Safe Effective Strength Training for Humans
May 1 "If you cannot power
clean you cannot be a good shot putter. -Name Withheld (We use this
quote mockingly! We love to receive e-mails from our readers regardless
of their stance on a safe, productive and efficient training program,
however, please think about what you are saying before you say it!)
[Please see our April
26 post for more information on this statement.]
[We are posting a photo of this week's mystery guest to help you
out. Coach Bryzcki already got the right answer so we feel that its
O.K. to post the picture now. However, he wasn't so sure of himself
this time as he followed his answer with, "I think."]
"This week's mystery guest is not a strength coach. He "played
linebacker and tight end as a senior for Oceanside High School. He
earned CIF San Diego Section defensive player of the year, all-state
and USA Today All-USA honorable mention as well as North County and
Avocado League offensive player of the year. He was named to
California's All-Academic team with a 3.6 GPA. "
"After nine NFL seasons, many experts consider our mystery guest to
be the best linebacker in football today. He has started 140 of 141
regular season games during his career, and is averaging 119.8 tackles
per season. He can bench press 500 lbs. (No that is not a
typo, 500.) He has been named to nine consecutive Pro
Bowls.As a pro player, he established a charitable organization
designed to benefit local San Diego youth programs. In 1994 he was
named the True Value Hardware NFL Man of the Year. "
"n 1997 his bar & grill was voted "Best Sports Bar" by the San
Diego Restaurant Association. And he trains in a Non-Olympic
**Note** Much of this bio was taken from another web
site. We will give credit on Friday.
Conducting A Test
One of our readers suggested that we write about controlled tests
to gain an understanding of these issues in which are discussed here.
We know that any test or such, controlled as it may be, would not be
conclusive of anything other than speculation. However, we have
discussed this idea with other coaches in our high school. We came up
with a premise to test our athletes over an 8-week summer school
strength training class.
Knowing some problems exist in its design, we have laid out our
original idea of an experiment below. Following our proposal is an
evaluation by Tom Kelso, Strength Coach at the University of Illinois
Chicago. We would like to thank Coach Kelso for his input and gladly
accept others to evaluate it as well. Please keep in mind that we
understand this project's limitations and only proceed for the sake
of putting our philosophy to the test, not to declare a "winner" or
- Objective: To test in-coming high school freshmen on
power development through the comparison of Olympic and non-Olympic
- Testing Methods: The athletes will be tested in the vertical
jump using an electronic jump pad. They will be tested on Day 1 and the
last day of the 8-week summer program. Both groups, Olympic and
non-Olympic, will be allowed to practice 5 jumps on the pad per
- Group Selection: The groups will be selected randomly. Half
will be assigned to an Olympic lifting program and the others to a
non-Olympic lifting program.
- Training Protocols: Both groups will use the following
exercises (which were suggested by all coaches involved, not just
StrongerAthletes.com staff): Squat, Deadlift, Bench, Straight
Leg Deadlift, Dips, Pull-ups, Shoulder Press, Practice jumps, as well
as work through a conditioning program. The Olympic Lifting
group will also perform Hang Cleans and Power Press movements.
- Hypothesis: It is projected by StrongerAthletes.com
that there will be no significant difference between the Olympic and
non-Olympic groups. This would defend our stance that using the Olympic
lifts to develop power is misleading. Again, we understand that an
experiment of this sort with the limited numbers and limited time frame
would, in fact, prove nothing, yet we conduct it nonetheless. We
are prepared to come to the conclusion that Olympic movements may
contribute to developing power should that group show significant gains
in the vertical jump when compared to the non-Olympic group.
Coach Kelso responds, "INTERESTING SITUATION.......HERE IS MY TAKE
ON THIS (AND SUGGESTIONS):
- 1. It sounds like [you want to determine if] doing a power
and/or hang clean -- or other Olympic lift/variation of it -- is
superior to simply leg pressing, squatting, or dead-lifting with
slower-moving, yet more fiber-recruiting movements. Try to [explain to
other coaches on your staff] on the fact that you can actually recruit
more muscle -- especially the type II fibers -- by using heavier and
naturally slower moving resistance's and working to muscular fatigue
(many coaches don't understand this, or refuse to believe it because it
doesn't "look the part.") It's a proven fact -- and a governed by basic
laws of physics -- that a relatively heavy weight cannot move
relatively fast (if it does, it is still relatively "light' for the
lifter!), but it creates more tension, thus potentially overloads more
muscle fibers (read: more type II) when worked to muscular fatigue.
- 2. The ability to vertical jump well is skill-dependent.
Furthermore, are you using the old-fashioned method of jumping up
against a wall?...the Vertec device?.....the Just Jump pad? Whatever is
used, naturally it would need to be done for a number of trials (i.e.,
5+) to get a good idea of an athlete's ability.
- 3. If you were able to get legitimate, reliable pre-test
results, I firmly believe you could prove that there are safer,
more efficient alternatives available by doing the following
- **** 2 groups: 1 x Olympic lifts only and 1 x squat, leg
press, and/or dead lift only (I think trap-bar dead lifts would be
great for this experiment).
- **** Train for progressively for 8 to 10 weeks with each group
doing only their respective lift(s). In other words, the Olympic lift
group could not squat, leg press, or dead lift -- nor could the
squat/leg press/dead lift group do any Olympic lifts.
- **** Both groups would have to be exposed to the same conditioning
program to account for any "outside" influences. They could
BOTH PRACTICE vertical jumping or BOTH NOT PRACTICE jumping.
Naturally, if one group practiced the skill of vertical jumping, it
would influence the post-test results.
- **** Bottom line: Provided the non-Olympic lift group were to
progressively increase strength via the squat, leg press, and/or dead
lift -- whether or not they practiced the vertical jump -- they would
improve their ability to generate force (strength) in an "explosive
muscular display" just as well as (if not better than) the Olympic lift
- **** The Olympic lift group would also likely improve provided they
trained progressively (added weight and or reps). Lifting "faster" by
nature lessens muscular tension, but can create some overload if done
to muscular fatigue. Thus, the Olympic lift group could increase
strength in as much as the faster movement speed creates muscular
tension. This, in turn, would also help to improve
- **** HOWEVER, THE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED WITH RELATIVELY
"FAST" SPEEDS OF EXERCISE MOVEMENT IN THE WEIGHT ROOM ARE THREE-FOLD:
- 1) Unquestionably
a greater risk of soft tissue injury due to greater accelerative forces
that need to be dissipated/absorbed by the body. Not necessarily
immediate/measurable injuries, but injuries resulting from the
long-term wear-and-tear of ballistic exercises.
- 2) An inefficient means of creating tension/recruiting
muscle fibers. Excessive momentum decreases muscular tension
(laws of physics) and consequently optimal muscle fiber
- 3) Perpetuates the myth that sport-skill specificity can be
improved by either "moving fast with a weight" or attempting to mimic a
skill or segment of that skill.
Coaches, at this time we are still undecided if we are going to put
a experiment proposal into effect this summer. However, we wanted to
share this idea with you and encourage you to play around with the
idea. Let us know what you come up with, we would love to share them
with our readers.