News

Monday Strength Part 3: The Back Squat

MONDAY STRENGTH PART 3: THE BACK SQUAT

The back squat is the best exercise if developing anterior chain strength — and of course overall strength — is what you’re after.

Top level teams recruit powerful athletes who are extremely capable to play at the best of their abilities. And to perform at the best of one’s ability, power and power management are needed.

If you can increase your squat strength, power will follow: remember that power is “strength displayed quickly”. And then agility, quick reflexes, and the like follow thereafter.

The back squat has a great carryover in what they call “squat pattern movements” and “non-squat pattern movements”. What do I mean with these two?

Firstly, I refer to squat pattern movements as jumping activities that start with two feet on the ground (bilateral movements). The back squat will help improve performance since it is actually ‘teaching’ you how to execute those movement patterns in a controlled manner under a heavy load.

Secondly, non-squat pattern movements refer to unilateral movements such as sprinting or kicking. Take note however, that if you looked at the back squat as a movement, you will realise, sooner or later, that it does not directly improve the patterns I speak about in this article. But, if you looked at it as a way to improve muscle contraction efficiency, then you will certainly notice, in time, that it does exactly that.

So how can you improve on muscle contraction efficiency? By increasing mobility and strength of the muscles involved in Triple Extensions, a kind of action that is really common during a correct explosive movement such as sprinting or anything as simple as change of direction.

Finally, the back squat will also expose your weak points and will allow your strength and conditioning (S&C) coach to create a programme to address them. Building a heavy back squat is really important for athletes. But, remember: the KGs on the barbell itself are not the main goal; what will really change your field performance is the PROCESS of building a heavy back squat.

Short&Simple Training Protocols that WORK

Strength and Conditioning Coach

SHORT & SIMPLE TRAININGS PROTOCOLS THAT WORK

When it comes to selecting the best training program for yourself, especially if you are an athlete looking to improve your performance on the field, you should always try to choose something simple and effective at the same time.

Competent coaches will be able to provide you with all you need within few, but effective, compound exercises. One of the best training programmes I have ever tried was taking (and indeed mixing) 4 to 5 exercises each session while I try to get better at executing them as time goes by.

If athletes were knowledgeable of what they need and focused only on them, they will be able to save a lot of time in the weight room (shorter gym session = better recovery = better performance on the field). The basics of athletic improvement that are learned in the weight room consist of QUALITY MOVEMENTS in which the main focus is — and should be — on patterns such as squat, hinge, lunge, push and pull and then pay extra attention on some extra core exercises such as plyo, sprint and jumps.

In order to save extra time you can also do exercises in a superset: supersetting a squat with a core movement is going to activate an athlete’s trunk and make him/her more efficient with every set. Additionally, this will also add a “conditioning” component into the training because of the ACTIVE REST (instead of completely relaxing in between sets, the athlete will perform some low-impact exercise) that is included in the mix.

Another example would be supersetting a big compound movement like the deadlift with a similar explosive one like the broad jump. This system or technique is called a contrast method, which saves lots of time while producing a big amount of power. When it comes to the upper body, incorporating the push/pull mechanics will help create amazing results. Take note, however, that splitting push exercises (bench press, push ups, etc.) from pull exercises (bent over row, chin ups, etc.) will not give you the same results achieved when supersetting the same exercises.

Furthermore, while performing a horizontal push exercise, you actually “pre-activate” the antagonist pulling muscles that you will need to use immediately in the second exercise or phase of your training session. Another “trick” I like to use in training the upper body is integrating core training into the push/pull so that you or your athletes do not need to do an extra 15 minute core exercise at the end of the session; but instead focus on, for instance, foam rolling and mobility. What I like to do for example is to build tri-sets, in which athletes perform 1 push, 1 pull, and then 1 core exercise: or I could also keep the traditional superset with 1 push and 1 pull but then modifying the 2 exercises in order to get some core work out of it. So, for example, by changing the barbell military press with a “kneeling single-arm press, you have already created a push/core exercise all in one.

Functional Bodybuilding: The Landmine Press

FUNCTIONAL BODYBUILDING: THE LANDMINE PRESS

Athletes need to train for strength and hypertrophy.

The traditional way of training does not seem to help them reach their full potential and athletes truly need to move and perform in a most efficient way possible.

Functional bodybuilding is one such training that focuses on the movement of the integrate upper, lower, and mid section of the body all in one exercise.

The combinations are plenty and these exercises enable athletes to activate different parts of their bodies while following one same movement. Combining functional bodybuilidng exercises can also result in a more fully understood sports performance point of view and saving time. But, remember that some traditional movements like squats and RDLs are not possible to be replaced because they represent a certain pillar of training.

I consider the Landmine Press one of the best functional bodybuilding movements.

The Landmine Press first highlights a push component in training. It goes in a direction that is not really common in strength training, but provides a good feeling to many athletes who suffer from shoulder pain.

The Landmine Press is performed with one arm only, which in turn creates a different core activation. Executing a traditional barbell press using both arms (which by the way is a great exercise) will only activate your core in a bilateral/uniform way. On the other hand, a single arm exercise is not only equally challenging but also has a huge impact on your obliques, otherwise described as your core muscles that are used a lot when playing sports.

Working with one arm at a time will help in fixing shoulders imbalance. If your right shoulder is weaker, performing single arm exercises for a few weeks using the same weight for each side will help rebalance the shoulders pretty fast.

The split component of the Landmine Press also trains and improves the hip flexors mobility, legs stability, and adds some extra core stress into the exercise.

Monday Strength Part 2: Anterior Chain and Acceleration Phase

MONDAY STRENGTH PART 2: ANTERIOR CHAIN AND ACCELERATION PHASE

Strength training has a positive influence on sprinting especially for field sports. The first part of sprinting is what we call the Acceleration phase. This is the phase in which the anterior chain plays an important role.

The acceleration phase should be coupled with a type of training that involves sprinting technique drills. This should be carried out on a regular basis to avoid any loss of power on the field. Obviously, poor mechanics do not help athletes move quickly and efficiently.

You can improve and develop the acceleration phase by training your anterior chain with knee-dominant movements such as the back squat. This can be done in the gym or any area where weights for weight training are available.

An interesting thing to note is that, the acceleration phase greatly involves the use, tension, and activation of the quads. It is usually in this phase that the athlete is physically arched low from the hips to the knee, maintaining a proper athletic stance.

The acceleration phase usually lasts about 10 mts during sprint practice. However, it is much shorter on the field provided that the athletes are already active moving before the acceleration phase even begins.

Moreover, increasing anterior chain strength will have a big impact on the change of direction and agility. When high activity or movement is needed within a small space (many field sports require that) it is more likely — and almost naturally — that an athlete will lower himself from the hips to the knees, which in turn puts a lot of stress and tension on the quads and hip flexors. This scenario once again highlights my argument above about how essential it is to train and improve strength in the quads, hips, and knees in order to perform more adequately.

As mentioned before, the back squat is the number one anterior-chain-dominant exercise. Although, other forms of exercises might also help athletes achieve the same result. These could be knee-dominant single leg exercises (one knee is bending forward, which may go a little over the toes), front squats, zercher squats, and safety bar squats.

The Back Squat in Sport Performance

THE BACK SQUAT IN SPORT PERFORMANCE

Squats are one of the most popular forms of strength training for core muscles, i.e the abs, the muscles
of your back, the hips flexors and extensors, and it has many variations. Some squat with the weight in
front while others do back squats (the most common form and therefore simply called as thesquat),
some squat with dumbbells while others with loaded barbells.

For sportsman of practically all kinds, whether you’re a sprinter, jumper, vaulter, rower or a bodybuild er, core training with squats is quintessential in your routine as it is what can propel you faster, higher and further than ever before.

What back squats can do for you
So how exactly can this wonder exercise help you in improving your sports performance? The answer is
in your core, literally. Think about it, you rely on your core musculature every single day for doing
something as simple as standing. These amazingly coordinated groups of muscles are continuously at
work, maintaining spinal column curvatures and keeping your whole upper body balanced.

These muscles are the key connection between your upper and lower body and every movement requiring
both upper and lower body coordination involves these muscles working together in perfect harmony.

The back squats, along with deadlifts, are the exercises with the widest area of effect, simultaneously
engaging all the muscles of your back and legs, and even your upper body as you hold and maintain your
grip on the weight. Such exercises are called compound exercises and they are extremely effective in
getting your musculoskeletal system to increase its weight-bearing ability and power.

Anterior and Posterior chain muscles
As mentioned above the squat is one of the most effective compound exercises to strengthen more than
half of your body’s musculature. It does this by simultaneously recruiting type I and II muscle fibers in all
muscle groups involved in maintaining the weight and balancing the body. We divide these groups into
two broad categories:

1.Anterior chain
This chain of muscle groups is situated anteriorly in your body and include the quadriceps, the abs
or recti, the external and internal oblique muscles of the abdomen, the hips flexing Iliacus and Psoas
muscles and even the pectoral muscles in the chest.

2.Posterior chain
The posterior chain contains all the muscles of your back from the Trapezius, Rhomboids and the Lats
or Latissimus dorsi, down to the hip extensors like the Glutes and Hamstrings. This group also includes
the all-important muscles that are involved with manipulating and therefore maintaining your spinal
column.

By working on all these diverse groups of muscles at once, back squats help to condition them into
working synchronously, and with progressive overload, these muscles get stronger and stronger. The
benefit of this to all sportsman is the fact that this increased strength directly translates into more
power.

You can lift more than you ever could, run faster than your personal records, and jump higher
than your benchmark heights by incorporating this simple yet highly effective exercise into your
regimen.

Growth by stretching
Squats employ a continuous motion cycle from the beginning at standing position to slowly bending downwards on your hips and knees while keeping the back straight and then pushing yourself back into
the starting position. The whole range of motion can be divided into two phases with reference to the
posterior chain.

·The eccentric phase – this is the descent from start to the bottom. You lower your body under the
weight in a controlled fashion, resulting in your posterior chain muscles slowly getting stretched to
greater and greater lengths while the anterior chain slowly shortening in length.

·The concentric phase – this is the ascent from bottom back to the starting position. This is
where your posterior chain muscles exert their force as muscle fiber lengths shorten to pull
your body back up. The anterior chain, therefore, experiences an eccentric stretch as your body
ascends and straightens out.

You can see that both chains of muscles experience opposite phases to each other throughout the range
of motion. As both chains experience the eccentric stretching, and then concentric contraction, micro
tears in muscle fibers occur and these tears are then repaired and reinforced when you rest, leading to
bigger and thus stronger muscles.

Furthermore, because of the forced stretching muscle fibers go under the stress of the weight,
specialized stretch sensors called Golgi Tendon organs are stimulated which incite the nervous system to
send in ‘contract’ signals to the muscles. The muscle responds by recruiting muscle fibers and then
contracting.

With progressively heavier loads, the Golgi Tendons essentially realize they can’t make do
with the same number of contracting fibers anymore, and this is where the benefit of compound
exercises comes in.

With heavier loads,  the muscle also begins to recruit more muscle fibers to get the job done. You practically see it as greater strength and endurance in your sport with the same mass ofcontracting muscle.

Core stability and Posture
Another benefit of squats deals with their tone. In sports your muscles need to be in perfect form even
when resting, to have no hindrances whenever they need to work. Therefore, the muscles are always in
a state of isometric contraction, that is they are always slightly tensed by the nervous system and this
maintains your normal posture.

The traps, abs, muscles of the abdominal wall, hip flexors, shoulders and even the quads are all involved in maintaining a normal upright posture of the skeleton and all are again involved in maintaining proper form while squatting. Starting light and then progressively adding more weight allows for strengthening of these ‘postural’ muscles.

ACL and meniscus tears
The knee-joint bears the greatest stress during squatting. Therefore, it is common for novice lifters to
get too ahead of themselves on the squat rack and end up with knee injuries like tears in the
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) or the menisci (shock absorbing and lubricating pads between the
femur and the tibia). In severe cases, even whole tendons may rupture and tear away from their
attachments on the bones.

Avoiding ACL and meniscus tears involves knowing and applying proper form when squatting. The
normal squat form takes your hips deep beyond the level of the knees. Any squat that is not deep
enough is called a partial squat, and partial squats put immense stress on the knee-joint while sparing
the actual muscular targets of the exercise.

Furthermore, incorrect or partial squatting keeps the hamstrings from strengthening. The hamstrings are also a powerful stabilizer of the knee-joint and so,ham strings weakened by incorrect squatting also lead to ACL tears. Full squatting, therefore, not only is safer in terms of real stress on the knee-joint but also develops the joint stabilizing muscles like the hamstrings and even the quads.

What back squat can’t do for you
Before you let your imagination run wild and start imagining back squats as the miracle exercise to get
your Olympic gold medals, it is also essential to know exactly what the back squat cannot help you with.
While it can and will increase power output and muscle recruitment to greatly improve your knee
stability and strengthen up your core, it can’t help you with sport-specific skills.

If you’re a sprinter and you have bad form, squats can’t fix it; instead, your squat derived power and speed may suffer at the hands of a bad form. Similarly, squats can’t help you throw a basketball more accurately or help you do a home run every single time if your bat-timing is not up to the mark.

Conclusion
We recommend squats as a foundational exercise to develop the main muscles employed in practically
every exercise because all exercises need power, strength, and speed.

Monday Strength Part 1: Hinge and Squat

MONDAY STRENGTH PART 1: HINGE AND SQUAT

When athletes play sports, the central nervous system (CNS) is the part of the body that is constantly activated. Certain activities that demand coordination, balance, motor control, and explosiveness activate the CNS — which in turn leads to a full body performance.

Various different joints are involved when the whole body is at work. For example, when the upper and the lower portions of the body work together, a kinetic chain is created. This kinetic chain works efficiently when undisturbed: this means that both the upper and lower regions have to simultaneously work together and connect to move and perform effectively (imagine a chain starting from your neck and ending in your feet; if one part of that chain is broken your body will not be able to move adequately).

Although there are various ways for athletes to improve their performance, it is important to note that following a solid Strength and Conditioning (S&C) programme is one of the most effective there is. It involves weight training and has a specific approach of triggering the parts of the body that are most in use. Ultimately, it is very necessary to select the best and most fitting form of exercises when it comes to sports performance and development.

Having mentioned the role of weight training in S&C, there are two types that you can choose from: Isolation or Compound movement training

Isolation movement training generally involves one joint at a time and might possibly not work well if improving sport performance is what you are looking for.

Compound movement training, on the other hand, involves the whole body, which means that several different joints work at the same time thus activating the CNS the same way as when you actively play sports.

For non-intermediate athletes, one great way to train the lower body is to execute hinge and squats exercises. Once these two exercises can be performed correctly and are done well under control, single-leg movements, sprinting, and jumping can be introduced into the mix of exercises.

The most striking difference between hinge and squats are follows:

A big part of the squats exercise focuses mainly on the anterior chain. Squats are often considered as a knee-dominant exercise and thus affects sports performance in a certain way. Hinge movements, on the other hand, focus mainly on the activation of the posterior chain. These movements are considered to be hip-dominant and affect sports performance differently than squats do.

In-Season Program for Soccer Players

Soccer Strength Coaching

A friend of mine, 24 yers old soccer player, asked my help for improving his strength program. He does field practice twice per week and games every saturday.

The previous program was twice a week low body strength and twice a week upper/core strength.

He complained about not being able to perform properly on the second low body day cause of Inseason fatigue accumulation.

Now I know this is something many soccer players will be familiar with. Because games can be such an attack on the legs, your performance in training can drop. The legs are made up of several big muscle groups so it’s easy to get exhausted when ‘overtraining’.

The good friend that I am, naturally I wanted to help him out.

⬇HERE’S THE SOLUTION⬇

Tuesday: low body heavy
Wednesday: core/upper (heavier)
Thursday: low body power (light)
Friday: core/upper (lighter)
Saturday: Game

Tuesday.
◾5×5 Back Squat
◾3×8 Nordic Curl or RDL (alternate every week)
◾3×8 Any Single leg exercise

Wednesday.
◾superset x 3: vertical push x8 + vertical pull x8
◾superset x 3: horizontal push x8 + horizontal pull x8
◾Core: pick 3/4 core exercises and perform them in circuit for 12 minutes

Thursday.
◾Barbell Squat Jump 8×2 10/20% of 1rm
◾Box Jump or Broad Jump 8×2 (alternate every week)
◾KB Swing 3×12
◾Hip Trust 3×8 (only concentric)

Friday.
◾superset x 3: vertical push x8 + vertical pull x8
◾superset x 3: horizontal push x8 + horizontal pull x8
◾Core: pick 3/4 core exercises and perform them in circuit for 12 minutes

➡ No Plyometric is performed: I know during soccer practice that type of training is overused.

Now this is something you guys can directly apply to your in-season needs if you’re a soccer players yourself.

How to Increase Speed On The Field

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Med Ball Superset to Increase Speed On The Field.

I love small excercises like these that have such a big impact. In these videos I am performing a couple of reps of Med Ball excercises that can improve your Speed and Movement on the pitch drastically.

It is important you pay very close attention to how I am performing these techniques. For the lateral throw it’s important to try and ‘make it look good’. It has to be a fluid movement. If you are training together with a buddy he could also ‘pass’ you the ball.

When performing the Vertical Throw it’s all about extension. So when finishing the movement extend (exteeeeeend) your full body. If you’ve never done these before just watch the video a few times and really try and focus on every movement I’m making. One more time:

1st video ◾ Lateral Throw: to build fluid hip and learn hot relax/contract quickly the muscles ➡ super effective on improving cutting and chage of direction.

2nd video ◾Vertical Throw: to build a great triple extension without spending days and weeks learning the olympic lifts.

So how to implement this in your schedule? Here’s how:

➡superset those movements once a week for a total volume of 80 to 100 reps

The videos can be watched on Instagram right here:

Are you ready to take your training to the next level?

Get my FREE Program and E-Book and benefit from what I’ve learned in years of training top-level athletes:

✓ Learn the number one mistake athletes and coaches are making

✓ Train the right way to feel Strong, Fast, and Energized

✓ Make sure you are Field Strong on Game Day

How To Overcome Strength Plateaus

Rugby Strength and Conditioning Coaching

▶ OVERCOME STRENGTH PLATEAU.

Many field athletes train with simple programs for beginners like 5×5: they train big lifts like the back squat twice per week with the same protocol for a long period of time.

Usually they are really happy for the results but at some point they reach a plateau: they are not able to add more weight on the barbell.

⬇So here’s how to fix that fast⬇

this is your beginner linear program:
◾ Day 1: 5×5 back squat
◾ Day 2: 5×5 back squat
Every week add weight on the barbell untill you get stuck with your progress.

➡this is what you need to do when that happen:
◾ Day 1: build up to a new 5RM
◾ Day 2: 5×5 with 90% of your 5RM

If you want to learn how to use this type of program make sure you check out the short video I did on Instagram:

Are you ready to take your training to the next level?

Get my FREE Program and E-Book and benefit from what I’ve learned in years of training top-level athletes:

✓ Learn the number one mistake athletes and coaches are making

✓ Train the right way to feel Strong, Fast, and Energized

✓ Make sure you are Field Strong on Game Day