Posts Tagged ‘Strength and Conditioning’

A lot of athletes try to follow the latest and greatest that they see online or on media. Problem is some of these authors are let’s say…. chemically enhanced and can recover with the best of them. Some athletes jump on their routine and make great gains. Others gain for a bit then plateau quickly since they can’t recover. Others get instant tendinitis or other problems because they are doing 5 times as much work as their genetics will tolerate. There really truly is no one right way to train for a specific goal. Some generalities exist with rep ranges and rest periods and such like sets of 15-25 will certainly get you more enduring but nor truly stronger.

Does speed and sprint work factor as one of your “leg days” ? If it doesn’t it should. Watch your gains increase.

The simplest most overlooked way to get stronger for most athletes is simple linear periodization. I know many athletes who spend 8 months in the weight room and then tell me they did not get any stronger. Start keeping records now. Work harder, not longer. Try overtraining every 3rd or 4th week of a 4-5 week strength cycle, then backing off the following week. Keep your total work volume low, intensity of effort high, eat well, sleep much and gain. You need to be concerned with when and how much weight you add to the bar, not how long you are in the weight room.

Most individuals need to be concerned with how and when to add weight and how much effort is to be put forth at each training session. An effective training cycle allows trainees to make continual progress in size and strength cycle after cycle. Sticking points can be avoided by focusing on how the body adapts to training stresses and rolling with your body’s unique recovery ability as opposed to fighting against it with no results forthcoming.
In addition, add small increments of weight for several reasons. First, it is manageable psychologically. The second reason is physiological. We do not want to exceed  ability to adapt to training stress. The first 6 to 8 weeks of a training cycle involves strength gains that are largely neural. The nervous system increases the efficiency of the available muscle fibers that you already have. Additional muscle is not developed until after this period. If weight is added too quickly before exiting the neurological learning period, a premature plateau is reached before experiencing muscle gain.
Another reason for micro loading is to ensure supercompensation. If you are pushing 100 pounds for 8 repetitions with maximum effort, your body rewards you with fiber and neural adaptations to handle maybe 102 pounds. This is a guess. The following week you choose 101 pounds. The reward gets you to 103 pounds. You have a strength cushion of about 2 pounds since you allowed your body time to adapt to the weight.
In contrast, let’s say you added 5 pounds the first week. You would not be able to handle this for 8 reps and the supercompensation effect as well as the mental aspect of training and gaining would be reduced. If this is continued for a long period, a plateau is a sure bet.
In closing, the success of any program is limited to the body’s recovery ability. This notion should be at the core of any strength and conditioning training program.

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again

-Foo Fighters

So we have all been cooped up a bit while we wait to see how things unfold. Therein for me lies a very big challenge….waiting to see how things unfold. I am the kind of guy who does the folding and unfolding how he chooses. Control. Lack of it leads to frustration for me. For some reason it made me think back to a workout I did out in the middle of nowhere about 20 years ago with a log, some stones and a nice hill. Lots of control!

I walked for about 90 seconds or so between each set.

My Rocky version legs: The log was about 8 feet long with a 2 foot diameter. Gnarly and curved, tough to hang onto. Stood it on 1 end and tipped it onto my back. Took a few attempts. Did Squats, front squats, zerchers, and walking lunges.

Drago version legs: Step into a beautiful power rack and do work.

My Rocky version pull: Found an old low lying overhang of a railroad bridge and did about every version of chin up I could think of. Regular, close, wide, supinated and pronated grips. L chin ups to get some core going as well.

Drago version pull: Step under a nice chin up bar or fancy chrome and do work.

My Rocky version push: Did some overhead presses with stones of different sizes that I found. Did some push presses but launched the stones at the end of the push instead of holding on. Some studies from the early 2000s suggest that releasing an object allows you to accelerate all of the way through to the end versus having to hold on. Holding on takes away the conscious decision of accelerating all of the way through and makes deceleration occur at the end reflexively. Also did a wide variety of push ups. Typewriters, 1 handers, elevated, etc.

Drago version push: Push presses and jerks under a barbell. Could have had some more snap on those punches if he pushed rocky style!

My rocky version total body: I used one of those stones and pushed/rolled it for about 50 yards up a fairly steep hill. One of the best total body moves i ever did. Every group involved. Core and core stability, grip, upper body extensors, total lower body, grappling effect.

Drago version: Shiny prowler push minus the instability, upper body work and core challenge.

Feels like control to me! Try it out and modify as needed.

I’m revisiting this article again because there are some things i have learned. Despite getting body fat nice and low in 2016 and 2017 I had a defined midsection but a lean “bulge” in the  belly button region. Here are 3 new take homes if your midsection is not as defined as you like.

1)You are fat. Ab work does not spot reduce. Build some head to toe muscle, do sprint interval work. Control your caloric intake.

2)If you are not fat and still are cloudy and bulged in the midsection start treating the core area like any other muscle group and throw out the low intensity burny BS high rep training.

3)If you have some definition but have the bulge, the bulge could be present due to a few different reasons.

First some tight hip flexors can produce anterior pelvic tilt which can certainly create that illusion. Excess sitting and hip flexor work(leg raises, six inches, sit ups, feet hooked crunches, sprinting, kicking). Counter this with some basic hip flexor stretching. Get into the bottom position of a lunge with the back knee resting on the floor. Push your hips forward while maintaining an upright posture. Adjust the distance between your legs so that the shin on your front leg is in a vertical position. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. If you do not feel the stretch, tip your body sideways towards the hip of the leg that is in front of you. Also look at changing your core routine to let the hip flexors reduce their tone.

Second and in my own experience I had built a wall of lower abdominal muscle that was done in the absence of maintaining TVA coordination and strength. By allowing my stomach to bulge outward slightly during my crazy core moves I developed a tendency to relax the TVA group at rest and during activity. To wake up the TVA get down on all fours and allow your stomach to bulge downward. Next focus on drawing your belly button up and in towards your spine. Hold for 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times. In looking at your core work focus on maintaining this slightly drawn in belly button position during all of your moves.

Now here is the reprint from the article:

I wrote the following article many years ago. It appeared in a fitness magazine around 2000-2001 or so. Jessie asked me about it tonight so here it is.

Keep in mind the abdominal wall is a fast twitch beast and needs to be trained that way. I would not hesitate to deviate from the 10 rep sets listed to sets of 6-8 at some point, with 6 or 8 being the last possible rep you can perform in good form.

Treat your abs like other muscle groups. Burn does not mean definition it means lactic acid.

The eight “blocks” that one should be able to see on the anterior side of a very lean individual’s physique are known collectively as the rectus abdominus. If one looks to the left and to the right of the abdominal wall, one can see the external obliques. In the next layer, the internal obliques insert on the last 3 to 4 ribs and run posteriorly downward and diagonally towards the rear pockets of your pants.

The function of the rectus abdominus is to flex the trunk when in a supine position. The obliques perform a variety of actions. Unilateral contraction (one sided) of the obliques(external and internal), yields a lateral(sideways) contraction to that side. Rotation is produced by contraction of an external oblique and an internal oblique on opposite sides. Bilateral contraction of the obliques helps to stabilize the torso.

Aside from aesthetics, the midsection has other important functions as well. Muscles need to be strengthened in weight bearing positions, not just supported ones, especially the internal and external obliques, abdominals, hip flexors, hamstrings, and lower back.

Coordination in the lower abdomen needs to be developed before getting into rigorous ab training. There are 2 exercises that need to be mastered before proceeding. The first is the pelvic tilt. On a firm surface, lying flat on your back, roll your pelvis back, flattening your spine against the floor while your legs are bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold for a two count. Repeat for 2 sets of 12 repetitions. The second exercise is the 1 leg pelvic tilt. Lie down with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Roll your pelvis back until your spine is pressing against the floor. Raise and lower 1 leg while keeping your pelvis rolled back. Repeat with alternate legs for 2 sets of 12-15 reps. 3-4 times per week is good at this stage since we are mainly coordinating, rather than strengthening.

After these exercises have been mastered, proceed to the pelvic tilt. This is the same as the second exercise but with 2 legs rather than 1. The knees are totally bent. This tests coordination between the psoas and abdominal musculature. When this exercise can be performed for 2 sets of 12 repetitions at 3 times per week, it is time to embark on complete abdomen training.

A good beginner routine has you training the lower abdomen first. If necessary, neurally prime the area with some pelvic tilts. Choose unsupported pelvic tilts as your first exercise which is the same as the coordinating exercise but with more extension at the knee. Go for 2 sets of 10 reps. Over the weeks, gradually increase the degree of extension at the knee to provide greater resistance. The goal is to do the exercise with full extension at the knee.

Next, we will move to the oblique region. Oblique crunches fit the bill here. If you have any existing back condition this rotational exercise should be avoided, however. Lie on the floor, bend knees, and point them to the ceiling using hip flexion. Your feet are up in the air. This reduces psoas contribution and stabilizes the low back. Place hands on your chest and place your tongue behind your teeth to stabilize neck flexors. Imagine a rope fixed to a pulley on the ceiling pulling your sternum upward. Twist at the waist on the way up as if you were going to touch your knee with the opposite elbow. Do not lead with the head, lead with the sternum. Repeat on the other side. 2 sets of 10 repetitions fit the bill.

Lastly, straight crunches minus the rotation as described are performed for 2 sets of 10 repetitions. To increase the difficulty on the crunch variations, proceed from hands on the chest to hands at the head to hands overhead, forming  a straight line at the torso.

This program is directed at beginners and should provide all the work necessary done 2-3 times weekly. When intensity is developed, frequency can be decreased. In addition, the use of a Swiss Ball can increase exercise intensity when progressing to the next level. After all, isn’t that what it is all about?

To perform the crunch variations on the Swiss Ball, carefully lie back on the ball with the small of your lower back draped across the ball. Spread your feet about shoulder width on the floor. Perform the crunch variations as described earlier. It will feel quite awkward at first, but the ab workout will feel tremendous.

When the crunch exercises performed with straight arms behind the head fail to provide enough difficulty to further stimulate progress, hold a medicine ball to provide some more torque for the abdominals to deal with. Be careful not to strain the shoulder joint. If you have any shoulder injury or discomfort with this at all, hold the ball under the chin instead. Maintain perfect form and remember to avoid using hip flexors. You will feel the urge to do so when working with increased resistance on the ab motions. When the unsupported pelvic tilt becomes easy, try the lower ab king which is the hanging reverse crunch. To perform this excellent exercise, hang from a chinning bar and slightly flex the legs(draw your thigh up towards your upper body)at the hip. Lock the legs with this degree of flexion at the hip! This is key! We want to work the lower abdomen, not hip flexors. Using your abs, curl the pelvis backwards until full contraction is experienced. Maintain the same degree of flexion at the hip throughout. Do not think of pulling the knees up to the chest. Curl the pelvis.

In closing, the importance of learning how to utilize the lower abdomen in abdominal training cannot be overstressed. This early foundational work will better enable you to recruit this group when performing all of your abdominal movements.

Going back about ten years I caught hell from a head football coach whose team we had been contracted to train for strength and speed 3 days per week. His assistant coaches had spread the word that these infidels(my coaches and I) didn’t have the team hitting each muscle group. Coach called me to his office and was insane and yelled, “They are only doing 4 exercises each workout! No curls, no skull crushers, no leg press, no side laterals, no strip set forced rep banded madness!! “How can one gain from just 4 exercises Ed?!! This is ridiculous I can’t believe we hired you guys!” I calmly said, “Coach back in 2003 I worked up to deadlifting 415×20, Squatting 495×5, Chinning 5 reps with 115 pounds on my waist and Benching 315×5 with 5 exercises on Monday, 3 on Wednesday and 3 on Friday. No chemical assistance Coach. I was 37 years old Coach and weighed about 190 pounds. ” “Oh”, he calmly said. Well maybe we will try this out………… Keep it Simple Stupid.

2013-10-09 09.08.34Humble beginnings

2013-10-09 09.08.48The bench and power blocks still live!

2013-10-09 09.09.15

I have been involved in the acquisition of knowledge regarding the enhancement of athletic strength, conditioning, speed and other attributes for over 30 years. One might say that it is a passion of mine. I have perused literally thousands of journals and books for new information that may be applied to enhance our clients’ results. Routines that I design are the end product of this knowledge combined with common sense application. During much of this period I was a Pre-Medical school candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. I graduated cum laude in 1988, was accepted at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, and decided to do research before entering. I spent 1 year doing research for the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and subsequently decided to learn how to be a Perfusionist. A Perfusionist works in the operating room running heart lung bypass ma-chines that keep patients alive while a surgeon performs open heart surgery or heart/ lung transplantation.
I had the good fortune to work with a gifted Perfusion team and many outstanding surgeons while at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh . I also saw many miracles taking place under the auspices of many gifted and talented individuals. During this time, my passion towards fitness, strength, and athleticism was satiated by writing for fitness magazines, reading medical and health journals such as the Journal of Applied Physiology, and design-ing routines for individuals on a freelance basis. I also obtained certifications in Personal Training through the American Council on Exercise and Strength and Conditioning for Sport through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
In 1998, I decided that I needed to pursue my passion all out and began taking steps to start up Strength, Fitness And Speed. In April of 1999 I started the business and was a perfusionist by day and a Strength and Conditioning Coach/Personal Trainer by night. Training was performed in an addition that I built on my house. Off site work was done in every imaginable parking lot and basketball court in South Park that you could imagine. When the snow flew, I discovered a covered grove with a nice 60 foot runway. Old building #4 at the South Park Fairgrounds was also utilized. For many of our clients back in the day they remember how cold it was in there!! I was also on call for emergencies and transplants 24 hours per day, 7 days per week every other week during this time. As the business grew, I was running out of time and energy. In March 2000, I left the Hospital to devote the necessary time to expanding the business and to fulfill the pursuit of my passion.
In July 2001, I began using the current Pleasant Hills location to train ath-letes. As demand grew I began to assemble a staff that was chosen primarily for passion and character as well as certification and education. We were also proud to be part of WPIAL and State Championship runs with TJ and South Park Football and Soccer. We also trained half of Bethel Park Football’s offense during their WPIAL run. With many athletes traveling from as far as Greensburg and Mars school districts, I decided to expand to North Irwin in September 2005. The 5000 square foot facility there is growing strong and recently moved to Monroeville to keep pace with growth.
In 2007 I was approached by Court Time Sports Center in Elizabeth to become part of their team. Our 3rd location came to be in June 2009. The SFAS program is blended into their AAU program and is beginning to spread to neighboring school districts. In 2012 we started operating a fourth site in conjunction with Varsity Strength based in Latrobe.
I receive emails and calls from clients all over the United States and have corre-sponded with individuals in the UK as well as Australia . I have trained NFL athletes and have caught football with a Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl winner. I have trained athletes that have hit game winning shots at the buzzer in NCAA tournament action. I have received texts from athletes after bowl game victories thanking me and asking what else they can do to get to the next level. I have been truly blessed to follow my passion. There is nothing more rewarding than watching the development of a student athlete as they progress through junior and senior high school, college and out into their path in life. Since my com-pany has been around for 13 years I have been honored to watch this cycle with many of our clients. Many student clients that I trained back when we started are now married with children!! At Strength, Fitness And Speed, Inc, we continue to evolve and improve and will always build better athletes one at a time.

 

Humbly, respectfully and thankfully,

Ed Wietholder
President, Strength, Fitness And Speed, Inc.