Explosivelyfit strength training builds powerful bodies!
Danny M. O'Dell, M.A. CSCS*D
Freedom is never free. ~Author Unknown
Explosivelyfit Strength Training, LLC
Explosivelyfit is focused on the development of pure strength and the various methods used to obtain it. The intent is to help all drug free athletes reach their true strength potential.
Tips are added on a semi-regular basis. Before you start training always check with your primary health care provider first.
Key words to remember: Read, study, learn, apply and succeed.
Table of Contents
Serious sport participation preparation practices
Old school vs new school
Working out within the target ranges of 65-85% of your MHR is the recommendation for enhanced cardiovascular health. Once you determine your MHR then multiply it by any number between 65-85% to find your target heart rate number (THR).
Training for Strength
The conjugate system that is working so well in the strength field is an off shoot of the Russian coupled successive system. In fact this evolved from the multi-lateral skill development approach favored by the eastern block countries of years past.
Beginning with the premise that everyone has specific skills and these skills can be developed with proper training at the appropriate ages of maturity.
This type of selection process is valid only at the low end of the qualifications and not for the advanced athlete as their needs are much more specific in nature. Thus a multifaceted approach to training is necessary for these young athletes.
Information gleaned from the NSCA Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research by Zink, A. J., Perry, A. C., Robertson, B, L, Roach, K. E. and Signorile J. F.
Peak power, reaction forces with the ground and velocity are affected by varying the loads used in the squat. All of the squats in the research were performed by experienced lifters and were at parallel with as much explosiveness as their individual technique allowed.
The results were calculated using the barbell velocity and the ground reaction forces that were generated by the force velocity curves arrived at from the peak power, peak ground reaction forces and the peak barbell velocity established during the lift. The differences were not significant for loads used in for peak power. But it is interesting to note that the greatest peak power developed occurred with loads of 40 and 50% 1RM. Higher loads generated the greatest peak ground reaction forces and greater force at the time of peak power production. These figures held true for all loads outside of the 60-50%, 50-40%, and the 40-30% ranges of 1RM for peak ground reaction forces and then again between loads of 70-60% and 60-50% 1RM for the force at the time of peak power. Higher loads showed up in the calculations with a lower peak barbell velocity and velocity at the time of peak power, as would be expected.
The exceptions to these loads were in the 20-30%, 70-80%, and the 80-90% 1RM.
Knowing the loads that have an impact on velocity of movement, peak power or peak ground reaction forces will enable the strength coach to develop appropriate training plans for the athlete, regardless of the `sport.
If you are lifting heavy and are interested in how you stand up to the next guy in relation to body measurements then here is the information you have been waiting for. It is taken from an old chart developed by the long time strong man, weightlifter, bodybuilder and physical culture icon John C. Grimek.
These are figures that he came up with for determining the ideal measurements for the average trainee. They not based on the steroid bloated aberration of physical fitness so often depicted in the magazines sold on the newsstands. Take each listed body part and multiply by the co-efficient as directed to see where your physique compares to his standards.
Note: All of the measurements are taken at the smallest part on the knees and wrist.
The normal trainee measurement figures
Biceps-the co-efficient 2.10 inches is multiplied by your wrist size
The measurements for the serious trainee
Biceps-the co-efficient 2.32 inches is multiplied by your wrist size
It is a well established fact that training days separated by two non training days is effective at restoring the muscles ability to produce force. The two day split is significantly more effective than the normal one day break so commonly seen in the weight rooms.
It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.
During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.
Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.
Weight training helps build strong bones.
Bone density responds directly to increases in intensities of load and site specifically to the greater pressures required to move the load. Adaptations take place within the structures of the bone that make it more resistant to the imposed loads and thus stronger.
Women in particular need this load bearing weight on their long bones, the spine and hips to stave off and help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis from occurring. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that progressively decreases the bone density which in time leaves them weakened and vulnerable to fracture.
Getting stronger helps in other ways too. The strength to recover from a slip may prevent a bone damaging fall. Postural muscles that are strengthened through weight training inevitably lead to improved posture and a reduced potential of lower back problems. Even though strength training is high on the list of maintaining a strong fit body other pieces of the equation are important too. For instance being flexible enough to tie your shoes or even scratch your back is an important part of living a full and healthy lifestyle.
Work the joints normal range of motion each day by following a stretching program. But be cautioned that static stretching performed before a strength training session has been found to lower the power output by as much as 8%. If you are a sprinter, thrower or recreational handball or tennis player stay away from these at the start of your activity. The proper place for a static stretch is at the end of the workout when the muscles are warm and receptive to change. Doing so before hand, is an invitation to injury.
Find a good stretching book; read up on the proper way to stretch and start applying these to your exercise program. Brad Walker’s ‘Stretching Handbook’ or Bob Anderson's‘Stretching’ are two of the premier ones on the market and each one has stood the test of time. Even though flexibility is important it is not the end of the line. Maintaining your balance becomes harder as we age.
Beginning around the fourth decade, we start to lose a small percentage of the ability to keep our equilibrium . Losing your balance leads to falls and possible fractures, or other injuries if not prevented.
Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.
Before engaging in any exercise program, check with your primary care provider.
Holding a maximum isometric contraction for longer than six seconds may cause injury to your muscles, ligaments and tendons. A better way to incorporate isometrics into your program is to use the dynamic method. This involves stopping at various points in the movement for several seconds then continuing on with the exercise.
Enthusiastic method – finding the weight that is within your capabilities will be found within one to three sets.
Agility, Balance and Coordination
Remember a time in the past when you had to learn the ABC’s. It was something you had to do before you could read. The ABC’s are still important but they take on an added meaning when it comes to what they stand for now-Agility, Balance, and Coordination.
Losing the ability to maintain agility, balance and coordination does not have to be the inevitable outcome of getting older. However, an increase in age brings with it a decline in these three characteristics while at the same time increasing the risk of injury. But, practicing the ABC’s each day will help to stave off the natural loss of these capabilities.
The ABC’s of Living
Agility is the ability to perform movements by making graceful and fluid, well-coordinated changes with the entire body, quickly. Balance is the ability to maintain the center of gravity and still be able to continue with the task at hand. These two are fairly well understood processes.
The physiological roots of coordination reside in the neurological synchronization of the muscle fiber motor units excitation sequences. These neurological signals must direct movement in one part of the body and not ‘spill over to other motor units directing other parts of the body.
Make big circles with one leg as you simultaneously move each arm in opposite directions.
By the time you are reading this article, the sensitive times that are the most effective in training coordination will have passed, as these times are from the ages of 7-14 in the majority of us. But, it’s not too late to begin.
Notice the use of circle moves, circles tend to disrupt the natural flow of the senses, especially opposing directions limb to limb.
Here are a few more to try; feel free to expand on these with ones of your own.
Every person has a different idea of what constitutes physical fitness. Some believe if you are able to run a mile or lift a heavy weight you are fit. But are you?
There are many aspects to consider when discussing physical fitness and each of these may change with time, place, type of work being done and the presenting situation. However, all of the physical fitness pieces are a result of everyday activity, and the encoding of the genetic potential of the individual. How you make use of what you have been given depends on how dedicated you are to the increasing your personal level.
Physical fitness is the achievement of motor tasks such as speed, strength and endurance and the physiological responses to the imposed stress placed on the body during physical activity. Thus fitness is both dynamic, (motor achievements) and static, i.e. medical fitness. Top performance is a combination of the two and is attainable only through the reaching of peak physical fitness.
Looking at the concept of fitness a bit closer will reveal that it is the ability to perform everyday living tasks willingly and with enough energy left over to then enjoy other physical activities during the remaining free time. And to have enough energy left in reserve to meet unexpected physical and mental demands. Put another way it’s the state of the person’s level of ability for activity.
Fitness enhances the performance of significant agility, dexterity, strength, speed, or other motor qualities or the development of these abilities that are then measurable by testing that requires no proficiency of a particular sport technique.
Another way of looking at the issue is to determine the shape or condition of the organs and their specific level of functioning as expressed via the solving of versatile motor tasks. This helps to determine the developmental degree of the individual’s motor abilities.
In many cases, physical fitness can be seen as the ratio of effectiveness of the total complexion of the body to its predisposition toward success in the sport. Furthermore, it can also be stated as a realization of life style and/or the system of values expressed in how a person lives their life every day.
It has even been equated to the biological value of the human and is the entirety of the person’s ability and skill to perform all movement activities.
As can be seen from the few paragraphs above fitness is defined in many different ways. This fitness ability is not given to a person in one dose nor is it permanent or dispensed in equal amounts to all people. Fitness has to be sought after and relentlessly pursued if it is to be obtained. It is never given out on a silver platter.
3500 calories equals one pound therefore:
Starting a training program shouldn’t be more complicated than just throwing on a pair of shoes or heading off to the gym for a few sets of squats or bench presses. As long as your body is receiving a positive stimulus it will attempt to overcome the stress that is placed on it. If you are sedentary and have never exercised before then this may work; for a while at least. After a short time though the body adapts to the stimulus and stops making positive health gains as it accommodates to the new level of activity.
Well designed exercise programs contain these nine parts-does yours?
1. Before beginning any new exercise program discuss your plans with your health care provider. After the consult with your doctor get a fitness evaluation by a certified strength and conditioning specialist. If the gym you are joining doesn’t have these nationally certified trainers then perhaps the fees they charge to join aren’t worth the risk of being there in the first place.
Mental imagery as used by many athletes of the world, works. This skill often referred to as visualization, mental practice, and mental rehearsal skill development.
The premise asserts there is a connection between the mind and the subsequent neuromuscular reaction. Taking the thought further this process happens without conscious awareness between the conception and the execution of the act. This concept of the mind muscle connection is evident in the Electromyographic (EMG) analysis of muscle engagement and movement.
Four groups of athletes were studied. The first did the task, the second group imagined the task through to completion, the third performed eye movements only while the last passive control subjects received no training at all. After the tests of speed accuracy were completed it was determined that mental training promotes the skill of the visualized physical movement.
The research has demonstrated and produced data that shows the brain can initiate motor movement without actually moving muscles. So clearly the link is there. But just what is mental imagery and how can it help you become stronger?
Simply put it means using your imagination to create powerfully realistic perfect scenarios of future athletic events as a rehearsal for the actual competition. It can also be used to recreate past successful activities to either promote a higher level of emotional engagement or to lessen prestart energy nervousness. Imagery provides the athlete with extra intensely focused training time-in their head.
Your athletes, or maybe even you, probably already use mental imagery. It comes naturally. What doesn’t come naturally is doing it in a systematically purposeful fashion.
Skills develop through practice by perfecting precise movement patterns.
Mental training is much the same. It has to be trained in a systematic and correct manner if it is to become productive. Some athletes shy away from these types of exercises because it’s too hard or they don’t believe in its effectiveness. Either way these individuals are not living up to their physical potential.
Mental imagery training is useful to an athlete in a number of ways:
Long periods of training sometimes induce a lack of motivational intensity within the athlete. Imagining past successes and high level competitive results can be a help in maintaining the persistence to continue the programs present cycle.
Managing energy levels
Use calming images to relax and high energy ones to raise or psych yourself up.
Learning and perfecting the sport skills
Perfecting a sport skill through mental imagining allows an additional form of practice and this practice can be made perfect; in your brain. This training helps correct technique mistakes or errors of skill execution during the competition by going over step by step every movement.
Reducing these patterns and slowing them down into manageable parts allows analysis and corrections to be made of the various segments.
Distractions surround an athlete both in training and competition. Minimizing those that come up allows for a more complete focus on the task at hand. Developing a reference point will often get the trainee back on track by gently reminding them of what is important at the moment.
Preparing for an event
Mental preparation is a vital as the physical conditioning. According to Dariusz Nowicki ‘when two athletes of equal physical skill and ability compete with each other, the one who is better mentally prepared is the winner. It even happens that an athlete perfectly prepared physically loses against a physically weaker but mentally stronger opponent’.
In the case of preparing for a meet visualization allows the athlete to be in the environment, rehearsing the moves, techniques and skills necessary for success and then reinforcing the key elements that will take place during the contest. Even unexpected situations that may appear in the meet can be prepared for by imagining what to do at these moments to successfully deal with them.
Training your visualization skills
Find a quiet place to practice, later on you can go into different situations and continue to develop these skills under varying conditions. To begin with follow these suggestions in order to get the most from your mental training sessions.
Take these training suggestions one at a time until they become second nature to do.
See yourself performing a skill or movement from start to finish in a precise and perfectly clear manner. These images should not be fuzzy or be seen with gaps in the execution of any of the activities.
Control the images so they are performing exactly right each time for the entire length of the skill. Doing so helps to ‘set’ the tone for the visualization to become successful in real time and motion.
Engage all of your senses while imagining. The more sensations you are feeling during this session the greater will be the transfer to real live experiences. Feel the knurling on the bar; acknowledge the weight and how it pushes into your palm or shoulders. Can you hear the announcer calling you to the platform, or are you ‘in the hole’ about ready to lift? How about the smell of the ammonia or the sight of the chalk in the air, on the floor and on the bar when you lift? You can almost taste it if you are in the zone of mental imagining.
Premeet jitters or premeet lack of involvement will affect your performance in a negative way. Deal with them in your mind. Practice seeing success by envisioning yourself as being full of energy and lifting to your full capability. If you are a bit nonplussed then imagine something energetic and bring yourself up.
Continue to mentally practice your craft at practice and during the meet.
Often times a person thinks long and hard before beginning a strength program. Along the way these questions invariably arise:
Women generally ask how do I flatten my stomach and get rid of the flab on the backs of my arms. Men are asking how to get a six pack and want to know how to bench press more weight.
These questions can be answered by a certified and competent trainer. Notice I did not say just a certified trainer but a competent one as well. A certification from a recognized source such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association implies the trainer has demonstrated superior knowledge, is competent to coach and is well up to the training task. Competency and results are the ‘proof in the pudding’ as the saying goes.
A needs analysis from each participant starts out the process in helping to identify health issues, goals, and previous exercise experience. Next will be the first strength training session. During this phase each individual is shown the exercises in the correct fashion. The trainee will practice the exercises with little to no weight until the technique is correct.
Properly designed exercise protocols start with a dynamic warm up; not static stretching. Static stretching, as seen with many runners standing on one leg while pulling the other up towards the buttocks, is NOT the way to begin an exercise session. Static stretches relax the joints and the nervous system. This is exactly the opposite desired outcome of a strength program. Engaging in static stretching before any explosive sport such as gymnastics, sprinting or wrestling is even worse. It opens these athletes up to injury due to the neuromuscular confusion resulting from the relaxation and opening up of the joints.
A beginning routine is made up of large muscle group exercises featuring balanced applications of sets and repetitions for both agonist and antagonist groups. After a movement specific warm up where each exercise is performed ten to twelve times do eight to ten repetitions for two to four sets. A set is one group of eight to ten repetitions. Follow each set with a rest period of sixty to ninety seconds, depending on your present conditioning status and then begin the next set of the same exercise. Move through the list at a steady pace. You should not be in the weight room much longer than forty five to fifty minutes.
Not all exercises will be performed each session but these are the essential ten and form the foundations of any strength program. Consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.
It is good that you have made the decision to get moving again
Not only do you need to be in excellent physical condition but your mind has to be operating at peak efficiency at all times. Read something everyday that will make you a better person, not just your career information but gather in knowledge of all subjects so you can converse and be on top of what is happening in the world. Subscribe to a weekly news magazine and read them cover to cover each time they arrive in your mail box. Read your daily newspaper. Get a college education. Learn something new every day. Don't be a dumb person.
Developing your physical conditioning:
Get a complete physical examination that includes your eyes, heart and joint conditions
* Find out if you have any correctable conditions that could cause you concern as you exercise.
Begin to exercise slowly and work up from there
* Keep a daily log of your physical activity
Increase your cardiovascular capabilities* Run various distances and at various speeds. Fartlek, sprint and endurance training methods are great ways to improve your endurance and not get totally bored while doing it.
Improve your strength and power production
* Strength train with a purpose which is to stay alive and win the physical battles you encounter in life. Stick with the basic large muscle group exercises: Military presses, pull downs or chin ups, bench presses, barbell rows, squats and more squats, deadlift's, weighted abdominal work to include laterals and back extensions. Work on getting stronger in every one of these.
Watch your dietary intake by maintaining good eating habits. I used to pack my own food in a grocery sack because I wanted to know what was going into my body everyday. Eat five to six well balanced meals a day. Don't get screwy with diets; just eat well and consistently.
Good luck, you are starting out on a journey that will reward you throughout the rest of you life.
Succinctly as possible, begin your strength training with a solid exercise routine that enhances your strength and stamina for living by exercising the major muscle groups.
It will not be designed to make you sore. The exercises will be ones that build your general physical fitness and get you ready for some intermediate type of work.
Equipment recommendations begin with:
When first beginning to weight train it is easy to get caught up in the magazine hype and start doing far too much.
Set realistic goals, learn how to do the exercises in the correct manner. Be sensible and do things right. This will lengthen your training career, help prevent unnecessary injuries and solidly develop your muscles. Work not only on the front of your body but include an equal amount of stress on those you don't see when looking in the mirror, i.e. the posterior chain groups such as the hamstrings and the upper, mid and lower back.
Be cautious in selecting so called isolation exercises like the concentration curls. More useful would be the barbell curl or the chin up. These develop a larger muscle area and in such a manner as to promote useable strength and power.
Motor ability, or the ability to move in a specific and coordinated manner while displaying power is a changing quality over the course of an athletes career. It is both a qualitative and a quantitative interdependent relationship between the different motor connections that are important to the sport.
Keep a diary of your training activities, write down the sets, reps, difficulty level of each one. Note the time of day you lift and whether or not it was a good effort day. If not, then consider changing the time you exercise. Some of us like to lift early in the morning around 0500-0600 others may do better in the afternoon or evening.
Follow these rules of training:
The IRON-ic rule of strength training for sport: The objective is not to get stronger per se but to improve athletic performance to build better athletes. If your sport is power lifting then that means improving your total. If your sport is mixed martial arts that means you must improve your ability in the ring. It's important for the coach and the trainee to focus on improving sports performance. I've seen several football teams over the years that have the 405 Bench Press Club featured on the wall but are 0-20 for the season!
Here are my top ten tips to ensure athletic success.
1. Bodyweight before external resistance
Can you sit in a full squat? What about a full range single leg bodyweight squat? Until you have mastered these exercises you can forget doing dynamic effort work with a box squat.
So your strength program in the beginning stages may actually include no weights whatsoever. And it will work better and faster than a typical program that relies primarily on weights and machines in the beginning stages. In fact in my experience I'd suggest that some athletes cannot even work with their bodyweight so we may need to modify certain exercises. Do not rush to lift heavy loads; muscle recruitment and control are far more important than maximal strength for any athlete. Without control the strength is useless.
2. Train to the 5th Power
I. Train in a standing position - GROUND BASED.
II. Train with free weights.
III. Use Multiple Joints
The test results of the above subjects averaged 180lbs of force on the Cybex leg extension machine. However a local power lifter (ranked 15th in the state) broke the machine. He wasn't even number one in his state but he was stronger on this machine than the World ranked lifters. If there is a better example of the inability of single joint machine training to translate to real world strength then I'd like to see it. A guy who was only ranked 15th in the state can apply more single leg strength than a World Record holder. Nice; pretty; but pretty useless. If that strength doesn't transfer to athletic success then what's the point of having it? Basically, despite the strength that individual exhibited on the machine, he was unable to apply it in a real world situation like squatting. And the elite squatters weren't that strong on the leg extension showing it's not even a factor. So leg extension machines are a waste of time. Unless of course you compete in seated ass kicking leg extension contests.
"How can anyone expect to possess co-ordination in active work when his muscles have never worked together in groups?" Earle Liederman, 1924. Nearly 80 years ago and we are still having this argument today. Isolation machines have no place in the preparation of a competitive athlete.
IV. Train with explosiveness.
V. Train movements not muscle groups.
3. Train unilaterally and multi-planar
4. Use all primary methods to develop strength
6. Avoid mimicking skills
7. Train with Balance
8. Get out of the Weight Room
9. Train the antagonists
10. Full Front Squats
Ok- as usual I can't shut up so I'll add one more.
Do not get caught up in the numbers game and do not confuse gym improvements with real world or sports world improvements. The greatest athletes in the world do not necessarily have the greatest bench presses in the world. The greatest athletes in the world have an ability to produce useable force on their field of play. Usable force is force that propels athletes towards the ball, knocks another athlete back or down, helps you move at full speed, or throws the winning touchdown pass. Usable force is force properly directed in an unstable real world, unpredictable environment. The weight room, in general, is a stable environment whereas a field of play or the competition ring is a constantly changing place. A good strength and conditioning coach looks to improve athletic performances, not just gym lift numbers.
Alwyn is also recognized and certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, the British Association of Sports And Exercise Sciences, Kingsports International Australia, the Society for Weight Training Injury Specialists, USA Weightlifting and the Chek Institute of Corrective High Performance Exercise Kinesiology.
Protein requirements are NOT what the RagMags say they are; not by a long shot! Protein is burned for energy when fewer calories are taken in than are expended in either daily living or training activities. Therefore, when calorie intake is low then protein intake must rise. A person who is dieting needs more protein calories than one who is at normal weight and is being adequately supplied with the correct nutrients.
Protein requirements are based on reference proteins such as those found in the meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. All of which are considered to be high quality proteins readily assimilated into the body.
Recommendations for protein intake are based on the activity levels and can range from as high as 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight for those who are endurance training at high levels. Resistance training may reach 1.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight while in an intense meso cycle.
Since most athletes do not fall neatly into either category the range of protein required is from 1.5-2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Any more than what your body needs is simply going down the toilet.
Strength on demand is what explosiveness is all about. In order to have this kind of explosive power a few training concepts must be understood and followed.
Maintain your flexibility as any motor action is based upon the demonstration of this mobility and flexibility. It is through these two qualities that makes it possible to perfect the movements necessary to be successful in sport. Additional benefits of flexibility are increased amplitude of movement or range of motion surrounding the joints tasked with producing the power needed to overcome an external resistance either on the field, platform or in the gym.
Stay strong mentally and physically, and remain passionately committed to your hearts chosen path. Danny M. O'Dell, M.A. CSCS*D
Providing medical advice is not the intent or purpose of this site. We assume no liability for the information contained in these pages if it is taken as medical advice. Always consult with your primary health care provider before beginning any new exercise program.
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