Monday, February 21, 2011


I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm moving this blog to a new website, Hope to see you all there!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Qualitative Characteristics of Strength

Hey, all! Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I've been crazy busy with my Master's project and training (I just went to Columbus and trained with Mark Cannella again this past weekend).  Anyway, I would like to discuss something interesting I've just come across in Supertraining. It has changed my thinking on the development and application of strength. This is going to be a harder read for most of you casual exercise readers...just a warning!  :)

Siff and Verkhoshansky discuss the different qualitative characteristics of strength, based on the different muscular actions (Isotonic, Isometric, auxotonic, Isokinetic, and quasi-isometric). Namely, they state that the basis for the production of all sporting movements involves explosive strength and strength-endurance. Explosive strength depends on the load the body has to overcome (external resistance) and the absolute strength that the athlete may possess.

However, explosive force also depends on starting-strength, which is the ability to quickly develop the greatest force possible at the initial moment of muscular tension. They mention that this is true with all loads, but especially lighter loads (i.e., 20-40% 1RM).

As the load becomes heavier (60-80%+ 1RM) acceleration-strength comes into play. Acceleration-strength is the ability to produce force as rapidly as possible once the contraction begins (immediately after, and alongside, starting-strength). This is important as the load gets heavier because the muscles in use must be able to overcome the inertia of the weight and quickly produce the maximum strength possible, or the weight will not move at the necessary velocity.

Excuse me for being biased, but a very easy example would be a snatch or clean, where the weightlifter must possess the strength necessary to overcome the barbell's inertia (starting-strength), but must also be able to accelerate the bar quickly with that strength (acceleration-strength) to get underneath.

Siff and Verkhoshansky also go on to say that "the working effect of a sporting movement, executed with maximum voluntary muscle tension, is determined to a greater or lesser degree by the four special strength abilities: absolute strength, starting strength, acceleration strength, and absolute speed of muscular contraction" (p.127).

These abilities are independent of each other and are developed along different timelines, so to speak. They do not have direct effects on each other, and the greater one ability is developed, the less impact it will have on another. If your training revolves around explosive, lighter movements, than your ability to express tension/strength quickly (starting strength, acceleration strength) will be more developed than absolute strength. The opposite would be true if your training was based more on slower, heavier movements (i.e., your absolute strength would be more developed).

The abilities become more independent of each other as the athlete/exerciser's fitness level increases. This is obvious if you look at high-level athletes at the Olympic level, where the athletes are highly specialized. Therefore, a sprinter would not be readily suited to express strength characteristics that are not related to sprinting. This is where the general term 'specificity' comes into play. Also, the differing abilities require different amounts of training, as acceleration strength and absolute strength are "easier to perfect" than absolute speed and starting strength (p. 129).

This is just my take on what I have read at this point. You can take these comments with a grain of salt if you choose, but I believe this to be a good understanding of what Siff and Verkhoshansky originally meant. I will definitely look at the development and expression of strength in a whole new light now that I have this information available to me. Strength is not just one encompassing term as I had thought; it is a multitude of functional characteristics that can, and should, be trained differently/specifically.

I hope this shed some new light on strength development for you too! Train hard, train smart!


Siff, M. & Verkhoshansky, Y. Supertraining (4th ed.). 1999. 

Monday, February 7, 2011


Today marks the day that I begin writing my book. Since I am right in the middle of finishing my Master's project, I doubt I'll get very far before I finish my degree, but at least it will be started. That's all for now...just keeping you all informed!

For your reading pleasure, here is a great blog post by Ben Bruno with MANY articles and such to expand your knowledge!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Specifics of Meet Preparation

Meet preparation has been done countless different ways. I'm sure everyone reading this article has their own ideas about which way is better, and has their own opinion as to why. This is completely we all know; everyone reacts to training differently physiologically and psychologically. Of course, there are better ways to prepare depending on which strength sport we are talking about. You would not prepare in the same manner for a weightlifting meet as you would for a strongman meet. These are two completely different sports when it comes to their physiological profiles. So, you see where the dilemma begins?

I had a GREAT idea the other day and I want to see it through. I would like to write a book on the specifics of meet preparation for all of the strength sports. This would be a great resource for a beginner to a seasoned veteran, covering all aspects of competition. I would make it as detailed as possible, making sure I do all my homework for each sport. What do you all think? Any advice you could give me? Anything specific you would like to see in the book?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beyond the TRACK: Athlete Spotlight - Amanda Kaverman

This is the inaugural edition of my "Athlete Spotlight", in which I will interview athletes that I have trained, trained with, or have just come across in my career.

I have interviewed Amanda Kaverman, a senior sprinter from the University of Toledo, for the first of the series. Her accomplishments can be seen in detail HERE. I have had the pleasure to train with Amanda and she is easily one of the most determined athletes I have ever seen train. When given advice on training technique, she pays close attention and puts her pride aside to better herself, as should any athlete of her level. Her hard work in training has definitely shown on the track. ENJOY!

DB: What are your biggest achievements to date?
AK: Some of my biggest achievements to date are earning a full scholarship for college after walking onto the UT track team and being the MAC conference champion indoor and outdoor in the 200m dash. Also, having school records in the 100m and 300m top my list as well as having one of the Top 50 200m indoor times in the country. Making regionals is also an accomplishment I am proud of.

DB: Favorite event?
AK: My favorite event is the 300m dash even though it is not a conference event. My favorite conference event would have to be the 200m dash because it's not as long as the 400m but not as short as the 100m. You may think, "Duh, that is logical since it is in-between" but to me it's the simplest way I can explain it. Since it is not as long as 400m, I do not have time to think and sometimes over-think which parts of my body are becoming sore or tired. Being longer than 200m helps me because I am mainly a strength runner, my strength helps me pull past other girls who may get tired around 150m or so. This quality also helps me run the curves efficiently, which are my favorite part of the track.

DB: Favorite activity outside of track?
AK: Outside of track I love to weight-lift. If I am in a terrible or great mood, I usually find myself wanting to head to the gym and throw some weights around. Non-athletic wise I love to paint, draw or read. During the summer I'll read upwards of 20 books or so. My life is so exciting haha.

DB: Favorite lift in the gym?
AK: My favorite lift shifts between squats and deadlifts. At the moment deadlifts are my pick because I'm correcting my form. There is also something satisfying about dropping the weight after succesfully lifting it that squats don't't have.

DB: Most inspiring moment in your athletic career?
AK: Hmmm that's a tough one. Winning my first MAC title would have to be it. I remember being so nervous that whole weekend, even after running in the final race. People told me I won and I just could not believe it. I felt uneasy, shy even standing on the podium getting my medal. Afterward, I went up to the stands where my mom was sitting, I gave her a hug and just began crying. It proved to me that my hard work pays off, that moment let me know I could contend with some of the best in college athletics and left me hungry for more.

What do you do to get psyched up for a meet?
AK: I get extremely nervous before my events so I listen to techno or reggaeton music to displace my nervous energy by distracting myself with singing, sometimes dancing, during my warm-up laps. I listen to the same play list every time I do warm-up drills because it helps focus my energy and gets me excited to run.

DB: Your greatest strength (in running AND training)?
AK: My greatest strength in running would be my ability to not slow down as much as other people on the curves, if at all. Training, deadlifts would be number one.

DB: Your greatest weakness (in running AND training)?
AK: My greatest weakness, which I am overcoming, is that my head will sometimes get in the way. It's not that I can't do what I am attempting but that I'll get bored and put more focus on what is 'tired or sore' and not want to complete what I am doing. This was my old method, it's not fun and won't get you anywhere.

DB: What is the next step in your athletic career?
AK: This is my last year of competing collegiately. I would love to keep training after I graduate and compete at a few meets and just see what I can do. I'm already in pretty good shape so why let it go to waste? Also, people are implanting the idea of Olympic lifting so I may give that a try too.

There you have it! Amanda has quite an inspiring story and many accomplishments to prove she has worked hard over the years. I have no doubt she will continue to work just as hard after she has completed her collegiate athletic career.

Stay tuned for my next edition of Athlete Spotlight! Train hard, train smart!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Programming Via Energy Systems

There are many ways to develop a program. The main thing is to be as specific as possible in your training to achieve the goals you have set. Namely, if your goals involve developing "explosiveness" (power), you will be working on being able to create a larger force, submit force in a shorter amount of time (increased rate of force development), or both. So, you have many things to think about!

For this area of program development, focusing on which energy system is the most dominant, you must think about how long the movements last in the sport. This will tell you what type of training and energy systems must be utilized to elicit the best results. Also, within the sport, examine the different positions as well. For example, a quarterback needs to train a little differently than a lineman or a defensive back. I'm sure you all knew that though ;)

There are three main energy systems that the human body relies on to restore energy for subsequent movement. I will briefly go over them, as I'm not an expert in Bioenergetics and all the mechanisms that go into each. One of the key things that I can tell you is that the body is always using a certain mixture of all three; never only one. The quicker and more intense the movement, the less oxygen needed and the more ATP/CP or glycogen needed. The deciding factors of what percent of each system will be utilized is what level of intensity and duration of time the training movement requires.You must also be aware that the rest between repeated bouts of activity within each of these systems is different. More elaboration on this follows....

1) ATP/CP System (Phosphagen System)  

This system is the first that comes into play. This system is required for shorter bursts of movement, so all the power type movements utilize this system the most. This system is dominant for powerful movements that last up to around 20 seconds. The percentage of maximum power used is 90-100%. Complete rest for these movements will fall between 1:12 to 1:20 (work to rest). An example of this would be a Snatch performed by a weightlifter (I know, I'm a little biased with my example!). This movement starts and ends in less than a second!

Think Kendrick Farris needs oxygen for a heavy clean? Think again!

2) Glycolytic System

This is the next system that comes into play. Intermediate length movements use this system the most. This system becomes more dominant if the movement continues beyond 20 seconds and lasts up to around 2-3 minutes. The percentage of maximum power used is about 35-90%, again, depending on the duration of the movement. Complete rest for these types of movements is 1:3 to 1:5. An example of this would be a 200m because an average time for this distance would be around 20 seconds, give or take a few seconds (depending on the level of the athlete).

Usain Bolt uses his glycolytic system fairly well; Wouldn't you agree?

3) Oxidative System

This is the last system used for activity. The movements that require this system the most are those movements that are very long in duration and very low intensity. More specifically, these movements last longer than 3 minutes and only require <35% of the maximal power that can be produced. Complete rest for these movements would be 1:1 to 1:3. An easy example of this would be a marathon runner. This activity lasts much longer than 3 minutes, so it is apparent that the primary energy system used would be the oxidative system.

Keep running! Only a few hours left!


While the science is indisputable, the practicality of training for these systems is a different story. If there is one thing I've learned in the first few years of my coaching career, it is that time is money and sometimes these systems cannot be trained 100% as they should be. Many times you may have to cut rest periods shorter for power-type activities that need longer rest periods because the kids you are training have to leave at a certain time, or their parents may just be impatient. Whatever the case, try to stick close to the work/rest ratios outlined above for the best results.

Wrap Up

There you have it! A few more kernels of knowledge to store in the "Training Methods Tool Box". I'd hope that, with this new information, you will all think differently about how you approach the development of your next training cycle. Train hard, train smart!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be Practical!

Today's topic: Practicality. The following is simply my take on the topic at hand. Let the rant begin!

In our world, we have mainly two routes to go when we have to make a decision. We can go the practical route, meaning what makes sense in that specific situation, at that very moment in time. If the same thing happened again, but slightly different, you might make a different decision based on the slight difference. Then we have the second option, book knowledge or "book smarts". This would be using the same decision making skills in all similar situations, without adapting to the specifics of these situations.

You might think I'm just rambling about nonsense, but there are people in this world that are solely one or the other. There is no meshing of the two; no blending together of options in how to react to the situation. Some people react to situations based on what they have read from a book without looking at the little things that have caused, or come from, this specific situation. They believe the problem can be solved so easily, not having the practical knowledge to examine all of the external and internal factors to the problem. Thinking "outside the box" does not come from a book! The knowledge, skills, and abilities that come from a book can only get you so far. They are a stepping stone to an ultimate way to solve problems, where one uses that book knowledge with his practical knowledge and skills.

Alternatively, one cannot purely rely on practical knowledge either. There should be some base knowledge from those books. If for nothing else, than to just be learned for later application to their already stellar practical knowledge!

Alright, my rant is over! Basically, use your common sense! I know many smart people who have absolutely no clue how to live in the "real" world. Next time you have to react to a situation, think about how you handle it and what type of person you are in this regard.