What Everyone Can Learn from Tim Tebow

Anyone with a pulse and a television has seen the overwhelming media coverage of Tim Tebow. For better or worse, media outlets like ESPN, TMZ, and the NFL Network have been covering Tebow’s every move while Saturday Night Live is producing some pretty funny sketches about him. Like a lot of people, I have reached the point where it has become a little “over the top” and kind of wish they would take it down a level or two. Nevertheless, anyone that can get beyond the nonstop coverage and peel back a layer or two of Tebow would realize that EVERYONE could learn a lot from this guy.

Make no mistake about it, Tebow is a polarizing figure; people seem to either love him or hate him, with the hate seeming to be outweighing the love. No matter what side people are standing on, they are very passionate about it, with the people that hate him not making any bones about it. The crazy thing is this doesn’t bother Tebow for one second…he takes it in stride. You hear all about how he can’t throw or how some people are sick of him “throwing his religion in your face”, yet it doesn’t bother him. Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears had numerous critical remarks the week leading into the Bears-Broncos game, yet Tebow Tebow told him it was a pleasure to meet him and that he always dreamed about playing against him when they met on the field that Sunday. Moral of the story; Tebow shrugs off all the criticism and negativity like a would be tackler. Tebow doesn’t let other people, with all their criticism and negativity, bring him down. He believes in himself no matter what others say.

As many of the “haters” will tell you, Tebow isn’t the most gifted athlete the world has ever seen. And to be honest, he’s far from it. As a quarterback, he doesn’t have the most accurate arm in the world, nor does he have the strongest arm in the world. Every Sunday when he steps on the field, he isn’t the biggest and strongest guy on the field, nor is he the fastest guy on the field. But Tebow is different because he flat out works harder than everyone else. Tebow possesses a work ethic that is second to none. Back in his days at the University of Florida after a loss to the University of Mississippi, Tebow gave an emotional speech during the post-game media session that has now been immortalized with a plaque outside the Florida Gators football locker room, a speech that sums up Tim Tebow and his work ethic. What separates Tebow from most other people is that he knows his downfalls, knows what he needs to improve on, and then does everything in his power to improve upon it.

Tebow still has a long way to go when it comes to being a great quarterback. Whether Tebow ever becomes a great quarterback is up for debate, but one thing we know is that if he doesn’t end up being a great quarterback it won’t be due to lack of effort. For anyone that believes that hard work beats talent, Tebow should be your poster boy. For anyone that thinks that we should believe in ourselves and not let all the negative people in the world bring you down, Tebow should be your poster boy. You may not like Tim Tebow the football player, but you should love Tim Tebow the person.

Exercises You Should Be Doing: Hang Cleans

Anyone that watches any sporting events on television always hears about how “explosive” a certain athlete is. It may be Troy Aikman commenting on a running back that explodes through the line for a 20 yard gain (think Adrian Peterson) or you may recall hearing Joe Rogan commenting during a fight about how a fighter is so fast and explosive during a takedown attempt (think George St. Pierre). The ability and need to generate explosive strength can be seen in almost every sport, whether it be football or field hockey.

One of my favorite, if not my favorite, exercises to develop explosive strength is the hang clean. I tend to gravitate to the hang clean for a couple of reasons. For starters, the hang clean is a very safe movement compared to other movements that emphasize explosive strength. The other main reason that I prefer the hang clean is because it is relatively easy to teach. Safe and easy to teach, a win-win for any strength coach. And, for what it’s worth the hang clean (Olympic lifts in general) can build one badass physique.

Here’s a quick guide to performing the Hang Clean;

Step 1: Un-racking the Bar

The first step in coaching and executing the hang clean is un-racking the bar. I know this seems obvious, but I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an athlete walk up to the bar, round their back and then lift the bar off the rack or boxes. It’s simple…with a tight, flat back, grasp the bar approximately shoulder width apart and walk it out to the middle of the platform.

Step 2: Proper Starting Position

While standing in the middle of the platform, stand tall with your shoulders back. With the shoulders back, straighten your arms with your wrists curled over the bar. Finally, slide the bar down your quads to the top of the knee while simultaneously driving your hips (butt) back.

Step 3: The Pull

With the bar resting above the knee, perform an explosive jump along with a big shrug all at once. Jump using your hips while simultaneously using your traps to shrug in order to drive the bar towards the ceiling. The bar should be going in a straight line and you shouldn’t be pulling the bar with your arms at all.

Step 4: The Catch

The final part of the movement is the catch. Many athletes literally try to catch the bar with the hands underneath it as if they were going to perform a military press. Instead, catch the bar in the same position as you would if you were going to perform a front squat. Once the bar has reached chest level, allow your hands to rotate around the bar and your elbows to drive under the bar ending in the front squat positioning. It should look something like this:

Putting it all together…

Mastering the Squat

Undoubtedly the squat is one of the most important exercises in a strength training program. It’s been called “the king of all exercises” and exercise scientists, personal trainers and strength coaches have preached that when an athlete’s squat numbers are on the rise, everything else is on the rise…which is all spot on.

Unfortunately, every time I step into a gym I notice two things; people either don’t squat because it is such a taxing exercise and they conveniently leave it out of their program, or people that are actually squatting have terrible form. In one case you’re not getting anything out of the squat and in the other case you’re not nearly as much out of the squat as you should and could be.

Have no fear though; I’m here to save the day. Let’s take a head to toe look at the body in order to master the squat.

Stance/Feet – Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart or even slightly wider with your toes pointed slightly outward. Keep your weight balanced on heels. Keeping your weight distributed so that it is primarily off your toes is essential.

Knees – When squatting, make sure your knees do not pass your toes as well as making sure your knees do not turn inwards during the decent. Remember your knees do not initiate the movement, they flex as a result of hip flexion, so let your hips guide you through the movement. Furthermore, focus on driving your knees out during the movement, not allowing any knee-knocking.

Hips – The hips are the key to the start of the movement. As you begin your decent, push your hips back as if you were preparing to sit in a chair. It is essential to remember that the squat is initiated with the hips, not with your knees. As your hips are leading the decent, your knees will be forced to follow which creates the knee flexion.

Lower Back – Another key to a correct and safe squat…always remember to keep your lower back tight with its natural arch.

Upper Back – Squeeze your shoulder blades together as much as possible. Keep your upper back as tight as possible throughout the entire movement.

Chest – Try to keep your chest as high as possible throughout the entire movement. Having an excessive bend at the waist so that you look like your chest is flat on your thighs is not what you’re looking for. A good rule of thumb; if you can read the logo on your shirt in the mirror while performing the squat then you’re keeping your chest high enough.

Abs/Core – As you being the decent, push your abs out by drawing s big breath and flexing them as if you were preparing yourself to take a punch in the stomach by Mike Tyson.

Elbows – Keep your elbows pointing directly under the bar.

Hands – Squeeze the barbell with an overhand grip. Play around with your hand placement to find what feels most comfortable to you. Some squatters like to take a very wide grip on the barbell while others like a narrower grip.

Head – Many people miss the boat on head placement. You want to keep your head in proper alignment throughout the entire movement. In doing so, when you are at the bottom of your squat you should be looking down at a slight angle. Many coaches will tell you to ‘tuck your chin’ or even try to make a double chin throughout the entire movement.

Now get squattin’!

Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump 1/18

Here’s a few good reads from the last week to keep you busy while trying to get through another productive day at work:

The Recovery Day Workout by PJ Streit 

A very interesting idea by PJ Streit. I have been thinking about adding some foam rolling and stretching to my routine every night before bed to see how it effects my workouts and recovery and this recovery day workout may also be a good idea. It’s also good for the people that want to be in the gym almost everyday without crushing your body with workout after workout.

How to Stick With Resolutions by Sean Hyson

If your like most people you’ve already fallen off the wagon when it comes to your resolutions for the new year. A good read to keep you on track or get you right back on track before you really fall off the deep end.

Box Squat vs Squat to a Box by Tony Gentilcore

Box squatting and squatting to a box both have a role in training in my eyes, learn the difference between the two.

7 Reasons Why Women Should Strength Train by Nia Shanks

The title says it all. For some reason women shy away from strength training because they feel they are going to get big and bulky, while that thought is far from the truth.

Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump 1/11

Here’s a few good reads from the last week to keep you busy while trying to get through another productive day at work:

4 Reasons Everyone Should Squat with Chains by Mike Robertson

Love this one by Mike Robertson. I personally play around with chains and bands every now and again but this year I plan on really having some fun with them in hopes of really getting some of my numbers up.

The Power of A Push Up by Martin Rooney

I’ve become a big fan of push ups lately. For starters, most people can’t do a push up correctly even though they think they can bang out 30 of them in a row. Secondly, you can get creative and load them in so many different ways to continually make them more and more challenging. That being said, this article really has nothing to do with the push up and its progressions, but it’s still a great read.

Five Tips for 2012 Fitness Success by Alwyn Cosgrove

Some straight forward tips to making your 2012 better from a fitness perspective.

My Personal Journey to Hell and Back by Jason Ferruggia

Great read from Jason Ferruggia. Jason went from being on top of his game as one of the best strength coaches around to losing his facility and then becoming one of the best strength coaches in a short time. Real good stuff.

4 Things You Can Do Today to be More Awesome by Tony Gentilecore

Some cool little tidbits that we can all do to make our workouts better and a little more fun, as well as some stretching that we should all be doing daily to move a little better.

Exercises You Should Be Doing: Pallof Press

Since it’s the New Year and everyone and there uncle has the goal of getting that lean midsection – dare I say a six pack – I figured touching on one of the best exercises for creating a solid, lean midsection would be some valuable reading. I could have picked from a handful of different exercise but I have a favorite, an exercise that has some many progressions/options that I tend to gravitate to it a little more…plus it can be really hard if you choose to make it be.

Shockingly you’ll see nothing about crunches, sit ups or whatever the heck people are doing on those “ab machines”. What you will see is a very simple yet effective exercise that anyone and everyone should be doing and an exercise that you can add different variations to in order to make it more difficult as you progress. Enter the belly press.

The belly press is a simple anti-rotational exercise that will scorch your midsection while saving you back issues down the road. And its fool proof…it’s hard to mess it up. Grad a cable set at approximately chest height with a D-handle attached to it. With a slight bend in the knees while standing tall with your chest up, press the cable out by extending your arms and then slowly bring your arms back to your chest. For the visual learners out there, it looks a little something like this:

To kick the level of intensity up a notch you can add isometric holds. Again, this is pretty simple. You perform everything in the same fashion except you literally hold steady when your arms are fully extended for 5-10 seconds.  Again, for the visual learners:

Another little twist we can add to the pallof press would be the overhead version of the movement. Perfect form by Cressey Performance coach Tony Gentilecore:

To make things a little more interesting we can perform the pallof press from a tall kneeling position. The tall kneeling position makes it a little more difficult due to the fact that you are no longer standing, taking any contribution from your legs out of the mix. Again, we can perform this with either the standard pressing or with isometric holds.

We can still take the intensity a little further. This time, instead of standing we can perform the same movement in the ½ kneeling position. Again, we can do this in one of two ways by performing the normal pressing cadence or performing the holds.

Furthermore, we can perform the movement in a split stance position with the same variations as we’ve previously seen. For example, the split stance version with holds:

There you have it, one simple core exercise to help you get that solid midsection. With so many variations this exercise should keep you and your midsection guessing for a while. My recommendation would be to start with the standard pallof press for a couple weeks and slowly work your way up the food chain to the more difficult versions of the exercise. I personally perform a version of the pallof press up to 3 times per week with a couple sets of 5-6 reps for each side.

Motivational Monday – BCS Title Addition

Since the BCS National Championship between Alabama and LSU is tonight I thought it would be fitting to make Motivational Monday a BCS addition.  When it comes to these two teams there are a ton of freaks and many soon-to-be NFL players on each roster but one player stands out: Trent Richardson. Richardson’s work ethic and relentless desire to become the absolute best at every time he steps on the practice field or the weight room shows every Saturday afternoon (or Monday night). Richardson has put up legendary numbers in the Alabama weight room, numbers that probably haven’t opened eyes since Vernon Davis of the 49ers was coming out of the University of Maryland. All this has helped Richardson become a much watch due to his brutal running style (if given the option he would much rather run someone over than run around them and routinely does) as well as helping him finish 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting. The first video is all about Richardson in the weight room and the second video is some highlights from his time at Alabama which shows a lot of his more impressive and brutal runs. And for the record…Roll Tide!!!