Get Strong

The Rules Of Manual Resistance

Important Manual Resistance Considerations:

  • When training manually all athletes must understand the rules of performing each repetition properly.
  • The athlete should not only be capable of performing an exercise but have the ability to teach, as well as administer the exercise to others. 
  • Once an athlete understands how to execute manual resistance it demands 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 a strength measurement to track progress.  Taking a circumference, body composition and other physiological variables allows the coach and athlete to monitor results.
  • Remember when training the head and neck manually athletes should have clean hands especially during flu season.
  • The rules of Manual Resistance must be reviewed regularly! 

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The Rules of Manual Resistance

1). If you use Manual Resistance make sure you and your spotter 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.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Muscular Strength, Manual Resistance

Food For Thought

The human brain utilizes more energy than any other organ in the body. About 1/3 of its energy is used for maintaining cellular health and 2/3rds to provide energy to fuel neurons so they can communicate with one another. This energy needed represents about 20% of our resting metabolic rate.

Using some of the brains energy to think about gaining and losing weight, it is understood if you eat more calories then you expend you will gain weight. If you create a negative caloric balance or deficit your body will burn it's stored fat for energy and ultimately you will lose the desired poundage that you wish. Counting calories is certainly away to track what is happening when you diet, using dietary software, dietary programs, exercise wrist watches all help. Even with technology and professional dietary programs science says the relationship of counting calories and managing body weight is not as simple as one may think adding to what we already know, that diets, even with the appropriate caloric balance are frustrating.

Let's say, at the time you are 'moderately active' and begin precisely monitoring calories as you up your activity level to 'very active'. The goal is to increase energy expenditure by exercising more while keeping your food intake consistent. This should cause you to lose pounds. Having a new high energy level and watching your diet may initially give you your desired weight reduction, but other things begin to occur. Becoming more fit causes you to relax more completely, you also may nap and sleep through the night soundly. These positive outcomes of becoming in better shape and conserving more energy through rest, can reduce caloric needs. Suddenly the amount of calories from the food that you are taking in is reflective of the caloric needs of being 'moderately active' and the new activity adjustment no longer reduces your weight. The good news is that what is occurring fitness wise is certainly a plus. 

There is another caloric expenditure occurrence that happens as you become more fit that changes energy requirements. Becoming more active leads to becoming stronger and more skilled in movements which gives you what is deemed better economy of motion. This new economy of motion decreases your energy expenditure to perform the athletic skills that you are doing and also decreases the total caloric needs for daily tasks such as stair climbing, walking and a host of other normal activities above your basal metabolism.

Once you begin adding muscle due to your new 'activity level' change - caloric needs once again are modified. Gaining muscle requires additional calories each day to gain and maintain mass. Keeping the number of calories consistent to lose body fat becomes tricky as muscular gains are also an important part of fitness and require a caloric increase that you are trying to avoid.

The bottom line is - all diets have their ups and downs and require adjustments, patience, determination and consistency which are a must if you want to Get Lean and Get Strong.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Muscular Strength

Manual Training: Knowing The Rules Brings Results

The athlete should know the rules of manual resistance as well as the coach does to achieve optimal strength gains.

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.

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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.

manual abs 

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.

manual training pause 

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.

manual press

Topics: Muscular Growth, Muscular Strength

Neck Muscle Strength, Bracing And Training The System

describe the imageMike 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, developing one area and neglecting another is not conducive to optimal athletic performance.

On January 31, 2014 the American Journal of Sports Medicine published an article on neck strength titled, Effect of Neck Muscle Strength and Anticipatory Cervical Muscle Activation on the Kinematic Response of the Head to Impulsive Loads. The findings indicated that male and female athletes could potentially modify risk factors for concussion by developing neck musculature. It was shown that having greater neck strength when bracing for impact reduces the magnitude of the head’s kinematic response. The anticipatory act of bracing for a violent collision is important in protecting oneself from the effects of whiplash, yet bracing in itself is a common occurrence.  When you run, neck muscles contract before your foot hits the ground. The process of running is inherently bouncy as our muscle tendon units act as springs to propel us up and forward. This aerial phase neck muscle contraction is in anticipation of the ground reaction force.  Ground reaction force causes a vertical acceleration of the head that actually pitches the head forward at foot strike.  

The human head uses a self-stabilizing system that does not rely on muscular reflex to control the pitching action during running. Reflex alone cannot control the action of the head once ground strike occurs – having fewer than then 10 milliseconds to control the up and forward action of the head is not enough time for our natural reflexes.

Our head, which is pitched forward upon landing, also rolls and yaws. This requires contractions of neck extensors, as well as flexors and a downward swing of an arm that dampens vertical acceleration. Each arm constitutes about eight percent of total body mass, roughly the same relative percent as the 5 to 6 kilogram runner’s head. If you consider the head in running as the primary mass then the downward swing of the stance side arm becomes the counter mass accelerating in the opposite direction, thereby dampening the skull’s oscillation. The athlete then alters their running form by bending and swinging his or her arms in movements with the appropriate power and speed to counter these varying vectors of force.  Changing the mass or active stiffness of the arms through strength training and not addressing the mass and/or muscular system of the head and neck can be problematic. The coach and athlete will spend countless hours trying to achieve a particular running form that cannot truly be corrected unless they address the musculature that is controlling the movement of the skull.

Running Form

There is another issue that the neck must attend to during running. When we land during sprinting we avoid falling down by utilizing the muscles of the lower back and hip – particularly the largest muscle of our body, the powerful gluteus maximus – to decelerate the trunk. As the trunk accelerates forward and then backward the head and neck accelerates backward then forward. Try this at home: Sit in your car and accelerate quickly forward then step on the brake. Vehicle acceleration provides example that the more the trunk pitches the more the head reacts. Increasing the strength and/or mass of the trunk and not addressing the strength and/or mass of the head and neck adversely effects athleticism.

As mentioned, the head also rolls and yaws during running, usually towards the stance side foot at foot strike.  Once the runner is in the aerial phase one leg quickly swings forward while the opposite leg is thrust behind the body, causing angular momentum around the vertical axis. We counteract this by swinging our arms in an opposite phase to the legs to have an equal and opposite angular momentum. The neck must not only rotate in the opposite direction of the trunk but quickly prepare for being thrust vertically and forward upon landing.

The human brain is encased in a rigid skull and covered by a muscular scalp which is surrounded by three layers of membranes and floats in a protective cushion of cerebrospinal fluid. Though protected, brain trauma can occur with sudden acceleration or deceleration within the cranium. Control of head stabilization is one important line of defense for protecting the brain from perturbation.   During activity, it remains relatively stable as we integrate information about the head and body from our eyes, vestibular system and proprioceptors of the neck. For athletes involved in any sport with an associated head trauma risk, protecting the brain from excessive subconcussive forces through strength training head and neck musculature for bracing is the first job of a strength and conditioning coach.

For any athlete to excel in sport, they must train the structures that decelerate opposing masses. This means that athletes must have head and neck training as part of their exercise regime. The head and neck muscles are countering arm swing, trunk pitch and rotation, as the arms are countering head pitch, leg swing and trunk movement. Developing one area and neglecting another is not conducive to optimal athletic development or performance. Train the entire system.

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Topics: Running, Muscular Growth, Skill, Muscular Strength

Sleep, Knees And Spine

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Over time the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones begins to wear. All joints in the body are susceptible and in athletics osteoarthritis is often seen earlier than normalespecially in the knees and spine. A population based study in the journal Spine found heavily active people getting less than 7 hours of sleep per day, have a remarkably higher prevalence of arthritis in the lower back than those who sleep longer.


When there is too much or abnormal loading risk factors for lumbar muscle strain and lumbar disc degeneration are elevated. If an athlete has a shorter sleep time the lumbar muscles and discs are under tension for a longer period. Therefore, this status may lead to further lumbar degeneration and be related to low back osteoarthritis.

Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association recently addressed the Collegiate Strength Coaches at their National Convention. He discussed the extensive issue of sleep deprivation in collegiate athletics. He explained how lack of sleep increases sports injury risk and pointed to a study whose findings indicated, "if an athlete is progressively sleep deprived over a period of 12 weeks, their neuromuscular performance will continue to diminish, even when the athlete believes that, after three days, they are back to normal."

Not only does sleep deprivation increases the risk of overuse and fatigue injuries but is often associated with signs of depression, anger, feelings of tension, anxiety and all the symptoms associated with attention deficit disorder. 

College students are among the most sleep-deprived people in the country. According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Nature Science and Sleep, 50% of college students report daytime sleepiness and 70% attain insufficient quality.  A comprehensive study at an independent college preparatory school showed increased sleep duration after a delay in school start time. When school was started at 8.30 am, 30 minutes later than usual, sleep duration was increased by 45 minutes on school days. 

Serious training requires adequate sleep. Early morning workouts must be well thought out and scheduled to ensure that athletes are getting adequate sleep and peak performance. Coaches need to consider sleep if they want to Get and keep their athletes healthy and Strong.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Muscular Strength

Manual Training

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

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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.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Manual Resistance

Transition - There Is No Off-season

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.

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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 volume3x5 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.

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 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!

Gabe Article Neck

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.

Harrington Article Hip Press

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.  

Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Success

Weight, Coaching And Management

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. 

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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 managementWhen 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.

 

Weight Management

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? 

Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training

Maintaining The Fundamental Football Position

Limestone College located in Gaffney, South Carolina added football as the department's 25th sport. The Saints started competition this past Fall. Curt Lamb, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Performance, hired Eric Schwager to develop a comprehensive program that would prepare a young group of athletes to compete at the highest level upon entering the Southern Atlantic Conference. 

One drill that Eric developed is used to emphasize, strengthen and stress the importance of the "fundamental football position". Depending on the position the athlete plays, when they are fatigued, after a workout, or a particular lift they are instructed to quickly get into their basic football position. Below is an example of an offensive lineman.

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In the photo the green resistance band is around the athletes shoulders and back. The red resistance band around the arms which must be thrust firmly backward with the goal of contracting the scapula muscles at all times and remain posture perfect - knees bent, back straight, head up, arms and body pushed against the bands. The goal is 30-90 seconds holding perfect form in opposition to the applied resistance.  A minimum of 30 seconds is the least acceptable amount of time to Get Strong. 

Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Success, Muscular Strength

Improving Shoulder Strength With Hand Grip

Hand grip exercises can increase shoulder muscle integrity.

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The supraspinatus muscle is a rotator cuff muscle that helps initiate abduction of the shoulder. The supraspinatus also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint by keeping the head of the humerus firmly in place. It is common for strength coaches to have athletes incorporate a series of rotator cuff exercises to target the intrinsic muscles of the shoulder utilizing bands and light weights as part of their workout regime to insure it's stability.   

supraspinatis

Athletic trainers traditionally have used an exercise called the 'empty can' to isolate the supraspinatus in checking or improving this muscles strength. The empty can is performed by standing with the arms hanging at the side as if to do a normal side lateral raise. The arm is then rotated internally, trying to put the back of the hand against the thigh. Maintaining this position the arms are lifted out to the side away from the body with the thumbs pointing towards the floor to a position almost parallel to the ground for each repetition.  This movement brings the shoulder into internal rotation making it difficult to use the powerful deltoid to raise the arm requiring the supraspinatus to do much of the work. 

The supraspinatus can be also be effected strongly by gripping exercises with the arms held above 60 degrees and below 90 degrees, especially by pre-exhausting the deltoids before the hand work begins.

Studies clearly show there are high demands on handgrip force when the arms are elevated. As the hands are exercised the shoulders become under a high load as well. Pre-fatiguing the deltoids and immediately training the grip is a great way to Get the supraspinatus, hands and shoulders Strong.

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Pre-fatiguing the shoulders on the Pendulum Shoulder/Incline 

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 Immediately using a Rogers Power Grip Wrist Roller to Get Strong

Topics: Muscular Growth, Grip training, Pendulum Gripper, Strength Training, Pendulum Shoulder/Incline, Muscular Strength