10 Random Training Thoughts

Here is a very random post that has 10 different thoughts that have been going through my head. I try to write down as much of the random stuff that goes through my head when it comes to strength and conditioning so I can share it every 4-6 weeks.

1. As a coach, you need to constantly seek out ways to connect with your athletes. Coaching is all about relationships.

2. Athletes that can absorb and distribute forces will be less injury prone then athletes that can not absorb and distribute forces.

3. I wonder how much of the monitoring that is currently going on in the field will be around 10 years from now. All? None? Some?

4. If the exercise doesn’t improve movement or doesn’t make you a savage, then why are you doing it? – Charlie Weingroff

5. Core training should be all about stability, not strength.

6. I really think coaches make medicine ball work too mechanical. Make sure they are throwing med balls as hard as they can, it looks athletic, and they are in a good position. At some point you need to let them be an athlete.

7. If someone’s athletes are healthy, have improvements in sport performance, and their sport coach is happy with them, how can anyone argue with their training program?

8. An epidemic in our profession is that disagreement is negative. – Mike Boyle

9. Understand the sport you are working with. What are the injury concerns related with that sport and be proactive in fixing those issues before they become legitimate issues.

10. Strength and conditioning is not a one size fits all profession when it comes to programming. The movement patterns stay the same for everyone, everyone needs to squat, hinge, push, pull and perform core work, but it doesn’t necessarily be the same exercises. Figure out what works for the person standing in front of you and get really strong in those exercises.

Midweek Reading Material

Happy hump day. Like always, here are a handful of good reads in the world of strength and conditioning over the last week or so.

4 Ways to Improve Training

40 Years and 40 Lessons by Todd Hamer

Get Out of Your Own Way: An Open-Minded Approach to Training Clients by Matthew Ibrahim

My 5 Least Favorite Coaching Cues by Mike Robertson

Random Thoughts on Performance Training by Eric Cressey

Simple Coaching: Using Kinesthetic Cues by Kevin Carr

What Universities Don’t Tell You by Matt Dickens



4 Quick Ways to Improving Training

Here are 4 ways to improve your training program:

Add Carries to Your Training
I admit I am late to the party when it comes to carries. For the longest time I thought they were really overrated but carries can do a lot for core development – and your traps will be screaming at you the next day! Carries like a suitcase carry is basically a walking side plank while something like a goblet carry is a walking front plank. And lets no forget about the benefits that carries can have for shoulder health, which are many. There are a decent amount of carries you can add…try some, you’ll be surprised how effective they are. This last fall I added some type of carry to some teams at New Hampshire and was pleased with the results.

Use Push-ups as Your Major Pressing Exercise
Shoulder issues are pretty common these days yet people continue to bench press heavy and often. Talk about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Try doing some push-ups for your main pressing movement – with a little creativity you can do a lot to make the push up as challenging as a heavy set of benching. Add some chains or weight vests, do eccentric reps, drop sets, max rep sets, the options are endless. Plus, your shoulders will feel better because of it. If you train overhead athletes (baseball, volleyball, swimming) I don’t think benching is necessarily wrong (pitchers probably want to skip benching altogether in my opinion) but I also don’t think you need to bench, making push-ups a great alternative.

Listen to Your Body
Some days and weeks you’re just plain tired. Listen to your body and step off the accelerator a little bit. Using some lighter weights and skipping a tough conditioning session may be better for you in the long haul then beating yourself into the ground. I wouldn’t recommend skipping a session altogether though as something is still better than nothing. Get in, move a little bit, and get out, but listen to your body, it knows better than you!

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
Don’t be scared of change. If you aren’t seeing the results you are looking for, change something. Try a completely different program. Try exercises that you haven’t been doing for quite some time. Maybe you need to start eating a little better? Who knows, but make some changes, it’ll make a difference. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering or completely change a program, just something small. For example, the last couple years smart people have been endlessly talking about the importance of get ups, so I try to do them everyday myself and try to make sure all my athletes do them at least twice a week.

Moving Better is Step One

After recently attending both the FMS Level 1 and Level 2 courses over the last couple months I have a new found respect for movement. Like many, I always thought that improving movement is a worthwhile endeavor, but now more than ever am I convinced that correcting movement dysfunction is the more important thing any strength coach or fitness professional can do.

In case you need any more convincing or even a reminder, here are a handful of reasons as to why movement needs to be focused on in any program.

Performance Enhancement
The best soccer player, hockey player, football player or volleyball player all usually have one thing in common: great movement quality. These athletes have the highest quality of movement, the greatest coordination, and smooth movement quality. What makes LeBron James, Alex Morgan, or Cristiano Ronaldo better then their competition is not that they are necessarily stronger then everyone else, it’s that they move better then everyone else.

The perfect example of this is Kevin Durant who is by no means the strongest player in the NBA, he’s actually far from it. At the NBA combine they ask the potential draft picks to bench press 185lbs for as many reps as possible – Durant was able to manage zero reps, zero! There was a lot of talk about Durant not being strong enough to make it in the NBA, but what people failed to realize was that Durant moved incredibly well. Durant went on to average 20.3 points per game in his rookie year and was named the Rookie of the Year.

KD Movement

Injury Prevention
Great movement quality is also what helps most of these top performers stay healthier then many of their competitors. If you are training hard, whether it be in your sport at practice or in the weight room, you are putting through an incredible amount of mechanical stress on a daily basis. It stands to reason that the better you move, the less mechanical stress you will be putting your body through.

LeBron James is a perfect example of an elite performer that has stayed relatively healthy throughout his entire career. LeBron has played in 987 regular season games in his 13 NBA seasons, an average of 75 games a year. In addition to this, LeBron has played in 196 playoff games over this same time span for an average of 91 games a year – and he’s never had a serious injury in that timeframe.

LeBron Movement

***As a side note, though I am a fan/proponent of the FMS and think there is no better commercial movement screen available, this is by no means a promotion for the system. The point of the photos of both Kevin Durant and LeBron James being screened through the FMS is that their fundamental/functional movement assessed and a baseline established so that measures can be taken to improve their movement if need be. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m not telling you that you need to use the FMS, but I am saying that setting a movement baseline is extremely important. If you have a better system then the FMS, use it.

Improved Daily Life
The way you move can effect the way you feel and how you go through your everyday life. Everyone needs the ability to sit, stand, walk, run, reach, push, pull and many other different movements. Just like an athlete, if you can not perform these movements well you will create more mechanical stress on your body. Just because you aren’t an athlete it doesn’t mean you don’t need to move well. Being able to pick up a child, get in and out of a car or seat, or wrestle with your dog on the floor is something you may take for granted, until you can no longer do it.

Moral of the story; move better. This doesn’t mean we neglect strength training as getting strong makes everything better, just make sure you are getting strong on a solid movement foundation.