an athlete that has very long legs and a short torso. She cannot squat to parallel without excessive forward lean and struggles to not fall over backwards even then. I quickly ruled out parallel barbell squats as an exercise and have had her working the leg press instead and she is progressing nicely.

In summary, we should be thinking about the athlete, any limitations they have, and how to deliver that athlete a safe, effective, time efficient method of strengthening the legs.

The weight room is a tool for an athlete to utilize to develop strength. It’s how the strength gained in the weight room is utilized by the athlete that matters, not how the strength was gained in the first place.

Don’t lose sight of that.


Don’t Complicate Strength

30th of October, 2017

Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life.  -Tennessee Williams

On my own, I have learned simple is best. Yet, what I read said, complex is best.

There are many reasons strength training isn’t portrayed as simple, but perhaps the biggest is that the simple is not worth as much money as complex.  Arthur Jones and other high intensity advocates had simple programs.  Many of today’s gurus teach a Soviet/Eastern European periodization that factors in the level of the tide, sunrise, moon phase, barometric pressure and the orbit of Halley’s comet.

While those programs can work as well, they work because the body is made to work hard and to follow that work with a period of rest.  I believe a lot of the reason for the pushing of the complex approach is because when you see all the factors that you must (according the the ones pushing the complex) consider,  you are sure to understand why you need to be paying top dollar for this advice, probably need a personal trainer and could never make gains on a simple program. Reminds me of lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Mother”

Momma’s gonna put all of her fears into you.
Momma’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Momma’s gonna keep Baby cozy and warm.

In our case Mother is the excessive periodization faction and their followers. If they told you it was as simple as putting more weight on the bar when you can or doing another rep when you can and changing exercises occasionally you would start to question the worth of the coaching you were buying. The more complicated it is, the easier it is for the coach to justify their existence.

Can it be that simple? The resounding answer is yes, not only can it be that simple, it IS that simple. Look for lifting programs from people like Ken Leistner, Matt Brzycki, Kim Wood and the like. These guys practice the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle. You won’t see a workout called Double Negative Inverse Loading Periodization Protocol, but you just might find some effective workouts that make you stronger, larger and able to perform at a higher level in your chosen sport.

Weak People Are Thieves

7th of November, 2013

I’ve never been to a gym missing a 100 lb dumbbell out of a set, but I’ve been to several missing 5, 10, and 15 pound dumbbells.  Therefore, it follows that weak people are thieves.

When Resistance Cables are Superior to Weights

28th of July, 2013

As you well know, your muscles get stronger to demands of resistance imposed on them. Resistance and only resistance. It does not matter what provides the resistance. Whether it’s a can of soup, a gallon of water, a resistance cable, a weight machine, or a free weight, a log, a barrel of concrete (shout out to Steve Justa) or even your own body weight, it’s just another form of resistance.


The Way of the Weightroom

25th of July, 2013

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

I’m going to depart a bit from the normal training information found here and get a little more philosophical and talk about a philosophy of strength training I’ve developed.  It came about as a result of the process I went through acquiring strength.  It has nothing to do with sets and reps, or how much weight you can handle, rather it has everything to do with how you handle yourself.


Some Good Advice

1st of May, 2013

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” – Albert Einstein

Dr. Ken Leistner wrote an article a long time a ago in Muscular Developement magazine when it wasn’t the supplement circular as it is today.

In the article, Simple Does it and Does IT ALL, Dr.  Ken laid out some gems. (more…)

Conditioning for Baseball Book Review

22nd of June, 2004

June 22 “They say I’m the only catcher they had ever seen whose looks improved when he put on the mask.” -Yogi Berra

Conditioning for Baseball

Matt Brzycki has produced yet another outstanding resource for coaches and athletes this time focusing specifically on baseball. Conditioning for Baseball, co-authored with Pete Silletti and published by Blue River Press (c) 2004, gives coaches and athletes a comprehensive guide for safe and productive strength training.

Just turn on ESPN or open a record book and you will quickly become aware of how important strength training has become in the world of baseball. From a high school coaching perspective it seems that baseball has been one of the last holdouts of the, “Strength training will hurt my game,” mentality. However, most if not all coaches are promoting and encouraging their athletes to develop their strength.

As more coaches begin to adopt strength training into their programs it is important that they find sound and prudent guidance. Too many coaches simply recall what they did as an athlete or what the current home run kings are doing and attempt to mimic those workouts with their kids. Brzycki and Silletti offer coaches a text that address the full gamut of training for baseball including unique elements of training for baseball, flexibility, designing a training program, nutritional information, dealing with an injury and more.

Matt Brzycki brings the expertise of over 20 years as a collegiate coach, instructor and administer with Princeton University and Rutgers University. Along with Conditioning for Baseball, Matt has contributed in nearly forty publications and eight books. Pete Silletti coaches baseball at Princeton University where he was a four-year starter at catcher before having the opportunity to play with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Conditioning for Baseball does a wonderful job in spelling out why specific elements of a training program can do for a baseball player. Each muscle group is explained in terms of how it affects game performance. Also, game specific conditioning drills are also outlined for each position giving coaches the reassurance of efficient training. Provided in the appendix is a sample workout card and sprint routines for the coach to use.

As usual, Brzycki provides an easy to understand chapter on strength development with sections addressing sequence of exercises, technique, and frequency of workouts. Conditioning for Baseball also includes outstanding photo-illustrations of movement instructions. This book allows the coach that wants to do right by his athletes in the weight room to shine. It is not a “workout-in-a-box” as many high school coaches turn to but a path that a discerning coach can follow.

This book is for any strength coach and baseball coach who desired sound coaching information. Conditioning for Baseball and other books by Matt Brzycki can be found at at low prices.

If you have questions or comments about this web site or strength development or training please Contact Stronger Athletes.

The Cincinnati Clinic: Dr. Ted Lambrinides on Nutrition

22nd of March, 2004

March 22 “Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you are made of.” -Jacob Broude

The Cincinnati Clinic: Dr. Ted Lambrinides on Nutrition

One topic that we have not done justice to over these first 3 years is nutrition. We had the privilege of visiting with and listening to Dr. Ted Lambrinides of St. Thomas Moore College on this topic at the Frank Glazier/Mega Clinic earlier this month. Below are various statements concerning his topic. We have put the statements in quotes but they are really from the notes I took from his presentation, not necessarily direct quotes. Enjoy!

Mike Shibinski, Dr. Ted Lambrinides, and Jeff Roudebush at the Frank Glazier/Mega Clinic in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The only mammals that rehydrate themselves at the same rate they dehydrate is the jackass. So, be like the jackass and make sure your athletes are getting water!”

“If you want to get a heads-up on the kids on your team who are at risk of dehydration look at the amount of sweat they produce. Some athletes just sweat more than others. This has less to do with their conditioning than it does their genetics.”

“Placing salsa and chips in your locker room may be the best prevention against dehydration as studies have shown this forces people to drink 4 times as much water. [Lance Armstrong used this when training.]”

“Following a practice athletes should drink 24 ounces/per pound of weight lost.”

“Muscle and Fitness Magazine is commercially targeted at 14 year old boys who think, ‘If I buy this I’ll get laid’.”

“The April 14, 1997 issue of Sports Illustrated has a good article about the use of steroids with athletes.”

“The truth is that not everyone responds to the use of creatine. The athletes with the best chance of responding positively to creatine use are vegetarians. The major side effects of creatine use includes heat intolerance, cramps, water/urine homeostasis, liver and renal dysfunction.”

National Strength & Science Seminar

This summer the National Strength and Science Seminar will be held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota Saturday June 19, 2004. The cost is $60 and includes lunch.

This year’s slate of speakers is outstanding and will no doubt be worth the trip for anyone who is serious about training athletes.

  • Mark Asanovich, Jacksonville Jaguars Mark is the Head Strength Coach for the Jaguars and has previously served with the Ravens, Buccaneers and Vikings. Mark has taught and coached at the high school level until 1994 and was very active in state committees.
  • Ken Mannie, Michigan State University Ken is the Head Strength Coach at MSU and previously at the University of Toledo. Ken has taught and coached at the high school level for 10 years and has published well over 60 articles in national periodicals including a popular column in Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director.
  • Dr. Wayne Wescott, National Adviser Wayne serves as the Research Director for the YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is highly published and is a consultant to numerous national associations and publications. Wayne has also received the Leadership Award from the President’s Council.
  • Other speakers on the agenda include: Luke Carlson-The Prescribed Exercise Center, Steve Rit-Fitness First Personalized Training Studio, Brian Bergstrom-St. Cloud State University, Ryan Carlson-Minnetonka High School, Bennie Litechy-Totino Grace High School, Scott Savor-University of Detroit-Mercy, and Jason Bryan and Jeremiah Jones-The Prescribed Exercise Center

For more information please contact Luke Carlson at (612) 710-3096 or his e-mail address and tell him you read about the Seminar at!

If you have questions or comments about this web site or strength development or training please Contact Stronger Athletes.

Cincinnati Clinic Recap

23rd of February, 2004

February 23 “Winning is the science of being totally prepared.” -George Allen

Cincinnati Clinic Recap

This past weekend we traveled the 9 or so hours from Kansas City to Cincinnati in order to hear two coaches speak on strength, conditioning and nutritional topics. Mike Shibinski is the head strength coach at Princeton High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Coach Shibinski spoke to a room of approximately 50-60 coaches and very diplomatically mentioned that he does not incorporate power clean type movements in his training. As we were sitting in the front we could not see the reaction on the faces of the football coaches in the room. However, judging by the number of questions Mike fielded after the lecture they were paying attention. These guys could not believe power cleans were not being used to train football players.

That was the same feeling we had when we were challenged to take them out of our training practices. “What? Not use the power clean? How are we going to train Power?” A coach sitting next to me said,”Some people believe this and some people believe that.” People, eliminate the word “believe” from your vocabulary in terms of training methods. You believe in God or such. To believe is an element of faith. Strength training is science it either is or it isn’t. Power is not developed by moving fast. Power is a by-product of moving fast.

Mike Shibinski, Dr. Ted Lambrinides, and Jeff Roudebush at the Frank Glazier/Mega Clinic in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Coach Shibinski does an outstanding job of educating the coaches and players he works with. He gave us all a 30 page booklet that he gives to coaches and athletes outlining the what’s, why’s and how’s of Princeton Viking Strength Training. One thing I have observed is that serious strength coaches, olympic or non-olympic are very knowledgeable and work hard to share that knowledge with those around them.

We wondered how many coaches would return for Mike’s second lecture after they discovered his stance on the “secret”, (a.k.a. power cleans). A credit to the football coaches in attendance at this clinic as they chose to come back. In fact they must have brought a friend because the second session had more people than the first!

Mike brought 4 of his athletes to demonstrate various conditioning drills and when I visited with them they were very excited about the work Coach Shibinski was doing with them. We learned a lot and are grateful for coaches like Mike who are not afraid to make a stand for safety in the weight room.

In an upcoming article we will post our comments concerning Dr. Ted Lambrinides’ lecture on Nutritional Supplements.