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Stronger Athletes

Safe, Effective Strength Training for Athletes

March 11 "I'm not allowed to comment on lousy officiating." -Jim Finks, New Orleans Saints G.M. 1986

Ballistic Training

Olympic weight-training is often referred to Ballistic Training. StrongerAthletes.com would like to cite more quotes from strength coaches who believe that the quick lifts develop power. It is still believed by ballistic training advocates that the only exercises that are considered explosive are the power clean, hang clean, snatch, power press, clean and jerk etc... StrongerAthete.com maintains that exercises like the squat, bench press are explosive because the athlete has the intention to move the weight quickly towards the end of the set.

An article written by Sean Flanagan in Strength & Health Magazine called "Improve Performance with Ballistic Training," states, "In order to realize one’s true athletic potential in most sports, ballistic training methods must be employed." He continues, "Let’s take a look at why ballistic training methods are so important for the development of power. Scientific studies have determined that maximal power is not developed with maximal force or with maximal velocity, but with an optimal interaction between the two."

StrongerAthletes.com believes that these scientific studies leave out the difference between expressing power and developing power. How can an exercise that does not stress the muscles throughout the set be very productive in developing power?

Flanagan addresses this, "Research has shown as mush as 75% of a movement can be devoted to slowing the bar down." Flanagan is trying to point out that speed reps develops power in a very narrow range of motion so that they hinder power development. He says that this is why moderate to heavy loads should be used to prevent the deceleration of the bar. He then claims that this is why the power snatch or power clean are appropriate exercises to develop power. "After the final pull, the bar is air borne-it is now a projectile. That’s why the last movement of the upward phase is called the catch."

StrongerAthletes.com does not buy this reasoning. Performing speed reps or Olympic lifts do very little to develop power they merely express it. We do not believe this is scientifically sound. Isn't the constant tension on the muscle important? It is a crucial factor in order to train the Type IIb fast twitch muscle fiber. [See Fiber Recruitment.] He calls the snatch and clean a full range of motion exercise before it becomes a projectile. How? The athlete initiates the movement, then momentum takes over. This does not stress the muscles. How can the bar being in mid air develop power? As far as the catch is considered, we believe this is not very safe. [See Potential Injuries.]

Flanagan also concluded that other beneficial options include dumbell jumps releasing them in mid air so the deceleration does not occur. That one really tops it off! Does having 30 athletes training in the weight room doing jumps with dumbells releasing them and bouncing on the floor all over the place sound safe? Besides, that exercise is still unproductive for strength and power development. [See Express vs. Developing Power.]

That being said, it is time that coaches open their eyes and use a logical training approach. Understanding how power is developed is crucial in creating the best program possible for our athletes.

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