I recently had the amazing opportunity to have conversations with 10 different strength coaches from all over the world. I recorded the conversations on Skype, and blended the first topic in to this first installment below. There will be two more installments with this particular group of coaches with two different topics. Stay tuned for that in the near future. I apologize for any technical difficulties with the video, some brief snippets are not perfect, but hang tight and it gets better. Post any questions or comments and let me know what you like, dislike, or possibly what topics or coaches you would like to hear from in the future. Hope you enjoy the video.
Before we start the video, here are some comment from the coaches that sparked the conversations in the first place.
What is the most important factor/quality when training for improved performance?
Relative Body Strength & Strong Skills in basic gymnastic drills and movements such as pull ups, rope climbs, muscle ups, cart wheels, round offs, tumbling, back extensions (back roll + handstand) and explosive jumping ability.
Overall work capacity - the ability to maintain high levels of strength, speed & explosive power
Mental Toughness - the ability to remain committed and focused when things are tough AND when the chips are down.....
Overall, a blend of athleticism means a balance of strength, explosive power, movement ability (gymnastics) and mental toughness. Zach Even-Esh - Underground Strength Coach
Underground Strength System Deluxe
Fundamentally, we must be able to breathe properly as a precursor for all movement. Unfortunately, immobility and poor posture, along with inefficient clavicular breathing, sets up the less than optimal scenario for stability through a desired movement pattern. If we can improve our posture, mobilize our hips and upper back, and re-establish deep-belly breathing - we will develop the foundation needed to create strength, power and optimal movement for any athlete.James Smith - Diesel Strength & ConditioningAccelerated Muscular Development
- The most important factor when training for improved performance is to select exercises and movements that train the athlete (person) slightly outside the range of motion required for their sport/activity. This will add a safety valve to their movement to protect them for injury when things go wrong.
- Another factor to keep in mind when training for improved performance is that technique level must remain high. Since you are training your nervous system for improved performance it does not make sense to pattern poor movement or bad technique.
- Jon Haas - www.warriorfitness.org
Obvious - For me the first and foremost thing is safety. Safety is number one, and it doesn't take too many youtube clips to realise a lot of coaches don't agree with me on this one. The way I see it, what's the bloody point if a client can deadlift 200kgs today, but has a herniated disc 6 months from now because he wasn't taught properly. So what that translates into is focusing on basic body mechanics first. Teaching them how to move and actually use their body correctly. i.e. tight abs, sqeeze glutes, flat back, thorasitc spine extesion. This foundation is imperative
Non obvious (for some) - The most boring principle of any endeavour to improve; Patience! Yes some people that come into Outlaw Strength Gym are what you would call gifted athletes, and will progress rapidly. But the reality is, most are not gifted and need to learn patience if they are to succeed. Personally I fall into this "non-gifted" category, and have had to fight hard for anything I have. I know first hand about being patient and not quiting while striving towards my performance goals. John Wayne Legg - Strength Outlaw
- IMO increasing relative strength ( so many come in weak as fuck),
Mindset- making them believe in themselves when they don't, truly being there Coach all aspects
Prehab- Injury prevention. myself included never payed mind to this and you'll never reach your potential at all
- Lou Torres - triumph-strength-project.com
The most important factor to training for improved performance is setting the stage for the organism/athlete to succeed. If they're not mobile enough then they're going to be held back. If they're not strong enough, then they're going to be held back. If they're injured, they won't train optimally. If they don't understand what and why they're doing it, then they aren't going to train optimally. Obviously a lot of these things can be worked on as part of the process, but if there are glaring holes in the foundation then the entire plan will be hindered.
The next important factor, which somewhat aligns with the above point is to constantly be making weak points (which will vary widely depending on the specific athlete and the demands of their sport) into strong points while forging ahead with basic strength. In 95% of athletes, continuing to improve base strength will improve performance. To take them to the next level, both in strength and performance, will be "playing weak point leapfrog".Isaac Wilkins - Beyond the Barbell
The #1 thing a beginner or younger athlete needs to be able to do first and foremost, is learn to move, control, and be aware of what his/her body is doing at all times.
This is accomplished by performing movements and exercises such as animal walks, tumbling exercises (i.e. shoulder rolls, cartwheels, handstand holds, etc), and basic bodyweight exercises that should be performed exceptionally well.
Only after they are aware of how their body moves and are able to control those movements with some sort of strength and consistency, do we allow them to progress to loaded movements using kettlebells, dumbbells, and sandbags.
The last thing an athlete should touch is a barbell, and for the most part, by if they have been trained correctly, by the time they need to touch a barbell to produce results, they are already a pretty big badass. Just because an athlete is strong in the weight room, does not mean that they are good on the field or have any clue what their body is or needs to be doing at any time during their training or sport. This is why all of our athletes (from the college level down), begin by at least demonstrating their proficiency in animal walks, tumbling and bodyweight movements, before we allow them to train in a loaded state
We always include these movements in every warm-up no matter an athlete’s age, and believe that it is the quickest way to make any athlete better.
As an example, our warm-up this month includes bear crawls, crab walks, shoulder rolls, handstand holds, and cartwheels.David Claiborne - Genesis Strength & Conditioning
If I could build a Universal SWOLEdier, I'd start from the ground up. We apply force into the ground through our feet. So I'd make sure I had an athlete with as relatively strong of feet as any other part of the body. Barefoot training as much as possible. Big time!!! From there we'd focus on the powerhouse that allows you to apply maximal force and power output. Your hips and thighs! I don't want any athlete that resembles a lightbulb! All upper body and no lower body will score you a spot on the Jersey Shore, but it will GUARANTEE you will be on your ass too! Whether riding the pine or getting planted by someone who took the time to focus on deadlifts, squats, and plyometrics, if you don't have the size, strength, and power output that these exercises deliver, you're S.O.L.!!! Same thing applies to the upper body...Don't just focus on building size with bodybuilding. Work on max strength and increased power output in your core lifts as well. If you combine for size, strength, and speed in both the upper and lower body, we're getting somewhere!!! But you still need these last 3 items in order for you to learn how to REALLY donkey stomp your competition...one would be grip strength...yea, grip strength!
Whether you're latching down on an opponent or shaking someones hand, make sure you make them remember who you are by doing a lot of grip work. Two would be just to increase your stamina...It's not enough to be strong and explosive in the first half of your competition. You have to be just as fresh at the end as you were in the beginning! You gotta be a finisher!!! Lastly, you gotta make sure you are mentally tough. I'd rather have a 7 that gives me his all than a 10 that half asses and quits when things get tough...Put all of these variables together and you have yourself a merchant of death!!! Someone that will beat the competition into submission then steal his girlfriend!!! A WINNER!!!Chandler Marchman - Swole Patrol
Mental toughness Is an important factor and quality with performance training. There's gonna be time you want to quit and days you don't want to do it. But if you are mental tough and have the intestinal fortitude you show up and ght it done every damn day.Jeremy Werner - Fit Body Bootcamp
Train Optimally Not Maximally- ( You need to put in the work, but many advanced athletes run themselves into the ground. They either do too much too soon, workout too frequently, have too much volume or they train so intense that form goes to shit. Use just as much intensity that is need to achieve the desired training result in order to maximize recovery. Always quality over quantity. Work hard and smart to get the best results)
If you run with the lame you will develop a limp- (Quote from Louie Simmons. You need to surround yourself with people who are bigger, stronger and smarter than you.
Your crew will elevated you to a whole new level. They will call you out when you aren't working hard enough, tell you if you are using shit form, and keep you on track. On the flip side if you are the strongest and smartest in the group you won't be pushed to the next level.Another similar quote I heard which is more applicable to business is if you are the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room.) John Gaglione - Gaglione Strength
Most important factor in improving performance? A willingness to suffer. Some may confuse this quality with mindset but I believe that to those of us engaged in combative or contact sport would go one step further and, on perhaps a more maniacal level, actually say that a purposefully measured amount of suffering becomes a requisite to a GREAT workout.
Now, don't mistake SUFFERING for PAIN - there is a difference
. The difference, in my opinion, is in the intelligence of programming. Pain is the body's way of warning of the possibility of impending injury and is a warning to be heeded.
Sufferable workouts are the kind of workouts that challenge you to become better in mind, body and spirit once you emerge out the other side.Chris Reed - Empire Fitness
1 - Concentrating too much on making the exercises too "fancy" or too "functional" and forgetting about the performance impact of basic core movements.
2 - Knowing the definition of YOUR (or your client's) performance, and programming accordingly. Programming for a swimmer is different than performance for a powerlifter.
3 - (depending on sport) Including some sort of hypertrophy training
. Coaches tend to get so wrapped up in strength by itself, that they forget about training for mass, which in most cases CAN increase strength/performance as well.Chris Lopez - Jersey Strength Pit
This is a guest post from Joe Meglio
, the Jersey Bandit, The Beast Coast Breaststroker, The Not So New Kid On The Block, the Bieber Fever Believer, The Deadlift Denominator, The Slayer Player, The Zach Even-Esh Liquefier, The Mid-Atlantic Fiber Frosted Fruitcake Flinging Flabergaster, The Bitchin Banana Hammock Hootenanny Host, the dude who has a bigger pull than you! When someone with ten badass nicknames talks, you listen. You're on, Joe...
One of the biggest problems I see in high school and college athletes is their off season training program. Too often I see high-level athletes performing the WRONG exercises. Instead of focusing on the basic exercises that have been proven to work, they focus on these gimmicky exercises that don’t improve athletic performance.
Simply put, you don’t have time to waste in the gym doing exercises that might work. Focus on the basics, as they are proven to deliver the best results. If I ask you why you are doing a specific exercise and you don’t have a legitimate answer, then scrap it.
When it comes to choosing the best strength exercises, you need to consider training economy, getting the most bang for your buck. As an athlete you need to spend time and energy developing your positional skills.
In this post I will focus on the ‘Top 5 Lower Body Strength Exercises’ for athletes. While jumps, medicine ball throws and sprints are critical to developing rate of force development and explosiveness, it is really useless unless you have a solid foundation of strength.
Here are the Top 5 Lower Body Exercises For Athletes:
Trap bar deadlifts are an awesome exercise for you to strengthen your entire posterior chain. While conventional or sumo style deadlifts are great, trap bar deadlifts are easier to learn and very effective when done properly. Trap bar deadlifts are also less taxing on the body than traditional deadlifts.
When you do trap bar deadlifts, make sure you are sitting back and are keeping the tension on your hamstrings. Do not turn it into a squat.
I am sure you have heard 1,000 times that squats are the king of all lower body exercises and should be a staple in your training program. There is no denying that but a better question is what type of squats should you do? While some coaches prefer back squats, I find front squats to be superior for a few reasons
. Front squats are much easier on the lower back because there are less compressive forces on the spine when compared the back squat. In addition to this the trunk is engaged much more in front squats compared to back squats.
Not to mention, you will have easier time learning front squats compared to back squats because it is much easier to maintain a neutral spine and upright torso in the front squat. Front squats can be done with kettlebells, sandbags or a barbell.
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Popularized by Bret Contreras, hip thrusts are the best way to train the glutes. Simply put, if you want to run faster, jump higher or do any explosive athletic movement, you need to have strong glutes.
Check out the video of Bret Contreras breaking down proper technique on the hip thrust. Also check out his report on Dispelling the Glute Myth.
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Hooray for the Glute Guy, Bret Contraras!!!
Unilateral leg training is critical to your performance because all athletic movements require you to produce force off of one leg. Think about anytime you go to make a cut on the football field, go up for a layup or dunk on the basketball court, or range to your right to field a ground ball on the baseball diamond.
Front loaded reverse lunges place a greater emphasis on the core compared to other unilateral leg exercises where you are holding the weigh at your side or on your back. Another major benefit of this exercise is it will improve your hip stability and help you overcome muscular imbalances caused from your sport.
Matty couldn't let everyone else have all the fun, he had to throw in at least one video of himself. Here is one of his very first videos, doing some front loaded unilateral work (pistols), along with some super sweet kipping pullups. For the record, I, Joe Meglio, think Matty is the dopest fucker out there, yo! (ok ok, Matt wrote this, I'm sure you're fooled)
The prowler and sled are awesome tools because of their effectiveness and their versatility. They can be used for many different goals and can be good for beginner athletes all the way to the professional rank.
The prowler is a great way to improve work capacity and general physical preparation. You can also load the prowler up with super heavy weight and push it for shorter distances to improve lower body strength with minimal stress on your joints. And finally, the sled and prowler can also be used as a rehabilitation tool when you are recovering from an injury and you need to do low impact exercises.
While there are a ton of other great lower body exercises, these are my go to ones because they work! In the next part of this installment I will share my top 5 upper body exercises for athletes.
If you want a program specifically designed to increase your athleticism and transform you into a freak athlete, check out my Lift Like A Man Training Course
This is the exact system I use to get my athletes bigger, faster and stronger.
Here is a sample day of strength training at TSS, every day is different, but the goal is the same... get stronger and better. If you are interested in learning more about our online training program, check this out.
1. Box Jump 12-15 single hits
3 sets of 6-10 hits
-you can hop over kegs, hurdles, paralletes, plates, or nothing at all, just hop in a controlled manner, make sure you add a flip at the end, its crucial, or you are a huge failure ;p
3. Sandbag bearhug squat
-sub goblet squat if necessary, this is for mobility only
-a second video of sandbag bearhug squats
, they are a favorite of mine for mobility
4. Squat 5-5-5-3-3-3
-no guts no glory, but make sure you get appropriate depth
5. Hollow Rocks
30/30 x 6
-30 seconds on, 30 seconds off x 6 minutes, try to rock the entire last minute (or two) without resting
6. Sleds 5 minutes
Don't forget to check out my Strength & Conditioning for Athletic Domination Seminar in the UK coming May 14th at Strength & Performance in Manchester! Its going to be an amazing time with tons of ass kicking going on!! See you there.