Category Archives: Strength and Conditioning

NSCA National Convention 2014

This year’s National Convention in Las vegas was called Strength innovated and it lived up to the name. I had never been to the National Convention before even though I go to the NJ State one every year. So I decided now was the time to finally get out there. The fact that it was in Las vegas didn’t hurt either. The convention was at the Paris Hotel right on the strip. I mean who wouldn’t want to stay here?

Las Vegas

   Paris Hotel.  Las vegas

The convention itself was really something else. It was the perfect blend of good solid informational sessions and practical information with a touch of hands on workshops that were top notch. The whole thing is a bit of a sensory overload and I tried to soak it all in as best I could. Some of it was mind-blowing and caused me to rethink a few things while other stuff re-affirmed that I was on the right path with some of my athletes training programs.

I wish I could tell you which was my favorite session but I really can’t so I will try to give a brief description of my favorites and what I learned.

Training the Post Rehabbed shoulder by Robert Panariello PT, ATC, CSCS, MS
This was a fascinating topic for me because I hardly know anyone who works out who doesn’t have shoulder pain from time to time. Also, with my baseball background he got into some discussion on training pitchers specifically which I enjoyed. Some of his tips were of hand position for bench press and any overhead lifts based on the posterior or anterior should injuries. With an anterior shoulder injury a close grip would be smarter and a wide grip for a posterior injury. He also suggested starting with floor starts or even racked start lying supine. Another tip that he gave was that volume not intensity caused shoulder injuries. This supports my theory that I would not have pitchers do excessive rotator cuff work in-season because their rotator cuffs are already strained due to pitching itself.

Understanding The Squat in Performance Training. Richard ULM, DC, MS, CSCS
Dr, Richard Ulm was interesting as well because I am not sure if he was a huge fan of the back squat for performance training. Not necessarily because of its benefits but because many people have the limited mobility to get into proper position with spinal compressions. He talked about foot position and being extremely important. He referenced the tripod position that your feet should be in during the squat where weight is distributed evenly on the foot. He said the very common valgus knee collapse which we see a lot of particularly in female athletes is a symptom of faulty foot positioning.

The Art and Science of Small Group Training. Martin Rooney. CSCS, MHS, PT
This just got me fired up. Martin Rooney a local Jersey guy basically talked about passion. Do your athletes have fun when they are training because at the end of the day if they have fun and enjoy working out that’s what will keep them coming back. The fact of the matter is I have never worked with a professional athlete and there is a chance I never will but if I can instill a passion for working out that will allow someone to continue to love fitness like I do long after they are done with me then my job is done. He also brought up the theory of Tired vs Better. A lot of trainers can make someone tired. A CSCS’s job is to make them better at their sport.

What We Say Matters: Uncovering The Truth About Cueing. Nick Winkelman, MSc, CSCS, *D, NSCA-CPT, *D, USAW, USATF
Nick is another legend in the business. He talked about some research on cueing that was very interesting. The research shows that athletes perform better when giving external cue’s as opposed to internal cue’s. For example, when starting a sprint if you were to say to an athlete that he or she should “extend their hips.” That is an internal cue. It won’t go over as well as if you were to say “Push off of the blocks.” That is an example of an external cue which iS saying the same thing but will lead to better performance.

Training the Overhead Athlete: Training Beyond the upper Extremities. Mark Kovacs. PhD, CSCS, *D, FACSM
Mark discussed training baseball pitchers, volleyball players, and swimmers in particular and the unique challenges that those sports present. His main point was that the overhead athlete will never be symmetrical and you have to account for that. For example a right handed pitcher throws with his right arm and lands on his left leg. Therefore that hip on the left side is taking the brunt of that pitching motion over and over again. The coach then would need to train eccentric strength and work on Range of Motion within that joint. Also typically for say a volleyball player they will lack external rotation in their dominant arm while having tight internal rotators. Mark did a great job at demonstrating why training the overhead athlete is very tricky and needs to be handled carefully.

Evident-Based Nutrient Timing: A New Paradigm. Brad Schoenfeld. MS, CSCS, CSPS, NSCA-CPT and Alan Argon, MS.
This one was about the research of the very common belief that a post workout window in which you have a limited amount of time to take in protein to reap the benefits. They showed a funny youtube clip about someone “missing their window” and being all depressed. Basically the research showed that post workout protein has very little effect on muscle hypertrophy. They equated it to maybe one pound of a muscle over a year’s time. Funny enough at the end Brad admitted that he still drink a protein shake post workout because in true meathead fashion one pound a year is not going to waste.

Writing an Off_Season Strength and Conditioning Program: The Entire Process. Bob Alejo, CSCS, RSCC, *E.
Bob Alejo is the former strength and conditions coach for teams like UCLA basketball and the Oakland A’s in baseball. Bob has done it all. He laid out his exact program that he nows uses at NC State and you can really see his attention to detail in planning for every day in a calendar year. That being said Bob said two things that stuck in my mind. Number on is you have to lift heavy. Bob is a fan of sets of 2 or 3 for maximal strength. He talked about having Tim Hudson of the Oakland A’s Benching and Squatting as heavy as possible. The other thing that Bob mentioned that held some weight in my eyes is that he felt like almost all High School athletes regardless of sport should basically follow the same training protocols. His reasoning for this was that strength is first and for most. Before you can work on power or speed an athlete needs to be strong. High School athletes typically have not been training long enough to have that effect yet. Bob said the concept of sport specific training was over-rated and I kind of agree.

Challenging Thought and Practices of Periodization: A Scientific Critique. Michael Zourdos. PhD, CSCS.
This was another one that re-affirmed something that I had been thinking for a while. Michael presented some research for a non-linear approach to strength and conditioning. The CSCS Text book teaches a linear periodized program where you stay in a phase for an extended period of time. For example you would do a endurance phase for four weeks followed by Strength, Hypertrophy, and Power. In a non-linear program you could do all of them in a given week. For example you might have one hypertrophy day, one strength day, and one power day. His research showed that this method actually increased strength. On top of that he theorized that you could probably custom the non-linear approach to the athlete. If you have a football player who needs to get bigger for his position you could perhaps do two hypertrophy days for every one strength and power day. You could also use a taper period before a big event or a season.

Squat Progressions. Joe Kenn. MA, CSCS, *D, RSCC, *E.
Joe Kenn is the NSCA Strength Coach of the year. He currently works for the Carolina Panthers. This one was not what I expected at all. This was a hands on session andJoe spent most of the worksop demonstrated how he got his large frame into drills for Hip Mobility. He also mentioned how he has his NFL lineman incorporate yoga and Pilates movements into their warmups. One of things that stood out to me was how Joe talked about how much he has changed over the years from how he thinks about things. His perception of concepts like hip mobility and foam rolling have changed quite a bit over the years.

Agility Progressions. Tim Morrill. MS, CSCS
This was another hands on session and perhaps this more than any other session the entire weekend kind of blew my mind. Tim and his staff use a logical and progressive way of teaching how to teach agility. In fact the first thing I did when I got home was look up his Twitter and youtube pages. I have started practicing his drills because I want to be able to do them competently before I begin to teach them to my athletes. This sessions probably left me more excited than any other.

I really can’t say enough good things about the NSCA’s national convention. It was a perfect blend of research, practical knowledge, and hands on learning sessions. I attended more sessions than I listed here but these were my highlights. There were also many other great presentations which I did not get the opportunity to see.

Just in case you thought it was all work and no play I did have tons of fun at night. I was able to meet and interact with people from places like Iowa, Cleveland, Maryland, and even plenty of faces from NJ. I found a ton of new people to follow on Twitter from the #National14 hashtag. I hope we can share our work from afar and support each other. Yes I also did some gambling every night and I even broke even which is a win considering how long I was there. I even had legends like Leo Totten and Bob Takano work with me on my snatch technique. These guys are both Olympic Lifting coaches and if that wasn’t fun I don’t know what is. If you need proof that I actually had fun here is a picture of me at the club Chateau which is the rooftop Club in the Paris hotel.

Paris Hotel

Me on the rooftop club at Paris Hotel.

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Lacrosse Workouts not only for your sport but for your position.

 

Lacrosse is a game of athleticism. The athletes who play lacrosse have to be quick, agile, and powerful. It is a largely anaerobic sport where there are bursts of speed followed by downtime. In order to play this way the athlete has to train this way as well. In the game you need to be able to change directions quickly. Good footwork and flexible hips are important. Speed ladder drills and change of directions skills are excellent for improving these qualities.

Strength is needed in the hamstrings, glutes, core, and forearms in particular. Posterior chain strength is important for sprinting speed. Deadlifts are a great exercise for strengthening these areas. The core and forearms are important to release powerful shots on goal. One of the best exercises to strengthen these muscles is called a farmer’s walks. For an added core challenge perform single arm farmer’s walks.

Power is a combination of strength and speed.   In order to change directions on a dime and fire balls into the back of the net you need an explosive and powerful core. Medicine Ball slams and rotational throws are great for building a powerful core.

Training should also depend on what position you play because each position on the field has unique demands.

If you play attack then you need to be quick, powerful, and have the ability to twist and turn in various directions to get off your shots. You also need to have strong legs to sprint at top speeds. The Prowler push is a great exercise to develop this top speed.

Middies need more endurance than anyone else on the field. In order to cover both ends of the field you need the most aerobic capacity of any position on the field. 400-meter repeats are a great drill for midfielders. Run 400 meters or one lap around the track as fast as you can. However long it takes you, rest that same amount and then repeat until your time decreases by more than 10 seconds.

Defenders need to be the strongest on the field. They need a strong upper body to slash opponents to try and loosen the ball. Defenders also have to backpedal quite a bit and open up their hips in order to recover quickly to protect the goal. Sledgehammer swings on a large tire are a great exercise for defenders.

Goalies need excellent hand eye coordination and quick reactions. While they also need strong hands and wrists, the eyes are perhaps the most important muscle a goalie can strengthen.

At our facility in Madison we have a vision coach board. It works on exactly this. It quickens reaction time via neural pathways. We also have Certified Strength and Conditions Specialists who can help you train the way you should for your sport and your position. We can help you reach that next level of performance. Visit www.MyOffSeason.Org for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

CrossFit

ImageAfter my two weeks and four intro courses of CrossFit I can say two things for sure.

1.  I am going to be really sore for a while

2.  Overall they do a nice job teaching the movements.

I joined CrossFit to see what all the hubbub was about.  I have always wanted to give it a shot because I did admire the shear intensity of the workouts that I saw posted on their website.  www.CrossFit.com. I have also seen the CrossFit games on TV.  Everyone I see who does CrossFit seems to be in incredible shape and something has to be said for that.  In the end I was curious and just needed a change of pace.  I like to be challenged physically and this seemed like the place to do that.

When you sign up for CrossFit they require a two week and 4 classes intro class.  I attended the past two Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m.  Each class follows a simple format.  Explanation of the workout of the day.  They use a white board to explain what the day’s plan is and how it is going to be done.  They might mention a few keys to look for or a tip of the day regarding nutrition.  Then a warmup which might be a dynamic warmup or a mobility drill but most likely a little of both.  Then the W.O.D. which is the Workout of the day.  The actual workout is usually short but quick and high intensity.  Their mantra is Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements.  They openly tell you that if you do CrossFit you will be good at everything but great at nothing.  It is a well rounded fitness program.  You will develop some speed, some strength, some endurance, and some power.  There is nothing that you will not be able to do.  Climb a mountain?  o.k!  Run a 5k?  no problem!  Hop a fence?  easy!  Kill Zombies?  Any day!

The four workouts that I did lasted no more than 10 minutes each.  They said that 85% of the workouts are between 5-15 minutes but some go as long as 40 minutes.  When the workout is done there is a cool down and a recap.  You always write your score or time on the white board when you are finished.  It feels like a community but there is also competition which I like.  It is so different from my old gym where I would put my headphones and and do my own thing.  Here it is like everyone is suffering / achieving together.

My workout of the days were as follows:

Day 1:  Kattleball swings and box jumps timed.  You had to complete 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 of one alternating with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 of the other.  I completed the workout in 5:16 seconds and I was more winded and more sore than I had been at my own gym in months.

Day 2:  Thrusters and jumping pull-ups.  A thruster is a front squat into and overhead press while a jumping pull-up is off of a box and jumping up to the bar and fully extended the arms each time you come down.  The workout was to do 5 rounds of 10 Thrusters and 10 pull-ups.

Day 3:  Deadlifts for 5 reps. 10 Burpees and 250m Rowing.  As Many Rounds as Possible in 10 minutes.

Day 4:  OverHead squats for 10.  Pushups for 5 and full range sit-ups for 15.  AMRAP in 12 minutes.

The coaches are there the whole time coaching technique and stopping you to correct and teach if needed.  The technique and the range of motion took priority over the workout.  All workouts could also be modified or scaled as they called it to fit your needs.  If you couldn’t do a full pushup you would drop to your knees or add a pad under your chest to decrease range of motion while still working on technique.

The 4 days were very logical and sequential.  They went with a top down approach which I would always recommend.  They started with Overhead squats which led to Front squats, High Pulls, Jerk snatches, Hang Cleans, and eventually Deadlifts.  Every movement was taught with an excellent sense of functional anatomy and how the body was designed to move.

If you were teaching these movements to High School kids or really anyone you could no doubt spend more than 4 days drilling them.  Some people spend years trying to perfect their technique.  But you have to remember that everyone comes in at different skill levels plus the fact that people joined a gym because they want to work out so you can’t keep them out of the regular classes forever.  I commend them for making everyone attend the 4 intro classes before entering the regular gym atmosphere.  From all the negative things that I heard about CrossFit I have to say that my experience at Guerilla CrossFit in Morristown, NJ has been overall positive so far.

There are a few negative but not from a standpoint of coaching or knowledge or anything like that.  Just the programming risks.  I still feel that plyometrics and olympic lifts are not meant to be endurance lifts.  They are meant to develop power which is a combination of strength and speed.  When you make these lifts endurance based people can easily lose their technique due to fatigue or just the pounding on the body can result in injuries even if technique is sound.   If the coaches are willing to stop and correct during the actual workouts like they were for the intro workouts than I think this problem can be negotiated to an extent.  The one thing I am not sure of is how many coaches are on the floor during a typical session.  In the intro classes we had a 5 to 1 ratio.  If it is a 20 to 1 ratio then that might be risky.

Bottom line is if you are an athlete who needs a programmed sport specific workout for your sport then I would NOT recommend CrossFit.  There are just too many programming flaws and too much variety to really develop sport specific power. There are risks involved in all activities and if you think of CrossFit like a sport then you realize that no matter what you do there are risks involved.  If a football player gets fatigued in the 4th quarter and lowers his head then he runs the risk of having another player hitting him in the back of the head and possible breaking his neck.  CrossFit is the sport of fitness so If you want to get into great shape and really challenge yourself in all aspects of fitness then I WOULD recommend CrossFit for you.  I know I am going to have a blast with CrossFit and I can’t wait to experience the community of CrossFit and really suffer / achieve together.

CrossFit. Is it for you?

CrossFit has received a lot of attention from the public as a whole.  Their marketing campaign is the sport of fitness has arrived.  For a few years now I have been intrigued by CrossFit.  I have seen the nationals on TV and the Reebok commercials.  I have also spent time googling Crossfit people and looking at their bodies and trying to determine if it is the workout itself, the diet, the A Type personalities, or a combination of all of the above.  I mean who would not want to look like this?       images-2

images

Then I wondered if these types of people were just athletes who no longer had a sport.  Maybe former gymnasts or other college or even pro athletes who just loved fitness.  After that I realized that was me.  I am a former athlete who has run Marathons and tried different things mostly because I no longer had an outlet for my competitive side.  On top of that fitness and working out is my only real hobby.  It’s what I love to do on the weekends.  Go for a run or hit the gym for a pick up game of basketball.  I have done yoga, swam laps in the pool, played flag football, taken different cardio classes such as spinning but eventually most of them bored me.  I even did Muay Thai for two years. I don’t run marathons because I think I will lose body fat.  I have written extensively on this blog about how slow long distance running does not mean less body fat,.  I run marathons because I like the competition.  I compete with myself for my personal best and I love the journey of training for a race.  I love following a plan over the course of 16 weeks and seeing it come to fruition at the end.  So why can’t I do the same things with CrossFit?  I lift weights. I lift weights a lot.  I have missed an entire week at the gym once in the last 12 years and that was because I hurt my knee.  But as you get older “how much do you bench?” becomes less and less important.  Combine that with the fact that I can’t bench nearly what I used to when I was 290 pounds I was benching around 325.    Now I weight 190 and I bench around 245 for a max.  Pound for pound it is very similar but when I lost 100 pounds 8 years ago I decided that being strong has never really done anything for me.  I want to be able to move, to be powerful, to be coordinated, and to be able to react to any situation.  I tell people if Zombie apocalypse happens would you rather be able to run or bench press twice your body weight.  I think CrossFit might be the type of well rounded workout that provides all of those qualities.

I tried doing the Workout of the days on my own but at a commercial gym it just isn’t possible.  Number one when no one is looking it is just too hard to push yourself.  In a class setting  here you have others suffering with you and pushing you through it creates a bond similar to being on a football team or in the military.  I wanted that feeling of we are in this together.  The other things is at a commercial gym if you were to work out with the intensity of a Crossfitter you would look like a complete nut.  I am starting to get bored with my usual routine of Chest / Tri’s Back Bi’s, Shoulders and Legs, and Abs and cardio on the weekend.  Lifting slowly with too much rest in between might make you look bigger but is that what I really want.  Cartoon muscles that can’t perform with power and precision in a coordinated manner?  Do I want to be fat, slow and strong or do I want to be lean. quick, and powerful like a cheetah.

Unknown    As a strength coach and a CSCS I also know there is a lot of haters on the Crossfit movement and I have also been one of them at times.  Olympic lifts are meant to increase power and not endurance.  No-one should clean for 1 minute straight because their form might slip and create problems.  Plyometrics are about quality and not quantity.  To amplify the stretch shortening cycle you should focus on a quick spring like effect and not on the number you can do in a given time.  The stretch shortening  But if you are an NFL Lineman your body has to adjust on the fly for a bullrush or a speed rush.  Our bodies ate adaptable and that is our greatest gift that we can achieve and overcomes physical, mental, or social obstacles.  Maybe we can have it all.  I think my knowledge of the olympic lifts will only help me on the CrossFit journey because I can recognize problems in the kinetic chain and correct them quickly.

I don’t know if I am going to like CrossFit or not but I am attending a free class this weekend at Guerilla Gym in Morristown, NJ.  I am interested to see how much instruction there actually is on some of these lifts.  Of Course I am not going to tell them I am a cscs because I want to see what I can pick up from them in my pursuit of knowledge. I can say that as a strength coach I would not recommend CrossFit for any athlete who wants to train for their sport.  There are just too many risks and there is no single energy system that CrossFit trains you in.  But as a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast my curiosity got the best of me and  I am going into this with an open mind.  When I started this blog I said let me be your guinea pig so here it goes.  Maybe I will love it and it will be a new passion for me similar to running.  Now I just have to work on those stupid kipping pull-ups that I can’t seem to get.  Stay Tuned for more details on my CrossFit experience.

My Top 10 posts of 2012

These are the articles that received the most views in 2012.  I always love getting feedback and seeing the number of  views  for my articles so keep it coming in 2013.  This year I had people from all over the country contact me about my articles. I am always humbled and honored that people take the time to search me out for advice about health and fitness.  JerseyStrong was viewed in 60 countries worldwide.  In the month of December my articles for Stack Media made me one of the top 10 most viewed on the platform.  I sincerely hope everyone has a HEALTHY and happy new year!

1.  Product review of the Nike Plus Sport Watch

2.  High School Strength Coach.  Necessity or Luxury?

3.  How to Gain 4 pounds of muscle in 10 days.

4.  How to Warm Up Like the Pros.

5.  2012 ING NYC Marathon.

6.  Things I eat.

7.  3 Step Approach Guaranteed to Build and Protect Shoulder Muscles.

8.  The Ripped Lower Ab workout. 

9.  What an Amateur Runner Thinks during a 20 Mile Training Run.  Warning.  Explicit Language.

10.  How Long can you build muscle.

Of course there are other articles that were not the most viewed out there in cyber land but I think you should still check them out.

Hurricane Sandy and the NYC Marathon:  A Runner’s Viewpoint.

I was also featured in Men’s Health Magazine this past year so this article was probably the most viewed overall because it reached millions of people worldwide via Men’s Health Magazine.  I included the link in my blog post.  If you haven’t seen it yet check it out.  Image

High School Strength Coach. Necessity or Luxury?

We didn’t have strength coaches when I was a kid. That’s just a bunch of B.S. Why does every kid have a personal trainer? Why do schools need strength and conditioning coaches? I could maybe understand at the elite college level but High School? Are you kidding me? Well let me tell you:

1. When you were a kid you climbed trees.

2. When you were a kid you on the weekends you didn’t want to stay inside all day because that’s where the parents were. You wanted to go outside and be with your friends.

3. When you were a kid you didn’t have play dates, you just rode your bike over to your friends house and knocked on the door.

4. When you were a kid you played a sport even when coaches weren’t around to run practice.

5. When you were a kid you would occasionally get in a fight and no parents would ever be called.

6. When you were a kid you may have climbed over a fence or two.

7. When you were a kid video games just weren’t that good.

8. When you were a kid you played pickup games without referees or umpires.

9. When you were a kid you had playgrounds that were open to the public.

10. When you were a kid you had P.E. class every day.

11. When you were a kid getting hurt meant a broken bone.

12. When you were a kid you played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring.

13. When you were a kid meals at restaurants were 33% smaller.

14. When you were a kid you could do 5 pullups.

15. When you were a kid staying home was boring.

16. When you were a kid if you got cut from the team that didn’t mean you gave up athletics.

17. When you were a kid (depending on your age) girls didn’t work out.

18. When you were a kid you didn’t need the best equipment to try a sport.

19. When you were a kid you walked to school instead of having your parents drop you off and pick you up.

20. When you were a kid lacrosse was for non-athletic kids or you had never heard of it.

(Sorry. I had to throw that in there)

The fact of the matter is that today’s kids are so unprepared to play sports that they need a strength and conditioning coach. All of the physical strength and stamina that you would gain from your upbringing, today’s kids have none of it. Yes we all have accepted the fact that today’s athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster than your grandfather’s generation. What we also have to accept is that tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue injuries are happening at a much greater rate than your grandfather’s generation. Kids tear ACL’s and sprain ankles. Kids are suffering from injuries as a direct result of their lack of physical activity growing up. ACL and meniscus tears are happening at an increasing rate of 11% over the past 15 years. When a kid plays a sport now he or she usually plays it year round. This is leading to over-use injuries. Because of the lack of physical activity as a youngster the child’s body is not equally balanced enough to withstand what they are currently being asked to do. Kids need to develop a more well-rounded physicality in order to stay injury free. They need to work on muscular imbalances and correct them. They need proper instruction on how to land in a correct position. This is something your generation might have just known from jumping over fences and out of trees but today’s girls are tearing up their knees at an alarming rate because they have no idea how to land correctly. A strength and conditioning coach will keep in mind the total athlete and not just train them as if they were college athletes or professional athletes. A strength and conditioning coach would have progressions starting with body weight exercise and functional exercise that your generation learned in a P.E. class. If you can’t do a pushup then you should try bench pressing. If you can’t perform a overhead squat without corrective measures than you shouldn’t be doing a clean and jerk.

Today’s High School athletes need a strength coach because of the way they were raised. It is a job that is out of necessity rather than luxury.

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.

King of all exercises.

The dead-lift is the ultimate exercise for total body development. For years I avoided the dead-lift like it was the plague. I would do legs maybe once a week if I was in the mood. When I did lift my legs it was usually leg extensions, curls, calf raises, and if I was feeling crazy I would occasionally do squats. I think most people who lift weights on a regular basis probably feel the same way. In fact, a lot of my clients when asked to perform dead-lifts would rather go for a nice easy 8 mile run. The complete newbies who have never seen a dead-lift before think to themselves, “will this hurt my back.”
I recently began coming back to the dead-lift because I had a change in my mindset. I had always thought of the dead-lift as a knee dominant exercise that targeted the quads. As soon as I mentally made the switch and figured out that it was a hip dominant exercise that focused on the glutes I was hooked. The basis of all athletic movement is the glutes. Your glutes have to fire to push off while sprinting or to drive a golf ball 250 yards. The gutes are part of the “core” that everyone talks about. The core is not just your abs but your entire midsection, front and backside. All of the muscles that act on the spine to provide a basis for movement. When I was dead-lifting years ago I wasn’t doing them incorrectly. I just didn’t quite know how to complete the exercise. On the top of a well executed dead-lift you should squeeze your gutes. This is one of the keys that helps protect the lower back.
Another thing I have been doing recently is wearing my vibram five finger shoes on my leg days. The barefoot feel really gives the dead-lift an added dimension. Instead of your sneakers you can really feel your feet pushing into the ground evenly and forcefully. This recruits more muscle fibers and allows you to strengthen all of the muscles along your entire backside. The dead-lift doesn’t just work your glutes. It incorporates your fascia throughout your lower back which helps your entire back side feel like one unit. When you are in the top position you even use your scapula to pull down and engage the rotator cuff muscles and the lats.
Pound for pound there is no exercise that incorporates as many muscle fibers as the dead-lift. The more muscle fibers that are recruited to work the more energy your body will need. The dead-lift is great for people who want to add muscle and lose body fat. All athletes need to incorporate the dead-lift into their routine. However, it is not just an exercise for athletes. Any person who is interested in physical fitness and their appearance could greatly benefit from dead-lifting more frequently.

Patrick Willis

This guys is a beast on the football field. He is also a smart guy in the gym. Watch this video to see he works his butt off. He starts by warming up his body. This enables you to get your blood flowing to the muscles you are about to work. It will lesson the chance of an injury. The other thing he does is work his core during breaks in weight training. In between sets he does crunches with weight and core work. His quote was “strength starts from the middle in.” Mr. Willis couldn’t be more right. Just check out his body and you will see that his athleticism is a direct result of his powerful core.