Category Archives for "Athletic Performance"

The Realities of Strength Coaching with Liane Blyn – The Barbell Life 303

We’ve talked with Liane Blyn before – but last time we focused mainly on her record-breaking accomplishments as a powerlifter.

But on this podcast we talked with Liane about the other side of her strength world: she has been a successful strength and conditioning coach for over 20 years.

So we talk to her today about training and her approach to working with athletes – but we also go deep into the tough realities of the strength coaching industry. This is one that all potential coaches should listen to.

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

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LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Why the 1.5 mile test is actually important
  • Which is better – dealing with coaches or dealing with parents?
  • The effects of money on how a strength coach operates
  • Truth about the 2.5 x bodyweight squat?
  • The right way to train kids and the problems with the way things are now
  • and more…

Getting Stronger with Little to No Equipment

It looks like we are going to be here for a while. By here I mean trapped in our homes.

A few days ago I published a program that would get you moving with little to no equipment. However, what if you want to get stronger? (Or at least keep your gains?) What if you want to prepare for your upcoming football season? The key is to focus on what you do have and forget about what you don’t have.

Here’s a simple strength program I designed that’s perfect for any athlete whether football player, weightlifter, powerlifter, or whatever.

Later, I share some other program resources – but let’s look at this first.

Three Day Rotation:

Day 1

1a. Unilateral Squat (pistol squat advanced, RLE split squats, or split squats): 5RM each leg, then -10% for 2 x 5 each leg
1b. Ice Skater Plyos (use KB if advanced): 3 x 6 each side (focus on distance and change of direction)

2a. Unilateral RDLs (off leg freely in extension or against the wall): 3 x 8 each leg (working to 9 RPE)
2b. Walking Lunges: 3 x 8 each leg (working to 9 RPE)

3a. Waterbury Crucifix: 3 x 8 each leg (working to 9 RPE)
3b. Carpet Slider Leg Curls: 3 x 10
3c. Backpack Zercher Squats: 3 x 10

Day 2

1a. Feet Elevated Push-ups (handstand push-ups if possible): 10RM (use weighted backpack for load), then -10% for 2 x 10
1b. Backpack Bentover Rows: 3 x 10 each arm (5 sec eccentric, explosive concentric, and 2 sec pause at full contraction)

2a. Pull-ups: 3 x submaximal
2b. Soup Can Cheerleaders: 3 x 10

3a. Dips: 3 x submaximal
3b. Rock Front Raises: 3 x 10
3c. Backpack Biceps Curl: 3 x 10

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

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Day 3 Social Distancing Contrast Training

Lower:

1a. Unilateral Squat (pistol squat advanced, RLE split squats, or split squats): take your 5RM and perform same load for 6 x 1 rep
1b. Prisoner Squat Jumps (add knee to chest if too easy): 6 x 3
1c. Weighted Back Pack Squat Jumps: 6 x 3
1d. Assisted Jumps: 6 x 3
3 minutes rest between sets

Upper:

1a. Feet Elevated Push-ups (handstand push-ups if possible): 6 x 3 reps of your 10RM from day two
1b. Explosive Plyo Push-ups: 6 x 3
1c. Half-Kneeling Weighted Rotational Punches (use backpack): 6 x 3 each arm

2. Unilateral Suitcase Carries or Holds: 4 x 30 sec each arm

Explanation and Options

Here are my suggestions. If you want to perform a three, four, five, or six day per week program, this simple program will work. You can simply rotate through the days, and then repeat. If you want, you can make some changes that will turn the plan into a undulated periodization plan. I will explain all of it as I go through each day. I will also give you ideas how to progress and regress each movement. Let’s take a look at day one.

Day 1 Breakdown

day one: superset one
1a. Unilateral Squat (pistol squat advanced, RLE split squats, or split squats): 5RM each leg, then -10% for 2 x 5 each leg
1b. Ice Skater Plyos (use KB if advanced): 3 x 6 each side (focus on distance and change of direction)

Unilateral squats are perfect for any level athlete. You simply pick the version that fits your ability. If you are a straight baller, go with pistol squats. Intermediate athletes can use rear leg elevated split squat, and then just about anyone can perform split squats. If split squats are too challenging for whatever reason, you can always revert back to bilateral squats.

To load the unilateral squats, you can use the following:

  • Gallon jugs: filled with water or sand (obviously pour out the water or sand to lower the load)
  • Backpack: filled with rocks or just about anything you can think of for a load. (Shout out to my cohost of Barbell Shrugged, Doug Larson, for this idea. Rocks are awesome for easy load variance)
  • Old pillow case: filled with rock, sand (make sure it’s secure to avoid a mess), etc
  • With pistol squats, you might find you don’t need a load, or you might choose to use tempo rather than an external load. Example: 5RM at 5-7 second eccentric, followed by down sets with a faster eccentric

This is a good time to use contrast training – whether you are a weightlifter, powerlifter, CrossFitter, or field athlete – to add in some plyometrics for speed and power development. It’s also a great time to move in planes you aren’t used to. Most weightlifters and powerlifters stay in the sagittal plane with flexion and extension. It’s a good time to give those movements a bit of a break while working in the frontal plane with some abduction and adduction along with some rotational movements. This will keep your body symmetrical, moving functionally, and feeling better for when this coronavirus is contained.

For all of these reasons, I paired ice skaters with the unilateral squat. Therefore, the unilateral squat is paired with a lateral unilateral plyometric. The key to the ice skaters is maximal distance along with a fast change of direction. The goal is to improve the athlete’s ability to absorb force, change direction, and produce force in the opposite direction. This movement is great for field athletes. To increase the load, you can use a kettlebell if you have one, or you can hold a book or rock. I teach my athletes to form a figure 8 pattern with the load, so the movement is more rhythmic in nature.

Before I get into explaining the rest of day one – I want to let you know about something special we’ve done. If the free program in this article fits your needs, then great – I’m glad I could help.

But I talk to many athletes who have worked very hard for their strength, and they don’t want to lose a single pound or kilo off their lifts. So I’ve worked hard to get creative… and I’ve come up with some next-level programs that can be done with little equipment or even no equipment.

These new programs – part of our Bronze Level membership – take the strategy and thought of this free program and ramp it up even further. This is the type of program I would recommend for my athletes if they didn’t have access to equipment.

Check them out:

MAXIMIZE YOUR STRENGTH...

EVEN WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

These new programs from Coach Travis Mash are designed to strategically and creatively make the best use of limited equipment (or even no equipment). These programs aren't just generic bodyweight exercises - these are programs specifically geared toward the strength needs of weightlifters, powerlifters, or field athletes.

day one: superset two
2a. Unilateral RDLs (off leg freely in extension or against the wall): 3 x 8 each leg (working to 9 RPE)
2b. Walking Lunges: 3 x 8 each leg (working to 9 RPE)

Unilateral RDLs are a great movement whether you are quarantined or not. I recommend starting this movement with the off leg either pressed against the wall or resting on a stool. The key is to perform the movement with a proper hinge, while keeping the spine as neutral (in extension) as possible. You can use the gallon jug or backpack ideas for loading this movement. This movement is paired with Cory Gregory’s favorite, walking lunges.

(From here on out in this program, you can assume external loads can be used in the form of a loaded backpack, gallon jug, canned goods, loaded pillowcase, book, stool, or get creative.)

day one: superset three
3a. Waterbury Crucifix: 3 x 8 each leg (working to 9 RPE)
3b. Carpet Slider Leg Curls: 3 x 10
3c. Backpack Zercher Squats: 3 x 10

My favorite posterior chain exercise is the Waterbury crucifix. To perform this movement, abduct your arms to where they form a 90-degree angle with the torso. With palms facing forward (supinated) and scapula completely retracted, take a slightly wider than shoulder width stance and knees slightly bent, and then perform a hinge much like a goodmorning. The goal is to keep the 90-degree angle with the arms and torso while maintaining a neutral spine. Your hands are going to want to drift toward the hips for a biomechanical advantage, so make sure to fight that urge. Your hamstrings along with your entire posterior chain are going to be in pain (in a good way) the next few days. It doesn’t take much more than a can of soup in each hand to load this exercise properly.

I talked about the carpet slider leg curls in my previous at home workout article. You can use furniture movers for carpet or wash rags for a smooth surface. While laying supine on the ground (on your back), place your heels on the furniture mover or rag, and then perform a complete leg curl while keeping your hips in extension the entire movement. The final movement in this giant set is a good ol’ fashioned Zercher squat. For any of you who don’t know, the Zercher squat is performed with the load held in the crook of your elbow.

Day 2 Breakdown

day two: superset one
1a. Feet Elevated Push-ups (handstand push-ups if possible): 10RM (use weighted backpack for load), then -10% for 2 x 10
1b. Backpack Bentover Rows: 3 x 10 each arm (5 sec eccentric, explosive concentric, and 2 sec pause at full contraction)

The push-up is one of the most underutilized exercises on earth. There are so many versions, and with any slight variation you have a new exercise. If you want to load this movement, you can simply elevate the legs until they’re at the handstand push-up range. Closegrip push-ups will engage the triceps more simply due to the increased range of motion, whereas wider push-ups will engage pectoralis muscles more due to performing the exercise in a more lengthened position. If you aren’t able to perform handstand push-ups, you can still work the pressing muscles by walking your feet closer to your hands while allowing your hips to go higher in the air. Now you will have a more vertical pressing motion without the extreme load of the handstand push-ups.

I love Doug’s idea of using a backpack for rows along with a plethora of other movements. You can perform backpack bentover rows bilaterally or unilaterally, and you can take advantage of multiple torso angles to attack the back from multiple positions. Tempo is a great way to add difficulty. I especially like pauses at full muscular contraction to counter the scapula winging that is present in most athletes from sitting on a computer too long everyday.

day two: superset two
2a. Pull-ups: 3 x submaximal
2b. Soup Can Cheerleaders: 3 x 10

Pull-ups are a necessity for athletic development in my book. There is normally somewhere around the house to perform pull-ups – like the eave of a home, a tree limb, or door paneling (my 5-year-old’s favorite). If you are a boss and can perform multiple sets of strict pull-ups for 10 or more repetitions, then I recommend either adding a tempo or potentially an external load.

Soup can cheerleaders sound like a soft exercise, but I promise the burn will bring the toughest of men to their knees. I will explain it, but I am also going to film this movement. With a can of soup in each hand:

  1. Perform a front raise (shoulder flexion) stopping with the arms create a 90-degree angle with the torso.
  2. Perform a rowing motion retracting the scapula and stopping when the lower arm forms a 90-degree angle with the upper arm with the humerus maintaining a 90-degree angle with the torso now to the side.
  3. Externally rotate the humerus while maintaining the 90-degree angle with the humerus and torso.
  4. Extend your arms overhead like a strict press.
  5. Reverse this entire process one section at a time.

This movement is great for shoulder development and stabilization. In this exercise you are using the deltoids, supporting rotator cuff muscles, and even some rhomboids. This one is great for maintaining healthy shoulders.

day two: superset three
3a. Dips: 3 x submaximal
3b. Rock Front Raises: 3 x 10
3c. Backpack Biceps Curl: 3 x 10

In this last giant set, I am having you get jacked. If you are going to be quarantined, you might as well come out of it looking like you’ve been in prison (jacked) versus looking like you were locked up in your kitchen (soft). Dips are one of my favorite accessory exercises if you have dip bars. One simple way is to get two barbells side by side on safety racks in a power rack. Of course if you are performing this workout, you probably don’t have two barbells. You can always substitute in bench dips or chair dips. However, with some wood and a bit of craftsmanship, you could probably make some dip bar.

The other movements require way less mental effort. I recommend a rock or a book for front raises. I have all of my athletes perform complete shoulder flexion to encourage proper movement in the shoulder joint. Lastly, if we are going to be locked down, we might as well do some curls, y’all. Will big biceps make you a better athlete? Probably not, but they look cool!

MAXIMIZE YOUR STRENGTH...

EVEN WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

These new programs from Coach Travis Mash are designed to strategically and creatively make the best use of limited equipment (or even no equipment). These programs aren't just generic bodyweight exercises - these are programs specifically geared toward the strength needs of weightlifters, powerlifters, or field athletes.

Day 3 Social Distancing Contrast Training Breakdown

day three: Lower
1a. Unilateral Squat (pistol squat advanced, RLE split squats, or split squats): take your 5RM and perform same load for 6 x 1 rep
1b. Prisoner Squat Jumps (add knee to chest if too easy): 6 x 3
1c. Weighted Back Pack Squat Jumps: 6 x 3
1d. Assisted Jumps: 6 x 3
3 minutes rest between sets

This day is designed to get you explosive and athletic. I took this right out of the French contrast blueprint. This day is designed to maximize power development not to be metabolic conditioning. By this, I mean I want 100% effort on each repetition along with complete recovery between sets (3-4 minutes).

Normally I perform a loaded movement first – like back squat, front squat, or trap bar deadlifts at around 75-80% load. Unilateral squats are by nature harder, so I am keeping the same load as on day one, which is normally 80%-ish for most people. However on this day, only one repetition is performed simply for potentiation’s sake. If the load is too exhausting, feel free to lower. The weight is meant to excite the nervous system and not to exhaust.

The unilateral squat is contrasted with prisoner squat jumps (bringing knees to chest while in the air for advanced). However, there are multiple plyometrics one could perform like:

  • Prisoner Squats
  • Russian Hops
  • Prisoner Squats w Knee to Chest
  • Ice Skaters
  • Broad Jumps
  • Unilateral Broad Jump

The unweighted jump is followed up with a loaded jump. Once again, you could perform a loaded jump with all the plyometric variations. I recommend keeping the same movements for 2-3 weeks, and then change them out to avoid accommodation. Assisted jumps are the favorite of my athletes. If you have a high enough half-rack, you can attach green jump stretch bands to the top to accentuate the assisted jumps. If you don’t have bands, then hook a belt to a door to unload the jump just a bit. The key is to increase the speed and height of the jump preparing the nervous system for increased potentials.

day three: Upper
1a. Feet Elevated Push-ups (handstand push-ups if possible): 6 x 3 reps of your 10RM from day two
1b. Explosive Plyo Push-ups: 6 x 3
1c. Half-Kneeling Weighted Rotational Punches (use backpack): 6 x 3 each arm

2. Unilateral Suitcase Carries or Holds: 4 x 30 sec each arm

For the upper body power development day, we are sticking with the same load as performed on day two, but we are only performing three repetitions. I want you to keep the same angle as day two as well. This movement is first contrasted with explosive plyometric push-ups. I want all-out maximal power and height with each repetition. This giant set is completed with a half kneeling rotational punch. I love this movement for encouraging proper movement in the hips while stabilizing the hips at the same time. Rotation is the most important plane of movement on earth when it comes to power development (just think about a punch, golf swing, or the swing of a baseball bat).

We are here for you during this Coronavirus crisis.

Let us help with customized programming and coaching when you have limited access to gym equipment.

If you are financially able to join our online team for customized programming at this time, we would appreciate your support.

If you are financially struggling during this time, we still want to help. Email us and we will try to help out in any way we can.

* Fully Customized Programming

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By the way, there are plenty of upper body plyometrics to substitute in such as:

  • Crossover Books Push-Ups
  • Depth Push-Ups
  • Clap Push-Ups
  • Med Ball Punches or throws
Warm Up

Don’t forget a proper warm up should be performed each day before the main workout. I suggest doing some dynamic warm ups and movement preparation each and every day during this lockdown. Here is a suggestion for a simple but effective warm up:

  • Mountain Climbers: 60 seconds
  • Lunge in place: 10 per leg
  • Bodyweight Squats: 10 reps
  • Hamstring Sweeps: 10 per leg
  • Side Planks: 20-30 seconds per side
  • McGill Curl-ups: 4 reps of 15 second holds
  • Bird Dogs: 30-60 seconds per side
  • Foam Roll the entire Body
  • Bodyweight Unilateral RDLs with hip external rotation: 8 per side
  • Sled or Pillowcase forward drags: 30-60 seconds
  • Sled or Pillowcase backward drags: 30-60 seconds
Conditioning

As for conditioning, here are some ideas:

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Jump Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Scap Jacks
  • BW Lunges
  • Backpack Swings
  • Backpack Stair Climbing: for time
  • My favorite: strength movement, paired with conditioning movement, and paired with a mobility movement

Mash Meathead Metabolics (example):
1. Backpack Zercher Squats for 10-repetitions
2. Burpees for 10-repetitions
3. Grasshopper Dynamic Leg Stretch
10-15 minute AMRAP

Making the Best of It

I hope this helps. I know some of us are sweating it pretty badly because we love the gym. This plan should at least keep us from losing our gains, but some of you will actually improve quite a bit with this plan. Let’s take care of our bodies, get some rest, and be ready for when this thing is over. If you have any questions, email me at info@mashelite.com

I am praying for all of you. I know we are going through some tough times, but we will get through this. The question is:

Will we use this time to improve ourselves, or will we sit in front of Netflix and pout? Some of us will come out the other end better than ever. Who will you be?

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

JUST LAUNCHED: ACT NOW TO SAVE OVER 40%

Your Questions Answered – The Barbell Life 302

It’s time again for another one of my favorite podcasts.

I love answering questions that listeners have written in. That way I know that we’re helping people and not just talking into a mic with no one benefitting.

We had some great topics to talk about today – on everything from mobility to career advice to programming to bodybuilding to building confidence under heavy weight… and so much more.

STRENGTH UNIVERSITY VIDEO CURRICULUM

THE PERFECT WAY TO GROW IN KNOWLEDGE DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING

It's finally here... Learn about technique, programming, assessment, and coaching from a master. For strength coaches and for athletes, these 53 videos (7 hours and 56 minutes of footage) will prepare you to understand the main lifts for maximum performance and safety. Get ready to learn...

JUST LAUNCHED: ACT NOW TO SAVE OVER 40%

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Mobility and stability – how and when to go about and find what’s right for you
  • Advice to young strength coaches
  • When lower volume builds more muscle than higher volume (scientific study)
  • Hard gainers… and the real differences between barbell and dumbbell bench
  • How to train children (particularly getting your own kids off on the right foot)
  • and more…

Monitoring and Improving Athlete Progress with Dr. Keith Leiting – The Barbell Life 300

Every athlete is different. Every day is a different day of training.

Adapting a program to an athlete is crucial. And the best coaches have to be able to push an athlete when the time is right or hold them back if their body just isn’t up to that day’s planned training.

Well on today’s podcast, we have the man who’s going to help you do that. Dr. Keith Leiting is here to talk aboout the ins and outs of monitoring athletes.

We go over everything from the low-tech finger tap test to the high-tech Omegawave devices, HRV, GPS, and more.

LEARN HOW TO FIT A PROGRAM TO THE ATHLETE

Principles and Real-Life Case Studies on How a Master Programmer Customizes a Program to the Individual

Peek inside Travis's brain... and learn how to individualize your own programs to fit an athlete's strengths, weaknesses, age, gender, sport demands, and unique response to training.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • When HRV is useful and when it’s not
  • Being a trainer in China at a private tennis facility
  • Low tech methods like the finger tap test or the grip strength test
  • Ways to deal with the problems around athlete nutrition
  • How to incorporate GPS
  • and more…

Lessons from a Career as a Female Strength Coach with Jena Ready – The Barbell Life 299

How many female strength coaches you know?

Well prepare to meet one more today – Jena Ready, the head strength and conditioning coach for Wake Forest University’s Women’s Basketball program.

She started off coaching Division II sports (which is where she recommends EVERYONE start), so she coached tons of athletes in all sorts of sports. And now at WFU, she’s been able to give all her concentration to one sport and one group of athletes.

We talk about all that she’s learned along the way on this podcast – and we also open a can of worms as we talk about the sexism in the industry.

COACH MASH'S GUIDE TO HYBRID TRAINING

The Art of Combining:

Weightlifting - Powerlifting - Bodybuilding

Strongman - Functional Fitness - Endurance Cardio

Learn the art and science of how to train multiple disciplines simultaneously. Get stronger, faster, bigger...
and DO WHAT YOU WANT.

LISTEN IN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AS WE TALK ABOUT:

  • Why do strength coaches want to pretend like they’re physical therapists?
  • The brilliant idea of using snatch complexes to warm up athletes
  • How to REALLY get mobility
  • The differences between male and female athletes
  • Is the “2.5 bodyweight squat rule” really true?
  • and more…

New Horizons in Athlete Testing

It’s safe to say that I am coaching some of the strongest young people in America in the areas of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, throwing, football, and wrestling.

We have:

  • two youth weightlifters who have medaled at the Youth World Championships.
  • multiple American records
  • multiple Pan American Records
  • a powerlifter who has unofficially benched 20 pounds over the IPF teenage world record
  • the fourth best thrower in the country
  • multiple football players with D1 offers
  • and one of the best middle school wrestlers in the entire state.

Here’s the kicker. We are in Lewisville, NC. I bet a bunch of you just said, “Where is that?” …Exactly!

My point is that we are good at getting people strong and powerful. Some coaches would probably get satisfied, finalize their approach, and assume their program was unbeatable. The reason my athletes are so good from year to year is because I would never think like that – no matter how many amazing athletes come through my program. My job is to remain on top so my athletes can realize each of their dreams. That’s why they come to me, and that’s what I intend on delivering.

THE NEWEST EVOLUTION OF MASH PROGRAMMING

The latest and greatest methods from Travis Mash as he continues to innovate Mash Mafia programming.

Weightlifting - Powerlifting - Super Total

Garage Gym Warrior - Functional Fitness - Strength and Conditioning

AND NOW…

So what’s the next step? My goal is to build the best athlete testing protocols in the world during my tenure at Lenoir-Rhyne University. To do so, one must look at all the options out there and decide which ones are the best. This article is going to show you a few of the ways we intend on testing and tracking our athletes, and I will explain the use of each. I want to be up front and tell all of you that this is in the beginning stages and subject to change. However I will keep you updated on the changes.

Over the next few years, I intend on keeping all of you updated on our findings, and therefore potentially advancing the field as we know it.

The Problem

See, most training programs are designed around the training theory of supercompensation discovered by Nikolai N. Yakovlev in 1959 and the fundamentals of periodization published by Lev Matveyev in 1964. The problem is that our athletes aren’t privileged to the same environment as the Russian athletes of their time. Those athletes had a relatively stress free environment and were taking drugs. Our athletes live in a drug-free world filled with social media and the modern day stressors of 2020. We have to take those stressors into consideration.

In a perfect world, training works just like this:

Selye’s General Adaptation Cycle:

The body starts at baseline with a relatively steady state of equilibrium. Then we introduce a training stimulus to the body, causing fatigue and throwing our body out of equilibrium. Our body responds with the CNS sending a distress signal to the PNS (effectors). The PNS uses the Somatic Nervous System (skeletal muscle) and the Autonomic Nervous System (smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands, and adipose tissue) to address the disturbance. If the training volume doesn’t surpass the body’s ability to recover, the athlete will get their body back to baseline and then some (supercompensation). The problem is all of the outside disturbances and stress that compound the fatigue, making it hard to get back to baseline – let alone supercompensation.

OMEGAWAVE

Omegawave seeks to help coaches better get a handle on all the stressors an athlete is facing inside and outside of training. Omegawave combines heart rate variability along with brain wave activity to monitor the following aspects of readiness:

  • Muscular System
  • Hormonal or Endocrine System
  • Cardio-Pulmonary System
  • Central Nervous System
  • Energy Supply

Omegawave monitors the body in the following three ways:

  1. Heart rate variability (HRV) is used to assess the state of an athlete’s cardiac and autonomic nervous system.
  2. The differential ECG method is used to assess the state of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems as well as heart rate at anaerobic threshold.
  3. The Omega method measures the brain’s direct current to assess the state of the central nervous system.

Let’s take a closer look at each. I am only going to give an overview, but I am planning follow up articles for all of the measurement systems I am introducing in this article.

HRV

HRV is becoming a pretty common way for strength and conditioning coaches to monitor the readiness of athletes. It’s a great way of measuring an athlete’s functional state, predicting overreaching/overtraining, and managing the training process. Put simply, you can measure athletes day to day to ensure that you are not causing too much fatigue and stress.

HRV can also be used to measure the current state of an athlete’s cardiac system with stress index, fatigue, and the body’s ability to adapt. HRV also shows the current state of an athlete’s autonomic nervous system. This is automatic response of the PNS to stress being received by the CNS. The body uses smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands, and sometimes adipose tissue to reach a state of homeostasis. If the body is too beat up, continuing to train will only put it further in the tank.

Differential ECG method

The differential ECG method is used to assess the state of the aerobic and anaerobic systems as well as heart rate at anaerobic threshold. Basically this tells us if the body has the energy stores to carry out a workout with various energy systems. You can be strong but still be tanked in this area. When we see differences in the ECG patterns, we know there are disturbances with the energy and metabolism of the heart.

Since cardiac and skeletal muscle share similar structures and biochemical reactions, training adaptations related to programming and periodization create similar changes in each. This correlation allows Omegawave to analyze specific characteristics of the QRS complex, a combination of three of the graphical deflections seen on a typical ECG, to assess the energy supply state of the cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems. This is your fuel gauge just like on a car. If you are running on empty, you better pull over and fill up or risk running out of gas.

Omega Method

Finally, the Omega method measures the direct current potential and is used to assess the state of the central nervous system. An optimal voltage is necessary for useful adaptation as a response to training loads. If your DC is running low, your ability to adapt to a stimulus, to follow directions, or to retain information from a coach is drastically minimized. You coordination will be affected – along with quality of movement, efficiency, and motor learning. It basically measures an athlete’s current state of their regulatory mechanism or their CNS, gas exchange system, detoxification system, and hormonal system parameters.

The Omegawave System gives feedback and suggestions of daily best practices. My main goal is to use these measurements as data in combination with other data sources. Then multiple conclusions will be able to be drawn, allowing coaches to develop better plans for their athletes.

Neurotransmitter testing

Before he passed away, Charles Poliquin hypothesized that neurotransmitters could give coaches hints into best practices for individualized programming. I have written many articles about the different types of athletes. I’ve pointed out before how some athletes flourish with programs that include high loads, high frequency, and low volume – while others tend to kill it with high amounts of volume, moderate loads, and moderate frequency. Unless we test athletes, it could take months or years to perfect their programs. However, if Charles was right, we could start out on the most optimal path.

Charles explained that he believed each athlete has a dominant neurotransmitter: either GABA, acetylcholine, dopamine, or serotonin. He also believed that each neurotransmitter correlated with one of the Chinese elements: earth, water, fire, metal, and wood.

  1. Fire with Dopamine
  2. Wood with Acetylcholine
  3. Metal with GABA
  4. Water with Serotonin
  5. Earth was equivalent to a balanced neurotransmitter profile

Dopamine Fire Types: Charles believed that these athletes had incredible nervous systems, allowing them to easily adapt to training modalities and protocols. He believed they needed high volume and high variety for continued adaptation. He seemed to classify their archetype with their neurotransmitter test. If this is true, it will be interesting to see how my system to classify each athlete’s archetype correlates with Charles’s predictions. In the case of the Dopamine Fire, they have an inspiring nature and vibrant personality. On the other hand, they have a tendency to lose their temper.

Acetylcholine Wood Types: These athletes need a bit more frequency and intensity. However, you will want to lower the volume a bit. They still need change, but slight changes every couple of weeks will work best. You have to watch this group, as they might get hurt going too hard. This athlete is a pioneer. They are going to come up with new concepts along with having extravagant plans and goals. They are quick witted and creative.

Metal GABA Types: These types of athlete appears to model Brett Bartholomew’s Mouth Archetype. They are going to do more talking than training. This type of athlete will lean toward drug use to gain an advantage.

Water Serotonin Types: these athletes are free spirits. They aren’t going to love training at all. They might visit the yoga room a couple of times per month, but that will probably be it. They will cheer on the accomplishments of others but quickly get bored by the training process.

Balanced Earth Types: These athletes fit right into one of my plans. I normally start people with a plan straight out of Prilepin’s chart, and then I vary based on performance and feedback. They need a steady balance of intensity, volume, and frequency. These athletes do not like variation to their programs or changes to the environment. Block training with some form of linear periodization should fit them perfectly.

I am definitely intrigued to dig into these a bit deeper. If it’s valid, this could save coaches like me years of trial and error with programming. That has a bigger impact than you can even imagine. If I can dial in an athlete six months to a year sooner than normal, it could increase an athlete’s chances to make an Olympic team substantially. This test could help avoid overtraining and possibly injury. Lastly, it could help a coach gain athlete buy-in at a much faster rate, which is the battle we all fight every day.

Developing Archetypes

Naturally this fits in after the neurotransmitter section. I am a huge fan of Coach Brett Bartholomew and his book Conscious Coaching. I have now read it twice, and I hosted a clinic with a huge section discussing the book. Athlete buy-in is the 2020 buzzword. We all talk about it, and we talk about its importance. However not many people are actually able to get complete athlete buy-in from every individual they coach. Conscious Coaching is all about identifying and classifying the personalities and nature of athletes. The book gives you the tools needed to extract the necessary information to make the classifications, and it gives you suggestions for hacking the code of each athlete.

I am going to work closely with a sport psychologist to develop psychological evaluations that will help me identify the archetype of each athlete, and that will help me develop best-practice coaching strategies. I also hope to arrange periodic sports psych meetings for each of my athletes – both individually and as a team. This is an aspect of training that can be a huge advantage if an athlete isn’t scared to take advantage of the field. In my experience when you are at the tip of the iceberg, the deciding factor will come down to mental toughness. During this last Olympic quad, I observed that the athletes who seem to be clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the pack (like Kate Nye, for example) are mentally the strongest competitors with enormous amounts of confidence and swagger on the platform.

Velocity Based Training

VBT can be so many things to a coach if they happen to understand the concept. The first key to maximizing the potential of VBT is data collection. You need to form baselines for all of your athletes. You will want average velocities at varying percentages of varying movements. For example, I recommend establishing an average velocity at around 80 or 85%. You need a percentage to be your regulatory percentage. If you are excessively slower on any given day, then that is a trigger to alter the program to something like a technique and recovery day. If your peak velocity is 0.3 m/s faster than normal, you might consider pushing things a bit.

Once I have a velocity profile on all of my athletes, the entire program will be velocity-based in nature. This will give me so many advantages. For example, it will keep things logical. Athletes are emotional. They will snatch a weight faster than lightning, and then they will tell me it felt heavy or off. I will be able to show them quantifiable evidence of what’s really going on. VBT will also keep athletes from going heavy on days where they have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

OPEN UP NEW POSSIBILITIES IN STRENGTH

Mash Elite's Guide to Velocity-Based Training

By measuring bar speed (simple to do with your smartphone), you can guarantee each and every training session is as effective and safe as possible.

I am most interested in comparing the notes of VBT with Omegawave. If Omegawave’s feedback is telling me that an athlete is overtrained, I am curious what the velocity will tell me. I hope of course that everything is synchronized. Combining the two will tell me all the truths. For example, one athlete could have a tanked energy supply but still be able to pull on some heavy snatches. There might not be any glycogen available for a three-hour grind session, but the CP system can deliver some 90% singles during a short-duration but high-load session.

Velocity Based Training combined with Omegawave will help me perfect the exact amount of prescribed volume to elicit just enough stress to fatigue the system without destroying it. I hope I am getting that point across to all of you. If not, let me be super clear:

“It all comes down to perfecting volume, intensity, and frequency prescriptions, so that they fatigue the system eliciting a response from the body to maintain homeostasis, and therefore with the help of the autonomic nervous system adapt to a state stronger than the original baseline.”

The key is data. Omegawave and VBT are great ways to dial in athletes. I am hoping the neurotransmitter testing will help expedite that process even more. Of course, I will track all the markers of my programming – like total volume, average intensity, K-value, and hopefully a lot more that Dr. Koch and Dr. Leiting help me develop. I will share everything with all of you when we finish that process.

Data is important because it holds all the answers. If an athlete wins a gold medal at the World Championships going six for six, you are going to want to look hard at the data markers. You are probably going to keep similar markers for the next plan. However, if things don’t go as planned, you can look at what not to repeat.

We are going to have each of our athletes fill out daily questionnaires so that we can track external stressors (like big tests, struggling in class, break ups, and more). This will help us to know when to trim the volume of our own programs. Remember, stress is stress. If they are getting hit with stress in class, you have to respond.

One other data point I am looking into is genetic testing. I talked to Charles Lehman over the weekend from Health Codes DNA – and there was a lot of promising information. I just need to research them and the entire process a bit more. However, if what they told me is true, I will be able to pinpoint nutrition, recovery, programming, and so much more. I can’t wait to share that one with all of you if it’s as good as I think. The testing is also supposed to tell each athlete what foods to avoid as well.

There are still some testing parameters I am looking into like:

  • Jump Mat
  • Force Plate
  • Muscle Biopsy for Fiber Type (of course I will do this through my friend Dr. Andy Galpin, and I will get the best practices for each fiber type.)
  • Bar Path (I already use this parameter of testing, but I am looking for better software solutions.)
  • Sleep Quality
  • Gut Health

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I know some of you probably think I am crazy, but my goal on this earth is to create a program in the sport of weightlifting that is unmatched anywhere in the world. I want my athletes to have every legal advantage under the sun. I also want to provide the world with research and data that will help to improve the overall state of exercise science. I want to leave it better than I found it. At the end of it all, I want to be able to deliver testing options for a variety of budgets and goals.

I am still in the early phases, so I would love to hear from all of you. If I am leaving out a testing parameter, please comment or email me. I want my time spent on getting my PhD to be useful to our entire industry. I want young coaches to avoid the mistakes I made. I want coaches to be so useful and sought after that they can make comfortable livings helping others and loving what they do.

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