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Sprint Running Form And The Test

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Nov 8, 2017 3:16:46 PM

Coaches and athletes spend a great deal of time on running mechanics.  Utilizing film and having handouts of what you are trying to accomplish speeds the process. If you truly want athletes to understand the action of sprinting give them a quiz, you will be surprised how much better they will correct their form when drilled.

Sprint Running Form

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I. The Hands and Arms  - the faster the arms go the faster the legs go

     A. Relax your hands

         1. If the hands are relaxed the chances are good that the arms and shoulders will be                     relaxed

          2. The index finger and thumb should slightly touch or the hand should remain in a                     natural  position

          3. Start with your lower arm at right angle to the upper arm

          4. Powerfully drive your hand forward no higher than your shoulder

          5. Keep the right angle while vigorously pumping your arms

     B. The rear action of the arm is responsible for higher need lift

          1. The thumb should almost brush your thigh on the descent of your arm

          2. The downward moving hand should clear the buttocks

          3. Keep the arm at a right angle during the stroke allowing the elbow to open slightly at                the end of the stroke

          4. Your upper arm should become almost parallel to the ground

          5. Always assure that there isn't excessive swinging of the lower arm during running -                 maintaining the right angle of the lower and upper arm

      C. Proper movement of the arms and insures unnecessary rotation of the lower torso

          1. While pumping your arms keep your shoulders Square

          2. While pumping your arms do not rotate your hips

II. Head neck and shoulders - position and relaxation allows for faster arm movement, a more powerful stroke, and greater knee lift

       A. Relax muscles of the face

           1. Breathe through your mouth and nose

           2. Relax your mouth

           3. Eyes should be focused at an object in eye level straight ahead - not at your feet or                  upward

           4. The head should always remain in a normal postural position

           5. Never allow the head to rock from side to side or move up or down

       B. Relax your shoulders

           1. Keep your shoulders down while pumping your arms

           2. Do not shrug your shoulders toward your ears

           3. Relax shoulders allow you to pump your arms faster

           4. Keep your shoulders square

III. Legs foot and torso - knee lift must be without improper body rotation and avoidance of prancing

        A. The torso should be upright

           1. When running the trunk should be slightly forward of vertical

           2. Do not allowed torso rotation

           3. Do not allow bending in the middle of the torso - crunching

           4. Do not allow bending backwards

           5. Run tall

        B.  High knee lift is desirable and completion of the drive stroke or drive leg is desirable

           1. Left your knee high with a powerful stroke

           2. The drive must take place wholly behind the body's vertical line with the drive leg

           3. At no time should there be an attempt to reach out with the lifted foot

           4. The lifted foot should be slightly cocked or plantar flexed

           5. The returning lifted foot will land slightly ahead of the body and then we'll be used to                drive forward


The Sprint Running Form Quiz   100% is Required

Fill in the blank

In running the faster the arms go the faster the  ___________________go.

The proper rear action of the arms is responsible for __________________.

When pumping your arms your shoulders should remain __________________.

Proper movement of the arms ensures unnecessary rotation of the _____________.

How should your head, in relation to your torso, remain when running with proper form?


True or False

You should run tall?________

You should not reach out with your lifted foot when running? _________

You should not shrug your shoulders when running? ________

You should relax your head and neck and shoulders when running? ________

You should run run run run run with great form to get better? _________

You should relax your mouth running? __________

You must be in great physical condition to perform your best? __________

The head should remain in a normal postural position? ____________

Breathe through your mouth and nose?_________

If your hands are relaxed the arms and shoulders will probably be relaxed? __________



Topics: Running, Skill, Success

Indiana Wesleyan University

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Oct 12, 2017 10:16:22 AM

Indiana Wesleyan University introduces their new Wildcat football program and new Pendulum weight room. They will be Getting Strong in Marion, Indiana.


Topics: Announcements, Success

Superman, Strongest man, Strongman, Champion, or Just Loves Weights

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Aug 4, 2017 12:19:43 PM

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.


Vernon recently visited the Clare, Michigan factory and Pendulum showroom, and stunned America with a workout with enormous weightsmaking 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.

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Coach Smith Releases the Bar after Completion of the Rep

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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!


Topics: Announcements, Success, Strongman

Weighing In On The Head And Neck

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Jul 21, 2017 3:35:04 PM

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…

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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.


Topics: Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Success

The Pendulum Challenge

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Jun 1, 2017 8:52:51 PM

The latest studies show that women are approximately 52% as strong as men in their upper body and 66% as strong in their lower bodies.  A women having less strength in their upper torso in general is because they tend to have a lower proportion of their lean tissue distributed there. The differences in muscular strength in equally trained men and women is almost entirely accounted for by the difference in muscle size. 

This year at the Collegiate Strength Coaches Association, strength coaches competed against one another for $500.00. The event was deemed the Pendulum Challenge. Because the challenge included both men and women the performance guidelines were set based on the above factors of body weight and gender.

The winner of the  Pendulum Challenge at the National Conference and $500.00 cash was Northwestern University's Taylor Hynes. She performed an incredible total of 109 strict reps on the Pendulum 3-way Row, Seated Squat, and Shoulder/Incline. Taylor can be seen surrounded by members of the Pendulum Staff after her impressive victory. 


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Topics: Announcements, Success, Pendulum Seated Squat, Pendulum Shoulder/Incline, Pendulum 3 Way Row


Posted by Mike Gittleson on Jan 14, 2017 8:14:51 PM

A rivalry increases focus, effort and performance and brings out the best of both sides of the competition. This is true not only on the athletic field, with siblings, in business, in establishing a territory, as well as, in many other walks of life. Rivalries can and do shape how we derive our thoughts.

A great example of this effect is the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln purposely selected three men as part of his Cabinet, who politically ran against him and had sharply opposing views: Attorney General Edward Bates, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Secretary of Sate William H. Seward. Creating this "Team of Rivals" and listening to their conflicting opinions brought greater challenges and these men with their disconsonant interactions turned America for the greater good of all. 

Rivalries move us to think differently, compete differently, train differently and even test us in unsuspecting ways  This can be seen in the athletic training room during rehabilitation, whereby we are charged with working as hard as possible to equivocate the strength of the injured appendage with the strength of the uninjured limb. Pitting one side of the body against the other is not only for rehab, but coaches and healthy athletes have used this technique in training throughout the advent of strength development history to make sure results are maximal.

Adding paint and dedicating a special Pendulum Machine for a 'rival opponent' in your weight room will elicit greater challenges, an incredible training response to Get Strong for the greater good of all.

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The Pendulum Seated Squat Pro

Topics: Success, Pendulum Seated Squat, Pendulum 3 Way Row, Pendulum Shoulder/Incline

Manual Labor

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Dec 29, 2016 8:38:33 PM

It is well understood that muscular strength and functional abilities can be enhanced significantly without the use of barbells or machines by utilizing manual or partner training techniques. The inclusion and coaching of Manual Resistance training should be an integral part of all athletic programs. 

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The benefits of Manual Training are far reaching:

Manual training teaches an athlete how to get the most out of each repetition and how to reach and what it feels like to accomplish momentary muscular failure. 

Manual training affords for a hands on evaluation, by a coach, of an athletes effort in performing each movement.  

Manual resistance does not require equipment allowing athletes to perform resistive exercises that a facility may have limited equipment or tools for.

Athletes are able to strength train under varied circumstances; i.e., when there is no weight room available or a the satellite facility has inadequate resources. 

Large numbers of athletes can be trained at one time.

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!                                 IMG 9694edited

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. 

Training the Neck Manually

The absolute best tools for strength training the muscular that lowers subconcussive forces are the Pendulum 4-Way and 5-Way Head and Neck Machines.  Manual resistance can be used to augment these exercises or when an athlete is away from the facility. The 4 and 5-Way Head and Neck Machines should be priorities in all athletic strength training rooms. 

After a concussion or a head and 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 recorded results one can only guess about the levels needed to resume activity safely. 

Neck Stength Women

 Training on the Pendulum Head and Neck Machine.

Topics: Success, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Manual Resistance

Ludington High School

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Jul 8, 2016 4:39:28 PM

Ludington High School is located in Ludington, Michigan near the shores of Lake Michigan. The school's athletic department just added Pendulum strength equipment to Get Strong.


The Pendulum Rack System


The Pendulum 5 Way Neck

Topics: Success, Announcements, Pendulum Rack System, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Pendulum 5 Way Neck

Wrestling With Neck Strength

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Jul 3, 2016 7:33:10 PM

In the Journal of Clinical Sports Medicine it was reported that the risk of a collegiate wrestler sustaining some type of neck injury to be 20% for a first injury during the first year of practice and about 50% for subsequent years. 

While practicing and competing, strong cervical extensor muscles maintain the appropriate spinal curve in an arched position, which is deemed 'head position' by coaches. The wrestlers opponent applies powerful stressors to the neck and spine to disrupt his adversaries balance and to gain leverage and position.

Head and neck strength is of the utmost importance as wrestlers must manage their acquired grappling posture to be successful. Sustaining balance and stance during combative movements involves intensive isometric contraction of cervical muscles and often tremendous stresses on tendons, as well as the ligamentous structures.

Their is sound evidence that there is a relationship between cervical pain and cervical muscle strength. A weakness of the anterior and posterior head and neck muscles contributes to pain persistence and the occurrence of chronic neck pain which inturn causes muscle atrophy. Neck strength training has been shown to improve neck pain and is an asset in return-to-play with athletes. 

Having a solid head and neck training program not only protects the athlete from injury, aids in a speedy recovery and is extremely important in establishing form and leverage in wrestling. A great reason to Get Strong.

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Penn State 2016 NCAA National Wrestling Champs - Pendulum 4 Way Neck Machine

Topics: Success, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Pendulum 5 Way Neck

Eating Less And Maintaining More

Posted by Mike Gittleson on Jun 24, 2016 9:41:46 AM

To ensure young athletes gain muscle mass coaches provide advice and direction. They set up workouts, have goal meetings, implement training rules, discuss and suggest nutritional and sleep guidelines, track weight and strength progress. Eating more calories than you are used to is often difficult for athletes to maintain and gain tissue, yet rewarding.  Proper dietary intake drives the results of a well organized and participated in program.

When you reach middle age things change, behaviors associated with weight training and muscle retention are counterintuitive. For years caloric restriction has been studied in animals as a way to increase longevity.  Now, researchers are discovering how the aging muscle receives the most benefit by restricting calories. By eating less, there is what is called 'metabolic reprogramming', this means decreased energy from glycolysis and increased cellular dependency on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Metabolic reprogramming seems to help cells better use antioxidants and protect their retention. Don't forget a muscle is an 'organ' critical for movement ...and fuel metabolism as well. 

The message is - do not continue the same eating habits that you had as a young athlete. When you reach middle age reduce the calories that you have been eating daily and you will maintain more muscle tissue using your personal strength and conditioning protocol. Eat less and Get Strong.


Topics: Success, Strength, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum Rack System