Tag Archives: body-weight exercises

The Best Body-Weight Exercises

8 Apr

0903_ExercisePullupTwo_200x200[1]

Pullup

Strength training is an important component of athletic performance improvement, along with sport-specific skill development; nutrition; rest and recovery; and mental preparation.  And, while traditional weight lifting exercises should be part of every athlete’s strength and conditioning program, don’t ignore or underestimate the impact that body-weight exercises can have on your development.

Here are 3 of my favorite body-weight exercises:

  • Pullups work the entire upper body and — performed correctly — lead to improvements in strength.  If you can’t (yet) do a pullup, use a TRX suspension trainer, resistance band, or spotter to assist.  Beginners can also start with the lat pulldown exercise.
  • Pushups are another great upper-body exercise, because they engage the chest, shoulders, back, and arms.  Master the basics first, then modify the exercise by placing medicine balls under your hands, use the TRX, elevate your feet, experiment with different hand positions, wear a weighted vest, or try them inverted (the inverted row is another of our favorite body-weight exercises, performed with a bar or TRX).
  • Lunges target the entire lower body, working the big muscles like the glutes and quads.  This versatile exercise can be varied by doing it stationary; walking forward, backward, or laterally; angled; and cross-over or cross-behind.

If you’re not already doing them, add these exercises to your regimen.  They can be performed virtually anywhere.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Starting a High School Strength Program

29 Jul

team-weight-room-640[1]At our facility, we work with a few hundred high school student-athletes, and serve as advisor/coach/consultant to several high school strength and conditioning programs.

In terms of quality, high school strength and conditioning programs vary considerably, and most of them are subpar.  The biggest reason for this is that most of these programs lack adequate and appropriate program design and supervision, and allow little or no involvement from qualified, experienced strength and conditioning professionals.

To make matters worse, most high school strength and conditioning programs are run by coaches, most of whom are not qualified as strength and conditioning professionals.  Many of these coaches are hell-bent on control and loathe to take advice or guidance from “outsiders.”

The net result is that most high school strength and conditioning programs are run by individuals who lack even a basic understanding of foundational exercise science and it’s practical application.  Unfortunately, many of these programs are less than effective and — worse yet — can be unsafe for student-athletes.

My advice to high school sports coaches:  GET SOME HELP.  Check your ego, loosen your grip on your program, and consult with a qualified and experienced strength and conditioning professional.  Trust me — it will be time and money well-spent.

Mike Boyle wrote this article for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Strength and Conditioning Journal over a decade ago, but it’s still just as relevant today.

Starting a High School Strength Program

Frequently at clinics, I speak with high school coaches who are interested in starting or improving a strength and conditioning program at their school. Most often they are looking for guidance in setting up the program and always want to talk sets and reps. Much to their dismay, I generally want to discuss organizational and administrative concepts because, in my experience, these are the real keys. Setup and execution make the program run — not sets and reps.

If you get one thing out of this article remember this quote:  “A bad program done well is better than a good program done poorly.” – Author Unknown

Keep it simple, and adhere strictly to the following guidelines:

  1. Forget uncooperative seniors.  The source of most frustration in starting a high school program is dealing with seniors who already “know how to lift.” Separate these guys out right away. If they don’t cooperate, get rid of them. They’ll be gone soon anyway.
  2. Do one coaching-intensive lift per day. What do I mean by coaching-intensive lift? Exercises like squats or any Olympic movement are coaching-intensive. Coaches must watch every possible set to correctly ingrain the correct motor pattern. If athletes are front squatting and hang cleaning the same day, which do you watch, the platforms or the squats racks? Don’t force yourself to make this decision. For example do lunges instead of squats on the day that you clean and do pushups instead of bench press on the day you squat. On squat day, don’t do an Olympic movement, do Box Jumps as your explosive exercise. This process of one coaching-intensive lift per day may only last a year, but you will not be getting poor patterns practiced with no supervision.
  3. Get all administration done prior to the start of sessions. The biggest failure in strength and conditioning is coaches sitting at computers instead of coaching. If you need workouts done on computer, do them during a free period. The job is strength and conditioning coach. Don’t get caught up, as many coaches do, in having great programs on paper and lousy lifters. Let the paper suffer and do the coaching.
  4. Coach. This is what it is all about. Coach like this is your sport. So many coaches ask, “Can you give me a program?” We could but it wouldn’t work. College or pro programs are not appropriate for high school beginners. They need teaching, not programs. The program begins and ends with technical proficiency. Coaches must realize that their athletes are the window through which others see them. If a college coach came into your weight room would you be proud or ashamed? Would you make excuses for the poor technique or, accept the pats on the back for what great lifters your players are? The other factor, even more important than your athletes being the window through which others see you, is that your athletes are the mirror in which you see yourself. Your lifters are a direct reflection of you. When you watch your athletes are you happy with yourself as a teacher and coach.
  5. Technique, Technique, Technique. Never compromise. Perform parallel squats all the time. Our athletes do nothing but front squats to a top of the thigh parallel position. If you bench press, no bounce, no arch. Never compromise. As soon as you allow one athlete to cheat or to not adhere to the program others will follow immediately. Remember why athletes cheat. They cheat to lift more weight. Lifting more weight feeds their ego. If you allow it to happen, cheating is very difficult to stop. To make your point use exercises like Pause Bench and Pause Front Squats. These exercises can be very humbling. Canadian Strength Coach Charles Poliquin has a principle he calls Technical Failure. This means that you never count a rep that was completed after technique broke down.
  6. Use body weight when possible. Always teach bodyweight squats first. If they can’t bodyweight squat, they can’t squat. Do lots of pushups, feet elevated pushups, 1 leg squats, chinups and dips. Bodyweight is humbling. Use it wisely and often with high school kids.
  7. If you test, test super strict. Testing is when things really deteriorate. In testing the coach should see every lift, and the coach should select every weight. Don’t reward strength. This is a huge mistake that I believe encourages drug use. Reward improvement, make athletes compete with themselves, not others. No t-shirts for rewards unless they reward improvement over personal bests. Also if you test strength, also test performance factors like Vertical Jump and 10-yd. Dash. If athletes are improving strength without changing performance factors, the program is only marginally effective.
  8. Have appropriate equipment. This is critical to a good high school program. Spend money to encourage success. Success is what sells the program. Strength and conditioning coaching is easy in principle, but difficult in practice. The key is to try to see every set and coach every athlete. This is difficult, time consuming, and repetitive. At the end of a good day you should be hoarse and tired. A good strength coach will have sore legs and knees from squatting down to see squat depth all day.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Get Outside and Get Fit

15 May

RTEmagicC_IMG_4158_small.jpg[1]Summer is just around the corner and the weather is (finally) becoming much more conducive to outdoor activity.

Here’s a quick, 6-exercise circuit workout that will help you burn fat and get fit.  You won’t need any equipment, nor will you need a lot of space.  Get outside on your patio or deck, or the local park, and enjoy exercising in the warm, summer weather and fresh air.  Perform all six exercises as a circuit, with little or no rest between exercises.  Rest for 30 seconds between circuits, but keep moving; don’t sit or stand still.  Do a total of 3 circuits, as follows:

  • Jumping Jacks: Set 1 = 30 seconds; Set 2 = 45 sec; Set 3 = 60 sec
  • Plank: 15 sec; 30 sec; 45 sec
  • Body-Weight Squats: 8 reps; 12 reps; 20 reps
  • Pushups: 6 reps; 9 reps; 12 reps
  • Lunges: 6 reps per leg; 8 reps; 12 reps
  • Mountain Climbers: 15 sec; 30 sec; 45 sec

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Best Body-Weight Exercises

15 Oct

0903_ExercisePullupTwo_200x200[1]

Pullup

Strength training is an important component of athletic performance improvement, along with sport-specific skill development; nutrition; rest and recovery; and mental preparation.  And, while traditional weight lifting exercises should be part of every athlete’s strength and conditioning program, don’t ignore or underestimate the impact that body-weight exercises can have on your development.

Here are 3 of our favorite body-weight exercises:

  • Pullups work the entire upper body and — performed correctly — lead to improvements in strength.  If you can’t (yet) do a pullup, use a TRX, band, or spotter to assist.  Beginners can also start with the lat pulldown exercise.
  • Pushups are another great upper-body exercise, because they engage the chest, shoulders, back, and arms.  Master the basics first, then modify the exercise by placing medicine balls under your hands, use the TRX, elevate your feet, experiment with different hand positions, wear a weighted vest, or try them inverted (the inverted row is another of our favorite body-weight exercises, performed with a bar or TRX).
  • Lunges target the entire lower body, working the big muscles like the glutes and quads.  This versatile exercise can be varied by doing it stationary; walking forward, backward, or laterally; angled; and cross-over or cross-behind.

If you’re not already doing them, add these exercises to your regimen.  They can be performed virtually anywhere.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Get Stronger with Body-Weight Training

5 Nov

When it comes to Strength training, you don’t need machines and equipment to be productive.  At ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING CENTER, we incorporate body-weight exercises into virtually every workout.  Most body-weight exercises are inherently multi-joint, and activate multiple muscle groups in the process.  This is preferable to using machines that “lock” you into single-joint exercises that limit your range of motion and isolate specific muscles (although this approach has its place, situationally).  You can further increase the degree of difficulty by adding an element of instability to your body weight exercises.  Once you master technique, try adding an unstable surface like an Airex Balance Pad or BOSU Ball.  Below are some examples of body-weight exercises you can add to your workout:

Lower-Body

  • Squat:  Observe proper form (chin up; back straight; lower and push through heels) and squat as deeply as you can.  Pause for a second (and gradually increase time) in “down” position.
  • Single-Leg Squat:  Facing away from a chair or bench, elevate one leg and lower into sitting position and pause.  Push back to standing position with “ground” foot.
  • Split Squat:  Assume split stance – one leg forward, one leg back.  Lower back knee toward (but not touching) ground.  When in down position, both knees should be at right angles.
  • Bulgarian Split Squat:  This is a split squat performed with your rear leg elevated, back foot resting on a chair or bench.  Front foot should be 3-4 foot-lengths from back foot.

Upper-Body

  • Pushup:  There are more variations of this exercise than I can list in one blog post.  The biggest mistake I see involves range-of-motion – lower your chest all the way to the ground.  Instability (one or both arms, and or legs – see photo) is the key to making this exercise more challenging.
  • Chinup/Pullup:  A must-do!  If you can’t yet do them on your own, get a spot (assisted) or do “negatives” (start in up position and slowly lower yourself to a 4-second count).  Add variety by changing grips.
  • Dip:  Beginners can do this exercise on a bench.  More advanced individuals should use dip bars with feet suspended.

Core

Power

  • Squat Jump:  This exercise can also be done single-leg or with a split stance.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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