Keys to Athletic Performance: A Look at Cade Carney’s Program

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Keys to Athletic Performance: A Look at Cade Carney’s Program

Last Saturday one of my original Mash Elite Athletes, Cade Carney, rushed for 108 yards and scored 3 touchdowns for Wake Forest University as they went on to beat Duke University. I have coached him since he was in 7th Grade, and everyone that was involved with his training knew that he was destined for greatness. However, it’s a lot difference knowing it, and actually watching it happen.

Yesterday I received a message from one of my friends. They were listening to one of my episodes with the Barbell Shrugged Podcast, and I was talking about Cade. I said that he would crush it at the collegiate level. At this point Cade was only a freshman in high school. Now he’s a freshman in college killing it.

So why did I believe that he was going to be so good, and what did we do to help him along the way? Those are the questions that I am going to answer for all of you. Hopefully these answers will help all of you strength and conditioning coaches out there with your own programs. Here were the keys:

1. Genetics and great parenting- that’s right I had nothing to do with this part, and this part is crucial. I can make any athlete better, and by better I mean faster, stronger, and more athletic. However, I am not Jesus. I cannot turn water to wine. I can’t even turn water to ginger ale.

Cade’s parents sent him to me athletic right out of the gate. Cade could dunk a basketball in 7th grade just to give you an example. Both of his parents were super athletic with his dad being a starter for East Carolina’s football program. Yes he was born a stud.

It was the way his parents raised him that really gave him the edge however. They supported him, but didn’t push him. They encouraged him instead of forced him. They taught him solid work habits. He comes from a successful family, but they didn’t baby him. Cade was working for his dad for as long as I can remember. He would ride his tractor across the street to my gym for workouts.

Most importantly they raised him in a home that loves Christ. It was Cade’s love for Christ that radiated from his very pores. I believe that it is Cade’s desire to glorify God that drives him to succeed. All of these things added up to make one heck of an athlete.

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2. We got him strong- we don’t mess around with a lot of gimmicks. We taught him the basics early on, and then we focused on cleans, squats, presses, and pulls. However we taught him to do them properly, which is where the magic happens. Everyone wants to do anything other than work hard to get faster and more athletic.

Here’s the thing. If you get stronger, keep your relative strength increasing, and stay mobile, you will get faster and jump higher. That’s the bottom line. You can run on fancy treadmills, play with cones, and dance on ladders all you want, but nothing replaces power. Cade can clean 375lb, back squats 500lb, bench presses 405lb, has a 40” vertical leap, and runs a 4.4 sec 40-yd dash. That’s a deadly combination, and it showed this past Saturday.

3. Sprints- we focused on mechanics, and we practiced. We practiced starts for acceleration. We did build ups to practice top end speed. We used Joe DeFranco’s contrast method with heavy sled drags contrasted with 10-20 yd sprints.

We also used a specialist William Bradley to dial in those mechanics to get those last few 10ths of a second. I will continue to use William because I think that without a doubt he is the best in the business.

4. Relative Strength- controlling one’s own body comes down to nutrition and practice. I never suggest that an athlete gain useless body weight. We focus on gaining muscle during hypertrophy phases. It is an important part of the strength coach’s job to teach athletes the basics of nutrition.

We emphasized movements like pull-ups, dips, and pistol squats throughout Cade’s high school career. The pull-up is a massive indicator of speed increases. If an athlete’s pull-ups are increasing, normally their 40’s are getting faster. It simply means that their relative strength is increasing, so now they can control their own bodies more efficiently.

5. Mobility- We focused on movements that would prepare the joints for the daily activities during the beginning of Cade’s workouts. We always ended with static stretches. Cade was the athlete that never skipped stretching, and he took it very seriously. He was a master of the mundane movements that not so talented athletes like to skip.

6. Attacked weaknesses and built his armor- we used movement that were going to emphasize muscular balance, stabilize his core, and strengthened the joints that were going to be under stress during a long football season. We used several variations of carries, sled pulls, sled pushes, and several bodyweight movements to ensure that this area was covered.

Here’s a look at some of his programming:

Strength Work:

Day 1 Week 5
Back Squat with Belt ss 30″ Box Depth Jumps & Touch for Height 3 x 5 3RM (1st rep paused 5 sec), then -10% for 2×3 not paused
Clean Paused at knee EMOMs Start at 70% 8 sets x 1 rep working up heavy but no misses
Bench Press Paused 3 sec 3RM (1st rep paused 5 sec), then -10% for 2×3 not paused
Upper Muscular Imbalance Work 1
1a. Weighted Push-Ups 5 reps x 4 sets
1b. Bentover Rows 5 reps x 4 sets

Conditioning
200M Lunges BW Only

Day 2
Front Squat with Belt 1RM(1st rep paused 3 sec), then -20% for 2×3 not paused
P. Clean from Blocks 1RM, then -20% for 2×3
Push Presses 3RM, then -10% for 2x 3
Snatch Pulls 95% for 3×3 with a 6 sec eccentric
Core Muscular Imbalance 1
1a. Fat Grip DB OH Carries For Timed Events when you can carry 45 seconds ea x 3 sets move up in weight

Day 3
Heaving Snatch Balance 1RM with 5 sec pause, then -20% for 3 reps not paused
Clean Complex 2 Clean Pull, 1 Clean, and 2 Front Squats 1RM, then -10% for 1
Bench Press Pause all Reps add chains Start at 50% 8 sets x 3 rep working up heavy but no misses
Deadlift Max Effort 5RM from Blocks with weights 4″ from floor
Upper Muscular Imbalance 2
1a. Chest to Bar Pullups Submaximal reps x 3 sets
1b. DB Z Press 8 reps x 3 sets
1c. KB Swnging Rows 8-12 reps x 3 sets

Day 4
Warm Up with OH Squat Variations Work up to 70% for 3 reps with 1st rep paused 5 sec
Front Squat with Belt 3RM, then -10% for 2×3
Snatch Max Effort P. Snatch from Blocks 3RM, then -10% for 3
Strict Presses 3RM, then -10% for 2×3

Day 5
Back Squat without Belt ss Jumping Knee Tucks 3×5 1RM paused 1 sec, then -20% for 2×3 not paused
Closegrip Bench 5RM, then -10% for 2×5 (last set 5+)
Unilateral RDLs 4 x 5 ea leg
Core Muscular Imbalance 2
1b. Farmer’s Carry For Timed Events when you can carry 45 seconds x 3 sets move up in weight

Speed Work:

Week 3
Day 1
Get ups 5 each
Runner Holds/6 each
Abduction/Adduction/6 each
Standing Oblique/6 each
Quadruped Thoracic Extension+Rotation x 10 ea side
Quadruped Thoracic Extension+Rotation w Internal Rotation x 10 ea side
Hip Flexor Stretch
Fire Hydrant/10 each
4 Position March/2
A-Skip/2
A-Skip to sprint 10 yards/2
B-Skip/2
B-Skip to Sprint 10 Yards/2
Half Kneeling 10 yard sprints x 4

Day 2
Mountain Climbers/30 sec x3
Neck Series
Lying Leg cirlces
Cobra Pose
Frog Pose
Scorpion/10 each leg
Hip Flexor
Cradles/10 yards
Frankentines/10 yards
4 Position March/2
A-Skips/2
B-Skips/2
Work on Starts
Partners Starts to 10 Yard Sprint/4 rest 45sec
On Knee Med Ball Chest Passes/5 x 3 sets

Day 3
Get ups 5 each
Runner Holds/6 each
Abduction/Adduction/6 each
Standing Oblique/6 each
Streamline
Quadruped Thoracic Extension+Rotation x 10 ea side
Quadruped Thoracic Extension+Rotation w Internal Rotation x 10 ea side
Cat Camel/ 10
Hip Flexor Stretch
Fire Hydrant/10 each
4 Position March/2
A-Skip/2
A-Skip to sprint 10yx2
B-Skip/2
B-Skip to Sprint 10yx2
Build up Sprints 40yardsx4 rest 30 seconds

6 sets (Focus on step count)
Heavy Sled Drags (4 seconds for 10 yards) rest 30 seconds then
20 yard sprint
Rest 3-4 minutes

Day 4
Jump Rope 2 Minutes
Get ups 5 each
Runner Holds/6 each
Abduction/Adduction/6 each
Standing Oblique/6 each
Streamline
Quadruped Thoracic Extension+Rotation x 10 ea side
Quadruped Thoracic Extension+Rotation w Internal Rotation x 10 ea side
Squat & Reach 5 ea side
OH Lunge/10 each
Cat Camel/ 10
Hip Flexor Stretch
Fire Hydrant/10 each
4 Position March/2
A-Skip/2
A-Skip to sprint 10yx2
B-Skip/2
B-Skip to Sprint 10yx2
Jump Back and Sprint 10yx4

These are sample weeks, so that you guys can get an idea of what his training looked like. I feel confident that we sent him to Wake Forest University prepared. I received the biggest compliment that a private coach can receive when his current strength and conditioning coach Coach Hourigan visited the Mash Compound to see what we were doing. That should be your goal if you are coaching people in high school and preparing them for college.

Hopefully this article will give you guys some good ideas for coaching athletes. Remember they have to come with some good genetics and parenting for them to really crush it. The parents should always receive 99% of the credit. However I feel very blessed to have added my 1% to this amazing athlete’s career.

My wife and I love the Carney’s entire family, and we appreciate them trusting us with all of their children Ivey, Salem, Cade, and soon Tate. Cade trusted us, committed to the plan, and now he’s reaping the rewards of his labor.

Guys and gals, if you want a tool that will help you along your fitness path, I would be honored if you checked out the brand new “No Weaknesses” E-Book. For more information, click on the link below:

The Mash Elite “No Weaknesses” E-Book

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