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.

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.

The State of the Union (Part I)

By Mark Asanovich

Please allow me to preface my remarks — I don’t presume to have all the answers. Rather, I am just a dumbbell coach, who after thirty years in the profession, is just beginning to ask some of the right questions. In Metaphysics II, Aristotle said:

“Those who wish to understand … must first ask the right preliminary questions.”

In other words, to understand HOW to develop something and/or HOW to measure something, first requires an understanding of WHAT is to be developed and WHAT is to be measured.

It is in understanding the WHAT that will determine the HOW’s of your program prescriptions. As professionals and as a profession, it behooves us therefore to take a critical look at the industries definitions of EXERCISE.

The point I am trying to make is that regardless of how you define the different aspects of exercise (i.e. strength, flexibility, cardio-respiratory fitness, etc.) 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. Therefore, as health & fitness professionals, to say that we exist, work and make a living in a precariously tenuous position is an understatement – but that is the HARD reality of the situation.

Given that hard reality, it comes as no surprise to me that there exists controversy, disagreement, dissention, and downright personal animosities in this profession. To be a health & fitness professional in this day and age is to be by definition (or lack thereof) — to be misunderstood …, crazy, or insane or whatever you want to call it. Rambling as I am, that is the state of the union of the health & fitness profession as this one dumbbell coach sees it.

Having stated that, I do not want to sour you on the profession. Health & Fitness is a great profession that has many rewards. However, with respect to being a practitioner, you need to not only understand the realities – but you need to embrace them. The field needs individuals that are passionate, professional and principled. Having “thick skin” may be another requisite characteristic.

So what’s the answer? I emphatically DON”T KNOW! What I do know, however, is that as a profession we do need to start taking a critical look at asking the RIGHT questions with respect to defining outcomes before we begin discussing the cause/effect relationship of developing those outcomes. So where do we begin? In the next series of articles, I will ask some of those questions — beginning with “WHAT IS STRENGTH?” In doing so, it will provide a forum for professional dialog that will initiate the steps in coming to a consensus understanding on “HOW TO BEST DEVELOP?” and/or “HOW TO BEST MEASURE?” the outcomes we all seek to develop. And in the end, it is my hope that in the asking it will provide a higher level of service in those who have entrusted their health to us.

TAKU’s NOTE: For the next few weeks I will be featuring a series of articles by Mark Ansanovich. I have had the privaledge of hearing Mark speak on several occasions. He is without a doubt one of the best S&C coaches in the busniness. I featured some of Marks words of wisdom back in July of last year. Chek that out here:

For those who don’t know Mark, here is a bit more info about him.

Mark Asanovich

Recently completed his fifteenth season as a Strength & Conditioning Coach in professional football with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League (UFL). A fourteen-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, Asanovich was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars on February 1, 2003 after spending six seasons as the Strength & Conditioning Coach for Head Coach Tony Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2002 season as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to that he served as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Minnesota Vikings in 1995.