Archive for March, 2012

Stuff From the Web

March 21, 2012 1 comment

This post is basically a rip off of the “Good Reads” format that Ben Bruno and Tony Gentilcore do every week. I went through the interwebs this morning and found a plethora of really good articles and blog posts…

Carl Valle at discusses Peyton Manning and how posture can play a HUGE role in athletic performance.
NFL Dead Pool- Mannings Neck Watch 4

Carl’s blog over there is consistently really good, short, concise and always making a very strong, really smart point.

4 Pillars of Good Health by  Adam Bornstein.

For many people, the physical aspect is what’s lacking. We convince ourselves that being social, working, and spending time with the family supersedes the need to exercise or make smart dietary choices; but if you don’t have a healthy body, you are limiting the life you can have. It’s that simple. Everything starts with your body—but that’s not where it ends. If you spend all your time focusing on your body, you miss out on all the other aspects of life that make your time worthwhile.

The weather has been ridiculously nice lately so people are getting out and playing recreational sports again and wiht the spring high school sports  season hear I’m hearing about more and more clients and their kids with hamstring pulls. These are a real bitch to treat, so why not prevent them?
Tony’s blog might be my favorite blog on the webz and this is another example why, straight up truth. If you’re not putting your hands on your clients, you probably are not very good….just saying. People pay us because they usually are not very good at this whole training thing, and when they are pretty good they want to get better. If people like Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dave Tate, and Dan John all agree that everyone, NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY ARE, can get BETTER from hiring a good coach I’m guessing there’s value in that.
Point being, it’s very hard to simply get people to do what you want through verbal cues alone and everyone can get better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “chest up” and I get head up……but if I put my hands in someones thoracic spine and say “get tall” it works almost instantly.

Want someone to arch hard? Put your hand in their lower back.

Want them to do a lower body movement without driving the shin forward? Use your hand as a barrier.
Look at how many times Rippetoe touches this guy to get him in the right positions.
Great overview of postural problems, the why’s and how to’s to get them fixed. Go through each one, you probably need the work…help.
The study did not determine how common it is for women to experience exercise-induced orgasm or exercise-induced sexual pleasure. But the authors note that it took only five weeks to recruit the 370 women who experienced the phenomenon, suggesting it is not rare.
I’m just gonna leave it at that….

Book Review: Advances in Functional Training

Damn you Kindle your portability and way cheaper books! Damn You…..

Actually, it’s really awesome. After I finished Never let Go by Dan John, review (which was picked up and put out on Dan John’s email blast) here, I picked up Mike Boyle’s latest book Advance in Functional Training. It’s the third book Mike Boyle has put out and it is BY FAR the best.

The first book Functional Training for Sports was one of the very first books on training I ever bought and at the time a seminal “pick up and apply” book in the field. You could buy the book read it in a couple of days, understand or at least apply the concepts and you would be better off than most of the people out there. For the average guy coaching his kids team or even most high school coaches this book was probably a godsend and resulted in some kids getting a pretty good training response. But there were two problems with this book….

One: The Cover

Even coach Boyle himself has said that he wished they didn’t put that (the guy on the wobble board) on the cover because it gives a misconception of what “functional training” is actually about.

Two: The people who bought it. (It’s the one of the three most meant for the consumer market)

This book has a lot of good info in the first part of the book, warmups, exercise selections, progressions, how to set up a program etc. Actually, that’s most of the book. But in the last little part there are actual EXAMPLE programs.

There in lies the problem, parents and coaches. I helped out with some area hockey teams a few years ago and literally in both situations I was given what they were currently doing for a training program it was straight out of the back of the book. Literally, exercise for exercise, rep for rep, set for set…exactly the same only with a different team name at the top.

How could two organizations with different levels and ages of players use exactly the same protocol? Seems strange to me too. Fact was, no one ever read the book, they went straight to the back and pulled an EXAMPLE workout. Never mind assessment or progression….

Book two, Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities was not geared toward the average person. It’s really good information (although a little old now) especially on the design end.

The book I just finished Advances in Functional Training is the newest and best of the three. This book is a comprehensive overview of what they do at MBSC (Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning). It goes over every aspect of the training process from assessments, warmups, progressions, to entire program templates.

The best part of this book is the rationalization that coach Boyle provides for everything. I can’t think of any part of the programming that is not thought out. It’s obvious that the programming is different from what he was doing when Functional Training or Designing Programs was printed.In many cases throughout the book Boyle explains why they have changed the programming. Typically it goes something like this, “we changed because Gray Cook, Stuart McGill, Shirley Sahrmann did research and said this was better, I thought about it and it made sense, we tried it and it worked”…..

As far as I’m concerned that’s pretty good reasoning.

Basically this book comes down to this:

To me, function is essentially purpose. Functional training can therefore be described as purposeful training……..What functional training really comes down to is the application of functional anatomy to training. It is taking what we know and using that information to select exercises to reduce the incidence of injury and improve performance.

This book has a wealth of information in it from start till finish…in fact I think it may be the best Strength and Conditioning book I’ve bought in the last 2-3 years. The chapters on injuries, the core and the hips are PACKED with information which would cover the cost of the book by themselves. It’s far too expansive to cover every aspect here but take my word, if you design programs and train people you’ll pick up lots of useful strategies and progressions as well as seriously question some of your current exercise selections and program designs.

Things like:

Why brace vs. draw in
brace (mostly)

Why single leg exercises.
Less back compression. works the intrinsic musculature more (injury prevention)

What are the common dysfunctions and causes of injuries.
Tight hips, under active glutes, locked up thoracic spine = bad back 

How to group training means (exercise selection) and plan out a training week.
Hip vs. Knee dominant, pulling and pressing, CNS intensive training 

What to assess and more importantly what that assessment means for training.
FMS, where to start athletes with poor scores quadruped, tall kneeling etc..

Equipment choices: best bang for the buck.
Trx, slideboards, sleds etc.. 

It’s $10 for the Kindle @ Amazon. Go buy it.

The Combine, what I like and a really stupid test.

Admittedly, I like the NFL combine. Not as much as I used to but I still think it’s kinda cool to watch. These guys are absolute freaks of nature and even a “poor” performance by them is an outstanding performance by 99% of people.

Plus it’s nice to see what these guys can actually do. Too often during college football games we hear that kid A squats 500lbs and kid B benches 450…Do these numbers happen?


They just don’t happen for 3-5 players on every team…Let’s face it, coaches lie to media. Ever seen a media guide with accurate heights and weights? ……Neither have I. Many strength coaches are notourious for lax standards on testing and report inflated numbers CONSISTENTLY….remember this board.

4 guys ran 4.2’s….WTF?

4.2’s don’t come along all that often at the combine WHERE THE BEST UPPERCLASS DRAFT PROSPECTS ARE….But at UF they do this with consistency? (yes I know Florida has AWESOME talent, but really guys?) Oh and the whole it’s a slow track at Indy stuff is trash, it’s not slow, it’s electronically timed….yeah, no I punch the clock a little late on the start and early on the finish so it looks good for the coaches/ fans/ scouts/ recruiters/ media sorry….

According to there have been 3…yep a big 3…. 4.2’s run in the combine since 2006 and NONE this year. More about fake 40’s  here. Point is, coaches lie exaggerate and then the guys on TV, Radio and in the print, who don’t really know what they’re talking about, in this regard, recite this trash without question and it becomes commonplace for 18,19,20,21 year olds to run 4.2’s (4.4’s if he’s slow) and bench 500lbs….none of which actually happens in real life very much.

How do I know this? Powerlifting Watch ALL TIME WORLD RECORDS

You think kids, 20 year olds, are almost as strong as some of the strongest powerlifters ever? I doubt that.

Mike Boyle in Advances in Functional Training makes this point:

When I was a college football strength coach, I’d tell our football coaches when they were recruiting a kid to divide his squat by two. A high school kid who claimed to squat  500 pounds would usually get a little more than half that on test day.

Like most things, don’t believe the hype.

That’s why I like the 40rd dash at the combine. It gives real insight into the speed these guys can produce which, quite frankly, is amazing even if it’s not a strength coach lie exaggerated 4.2.

If you want to see what the normal desk jockey would run the 40 in click on this: Rich-Eisen-runs-the-40

The test I really hate is the 225lbs bench test. This thing needs to go, it’s useless. Football is a sport of all out efforts separated by 40 seconds. It has nothing to do with a continuous repeated upper body effort.

Yeah, it looks cool and it’s impressive as hell…but he’s a receiver….does this really matter in his sport at that position?

Me thinks not.

Let’s use some logic here….and some inferences which I know are not 1 to 1 correlations but work for this example: in other words you’ll get the picture.

If player A can bench press 400lbs and he pushes against player B who can bench press 300lbs.

Who wins in a pushing contest? (assuming all other variable to be equal….obviously).

RIGHT! Player A. In fact he’ll probably (all things being equal again) maul player B.

He gets to rest 40 seconds and go at it again. Let’s assume a 10% drop-off in force output per play (this would be a lot of a drop but whatever).

Player A: 400lbs force   Player B: 300lbs force
Play 1:      400lbs                                  300lbs
Play 2:      360lbs                                  270lbs
Play 3:      324lbs                                  243lbs
Play 4:      292lbs                                  219lbs
Play 5:      263lbs                                  197lbs

So obviously the stronger guy would win in force output for every contest and most likely the battle on the field….every down.

When the combine was actually looked at in this article. Here’s what they found:

Performance test with a low correlation in comparison with other tests shows that the skill being measured is unique. The 225-lb bench press test, the 3-cone drill, and the 60-yd shuttle are not as highly correlated with the other tests in the testing battery of the combine. This signifies that these tests measure different components of performance; however, it does not signify that these tests are valuable in determining whether an athlete could be successful playing in the next level.

 For example, the vertical jump was the most important test to determine draft success in the RB position, whereas the 225-lb bench press test had little to no effect.

The 225lbs test was also studied here, here and here.

Here is the long and short of their findings:

 muscular endurance repetitions with an absolute load of 225 lb can be used to predict 1 RM bench press strength in college football players, although the error in prediction increases when endurance performance exceeds 10 repetitions.

So yeah, when you perform more than 10 reps the accuracy of the test (in predicting 1RM ie. maximal strength) diminishes as the reps performed increases and the test results have no impact on where a player gets drafted for some positions.

Why do we do this test again?

My alternative is to replace it with a max test….a 1RM or 3RM. It would be closer to the actual maximal force production of the athletes and it would be more protective.

Just about anyone who is not a beginner to the whole weight lifting game will tell you that a 1RM test is “easier” than a high rep RM set to failure, especially in this type of environment where every rep could mean money on the line for an athlete especially a lineman. 1RM tests tend to be difficult but don’t result in the types of injuries seen with these “all out” high rep sets. The potential for muscle strains, tendon strains and ligament injuries are high because as the athlete tires they look for any way possible to squeeze out another rep. The athletes are so strong and the weight is such a low percentage of what they are capable of that they can use poor technique and still complete reps.

Where as with a maximal attempt technique must be maintained to complete the rep….and good technique is what keeps us safe

Poor technique is what leads to injury…NOT WEIGHT!….this test lends itself to poor technique.

Now it looks like agents are questioning this test (and the guy who administers it). If this happens enough players will start to opt out more often and eventually the NFL we either drop of alter the test to something that would actually tell us some information about the player and their physical abilities relative to NFL football.

And with at least one torn pec being suffered this year during the event (by Iowa tackle Markus Zusevics), agents have been complaining about the effort to get the players to squeeze out a final rep that could blow out a muscle or a tendon.

Who cares if my guy gets 24 instead of 27 reps?” one agent told PFT.  “No one has ever won a football game because of how many times a guy can lift 225 pounds with his arms.”