Thursday, September 23, 2010

Knowing Capabilities?

During my undergraduate Biomechanics course, I once wrote that I thought I had a very good sense of knowing what someone was physically capable of, as it pertains to athletic performance, just by looking at them. This included taking in a picture of their anthropometrics (height, weight, body fat %, joint lengths, etc.) and also seeing how they move. While I may be able to realize how easy it would be for a person to squat, snatch, clean, etc. just by looking at how their body is built, I now know this previous statement is completely idiotic. Now that I have been working with athletes at all different levels for a few years, I have come to realize that people will always surprise you. This goes for many things in life, but especially when it comes to physical capabilities. I once worked with a very young athlete who had never done any kind of lifting. On her first day of learning the snatch and clean and jerk, she picked up the technique extremely well within the first ten minutes. This was a 10 year old who had just come in for the first time! If memory serves me right, she learned how to do both, full Olympic lifts and front squat in that session and she rocked it. I believe she ended up snatching around 25kg, C&J around 35kg, and front squatting around 40kg. This just goes to show that you can never assume anything until you see for yourself what someone is capable of doing. Train hard, train smart!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Training to the Beat of a Different Drum

Recently I've been helping with the training of the BGSU sprinters and throwers. This has been an excellent experience for me. This marks the first time I have worked in a college setting, though I have worked with several college athletes in the private setting. The college setting is much different. There are many rules that must be followed that the private sector has no need to even have, such as wearing the proper colors within the facility. I find this to be annoying, but at the same time, respectful and unifying. I can understand why this rule is in place and I'm sure every college and many professional team settings have this same rule. Another difference is the time constraint. This is the main reason why I wanted to get experience in the college sector. To this point in my career, I have not been handcuffed to the extreme with time constraints. I wanted to see just how the program was put together with the limited time around the athletes' class schedule, practice, and NCAA regulations on time allowed within the weight room. It is going great so far, and the athletes seem to be receptive to my help. I'm enjoying the new training methods I'm learning as well. We were using extreme, unorthodox, full-body circuits for the last few weeks. Though these circuits would be thought of as endurance-type sessions, they have absolutely increased the work capacity and strength of these athletes. Now we're transitioning into classic strength methods. This includes increased intensity (weight used) and rest with decreasing repetitions and volume. It's going to be fun to see where the training will go from here. I'm excited to watch as these girls progress their strength and power. Go Falcons!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Program: Squat to the Top

I was just looking through some of my files and came across a squat program I wrote up a couple months ago. I have not tried this, so I'm not sure how it is. I thought I'd throw it out here if anyone wants to try it out, or at least look it over. That way maybe you can make adjustments to it for yourself. This could be the best, or worst, squat program ever made. Who knows? It has to be completed and tested before anyone can say either way.

Squat to the Top

Program Considerations
- 6 week, repeating program
- 3 Work weeks, 1 Deload week, 1 Max week, 1 Speed week
- 2 days back, 1 day front per week (except deload and speed weeks)
- Combination of Smolov and 5/3/1 programs
o Use of volume/intensity of Smolov
o Use of simplicity of 5/3/1
 Half of sets straight ( a la Smolov), with last two increasing intensity/decreasing repetitions ( a la 5/3/1)
• Opposite with front squats
• 7% difference between first half and second half of sets
- Rotate Back and Front squats within week (always 2 days back and 1 front)
- Perform higher intensity sets first
- Each week you add 5% and keep sets and reps the same (similar to Smolov)
- For week 4, only perform light, unilateral work for the lower-extremity
- For week 5, first 2 days maxing out…3rd day %’s based off of new max
- Week 6 is a speed week. Again, %’s based off new max in each lift
- After week 6 is complete, repeat the program

The Program

Week 1

Day 1

Back Squat (L) – 3x8 @ 75%, 3x4 @ 82%

Day 2

Front Squat – 3x5 @ 80%, 3x8 @ 73%

Day 3

Back Squat (H) – 5x3 @ 85%, 2x1 @ 92%

Week 2

Day 1

Front Squat – 3x5 @ 85%, 3x8 @ 78%

Day 2

Back Squat (L) – 3x8 @ 80%, 3x4 @ 87%

Day 3

Back Squat (H) – 5x3 @ 90%, 2x1 @ 97%

Week 3

Day 1

Back Squat (L) – 3x8 @ 85%, 3x4 @ 92%

Day 2

Front Squat – 3x5 @ 92%, 3x8 @ 85%

Day 3

Back Squat (H) – 5x3 @ 95%, 2x1 @ 102%

Week 4 (Deload week)

Week 5 (Max week)
Day 1
Back Squat – 2-3x1 @102-105%

Day 2
Front Squat – 2-3x1 @ 102-105%

Day 3
Back Squat – 3x5 @ 80%, 3x2 @ 87%

Week 6 (Speed week)
Day 1
Front Squat – 4x3 @ 55%, 4x2 @ 62%

Day 2
Back Squat – 4x3 @ 55%, 4x2 @ 62%

Squatting Screw-up

As some of you may know, I have recently finished a 4 day/week squat program called the Smolov squat program. It's base cycle is three weeks straight, with the fourth week used as a deload week before beginning the next cycle. I only went through the base cycle.

Recently, since finishing the Smolov, I have not been squatting up to par. This includes both not being able to work at the intensity I want, and not hitting the volume at lower intensities I'm working with.

Therefore, the purpose of this post is to evaluate the previous two months of squatting sessions to find when my squat mojo left, and what caused it to leave. First I will include my thoughts on what is going on. Then I will list each of my squat sessions from the last couple months.

I will warn you before reading any further...I am one of those kinds of people that over-analyzes EVERYTHING. Training is not exception to this either. That is problem numero uno, but it is certainly not the cause of this mishap because I have always been this way. My second thought is that my motor patterns have changed because of tightness in my right leg. Since I've finished the Smolov, my right sartorius has been extremely tight to the point of pain at it's origin (my right ASIS/hip bone). In my opinion, this is probably the culprit because the posterior chain of my right side has not felt right since this started. Anyone who has squatted can attest that if your glutes/hamstrings aren't firing, you're in for some sub-par performances. Another thought that I have been having is that my right triceps surae (calf muscles) are overactive, which could be causing some improper motor unit firing patterns. This thought came to me because I always feel my right 'calf' over my left when I'm walking...and I feel my left glute over my right while walking. Therefore, this could very well be adding to the problem as well. Are you still with me? I told you I over-analyze! These top the list of my thoughts (believe me, there are more). I've tried everything to fix these...stretching, strengthening, foam/ball rolling. Nothing is working!

Here is the list of my squat sessions (used belt all days except first):

7/26 (Start Smolov) Bwt = 167lbs
60x4, 90x3, 107x4x9

7/28 Bwt = 164.4lbs
60x5, 90x3, 105x2, 114x5x7

7/30 Bwt = 168.4lbs
60x4, 90x3, 110x2, 122x7x5

7/31 (#)
135x5, 185x3, 225x3, 245x1, 275x3x3, 2+1,",4x3,2+1

8/2 (#)
135x5, 185x4, 225x3, 255x4x9

8/4 Bwt = 168.6lbs
70x5, 90x3, 110x2, 124x5x7

60x5, 100x3,2, 110x2, 120x2, 130x1+2,2, 125x2, 122x1, 110x4,5,2
This was easily the worst day of the program. My R quad was cramped and tight.

70x5, 100x2, 110x2, 125x10x3

60x5, 90x4, 110x2,9, 112.5x3x9

70x5, 90x4, 110x3, 115x7, 120x7, 122.5x3x7

8/13 Bwt = 168.6lbs
70x3, 100x3, 110x3, 120x1, 130x5,5,4/5, 127.5x4+1,",4/5,2+1+1/2, 120x1
By the last few sets, I wasn't able to finish the sets. The last set with 120 was just to make up the few reps I missed, but probable would've failed beyond one rep.

8/14 (Last day on Smolov) Bwt = 169.4lbs
70x3, 100x3, 110x2, 120x2, 130x3x3, 132x3, 130x6x3

8/20 (Max attempt)
70x4, 90x2, 110x2x1, 120x1, 130x1, 140x1, 110x5
This was a horrible day...140 almost crushed me. This was actually 12.5kg less than my previous max before starting the Smolov. My hope was to get around 160kg. This will have to happen another day.

Hopefully this will paint a picture as to what is going on with my squat. If you see anything, let me know! Until this gets worked out, I will be putting my head down and pushing forward to get back to where I was just a few short weeks ago.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You Always Have a Choice

I've been thinking recently about my progress in training, as well as in life. It is so crucial to look at the little things you are doing in the present that will lead to future occurrences. Remember, as the title of this blog says, you always have a choice. The choices we decide on can make or break anything you are trying to accomplish. I am writing this as a short reminder to stop and think before you make your next decision; whatever it may concern. Remember to think of the little things as well. In training, this may be doing those couple sets of prehab/rehab on a certain smaller muscle group. For work, it may be staying those few extra minutes each day to help a boss or co-worker. Whatever the situation, take a moment to stop and think about what outcome your next decision will help create. Do the little things right and you will progress faster than you think in all aspects of life!