Sometimes we forget that training tools, like the Rogers Athletic Drive Sled, are not just for football. Conditioning and developing power and strength are for all athletes.
Sometimes we forget that training tools, like the Rogers Athletic Drive Sled, are not just for football. Conditioning and developing power and strength are for all athletes.
Topics: Drive Sled
Not long ago, a blog was written about one of the best kept secrets in the United States, Vernon Smith, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. http://info.rogersathletic.com/get-strong/who-is-the-strongest-strength-coach-in-the-world
Vernon recently visited the Clare, Michigan factory and Pendulum showroom, and stunned America with a workout with enormous weights―making it look almost casual. During Vernon's leg workout Coach Smith lifted 1260 pounds for repetitions, and more than one set on the Pendulum Squat Pro. He squatted over 600 pounds pausing on the 5th rep to get the most out of the exercise as the weight was extremely light for him.
Watching Coach Smith squat, we knew it would be worth a 5 hour drive to Marian University just to observe him pick up weight off the floor. Monday we called Vernon and requested to take a few pictures of a deadlift workout. Vernon said 'come on down,' but indicated he deadlifted pretty extensively a few hours earlier but would be glad to do a similar workout the next day.
Above Vernon is using about 635 or 655 as part of his warm up, following 225, 405 and over 500 pounds.
Vernon is a true gentleman. He welcomed us, and was truly unconcerned about lifting two days in a row a similar routine. We chatted with Vernon about a variety of subjects as he loaded the bar. Coach Smith, counted how much weight he was adding only for our benefit. The weight ended up being 725 or 745, which was actually irrelevant as it was just for pictures, not purposeful training. We were watching, and probably should have been timing bar speed, because during each lift the bar appeared to move to the fully erect position at the exact same pace, indicating the weight was far far below his capabilities.
Coach Smith Releases the Bar after Completion of the Rep
What we enjoyed the most was how Vernon held the bar in the fully contracted position. He did so in order to make sure we got the appropriate picture before releasing the weight to the ground, and was curious if we saw any flaws in his technique.
So who is this Vernon Smith? We know of his coaching prowess based on his accomplishments at Marian University, his strength causes one to pause yet, he doesn't compete in lifting and when you meet him he never speaks about his abnormal power. The question is; is he Superman, the strongest man, a unique and extraordinary strongman, or a weightlifting champion unfolding? Or what most of us suspect a man and coach who truly 'Just Loves Weights' and 'Loves' to Get Strong!
How do things Stack up? Combine Pendulum Power Stacks, mount Power Stacks between the racks, in the rack, on the wall, around posts, bridge them together - Stack them up to develop Power and Get Strong.
Topics: Pendulum Power Stack
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:
Some of our greatest moments in coaching have nothing to do with success on the field of play. They are often more liken to do with the camaraderie built in unexpected moments as we prepare for victory. These foundations of lasting memories and friendships unknowingly influence the directions we take in our lives. Mine in recent years has been to assist in the development of tools and dissemination of knowledge for the safety of the athletes in the sport I love.
The normal head weighs between 12 and 20 pounds, and recent studies continually reinforce the fact that head circumference correlates with body size. Size and shape matter for fitting hats, or helmets, or any item that graces your head. Manufacturers go beyond letters and numbers for fitting, they add head shape verbiage such as 'long oval,' 'intermediate oval,' and 'round oval' to give further description to measurement.
Yet, in modern day athletics the numeric correlation of circumference and body size is far from correct. Though the cranium remains genetically normal, often players are asked to and do gain enormous amounts of muscular weight to augment their prowess on the playing field. This distorts the relationship between circumference and body size. And at a glance head shape and size becomes skewed to the viewer as the normal head now graces an abnormal heavily muscled body.
One summer, just prior to warm-ups for a football conditioning session, I walked on to the field to find the players huddled in a huge spirited somewhat heated debate. The argument was of all things who had the biggest head. Unannounced to the group muscle mass was actually interfering with sound judgment in discerning the facts.
There was a clear division among the players. The student-athletes were taking sides in the argument. Not only was this a lively debate, I might add, it was getting quite animated with these aggressive young men and getting testy. It was obvious to me the dispute was not going away and would affect the focus of our running workout. I needed to take action, so I walked into the middle of the group and authoritatively said, ”Okay men, lets settle this issue." "Inside!" and pointed.
I took a clipboard and pad and we all filed into the weight room, about 70 athletes. We crowded around the old Toledo scale that graced the entry way. Some stood on benches. Each man subsequently was required to lay down and rest his head upon the scale. We were about to weigh everyone’s cranium. This was becoming more than an argument about size, suddenly it also had to do with what gray matter was inside the skull. It was college, brains mattered!
An assistant strength coach meticulously adjusted each athlete to assure that the head was resting properly on the scale while being weighed. Each athletes neck muscles were palpated for indications of contraction while weighing. The purpose was to negate any cheating if one was so inclined. Science at it's worst, entertainment at it's best.
Each player was formerly and dramatically introduced, their football position rendered and the head's weight clearly and loudly announced to the anticipating team amongst their 'ooooh's' and 'aahh's' of delight. The suspected big bulbous heads that led to this controversy were weighed last adding much to the anticipation of those who were the most vocal in the argument.
I think what intrigued me the most was the insane interest that the team had about each of their teammates head scores. Big heavy heads were okay, average heads were okay, but having the heaviest (or now the lightest) was apparently not. Of course, my weighing each head did nothing to really quell the argument, but broadened the controversy as you might guess. It did make for a lighthearted prelude to a difficult run. And without question, it was a wonderful team building experience that brought us all closer together. The earlier tensions, that were becoming personal, turned into all of us making fun of ourselves, and etched lasting memories into our hearts of this silly raucous episode.
Protecting heads, big or small, no matter what they weighed has always been important to me and was always the focal point of my training. I trained the athletes neck three days per week. At the very least, the first exercise of their regime was just that.
Before the advent of the neck machine I used Manual Resistance for training. Reading the old Strength and Health article “A Strong Neck and Powerful Jaw," you can see the precursor to Manual Resistance. Strong men were exercising with self-imposed resistance instead of working with a partner. Adding a partner to assist was a very natural occurrence.
Manual Resistance was a good thing but had its limitations; quantification of results, poor spotters, poor application of technique, and really in actuality upon reflection, a menagerie of other issues that interfered with optimal results.
The factors I disliked the most about manual training had little to do with methodology and everything to do with the huge amount of time involved in teaching and coaching. When it came to the front of the neck, even with a towel, the athletes sputum on my hands, especially during the flu season, got to me.
The development of the Neck Machine was figuratively and literally a life saver. I ended up with a dozen neck machines in the facility. I was a neck fanatic. A neck freak…
So why spend so much time training this area?.
Having a contact sport or car collision can cause ‘whiplash.' If you have a small cylinder or neck there is potential for more bend during the collision. If the cylinder is bigger there is less bend, so a pencil sized cylinder (neck) of the same material (neck muscle) bends more than a big round 'can' sized neck. The larger cylinder, without question, will dissipate more force. It is a simple reason for training, easy to understand, even if someone hasn’t taken physics.
Also remember neck muscles wrap around the spines vertebrae, vertebral artery and spinal cord. If you want to protect this vital area bubble wrap it with muscle tissue. My job as the strength coach was to protect the athlete and keep the athlete on the field. They don’t forget their helmets at practice and I wasn’t going to forget their necks in training.
The neck musculature can be broken up into two distinct functional units: the muscles that extend and flex the head, and the muscles that extend and flex the cervical spine. This is where training the neck gets a little tricky, to paint a picture let's use the arm as an example.
Holding a dumbbell and flexing from your elbow with your hand fully supinated exercises the bicep. Holding the same dumbbell and keeping your arm straight, bringing the dumbbell parallel to the floor then exercises the anterior deltoid and does very little to the bicep.
The neck is no different, there are several functional units of musculature that move the head and spine differently, and you don’t always treat them as one entity. If you want to fully exercise the neck, can you imagine trying to train the bicep without ever flexing from the elbow?
You can train the capital muscles of the head or you can train the muscles of the cervical spine. Knowing this, and paying attention during exercise, increases the volume of the neck. Of course you need the right exercise tool, a device that allows you to differentiate.
Here is another thought about neck muscles. When someone strains, lifting an object, such as a power clean, or squats with a barbell, or squats on a machine, you can readily see all the muscles of their neck contract under the strain. The rigid organs, called bones, function to move and support the load. Your neck holds the bones of the upper torso in place, providing support. This allows other groups of your musculature to transfer force and attend to the displacement of the object. When you press a weight it is more than your feet becoming the base for lifting, it is your neck muscles holding your clavicle as a base of support as well. So we therefore can say a strong neck helps move the load.
You need to overload the muscles of the neck to grow, to stabilize, to transfer force, to contract quickly as you would any other muscular group in your torso. To think the muscles of the neck will simply adapt to their ultimate capacity by pulling on objects, or simply shrugging with objects is contrary to the cellular function of the musculature.
I got involved with Rogers Athletic and Tyler Hobson the inventor of Pendulum in building a neck machine, I was excited. I personally can't invent anything but have ideas and understand muscular function. Tyler can translate your thoughts into functional steel that we call an exercise machine. I told Tyler the neck machine must first be a 5-Way Machine. I called him about 2:00 AM in the morning with this thought, needless to say I was more enlivened than he that early in the morning.
Pendulum's Tyler Hobson
In building a 5-way neck machine, you must have elevation. in other words, you need to shrug or pull. The problem with the shrug is that most people can lift more with their traps than they can hold with their hands. Tyler needed to solve this and come up with a unique strength curve on the shrug to address this situation.
The next thing I indicated to Tyler was that on a neck machine you must be able to address training the musculature of the head, as well as the musculature of the cervical spine and not necessarily together.
And third, you must have a range limiter with adjustments in the right spots to address the stated issue of functional muscular units, and target specific regions such as the deep neck flexors: the longus capitis and longus coli.
You know what? Tyler Hobson did it. Not only did he create a head and neck machine, but made a training device for rehab, or insanely aggressive neck training like doing 'drop sets.' And now my own neck, after training with the Pendulum 5 Way Neck Machine, is looking good even as I am losing myofibrils through aging as I write this blog.
Coach up your athletes with experiences that enhance team chemistry, and above all protect your athlete with your training methods for when they take the field....Get Strong.
Turn your Pendulum Lat Combo Pull into a rope pulling machine to Get the lats and hands Strong.
Topics: Pendulum Combo Lat Pull
Newberry College is located 44 miles northwest of Columbia, South Carolina. Their 2016 football team became the 16th team in the 42-year history of the South Atlantic Conference to win the conference title by going undefeated in league play.
One of the best kept secrets of their recent success is their dynamic Strength and Conditioning Coach Erik Schwager. Erik a graduate of Lock Haven University has a Master’s in Exercise Science from California University of Pennsylvania. Erik has coached at Princeton, South Florida, Michigan State, Hartford and for baseball's minor leagues. Bringing these experiences and his personal drive to Newberry has helped shape the entire athletic department's fitness programs in a positive direction.
Having a Master's in Exercise Physiology is commendable and is a measure of one's knowledge, yet adding to one's resume a Master of Barbecue is an entirely different story! Each year Erik puts on a strength and conditioning barbecue at his home for coaches around the USA. The idea is to meet one another, enjoy the afternoon in a relaxed atmosphere and talk shop. Because it is conversational all coaches and athletic trainers in attendance have input. Everything is low key and the interchanges are filled with experiences, coaching techniques and the latest research in exercise science.
The food ranges from pulled pork, ribs, brisket, barbecued drumsticks, burgers, to special salads. Erik without question is a great coach and without question the number one 'Strength Coaching Chef' in America. Whether you love coaching or not, try to get to the Schwagger barbecue for at least the dining. It is hard to discern which is better the learning experience or the food.
This year 18-20 male and female coaches from Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina attended and discussed head, neck and jaw training, the mechanics of running form relative to physics and limb weight, zero velocity and it's effect on the muscle-tendon junction as well as the art of coaching.
A few of the coaches and athletic trainers hanging out in the backyard before getting ready to overeat.
Information flow in social settings has been studied for decades. We go to particular places for various reasons and end up sharing information, when we speak others add to the discourse and build upon it. Though this seems intuitive, it has led to 'information grounds theory' and the scholarly study of 'Information Behavior.'
Information behavior researchers have aligned 'Place' as relative to learning and identified that location, space, and culture are fundamental to information sharing. In 1989, Ray Oldenburg published the Great Good Place, usually a required reading if you are in a college enrolled in the School of Information. Reading Oldenburg helps you understand the significance of hanging out with good company and the transformation that occurs learning in this environment.
Erik Schwager has developed the social setting for constructive dialogue so watch for this event next summer and don't miss.
The relationship between whiplash and cerebral concussion is known. Concussive trauma can occur when the head and brain shake quickly back and forth ending in injury. Whiplash injuries are common in sport yet more prevalent in daily transportation, as an auto accident occurs every minute of every day. The auto industry is relentless in studying whiplash to protect us against collision. Recently researchers looked at sized matched males in studying car rear impacts. Males who had greater vertebral dimensions had a more stable cervical spinal column capable of resisting inertial loading of the head and neck complex during automotive rear impacts.
Muscle and bone are linked genetically, molecularly and mechanically. Bone is remodeled throughout our lives and a decrease in physical activity and circulating hormone levels is considered a significant factor. Loss of muscle mass and strength contributes to the changes in bone. Smaller muscles propagate less bone strain during muscle contraction and larger more.
Muscles subjected to increased loading, as in weight training, pull on your bones and over time lead to stronger and bigger bone tissue. The greater the loads you lift the bigger the bones. Rear impacts are commonplace in sport. Strength training the head and neck gives athletes a more stable cervical spinal column.
Train the head, neck and jaw to resist inertial loading and reduce the severity of whiplash while playing sport or driving to practice.
Get Strong On The Pendulum Head and Neck Machine
The Rockford Rams
If you watched High School football in the late 1990's in the State of Michigan you would remember a Belding High School running back namd Brent Cummings. He led his team to a State Championship scored 85 touchdowns before he left school and ended his career playing football for the University of Michigan. Not only was Coach Cummings a great athlete, he designed a special weight room to engage and develop the student-athletes.
The Pendulum Rack System
The room also includes Pendulum Glute/Ham Machines, Pendulum Hip Presses and Pendulum 5-Way Neck Machines
Marshall University the Thundering Herd
Topics: Pendulum Hip Press
Vernon Smith is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has had been a part of 28 Championships, which include 2 National Championships in Football and 2 National Championships in Women's Basketball. Vernon has had an amazing career coaching, but there is something more amazing.... and that is his strength. Vernon Smith squats and deadlifts over 900, benches over 600 and can power clean 500 pounds.
These numbers require pause, yet are really only a reflection into Vernon's ability to move weight. Recently he visited the Pendulum factory in Clare, Michigan. Like all who love training he did not want to miss a weight lifting session as well as was motivated to train on the Pendulum equipment.
Understanding Coach Smith was strong, we took photos so others could get an idea how powerful this man really is. Hopefully the images and the following explanation will give you an idea about one of the strongest men on this planet.
Vernon doesn't use a lifting belt, wraps or a suit. He didn't ask for or require a spotter. The whole workout he did at Rogers Athletic was as casual as if you were to go to the gym with some friends and enjoy their company while you trained and socialized. This statement is important as it reflects how easily he lifts enormous weights without giving his best effort.
Vernon started with a warm-up of some rather large weights (around 400 and 500 pounds) then filled the bar with all the plates he could which was a little over 600 pounds. He easily did a set of 5 repetition deep squats pausing the last movement as if the weight was a little light and he needed to get more out of the set. Vernon did not breath hard or have to sit down he just unloaded the bar and asked to try the Pendulum Seated Squat Pro. The Seated Squat Pro ended up loaded to 720 pounds where he did a couple sets of 10 with two legs and then some work using one leg at a time.
Following this Coach Smith went to the Pendulum Hip Press, which ended up loaded with the same 720 pounds and he performed two sets of two reps each at a pace of out on a 15 count back on a 30 count to get a real feel for the machine and what it offered.
Now as Vernon Smith casually talked he loaded the Pendulum Squat Pro tried it (800, 900,1000) and kept trying and adding plates until it was set at 1,260 pounds in which he did two sets of 3.
Because Vernon worked out with 600 on the Bench Press the previous day he just lightly trained on the Vertical Chest Press and some of the other Pendulum upper torso machines.
Someone somewhere may be as strong or stronger than Coach Smith - someone somewhere, some place, maybe!