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5 Common Hip Training Mistakes

Today's guest post comes from Dean Somerset, the co-creator of the excellent new resource, Complete Hip and Shoulder Blueprint. It's on sale at a $60 off introductory discount. I really enjoyed going through the product and highly recommend it. In the meantime, without further ado, I'll turn this over to Dean. -EC 

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I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a broad array of people and hips, ranging from post-total hip replacement to pro hockey players and Olympic athletes in multiple sports. I’ve seen general fitness folks with normal aches and pains, and even people missing the odd hip here and there.

The good thing about training a broad range of clients is that you get to see what happens when a population isn’t homogenous. Imagine if I only trained total hip replacement clients. I would have zero idea of how a hip worked if it wasn’t made of titanium and ceramic. I would also never move through internal rotation and flexion without fear or popping that hip out of its socket. If I only ever trained hockey players, I’d never know life without groin pulls or femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).

This also helps me to see what kinds of things work really well across different populations without issue, as well as the concepts that seem to stick well through all phases of training, while also seeing what stuff falls completely apart across different outcomes and inputs.

While there are a lot of potential variables and details to consider with each of the specific and non-specific populations I outlined above, there are also some simple and consistent things that you can take away from them all that makes my life as a trainer much easier. These things also help to deliver better results all around, and I wanted to share some of my failures and realizations to help your training as a result.

#1: Don’t assume symmetry.

When I started training, every text or manual said to have feet pointing in the same direction to prevent “imbalances.” The belief was if you do anything different between left and right sides, you’re going to develop these nefarious things that will limit your progress and ruin your life, so to speak.

While preventing poor performance or development is entirely admirable and a massive goal of any training program, it’s somewhat inaccurate to say standing in a symmetric stance prevents asymmetry. This is especially true if there’s a degree of asymmetry in the structure of the hips, knees, or feet.

Zalawadia et al (2010) showed that the angle of anteversion or retroversion of the femur could be significantly different from left to right, sometimes more than 20 degrees worth of difference!

anteversion

What this means is your left or right leg might point in a different direction simply due to the angle differences between the two structures. Moreover, it means putting them both into a symmetric stance would actually push one into a different alignment with the hip socket or femoral neck angle relative to the pelvis, which would actually CREATE imbalanced tension through both sides of the hip.

This means if someone is standing in a symmetric stance and doing something like a squat, but feel one hip doing something funky, it could be because they have some structural issues (or maybe they have some other soft tissue stuff), but it’s not working in symmetric stance. If turning one foot out into a new position makes them feel awesome and helps them get stronger and more stable, it might be worth chasing that rabbit down the hole.

#2: Stretching isn’t always the answer.

Piggybacking on the concept of structure, there’s a lot of range of motion limitation that could be attributed to bone-to-bone contact compared to a muscles ability to stretch through a specific length.

D’Lima et al (2000) found that hip flexion ROM could be as low as 75 degrees with 0 degrees of both acetabular anteversion (whether the hip socket points forward) or femoral anteversion (when the neck of the thigh bone points either forward or backwards), but as high as 155 degrees, with 30 degrees of both acetabular anteversion or femoral anteversion. An increase in femoral neck diameter of as little as 2mm was able to reduce hip flexion range by 1.5 – 8.5 degrees, depending on the direction of motion.

These ROMs are pretty much the absolute limit of ability in these individuals, because accessing a range beyond this bone-to-bone contact is like me trying to find more space in my bedroom by pushing my face through a wall. Sure, I could technically do it, but something bad will likely happen by trying. Another way to achieve the range would be by moving from an adjoining segment once the first one is used up. If I go to tie my shoes, but run out of hip range of motion somewhere around my knees, I’ll round my back to get the job done.

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For many of the people I was working with in our Complete Shoulder and Hip Blueprint resource, as we were trying to improve their mobility to help them do stuff like squat deeper or tie their shoes, they would hit a physical wall and not be able to get through that regardless of what soft tissue modality or active smashing we could do to the area. It also didn’t matter how much time we spent working on static or active stretch modalities. I can swing my face around the room in the earlier example all day long, until I get to a wall. I can’t swing my face through that wall all that easily.

The big question then comes to how much of that free space between their bones ramming into each other can they access and use. If you can get your knee to your chest when on your back, but squat looking like a new-born deer with legs going everywhere and looking like you’re going to fall over at any moment, there’s a mismatch. And, we need to help you access that range a lot more effectively. This can also be position and direction specific.

Often active range of motion will be more beneficial in creating a usable ROM that’s within that individual’s aptitude of control versus static stretching, which will help people make muscles longer, but may not help them use them in a specific position or direction.

#3: Don't forget that vertical and horizontal force vectors are similar, but different – and both make you better.

Let’s say I’m training a 16 year-old basketball player and a 65 year-old grandmother who has some hip arthritis. Both of them would require some training in how to perform a hip hinge in one way or another, but they would occasionally do the movement in the same way. They would start the movement by rounding their low back and essentially think of getting their chest closer to the floor versus sitting their hips back without initiating through the low back. They have completely different morphologies and training histories, but they access the movement the same. In other words, they could benefit from a different type of training environment to see the development of that hinge, especially if I’m looking to load it up without smashing out their spines.

In many ways, the deadlift is the same as a hip thrust or glute bridge in that the movement is supposed to be initiated from the hips with stable feet and minimal movement from the lumbar spine. The big difference between the two is the direction of force application through the spine and hips, as well as the volume of torque development at the initiation and conclusion of the rep movement. A deadlift produces the greatest torque at the bottom of the movement when the hip is flexed and the least at the top when standing tall, whereas a hip bridge produces the max torque at the end of the extension. There’s also more shear force through the spine at the start of the movement versus throughout the movement on the hip thrust due to the placement of load and length of lever arm.

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What this means is that if you’re looking to train hip extension – but deadlifts are problematic for the rounding of the spine or shear force on the spine (especially for someone with any potential discogenic issues or spinal pathology) – a deadlift may not be an ideal option compared to a hip thrust. If someone can’t or shouldn’t do a deadlift with vertical force development or tolerance, but they can hip thrust without issue, we’re going to hip thrust until their face explodes and glutes shred their denim. The shorter lever length working on the spine means they can expose the hips to more load with less force on the spine, and, in turn, generate a training effect without potential limitations of vertical loading. For the two hypothetical clients above, the ability to pull the weight from the floor isn’t as important as developing a training effect while minimizing injury risk.

#4: Don't focus too much on posterior chain and forget hip flexion movements.

Some of the most common exercises – squats, deadlifts, lunges – tend to focus on forms of hip extension, but very few programs involve some form of hip flexion work. While it’s difficult to access the end ranges and create some high force like you can with some stupid heavy deadlifts, you can still work on training the ability to access that range with some degree of control.
 

A word of warning: these absolutely suck to do, but you should still do them.

Rapid and high force hip flexion is a massively beneficial movement for any athlete who requires running or change of direction movements, and also for anyone who has to preload before performing rapid hip extension, which means pretty much everything. It’s not something that should take the place of any extension-based exercise, but using it to help create some balance between front and back can give a lot of benefits. You don’t need to go 50/50 with posterior and anterior exercises, but throwing the odd one in every now and then can pay big dividends. Think one set for every five sets of posterior chain work in a week.

#5: Don't forget that only two people NEED to deadlift from the floor.

The pre-set bar height for a deadlift is the radius of the plates, which means you have to grab that 1-1/8” bar sitting 8.75 inches from the flat ground. This is fine for someone if they’re 5-feet-tall and have the mobility to do anything they want, and even for the limber 6-foot-tall individuals out there who can get their knees to their chest without problem. But what about the guy who is 6’8” with a long torso, or the girl who is 5’8” and has a retroverted acetabulum? Both can’t grab that bar without running out of hip flexion range of motion about a hands length above the bar, meaning to get there they now have to flex their spine. This typically shouldn’t be a problem, but any forced flexion with uncontrolled motion under load could be disastrous.

We can see people who use this lumbar flexion mode to make up for a hip limitation by looking at their low back when they’re flexed. If they’re using their low back to initiate the movement, you’ll see a distinct arching out of their low back at the segment that’s moving, as well as some significant hypertrophy of their erector spinae at that group compared to the rest of their spine.

If I’m worried about keeping someone’s low back happy, having them pull from the floor and seeing them initiate the movement with their lumbar spine versus from their hips could be a starting point of failure. This could be via in limiting performance by using tonic versus phasic muscles, or via increasing the relative strain on a sensitive spinal segment that eventually becomes irritated.

[bctt tweet="Only competitive powerlifters and Olympic lifters are REQUIRED to deadlift from the floor."]

Everyone else isn’t required to do this, except on the internet where random rules are made up to test people’s manhood/womanhood all the time.

For most lifters, using a slightly higher surface to pull from (either a rack pull or elevating the weights with some mats or onto other plates) can make the difference between lifting with discomfort from the floor or feeling absolutely flawless and strong with no pain or problems. When training people who don’t make their livelihoods on a powerlifting or Olympic lifting platform, that’s a big win.

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These are all concepts covered in the new video resource from Dean and Tony Gentilcore, Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint. This video series contains 11 hours of HD video, offers NSCA continuing education credits, and can help trainers, therapists and exercise enthusiasts alike take their training knowledge to the next level. To sweeten the deal, the product is on sale for $60 off the regular price as an introductory special through this Saturday at midnight. Click here for more information; you'll really enjoy checking it out (because I sure did!).

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/31/16

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Personally, while I'm really enjoying the World Series, I'm ready for these late-night playoff games to end so that I can get back to getting to bed early!

Anyway, here's a little recommended strength and conditioning reading to kick off your week:

Meal Plans Usually Suck; Here Are 6 Better Ways to Transform Your Diet - I absolutely LOVE this article from Brian St. Pierre. It's a game-changer when individuals understand nutrition principles rather than just becoming slave to pre-made meal plans. 

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10 Commandments of Injury Prevention - Dr. John Rusin did a good job with this article for T-Nation. There are a lot of things you probably already know - but they deserve reiteration!  

Why We Don't List Our Prices on the Internet - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, thoroughly outlines why you won't find our fees on CresseySportsPerformance.com.

Top Tweet of the Week:

Top Instagram Post of the Week:

 

He's pretty good.

A photo posted by Cressey Sports Performance (@cresseysportsperformance) on

 

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5 Spine-Sparing Strength and Conditioning Program Strategies

In his book, Back Mechanic, Dr. Stuart McGill frequently uses the term "spine hygiene" to describe how individuals position themselves during various everyday and athletic tasks to manage their back pain. Most of the strategies speak to the positional side of things, but I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at some strength and conditioning program strategies you can employ to keep the spine healthy over the long haul. 

1. Don’t pick up heavy dumbbells.

The stronger you get, the bigger a pain it is to pick up and position dumbbells, whether it's for rows, presses, or single-leg work. Things are even harder when the heaviest dumbbells are positioned on the lowest tiers of the dumbbell rack. We've been brainwashed for years that dumbbells are more spine-friendly than barbells, but this simply isn't always true. Being able to unrack a weight from chest height and not having to swing it into position can be invaluable once you're developed an appreciable level of strength. I'm not saying not to use heavy dumbbells, but rather to be very careful with this approach if you're someone who has dealt with low back pain.

2. Cycle in heavy bilateral loading.

Make no mistake about it: a barbell will allow you to move the most weight in your program on the overwhelming majority of exercises. Unfortunately, this also means that the compressive and shear forces on your spine will generally be highest with barbell exercises. That doesn't mean that you need to eliminate them, but rather that you need to cycle them out periodically to give you a little break. At the peak of my powerlifting career, I'd always stay away from squats, deadlifts, and good mornings for the first 10-14 days after a meet. It was all lower intensity work, anyway, so plenty of single-leg work and glute-ham raises was a perfect fit.

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3. If you are going to do both in the same session, squat before you deadlift.

There are many theories as to why deadlifting is so much more exhausting both systemically and locally, but regardless of the one to which you subscribe, you'll surely recognize that heavy pulling before squatting is a recipe for a cranky back. After all, there is a reason you always squat first and deadlift last in every powerlifting. A few of my favorite approaches in terms of sequencing are:

a. Squat heavy, deadlift for reps
b. Squat heavy, deadlift for speed
c. Squat for speed, deadlift heavy
d. Squat for speed, deadlift for reps

Occasionally, you can dabble in some speed deadlifts before you squat, but once you've reached a solid level of strength, I think you'll find that it still just doesn't work out all that well.

4. Don't train in a fatigued state if you don't move well.

Experienced lifters with great core control can usually get away with training through fatigue as long as the training loads aren't outrageous. Interestingly, though, if you look at the typical recreational runner with back pain, it usually starts after they've already been running for a while. Fatigue changes the game, as they start to substitute lumbar extension (low back movement) for hip extension.

This doesn't just underscore the importance of gradual return to running progressions; rather, it reminds us that those with a history of low back pain need to spend a lot of time training with perfect technique in non-fatigued states. As McGill has discussed, they're better off doing multiple sets of shorter prone and side bridges than they are trying to hold one set for 60 seconds.

Back-Mechanic

Over time, these good positions because second nature and accepted as the norm "subconscious awareness." Every second the individual spends in a bad position, though - either because of poor positional awareness or an inability to overcome fatigue - is a step in the wrong direction.

5. Go to split-stance.

Just as single-leg lower body work can be much more spine friendly than bilateral work, simply going to a split-stance on other exercises can be helpful for minimizing unwanted spine movement, too. As an example, we always teach our wall slide variations with a split-stance, and you'll also see this approach integrated with rowing and landmine press technique, too.

Cressey wall slide

Wrap-up

These are obviously only a few of seemingly countless ways to keep your lower back healthy in a strength and conditioning program, so I'd love to hear some of your suggestions in the comments section below!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/17/16

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I made my second Massachusetts-to-Florida drive over the weekend. I was going crazy not being able to watch playoff baseball, but I did manage to crush some audiobooks and podcasts along the way.

EC on the Jim Laird Show - I really enjoyed being interviewed in Jim's podcast, and feel like we covered a lot of great stuff.

ADHD Nation - I listened to this audiobook on my ride from MA to FL over the weekend, and it was eye-opening, to say that least. One statistic that really blew my mind: there are over 10,000 2-3 year-olds in the U.S. who are on some kind of ADHD medication.

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The Absolute Worst Fitness Trend - This is a T-Nation compilation to which I contributed. There are some really good observations here.

Top Tweet of the Week -

Top Instagram Post of the Week

 

Not too shabby. #elitebaseball #cspfamily

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Strength Strategies – Installment 3

I figured it'd be a good time to add another installment to this series, as today is the last day of the sale on Greg Robins and my resource, The Specialization Success Guide. Through midnight tonight (Sunday), you can save 40% by entering the coupon code ROBINS at checkout HERE.

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Here are six strategies to help you in your strength pursuits:

1. Be a beltless badass.

My wife has a very good deadlift for someone who's never competed in powerlifting; she's pulled close to 300 pounds, which is about 2.5 times her body weight. What's most impressive to me, though, is that even when she gets up to 95-100% of her best deadlift, her form never breaks down. This has a lot to do with consistent coaching early on, and the right pace to progressions over the ten years I've known her.

That said, I also think that it has a ton to do with never wearing a lifting belt. Seriously, she has never put on one. Likewise, I have athletes who have been with us for close to a decade who have never worn one, either. I'm a big believer:

[bctt tweet="Optimal long-term technique and strength success is built on a beltless foundation."]

Interesting, on this point, I reached out to Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Bonvechio, who coaches our women's powerlifting team. He said that most of his novice lifters will gain about 20% on their squat and deadlifts by wearing a belt.

Conversely, Tony himself gets about 9%, and I'm slightly less than that (6-7%). I reached out to some very accomplished lifters, and after crunching the numbers between raw and belted PRs, none of them were over 10% difference.

To this end, I think a big training goal should be to reduce the "Belt Deficit." Training beltless is a great way to make sure that "ugly strength" doesn't outpace technique in beginning lifters, and it can also be a hugely helpful training initiative for more advanced lifters who may have become too reliant on this implement.

2. Don't be afraid to gain some weight.

Make no mistake about it; you can improve strength without gaining weight. It can, however, be like trying to demolish a 30-story building with an ice pick instead of dynamite. 

I've had some success as lightweight (165-181-pound class) lifter, but this can be misleading because there have been multiple times in my lifting career when I've pushed calories to make strength gains come faster. In the fall of 2003, for instance, I went from 158 up to 191, and then cut back to a leaner 165. In the summer of 2006, I got up to 202, then back down to the mid 180s. These weight jumps made me much more comfortable supporting heavy weights in the squat and bench press, as a little body weight goes a long way on these lifts.

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3. Learn to evaluate progress in different ways.

Traditionally, powerlifters have only cared about evaluating progress with the "Big 3" lifts. Unfortunately, those aren't going to improve in every single training session. To some degree, the Westside system of powerlifting works around this by rotating "Max Effort" exercises - but even with rotating exercises, it's still an approach that relies on testing maximal strength on a very regular basis. Occasionally, it'll lead to disappointments even over the course of very successful training cycles.

For this reason, we always encourage individuals to find different ways to monitor progress. Tracking bar speed can be great, whether you have technology to actually do it, or you're just subjectively rating how fast you're lifting. A lower rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at a given weight would also indicate progress.

Volume based measures are also useful. Hitting a few more reps with the same weight during your assistance work is invaluable; those reps add up over the course of a longer training cycle. Also, making a training session more dense (more work in the same or less amount of time) can yield great outcomes.

Looking for more strength strategies or - better yet - programs to take the guesswork out of things for you? Check out The Specialization Success Guide, a resource for those specifically focused on improving the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Through the end of the day today, you can enter the coupon code ROBINS to save 40% off the normal price.

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The “Power Couple” Sale

This weekend is going to be a fun one for the Cressey Sports Performance family, as long-time staff member Greg Robins marries his wonderful fiancée, Taryn. When you combine Greg's 685-pound deadlift with Taryn's 320-pound deadlift, you quickly realize that a 1,000-pound combined pull makes them the very definition of a "power couple."

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Greg was also my co-creator The Specialization Success Guide, so it seemed like a perfect week to have a Power Couple Sale (because weddings are all about cheesy hashtags and taglines). This 100% digital product is a great resource for those looking to specifically improve the squat, bench press, or deadlift. Just enter the coupon code ROBINS (all CAPS) to receive a 40% discount at checkout at the following link:


http://www.BuildingTheBig3.com

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This sale ends Sunday, October 16 at midnight. Again, that coupon code is ROBINS. Congratulations, Greg and Taryn!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/3/16

I just finished the 23-hour drive down to Jupiter, Florida from Massachusetts, the Patriots lost yesterday, and I got crushed in Fantasy Football. In other words, you could say that it was a rough weekend - but I certainly won't. Why? Playoff baseball is kicking off this week, so things are looking awesome!  How awesome is this time of year? Speaking of awesome, here's some great reading from around the web from the past week:

Having an Approach to Having an Approach - In case you missed it, here's a guest post I wrote up for my business partner, Pete Dupuis.  First impressions really matter, and these are some strategies to make the most of them.

The Like Switch - I listened to this audiobook on my ride down to FL, and found it pretty interest. Dr. Jack Schafer is a retired FBI agent, and he discussed a lot of tactics he used in everything from befriending spies, to interrogating suspects, to reading people. As a coach, it made me realize that we can enhance our coaching and rapport-building efforts with some non-verbal adjustments. And, as a speaker, it gave me some ideas on how to "read" audiences. I'd definitely recommend it regardless of your line of work.

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The Physical Preparation Podcast with Chris Chase - I covered this on my drive as well; Mike Robertson interviewed Atlanta Hawks Athletic Performance Coach Chris Chase, and it was outstanding. This is a really good listen on both the off-season and in-season training side of things.

Top Tweet of the Week:

Top Instagram Post of the Week:


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How to Determine If An Athlete Should Olympic Lift

Today's guest post comes from Wil Fleming, who just released his excellent Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach course, which is currently being offered at an introductory for $100 off discount. 

Eight years ago, when I first opened my business, if you had asked me "Which athletes should Olympic lift?", I would have answered:

“Anyone with a pulse.”

While my vigor and passion for the Olympic lifts as a training tool have only grown, my group of athletes that immediately begin weightlifting movements has grown smaller. I still believe that most athletes can benefit greatly from the Olympic lifts, and have seen it happen hundred and hundreds of times, but I have developed a system and an eye for who should be weightlifting.

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Below are the four considerations that I go through with my athletes to determine who is ready to do the Olympic weightlifting movements.

1. Assess

The first and simplest step in determining if an athlete should Olympic lift is to assess their movement ability prior to starting. As any competent trainer/coach knows that assessment prior to training is important no matter the goal.

There are plenty of different tools for assessment based on your background, and needs as a coach. Similarly, with athletes looking to Olympic lift, I want to see a variety of screens passed before I say “let’s go do some cleans.”

We have several screens or assessment tests that we use to determine if an athlete can A) Olympic lift B) do it well.

The one that coaches are most familiar with would be the FMS active straight leg raise test. This is a gross simplification of the test and the desired outcome, but the athlete starts in supine and lifts one leg as high as they can go. We want to see a score of 2 or 3, in FMS terms, to green light the athlete for hinging into hang Olympic weightlifting movements.

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So why exactly are we concerned about the FMS score for an ASLR?

First off, hinging is a vital component to an athlete’s ability to perform an Olympic lift or any derivative. In setting up on the back, the athlete has nearly all variables taken out of the hip flexion, or hip hinge equation. This position is the simplest form of hip flexion we can achieve and if an athlete is unable to score a 2 or 3, it would be pretty poor judgment to believe that they can get in a good hinging position while loaded with a barbell and additional weight. Could I absolutely get them in a good position with lots of coaching? Probably, but I would not risk the potential for compensatory patterns popping up.

No, 2 or 3? It’s cool. We can develop better hip flexion through a variety of correctives and get the athlete Olympic lifting if they have numbers 2-4 down.

2. Pre-Requisites

Going into high school, you weren’t thrust right into calculus or rocket science class (is that a class?). No, instead you got your basics in multiplication and algebra, or chemistry and physics.

Similarly, weightlifting movements are pretty advanced to perform. Now, I’m not going to compare them to calculus or rocket science, but there’s more going on than in the dumbbell curl.

Pre-requisites, at the very least, allow you to speak the same language. When coaching the Olympic lifts, it is extremely helpful to be able to refer to other movements to which the athlete is somewhat familiar. “Jump,” “squat,” and “hinge” all work a lot better when the athlete knows to what you are referring.

In this case, we need some pre-requisites to Olympic lifting. Fortunately, they aren’t as difficult as chemistry was.

First is the ability to squat. I’m not referring to a particular amount of weight, but just the capacity to do a pretty good looking squat and maintain balance across the foot for the entire movement. Ideally, we have exposed them to a front squat of some sort. This is going to allow the athlete to receive the barbell in the clean or snatch.

I teach all my athletes the hang power clean first. While I am not looking for an athlete to squat all the way under to receive it, I do want to see them understand how to retreat the hips when accepting load.

Next up is hinging. The athlete should be able to do a good looking RDL with a kettlebell or barbell. I want to see an athlete understand balance (again), unlocked knees, and hips going backwards. If we don’t prepare an athlete with the ability to hinge, we end up with athletes that clean by jumping a foot forward. Set them up for success by teaching the hinge first.

Lastly, we need some knowledge of plyometrics. The athlete should be able to jump and land. We are primarily concerned with jumping from a hip width stance (the same one we use for pulling in the clean or snatch) and landing in a shoulder width stance (the same one we want when receiving the bar).

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If all three of these things are knocked out, then an athlete is ready to learn the Olympic lifts.

3. Athlete Needs

In its most basic sense, we look at the energy system demands and strength/power demands of the sport in which the athlete is competing. From that information, we must determine whether the athlete would benefit from adding Olympic lifts to that equation.

Olympic lifts fall on a particular portion of the force velocity curve that mean they maximize power output. Generally this number is around 60-80% of max force, exactly where heavy Olympic lifts tend to rest. In other words, getting an athlete proficient in the Olympic lifts will help the athlete develop a much higher power output, resulting in improved testing measures (vertical jump, broad jump, 10 yd sprint time), and improved on court/field performance.

If the athlete competes in a sport that values those attributes – which is effectively almost every sport – then you have passed the next step to determine whether an athlete should Olympic lift.

4. Sport Demands

Determining the demands of the sport will be the final hurdle. Specifically, what are common movements in the sport, and would using the Olympic lifts unnecessarily add to the trauma that the sport causes?

Being that you are on Eric Cressey’s website I can imagine it would be heresy to say that baseball players SHOULD snatch, and don’t worry: I’m not going to. If that’s where your brain took you, then we are on the same page.

We look at two things when it comes to sport demands. The first is the actual sport, and then we look at the athlete’s level/training age.

To take the baseball player for example, the snatch will typically be eliminated. This is not because of inherent danger, but rather that some of the more extreme ranges of motion in the snatch may create issues in a population with a combination of structural changes and accumulated fatigue that could lead to problems. Similarly, for our population of swimmers we don’t snatch due to the accumulated fatigue most swimming strokes cause.

That said, the clean doesn’t have the same level of incidence of shoulder issues that the snatch does (see this study), so in the eyes of many, the criteria for baseball or swimming would be passed.

Our next set of questions arises when we look at the age or experience level of the athlete. When we have had pro baseball players in the gym, and particularly under a limited time frame, we often choose to not use the clean in their training. Many times these athletes have no experience with the clean, but have trained for a number of years; at this point we are introducing a completely new skill to an already highly skilled athlete.

Will there be power production improvements? Most likely.

Will that mean they are better professional baseball players? Probably not.

The case of the high school baseball player is much different. I likely have a lot more time (years, potentially) with them. Their training age is fairly young, they’re often multi-sport athletes, and the benefits of increased power production are incredible.

Conclusion

Once these four hurdles are cleared, an athlete is likely ready and able to Olympic lift. That doesn’t mean you are ready to start them on that path. You have to have a repeatable and simple method for teaching the lifts to your athletes, and you have to have a method for identifying and correcting mistakes early and often. If you don’t,then I would highly suggest you don’t worry about teaching the lifts; it’s probably not worth it for your or your athletes’ time.

If you do or don’t, but want to learn my system for teaching thousands of athletes how to use weightlifting movements to become better athletes, please consider checking out my new resource, the Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach course.

weightlifting

Note from EC: I’ve gone through Wil’s course myself; it’s very thorough and a continuing education option I’d highly recommend, especially with it being on sale through October 7. You can learn more HERE.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/27/16

This post comes a day later than usual, as we're playing a bit of catch-up after Sunday's 5th Annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar. Fortunately, there is some good content to make the wait worth it.

Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach Course  - I'm actually going through this new offering from Wil Fleming right now myself. Admittedly, I was skeptical of whether Olympic lifts could be taught via an online medium, but it's actually very well structured and I'm enjoying going through it. Wil discusses assessments and programming in great deal as well. It's definitely worth checking out if you're someone who's looking to learn more about the Olympic lifts and how to coach and program them.

weightlifting

Applied Technology in Training and Rehab - This is an excellent guest post from Adam Loiacono on Mike Robertson's website. With the big boom of athlete monitoring over the past few years, it's important to understand how all the pieces fit together.

The Ideal Business Show with Adam Bornstein - I loved Adam's interview for Pat Rigsby's podcast. Adam's a super bright guy who understands a lot about business development - particularly in the fitness industry, but definitely across multiple disciplines.

Top Tweet of the Week 

Top Instagram Post of the Week 

 

Simple reminder. #cspfamily #elitebaseball

A photo posted by Cressey Sports Performance (@cresseysportsperformance) on

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/19/16

Another week, another Patriots win and fantasy football victory for me! I'll keep talking about it in this weekly blog until the luck wears off! 

That said, let's look at some top picks from around the web from the past week:

They Myths of Mental Toughness Training: Part 1 and Part 2 - Doug Kechijian is a super bright physical therapist who also happens to have extensive military experience. So, you could say that this fantastic two-part article comes from excellent perspectives in multiple regards.

Physical Preparation Podcast with Boo Schexnayder - This podcast from Mike Robertson is several months old, but I actually went back and listened to it a second time. There are loads of pearls of wisdom in there for any coach from any discipline.

Podcast Q&A with Dr. Stuart McGill - There was some excellent information on the lower back front in this interview for Dean Somerset's site. The discussion of calcification in the spine of lifters of various proficiency is fascinating, and is around the 18-minute mark.

Top Tweet of the Week:

Top Instagram Post of the Week:  

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