As I mess around on the internet I come across a ton of information from a ton of different strength coaches, physical therapists and fitness professionals – a lot of which is absolutely awesome information. On the other hand, I think as professionals we can overlook the obvious every now and again with all the technology and advancements in the field. Here are three thoughts that I feel everyone knows (or should know) that get overlooked and might be helpful to remind people of.
This may be the simplest thought ever, but far too often it gets overlooked because it isn’t very sexy at all. Lets be honest, no one cares how strong you can get with terrible form. If I had to choose between getting strong with bad form or leaving some strength on the table but make sure someone is using excellent form, I’ll leave some strength on the table and take the excellent form. Remember, the CNS controls everything. It is clear that when the body can’t get into the correct position to perform a movement the CNS will see this as a threat and put on the “breaks”, not allowing the body to accept the stress placed upon it as well. Load movements that people can own otherwise you are fighting an uphill battle that the CNS is going to win every single time.
Use Isometric, Eccentric and Cluster Sets
A lot of people forget that there are more ways to get strong then by just adding weight to the bar. Adding tempo to your strength program is not only beneficial in a lot of ways from an athletic performance standpoint, but is also a nice change of pace, challenging, and a nice mental break from lifting heavier weights for the standard sets and reps. Add isometric holds for things like chin ups and barbell bridges. Add a controlled eccentric to benching and squat variations. On your big bang exercises, use clusters to challenge someone to perform more reps with a weight they normally wouldn’t be able to do. At the end of the day the body/CNS recognizes progressive overload and has to recover and adapt from it – I don’t think the body/CNS has any idea, nor does it discriminate as to how that progressive overload is created, it just knows it needs to adapt to the demand that was placed on the body.
When in Doubt Go Simple
I love the field of strength and conditioning because it changes all the time as we learn more about the body and as a result find better or more optimal ways to training to improve performance. The problem is that with all these changes we can find ourselves overwhelmed with all the things that we want to accomplish with our athletes and our programs can become overly complicated. When in doubt, keep things simple. Keep the Dan John philosophy in the back of your mind at all times; do something explosive, push something, pull something, carry something, squat something and perform some type of hip hinge/bridge. That should be the meat and potatoes of the program and everything else is the icing on the cake.