Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 43
Written on May 31, 2013 at 10:24 am, by Eric Cressey
Courtesy of Greg Robins, here are this week's five tips to help your strength and conditioning programs out.
1. Try this simple cue to maintain proper leverages with your deadlift technique.
2. Consider coaching a softer knee position in prone bridge variations.
The most important aspect of any prone bridge exercise is control of the spine. Gravity is working down on us, and creating a need to engage the anterior core to keep from over extending. Coaching a stiff, or locked out knee may be o.k. for much of the population. However, in some cases you are better off coaching a knee position that is slightly flexed, to just short of fully extended. More times than not, this slight regression will help trainees to a better feel for using the appropriate muscles, whereas before the hard locked out legs were causing a lot of compensation elsewhere.
3. Utilize "blocks" in your programming.
Block periodization is somewhat of a “buzz” word in the strength training community. It is viewed as a complex system reserved for the advanced training population. In reality, the general concept of block periodization is something that can be easily utilized by all strength training enthusiasts.
By now, you have probably heard that periodization itself isn’t the super cutting-edge concept some make it out to be. In fact it’s more or less just a way to say “organization.” Block periodization refers to organizing your training into specific periods of time. Each period can have a different length, and each should have a different primary focus. So how does this system of organization apply to you, and why is it worth considering?
For starters, organizing things into blocks helps you define a specific goal for a certain period of your training. Additionally, acknowledging different blocks in a training period helps you select appropriate exercises, use movements you might not normally know where to insert, and assign a quantity of work to a given exercise.
Normally, block periodization is synonymous with fancy words like accumulation, transmutation, and realization. For some, understanding these terms is beneficial. For many, it’s not necessary at all. Instead, you can assign whatever focus you want to a given block. However, I would encourage you to embody the theme of moving from “general to specific.”
What you do in the gym will work to either help you, hurt you, or in some cases have no effect whatsoever. Assuming you a have a specific goal in mind, everything you do in the gym should be done in an effort to aid you in achieving your goal. All these things have a different relationship with your progress towards the end goal. Some have a very direct relationship, while others have a more indirect relationship. Each is important, but without planned organization, we tend to focus solely on those with a more direct relationship.
The issue there is that the time spent on an area with a more indirect relationship is still very important. Ignoring them for too long can cause a rapid change in your training out of necessity. Because you ignored these areas, their improvement has now become essential to you moving forward with the more directly related things. Now that this is the case, more time must be spent on improving the indirect things, and the direct things become stagnant at best.
As an example, the most direct correlation to improved sport performance will always be the training of the sport in question. If an athlete spends 90% of his time playing his sport, he has a greater risk of injury due to repetitive overuse of the body in relation the movements of the sport. For every one percent of time he spends on items more indirectly related to his sport performance, the better his odds of avoiding an overuse injury. See Eric’s College Baseball: Is Summer Ball Worth It? article for a real-world example of this.
The same could be said for someone looking to improve a certain fitness category. If you want to squat, bench, and deadlift more – and all you do is these lifts, you, too, will combat the aches and pains associated with the exposure to the same movements over and over. Enter the block organization scheme.
With this concept, we can allot certain periods of time to being either more general, or more specific. In other words, they can be more indirect or direct. When you organize your own training, start incorporating this idea. Everyone’s blocks will be different, and completely dependent upon his or her goals. Here is a simple way to think about it.
Block 1 (4 – 8 weeks)
Most general, or indirect: 60% or more of what you do.
Less general, more direct: 30% or more of what you do.
Most specific or direct: 10% or less of what you do.
Block 2 (3 – 6 weeks)
Most general, or indirect: 20% of what you do.
Less general, more direct: 50% or less of what you do.
Most specific or direct: 30% or more of what you do.
Block 3 (2 – 4 weeks)
Most general, or indirect: 10% or less of what you do.
Less general, more direct: 10% or less of what you do.
Most specific or direct: 80% or more of what you do.
4. Add the band-resisted sled sprint to your arsenal.
Band resisted sled sprints are a great tool for a variety of reasons. Any sled sprint sprint offers the benefit of lower impact, and in this case you have the ability to move the feet very explosively with less ground contact forces than traditional sprinting. Furthermore, the trailing person can alter the resistance to meet the demands of either the training intensity or the output from the sprinter. Lastly, these are a viable option for people coming back from upper extremity issues who may not be able to push a heavier sled.
5. Take advantage of grilling season.
Up North, we have crappy weather, plain and simple. This year, it's been exceptionally awful. Unfortunately, that means our time available to grill is shorter than I would like. While the good weather is upon us, I make it a point to use the easiest food preparation tool short of the microwave as much as possible, and you should, too. Grilling is about as simple as it gets. You can cook meats, veggies, and even starches all in the same place. Plus, clean-up is virtually non existent. If you have been in a food prep rut, get yourself outside and on the grill!
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