Philosophy

By Mark Asanovich

Like the game of football, strength training, in and of itself is simple to understand, maximal efforts will yield maximal results. Like football, strength training IS NOT SIMPLE TO DO! Like football, strength training is a coaching reality. Like football, players that are coached in the weight room will develop better results from what is inspected rather than what is expected. Therefore, whether on the football field or in the weight room, success begins with coaches who are committed to roll up their sleeves and individually supervise, teach, and expect proper execution of the fundamentals.

The cornerstone of our program has, and will always be to coach reps, rather than merely count reps. It is this commitment to coaching every player, every rep of every set that ensures sound, sensible, safe and systematic progress. Together, with the support of the head coach and his coaching staff, this commitment to individualized supervision in the weight room is the single most determining dynamic that facilitates maximal results both during the off-season and in-season.

In regards to the strength training protocols and/or equipment utilized, research clearly verifies that there is no one method/modality that is significantly more effective than another. That is not to say, however, that all methods are safe and/or efficient. Executing strength-training exercises ballistically under load is not only unproductive but also predispose lifters to orthopedic dangers. In addition, given the new CBA four hour/day off-season rules, brief, intense strength training protocols are a more efficient use of time in light of the increased demands of off-season film study/field sessions with coaches.

The primary consideration for the strength coach, therefore, is not WHAT equipment or protocol is used, but rather HOW it is used and HOW HARD it is used. Subsequently, it is important to offer both multi-set and single-set alternatives within the strength training routines. This provides the player the opportunity to take ownership in his choice of training equipment and appeases any psychological attachment that he may have to a specific workout preference. Regardless of the set –rep protocol, the criteria that must guide program administration should always be:

Is it prudent?

Is it productive?

Is it practical?

Is it purposeful?

The perception is that all NFL players‘ strength train. The reality is that most players‘ strength train incorrectly and/or at sub maximal levels of intensity. Consequently, the edge has not necessarily been WHAT to do – but HOW do it!

TAKU’s NOTE: This week features another excellent article from Mark Asanovich.

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Strength Training for Athletes

BY TAKU

Primary Goals of the Hybrid Fitness Strength & Conditioning Program:

 

1.    Reduce the likelihood and severity of injury – Keeping athletes healthy and on the field of play is imperative to the success of a team. Thus, the primary goal of all strength and conditioning programs should be injury prevention. This goal includes both reducing the likelihood and severity of injury occurring during athletic performance and also eliminating injuries occurring in the weight room. A strength training program must emphasize areas that are prone to injury as a result of competing in any number of athletic endeavors. Performing potentially dangerous exercises in the weight room to prepare for potentially dangerous activities in competition is like banging your head against a wall to prepare for a concussion.

2.    Stimulate positive physiological adaptations – Physiological changes resulting from a proper strength training regimen include an improvement in strength and the ability to produce force, improved power / explosive capacity, achievement and maintenance of a functional range of motion, and an improvement in body composition.

3.    Improve confidence and mental toughness – An extremely valuable byproduct of strength training is improved confidence and mental toughness. Intense workouts will expand an athlete’s tolerance for physical discomfort. Most athletes who pride themselves in proper strength training will compete harder because they have invested time and energy to physically prepare for competition.

Our program has been prepared to meet the following objectives:

  • Increase and maintain functional range of motion
  • Increase and maintain total body strength levels for improved performance and reduced likelihood of serious injury
  • Increase functional muscular mass – which will enhance your ability for greater power output
  • Keep your percentage of body fat at an acceptable and efficient level
  • Improve muscular endurance
  • Improve your cardiovascular / cardiopulmonary efficiency
  • Improve your quickness and speed
  • Make you mentally and physically tougher
  • Prepare you to win

Muscular Strength / Power

Function Dictates Prescription:

The function of a particular muscle structure dictates what exercise will be performed to target that muscle structure. This means that we must first think about the role or purpose of a given muscle before we can decide what exercise we will use to train it.

Muscle Groups

It is important to understand the major muscle groups of the body, what they do, and how we can train them. We will break the body up it to the following groups:

Neck.

Shoulders.

Chest.

Back.

Arms.

Legs.

Midsection.

The exercises performed can be grouped into the following:

Multijoint Lower body – ex. Squat, Dead-lift, Leg Press

a. push – ex. Bench Press, OH Press, Dips

b. pull – ex. Rows, Chin-ups, Recline pulls

Single joint – ex. Arm Curls & Extensions, etc

Progressive Overload

The physiological basis for any resistance training program is the overload principle. The overload principle states that a system must be stressed beyond its current capacity in order to stimulate a physiological response… that response is an increase in muscular strength and size. The goal should be to use moreresistance or perform more repetitions each time you strength train. The overload principle is the single most important part of a resistance training program.Without overload, a resistance training program is of little or no value. Our goal is to safely and efficiently facilitate overload.

Intensity

Intensity of exercise is the most controllable factor in any resistance training program. Despite what the majority of the population believes, magical set rep schemes, barbells and one repetition maxes have little or nothing to do with obtaining results. Training with a high level of intensity is what stimulates results. A trainee cannot control how he / she will respond to a resistance training program; that response is controlled by genetics. There is no evidence to suggest that low reps with high weight will produce muscular size and strength and high reps with low weight will produce toned muscles. This is a common assumption with no scientific backing.

Brief and Infrequent

Because high intensity exercise is so demanding on the physiological systems of the body, only small amounts can be tolerated. Only a limited amount of exercises can be performed in a workout and only a limited amount of workouts should be performed per week. An excess of volume will cause over training and will lead to little or no results. Because of these facts, our training sessions last only 15-45 minutes and are performed only one, two or three times per week*.

*Volume prescriptions are based on the idividual athlete, sport and in-season / off-season demands pf athletic training.

How Many Sets?

In the past we assumed that the number of sets you performed determined whether or not you produced the best results. Through experience we’ve learned it’s not how many sets you perform. The key is how you perform each set. You can gain strength completing one set or ten sets. It’s also possible to gain no strength regardless of how many sets you perform. Do to our hectic lives, and over-loaded work schedules, most non-professional athletes barely have enough energy to recover from the stress of the daily grind, let alone have time to squeeze in a workout. Your goal as a Strength coach must be to have your athletes perform as few sets as possible while stimulating maximum gains. It must be a priority to eliminate non-productive exercise. Once you have warmed up, why perform a set that is not designed to increase or maintain your current level of strength?

Repetition Performance

The prescribed protocol will often dictate how the repetitions for a set are to be performed. However, there are some performance techniques that are common to all repetitions regardless of the protocol. Always change directions from concentric to eccentric in a smooth fashion allowing the muscles to do the work, not momentum. Never jerk or throw a weight. When a weight is jerked or thrown, momentum is incorporated to move the resistance. When momentum is used the load is taken off of the muscles and less muscle fibers are recruited thus limiting the degree of overload.

Never twist or torque body when performing a rep. The athlete should be instructed to maintain proper positioning, posture, and form. If a protocol does not dictate a specific rep speed, rep speed should be as follows. Raise weight under control taking approximately 3-5 seconds; pause in the contracted position; lower weight at the same speed as the raising of the weight. If in doubt, move slower, never faster. Never sacrifice form for more reps or more resistance. It is not the amount of weight or the number of repetitions performed that matters; it is how the repetitions are performed that matters.

Explosive Training

None of the workouts we will be using contain traditional “explosive” exercises. It is important to understand why we do not implement these exercises. A traditional explosive lift, such as the power clean, does little if anything to build strength, does nothing to develop speed or explosiveness, and is extremely dangerous. Explosive lifts incorporate momentum… when momentum is used to throw a weight, the load is taken off the skeletal muscle, thus, reducing fiber recruitment. In order to develop speed and explosiveness, an individual must train in a slow manner that allows the muscles to raise and lower the resistance… thus leading to fatigue of the targeted muscular structure and leading to the recruitment of more fast twitch muscle fibers.

Specificity

Skills are specific. They do not transfer. Do not attempt to mimic a skill performed on the field in the weight room. Throwing a weighted baseball is a far different skill then throwing a conventional baseball. As soon as you add resistance to a skill it becomes a new skill. A different neuromuscular pattern is recruited. In his text, Introduction to Motor Behavior: A Neuropsychological Approach, author George Sage states, “Practice of nonspecific coordination or quickening tasks will not transfer to sport specific skills.”

Example of a Strength Training Program

All workouts include both warm-up and cool-down activities as well as neck, grip and mid-section work.

BASIC FULL-BODY PROGRAM:

  1. Leg Press or Squat 15-20
  2. Leg Extensions or lunge 8-12
  3. Leg Curls or “triple threat” 8-12  (leg curl may be Prone, Seated or Standing)
  4. Calf Raise 8-12 Barbell, Dumbbell, Machine, (Seated or standing)
  5. Chest press 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.
  6. Push-up
  7. Back Row 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.
  8. Shoulder Press 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.
  9. Chin-ups / Reverse Grip Pull downs 8-12
  10. Dead Lift 12-15 Dumbbell, machine, Trap Bar, or straight bar.
  11. Dips / Triceps Extensions 8-12 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.
  12. Bicep Curls 6-10 Dumbbell, machine, or straight bar.

Thats it. Brief Intense, Infrequent. Remember your goal as a strength coach is to prepare your athletes as best you can while doing no harm. Keep it simple. Keep it safe.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Simple Safe Sound….

By Jim Bryan
With all the new training options that have sprung up in the area, I thought I would re-emphasize what I do.
  1. I don’t use ballistic, speed driven, bodyweight exercises.
  2. I don’t follow gimmicky trends or the latest fitness craze.
  3. I don’t recommend questionable and sometimes dangerous supplements.
  4. I don’t use unsafe movements or exercises that are not beneficial to your condition.
  5. I do believe in safe and productive training.
  6. I do use progressive resistance training.
  7. I use free weight exercises, as well as machine training.
  8. I also utilize bodyweight exercise but I recommend doing them with controlled momentum.
  9. I pattern workouts to client.
  10. I use proven exercises and training routines that are tailor made to the client.
  11. I believe in prudent, practical, and safe strength and conditioning.
  12. I use the latest, proven exercise science.
  13. I believe in short, intense (intensity is client driven) workouts with short rest periods.
  14. My goal for clients is: Strength Training sessions and conditioning all in one workout. “Metabolic Training”
  15. I use mostly “full body” workouts, with emphasis on any “weak areas.”
  16. I encourage an active life style and not just gym training.
  17. All training is private.

TAKU’s NOTE: This week features some simple, safe, and sound, training guidelines from my freind and mentor Jim Bryan.

State of the Union (Part 3)

By Mark Asanovich

WHAT IS STRENGTH?

No Other Area In Sports Is As Fraught With Misinformation As Is Strength Training.”

                                                                   Robert L. Bartels, Ph.D., FASM, Professor Emeritus

              The Ohio State University

          What is “strength? An over statement of the obvious? A fore gone conclusion? Hardly! When one considers the historical evolution (or lack thereof) of strength training in sports and fitness, what should be blatantly obvious is instead blatantly obscure.

In my last column, I suggested that to define strength we must focus on the source of strength … the muscle tissue. When stimulated, the function of muscle tissue is to contract. Contraction of muscular tissue results in the production of FORCE. As such, it would make sense to define strength in terms of contractile force production. Simple and unequivocal, regardless of movement and how that force is expressed around our third class leverage skeletal system.

Given THE WHAT, the next logical question would involve THE HOW. In other words, if strength is the product of contractile force, what is the most effective means/methodologies for increasing contractile force outcomes?Once again, a simple question, yet within the context of mainstream interpretation and application, is very complex to say the least.

      “Strength Development”is the most misunderstood element within the physical fitness equation; and as such, is the most controversial. Consequently, the prescription of strength training protocols for the purpose of developing maximum muscular force potentials has long been a subject of debate and disagreement. Rather than sharing a consensus understanding as to the optimal means/method/model for developing strength potentials, one is instead inundated with many conflicting camps of contrasting thought:

                         THE PERIODIZATION MODEL

THE DELORME – WATKINS MODEL

THE OXFORD MODEL

THE ASCENDING – DESCENDING MODEL

THE CIRCUIT – TRAINING MODEL

THE HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING MODEL

Given such diversity and disagreement, it becomes apparent why ignorance, confusion, frustration and paranoia is the rule rather than the exception when one begins to formulate a philosophywith regard to strength development. Rather than sharing a consensus understanding of strength and universal means of developing it, different planes of understanding create a dichotomy in training methodologies. In an attempt to clarify the prevailing misunderstandings regarding “strength”, in future columns we will discuss what strength is notand the fallacious protocols that have resulted in an industry fast becoming one where the blind are leading the ignorant.

TAKU’s NOTE: This week brings the third part in a three part series from NFL Strength Coach Mark Asanovich. Check out part 1 & 2 for the complete story.

MARK ASANOVICH, MA, CSCS, HFI,

recently completed his fifteenth season as a professional football Strength and Conditioning Coach. A fourteen-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, Mr. Asanovich spent six seasons as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Head Coach Tony Dungy, and has served as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings. His list of Pro Bowlers trained includes Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Chris Carter, Warrick Dunn, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis, John Lynch, Randall McDaniel, Warren Moon, Jonathan Ogden, John Randle and Warren Sapp, among many others.

THE STATE OF THE UNION (PART 2)

By Mark Asanovich

In my last column, I attempted to make a couple of points on the state of the Health Fitness Industry:

1. I don’t presume to have all the answers. Rather; I, like I would suspect many of you

in the profession, are seeking to ask some of the rightquestions so I can facilitate

higher levels of outcomes in those who I serve and who have entrusted their health

to me.

2. It is in understanding the WHAT that will determine the HOW’s of your program

prescriptions.

3. The current reality in the profession is that there are NO one generic/universally

accepted definitions industry wide. Consequently, there is NO one

generic/universally accepted way to develop/measure fitness.

4. There exists controversy as to THE BEST protocols for  stimulating THE BEST

               RESULTS.

5. It behooves us as professionals (and as a profession) to dialog/debate and come to

a consensus understanding of how we define the different aspects of fitness and

function (i.e. strength, cardio-respiratory fitness, flexibility, balance etc.) so that we

can better develop and measure outcomes most efficiently and effectively.

WHAT IS STRENGTH?

Interestingly, whenever I ask this question to colleagues in the profession, the usual response is one of dismay, disbelief and/or downright disgust. But nevertheless, it is in my opinion one of the most fundamental questions that must be addressed requisite to any intelligentdiscussions on how best to develop (or for that matter measure) strength.

Most traditional definitions of strength equate the mechanics of an automobile engine with that of muscle. The problem as I see it with these definitions is that the mechanics of an automobile engine imply movement whereas muscle does not require movement to produce work. In fact, static (or isometric) muscular strength  is work that is generated by the muscle against an immoveable resistance.

Likewise, other definitions of strength not only imply movement, but how movement is expressed around the bony leverage system that is the human skeleton. The obvious problem with these definitions is that when movement is expressed around levers, by definition this is torque … and not strength. Governed by the laws of Physics, torque outputs are the result of many factors  like lever lengths, moment arms, gravity, and friction … in addition to strength!

So where does that leave us? Well in my humble opinion, it brings us back to the source of strength … the muscle tissue. When stimulated, the function of muscle tissue is to contract. Contraction of muscular tissue results in the production of FORCE. As such, it would make sense to me to define strength in terms of contractile force production. Simple and unequivocal, regardless of movement and how that force is expressed around our third class leverage skeletal system.

Mark Twain once said, “It is a good thing to make things simple … but not any simpler“. In regard to defining muscular strength, to speak in terms of resultant contractile force outcomes is simple and serves to clarify rather than confuse … but isn’t any simpler! May the force be with you (sorry, couldn’t resist).

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks again to Mark Asanovivh for allowing me to reprint these articles. To find out more about Mark click on his name at the top of this article.

MARK ASANOVICH, MA, CSCS, HFI,

recently completed his fifteenth season as a professional football Strength and Conditioning Coach. A fourteen-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, Mr. Asanovich spent six seasons as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Head Coach Tony Dungy, and has served as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings. His list of Pro Bowlers trained includes Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Chris Carter, Warrick Dunn, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis, John Lynch, Randall McDaniel, Warren Moon, Jonathan Ogden, John Randle and Warren Sapp, among many others.