The hamstrings are involved in knee flexion and hip extension. They can be regionally targeted through exercise selection. Having a leg curl machine in your facility is important even if it is used exclusively for rehabilitation or exercising one leg at a time.
Without question the greatest leg curl machine made is the Pendulum Leg Curl. You recognize this as soon as you begin a repitition, immediately the lifter feels there is something unique about this training device.
Pendulum Hip Presses at Middle Tennessee State University
Manual Resistance is an important consideration in designing a structured exercise program. Manual training affords for hands on evaluation by a coach of an athletes effort in performing each movement. Include manual resistance in your program so athletes are able to strength train under varied circumstances; i.e., when there is no facility available or the facility they may be using has limited tools.
The Rules of Manual Resistance
1). Each athlete must know and understand the rules.
2). The Lifter begins each exercise with the goal of 6-8 reps. This requires pacing, in other words, the first repetition is not an all out effort. The effort must be increasing for every subsequent repetition.
2a). The Spotter should allow the lifter to perform each repetition at the same pace or speed of movement. This will require different amounts of pressure by the spotter during the rep (because of leverage). The lifter will feel as though the resistance is similar at all joint angles (the resistance will feel smooth).
3). The lowering phase of every repetition should be slower than the raising phase. A guide in learning manual resistance is raise the involved limbs up in 1-2 seconds or at a 1-2 count and lower them in 4-5 seconds or at a 4 or 5 count.
3a). The Spotter must make sure that they feel more force by the lifter during the lowering phase of each repetition.
4). The Lifter should continually contract their target musculature during the raising phase and the lowering phase of every repetition.
4a). The Spotter must give feedback to the lifter to ensure there is always a constant contraction on every repetition performed. The spotter should identify any relaxation or loss of force by the lifter during the movement.
5). The Lifter should pause with pressure against the spotter's resistance at the top of every movement. Pausing with pressure and no relaxation is extremely difficult.
5a). The Spotter should insure the lifter is applying force at the top of the movement. The spotter must feel if the lifter is relaxing. The spotter must ease slowly into the lowering phase of the exercise. Slowly easing into the lowering phase or decent is extremely important.
6). The exercise is completed when the athlete reaches momentary muscular failure.
Gabe Harrington has a Masters degree from Michigan State University. He has coached at MSU, the United States Military Academy and most recently was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Colgate University Patriot League Football Champions. Gabe explains, there really is no off-season it is about manageing transition.
Whether you coach high school or college football this is the time of year for transition. If you are at the high school level, your athletes are going from lifting and conditioning to playing another sport such as baseball or track. Perhaps they have been playing a winter sport such as wrestling or basketball and are getting into their off season training program. If you are at the college level, you are coming off of winter conditioning and getting into spring football. As a strength coach, or the football coach in charge of strength and conditioning, you are responsible to not only prepare the athlete for the coming task; but also to meet the current demands the athlete faces. In other words, you have to manage transition. Assuming that you have done a good job in preparation, the team is healthy, as big and strong as ever and ready for spring ball… what now? The key of course, is to ride the fine line of introducing enough stress to illicit improvement without over doing it. Know which variables you can control and which ones you can’t. And when transitioning from winter to spring training remember that the transition in and of itself, is a stressor. Here are a few guidelines worth considering when transitioning from winter to spring training: 1) understand stress, 2) lower the volume of lifting, 3) lower the intensity of exercise and/or change the exercises used, 4) try to get more bang for your buck with conditioning, 5) have great communication between staff and between staff and players, and 6) continue to emphasize nutrition.
Pendulum 3 Way Row
Before we get too deep into what to do, let’s examine how the human body responds to stress. Stress is a necessary component to living well and improving. After all, without added stress (adding weight to the bar) you can’t get stronger. And if you don’t study hard, you won’t get any smarter. However, even though stress can be good, too much is extremely detrimental and can lead to a multitude of issues ranging from poor performance to disease and death. A good way to look at this is to imagine that you (or rather, each and every one of your players) are a bathtub. Filling the bathtub are many faucets – we’re not just talking hot and cold here. We’re talking about life: lifting weights, conditioning, school, homework, football practice, meetings/film, girlfriend(s), parents, social life, transition… the list goes on and on. Like all bathtubs, we can only hold so much water before it begins to spill over the top (poor performance). When the water fills up the room the tub is in and begins flooding the floors below we are in trouble (disease and death). We tell our players all the time to eliminate distractions, because distractions are added stress – one more thing to deal with. We know this from experience. But too often we don’t take our own advice, and we as coaches create an overly stressful environment.
When it comes to lowering the volume of lifting, I think of it in terms of both time spent in the weight room as well as the number of work sets performed. Time spent in the weight room is important because most strength coaches don’t have control over what time of day the team comes in. You may have to get them after practice, you may have to get them early in the morning. Either way, you have to work around the academic schedule (which is normal), and you now have a couple more faucets filling the bathtub (practice and meetings). Shoot for 30-40 minutes from the time they walk in to the time you break them down and two days per week, for a total of 60-80 minutes in the weight room weekly. As far as the number of work sets performed, this will be dependent somewhat on your training philosophy but here’s my general thought:
Front/Back Neck: 1x8 each
Choose a Shrug variation: 2x8 (light to heavy)
Choose a Press: 2x8 or 3x5 (at a percentage or light to heavy)
Choose a Pull: 2x8 or 3x5 (light to heavy)
Choose a Hip: 2x8 or 3x5 (at a percentage or light to heavy)
Core: 1-2 sets
In this example, you’re looking at 11-21 sets. Which is correct? They are actually about the same in terms of volume… 3x5 equals 15 reps, 2x8 equals 16 reps. In the above example, you’re looking at 93-96 total reps. Going light to heavy, you’re looking at only 40-50 reps at the work load. If you use percentages on the press and hip (bench/squat) then you’re at 60-70 reps. The main differences are how long the lift takes (three sets takes longer than two sets due to the rest interval between sets), and the next variable - intensity.
Pendulum 5 Way Neck Shrugs
If you tap a stick of dynamite lightly 50 times, chances are it won’t blow up. Whack it once real hard and BOOM! This is intensity. The more intense the activity, the less of it you can do. So, using our workout template above, performing all the reps at 85% could be insane to do during spring practice. But performing the same volume of work at 60% is simply not enough to get you strong (more on this later). Using our above example, 3x5 @ 75% for full range of motion bench press and 65% for full range of motion squat are great starting points. From here you can progress slowly throughout spring practices. This allows for acclimatization to the new stress of playing football. Another option is to change the exercise selection and perhaps keep the weight a bit higher because the movement is easier, or more ergonomic:
Front/Back Neck: 1x8 each
Pendulum Seated Shrug: 2x8 (light to heavy)
Pendulum Vertical Chest Press: 2x8 (light to heavy) or Close grip 3-board Press: 3x5 @ 80-85%
Pendulum 3-way Row: 2x8 or 3x5 (light to heavy)
Pendulum Hip Press: 2x8 (light to heavy) or High box squat: 3x5 @ 70-75%
Core: 1-2 sets
In this example, your players get to handle a bit heavier weight with the barbell movements. With a machine alternative you also get to alter range of motion within a set track and ergonomic design.
As far as conditioning goes, get more bang for your buck. In other words, try to incorporate conditioning into practice. Some football coaches prefer to practice at a high tempo to accomplish this, some like to run gassers or other variations at the end of practice, still others prefer to have the strength coach come out and spend 10 minutes at the end (or even prior to team periods) to run the team. It can all work, but what doesn’t work is to try to add conditioning as another session throughout the week. Too many faucets going into the tub!
Pendulum 5 Way Neck
This next piece is crucial. Communication. If you know what the week looks like as far as intensity on the field, you can manage intensity in the weight room. An easy week on the field can provide opportunity for a harder lift on one day. A very challenging week should be paired with a get the blood pumping and work the kinks out kind of lift (remember that 60% discussed earlier). Obviously the football staff will meet and go over a multitude of factors relating to practice, etc. If you as the strength coach have the opportunity to go to these meetings it can be very beneficial. If you don’t, then you absolutely have to make a point to get with your head coach and get a feel for what practice will look like in the coming days so that you can plan accordingly. The last thing you want is to give the players a hard lift thinking that practice is going to be a walk thru and then it’s filled with hard hitting and three periods of goal line. That is a recipe for injury. Along those lines, communicate with your athletic training staff as well. Get a feel for injury trends, and use that to re-tool your current plan or to plan ahead for the next phase of training. Most importantly, talk to your players. Specifically, talk to your guys that will give you honest feedback. Not the meat head who wants to max bench every day. Not the guy who is always trying to get out of things. Talk to the guys who consistently work hard and who have a good feel for the big picture. These guys know they should be sore and what kind of sore is a good sore; they know if they (and the team) can handle more or need rest. This relationship is absolutely vital.
Pendulum Hip Press
The final piece and the one that goes hand in hand with stress is nutrition. Good nutrition (and rest) equals recovery. And recovery is the all important factor. Optimal performance is less a function of how much you can endure, but rather what you can recover from. At the same token, you are not what you eat. You are what you digest. Not everyone can digest pizza, pasta, potatoes, milk, etc. - keep food allergies in mind. Most of us have no idea what we are allergic to unless it just about kills us. The real issue is with things that don’t elicit a huge response right away. Dairy and gluten can fall into this category. Keep an eye on players’ bodyweights to make sure there are no abnormal fluctuations. Constantly address hydration. By the way, hydration does not mean downing sports drinks 24/7. Keep sports drinks where they belong – during and immediately following practice. Rather, players should drink at least 50% of their bodyweight in ounces of water every day (a 200lb player would need 100oz of water daily). This is on top of any other beverages, like sports drinks. Avoid sugar, processed foods, and bad fats. Does a player have a hard time gaining or losing weight? If so, think hydration first. If he’s hydrated and getting enough calories, think food allergies and seek help of a nutritional professional.
At the end of the day, the main theme is to maintain a balanced stress level, communicate, and eat well. Don’t be afraid to adjust your lift calendar or exercise selection to accommodate the needs of your players. Then once spring gives way to summer, you get to transition them again and ramp it back up in preparation for two-a-day camp. Always working hard, because THERE IS NO OFF SEASON.
Coaches spend countless hours instructing their athletes to achieve a required form in the barbell squat. To progressively overload it necessitates each repetition be performed at the same appropriate depth, as a few inches of variance can mean significant difference in what is actually being lifted.
The Pendulum Hip Press was designed to target the most difficult region for athletes to develop when squatting, that is - the hips. It is the last few inches of the overall movement that is the most challenging. Adding the Hip Press to your squat program will not only make significant changes in the strength of each athlete, especially in the low position, but will also make noticeable changes in their range of motion. Get Strong; train the hips.
The Journal, Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, covers clinical and experimental research pertinent to human physiology in health and disease and reviews recent 'front-line studies'.
Not long ago researchers looked at neck/shoulder muscle pain in a group of about two hundred adults that had lingering issues for at least 6 months to a year. The participants in the study were given small amounts of daily exercise with elastic tubing. After 10 weeks they were reexamined to see if there was a change of rapid force development, the results were then compared to a control group who did not exercise. Rapid force development, that is the force that can be generated in the early phase of muscle contraction (0–200 ms), significantly improved in the training group even though their strength did not. The study concluded that, "Small daily amounts of progressive resistance training in adults with frequent neck/shoulder pain increases rapid force development and, to a less extent, maximal force capacity."
Rate of force development is highly important as it allows an individual to reach a high level of muscle force in the early phase of a muscle contraction. If a fast limb movement is required ones rapid force development may allow a higher maximal muscle force to be reached that may otherwise not occur.
What is important to see is that even brief resistance exercise can have an effect on the development of rapid strength. Though researchers were looking at means of reducing pain in their population having a solid strength program for the head and neck as opposed to nominal exercise for the head, neck and shoulder area will go a long way in reducing subconcussive forces to protect the student athlete.
Pendulum 4-Way Neck Machines, Upper Arlington High School, Columbus, Ohio
Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, how it is important to make conscious decisions about every aspect of the athletes training down to the minute detail.
Managing body weight is fundamental in athletics, I always believed it was a reflection of your mindset. Any athlete I coached heard me say, "Your weight is your attitude." When I weighed athletes in as a team it was a big deal. Each player that stepped on the scale, the pounds that they weighed, represented his commitment to winning and if collectively the results were favorable there was a good chance we would be a pretty good football team.
With today's technology there are many types of scales to choose from, electronic scales that can measure body composition, digital scales with memories, scales that hook up to your computer and more. When I went about selecting my measuring instrument I wasn't interested in modern high tech machinery, my concernment was the message. I wanted a big scale that was tall with a huge dial and went up to 500 pounds or more that both the athlete, myself and others could gather around and look at together. The scale would be the first thing you saw when you entered the weight room. It didn't matter if you were weighing in or not, you would walk by this huge hefty object that would eventually tell a lot about you and how you have been approaching the game.
When an athlete sits down to eat and overeats, he may have tried as hard as possible in workouts, but he quit trying and has lousy effort while sitting at the table. If he skip meals it certainly doesn't help growth and hurts his and the teams progress. The term 'training table' by definition is "a mess hall, providing planned meals for athlete in training." When you sit down to eat you are continuing your training at the table.
I wrote on the scale the 'the minimum' weight management. When an athlete is given time off from exercise as part of their preparation and asked to relax, hang out, stay off their feet, they still have the responsibility to do 'the minimum', that is weight management. Eating behavior is then everything because caloric expenditure has suddenly changed dramatically.
I called a friend in my scale quest who we appropiately called "Gary the Scale Guy", who's job was to fix and calibrate scales and told him what type of weighing instrument I was looking for. Gary searched around old factories in Detroit and found a rusty antique Toledo scale that needed refurbishing. When done the item was perfect. Not only was the scale large and heavy, it also went up to my requested 500 pounds, which was how much the scale itself weighed. The hulking measuring instrument seemed to shout out how important your weight was and accomplishing my goal of others being able to see what you weighed on the oversize dial.
If you are a coach the message is this - it's about coaching and management. We communicate with our athletes in many unspoken ways, we hang motivational signs, dress in specific colors, have logos, we display pictures of our past, exhibit trophies of successes, post record boards, have specific rituals players must adhere to and on and on. These are all conduit in shaping our constitution. All the things you do with the athlete are important and require forethought as they deliver a message. I am not recommending you do anything I did in regards to weighing athletes, I am only recommending you make conscious decisions about every aspect of their training down to the minute detail - if it is a measuring tool that you purchase ask yourself where will I place it, how will I use it and why?
To optimize speed and accuracy of motor behavior coaches prepare the athlete by teaching the type of movement that must be made and when it should be executed. Anticipating the movement time, in which a response should be performed is called 'temporal orienting', whereby efferent nerves carry impulses away from the central nervous system to effectors such as muscles that respond to the stimulus.
Temporal orienting is part of coaching. Temporally informative cues allow athletes to predict when an imminent event will occur. A coach teaches certain signals and signs to the athlete that something will occur shortly. These valid clues increase the athletes reaction time, how does this happen?
Temporal orienting or selectively preparing for the motor response recruits a region of the brain called the left intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The IPS principal function is visual attention. The IPS is involved in such things as directing eye movement and motility, such as reaching, grasping and the minds visuospatial working memory that is, your sense of 'whereness' and interpreting the intent of others. Co-activating the neuroimaging and neuromuscular portions of the brain makes for a quick athlete.
The cues a coach gives his athlete can reduce reaction time. The more exacting the mental imagery the better the reduction. When using an object like the Rogers Quick Snap Football, study game film and try to replicate the centers habits manipulating the ball before it is snapped. Replicate the angle of the ball and indicate exactly where on the ball you want the player to focus his attention. Make sure the athlete understands how important studying the football can change how he plays and quickly he moves. Get your intraparietal sulcus Strong.
Aaron Hillman, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Illinois has a vast experience in strength and conditioning, he has coached at Ball State, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Michigan and has had stints with the NFL. Aaron has numerous power racks in his facility, but understands the value of tools. Football is an aggressive sport and to participate at the highest level having a wide variety of exercise devices allows a coach to augment his athletes training.
Not only does having a wide range of equipment allow an athlete to reach his potential, but there are always periods whereby a coach has to address the health of each individual. Athletes may need to reduce the load on the spine, thay may need to change training modalities to accommodate for casts on an appendage or may be undergoing rehabilitation for an injury. Having head and neck machines is important, as well in all programs to keep athletes safe and Get them Strong.
Neck muscle fatigue produces abnormal sensory input to the central nervous system and affects our postural control, we use our vision to overcome these effects. Dynamic visual acuity is the clearness of the visual perception of an image, when our ocular system is impaired visual acuity degrades during head movements.
Training on the Pendulum 5 Way Head and Neck Machine
In the January Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers found that neck muscle fatigue negatively impacts dynamic visual acuity. The cervical spine is the hotbed of proprioception and when measured by joint position error, acuity is seen to diminish after fatigue.
Experiments in studying neck muscle fatigue, not only produce significantly altered effects of balance, but perceived altered affects, as well. In the May 2014 Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, scientists discovered fatigue is more than a general convention and that particular neck muscle groups have varying effects on stability.
Since neck muscle fatigue has been shown to alter an individual's balance in a similar way to subjects who suffer from neck pain or people that have suffered a neck injury, it is essential that an athlete trains the entire system, which includes the muscles of the head neck and jaw. Coaches must make it clear to the athlete that neck muscle strength affects performance and athletic trainers must be cognizant that returning muscle strength to normal values post injury is not only an important part of the rehabilitative process, but is imperative.
To perform optimally during athletics Get the entire system Strong.