Monthly Archives: January 2012

1 Rep Max

A strength coach can’t just assign sets and reps to his or her athletes. The coach should also mandate the load as well.  Anyone who has coached knows that a good coach can get his or her athletes to overpeform.  When left to their own accord athletes might not get that extra push.  Everything should be based off of a 1 rep. max and then the coach should assign a percentage of that max.  The core exercises can be 1 rep max tested but for the ancillary exercise you can estimate using charts like this.

http://www.nsca-lift.org/fly%20solo%20program/1%20RM%20Poundage%20Chart.pdf

For the sake of this article let’s say that we are training a High School football team starting in the off-season. You would try to create different workouts based on positions but in a High School that is often tough to do.  Players can switch positions quite often and many times their bodies are not developed enough to elicit much change in workouts types. Because you will be spending a lot of time on instruction in a High School setting it might be better off to create a uniform workout with the exception of the upper class-men who are more advanced in their training and have a clear position on the field.

On day number one I would test all my athletes in the squat, bench press, deadlift, and power clean.  Of course this all depends on previous experience.  If I felt a kid was not properly trained to perform these lifts then other precautions would have to be used.  However, for athletic performance let’s assume that the athletes have experience and can safely perform the exercises given.  If a kid is underdeveloped but has the lifting background then you could use a 3 rep. max to ensure safety.  For example, in a High School setting before an off season program you 1 rep max test the Juniors and Seniors.  However the freshman and Sophomores might not be able to handle the heavy loads and they could potentially injure themselves.  For the younger kids you would have to separate them into trained and untrained.  The untrained kids need to be taught biomechanics while the trained kids  can proceed to testing.

The ancillary exercises that I had mentioned might be things like a bent over row or  triceps extensions.  These exercises don’t need to be tested and can be assigned a number of sets and reps with instructions of when to progress and when to back off.  Remembering that not all training is linear.  Sometimes a recovery workout is the best workout.  If you continually increase the volume from week to week eventually gains will be compromised.

The further out from the season that lighter your 1 Rep max percentage can be.  For example if you are in a 8 week macro-cycle and this is week 1 you might start at 60% of that 1 rep max. The athletes should do 10-15 reps with no more than 30 seconds recovery.   Building up muscular endurance early on in the off-season will help the athletes to not burn out too quickly.  In weeks 3-5 you can increase towards more of a strength workout.   In a strength workout you would assign maybe 80-90% of the 1-rep. max.  During this phase the athletes might do 6-8 reps for multiple sets with full recovery in between sets.  In weeks 5-7 the athlete should adopt a power component to include lower reps.  They might do 3-5 reps at 70-80% of the 1 rep. max with again full recovery in between sets.  In the last week leading up to the season would be a good week to begin those recovery workouts that I previously mentioned.  In this week the athletes would begin to perform their maintenance workouts.  The intensity would decrease in order to prepare for the increased time spent with skill work in their respective coaches.  This would also be a good time to add plenty of foam rolling and flexibility work to help the body recover fully.

As you can see that 1 rep max determined the loads of the exercises which determined the volume for each athlete.  It is a vital factor to improve performance leading up to the season.

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Why certifications matter

There are a lot of options out there for people who want to bring their fitness to the next level.  There are personal trainers, strength coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, and even speed coaches.  One of the things about all of these options that a lot of people don’t know is there are literally hundreds of certifications that will give these coaches their license to train you.  Most of these certifications require you to do nothing more than pay a fee and they will send you a take home test with the text book.  Once you pass the easiest test in the world you are a certified personal trainer.  I would say that most personal trainers at one time had a certification.  However, most of them are not current.  They expire from year to year so if a trainer doesn’t want renew by taking continuing education credits then the certification will expire.  Why does that matter to you?  Well the fitness industry is always changing.  There is new science and research all the time which should change the way a trainer approaches his or her clients.  If a trainer is not staying current with their certification then they are probably using out of date procedures and potentially putting your health at risk.  Or at the very least putting your progress at risk.

The first thing you should do when you sign up with a trainer is to ask the gym do they require their trainers to be certified.  A little known dirty little secret in the fitness world is most “trainers” have no such type of current certification.  A gym who employs trainers should pay for their continuing education credits or at the very least check annually.  It is kind of don’t ask don’t tell because the gym owners don’t want to pay the extra money and neither do a lot of trainers.  The general public has no idea what the “good” personal trainer certifications are versus the “bad” ones.  So in most trainers’ eyes why should they be certified.  I wouldn’t even take the trainer’s word for it.  I would actually ask to see the sheet of paper that says they are certified.  If you are paying good money you want every reassurance that your money is being spent on a quality professional who is dedicated to the study of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and the exercise sciences.

Now that you know about the dirty little secret that is rampant in the fitness industry you should be aware of which certifications to look for.  These certifications are strenuous in nature and the exams are taken across the country at independent sites without the use of any study aids.  Some of them have a prerequisite of a Bachelor or Science in a health science related field.  Basically you need four years of undergraduate education to even take the test.

1.  NSCA  The National Strength and Conditioning Association has two distinctions.  CSCS for training  athletes and the NSCA – CPT for training the general population.

2.  ACE  American Council on Exercise.

3.  ACSM.  American Academy of Sports Medicine.

4.  NASM.  National Academy of Sports Medicine.

5.  CI  Cooper Institute.

Keep in mind even if your trainer says that they are certified in one of these categories, don’t hesitate to ask them to see the certification card.  While it is impressive that they at one point passed these test and became certified they still should be staying up to date with their research.

Major League baseball recently mandated that all of their minor league strength coaches be certified CSCS and RSCC.  No doubt this is to attempt to eliminate some of the shady characters who lurked around their clubhouses during the “steroid era.”  Most of the Universities have full time strength and conditioning coaches for their athletic programs.  The CSCS distinction is one of the largest governing bodies to certify these coaches.  If a coach has two years working with and designing programs for athletic teams then he or she can earn the distinction of RSCC.  There are also separate distinctions for ten years of staying current in that distinction and twenty.  The trickle down effect has brought strength and conditioning to the High School level.  During these years it is probably even more important to have a quality certified trainer working with these kids.  Unfortunately, many High Schools just have a weight room supervisor or a member of the coaching staff supervising.  If you suspect this is the case then you might be better off finding a facility near you that specializes in athletic performance.  These facilities have popped up all throughout the country.  Just make sure you ask to see that certification before signing up.

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