It is indicated through the literature that there is more musculature than degrees of freedom in the head and neck region of our anatomy. What this means is that an individual is able to 'substitute', that is, make similar movements with the head and/or neck using muscles that are normally accessory in a particular task. This is a good thing for many reasons, if we wake up in the morning with what is deemed as a 'stiff neck' though uncomfortable we are able to function throughout the day actually resting the affected area substituting movement with lesser or unaffected musculature. Having the hotbed of proprioception, the area which is most important in movement and balance with an abundance of muscle redundancy, allows us to have a certain degree of normalcy while healing takes place.
Athletes Paused at the Top of the Movement
Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging during a neck strength training study researchers showed that in the beginning of a neck weight lifting regime more neck muscles were involved in each set of the movement and near the end of training the exact exercise, less musculature was used to move the same load. The prime movers of the motion and the muscles that were available to assist the action were all being used when the lifters began the studies training program. As training persisted near the end of the study only the strongest muscles that were necessary to move the load were being utilized and the synergists were no longer developing strength.
EMG studies on the contrary show that if the athlete pauses at the top of the movement all the neck musculature becomes phasic. Once all neck muscles become part of the action of holding the weight in a paused position, slowly return the load towards the starting point of the repetition. Performing an eccentric movement or better said lengthening contraction will keep the entire cylinder and it's associated tissue active. Train with a pause at the top of each rep and continue the exercise until it is difficult to control the decent of the weight each set. Resistive exercise in this manner keeps all the neck muscles active throughout each training session and is the best way to Get Strong.
Tyler Hobson,designer of Pendulum for Rogers Athletic, checks out the Pendulum Equipment at the Mississippi State University weight training facility.
The Pendulum Rack System with two clip on Pit sharks will Get you and keep you Strong.
The Pendulum Vertical Chest Press is a unique machine. An athlete who trains exclusively on the Vertical Chest will achieve the same results or better than a free weight bench press. Assistive devices like repboards and bench press boards are totally unnecessary. The Pendulum has built in range limiters (set extension technology) that quickly can be changed to do drop sets or limit the range of motion.
To elicit shoulder relief and isolate the chest, particularly for rehabilitation just raise the seat height up several notches. To maximize anterior shoulder power line the upper arm parallel with the work arm of the machine as shown in the upper photo.
Independent work arms correct strength deficits allowing the athlete to augment their training by exercising one limb at a time. If you want tremendous chest power, Get Strong on the Vertical Chest Press.
Get Strong Feet
A characteristic of any 'system' is interconnectivity and interdependence. All parts of a system interact with one another and the entire system cannot operate optimally if any part is excluded.
“I can’t prove this, but I believe when my runners train barefoot, they run faster and suffer fewer injuries.”
— Vin Lananna, Director of Track and Field for the University of Oregon and seven-time NCAA Coach of the Year.
Much has been written about barefoot running, the claims are that it strengthens the feet, strengthen the arches, improves movement, and balance and increases flexibilty and mobility.
In March of this year, researchers published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, "Effects on Muscle Strength, the Foot Arch, and Dynamic Parameters Before and After the Training." The researchers strength trained the flexor muscles of the feet in a population of healthy men from the ages of 22-32. The subjects performed 200 reps per day on a special exercise device for the toes with about a 6 - 7 pound weight for 8 weeks. They targeted the intrinsic muscles of the feet, specifically the muscles of the interphalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints.
After pre and post testing, the researchers found significant improvement in the 1-legged long jump distances, vertical jumping heights, and 50-m dash times. Keep, and Get, the entire system Strong.
Michigan Versus Ohio State
At Hard Pressed Chicago there are former strength coaches from Michigan and Ohio State. Deciding which colors to paint a new Pendulum Seated Squat for their facility seemingly would require some deliberation but not become an intense argument, which required compromise to finally purchase the device. It's pretty obvious to us at Rogers Athletic that the former strength coaches from these two great universities, when training on the Seated Squat, will Get one leg Stronger than the other.
Assembling the Squat Pro
Leaving the Pendulum truck in Downtown Chicago
Moving towards the loading Dock
At Home at Hard Pressed Chicago
We were told the Pendulum Seated Squat Pro must be shown from both sides
Neck Develop Progressions from 6th Grade to 12th
6th grade students doing 'dynamic tension' neck flexion
Laying out a regime for an entire athletic department requires much thought and anaylsis. Doug Scott, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Pingry School, designs his strength training program to enhance performance, but first and foremost to protect the athlete. Below Doug shares his thought process in examining and implementing exercise throughout the Pingry School's athletic department.
Teaching athletes the importance of developing neck strength should be the goal of every strength coach. In order to effectively teach young athletes, it is important to have a plan of when to introduce new movements as to insure mastery, this is often referred to as “movement progression.” At the Pingry School we start training the neck muscles as a part of Physical Education class in the sixth grade and continue all the way through high school. Listed below are how we teach neck strength from 6th-12th grade.
Teach neck flexion and extension while standing
Dynamic Tension exercises (Front, Back, and Sides)
Dynamic Tension (F,B,S) 60 seconds each
Introduce Neck Machine
Flexion x 12
Extension x 12
Shrugs 2 x 12
Dynamic Tension (F,B,S)
60 seconds each
Introduce sides x 12
Introduce 1 arm shrugs
Dynamic Tension (F,B,S) are used as part of warm up for sports
Flexion, Extension, Sides (progressive)
2 arm shrugs and 1 arm shrugs
introduce manual resistance
Dynamic Tension (F,B,S) are used as part of warm up for sports
Neck Machine Flexion, Extenson, Sides (progressive)
Introduce neck machine
Protrusion, Cranial Flexion, Cranial Extension
In the 6th grade the students perform neck movements without resistance. These are the movements that the students will eventually being doing on neck machines. The object is not only to to teach the motions but for each athlete to understand that it is important to train the entire system. We use the term 'dynamic tension' to describe moving the head and neck while contracting the muscular. We teach pausing at the top of the movement for a full second contraction before returning to the starting position for each rep that is done.
In the 7th and 8th grade dynamic tension is done more aggressively for 60 seconds in each movement. The students are also introduced to the Pendulum Neck Machine with a fixed weight for flexion and extension 12 reps. Lateral side flexion is added in 8th grade. The weight is not done progressively nor is it heavy.
Beginning in 9th grade the students begin progressive resistance exercise in all movements and they work to Get Strong!
In 1978, 76 strength coaches attended the first National Strength Coaches Association convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, many of these coaches were part time employees. Manual Resistance was introduced to the college and professional strength and conditioning coaches in 1979. Dan Riley was the head strength coach of Penn State University and a speaker at the NSCA, during his presentation he showed film of his players training, selected exercises were done with partners and without the use of weights which he deemed manual resistance.
With colleges and universities previously uninvested in strength training and tremendously limited facilities manual resistance was a great way to augment training for the newly founded position of strength and conditioning coach. It gave coaches an avenue to accomplish work with limited strength training tools. In 1982 Dan published Maximum Muscular Fitness which discussed the art of manual partner training.
Since the 70's and the advent of diverse weight training technologies many have stepped away from manual training and built great weight rooms with different types of exercise devices that make manual training no longer necessary.
Manual resistance still has value as it allows a coach to teach athletes movements that the athlete may not be able to do away from the facility or if their facility is lacking.
The issues you must keep in mind if Manual Resistance is part of your program:
- We have a concussion crisis in athletics. The absolute best tools for strength training the muscular that lowers subconcussive forces are the 4- Way and 5- Way Head and Neck Machines. Manual resistance can be used to augment these exercises or used when these devices are not available but the 4 and 5 -Way Head and Neck Machines should be priorities in your facilities.
- When training manually all athletes must understand the rules and not only perform the exercise themselves but be able to teach, as well as administer the exercise to others.
- Once an athlete understands how to perform manual resistance it requires the same effort and motivation as if trying to improve on a bench, squat, clean or any other strength training exercise.
- When training manually to progressively overload it requires some strength measurement to track progress. A circumference will give you information but fluctuates in regards to time of day, body composition and other physiological variables.
- Remember when training manually around the head and neck athletes should have clean hands especially during flu season.
- After a head or neck injury you need strength values for return-to-play. The athletic trainer and physician use strength levels of the shoulder and knees for return-to-play but without a neck machine and previously obtained strength results one can only guess about the levels needed to resume activity safely.
Manual Resistance Rules
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.
Pendulum 5-Way Neck Machines
Finishing with the Rope Pull
Using the Rotary Handles on the Pendulum Combo Lat Pulldown
Once completed finish with the Pendulum Rope Pulldown
Set the Pendulum Rope Pull at the difficulty desired
And Get Strong
Jim Plocki has coached numerous individual National Champions, as well as, All-America, All-Big Ten, All-Academic, Olympian, Heisman Trophy, Hobey Baker Trophy, NFL, NHL and NBA athletes. Jim has been a part of many Big Ten, CCHA, Bowl, NIT, Final Four, Frozen Four, Super Six and College Softball World Series teams. In 2001 Jim was awarded an Honorary M from the Michigan Athletic Department for his dedicated service to Michigan Athletics. Jim gives us insight into preparation for basketball.
Communication can separate good from great. A team must not only listen to the coach, but communicate instructions with one another, everyone must be on the same page. If you are tired while competing you still must concentrate and make the correct decisions. Conditioning is important, yet games can easily be won or lost by an athlete taking the right or wrong step.
In 1958 in a paper presented in the Journal Psychological Review argued the number of objects the average person could hold in memory was 7 +/- 2, they dubbed this Miller's Law. Since its publication there has been a tremendous amount of research on the limits of cognition. I know this as a coach, remembering which foot one should touch a line 6 times in a row while competing to make a designated time is extremely difficult.
Pre-Season Basketball Conditioning: Cognitive Court Sprints
Run this drill on a basketball court.
Each player starts with both feet behind one end of the courts baseline.
The coach will tell the athletes which foot they must touch each baseline example; Left, Left, Left, Right, Right, Left and then say go.
The athlete will run six lengths of the court and touch each baseline with the appropriate foot.
If any athlete touches any baseline with the wrong foot the drill is repeated by all.
Beginning time to complete this drill is 36 sec.
The training range is 4-20 reps of 6 lengths.
Run this drill with 3 groups so you get a 2:1 rest ratio
The challenge for the group is threefold: first, all athletes must concentrate on what the coach is saying to ensure they hear, as well as, commit to memory, the 6 foot placements; secondly, all athletes must make the target time; third, once the coach says 'go' its up to the players to make sure all are on the same page and step with the appropriate foot. When the whole team can run 10 'cognitive court sprints' below 34 seconds the team is prepared to begin the rigors of the practice season.
Squat Like a Pro on the Pendulum Squat Pro