I was on a trip to Disney in 2003 and we stopped in at the Hall of Presidents. There was a great scene there that stuck with me and it was a conversation between Mark Twain and Ben Franklin I believe. Twain said, “The greatest enemy to progress is success.”

After thinking about this off and on through the years there are several reasons why this is true. One would be the obvious which means you get complacent and let yourself get comfortable with the status quo. Problem is things around you are always changing and you must be aware of this whether it is how you live your life, money decisions, business decisions, etc.

Another less obvious reason is that you are making progress and doing well and be wrong about the reasons why you are making progress. A training example would go as follows. Someone has been lifting for only a few years and decides that more will be better. They get locked into what they see on youtube or online magazines and figure that they can live in the gym and make better progress. I am here to tell you that this could not be further from the truth. You actually need MORE recovery time as you get better at generating training intensity. In the end your nervous system recovery will be the limiting factor. There is no natural drug free override of this mechanism. But I digress.

A simple business example would be thinking that running a certain ad online will lead to more business since the same ad led to big results in the past. You neglect to look further into who has seen this ad and realize that it fell into a region with high discretionary income. Wasn’t necessarily the ad but the market that it reached.

The devil is always in the details. I have made it part of my everyday learning to study mental models and ways of thinking outside of my own paradigms. Knowing the absolute causes of the effects you are experiencing will greatly enhance your own chances of “success”.

It also doesn’t hurt to take a pause when presented with a stimulus to prevent a knee-jerk reaction which you will regret later on. There is a time to think quick and a time to think slow. It’s in the way that you use it.

“Progress” is nothing more than an outcome of which you need to be really certain of the source.

If you are an advanced trainee how would you like to add 10-15 pounds to your bench as well as increase your pec and upper body mass in 12 weeks. If you are an intermediate, how does 15-20 pounds sound?
The so-called “secret” to these gains involves using the bench press in the power rack. The power rack is an advanced tool and is not for beginners or early intermediate trainees. It is a largely neglected method since it is not in style and is very difficult work. Many sources have espoused the use of the power rack including Bill Starr, Brooks Kubik, and Dr. Ken Leistner to name a few.
To further convince the reader of the power rack’s efficacy is not difficult. Consider the following scenario. A certain trainee had been stuck at 255 for 5 repetitions on his best set of bench presses. This stagnant period lasted for an incredible 2 years. This certain trainee gave the power rack a shot and lo and behold at the end of the 12-week routine he performed a 275 for 5-rep set.
The routine calls for the chest to be worked heavily once per week while cutting back on work for the shoulders and triceps. Say about 3 heavy sets for each of these groups no more than once per week. Don’t let this low volume of work scare you. You will not get weaker or smaller. Do not accept this mindset. Push hard on the sets that you have limited yourself to.
Before we get into how to use the rack, let’s discuss form. Most trainees (the author included) have learned to press the bar in a vertical line off the chest with the elbows flared out at 90 degrees from the sides. This is great in placing stress on the pectorals, but will inhibit your poundage potential and size and strength gains in the long run. Try this version instead. Lower the bar under control, not necessarily super slowly, to the nipple line while keeping the elbows in towards the lats. Shoot for 45 degrees or so between the upper arms and the ribcage. If you are a wide grip bench presser, this may necessitate moving the grip in several inches so that this can be accomplished. This increases the distance the bar must travel, but the payoff is that you are now coiled like a spring at the bottom portion of the movement. Drive the bar off the chest while simultaneously digging in with your feet and exploding with your chest as well as your latissimus. The first 2-3 inches can be a vertical drive off the chest. At this point allow the bar to drift back towards the clavicles while still driving upward. When it feels right, swing the elbows out to 90 degrees and drive the bar back towards the eyes to complete lockout. Be sure to have a spotter stand by, as this form feels very strange to “vertical” bench pressers. It just so happens that an easy place to learn how to do this is in the power rack. Warm up by doing two to three sets of benches with the form described earlier. If you are new to this, allow yourself a few weeks to learn the form before pushing hard on the rack program. Place the pins in the rack such that the bar is resting just above the chest. Prepare to do a few more warm up sets before reaching a weight that is about 40 pounds or so below your best set of 5 in the bench. The start position is with the bar resting on the pins. Explode the bar off the chest in the form described earlier in the article. Lower the bar back to the pins in the same arc that the bar followed on the way up. The bar should gently come to rest on the pins. Without bouncing, repeat for the required number of repetitions. Resist the temptation to bounce the bar off the pins. Do not relax in the bottom position. This would be defeating the purpose of the rack. Do another set at this height in the same good form. Next, raise the pins up to the next available hole. You may want to do a practice set at this height before moving to your heavy set. Generally, one can use about 25 more pounds at this height. After your heavy set at this hole, raise the pins up to the next hole. A whole lot of weight can be used at this height since it is generally past everyone’s sticking point. About 50-75 pounds more can be used here. After this set, you will perform a regular set of bench presses in good, strict form. On this set you will experience what I call the” medicine ball effect.” Did you ever pick up a medicine ball in gym class and pass it back and forth for a few minutes, followed by the same with a basketball? Remember how light it felt? The same rule applies to this last set of bench presses. Your nervous system has been primed to “over recruit” muscle fibers for the lighter task at hand. The weight will feel lighter than if you had worked up to it in the traditional fashion because you already have had a set where maximal recruitment is necessary. The critical first few reps will feel lighter which is good psychologically for a strong finish on the set.
All heavy sets in your routine should be cycled for maximum success in the long run. Start out at eighty percent of your previous best poundages for week number one. Work up to your previous records over 6 weeks. During the next 6 weeks add 1 to 2 pounds per week(no more even if you could) to your exercises. You may add slightly more per week on the bigger, basic moves like the squat and bench. Do not add so much that you fail to achieve the required number of reps. This will kill your momentum and shatter your confidence. Tease the mind and keep it hungry for more weight. Feel free to take a light week on weeks seven and eleven. You will be surprised at how strong you feel after you take a week in which you use about eighty-five percent of your scheduled poundage. Cycling is not new and has been around in some shape or form for many years.
In summary, although the program is brief and focused, it is a specialization program that has worked time and time again. Almost all of my trainees have had great success with it as I alluded to earlier. Rid yourself of the mindset that your muscles must be annihilated with multiple sets in order to grow. This is simply untrue and leads to overtraining for most trainees. The intensity that one puts out during the set as well as poundage progression provides the stimulus for muscle growth. In order for the body to elicit the response, however, adequate rest and nutrition must be a given. A solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep and maintaining as tranquil a mind as possible should cover rest. A multivitamin supplement and a moderate protein, high carbohydrate, low fat diet with enough calories to at least maintain bodyweight should cover nutrition. Focus on the above routine, believe in it, and grow in size as well as strength.

THIS IS NOT MY POST. IT WAS WRITTEN BY BROOKS KUBIK. WANTED TO SHARE THIS. BROOKS HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON HELPING SHAPE MY TRAINING PHILOSOPHY.

IT DWELLS ON THE OLD ADAGE “PRIDE IS TRAINING OR WORKING HARD EVEN WHEN NOBODY ELSE IS WATCHING.”

Ever had a thought like that during training? Well, honestly I will tell you you’re not alone. Here is a short “story” (not written by me) that I found on another forum that should inspire those that are starting to slack in training. Here it is:

The world’s a mighty big place.

There’s an awful lot of people living in the world.

In a place that big, with that many people, sometimes it seems like it doesn’t matter if you slack off a bit in your training. After all, there’s plenty of other days to train, and it won’t matter if you take it easy for once. Heck, it won’t matter if you even miss a day. You can always come in and do it tomorrow.

When you’re running sprints, you don’t always have to go full bore. You can slow down a step. The coach will never even know. And slowing down just a little tiny bit makes it hurt a whole lot less.

When you’re lifting weights, you don’t always have to go for that extra rep, or try to put more weight on the bar. Just make it look good. Throw in an extra grunt or two, and put on one of those big pain faces like the guys in the muscle mags when they do their photo shoots. The coach will never know.

You really don’t have to get up and go running before the sun is out. It’s okay to sleep in. No one will ever know.

You don’t have to do 200 pushups a day like you decided to do last week. You can do 50. Or you can skip ‘em today. No one will know.

You don’t have to watch your diet the way your Coach wants you to do. Going out with your buds for a double-dish pizza with everything on it is fine. Wash it down with a couple of cokes, and then go grab a burger and fries from Burger Heaven. You can always get back on your diet tomorrow. No one will ever be the wiser.

In fact, if you’ve got talent, skill and a little bit of speed, you can probably sleepwalk your way through 90 percent of the conditioning stuff that the Coach keeps talking about. Maybe it’s all for the second-stringers. The guys who don’t have God-given talent that you have. The guys who need to do grass drills because they have slow feet. The guys who need to do pushups because they aren’t very strong. The guys who need to watch what they eat because they don’t have a good metabolism.

You can think like that, and you can act like that, and no one will ever know. After all, the world’s a mighty big place. The Coach can’t be everywhere.

But if that’s how you approach things, think about this.

Somewhere, at another school, in another town, there’s a kid who’s your age and your size, and he plays the sport you do, and he’s got every bit of God-given talent that you have. In fact, we could put the two of you side by side right now, and you’d match up exactly equal.

But here’s something you need to know.

That very same kid is out there running full-bore sprints every single day. He runs them as hard as he can.

He never misses a weight lifting session, and when he lifts, he always goes for that extra rep. Some times he goes for two or even three extra reps. And he always tries to add weight to the bar.

He gets up every morning, rolls out of bed, throws on his sweats, and goes for a long run. He gets home about the time the sun is starting to climb over the horizon.

The Coach wanted him to do 200 pushups every day. He does 300.

He works as hard on his diet as he does on his training. He never eats anything unless it is going to give him energy to train, protein to grow, or vitamins and minerals to build his body. He doesn’t touch junk food or sweets. He can’t remember the last time he had pizza, French fries, a cookie or a candy bar.

Yes, the world’s a mighty big place.

But it becomes a mighty small place when there are two men running right at each other at top speed on an open field, one running for the winning touchdown and the other man the last defender blocking his path to the goal.

I’m older than you, and I’ve seen it happen over and over, and I know for a fact that this is going to happen.

It’s going to happen to you.

It’s all going to come down to you and him. Just the two of you. Right there in the middle of the field, in front of three thousand screaming fans.

You’re going to hit right there in the middle of the field, full force, one on one, with everything on the line. The whole season. It’s all gonna come down to this split second in time.

And that great big world out there shrinks right down to something small and tiny when two men hit try to occupy the same square foot of turf.

This will happen. I know it, your Coach knows it, and you know it.

So does the kid in the other school in the other town.

You will meet, you will hit, and one of you will knock the other one flat on his back right in front of the entire world.

Right now, I don’t know which of you is gonna end up making the play of the year, and which of you is gonna end up roiling in the dirt with tears in his eyes, crying like a baby because he missed the chance of a lifetime.

No one knows.

We don’t know, because we don’t know which of the two of you is gonna train harder.

It might be him. It might be you.

But it’s your decision…

Brooks D. Kubik

Your mind when fully engaged is extremely powerful. I’ll tell you that if you are preoccupied with your phone, the days’ events, or whatever is coming up you will not be at peak efficiency. This could be peak efficiency for spending time with your family or working out or solving problems.

The more advanced you get, the more critical your mind becomes. If you want to run. Run. Clear the brain. If you want to lift. Lift. If you want to write a paper. Write.

Thoreau said, “I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to Society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is — I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

The weights never lie and the steepness of the hill remains unchanged. They will be constant and you can count on them to stay true. The hill isn’t steeper and weights are not heavier on a given day. Your mind and neural drive control these things. Be true to yourself and allow your body to be at it’s best by staying positive and believing. This cannot be faked. The least stressed aspect in training is the mind and it is exponentially more important than diet, rep scheme and loading protocols, and the latest training craze. Fitness crazes and training methodologies are transient and temporary, but the power of the mind is timeless.

Not enough emphasis is placed on power. When I see teams running distance and doing ridiculous endurance strength training regimens I just scratch my head. This sport is all about transfer. You have an instant to explode. Train accordingly.

Baseball: We will focus on the field specific aspects of speed such as lateral quickness for middle infielders, out of the box speed, breaking on the ball speed, and first step quickness. 60 yard dash work can be addressed.
Regarding the throwing arm, exercises that target the rotator cuff, such as a variety of internal and external rotation movements will be utilized. Scapular strength and stability will also be addressed. Since the bicep also plays a role in stabilizing this joint, it too will be strengthened.
Core stability and rotational power, when combined with the above work, leads to a more powerful throwing arm that is less apt to become injured.
A special concern to pitchers includes the maintenance and strengthening of the rotator cuff. Large amounts of energy are absorbed by the body as the hand releases the pitch. This stress should be transferred to the stronger scapular stabilizers rather than the rotator cuff. Training this area together with certain plyometric moves, direct cuff work, and closed chain movements reduces the incidence of injury and strengthens the throwing arm.

I am writing this letter as a testimonial to Ed and Strength, Fitness and Speed. I have noticed a definite improvement in my son. Ed has taken him to another level. His velocity on his pitches has improved 10 mph. I also have noticed an improvement in his mental approach. He is much more focused now. My son’s baseball coach recommended him highly and no I can see why. I would also recommend him and in fact have to many young athletes. I am looking forward to more sessions in the future. We will continue to work throughout Joe’s time as an athlete.

Sincerely, Ed Sabolek

Coach Ed you and your staff are the men! I appreciate everything you do for me. Just so you know, you have dropped my 60 time from a 7.2 to a 6.49. I believe in what you do and I am blessed that I have begun working with you.                                            -Josh Hoffman, Former Belle Vernon and Beaver Valley Baseball Player

TEAM PA FROM A FEW YEARS BACK

Softball: We train teams and players from all over Pennsylvania. We explode and react. After laying a foundation does it make sense to not focus on random movement drills? In other words repeating a know foot pattern then running to a spot where you know a ball or cone is becomes pretty useless? We see it frequently. Is there a reason to dance over hurdles before exploding to a known spot? Not really.

Here is what we choose to focus on:

1)Action: Dynamic warm Up, Stretch 

Benefit: Proprioception development,  Increased Core Temperature for better training performance 


 2)Action:  Mechanical adjustments, sprint techniques evolving to very specific basepath and positional speed. 

Benefit: Beating out infield hits, stretching singles into doubles, better reaction and getting to infield hits and fly balls. Better mechanics means more EFFICIENT movement.  

3) Action: Overloading the athletic movements with resistance and assistance. 

Benefit: Contrast training provides better neuromuscular recruitment and power in movements. Example:  pre training athletes exhibit much less muscle recruitment than trained athletes. Contrast training and complexing a plyo and a resisted movement enhances recruitment leading to a much improved “getting out of the box” and also exploding to a space. 

4)Action: Progressing movements from closed(predictable) to open(random). 

Benefit: Better transference to the field. There is very little ready –set- go in sports and softball. Movement must be reactive, not on your own cue. 


 5) Power development in the body, including lower core education and activation and development of explosive rotational core power using med balls and plyometric drills 

Benefit: All movement originates in the low core. The low core is your anchor. A stronger educated lower abdomen provides an anchor from which an athlete can turn powerfully on a pitch or launch a fast pitch. All movement originates in the lower abdomen. Rotational core power provides greater velocity off of the bat, a stronger throwing arm and a more efficient consistent swing. 

6)Leg strength and stability and ground contact work 

Benefit: Reduced chances of cruciate ligament knee injuries 

7)Upper Body strength and power transfer 

Benefit: Increased bat speed and better power transfer from legs to hands 

Our daughter Maura has been blessed with a lot of athleticism throughout her high school career in both basketball and track. We knew she had the ability to continue in both sports collegiately. We were looking for a strength program that would help her reach her potential for the next level of her career. Strength, Fitness, and Speed encompassed all the things we were looking for in a program. Ed and his staff have the experience and expertise to help athletes reach their ability on any level. They understand the importance of balancing all aspects of training in giving athletes the advantage of performing to their utmost potential.   Four years later, Maura has been recognized in both sports respectively. Strength, Fitness, and Speed was instrumental in helping Maura perform in a way that gave her the capability to be successful in both sports. Now she will be competing in the SEC for Auburn University in track and field. Thank you, Ed and staff, for helping her achieve her goals during her high school career. Looking forward to continuing this journey as she continues to compete at Auburn!

Erin Huwalt
South Park, PA

Hi Ed,

This is the third year Irene has been working with Jake at Strength, Fitness and Speed. Her athleticism has improved greatly each year!

This being her junior year she has been attending a lot of Soccer ID camps. So we want to share some of the positive feedback she has been receiving from the college coaches. I attached part of an email we received after one of her camps she attended recently. It really is a testimony to Jake and SFAS!

Thanks for everything!

Chris

Irene is continuing in season recovery/maintenance! Commitment!

The Importance of In Season Maintenance for Sports

  • Many factors are involved in speed and strength development, including, but not limited to specific strength, specific power, and multiple neuromuscular movement patterns
  • There is a nervous system component as well as a muscular component
  • Unfortunately, without continued tending to these factors, SAQ and strength has a detraining component.
  • The nervous system gains decrease first after 2 weeks, followed by specific muscle gains after about 6 weeks or so. The end result is that one loses acquired strength, muscle, speed, agility, and quickness slowly over time.

A recent research study entitled, “DETRAINING AND TAPERING ADAPTATION ON STRENGTH AND POWER PERFORMANCE” was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Aug. 2007 and provides definitive scientific data that addresses your question of whether it is worth maintaining some level of training frequency versus stopping altogether and participating in a sport.

  In the study, speed and strength training was conducted for 16 weeks prior to the experimental detraining (DTR) or maintenance (MT) work.  Following the training period, DTR stopped additional exercise; the other group, MT, performed low volume, high intensity work periodically.  Both groups continued to participate in their given sport.  Following 4 weeks of this modification, DTR lost some strength but had over a 15% decrease in muscle power (slower running speed and lower vertical jump), while  MT (the group that continued with their performance training) showed a small increase in strength and maintained power (maintenance of performance gains)

We like to do a “flush” workout with the athletes along with myofascial release techniques which promote recovery. We also do low volume, high intensity drills which preserve and in some cases increase speed even though the athlete is “in season”. Recovery and maintenance is our key.

In order to maintain sports performance in season, one must also look at musculoskeletal changes that occur that inhibit performance. These include reduced thoracic and cervical mobility and a reduction in your body’s ability to use its deep abdominal muscles. Thoracic and cervical mobility are key factors in preventing concussions and are addressed accordingly.

Training is having an organized specific plan to achieve a very specific result.

Working from the endpoint backwards 12-16 weeks is a great place to start.

Any team that I have ever trained has always been asked the question: When does your season begin and what do you want to accomplish?

Working Out is going to the gym and saying today I feel like hitting chest and not having a clue as to what weight or scheme or goals you have going on. Working out is going to 3 different coaches for 3 different things(or even better 3 for the same thing) and having no scheme as to how these things should operate together. Cluster bomb results especially for advanced athletes.

Training is an organized approach to things. You can’t do a high rep high endurance crossfit session 3 times per week while trying to improve your 40 time or vertical leap for your season or a camp. Yes you can make progress but specific gains that involve explosion are being compromised.

High nervous system component work like acquiring a skill or refining a movement should take priority in your sequence of training in any given day. If this work is to be fit into a day here is an example. Working on pitching or throwing a javelin technique first, plyometric and CNS work next, strength to follow and any base conditioning or GPP work last.

Plyometric work at the end of any training day makes no sense. If explosion is your goal then on and off box hops for high reps and high volume makes absolutely no sense. Depth jumps off of a box with 100 % effort for bouts of 3-5 makes plenty of sense done fresh early in training. You can’t improve power when NS fatigue or high lactic acid levels already exist.

Train. Be smart. Organize.

A sophomore High School Soccer player name Brian approached me to ask me to help him develop his game to be able to play at the college ranks. His skills were excellent but he felt he lacked the athleticism to compete at that level.

After a functional assessment revealed some classic soccer imbalances such as hip flexor tightness and imbalances, some quad dominance and forward shoulder posture we embarked on an interesting and what turned out to be record setting quest.

On 2/12/19 we had our first session and all that was addressed was inadequate knee punching, overstriding and inefficient shin angles and a lack of drive at the shoulders which can contribute up to 10% of an athletes “oomph” when he accelerates. We also woke up his hamstrings since I explained his brakes would be key as much as his engine. We followed this up with on 2/19 and 2/26 getting into more advanced techniques. I also provided some suggestions for alterations to his strength program getting into rep ranges designed to encourage fast twitch and enhance intermediate twitch conversion.

On 2/14/19 we had our second session focusing on his brakes and change of direction. Gluteus medius group needed woken up and he needed to learn to engage his glutes and hams. Low and leveraged needed to feel that way also.

Workout #7, 9 and 11 introduced some work on eliminating false step and reaction work to movement, sound and color. Acceleration continued to be overloaded.

Workout #8, 10 and 12 covered transition steps that occur when you have to stop start, turn etc. Reaction was added also

Cup Season was on us and we made some adjustments as we got into May. Plyometric Intensity increased while the volume of our efforts decreased. An additional test indicated that his strength resources were plenty adequate but we needed some more plyo work to bring out his explosion.

Retesting indicated his ten yard dash had improved by .3(unusual gain but expected since his first step was inefficient and allowed for a big improvement). Shuttle had improved by .38. Vertical leap had gone up 4 inches and his broad jump increased by a foot. He indicated he felt like a new player on the field.

Our work in June and July focused on more and more reaction work, starting from very awkward stances and intense overload on some basics that we did on Day 1 and Day 2. Hip swivel work as well as getting to more balls in the air was stressed as well. He felt he was making plays he never made before and could recover easily when beat.

Next retesting indicated another .12 improvement in 10 yard dash, .2 in the shuttle, another 2 in vertical leap and another 8 inches in the broad jump.

It should be noted that this young man never missed a training session and always took care of strength training sometimes at the facility and sometimes on his own.

Excellent outcome.

Additionally, we knew that we would be looking for this in advance:

5 things we’ve noticed over the last 23 years working with soccer athletes.

  • Everyone could use some more strength. All else aside, more strength makes you flat out more athletic. Power is your ability to recruit strength in a hurry and is a requirement during sprinting. Power also helps during cutting, jumping and kicking. Strength and stability keeps you from getting knocked off of the ball.
  • The athletes could use some more oblique and abdominal strength, stability and power. Your lower abdomen provides the anchor from which all movement can occur. This helps when you are kicking, jumping or sprinting. Have you ever watched a player run fast without the ball and look like he or she is speed skating? This tends to happen a lot with soccer. Sometimes it is motor and is a result of elbows that are flailing to the outside but more often it is the hips that are rotating. Force generated by the hip flexors and powerful arm action can’t be controlled by the body’s secondary rotational stabilizer, the obliques. This produces a roll in the hips, a zigzag foot strike pattern and arm action that belongs on the ice, not on the soccer field.
  • Many of the players use a crossover step to move laterally with out the ball instead of an open step. Takes longer and is inefficient in moving short distances
  • Many athletes do not dorsiflex(pull the toes up) at the ankle during planting and during the recovery phase of sprinting. This is sometimes not a natural occurrence, particularly with soccer players who must point their toes to kick! As the shin swings forward right before ground contact, a nice dorsiflexed ankle provides a shorter lever at the knee(easier to turn over) as well a more efficient ground contact in line with the hips, not in front of the hips. Dorsiflexed ankles also send a warning to the knee joint and hip joint that they need to be ready to fire in advance.
  • Many players have a false step that wastes time and is inefficient