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Virtually any method of strength training will illicit a response in a novice, detrained or untrained lifter. A program with any significant level of intensity, weather it be lifting soup cans, P-90-X, INSANITY, CrossFit, or Westside Barbell’s conjugate method, will enhance the strength of an individual in just a few months. For this reason it can be very deceiving or misleading to interpret the data shown by the exposure of training protocols on novice athletes as a qualification of a programs efficacy and efficiency. We see this all the time on TV in the form of the Shaker Weight, Tony Little’s Gazelle training, The Perfect Pushup and Zumba. Something is always better than nothing but what does this breed?…  relatively inexperienced coaches with a minimal amount of knowledge or development having initial success with clients, attracting more people to programs that requires minimal coaching. So how do you differentiate yourself and your program from others? Here is the best suggestion I can give you:

Take the Time to set a Good Foundation of the Basics

When dealing with a new athletes take the time to restore the range and correct pattern of basic movements. Anyone can slap weight on a barbell. It takes skill to teach someone how to move with virtuosity. Setting this foundation will raise your athletes ceiling in the long run…increasing their potential, decreasing the risk of injury and ensuring them a more fruitful and productive athletic life. Here are some basic concepts of movement.

Core Strength

The ability to support and maintain a neutral position of the spine as you move about the hips, knees, shoulders and elbows. This position evenly loads the vertebral discs of the spine…reducing shear and creating a safe and effective transmission of forces.

Posterior Chain Engagement

Teach athletes to access the biggest most powerful muscle groups in the body…the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors. This can be done by initiating movement with the hips, balancing weight in the heels, turning over the pelvis to stretch the hamstrings and maintaining a strong lumbar curve of the back.

Move in Proximal to Distal Patterns

High levels of power are generated from the center out. This happens in a wave of contractions from the high force low velocity muscles of the core to the low force high velocity muscles of the extremities.

Restore Full Range of Motion

Athletes should be moving through their anatomical full range of motion. Partial range of motion results in partial strength and partial flexibility. To ensure good muscular balance and enhance muscular recruitment require full range exercises. This should be the first plan of attack…DO NOT WAIT!! Your athletes won’t learn to go full range once they develop a 400lb quarter squat.

Anyone can use intensity to get people in shape. It is the knowledge of movement and mastering an appropriate prescription in strategic doses that will ensure the continued athletic development of clients. Use these principles to differentiate yourself and your program from others.

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There is no substitution for the effectiveness of functional movements. Squatting, pulling, and pressing have proven to produce systemic results that are unparalleled. However, there are some accessory exercises, that when applied as a garnish to your program, can improve both the strength and awareness of the body to perform functional movements better. These exercises can serve to fortify and isolate specific areas and functions of the body that are known to be integral joints, highly stressed and susceptible to injury or break down.

Every high-powered movement you perform utilizes the core as a transmission. By isolating some of the muscles and function of the core and hip, athletes can build proper awareness of how to most effectively use them. This also can help create muscular balance on the front and back of the body. Here are 3 essential core accessory exercises, as well as progressions and variations on them.

Good Morning

This exercise builds strength of the lower back and hips as well as hamstring flexibility. It is also a great way to teach athletes how to keep the back straight and tight while flexing at the hip. In essence, athlete can learn how to properly use their back sides. Also try these variations:

  • Straight leg good morning
  • Good morning with bands
  • Good morning with chains on the bar

GHD Sit up

The GHD sit up is a unique and potent exercise that can develop tremendous strength, range of motion, and power through the front side of the abdominals, the flexors of the hips and obliques. In particular, it has tremendous application to gymnastics movements that involve total body flexion and extension such as kipping. Here are some variations on the GHD sit up:

  • GHD Sit up to parallel
  • GHD sit up with a med ball

Back Extension

The back extension isolates the vertebral muscles of the spine, specifically the erectors of the lower back and thoracic muscles of the upper back. In the movement, the athlete rounds the back and then work back up to extension of the spine. This is a great way to teach athletes how to re-claim a proper position as well as a tremendous strength builder of the back muscles. Here are some variations of the back extension:

  • Back extensions holding a dumbbell
  • Back extensions with light band resistance
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