Here are a few random thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head the last couple weeks.
When It Comes to Programming, Simplicity Trumps Complexity
With all of the information out there it is very easy to feel like you aren’t getting everything into the program that you need to. Did you do enough tissue quality work? Enough activation? Plyo work? Power and strength? When it comes to programming, keep it simple and make it simple. Whether we like to admit it or not, most of the athletes we are working with at the college level are not advanced. Simple, solid programming will work wonders for them. If you have an hour with a group, the first half hour should be dedicated to foam rolling, stretching/mobility work, activation, a dynamic warm up, and some plyo work. The second half hour should be dedicated to power and strength work. As Dan John advocates, push something, pull something, hinge, squat, carry and core. If you don’t have an hour, cut back on the first half hour block, the power and strength work is more important.
Eric Cressey wrote a great article about this the other day, which you can read here, that I agreed with 100%.
Core Training and Conditioning Need to Be Planned Just Like Anything Else
Far too often I think core training becomes an afterthought. The more I learn, the more I realize that core training is extremely important and needs to be approached with the same importance that is put on the big lifts. There are so many core “buckets” that need to be filled: anti-extension, anti-rotation, chops, lifts, carries, get ups. All of these categories need some type of progression and/or regression, just like any other pattern you would program.
The days of throwing some core exercises at athletes at the beginning or end of a workout to get a big “burn” needs to end. Put some thought into it, your athletes will benefit greatly from it in competition.
Just Like the Core, Conditioning Needs More Attention
As strength and conditioning coaches, we spend tons of time trying to progress athletes properly throughout the year when it comes to the big lifts, but spend little time thinking about long term conditioning progressions. One of the biggest takeaways from Joel Jamieson’s fantastic book Ultimate MMA Conditioning was that we need to both condition year-round and there needs to be a focus on the type of conditioning we are doing at specific times throughout the year. The other huge takeaway is that aerobic training isn’t dead, but that’s for another time.
Stick With Exercises Longer
The best way to get better at something is to continually practice it, so why would strength training be any different? As fun as it for us as strength coaches to change exercises from card to card, by doing so we may be doing our athletes a disservice. For example, going from bench press, to close grip bench, to incline bench might not be what’s best for an athlete. By the time they start getting efficient at the movement, it gets changed. Sticking with one however, might be more beneficial for long term development. Far to often I feel we as strength coaches make changes to programs because we are tired of certain exercises, not that changing them would be more beneficial to our athletes.
Get Ups and Dead Bugs Are Becoming Some of my Favorite Core/Activation Exercises
The more get ups and the more dead bugs I do the more I feel there are extremely beneficial for athletes to be doing, maybe daily. I am more apt to use dead bugs as an activation exercise at the beginning of a session where I am more apt to throw get ups somewhere into the strength program as some active work between sets of a multi-joint exercise. That being said, I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to where you should program either one of these exercises.
For anyone interested, Tony Gentilcore wrote a great article of the benefits of dead bugs here.