Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump 5/30

Here are a few good reads to help you get through the work week:

Grill the Guru I: Charles Poliquin by Bret Contreras

This could be a very interesting series of posts by Bret Contreras. Essentially he is going to be calling out other strength & conditioning coaches that he doesn’t agree with and he decided to start with Charles Poliquin. I have to admit, Bret has a lot of interesting points in his post, things that are hard to argue with.

5 Things that Might Surprise You About Our Baseball Strength and Conditioning Programs by Eric Cressey

Eric has become one of the go to guys in the country when it comes to training baseball players so whenever he shares a little info on what he does with his baseball guys, we should all listen…and as usual it is a good read!

BSMPG: Educational Conductivity by Dr. Jeff Cubos

Dr. Jeff Cubos was also in attendance for the BSMPG seminar last week and he decided to share his experience at the seminar as many others have after attending. Good stuff – looks like we all learned a little something.

Preventing Hamstring Injuries in Soccer Part I and Part II by Matt Siniscalchi

Great two part series on helping to prevent hamstring injuries in soccer players, something that happens all to often in that sport. Nothing really earth shattering here, but a lot of good info for someone looking for anyone that works with soccer players.

The Minimalist Guide to Mobility by Roger Lawson

So many people make the HUGE mistake of overlooking both mobility and stability. With all the sitting in a car we do and time sitting behind a computer it is fair to say that everyone could benefit from some basic mobility movements.

Thoughts After Attending the BSMPG Seminar 2012

Going into the weekend I didn’t really know what to expect as this was the first real conference that I had attended with some top-notch strength coaches and rehabilitation specialist from all across the country. I didn’t know how approachable some of these big coaches would be, nor did I know how much they would be willing to share with other coaches. At the end of the day I was very pleased and impressed with the entire conference. Art Horne, Dan Boothby and the entire Northeastern University Strength staff put on an exceptional conference. Here are a few of my thoughts on some of the presenters over the weekend.

Bill Knowles – iSport

Going into this presentation I wasn’t sure how much of it I was going to like or be able to apply. Bill is a rehab specialist that has worked with athletes such as Tiger Woods. At this point in my career I would have to say my knowledge when it comes to rehab is a little behind where it needs to be. Therefore, I was a little worried that the lecture would be “over my head” and a little too advanced for me. Boy was I wrong.

When Bill first started out he mentioned that when we have an athlete going through the rehab process, we have to remember that as a whole the athlete is healthy with one specific area of the body that is injured. For example, if you have an athlete recovering from a torn ACL there are still plenty of things that the athlete can do – the knee is an issue but the rest of the body is still fine.

Another aspect that Bill spoke on was what he called the Return to Competition Stages. The stages went from rehab –> reconditioning –> return to training –> return to play –> and finally return to competition. He suggested that we spend more time reconditioning the athletes and less worry about getting them back to competition as soon as possible as we need to realize that we are trying to rebuild an athlete that will have sustainability and success over the long haul in their sport.

Bill also commented that we as strength coaches need to get the athletes out of the athletic trainers and physical therapists hands and into the weight room as soon as possible. We should first control the swelling and inflammation and work it out of their bodies as quick as possible to start the reconditioning process.

All in all I was very impressed with Bill Knowles. I still have a TON to learn about the rehab process but Bill has started me in the right direction.

Irving “Boo” Schexnayder – Louisiana State University

I have to admit two things when it comes to Boo; one, I didn’t know who he was coming into the seminar, and two, I wasn’t all that excited to see him speak. Come to find out, Boo is a track & field coach at LSU and one of the most well-known speed experts in the country – and had one badass southern accent!

That being said, one thing I feel like I need to work on is understanding how to develop speed in athletes – I mean, there aren’t many aspects of sports that are more important than actual speed, yet my education level and understanding of speed isn’t where it needs to be. Boo spoke for close to two hours on his entire philosophy as well as his training program in order to develop world-class speed.

A couple of things that Boo said really stuck with me. One, you should base your approach on commonalities. Don’t copy a program from another coach, rather find the commonalities that great coaches have in their programs. Second, lower leg conditioning is key. Do a ton of hops and jumps (plyo’s) and do a ton of foot and ankle mobility work – all of Boo’s ankle and foot work he has stolen from ballet.

I can’t believe I didn’t know about Boo before this, but his presentation may have been the best of the entire weekend – I learned more in this two-hour presentation then I have in quite some time.

Andrea Hudy – University of Kansas

When I saw that Coach Hudy was going to be presenting at the conference I knew that I was going to make sure to attend her lecture. I have heard from numerous people that Coach Hudy is a phenomenal coach – which should come as no surprise since she is the only Director of Strength & Conditioning at the Division I level in the entire country – and this is no bottom feeder D-1 school, this is Kansas and she runs the strength & conditioning program for both men’s and women’s basketball while oversee all other sports, including football. Hudy basically calls all the shots. Hudy has been the strength coach for 9 men’s and women’s National Title basketball teams (she was at Jim Calhoun’s strength coach at UConn prior to Kansas) and has produced over 25 NBA players.

That being said, Hudy’s presentation was on both the men’s and women’s basketball strength and conditioning program at Kansas. Hudy didn’t disappoint as she pulled back the curtains and didn’t hide anything – even with some coaches of the arch rival University of Texas basketball strength staff in the room listening to her presentation.

With numerous videos Hudy showed the team’s performing hang clean testing, squat testing as well as other strength test. She explained that though strength is important, her number one goal is to build more powerful athletes and thus focuses more on the speed of movements instead of the actual weight on the bar as well as the various plyometric exercises she typically performs in order to focus on training deceleration. Hudy also explained her year-long training schedule, including both the intensity and volume of the program throughout the year.

All in all, Hudy didn’t disappoint. Maybe more impressive than her presentation was the fact that she took the time to sit and talk to myself and another young strength coach for close to 15 minutes before her presentation – she didn’t ‘big time’ us and wasn’t too busy to sit with two young strength coaches and answer each and every one of their questions.

For anyone interested in how Hudy got to where she is, especially women looking to find themselves in her position some day, here is a great interview and as well as a follow-up article that ESPN did with Hudy within this past year. Andrea Hudy: KU’s Secret Weapon or an article written in the Wall Street Journal The Jayhawk’s Secret Weapon.

Cal Dietz – University of Minnesota

Talk about someone who is excited about his career! Dietz is either one of the most passionate people I have ever come across or he had twelve coffees before he presented. Cal is the Director of Olympic Sports at Minnesota and works specifically with the men’s and women’s hockey teams. Cal’s presentation focused on his overall training philosophy which is quite unique to say the least. Cal’s training doesn’t follow a typical 3 sets of 8 reps – Cal focuses on performing sets for a specific length of time. For example, Cal will have his hockey team bench a certain percentage of their 1RM as fast as they can for as many reps as they can for a 10 second period. Any interesting way to approach training and from the results his hockey players are getting, its working.

Logan Schwartz – University of Texas

Another one of the presenters that I was really looking forward to since he is one of the strength coaches for the University of Texas basketball team and has worked with the likes of Kevin Durant, DJ Augustine and LeMarcus Aldridge amongst many others. One of the most reputable strength coaches in the country is Todd Wright, the Director of Strength & Conditioning for both the Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs at Texas, so hearing what his top assistant had to say was a treat.

I have to say that Coach Schwartz might have been the most animated speakers of the weekend – a real funny guy which made his talk go by real fast. Coach Schwartz didn’t really get into the nitty-gritty and what the program looks like at Texas, but did focus a great deal on the principles in which the program is built around.

Like Coach Hudy, Coach Schwartz explained that at Texas the place more emphasis on the speed of the movement then they do the actual weight/load on the bar as well as a big emphasis on training deceleration. Coach Schwartz explained that the program focuses on three things; #1 is a complete range of motion with all exercises, #2 is the speed of the movement/bar, and #3 is the load on the bar.

A great example that Coach Schwartz used was Kevin Durant. During the NBA Combine Durant was highly criticized by the media and NBA scouts for his lack of strength, not being able to even bench 185lbs. The one thing that the NBA scouts and media didn’t realize was how powerful Durant was, something that was clear to the Texas strength staff. The staff was confident that he would hold up just fine in the NBA because they knew the power Durant had developed – something that they focused on while Durant was on campus and still do to this day.

Overall Take Home Thoughts

  • Don’t worry as much about the amount of weight on the bar and focus more on the speed of the bar – build powerful athletes, not just strong athletes. The strongest athlete doesn’t usually win, the more powerful athlete usually wins. See Kevin Durant.
  • The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Just when I think I am starting to figure things out and becoming a good strength coach, I realize how much I still need to learn.
  • Network and be willing to work your ass off. All these coaches are in positions that I would kill to be in some day and none of them got there by luck or chance. They are all lifelong learners that network with other coaches so that they can continually learn as much as they can. They all started at the bottom, many taking risks by interning just so they could learn from great coaches. Also, many of these coaches have bounced around from school to school, learning from more and more coaches while slowing working their way up the ladder. You can reach the top of this industry, it just takes time and some hard ass work.
  • Deceleration is huge. Athletes don’t get hurt accelerating, they get hurt cutting, changing direction, landing from jumping, and decelerating. Because of this, we as coaches need to focus on training deceleration through plyometric work and single leg work.
  • Strength Coaches in the Boston area are very lucky to have Mike Boyle to learn from. I don’t think we realize how much influence Coach Boyle has had on the entire industry until you hear coaches from all across the country speak. Mike wasn’t in attendance for the conference but his name was mentioned time and time again by other coaches when explaining their training philosophies and when speaking about other coaches that they look up to and look for advice from.
  • Great experience. The people I met were all great with tons of information that they were willing to give up. Art Horne and the entire Northeastern University Strength Staff put on a great seminar and I will be in attendance next year and for many years to follow.

Beating Knee Pain – Part V

In the final installment of the Beating Knee Pain series we are going to take everything we have gone over and put it all together. We will go back to Part II and apply what we learned about tissue quality and mobility, Part III when we spoke about strength training exercises that will help, and finally Part IV when we spoke about single leg training and adding it to our overall strength training program. Hopefully I can put it all together and make it easy for you to finally rid yourself of any type of knee pain.

The first issue we are going to attack every time we get into the gym is tissue quality – and if you want to address your tissue quality on a daily basis I would recommend that. Each time I want you to focus on these areas with your foam roller or lacrosse ball:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hip Flexors
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductors/Groins
  • Glutes
  • IT Band

The second half of tissue work revolves around traditional static stretching. I want you to focus on the same areas as you would with the foam rolling. Spend a solid 30 seconds of static stretching, especially areas like the glutes which tend to be very, very tight in most people.

The tissue quality work should take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, so there is no excuse for you to not do it. If any of these areas are more sore then other areas then focus on that sore area a little longer – listen to your body, if it is sore it needs a little more attention.

Once you have completed the tissue quality portion of the program it is time to move on to the activation portion of the program. Some people would call this activation and others would call this strength work – either way you need to do it before you get to the heavier weights. Sample activation work could include the following:

  • Glute Bridge
  • Clamshells
  • Internal/External Rotation
  • Overhead Squats
  • Band Walks
  • Single Leg Holds

The third issue you need to attack when you get into the gym is mobility. Both hip and ankle mobility should be performed every single day, especially if you currently have some knee pain. If you don’t have any knee pain I would recommend performing mobility at least 3-5 times a week. The areas you need to focus on are:

  • Ankles
    • Standing Ankle Mobs
    • ½ Kneeling Ankle Mobs
    • Band Ankle Mobs
  • Hips
    • Spiderman
    • Forward Lunge
    • Lateral Lunge
    • Rotational Lunge

Once you have reached this point it is time to actually lift some weights. This is where I feel you can have a little more say in what exercises that you actually perform. I would simply recommend someone pick a bilateral knee dominant movement, a bilateral hip dominant movement, and then both a single leg knee dominant movement as well as a single leg hip dominant movement. In Part III we covered bilateral movements and in Part IV we covered single leg movements.

Putting It All Together – A Sample Program

Tissue Quality

Foam Roll

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Hip Flexors

Static Stretch

  • Hamstring
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Hip Flexor

Activation

  • Glute Bridge – 2 x 10 seconds
  • Band Internal Rotation – 1 x 10 each
  • Band External Rotation – 1 x 10
  • Band Overhead Squat – 1 x 10
  • Band Walks – 1 x 10 each way
  • Single Leg Holds – 1 x 10 seconds each

Mobility

  • 2-Way Wall Ankle – 1 x 8 each way, each ankle
  • Forward Lunge – 1 x 6 each
  • Lateral Lunge – 1 x 5 each
  • Rotational Lunge – 1 x 3 each
  • Spiderman – 1 x 60 second hold each

Strength Training

  • Front Squat – 3 sets of 4-6 reps
  • RDL – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Single Leg Swiss Ball Leg Curl – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Front Plank – 2 x 30-45 seconds
  • Side Plank – 2 x 20-30 seconds each side

There you have it, a simple approach to overcoming knee pain. I hope in this five part series that you have a better understanding of why knee pain can arise and have a relatively good idea on how to approach overcoming the issue. I have seen many athletes improve their knee quality through a program very similar to this, whether they are coming off of serious knee injuries like an ACL tear or experiencing typical knee pain without any serious injury – hopefully the same can hold true for you!

Things to Read to Get You Over the Hump 5/23

Here are some great reads from the last week as well as some great videos to help you get through the work week:

Awesome Fitness Videos for Your Viewing Pleasure Take 82 by Ben Bruno

Every week Ben Bruno puts together a list of videos from the fitness world over the course of the previous week. Here is this weeks version.

75 Ways Deadlifting Just Plain Rocks by Dean Somerset

Title says it all. Deadlifting does rock, if done correctly. Here Dean puts together 75 reasons as to why he believes deadlifting rocks.

Muscle Strengthening Doesn’t Fix Form; Motor Control Training Does by Bret Contreras

This is a must read for any strength coach, personal trainer, or physical therapist. This read is great for someone like myself that is starting to really dig into the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) as it touches on some of the most basic yet overlooked principles when it comes to movement patterns.

7 Simple Ways To Become a Better Coach by Tony Gentilecore

Title says it all…wanna be a better coach, read this.

8 Exercises You Can’t Go Wrong With

Trap Bar Deadlift

Wanna get strong? Load up a trap bar and start pulling. In general I don’t have any real issue with straight bar deadlifting, but I think you can get just as much bang for your buck with less concern for an injury with the trap bar. Unfortunately I don’t think many people have the mobility and flexability to get into the correct position to perform a traditional straight bar deadlift so I would like to see people gravitate to the trap bar more often.

Push Up

The push up is one of those classic exercises that is always overlooked and underappreciated. It seems like these days all people want to do is bench press, but I would argue you can see some very comparable results from the push up with less risk of injury. You can get really creative and load the push up with some heavy weight to really push yourself (pun intended).

Front Squat

Some people are going to say that because I work for Mike Boyle that I am just toeing the company line on this one, but that’s not the case. Over the years I have made my way from all back squat, to 50/50 back squat and front squat, to all front squat – and for one reason; it made my back happy. I am not built to back squat. I have an excessive forward lean and turn it into a squat/good morning rolled together. The front squat keeps me upright otherwise my only option is to dump the weight. Its become a staple for me.

Chin Up

When it comes to upper back development look no further than the chin up. It’s a basic, nuts and bolts exercise, yet not many people can perform more than 1-2 legit chin ups. I have a feeling most people overlook it because it isn’t flashing and it’s somewhat “boring” but really grind away at these for a couple months and let the results speak for themselves.

Farmer Carry

It doesn’t take a genious to perform some carries. Grab something really heavy in each hand and walk with it. it’s a great core workout, a great grip workout, and a great trap workout. And to top it off, it’s one heck of a mentally challenging exercise if you really push yourself.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

I don’t care who you are, single leg training is a must. I don’t care if you want to perform the rear foot elevated split squat with one dumbbell, two dumbbells, goblet, front squat, or back squat – it’s all good in my book. Hammer away at these and watch your weights shoot up on traditional two leg squatting movements.

Single Leg RDL

I don’t care who you are, single leg training is a must (I feel like I’m repeating myself). The rear foot elevated split squat is a great knee dominant single leg movement and the single leg RDL is my favorite single leg movement for the posterior chain. Again, I don’t care if you use dumbbells or a barbell, just do it.

Hang Clean

I’m a huge fan of some explosive training. I am also a huge fan of the dumbbell snatch. However, too many people have shoulder issues, whether they know it or not, so I prefer the hang clean. Unless you have wrist issues, I don’t see any problem with someone loading up the bar and doing some hang cleans two times a week – I do.

Beating Knee Pain – Part IV

We are now up to Part IV of the Beating Knee Pain series. In Part I we focused on the basics when it comes to knee pain and some of the fundamental issues that tend to cause knee pain. In Part II we talked about tissue quality and mobility work. Finally, in Part III we started to look at some of the strength training exercises that would be beneficial in reducing knee pain.

In Part IV we are going to take the strength training to the next level. In Part III we focused only on bilateral (2 leg) movements. As important as bilateral movements are, it’s time to take our strength training to the next level. Now we are going to focus on single leg strength – a huge component to proper knee health.

Before we start, I am going to warn you that these exercises are much harder to perform then your typical bilateral exercises that you are used to. However, learning how to perform these movements properly is vital to improving your knee health.

The Glutes

The Hamstrings

The Quads

Next week in our final installment of the series I am going to tie everything together. In doing so I am going to put together a couple different strength training programs for you to use if you are battling knee pain currently or just want to continue to train pain free and stay healthy.