Get Strong

Benton Harbor Football

_MG_0966.jpg    The Benton Harbor Pendulum Weight Room

Last November, Benton Harbor High School in Benton Harbor, Michigan had their first winning season in 26 years and the schools first ever trip to the state playoffs. Prior to 2015 they had 4 wins in 8 years. Elliot Uzelac at the age of 74 returned to coaching and had become their new leader. Elliot had been an assistant coach at the University of Michigan for Bo Schembechler as well as the Head Football Coach for Western Michigan, The United States Naval Academy and other stops at major Universities in his distinguished career. 

Arriving at Benton Harbor Elliot's first priority was investment in the kids. He made sure they had tutoring and overall academic success. Through the courtesy of donations he upgraded their facilities. Community donors supplied food, and the volunteer Tiger Moms prepared it. The athletes knew they were important and loved. He then raised the expectations and set goals.

The Benton Harbor story is so dynamic that it gained National media attention which included spots on ESPN and a surprise gift of a trip to Walt Disney World for the team from Good Morning America. Coach Uzelac, his staff, his athletes, the community all demonstrated the adage, 'that when you truly give of yourself you always get much more back in return.' 

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

Don't Miss The Best Clinic Of The Year

In 2015 in the Journal of Medicine Science and Sport researchers found that if you suffer a concussion the risk of a lower body injury is twice as great for months, a year or even longer.  In 2016 this information was once again reiterated in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

On June 25th and June 27th Kim Wood, the NFL's first full time strength coach provides a clinic that is designed to share techniques that will reduce sub-concussive forces that can cause head and neck injuries. Also, the clinic provides the most current research and newest techniques to train the head, neck and jaw from a wide array of professional coaches. 

It will be held in Pallet 23 Event Space, 3932 Spring Grove in Cincinnati. Pre-registration on footballstrength.com. The clinic begins Friday, June 24th at 7 p.m. and Saturday June 25th at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 which includes both sessions.

Register now: space is limited.

Some of Kim Wood's barbells. Kim provides a clinic that you do not want to miss!

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Clinics, Announcements, Success

Bringing Energy into Your Program

In 1850 Alfred Lord Tennyson published , "Ring out, Wild Bells".  His words, 'Ring out the old, Ring in the new', have been a stated dictum of change for over a century.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

Coaches are always trying to add freshness and excitement to their programs to engage their athletes and motivate them to succeed. The techniques used are vast and some work better than others causing the coaching staff to analyze, reflect and evaluate the athletes response to the method used. 

If you really want to motivate your athletes simply invest in them and you will see a response that you may not expect. When the Rogers Pendulum truck pulled up to Washington Court House High School, in Ohio the hydraulic lift, dolly nor the driver were needed. The excited athletes simply jumped up on the truck and carried their new Pendulum Head and Neck machine into their weight room.

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Adding another Pendulum Neck Machine to their Weight Room to 'Get Strong'

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If you want your athletes to 'Get Strong' invest in them with the tools they need to be successful, it sends a clear message that you care and want them to be the best they can be.

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

Squatting Through The Roof

When something is very high or has increased dramatically the idiom "through the roof"  is often used. The number of techniques coaches use to improve an athletes barbell squat, it can be said is -"through the roof"!  To improve the barbell squat a coach may have the athlete; work on technique, different bar positions, work on core strength, upper back strength, adjust an athletes grip, build hip strength, change the type of bar used, change shoes, do pause squats, do box squats, speed squats, increase flexibility, revisit motivation, look at rest intervals, change the number of days per week training occurs, adjust routines and much much more.

The Pendulum Squat Pro allows each athlete regardless of limb length and skill level to quickly, with almost zero coaching, get into a position of what may be deemed 'perfect form'. Having great form through an entire squatting movement increases the strength of the structures that the coach is trying to augment by using many of the aforementioned methods.

If an athlete is weak in the bottom position simply top load the Pendulum Squat Pro machine during the squating movement. If the athlete struggles near the top of the movement bottom load the Pendulum Squat Pro. To improve squatting strength and form simply cross load the machine with barbell plates on the high and low weight sleeves.

Without question training on the Pendulum Squat Pro will make any athletes barbell squat go through the roof with little or no coaching......  A great way to improve technique and Get Strong.

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The Pendulum Squat Pro

Topics: barbell back squat, Skill, Success, Pendulum Squat Pro

Best And Most Important Clinic Of The Year

In 1931 Paul Brown was the head coach of the football powerhouse Massillon High School in Massillon, Ohio. He lost only 10 games in eleven seasons and was hired as the head football coach at Ohio State University, where in 1942 his team won the National Championship. Paul Brown followed this by winning three NFL Championships as the coach of the Cleveland Browns.  Brown then co-founded the Cincinnati Bengals and became their head coach in 1968. His storied career included inventing the face mask, developing the taxi squad, running the draw play and installing a radio transmitter in the quarterbacks helmet. In 1975 Paul Brown made a lasting impact on the physical development of athletes, hiring Kim Wood as the NFL's first full-time strength coach. 

Kim Wood maintained the position for 29 years and his influence on the exercise world is unparalleled. Kim has built world leading companies, influenced equipment design and program implementation, he continues to fight performance enhancing drugs and has preserved the history of weight training with his vast collection. Wood's philosophy as a coach was effective simple and direct, "Prepare each athlete for the rigors of the game and get the most out of every repetition that is done."

Each year Kim runs America's best Strength Clinic

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Kim Wood's Study.....Photography by Ed Cicale

In 2015 in the Journal of Medicine Science and Sport researchers found that if you suffer a concussion the risk of a lower body injury is twice as great for months, a year or even longer.  In 2016 this information was once again reiterated in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The clinic is designed to provide and share techniques that will reduce sub-concussive forces that can cause head and neck injuries and thus reduce the risk of injury throughout the entire body.  Also, the clinic provides the most current research and new techniques to train the head, neck and jaw from a wide array of professional coaches. 

The clinic is important enough that professional football players, major college strength coaches and writers from Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, NFL.com and the local newspapers have all attended.

It will be held in Pallet 23 Event Space, 3932 Spring Grove in Cincinnati. Pre-registration on footballstrength.com. The clinic begins Friday, June 24th at 7 p.m. and Saturday June 25th at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 which includes both sessions.

Register now: space is limited.

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Clinics, Neck training, Success

Kenowa Hills High School

Kenowa Hills High School is located in Alpine Township near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kenowa's football program won conference championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010. They recently added several Pendulum Glute/Ham's to their program to Get Strong.

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Topics: Announcements, Pendulum Glute-ham, Success

Muscle Tissue Middle Age

When strength training to gain muscular weight it is common knowledge you need to add calories to your diet to maintain the newly developed tissue. When you reach middle age things change. Ageing results in a gradual decrease in size and volume of lean muscle and its subsequent mass reduces each decade. Though part of the strategy for maintaining muscle mass in middle age is similar to when you were young, that is to habitually be active and strength train; to slow the gradual loss of muscle the nutritional approach necessary to maximize maintaining lean muscle is actually counterintuitive.

Researchers have found that caloric restriction attenuates age-related muscle loss. In aged muscle restricting calories leads to metabolic reprogramming of the pathways to derive energy. For the science based reader it means that there is a decreased dependency on glycolysis and an increased cellular dependency on oxydative phosphorylation. It is speculated that you should reduce the amount of calories you need by 8% when you reach midlife, which inturn allows you to maintain the highest amount of muscular tissue. It is also recommended by researchers that the protein you eat is high in leucine (leucine is the dietary amino acid that has the capacity to directly stimulate muscle protein synthesis) with foods such as cheese, soybeans, beef, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, and beans.  

The bottom line is as you age eat less to maintain more. Get Strong and Stay Strong.        

Training Middle Age    

Topics: Strength Training, Pendulum Rack System, Success

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!

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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.

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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

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

Strongest Man In Michigan Dumbbell Press

At this years Strongest Man in Michigan Contest they rolled out the 190 pound Mammoth thick handled dumbbell for the one arm press. 

Dumbbells

Mammoth Dumbbell Clean and Press

Michigan Strongman Dumbbell

Rolling out the Mammoth Dumbbell for Competition

Mammoth Dumbbell

Dumbbell Clean

Dumbbell Clean and Jerk

Mammoth Press

Michigan Strongman Dumbbell Press

North American Strongman

Dumbbell Clean and Press

Michigan Strongman

Frankenmuth Strongman

Dumbbell Power Clean

Frankenmuth North American Strongman

Thoma Inch Dumbbell

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 Training on the Pendulum Power Rack System

Topics: Announcements, Pendulum Rack System, Success