Explosivelyfit strength training builds powerful bodies!

Danny M. O'Dell, MA. CSCS*D Strength coach

Danny M. O'Dell, M.A. CSCS*D

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How to regain your range of motion after a total knee replacement-A firsthand account

Senior Fitness Training: A guide to a healthier life through exercise

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Exercise your way to healthier bones the Danny O'Dell way

The ultimate bench press manual

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A Comprehensive Approach to Shoulder Training and Injury Resistance A strength training guideline for healthy shoulders

Osteoporosis: A trainers guide to healthier bones

Push up Power 

The Ten Essentials of female strength and beauty

Building Muscle Mass in the Athlete

Eighteen weeks to greater physical fitness with high heart rate strength training 

Get fit at home with minimal equipment 

Wilderness Basics for the Young Woodsman; A booklet of facts

Keeping fit on a busy schedule

Staying Fit on Your Business Trip

The best exercises to effectively build full body maximum strength

Training Efficiently For Those With Limited Time

Ten minutes to greater physical fitness-The whole body edition

Ten minute FAT BE GONE workouts

A Scientific Approach to Increased Muscle Hypertrophy, Strength and Recovery Methods

A guidebook to greater physical strength

The major warm-up and cool down stretches used in strength training programs 

How to regain your range of motion after a shoulder surgery: A firsthand account

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The Best Exercises To Effectively Build Full Body Maximum Strength

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Senior Fitness Training: A guide to a healthier life through exercise

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Strength tips

Explosivelyfit focuses on the development of superior strength with the intent to help all drug free athletes reach their true strength potential. You can get stronger and more powerful because these strength training methods and tips work.

Keep training smart, and strong.

Danny M. O'Dell, M.A. CSCS*D



Study, Learn, Apply and Succeed.

Table of contents

Acute hormonal responses to varying protocols in men and women

Are you ready to run

Avoid the strong-attack the weak

Avoiding training injuries in the weight room

Bad training Habits that are hard to break and the cures

Benefits of performing ten repetitions with 90% 1RM


Blood pressure

Components of speed

Carbohydrate after strength training

Comparisons of concentric and eccentric strength protocols

Calorie estimations

Coordination and athleticism



DOMS and eccentric muscle actions

Electrical stimulation of the triceps and pectoralis

Exercising in a logical manner

Explosive strength


Flexibility guidelines

Getting set up to pull massive weights

Heart rate training indicators

High Heart Rate Strength Training (HHRST)

High intensity preloading and competition

High power and low power training

How a rounded back affects the deadlift

Incorporating plyometric's into the training program

Increasing explosive strength

Isometric contractions before maximum lifts

Inter repetition rest periods effects on power output

Joint angles and lifting performance

Knowledge and the training process

Light loads and lower intensity reduces training effectiveness

Maximizing strength

Mental imagery

Motor ability

Motor unit activation

Movement forces in strength training

Nonspecific and specific warm up protocols

Nutrition strategies

Physical athletic abilities

Power and strength adaptations


Preparation practices

Prevention of bone disease

Question of rest time between exercise sessions

Relevancy and Simulation Conditioning for Sports

Resistance training and flexibility

Sequence of movement perfection

Setting up your own strength program

Shoulder series warm up

Spot reduction exercises

Stability ball spine stretch

Starting positions

Strength and stretching

Strength Training Principles for the Adolescent

Strength training a young athlete

Strength training in its purest form

Strong bones build strong bodies


The amplitude of the movement

The magnitude of strength output

The number of sets

Three factors of strength

Train for strength and power

Transference of motor abilities

Warm up

Are you ready to run?

Spring seems like it’s just around the corner and with that comes, for some, the urge to get outside and run. But are you ready to hit the street? Have you built up a training foundation?

If you have been working out over the winter then you probably already know what to do and are following a general plan and simply running the way you feel like each day. Others of you may be following a well laid out plan and come what may you are adhering to it every time you go out.

Most newbie’s make the mistake of doing too much, too soon and end up injured. An ideal beginning program ensures a low training volume for three to six months which allows the body to acclimate to the mechanical loading. Taking the necessary steps to prevent injury will lead to longer lasting enjoyment of this form of exercise.

Begin by analyzing your motivation and discipline. Just why are you out there in the first place? Is it for you or for someone else? Do you have the discipline to stick with it for at least three months? After the three months the subconscious begins to control the habit of running consistently. Support from family and friends, self efficacy, perseverance and a healthy mental attitude will contribute to your success.

Setting short, intermediate and long range goals that are measurable, achievable, realistic and time limited will help keep you on track. Shaping these behaviors boils down to a series of steps that ultimately lead to obtaining your goal.

Allocate a specific time and duration each day for your running or your choice of exercise. Run with a group, or by yourself in the morning or at noon, after supper or as soon as you get home from work. Stick with it.

Once you begin to follow your personal schedule it becomes self reinforcing and provides more encouragement to continue. Lay out your running gear before you go to bed or as soon as you get up in the morning. This is the stimuli and encouragement that makes you want to follow through.

Once you are running, focus either on what you are doing or anything else except what you are doing. These two strategies, associative and dissociative are distinctively different and are used as the need arises. Most elite runners use the associative method as it allows them to keep track of the feedback from their bodies. New runners generally will do better if they use dissociation because as they begin thinking about the run and how their bodies are hurting they are less likely to continue.

Beginners can employ coping skills during the run. Positive self talk, encouraging inner thoughts, taking in the scenery and simply being happy they are out there doing it will carry the day.

After you have decided to actually get going decide if you should talk to your doctor before heading out the door. If you are middle aged, set up an appointment and get a checkup. It takes but a few minutes to find out if you are up to doing what you want to do. Meanwhile, this quick self administered quiz may alert you to some danger signs.

(Courtesy of the University of Minnesota @ Duluth web site
and Supertraining by Mel C. Siff).

1.Yes No Has your doctor ever said you have heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor?
2.Yes No Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
3.Yes No In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?
4.Yes No Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?
5.Yes No Has a doctor ever said your blood pressure was too high?
6.Yes No Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (for example water pills) for your blood pressure
7.Yes No Has your doctor ever told you that you have a bone or joint problem such as arthritis that has been aggravated by exercise, or that might be made worse with exercise?
8.Yes No Is there a good physical reason not mentioned here why you should not follow an activity program even if you wanted to?
9.Yes No Are you over age 65 and not accustomed to vigorous exercises?

If you answered YES to one or more questions: Before increasing your physical activity and/or taking a fitness test consult with your personal physician by telephone or in person. Speak to your doctor about the PAR-Q, and discuss the questions answered YES. Talk with your doctor about the kinds of activities you wish to participate in and follows his or her advice.

You may be able to do any activity you want as long as you start slowly and build up gradually. On the other hand, you may need to restrict your activities to those, which are safe for you.

If you answered No to all questions: you have a reasonable assurance of your present suitability for an exercise regimen. Success often results through the correct application of scientific exercise principles and dedication, such as those that follow.

Take part in a fitness appraisal, this is an excellent way to determine your basic fitness so that you can plan the best way for you to live actively.
Start by becoming more physically active.
Begin slowly and build up gradually.

Delay becoming much more active if you are not feeling well because of temporary illness such as a cold or a fever. It is best to wait until you feel better. If you are, or think you may be pregnant; talk to your doctor before becoming more physically active.

If your health changes so that you answer YES to any of the above questions, notify your fitness advisor and be certain to tell your doctor/health care provider. You may need to change your physical activity plan.

If in doubt after completing the questionnaire, consult with your doctor or health care provider prior to beginning any new physical activity.

After talking it over with your doctor and getting their ok then it’s up to you to dress appropriately. Get good shoes, spend some money and get good shoes! There are too many guidelines to be discussed here so I won’t. Choose your clothing wisely. Dress lightly.

If you are a woman wear a specially designed sports bra to minimize breast injury or soreness during the run. At a minimum these should have firm, non slip, non stretch straps and connected directly to a non elastic cup. It should have no irritating seams or fasteners that are directly on the skin. Finally the bra should hold the breasts in a rounded shape close to the body.

The general laws of running state gradually start out by training gently, train frequently all year round. Go for distance then speed. Don’t set your schedule in concrete, be flexible and alternate hard runs with easy ones. Try to get as much out of the minimum of training as possible, don’t be in a hurry to push onto the next level and don’t race when training or run at a race pace at distances above 16 km. Don’t overtrain, seek out a competent coach and stay mentally tough. Sleep well before a big race and keep a daily diary of your accomplishments.

Motor unit activation

The motor units that become active during a lift are determined by the amount of weight to be lifted or the amount of weight you think you are lifting-the mind muscle connection.

Is your heart on top of your training?

Do you know if you and your heart are training at a sufficient level to make progress by encouraging the heart muscle to get stronger? If not then the next time you train try counting your heart beats and find out where you stand. This is a quick and dirty way of finding out if you are on track to achieving higher levels of fitness.

To begin the test make sure you have the right equipment on hand. You will need a clock with a sweep hand, or a digital one with an internal stop watch or better yet an actual stop watch. As soon as you are finished exercising take your pulse. Do not wait even two to five seconds to do so or the results will be misleading. Now that this figure is noted take your pulse again in exactly one minute-not a minute and two seconds but precisely one minute. If for example you decide to count right after your exercise is done and do so for one full minute then the second minute would begin immediately with not interruptions between the two.

The next step is to subtract the second reading from the first and then divide the answer by 10. The resultant answer is then compared to the following chart to determine your level of cardio-over all physical fitness.

If your calculations come up less than the number 2 then you are in poor shape and need to work out a bit more and a bit harder by upping your cardiovascular workouts. Raise the target heart rate percentages up into the 70% HR for your age and gender.

Numbers between 2-3 indicate a fair fitness position but it definitely could be improved with higher workout intensities.

Good readings start to appear between 3-4 and get even better at ranges of 4-6. Superior fitness is indicated when the numbers are above 6.

If you are already in superior shape then the dividend number changes. In this instance take your pulse immediately after exercising as before and then again at the thirty second mark. Now rather than dividing by 10 you will divide by 5 to arrive at the answer.

If you are concerned about overtraining take your pulse three mornings in a row as soon as you wake up. If by chance you are entering the overtraining phase of things your pulse may be up higher than normal. Some of the literature suggests these higher pulse rates can be as much as ten beats more per minute than normal. If this is the case then it’s time to lower your level of training until your body has a chance to recover.

Sequence of movement perfection

At the kinematic chain level, there are four specific processes of strength and technique development.

1. The choice of the optimum and most efficient movement amplitude is based (1) on the body’s rational correlation between the angles of each joint and their ability to produce maximum strength at each of these particular degrees of joint angle. (2) The motor potential to move the body is most advantageous in certain positions and muscle angle combinations. It is only during these specific combinations of angles and motor potentials where the most power is produced.

2. Increases in the maximal concentration of motor force during the start of the working amplitude, which makes the attainment of the third phase of training possible. In other words, power and strength must be trained to begin at the beginning of the movement. Think speed, recruitment of the type two fibers, and explosiveness during your lifts.

3. Each of the muscle groups within the kinetic chain will work in the proper sequence to develop the most strength and power possible when needed during the movement.

4. Practice execution of the movement within these selected parameters of movement to enable the expression of strength and power to be used to the utmost effectiveness.

Acute hormonal responses to varying protocols in men and women

A recent study by William J. Kraemer and associates showed the hormonal response benefits of three separate types of maximum heavy resistance training protocols. This group examined the response effects from the bench press, sit up and bilateral leg extensions exercises based upon percentages of the maximal ten repetition, five set scheme with a two minute rest between each set.

The three exercise program variances were:

Heavy maximal 10 repetition maximal (10 RM) loads of five sets of ten repetitions with a two minute rest in between the sets.
Submaximal heavy resistance 70% of the 10 RM.
Maximal Explosive resistance of 40% 10 RM

The results were pretty clear after the study was finished as to which protocol released the greatest amount of growth hormones. There was a significant increase in the serum growth hormone after the heavy maximal ten rep/five sets were completed. And, this was true in both men and women, but more so for the men than the women. Serum testosterone significantly increased in the men, but not the women and only while engaging in the heavy maximal sessions.

Since these two substances are critical to long-term adaptations of strength and power this study may help in the long-term process of inducing greater muscle hypertrophy and maximal strength development.

Adapting the heavy loading hypertrophic type of exercise sessions appears to foster growth in the muscle mass for men if they use the heavy maximal load for ten reps and five sets with the suggested two-minute rest in between sets. These hormonal responses seem to be related to the amount of muscle mass activated in the exercises. Using the submaximal and the explosive maximal loads did not elicit increases in the release of these hormones, as it was not strenuous enough to the organism.

Neural control and the achievement of higher rates of force development are fostered, at least in the men, with the explosive maximal loads. Whereas in the women the responses after exercising with explosive maximal weights did not seem to be that clear cut. For women it would seem best to train with the explosive maximal and the heavier maximal loads.

Spot reduction exercises

Spot reducing exercises do not work and if your trainer is pushing you to do hundreds of sit ups in the effort to tighten up your abdominal muscles and in turn reduce the circumference then find another one. In a study performed by people doing over 5000 sit ups in a twenty seven day period it was found that size changes in the adipose cells of the abdomen were similar to the size changes in the glutes and the subscapular regions.

The training did accomplish one thing; it reduced the size of the adipose cells in all three locations not just the stomach.

If weight reduction is your goal then add in strength training and cut back on the endless cardio sessions. Muscle burns more calories per hour which at the end of the day means more expenditure of energy and better utilization of the caloric intake. This adds up to consistent weight loss if followed correctly.

High Heart Rate Strength Training (HHRST)

Attempting to build strength without the ability of your heart to keep up the pace is an exercise in futility. This type of training is the foundation of general physical preparation for all who strive to be the best at their sport. You may be asking yourself what is this high heart rate strength training all about. The short answer is combination cardio at 70-80% THR and strength training at 70-80% 1RM.

The number of sets

A new lifter can get by and still gain strength working with one set for the first few months, but afterwards more will be necessary. Accommodation is NOT what we are striving for in the strength sports.

Once the body adapts to the one set program, then more stress is necessary if progress is to continue. The number of sets is determined by the goal. If, for example, hypertrophy of the muscle is desired then more sets and reps will be in order. In this instance the sets will be in the five to eight ranges with repetitions starting at 8-10 and going up as high as 150 (Bompa)

Strength and power on the other hand will have a large number of sets but each one will be of lower reps and with longer rest periods between each set. The sets will be in the 6-9 bracket with 1-3 reps each and these weight loads will be in the 90-100% 1RM intensity levels. Lengthy rest periods are needed to recover at least 95% before beginning the next set.

Question of rest time between exercise sessions

I'm a little confused on how long I should wait in between strength training sessions. I was always told 2 days but now someone has told me that if I do an intensive lower body training session I should wait an entire week before going back to that muscle group to allow a true and full recovery. Is this true

In my opinion a week is way to long to wait between sessions. Your muscles will be into the detraining zone. Two days isn't bad but you lose a lot of training time waiting. I would not suggest a one weeks wait in between muscle groups, even the largest muscles in your body, i.e. your back and legs should be recovering within two to three days at the most. The majority will recover within one to two days even after an intense workout. Are you getting my training newsletter? If so I am addressing recovery issues for the next several months.

Elite athletes are lifting up to 14 times a week. You may not be in the elite ranks right now so it may be better to lift according to your experience level. For instance, if you have been lifting under six months then twice a week will get you going. Over six months you may consider three times per week. In my gym after a year of training time I have many of my trainees on a four day program. With the exception of my competitive athletes I am not saying I want them in my gym four times a week. Since most of them have their own gear I eventually want them lifting at home or elsewhere. I am not in favor of creating a dependent relationship with those who train with me. I expect them to learn and apply what they have learned to their own circumstances by thinking about their training and discovering what is working and what isn't, then they plan their own course of action.

Taking into consideration the issue of muscle soreness as a reason to wait seven days; if you are still sore seven days post exercise then you have possibly suffered an injury. On the other hand being sore is not an indicator that you need to stop exercising as this soreness will evaporate shortly after the first one or two movement specific warm up sets. Joint tightness helps produce more power output as the joints aren't fighting a loose set up but are instead closer to the levers actual working ranges.

Strength training a young athlete

The bones and ligaments of children can be over stressed by the application of too great a load early on in their lifting careers. The investigation rested on the downward deflection of the arch which was measured during the lifting of specific weight loads. These studies by Sulmitsev resulted in the following weight selection parameters, which it should be noted are dependent upon the age and body weight of the child.

For those in the age bracket of 11 to 12 it was found that up to 30% of their bodyweight was an acceptable and safe load.

13-14 year olds could tolerate up to 50% of their bodyweight before undue stress was placed on their arches.

Those who had reached the ages of 15-16 were able to handle up to 100% of their bodyweight.

Flexibility Guidelines

The two main methods of stretching are static and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). There are ample resources that describe these, so none will be provided here. The following six points simply distill the pertinent points of stretching in a safe and effective manner.

1. Exercises will number from 10-12
2. Frequency of effort will be at least 2 to 3 days per week. Better results will appear with daily stretching taking place.
3. Intensity is not at the pain threshold instead it is to stretch the muscle, and joint to a point of mild discomfort.
4. Duration of holding the stretch will be anywhere from 10 to thirty seconds of static stretching. With PNF stretches the muscle and joint will be contracted for 5-10 seconds with an immediate 10-30 seconds of assisted stretching.
5. Do these 2-6 times for each stretch. The total stretch time will end up about 45-120 seconds for each one chosen for the day’s routine.
6. The total time for each stretching session will be approximately 15-30 minutes.

Light loads and lower intensity reduces training effectiveness

The use of lighter weights and working rep ranges at intensity levels above the 3-5 RM ranges and lower than 90% 1RM reduces the effectiveness of the strength training program for men as well as for women.

Heavy resistance activates the maximum amount of muscle tissue and improves the connective tissues. Without this type of resistance the training is not productive for strength gains. Periodized training schedules either linear or non linear progressions allow for recovery from the heavy sessions and have to be a part of the program.

Nonspecific and specific warm up protocols

A recent presentation made at the NSCA national conference in July examined the results of nonspecific and specific warm up protocols. Non specific warm ups such as cycling were compared to specific warm ups of low intensity to a particular movement.

The conclusion of the researchers was the type of warm up method had nor effect on single effort bench presses of 80% 1RM in recreationally trained athletes. This held true for both male and female lifters in the study.

Fatigue comes into the picture in one or more combinations of the following types.

1. Circulatory/respiration systems
2. Body temperature fluctuations
3. Dehydration
4. Depletion of or blockages of the energy sources, the most powerful being i.e. ATP/CP
5. Psychological issues

Overcoming fatigue both during the session and afterwards is a direct result of using correct recovery methods.

Maximizing strength depends upon the choice of exercises, the exercise order, how many sets and reps, the intensity levels for each exercise, and the work to rest ratio.

This can be a complicated problem especially if you are an experienced lifter. Most new strength athletes will gain on almost any program as the stimulus is new to the body. An experience athlete on the other hand requires specific protocols that address their specific training needs. Periodized training that eliminates the accommodation effect of the same exercises with the same sets and reps is the key to success for these athletes.

Weekly splits in the training sessions are most effective for those who have lifted for more than one year. In some cases multi sessions per day are the most efficient. The training on these days’ centers around the big major muscle lifts such as the military press, the pull down, the bench press, bar bell row, squat and deadlift.

Each of these lifts have certain rest demands that if pushed will result in overtraining and potential injury. For example the legs and lower back, after a squat and deadlift primary lift emphasis, need a minimum of three to four days to recuperate before hitting them again. This may be speeded up by the use of various recovery techniques as discussed in Danny O’Dell’s Explosivelyfit Strength Training News.

Lifting heavy gets a person stronger. That is a forgone conclusion and in order to get stronger the intensity needs to be at or above 85% 1RM. Only by lifting heavy will the strength develop. Only by lifting in these high intensity ranges will the technique be honed to a high degree.

Benefits of performing ten repetitions with 90% 1RM

Studies and practical research have shown the potential benefits of performing ten repetitions with 90% 1RM and then waiting five minutes before engaging in a competitive sprint. The same carry over is believed to be true in the throwing sports as well. Additional work has indicated that prior to explosive concentric outputs antagonistic muscle work in the 90% ranges will add to the concentric power output.

Nutrition strategies to speed up recovery

According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute applying nutrition strategies will speed up recovery after an exercise session is completed. They provide a chart in Volume 19, 2006 number 1 that looks like this:

Recovery Duration
(g/kg body weight

Fluid replacement
(% bodyweight lost?

24 hours 8-10 g/kg/day Drink to maintain body weight
4 hours 0.8-1.2 g/kg/hour 150%
2 hours 0.8-1.2 g/kg/hour 150%
Daily training 5-7 g/kg/day Drink to maintain body weight

Chart courtesy of Gatorade

Keeping your fluids up to par is an important measure in building strong muscles.

The magnitude of strength output

Three factors comprise the magnitude of strength output. According to Zatsiorsky these are intermuscular coordination, intramuscular coordination and the degree of the muscle fiber force reaction resulting from the nervous pulse that fires the group of muscle fibers.

The prevention of bone disease

The prevention of bone disease begins at birth and continues throughout our entire life. Optimal bone health at its most basic level demands that attention is paid to the proper levels of calcium and vitamin D intake in the diet along with high impact and load bearing exercise regimens.

Relevancy and Simulation Conditioning for Sports

It is truly amazing to see sport coaches still running all of their athlete’s long distances at a slow pace to ‘condition them.’ This type of training does two things for the explosive thrower or sprint specialist, neither of which is positive: it slows them down and makes them less productive on the field.

In all cases sport relevant training and simulation conditioning are keys to superior results. Exercise selections and conditioning protocols will have a profound affect not only to the body but more realistically on the neuromuscular system. Each movement performed during practice or in competition is processed by the central nervous and the neuromuscular systems.

Once this information has been programmed into the organism it will then be applied to the solution of the motor tasks. Therefore the explosive athletes who are out running long slow distances take this slow training onto the field during their event with predictable results; lowered performance.

Explosive athletes need to condition and strength train closely to the movement patterns, force/time curve, types of muscle contraction and the velocity of the skill. Otherwise the training time is misused and the exercises are misapplied.

Relevancy training supports this premise in at least these ten aspects:

1. Biochemical adaptations to the sport, i. e. in the energy systems that are utilized during the event
2. Fatigue- of speed, static strength, dynamic strength, and speed strength endurance. Fatigue may be further broken down into central fatigue and peripheral fatigue with the former associated with the central nervous system (CNS). Those factors corresponding to the CNS include all of the components outside of the muscular system. Decreased motivation for training, impairment of the spinal nerve impulses and altered recruitment of the spinal motor neurons are directly attributable to central nervous system fatigue.
3. Flexibility-in all the kinematic chain
4. Force of contraction-maximum, absolute,
5. Metabolism
6. Muscle fiber recruitment-slow or fast type one or two fibers and the variations of each
7. Movement patterns-kinematic system
8. Regions in the body where movement takes place-kinematic pairs, and chains
9. Types of muscle contractions-concentric, eccentric or isometric
10. Velocity of the movements-high speed or slow

Training in this manner means exercising in such a fashion as to improve the expression of each of these foregoing factors that are integral to the sport.

Simulation training on the other hand involves the use of various weights or resistance throughout the full range of motion during execution of the sport specific movement. Conditioning with large resistance over a small range of movement is appropriate during certain stages of the training phase.

A significant amount of resistance will confuse the neuromuscular programming that determines the relevancyof the effort. The muscle recruitment and firing patterns will be negatively altered. The addition of the heavier load will cause changes in the center of gravity and rotation, movement inertia, and the body’s mechanical stiffness. These modifications of form will adversely affect neuromuscular performance.

Conditioning relevancy and simulation are synergistic issues within the training process. Both must be addressed in the program development phase to take advantage of their interrelated properties.


Training slow and conditioning inappropriately and then performing explosively on the field are mutually exclusive.

The effects of inter-repetition rest periods on power output

Researchers Lawton, Cronin and Lindsell from Australia, and New Zealand tested various rest intervals to see which was most beneficial to increasing their athlete’s power production. Twenty six elite male junior basketball andsoccer players worked on the bench press exercise with a repetition maximum of six reps-this was not the individual 6RM.

These young men were separated into three groups which were differentiated by the length of the timed rest periods built into performance of the six repetitions.

6x1 (six sets of one repetition) with rests of 20 seconds between each repetition. This was labeled ‘singles’.

3x2 (three sets of two repetitions) with 50 seconds rest between each set of repetitions labeled as ‘doubles’.2x3 (two sets of three repetitions) known as triples with rests of 100 seconds between each of the two sets of three reps.

Significant power outputs of up to 25-49% were noted in the later stages of all three (4-6) of the rest and rep schedules. Even more relevant was the fact that when compared to the normal continuous uninterrupted 6 rep training patterns the inter-repetition rest periods helped generate anywhere from 21.6-25.1% more power.

There were no significant power differences between thethree different repetition and rest groups. But the inter-repetition rest periods do make a difference.

Time for supercompensation to occur after training is completed.

The body grows stronger after the physical exertion is completed. Rest is needed to enhance growth. The length of time between sessions is determined by the activity and themuscle groups that were placed under stress.

Energy System stressed
Time for Supercompensation to take place-in hours
6-8 hours
Maximum Strength

It is not known exactly what energy system is being used for protein synthesis to take place however it's believed that up to 48 hours are necessary for supercompensation to effect the body as a result of training.
Chart information from Tudor Bompa Serious Strength Training 2003 HK Publishing

The components that determine movement speed, i.e. the external conditions, quickness, strength, endurance, andcoordination of movement are critical building blocks to enhancing your sport skills.

Agility and coordination go hand in hand and are purposely given prime time at the beginning of each session when the energy is high. This is followed by building strength, which is then followed by the strength endurance segment.

As the saying goesstrong bones build strong bodies. Strength programs must incorporate these five principles into the protocol

1. Site specificity-load the area with direct acting exercises, i.e. squats for the spine and legs.

2. Overload the muscles with an undulating but progressive increase in intensity.

3. Trainees with the smallest initial bone mass have themost to gain and normally will show the greatest improvements.

4. The returns on the exercise will diminish as the biological ceiling for growth is realized. A higher degree of effort will be necessary to continue seeing results as this barrier is approached.

5. The positive gains in bone mass will reverse if exercise is discontinued

Preloading the muscles prior to lifting influences the tension in the muscle. This preload can be either an isometric or a stretch shorten cycle but must be done if you want to lift heavy. This pre lift phase greatly increases the level of electro stimulation within the muscle which is important to the initiation of the concentric

Performing a high level preparatory action phase prior to a two phase motor action, (eccentric followed by a concentric) is highly beneficial to overall performance.

The prestart preparation of the lift is nearly as important to the successful outcome as the release/concentric part of the total movement.

Carbohydrate after strength training

The result is a significant decrease in the myofibrillar protein breakdown which helps to increase the muscles protein synthetic rate. This provides a greater positive protein balance and is beneficial for mitigating the after effects of the training cellular damage.

Comparisons of maximal eccentric and concentric strength training protocols indicated far superior results from the eccentric than from the concentric even though both were overloaded the same amount.

The eccentric contractions developed significantly greater strength gains than did the concentric by as much as 42%. Which in my estimation is a one heck of a big difference. Take a look at the chart from this study and see what I mean.

Training condition   Improvements  

In each case the type of training increased the specific output but the ones for the isometric and eccentric were huge when compared to the ones for concentric isometric and eccentric.

This research certainly demonstrates that an increase in the eccentric portion of any lift, when combined with other studies that show an increase in any part of the lift tends to increase all parts has validity in the weight room.

The question is whether or not this training will transfer over to other sports and not just those that involve lifting.

*Hortobagyi, T., Barrier, J., Beard, D., Braspennincx, J., Koens, P., De Vita, P., Dempsey, L., Israel, R., & Lambert, J. (1996). Greater adaptations with submaximal muscle lengthening than maximal shortening contractions. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 28(5), Supplement abstract 761.

Blood pressure

Normal blood pressure readings are less than 120/80, if yours are higher see your doctor and do something about it. This disease isn't called the 'silent killer' for nothing. It destroys the internal organs without any outward signs that it's doing so.

Pre-high blood pressure is anything over 120/80 up to 139/89. Beyond these numbers is high blood pressure with the attending health problems that accompany it.

See your doctor before you become a statistic.

Exercising with progressively heavier weights involves not just training the movement but doing so in a logical and knowledgeable manner. For instance the body actions of the Pectoralis Major consist of:

Arm flexion-moving the arms from an slightly altered anatomical position from the sides upward to slightly above the shoulders.

Inward arm rotation-from the anatomical position rotating the hanging arm in toward the body.

Arm horizontal adduction-involves moving the horizontally outstretched arms forward to a point directly in front of the face.

Arm adduction-moving the arms in toward the body from a horizontal position.

The reason for this very brief body/muscle action review is this: Knowing and training these movements will increase your bench press!

The same reasoning holds true for learning the rest of the body actions in your continuing endeavors to lift more weight and become stronger both mentally and physically.

Moment forces in strength training.

The familiar refrain 'the meet doesn't start until the bar hits the floor' is true. But do you know why?

The key is the moment force or tension on the muscles and the ligaments the instant before the lift begins. In the instance of the squat and bench press, this tension equals the weight on the bar.

In the case of the dead lift the tension or the working force ( the force that accelerates and ultimately moves the bar) starts from nearly zero. In other words the muscles have not developed the requisite muscle tension necessary to move the bar until the start or instant of separation of the bar from the floor.

This division of tension separates the squat and bench press from the dead lift. The working force needed to move the bar in the squat and bench press is developed after the preliminary tension that is equal to the weight being lifted. Whereas in the case of the dead lift this force begins from a zero and must build up as the bar is moved from the floor.

The big differences in the two can be put very succinctly:

The first group of exercises do not elicit an appreciable influence on the chemical and physical changes within the muscle tissues, i.e.the excitation-tension links.

These internal alternations of the muscle develop strength or speed of contraction but do not contribute to the speed with which the muscle switch's to an active state to move the bar.

In the second group the muscular work is simultaneous with the development of dynamic strength and movement speed. As can be expected starting strength is the chief component developed in this group.

Here is a quick guide for estimating the calories you need each day.

Divide your current weight by 2.2 to convert it to kilograms. Your weight in kilograms will represent an approximate number of calories required to maintain this weight during one hour of rest. Multiply this number by 24 to get the number recommended for a day. Recall 3500 calories equals one pound of added weight.

In the case of a 220 pound man; 220 divided by 2.2 gives us 100. This is what it takes to maintain the current body weight at 220 for one hour. Multiplying that 100 answer by 24 results in 2400 calories needed just to exist. Obviously this is a low number. It is low because the added daily activity caloric expenditures have not been figured in yet. These multiplying co-efficient are separated according to the physical effort.

Moderate activity,defined by the American Academy of Sports Medicine, means spending some part of the day in physical work-brisk walks, and gardening. For a male the multiplier is .65-.80.

Heavy, defined as spending an important part of the day in heavy physical labor or activity sets the number at .90-1.20.

Extremely heavy is 1.30-1.45.

So in the example, this guy is on his feet a majority of the time at work, moving heavy stuff around, lifting weights, reading, resting watching the news or on the computer for his daily routine. The number he would use would be the .65-.80 and his range is figured this way:

The 2400 (maintenance level) multiplied by .65 equals 1560. This is added to the 2400 to get the total required for the day, which in this case will be 3960. Going to the far end of the range at .80 (2400 X .80 = 1920) will give a total of 2400 + 1920 = 4320 per day. Spreading these calories over six nutritionally balanced meals, allows about 720 calories per meal to maintain the current weight.

In order to gain or lose weight a few of these calories will have to be added or eliminated in the daily diet.

Cutting back just 500 a day will result in a one pound loss over the course of seven days because, as mentioned before it takes 3500 calories to add one pound. Therefore 500 calories a day divided by the six meals is about 83 more or less per meal depending on your goal, divided by five meals it's only 100 calories.

In the end it boils down to either drinking, or not drinking, that can of pop or a glass of full milk per meal.

Researchers in Auckland, New Zealand combined explosive and high resistance strength training in the same session for elite cyclists. This resulted in establishing greater sprint and endurance performance. Each of the participants replaced a portion of their normal training time with specialized combination explosive and high intensity exercises. The exercises consisted of three sets of maximal effort single leg jumps alternated with three sets of maximal intensity cycling.

The jumps were 20 single leg plyometric step-ups off of a 40cm box before alternating to the opposite one. The sequence was repeated over a two minute time span. A two minute rest period separated the step offs and the cycling portion.

The max intensity cycle effort required the athlete to do 5 max effort 30 second phases at 60-70 RPM with a 30 second rest between each set.

A power athlete training in this manner would see similar increases in their output. A session would look like this:

Ten minute warm up, specialized explosive/high intensity exercises for the day, regular exercise selections and cool down. For the upper body special portion consider the use of chains, bands, plyo push ups, drop off box plyo push ups, followed by sets of reps in the 95-97% range of intensity.

Keep track of your progress and watch your strength increase over the next month and a half.

'Avoid what is strong and attack what is weak' (Sun-Tzu, The art of war, 500 BC). The same can be said for strength training: Keep your strong points strong but hit your weak areas with high intensity until they are the strong ones.

Train for strength and power by challenging your CNS to actively engage with the heavy weights. Develop strong tendons by using weight loads that will not allow more than 1-3 repetitions before failure. Focus on myofibrilar hypertrophy rather than sarcoplasmic. Work the muscles to be strong instead of just looking strong.

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of resistance training in maintaining flexibility of the joints. It shows that resistance training alone will not increase flexibility but also did not interfere with the development either.

Separate protocols are necessary to enhance either strength or flexibility. Something we all know to be true but now it's been tested and found to be a fact. Is this similar to what researchers would find if they were to conduct sport relevant training and overall non sport relevant training then make comparisons to performance in competition between the two groups? I think so.

In some of these studies I wonder who is paying the bills for such ridiculous stuff.


Positive adaptations to strength and thereby power accumulations will take place with workouts scheduled twice a week. Day one should emphasize the development of strength through the use of heavy weight loads and low repetitions.

On the second day of training concentrate on increasing your power output by the use of alternating loading. Set up the equipment so there is a light and a medium heavy station for each piece of gear. The light spot will be loaded with weights in the 30-45% one rep max range. The heavy will be set at 60-75% one rep max.

Go from one directly to the other for one full set. The rest for three to four minutes before beginning again.

Coordination is an important aspect of any athletic movement. That is obvious but many strength trainees neglect this important part while setting up their training program.

Practice balance on one day, then your sense of rhythm on the third, with spatial orientation activities on the fourth. Combine these with kinesthetic differentiation and reacting to sound or visual cues on the fifth day.

These coordination sessions will serve you well, especially as you grow older and your sense of balance begins to decay. Every single day do something to improve your coordination abilities.

Adding chains to an exercise allows the acceleration phase to continue past the normal antagonistic muscle deceleration portion. The added resistance begins to appear as the weight is entering into the stronger part of the lift, i.e. near the end range. The chains coming off the floor add to the total load as it is lifted upward and forces more muscle recruitment to take place.

As an example, you should be able to squat with a higher load by starting in the three quarters position than at the bottom. If you were to add as much weight to the bar as you can lift at the top it is unlikely you could rise out of the hole.

However, by loading only to the capacity of the weakest part, the bottom, the top is not challenged enough to grow. Placing chains on the bar that are resting on the floor at the bottom of the lift and gradually come off the floor as the lift progresses upward will keep adding weight even at the top of the lift.

This increases your power and strength.

If you are achieving high power output with light resistance and lower power output with heavy resistance then your program needs to be adjusted. Begin to include both maximal power oriented and heavy strength training in your schedule.

Training for strength will require heavy resistance which by its very nature necessitates slower speeds. Power increases will be achieved by using weights in the 50% 1RM range for higher accelerations and velocities utilizing full range of movement for the exercises.

Mental imagery is not only useful for the day of competition but it is also appropriate for increasing performance, skill building, and behavior modification off the field or platform as well. The skill of using visualization is normally broken into two separate but interdependent parts:

1. Skill development and learning
2. Competition performance enhancement

In practicing skill development and learning the mixture of mental practice and physical practice raises the level of effectiveness in the sport. In competition, imagery before and during the activity should enable a greater effort and a higher probability of success.

Skill development will naturally concentrate on the growth and skill mastery necessary to the specific sport circumstances. In preparing for a competition the focus is on motivation and activation of the neuromuscular system to ensure the performance is at the peak of ability.

Essentially the forgoing supports the ideo-motor principle proposed over a hundred years ago by Carpenter in 1894. EMG recordings verify the mind muscle connection when imagining an activity. The involved muscles react and send out electrical impulses even if there is no obvious physical activity.

Serious sport participation demands following specific preparation practices. The principles that follow have a well established pedigree that will ensure success if adhered to in the program design.

Athlete involvement in the process

To be the best does not mean blindly following a coach or trainers advice. The absence of ignorance in an athlete regarding their training sessions and the overall protocol indicates increasing motivation to read, study, learn and practice a collaborative relationship with the coach. By making outside learning materials available to the athlete the coach is fulfilling the part of the teacher. Taking advantage of these opportunities to increase their knowledge is up to the athlete.

Getting set up to pull massive weights

The start of any movement always sets up the sequence for the remainder of the lift. There are no exceptions. The beginning predetermines to great extent the end result, especially in short duration lifts.

The amount of time spent on the establishing the start varies from lift to lift. The shorter (measured in time) lifts demand more attention be devoted to the exact and very precise positioning of the body before even starting the pull from the floor. Longer time events don’t seem to require as much concentration on the body positions. However, if the posture of the feet, limbs and torso are too far out of the proper start position then the lift will in all likelihood be lost or an injury may result.

It can also be said that the longer time that is spent in the competition exercise, the less the strength component is actually displayed during the lift, ergo the less significance the starting position plays in the final outcome.

Getting the set up right for a pull off the floor leads to a greater chance of success. The correct start position will align the kinematic chain to be the most efficient for the particular body structure. Generally speaking almost all lifters raise their hips and straighten their legs a small amount before the bar actually leaves the floor. This is because the force being applied to the bar increases at a gradual rate for the first .14-.16 seconds of the pull. The hips continue to raise until the force applied to the bar equals the weight load. This point is the dynamic posture and at this instant the bar separates from the floor as the lift begins.

V. I Rodionov stated in 1967 that the starting position will affect the barbell trajectory, the force produced by the athlete, the degree to which the muscles are included in the work of moving the weight, the amplitude through which the bar moves and the speed and perfection of the lift. The start, obviously, is an important piece of the lift.

Knowledge and the training process

Simply going to the gym day after day is not enough to produce results. You can not remain ignorant of the rationale behind the training concepts and expect to be motivated enough to make the greatest gains possible.

As an athlete you must be actively involved with your coach and keeping up with the current trends in the strength literature. Only by learning and applying the methods of increasing your power output every single day can you hope to progress.

Avoiding training injuries in the weight room

  1. Keep the room clean and neat.
  2. Maintain the equipment in excellent working order
  3. Make certain to dynamically warm up before beginning to lift
  4. Do not allow maximum weights to be used by beginners
  5. Pay attention while using the free weights
  6. Provide close and correct spotting to those under maximum weight loads
  7. Avoid doing only mirror muscles by following a balanced strength program
  8. Stretch after lifting


Happy New Year to you all

With the beginning of a new year now is the time to rethink your current training program. Has it been effective? Is it still fun to do?

Are you changing it around on a regular irregular basis so you don't accommodate to it?

The upper body has great potential for displaying power. In our training we use a variety of means to increase it without getting into the stale zones.

Medicine balls, chains, jump stretch bands, bar unloadersand plyo push ups are just a few of the optional training methods we use to produce our State, National and World record holders.

How a rounded back affects the deadlift

A rounded back will diminish the force applied to the bar by as much as 15% according to F. Y. Verkhovsky. It is further postulated that a rounded back transfers less force from the legs to the barbell due to the ‘spongy’ nature of the alignment.

The vertebrae form the natural link between upper and lower body parts and if it is not rigid then the movement is loses energy.


Starting positions

The start position is a separate phase of every lift. Developing the perfect start takes time to do right. However once the basics of the lift are learned then the athlete normally will disregard any further technique improvements. Eventually this particular aspect of the lift is set aside and neglected, leading to possible development of what may be an imperfect beginning.

Smart coaches and athletes will set up specific times in the strength program to address the techniques of the start.

A dynamic start position establishes a state of equilibrium between the athlete and the bar. Included in this sequence of events will be the placement of the feet in relationship to the bar, the grip (hook, overhand or alternate), the width of the grip, the torso angle compared to the floor, the degree of flexion in the back, hips, knees and ankles, and finally the position of the shoulder joint as it relates to the barbell on the floor. Body type also has a bearing on determining the best
start position for each lifter.

Strength and stretching

Research conducted during execution of the bench press
demonstrated that maximal force production is positively related to stiffness in the prime movers, i.e. the Coracobrachialis, deltoid, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, Serratus anterior, and the triceps brachii.

Stretching these particular muscles before doing the bench press will adversely affect your final total. Similar results have been found in other research. Stiffness in a joint relates directly to force potential outcome. A lax, loose, stretched out joint is suffering from neuro-confusion, it doesn't know if it's supposed to be in a relaxed state or making maximum power.


Body weight does make a difference in power output. In the elite lifters 50% of their weight is muscle! A rough formula for comparing the strength of different athletes is this one: Relative strength per kilogram of body weight is calculated. Absolute strength is how much is lifted regardless of body weight.

Combining the two into a workable formula results in this Relative strength= Absolute strength divided by body weight.

Because a light lifter has a greater relative strength ratio than does a larger lifter they will have an advantage in comparing strength output on the chin up bar.

Physical athletic abilities

Motor function is a two-part process; skills and abilities, Movement instruction develops the skill and is called the technical training part. The development of the physical abilities is the conditioning portion. They are co-joined, as one cannot be properly increased without the presence of the other. Each amplifies its counterpart.

Psychological training is necessary in helping to build a high level of competitive form and in enhancing present physical abilities.

Development of any one ability affects the ability of all others. But to what extend is dependent upon the kind of work used and the current levels of physical conditioning. As an example a heavy set of squats is not possible without a concurrent level of cardiovascular conditioning.

As the training status continues to rise the exercises that once elicited a positive change will now simply remain neutral. The same can be said of the physical abilities, what once was beneficial to all systems now is affecting only a few or even one depending on the level of fitness. A classic example is the person striving for maximal strength who is at the same time trying to develop long duration strength endurance-these two goals are mutually exclusive.

Training should emphasize the strong genetic potentials of the individual. By focusing on the strong points the weaker ones are also brought along at a slightly smaller rate. Develop the weaker ones to the extent they are not the weak link in the system and do not drag the athlete down.

If you have ever considered doing, or have done, a maximum isometric contraction prior to performing a maximum repetition with the idea of exceeding your personal best then it may be time to rethink the process. Researchers have tested the theory and found it to be lacking in any beneficial outcome.

They tested a group of weight trained individuals who were experienced in the back squat. Before the test a selected test group did a seven second maximum isometric contraction squat. After a four minute rest they performed a series of five maximum counter jumps for height (one of the commonly used tests of power output). The results were compared to a group who did just the counter jumps. There was no significant difference in the two results.

So why is this coming up now? Well consider the fact that many deadlifters give a steady pull to the bar just prior to starting a heavy lift. The research would indicate this is a waste of energy. In some cases they even try to jerk the bar free which goes totally against the force velocity curve.

There is an inverse relationship between the force applied to the bar and velocity of movement. This means that in an effort to move the bar quickly less force production is available for use in moving the mass. Start out slow and increase the speed on the bar in all of the power and strength moves. Think speed at all times so as to recruit the maximum muscle fibers. Just remember the force/velocity curve.

There is much that is not understood when it comes to the transference of the motor abilities of 'strength developed' to the playing field.

Connections between the motor abilities of an athlete are broken down into several areas:
• General and partial
o A comparison between two abilities and the influence each has on the other
• Essential and non-essential
o The influence of motor abilities in the concrete sport activities indicate that the essential connections are more stable than the non-essential abilities. In other words they can be relied upon to be there when its necessary to have them in place at the crucial moment.
• Positive and negative
o A connection may have a positive or negative influence on the motor abilities. Normally the negative will show up in partially developed motor patterns, in cases of demonstrations of absolute strength, movement speed, short and long distant running and in the ability to display an explosive force against a small external resistance.
• Direct and indirect
o Direct connections result in a correct and timely movement pattern with essential relationships between two abilities are being expressed at the same time. Whereas the indirect connections will exhibit any of the above mentioned attributes during a display of skill.
In reality, testing and retesting to make certain you are deriving actual benefits from your training methods may be the best way to see if what you're doing is working.

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 athlete’s career. It is both a qualitative and a quantitative interdependent relationship between the different motor connections that are important to the sport.

The most typical dynamics of the qualitative motor connections are those seen in the proportion of the various connections mentioned in the 29115 section. These will be seen in the separate abilities, either in a general of a specific way, represented either by an increase or a decrease because the non-essential connections may acquire a more important role in the make up of the movement.

Resistance training and flexibility

A recent study out of Brazil showed that resistance training was not detrimental to flexibility. It did indicate that programs specific to each were more beneficial in the long term rather than combining the two in a catch all type of regimen.


Eccentric muscle actions account for the DOMS but also help protect against future occurrence. A single set of eccentric contractions for at least five reps can cause the onset of delayed muscle soreness. Adding in a second set of eccentric exercises actually helps to defray this painful response.

Whew what a meal we had yesterday. Every time I over indulge I ask my wife why she let me eat that much. Now it's back to the normal moderation eating pattern. Five to six evenly balanced and spaced meals per day and enough water to keep the urine a pale yellow is the ticket to success. Of course exercise is a big part of this as well and now that I am back from Reno and finishing up with a very nice visit from a good family friend and her son it will be back to the gym in earnest later on today.

I have found over the years that many people tend to begin a new program or change their eating habits ( the ugly diet word comes to mind here) all at once.

It NEVER works.

Habits are hard to break and require dedication and perseverance to the end goal if the habit is to be broken. During the way it's easy to fall by the wayside and give up. Those who are quitters and eat like I did yesterday will just throw in the towel, thinking what's the use, and go back to their old eating habits.

There are no easy ways to a habit change but one fact that is essential to success is this: If you falter along the way, then quickly get back on track and keep going.

Remember, persistence counts here just as it does in the gym. All of the good intentions, should do's, will do's and could have's count for NOTHING if you aren't persistent in going after your goals. Let nothing stand in the way of success.

We are back from Reno and what a successful trip it was for our lifters. They set one world and three state records while bringing home three first place trophies and two second place finishes. Congratulations to each one of them.

I will be in Reno with three of my athletes who are competing in the World Association of Benchers and Dead Lifters World Championship 16 November through 20 November so the entries here will be zero during that time.

If any of you are going, then lift smart and hard and as my good friend Giorgio Usai of Forza Strength Training always says "may the weights be light and the lights white".

Managing training

Documentation of positive, neutral and negative progressions is the result of careful tracking of the athlete or yourself during each training session. Get yourself a day planner and write the entire session down including the weights, sets, reps, intensity, perception of effort, i.e. hard, medium or easy. List your bodyweight and how you felt about the training.

Keeping a diary of your training serves several purposes:
The accumulation of data as to how you responded to certain training loads, rest breaks, and recovery methods used. In short, it provides a 'backward looking' road map that will guide you forward.

The log keeping will become a habit and a good one that will augment the professionals methodical approach to training.

Pre-start states of arousal
There are three pre-start emotional states:
1. Readiness
2. Start anxiety
3. Start apathy

Each of these states relate to and are associated with separate levels of premeet arousal.

In the case of readiness the corresponding emotional condition is optimum neuromuscular preparedness for the task at hand. This is the one to be in for all competitive events.

In the second instance, start anxiety, the emotional status is too high for correct, effective and efficient functioning of the entire athletic system of the body and mind. These are the ones you see who are fidgeting and wasting energy before the contest.

Apathy implies the emotional buy in is too low to be effective and along with start anxiety needs to be avoided if one is to be ready for competition.

Stretching and the effect on active and passive flexibility

Dynamic stretches, especially with resistance, help to perfect the active flexibility to a greater degree. Whereas static stretches, with a partner, improve passive flexibility. The use of special equipment that is designed to increase the range of motion is beneficial in developing greater amplitude of movement around the joint. The ultimate goal of flexibility training is to merge the active flexibility range of motion with the passive flexibility range of motion.

Furthermore, greater amplitude, as we have previously discussed, leads to strength displays throughout a larger degree of joint motion. This results in more strength that is thereby useful through a bigger portion of the range of motion on the field of competition.

Psychological training-general and sport specific.

Mental toughness is comprised of two parts.

The first is the overall general mental conditioning that develops the strong will to compete, to exercise and to withstand the rigors of the training phases and of the normal stresses of life outside the training realm.

The second portion consists of the sports specific conditioning; that of dealing with the premeet emotional starts, of the peak conditioning status and developing to a fine degree visualization techniques and control of the concentrative powers of the mind prior to the contest.

Program organization of the training cycles

Setting up macro, meso, and microcycle schedules requires a multifaceted approach with in depth knowledge of the sport, which by necessity will include:
• The contents and structure of the movements involved
• The determining factors that make up the construction and changes in emphasis throughout the training period toward mastery of the sport.

This knowledge will incorporate the practical achievements and the scientific data dealing with the particular affects of training on the athletes body and psyche. Next, this knowledge base needs to be systematized so that it secures for the athlete and coach the reasoning behind the chosen methodological principles and beliefs, which determine the practical aspects of the program and organization of the training cycles.

This final portion requires an objective assessment of the absorption and development of all the preceding training knowledge with a corresponding determination of the problems that have accumulated with the theories and practical applications of them to the sport. Training programs demand thoughtful consideration at each stage of development.

Mental toughness

"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".
Nowicki, Gold Metal Mental Workout for Combat Sports, Stadion Publishing co.

If you want strength and power you have to read, read and read some more. Read and apply the new found information. An hour a day five to seven days a week. You can do it while you ride a stationary bike as you build up your cardiovascular endurance.

As you may have noticed I am not big on making DVD's of my strength training. Not that I haven't considered it yet, but when I go to my gym and lift its not the time I want to be watching a silly video or DVD.

Learn as much as you can about the sport and of training for strength, learn how the body works, take classes, learn from the best there are in the field. The world is full of possibilities don't let them slip by-take advantage of every second you have on the face of the earth. You never know when your last second arrives.

After the strength training session is finished is the best time to actively stretch out those hard worked muscles. This helps return the physiological status of the body back to normal homeostasis, which in turn aides in the recovery processes.

This is normally accomplished by simply lowering the intensity of the exercises after the regular strength training period is concluded. Go into a thorough cool down of active stretching followed by a series of static stretches of the muscles recently worked. ( I know that is a terrible sentence but I hope you get what I am talking about). Work on any posture problems you may have encountered during the session before leaving the weight room for the day.


Shoulder series warm up
Prior to beginning a bench or squat training session do a series of shoulder resistance stretches along these lines:
• Alternate arm raises upward and forward with dumbbells up to ten pounds in each hand.
• Alternate arm rotations with dumbbells up to ten pounds in each hand.
• Alternate straight arm raises to the rear with a spring in the backward motion.
• Alternately and at the same time raise the arms to the rear with the elbows bent and then extend them 'energetically' straight our to the front

Warm up until you break into a slight sweat with exercises involving swinging, pendulum and springy motions. If possible do your exercises in a room that has a temperature range above 57-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Perform the same exercise in several sets until you feel a slight sensation of pain in the muscles. Generally the form of the latter warm up movements should mimic the same form as the technique required in the sport.

Joint Angles and lifting performance

The impact of joint angles during lifting

In order to lift heavy weights your body has to be in the most advantageous position. That position will be dictated by the joint angles during the move. Executing the movement within the range of the joint angles that produce the maximum strength simultaneously raises the dynamics of the strength production throughout the full ROM. It does so by taking advantage of the positive influence of the elastic energy properties of the muscles during the movement preparatory phase.

Analysis of the different muscle groups utilized during a particular lift will illustrate the meaning of biomechanical expediency. Our body involuntarily makes an immediate selection of how it will respond to the task by the disposition of each involved joint.

By this is meant the links of the kinematic chain-a sequential combination of a number of kinematic pairs or links-will automatically select either simultaneously or sequentially the correct zone of angles in each link of the chain that will produce maximal strength from each joint.

Simultaneous activation of the joints is associated with movements used to overcome a large external load. Our body will automatically adjust the joint angles to allow maximal force to be exerted on the object. Now if the muscles are unable to overcome the load that's a matter to be addressed by further intensified training practices.

In the second instance, that of sequential activation, we are talking velocity of movement as a plyometric jump and the resultant reaction upon landing. The largest proximal muscle group in the joint begins the move, with the distal joints being locked into position until its their turn to shine which in turn is finished up by sequentially smaller muscles and joints as the jump nears completion. As it nears the finish the original joints are now locked into position.

In each case, we will always begin or at least attempt to begin the movement with the best joint angle zones that take advantage of our maximum strength. Sport techniques are developed around these zones. It is clear to see that by increasing the angles within which power is developed we will be better equipped to succeed in our sport.

More on joint angle training.

Perfecting movement, by becoming very precise in execution, at the kinematic pair level depends upon and is strongly associated with increases in the angular amplitude within the joint. In other words, up to a certain point-we are not talking joint laxity-greater mobility in the adjacent working joints leads to better performance. Full range of motion, on each side of the joint, is a key training concept to improved strength and power.


Conflicts do exist. in many cases, between the ability of the body to perform certain movements and the the dynamics required of the sport activity. These simply reveal the necessity of increasing the working amplitude of the movement itself during the training sessions that precede competition. Strength must be available at the time and position where it will be the most beneficial. If this display is not during the time the body is in the most perfect anatomical position to produce this strength, then the training goal must be to focus on increasing the amplitude of usable power throughout an expanded range surrounding this non perfect position.

For example in the bench press, if problems occur at the bottom of the lift in getting the bar off the chest, perhaps the camber bar or dumbbells need to be used to increase the strength curve at this position by moving the hands below the chest level. Be careful using the camber bar as it is very easy to overload and then get hurt with excessive weight in this vulnerable lower position.

It is up to the athlete and the coach to identify these discrepancies so they can be modified and corrected.

Strength Training Principles for Adolescents

If you are a coach for the younger population of athletes then following these guidelines will provide a time proven training outline.

1. Before beginning any strength training make certain you have an orthopedic exam conducted on the athlete.
2. Place an emphasis on the development of versatile muscular fitness, especially on the postural muscles.
3. Strength training must be provided in the correct stages, without skipping or rushing each one: General strength, directed strength, special strength
4. Properly sequence the strength exercises.
5. Place these strength exercises appropriately within the workout
6. After each exercise is completed then switch the body part and do a different movement for the different body part.
7. Teach proper form before adding weight or resistance in any form
8. Recovery is essential, make sure they have done so before beginning again on another session. These athletes need sufficient rest between exercises and exercise sessions just as an adult does.

Electrical stimulation of the triceps and pectoralis

Post stimulation effects on the ability of the pecs and triceps to generate greater bench press power was ‘insignificant’ which means muscle tonus induced by the high frequency submaximal percutaneous electrical stimulation (via the skin) electrical stimulation machine’ did zilch for power out put. The results were varied according to each individual but the overall outcome was a measly p>0.05.

After a major rebuild of my right knee long ago I used a ‘TENS’ unit to deflect the pain. It was very effective however, in a short time span it was maxed out. (I wanted to see if I could tolerate the higher settings. I did but this may not have been a good test of the equipment). Having read about these electrical stimulation machines and how they were used in the former eastern block countries it is refreshing to have a clearer answer to the question of effectiveness under lab type conditions.

It would appear that more study may reveal that a different frequency or application may show different results-time will tell.

While exercising keep in mind this concept of biomechanical interactions which must be organized within the anatomical-functional specifics of the body during the movement. This interrelated system of the body permits, utilization of each of these inherent working parts to solve the motor tasks set forth in the training session.

Your body will determine the form of interaction between its parts during the process of finding a solution to the situation, i.e., it will, if left alone, find the most efficient and effective manner of dealing with the physical task. This natural ability to gain and maintain movement efficiency will, when combined with a trained coach’s eye, result in a systematic and rational functioning of the organism, which in simpler terms means an effective and high work out put.

Trust your instincts, follow what feels natural and increase your strength in the process. Of course there must be a modicum of common sense in all of this too. Just because you make progress with a three foot depth jump doesn't necessarily mean that you'll make twice the progress with a six foot one.

Bad Training Habits that are hard to break and the cures

Military press
• Bending backward during a military press-move the bar up close to the face and end up directly over the top of the head.
• Dipping as the weight is pressed upward-perform the exercise on your knees or seated. I am not particularly fond of either method as I think you are much better off standing to do these exercises. But they do work to correct the problem, especially if you aren't willing to lower the weight to a more manageable level.
Bench press
• Lifting the buttocks off the bench during the lift-lock the feet closer to the head and develop a high arch. Place a lifting belt under your butt and as soon as your butt rises the belt drops to the floor. Instant feedback.
• Unequal extension during the concentric action. Focus on the center of the bar. If this condition continues then a slight shift of the hands to help correct the uneven extension may be necessary. BUT do not leave the hands in this position on the bar for long. Keep them there for only as long as it takes to evenly move the bar up. Gradually move the hands into a more properly balanced spot on the bar once the uneven extension has been corrected.

The use of compressive apparel as an aid in performance.

It was hypothesized that such equipment may hinder speed, aerobic capacity and agility. The results did not support the original hypotheses but did seem to indicate that applying a compressive garment to specific body areas did help in injury prevention.

These aids may prove to be useful tools during injury recovery from an injury by supplying a mechanical support for the body. Greater neural feedback is a possible outcome as well.

This study did not come to the conclusion that bracing limited performance to a significant degree. However, bracing in the distal joints on the lower limbs may result in a marked decrease of performance.

Perhaps the take home message to this study may be the fact that compressive wraps, in fact, aid performance, as any of us know who have been in a bench shirt, or a squat suit. Sometimes experience is a true indicator of what works and what doesn't.


The importance of increasing the amplitude of the movement

An increase in amplitude maybe realized if the range of motion in the joint is enlarged within tolerances of the individual and if there is an increase in the elasticity and strength potential in the corresponding muscle groups. This amplitude of movement increases in distance at two points in the kinematic chain, at the very beginning and at the end of the parts in the chain.

In the first instance, this is accomplished by increasing the strength and the ability of the muscles to develop power and force throughout the course of the movement as well as increasing the elasticity of the functional antagonists. That antagonist helps protect the agonist or the muscles actually moving the load while contracting.

Two clear regularities occur during the course of movement. One is the decrease in the force applied to the pull at the end of the movement-especially a counter movement or braking of the extension is more pronounced at the end of any fast move such as throwing a ball or speed benching or squatting.

Secondly, there is a definite increase and concentration of force at certain points in the move. The more accomplished the athlete, the more this particular strength becomes apparent. The right force, at the right time, at the right amplitude produces a winning result-in many cases. Unless the opponent does the same with superior strength and force outputs. If that happens then you're screwed and will have to figure out an alternate method of coming out on top. This is where strategy and tactics begin to play a greater role in the sport.

Carefully look at your form as you exercise to make certain you are not substituting the primary muscle actions with supporting muscle groups.

Take for example the front, side and rear raises the actions of the deltoids should precede any other movement. If not then you are substituting and not gaining the benefit you should be from the move.

A quick way to tell is by looking at yourself in a mirror-I am not suggesting you watch yourself in a mirror for all of your exercises. I am suggesting that you watch the deltoid heads as the exercise is being performed. If you see your shoulder rise up before the weight begins to move up then it would indicate a substitution is taking place.

If you don't have mirrors then have a friend watch as you lift.

Here is a solid strength building scheme for intensity of reps and sets.

Warm up to 60% of your 1 RM, this will depend upon how heavy you are lifting, naturally the higher your one rep max the more lengthy will be the warm up phase. After you arrive at the 60% do ten reps, go to 80% of your 1 RM for five reps then go to 95% for six sets of two reps.

Give yourself three to five minutes rest between each of the 95% sets. Once these are finished drop to 80% and do a final set of five reps then go on to the accessory exercises for the main lift you just completed.

Intensity variation in your planning schedule

Hint: do not use the pyramid method of weight increases.

Once the warm up is finished go to the heavy training weight, which is based on the percentage of the one rep max. Work up to at least the area of 85% 1RM to 95% 1RM for up to six sets of one to two repetitions. Don’t waste your energy dinking around with a lot of light sets between the final warm up and the first 'heavy' 85%-95% 1RM. Stay away from the 65%, 75%, 80%, intensity levels if you want to get strong.

Just warm up and get on with the quality training.

Techniques for a better bench press-from The Ultimate Bench Press Manual, by Danny M. O’Dell.

• Retract your scapula to secure your shoulders and to raise the chest higher
• Flair your lats to make a big lifting platform
• As you lift, squeeze the bar and into a 'U' shape
• Drive your feet into the floor
• Keep your elbows tucked to your sides at about a forty-five degree angle to your body
• Push the bar up in a straight line and not back over toward your face. Doing so usually means you are out of your natural groove and are in danger of damaging your shoulders or missing the lift


Perfecting a strength movement begins with these three basic factors in the kinematic chain:
• An increase in the amplitude of the 'working' area of the movement
• A concentration of the dynamic forces at a specific portion of the move
• Rational form integrated with the interaction of the muscles doing the work

Increasing the working amplitude results from a large range of motion in the working joint and an increase in the corresponding muscles groups' elasticity and strength potentials and conditions, i.e. the load on the bar leads to a higher load on the bar.

Muscle groups in the kinematic pair (the primary joint) plus those in the rest of the kinematic chain (the sequential joint combinations) must continue to facilitate the movement otherwise it will not be successful.

Power and strength output demand the integration of the three basics of movement work together.


When doing a unilateral exercise-with one limb-start with the weaker side first. After moving on to the stronger side do only as many repetitions as were done on the weak side. Corrections of muscle imbalances will not come from hitting the strong side and not working on the weaker one to its fullest extent.


Strength training in its purest form

The overload principle applies to this type of training. And it means just what it says. You WILL NOT get stronger lifting soup cans, no matter what the infomercial's say! Lifting a soup can is about as effective as lifting up a bag of air. Unless you are extremely out of shape, move on to a weight that will challenge your body in a positive way.

Successful overload occurs by increasing these components above the normal:
• The load on the bar
• The frequency of lifting
• The duration of time under the load.

The load on the bar must be high enough that it creates a maximal muscular tension, or nearly so, on the body. First find your one repetition maximum. Figure out the 85%, 90%, and 95% numbers of the one rep max for each lift.

Plan on training at these intense levels by using low repetitions and more sets built into the plan. For example an effective periodized high intensity strength plan based on the desired outcome produces results. A method that has produced excellent results for many years is one that has multiple lift times a day. These training plans are for elite or highly trained athletes. Heavy lifts performed up to four and seven times a day are possible under these strictly controlled situations. Each session is geared toward ONE exercise set up in this type of a sequence throughout the day. The following five exercises are an example of such a daily lifting schedule.

1. Squats, rest and recovery
2. Military presses, rest and recovery
3. Bench presses, rest and recovery
4. Front squats, rest and recovery
5. Barbell rows, rest and recovery
6. Stiff leg dead lifts, rest and recovery

Here are the prerequisites for the schedule.

• Warm ups are required for each session
• Rest periods from fifteen minutes up to one hour in duration between each lift period (morning (2)-afternoon (1)-late afternoon sessions (2))
• Sessions in the morning are separated from the afternoon ones by up to three hours.
• The afternoon is separated from late afternoon by the normal fifteen minutes to one hour
• Recovery methods are employed between each session
• Excellent nutrition guidelines are followed after each training period
• Concentrate on separate exercises each time
• Ten to twelve sets of one to two repetitions working up to 90% 1RM over a forty five minutes in the morning and up to 100% of the mornings lifts in the afternoon and late afternoon.

Reminder: Afternoon sessions follow a similar path as the lifter moves on up to near 100% 1RM two reps to 95% 1RM following the same sets as before.

These are grueling training schedules. Use caution if you decide to give these training sessions a try.

Coordination exercises on a daily basis will enhance your abilities. With increased coordination, you will never realize the full potential of your motor capabilities.

These exercises don't have to be circus acts but they do need to challenge you by making your body handle different movements at the same time. Doing so will increase your ability to lift more weight as it provides another outlet for learning to move efficiently.

Here are three to try after doing a set.

Make circles with one leg while rotating each arm in a different direction.

Squat while raising and lowering the arms in the opposite direction, i.e. if squatting down raise your arms up.

You cannot be as strong as possible without having excellent movement coordination. Each repetition must be technically perfect in order to exact full power from your body. Movement coordination is one of the most complex and amongst the least understood motor abilities in the athlete.

Make use of a knowledgeable strength coach in your quest for the perfect form and the precise technique. Use a video camera and look at each lift frame by frame. Notice where your limbs are in relation to the load, to one another and to their upper or lower counterparts. Take still photos at the beginning, middle and end or at the sticking points...in short dissect your lifts and make the necessary corrections in your style before the bad habits become ingrained. Once these are 'grooved' in, it is difficult to change them back into the right way.


The limitations to a forceful contraction straight through a move occur at the end of any concentric move. This is the joint activating the 'braking effect' about three quarters of the amplitude utilization in the joint.

Full amplitude utilization
1. Total utilization and Full Range of Motion
2. Plyometric's helps you produce Power

Plyometric's and jumping exercises that are done JUST BEFORE the competitive exercise can act as a stimulant.

For example, in your own training try this in your gym before doing it in a contest. After a thorough warm up for the bench press and just before you hit the heavy weights do two sets of drop push-ups from between two twelve to thirteen inch stands. Explode back up each time. Relax several seconds, then give the bench your full effort

For your squats Plyometric jumps would help stimulate the CNS, which will lead to a higher successful total on the bar. The same is true just before doing a max dead lift.

As always, form and technique are crucial elements of success and in hopefully avoiding an injury.


Stability ball spine stretch
The stability ball is a fine tool to stretch out your body after a heavy lifting session. It is especially effective on the lower back with the 'Spine Stretch'.

This stretch is performed by laying supine and prone on the ball and rolling up and down the length of the spine. If you have any type of back injury or balance difficulties DO NOT do this!!!

The time to slow down and stop the concentric muscle action may be shortened with this type of training regimen. If the braking phase of the exercise were not in place the joint would be destroyed with the weight suddenly stopping at the end of the range of motion. The body protects itself by involuntarily slowing down, and finally stopping the load before damage to the joint occurs.

Delaying this slow down allows the force to remain at a high level and increases the speed and power of the movement.

Setting up your own strength program

Are you setting up your own strength program? Then use these guidelines.

The basic Training Principles of Strength and Power Program design
• Practical training applications
• Build basic strength before progressing to the more exotic modes of training.
• Include the fitness triad of strength, endurance and flexibility into your exercise

Stay strong mentally and physically, and remain passionately committed to your hearts chosen path. Danny M. O'Dell, MA. 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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