Midweek Reading Material

Here are a handful of good strength and conditioning reads from the last week or so.

Circuits When Pressed for Time

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat vs. Back Squat by Michael Boyle

Can Exercise Inhibit Cancer? by Michael Boyle

My 5 Biggest Core Training Mistakes by Mike Robertson

7 Truths About Strength Training by Jim Wendler

The Importance of Hip Internal Rotation for Acceleration & Deceleration in Athletes by Trevor Rappa

Enjoy!

Circuits When Pressed for Time

A lot of times when it comes to training I find myself not having a heck of a lot of time to get things accomplished, which I would assume is something that most people can probably relate to. In times like this, we have a couple options; call it a day and move on, or make the best of things and do something productive.

I’d recommend option two.

Enter what I like to call functional circuits. These circuits keep me moving at a decent pace and also allow me to get a decent amount of work done in a very short time frame. I get all aspects of a quality and well rounded training program, from activation through strength training and even some aerobic conditioning due to the continuous movement.

Here’s what a typical circuit day would look like;

Activation Circuit (2x each)
• Cook Hip Lift x10 seconds each
• Lateral Band Walks x10 each way
• Supine Band Hip Flexor x10 seconds each
• Tall Kneeling Band Pull Apart x15
• Floor Slides x10

Mobility Circuit (1x each)
• 1/2 Kneeling T-Spine Rotation x10 each
• Wall Ankle Mobs x10 each
• Shoulder CARS x5 each
• Split Squat x5 each
• Lateral Squat x5 each
• Rotational Squat x5 each
• Reaching SL RDL x8 each

Core Circuit (1x)
• Front Plank x30 seconds
• Side Plank x20 seconds each
• Body Saw x8
• Tall Kneeling Anti-Rotation Press x8 each

Bodyweight Strength Circuit A (3 sets of 5 each exercise)
• Push Up
• 1-Leg Squat (pistol)
• Chin Up
• Slide Board Leg Curl

Simple and effective. A full program, from top to bottom, that will take you all of 30 minutes. This allows you to get something done even when you are in a crunch for time. Doing something like this on a daily basis won’t get you looking like The Rock or put you on the cover of Men’s Health anytime soon, but sometimes our busy lives require us to get in and out of the weight room quickly. Punch the clock and move on.

Random Thoughts

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.

KISS

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.

palloff press

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.

deadbug1

For anyone interested, Tony Gentilcore wrote a great article of the benefits of dead bugs here.

Simple Recovery Strategies

Anyone that trains hard and often will preach to you about how important recovery is from session to session. As fun as it is to beat yourself up each day in the weight room or on the field, you need to do something to turn the ship around for the next days workout, practice, or competition. Here are a few quick and simple ways to help promote recovery from day to day.

Foam Rolling

As simple and as obvious as it is, spending more time on a foam roller will do wonders in making you feel a little better and recover faster, yet many people don’t spend enough time foam rolling. Training hard creates trigger points and knots within your muscles, knotting your muscles up and making foam rolling a somewhat painful experience at times. Spending 5-10 minutes a day on a foam roller would be an absolute minimum in my eyes, and if your a college athlete, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a foam roller in your dorm room/apartment.

foam rolling

Mobility/Flexibility

Thanks to Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD, stretching and mobility can now be fun. Taking 15 minutes at night to go through some type of mobility or flexibility drills can not only help you recover from the days work, but can help you turn the ship around for the next days training session or competition. Anyone can find 15 minutes to make themselves better a day, so make it a priority.

Get More Sleep

It seems simple, but getting more sleep is crucial for an athlete or weekend warrior training hard. Aim for 7-8+ hours a sleep a night, and try to get to bed and wake up around the same times each day so that your body can get into some type of cycle.

Post Workout Nutrition

An often overlooked aspect of recovery is proper nutrition after training, whether it be strength training, conditioning, or a practice/game. Getting some quality sources of carbohydrates and protein within an hour after your session will help to promote the healing and recovery process. Something as simple as a glass of chocolate milk or a protein shake mixed in fat free milk is a great, easy and effective post workout shake.

protein shake

Take Days Off

We have become a culture of “more is better” which isn’t the case when it comes to strength training and conditioning. You need to take some days off and let your body rest. A rest day is a great time to spend extra time with your foam roller and working on some mobility, taking the dog for a walk, or jumping on the bike for an easy ride.

HRV

If you really want to take your recovery to the next level, buy yourself the BioForce HRV app. Simply put, the BioForce HRV app allows you to track your recovery from day to day by taking your HRV each morning. The app will allow you to track your recovery over time and readiness every day. With the app you can take the guessing out of the equation and train when your body is ready to train and take rest days when your body needs a little break.

bioforce hrv

Incorporate one, two, three or more of these ideas into your daily schedule and watch your recovery improve and performance in the weight room or on the field increase. Take care of your body, you only have one.

Reconstructing the Desk Jockey

These days it seems like people are spending more and more time sitting, whether it be behind a desk, watching television, driving in the car, or in other ways. With that said, we see the same mobility issues showing up over and over again. What are these issues? Terrible t-spine rotation and locked up hips.

desk jockey

I personally see these issues every single day with the adult population that I work with. They come in with their shoulders rounded forward and a slight forward lean because of some brutally tight hip flexors.

With these issues in mind, I’ve had to consciously program with an eye on fixing these issues. Here are some of the things that I have implemented with the adults I work with. I have seen some pretty good results across the board, with some people reporting some majority improvements.

Foam Rolling & Static Stretching

Every day the adults I work with do the same thing: a total body foam roll followed by a lower body intensive stretch via quadruped adductor rocks, foam roller hamstring split, and fantastic four (among other stretches). In essence, we try to stretch the hip with a 3-dimensional point of view: the front of the hip, the side of the hip, and the back of the hip.

foam rolling

Mobility Circuits

After the foam roll and stretch, we go through an active warm up. In this active warm up we perform the typical activation exercises like Cook hip lifts, band pull aparts, and lateral band walks. In addition to this, we sprinkle in a mobility movement for the three major areas of concern; t-spine, hip, and ankle. Like the foam roll and stretch, this is non-negotiable – we do something for these three areas every single day. Movements like 1/2 Kneeling T-Spine rotation, Turkish get up’s, wall ankle mobs, active spiderman, and goblet squat holds can be consistently found in the program.

2:1 Pull:Push Ratio

This doesn’t take a ton of explaining. We do twice as much pulling as we do pushing. For example, for every set of push ups we do, we do two sets of TRX Rows. If someone has a shoulder issue we would handle it on a case by case basis, but the general rule of thumb is that if it hurts we don’t do it. Additionally, we might jump to a 3:1 ratio to get even more pulling and less pushing for this individual.

Improving Daily Habits

I freely admit, I have no control over how much or how little people are actually doing this, I can only encourage it. I try to encourage the adults to get up and move numerous times throughout the day. Go get some water, talk to someone in a different area of the office, take the long route to the bathroom, whatever it takes to get up and move more. A good rule of thumb is to not sit in the same position for more than 15 minutes at a time.

get up and move

Full Range of Motion

Again, this seems very simple but it yields tremendous results. Continually make sure that adults are taking all of their movements through a full range of motion. At times this can be more difficult then it sounds as you need to constantly be regressing people in order for them to be able to move through a full range of motion, but its worth it. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes people can just be lazy – hold them accountable and they’ll see much better results.

The combination of these 5 components to our program has done wonders for many of our adults. Try adding as many of these in to your program and see what kind of results you get – I’d be willing to bet you would see some great results just like we have.

How to Spot a Legit Personal Trainer

A quality personal trainer can do wonders for you health and your physical appearance. They can help you move better and feel better that will help to improve your quality of life. It makes you wonder why everyone that can afford to hire a personal trainer doesn’t.

The problem is that finding a quality personal trainer is becoming harder and harder in these days. A less than stellar personal trainer will do nothing but empty your wallet and leave you with a sore back, giving all personal trainers a bad rap. That’s why people that can afford a personal trainer don’t always have a personal trainer.

So how do you go about finding a quality personal trainer that will make you feel and move better? Here are 5 things to consider when you look for a personal trainer.

Credentials

Unfortunately anybody these days can call themselves a personal trainer. Any old Joe can wake up, decide they want to be a personal trainer and find themselves a job. What separate the educated and uneducated personal trainer are credentials. Look for a trainer that is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) orAmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine (ACSM) – both of which require a college education in order to sit in on the exam.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask a personal trainer about their credentials and educational background. Ask them if they regularly attend seminars and workshops or network with other personal trainers or strength coaches at local colleges and/or universities. Finding someone who is always trying to learn more is a good sign.

Does the Trainer Have Many Clients?

A sure fire way to figure out if a personal trainer is qualified or not is to find out how many clients the trainer has. Chances are, if a trainer has a ton of clients, he or she is doing something right. On the other hand, if a trainer doesn’t have many clients at all, chances are they aren’t doing much right. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but it’s certainly a good starting point.

Personality

One thing that is overlooked when hiring a personal trainer is the trainers personality. If you are going to spend an hour a couple times a week with someone you probably want to have compatible personalities. Getting along with someone goes a long way. The trainer can have all the credentials in the world but if they think they are a drill sergeant and your one of his or her soldiers, chances are it you won’t be having a good time reaching your goals.

Where does the Trainer Work?

Maybe the biggest factor in picking a personal trainer would be based on where they work. There are a lot of great facilities across this country that have a great reputation. On the other hand, there are way more places across this country that I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to workout. Seek out the top notch facilities. Top facilities are top facilities for a reason – they seek out the best staff the continue to educate the staff to stay on top of current trends.

Past Work Experience/Mentors

If you really want to do your homework find out where and who the personal trainer has worked for is the past. Maybe the trainer doesn’t have a lot of clients or the facility isn’t booming at the moment. But what if the facility is new and the owner/trainer has moved on from a great facility working for a great mentor. The owner/trainer might have worked the last 5 years at a facility that worked specifically with professional athletes or was a strength coach at a major university working with the football team.

Simple Recovery Strategies

Anyone that trains hard and often will preach to you about how important recovery is from session to session. As fun as it is to beat yourself up each day in the weight room or on the field, you need to do something to turn the ship around for the next days workout, practice, or competition. Here are a few quick and simple ways to help promote recovery from day to day.

foam rolling

Foam Rolling
As simple and as obvious as it is, spending more time on a foam roller will do wonders in making you feel a little better and recover faster, yet many people don’t spend enough time foam rolling. Training hard creates trigger points and adhesions within your muscles, knotting your muscles up and making foam rolling a somewhat painful experience at times. Spending 5-10 minutes a day on a foam roller would be an absolute minimum in my eyes, and if your a college athlete, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a foam roller in your dorm room/apartment.

Mobility/Flexibility
Thanks to Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD, stretching and mobility can now be fun. Taking 15 minutes at night to go through some type of mobility or flexibility drills can not only help you recover from the days work, but can help you turn the ship around for the next days training session or competition. Anyone can find 15 minutes to make themselves better a day, so make it a priority. Here is one of my favorites from Kelly for opening up the hips.

Get More Sleep
It seems simple, but getting more sleep is crucial for an athlete or weekend warrior training hard. Aim for 7-8+ hours a sleep a night, and try to get to bed and wake up around the same times each day so that your body can get into some type of cycle.

sleeping

Post Workout Nutrition
An often overlooked aspect of recovery is proper nutrition after training, whether it be strength training, conditioning, or a practice/game. Getting some quality sources of carbohydrates and protein within an hour after your session will help to promote the healing and recovery process. Something as simple as a glass of chocolate milk or a protein shake mixed in fat free milk is a great, easy and effective post workout shake.

chocolate milk

Take Rest Days
We have become a culture of “more is better” which isn’t the case when it comes to strength training and conditioning. You need to take some days off and let your body rest. A rest day is a great time to spend extra time with your foam roller and working on some mobility, taking the dog for a walk, or jumping on the bike for an easy ride.

HRV Monitoring
If you really want to take your recovery to the next level, buy yourself the BioForce HRV app. Simply put, the BioForce HRV app allows you to track your recovery from day to day by taking your HRV each morning. The app will allow you to track your recovery over time and readiness every day. With the app you can take the guessing out of the equation and train when your body is ready to train and take rest days when your body needs a little break.

hrv bioforce

Incorporate one, two, three or more of these ideas into your daily schedule and watch your recovery improve and performance in the weight room or on the field increase. Take care of your body, you only have one.

Iron Game Chalk Talk with Robert Dos Remedios

Wanted to share another good listen from a series of great interviews by Cincinnati Bengals strength coach Ron McKeefery’s Iron Game Chalk Talk. This time Coach McKeefery sits down with Robert Dos Remedios, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA. As usual, it is a great listen and I’m sure all strength coaches could learn something new from the interview. Enjoy!