Category Archives for "Weightlifting"

Battling Plateaus

Plateaus – aka periods of little to no progress – are inevitable in the sport of weightlifting.

It’s the nature of any sport that is so neurological in nature. What I mean by neurological is that it’s very technical. An athlete can increase his or her squat by 10kg/22lb and experience zero increase in the snatch and clean and jerk. If an athlete experiences a glitch in positioning, it won’t matter how much force or velocity one applies.

This is the very trait that makes weightlifting like baseball, golf, and tennis. People go into a slump due to multiple possibilities like CNS fatigue, accommodation, asymmetries, dysfunctional motor patterns, muscular weakness, and legitimate mental blocks. Plateaus can happen in powerlifting, strength and conditioning, and CrossFit – but they should be a bit easier to overcome. Regardless, you will be able to use the following principles to help you or your athletes overcome plateaus. One thing we don’t do is follow the old school advice of “stick with what you’re doing and eventually you will come through it.” No way, we fight plateaus like someone drowning and doing anything they can to get that last breath of air. We fight it!

Causes and Contributors

CNS Fatigue is quite a different animal than PNS Fatigue. Peripheral Nervous System fatigue is a necessary part of the training process to encourage adaptation. Athletes want to stress the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bones to stimulate a positive response from the body. However, we want to keep our CNS (Central Nervous System) flowing as close to normal as possible.

Some of the first questions that I ask an athlete who is struggling to improve are:

  1. Is your sleep affected?
  2. Is your appetite affected?
  3. Is your overall mood altered?

CNS Fatigue will disrupt sleep, cause a lack of appetite, and will cause an athlete to be irritable. Why?

CNS Fatigue carries with it a change in the predominant neurotransmitters of the body. When the body is recovered and stress-free, dopamine and serotonin flow freely throughout the CNS. This allows action potentials to flow across the synaptic clefts at the junction of nerves to other nerves, muscles, and tissues. Dopamine is responsible for learning, coordination, feelings of reward and satisfaction, and motivation. Serotonin is responsible for promoting good sleep, appetite regulation, learning, and social behavior. CNS fatigue is caused from too much stress, which keeps the sympathetic nervous system cranking.

CNS Fatigue disrupts an athlete’s ability to coordinate movement, interpret instruction, and eventually affects the ability to recover in general due to lack of sleep and nutrition. It simply spirals more and more out of whack until the athlete takes control of the situation. The good thing about velocity based training is that a coach can identify CNS fatigue by tracking the velocity of different exercises at corresponding percentages. When the velocity of a percentage is more than 10% slower than the normal velocity, CNS is probably the culprit. Here are some steps to take:

  • Stopping any complex movements and immediately moving into some low intensity and higher repetition bodybuilding with a focus on metabolic stress to encourage a positive hormonal response (testosterone, GH, IGF1, etc)
  • A drop in load and overall volume in the following days by 10-20% until sleep and appetite return to normal
  • Meditation, prayer, and other stress relievers
  • Massage
  • Breath work
  • Learning to manage stress with a professional counselor

If it’s not CNS Fatigue, the next logical answer is accommodation. If you are a Louie Simmons fan, then chances are you’ve heard him talk about the Law of Accommodation – “Zatsiorsky stated that the response of a biological object to a given constant stimulus decreases over time.” Now in weightlifting, we can’t make the drastic alterations to our training stimuli due to the neurological complexity of the movements contested. Powerlifting is slower movements with two simple phases, but Olympic weightlifting is multi-directional and relies heavily on the agonist-antagonist relationship – much like swinging a bat in baseball. Put simply, if you want to get better at snatch and clean and jerk, then you better have snatch and clean and jerk in your program. That doesn’t mean there aren’t several aspects that can be manipulated. Let’s look at each of them:

Areas to Manipulate

  • Total Volume and Average Intensity
  • K Value
  • Relative Intensity
  • Optimal Number of Lifts
  • Frequency
  • Exercise Selection
  • Accessory Work
  • Velocity Based Training
  • Tempo (including pauses)

Total Volume and Average Intensity – The average intensity is found by tracking the total volume and the total number of reps in a workout or training cycle depending on what you are figuring for. That’s why we are discussing total volume and average intensity together. Total volume is found by multiplying the number of reps x the load for each set and then adding all the sets together. Example:
Set 1 100kg x 3= 300kg
Set 2 110kg x 2 reps = 220kg
Set 3 120kg x 1 rep = 120kg

Total volume= 300kg+220kg+120kg= 640kg

We track the total volume for all of the competition lifts and the primary accessory lifts (back squat, front squat, clean pulls, snatch pulls, jerks, power jerks, push press, etc). It’s good to track all of these together, and to keep them separate. By keeping them separate, you can track where you focused the majority of your time. We will go over this a bit more when we discuss the optimal number of lifts.

To find the average intensity, you simply divide the total volume by the total number of reps. In the example above, the total volume is 640kg and the total number of reps is 6. Therefore, you would divide 640kg by 6 (640kg/6= 106.67), which equals 106.67 rounded up to 107kg. It’s important to track this number for entire macrocycles, mesocyclyes, and microcycles. Why is data important? Let’s say an athlete is experiencing CNS fatigue, plateauing, and going backwards. We need to be able to compare total volume of macrocycles (bigger phases of a planned out program example offseason, preseason, etc), mesocycles (normally four week blocks with specific adaptations planned), and microcycles (smaller cycles within mesocycles usually one week) with other cycles. Then you can see increases in volume and average intensity, and hopefully pinpoint the breaking point. It’s good to look at your microcycles ahead of time to make sure that the increased stimulus is slow and steady versus a major shock to an athlete’s system. If you’re not tracking data, then you are just guessing.

On the other hand, it’s important to track the total volume and average intensity to put values on success. If an athlete experiences a 10kg improvement in their total, it’s important to realize that this improvement was experienced with 750,000kg of total volume over a 12 week period with an average intensity of 107kg. Then you can use our next data point to plan your next phase in hopes of continued improvement. Let’s look!

K Value – Bob Takano popularized this data point in America after learning this coefficient from Carl Miller in 1974. Professor Angel Spassov also discussed the K Value during his American tour discussing the training practices of the Bulgarians. I will mention this a bit more at the end of this section.

Here’s what you need to figure the K Value:

  1. Total Load (total volume) of a competition macrocycle (usually 12-20 weeks)
  2. Total number of reps
  3. Total achieved (needs to be a successful training macrocycle)

I explained above how to figure the total load aka total volume. Let’s say that your total volume for a 12-week training block is hypothetically 800,000kg and your total number of reps is 7,000. And let’s suppose you make a total of 320kg in your meet. Here’s how you figure the K Value:

  1. K Value= (Average Intensity x 100)/proposed total
  2. Total Volume divided by the total number or reps (800,000kg/7,000reps)= average intensity of 114kg
  3. Average Intensity x 100, so 114kg x 100= 11400
  4. To find the K Value divide 11,400 by the 320kg successful total(11,400/320= 35.6)

Now it’s time to use the K Value to plan the next phase of training by multiplying a goal total by the K Value. If our goal becomes to total 330kg, you would multiply 330kg x .356 (K Value is actually a percentage so 35.6 becomes .356) equaling 117.48 rounded to 118kg. Your average intensity will need to become 118kg over your next training block to potentially total 320kg.

Relative Intensity – This is a bit more complicated to track, but important nonetheless. Here’s how a coach can figure out an athlete’s Relative Intensity (RI). RI is figured by taking (the weight an athlete is using for a particular number of reps)/(the maximum weight that athlete can perform in that given rep range). Let’s use an example:

Athlete 1 has a 5-repetition maximum of 400lb in the bench press, and is benching 350lb for sets of 5 reps.

350/400=87.5% so the relative intensity is 87.5%

The coach or athlete will need to know the repetition maximums of each exercise in all of the different repetition ranges. Just like tracking average maximal intensity, it’s also important to track an athlete’s ongoing average relative intensity in a macrocycle, mesocycle, and microcycle. To do that, the athlete would need to track the relative intensity of each set divided by the total sets. Let’s look at an example:

Set 1 300 x 5 with a 5rm of 320 (relative intensity of 94%)
Set 2 320 x 3 with a 3RM of 335 (RI 96%)
Set 3 330 x 2 with a 2RM of 345 (RI 96%)

Average RI of the workout would be (94%+96%+96%)/3= RI of 95%

Here’s a chart showing you where to spend most of your time:

Just like total volume and average intensity, the coach or athlete can look at the relative intensity to put a value on whatever is happening. If an athlete’s average intensity is 83% and they’re experiencing lots of progress, they’re on the right track. On the other hand, if an athlete is going backwards or plateauing with an average intensity of 88%, they can make a decision to increase or decrease that RI. Based on the chart above, the wise decision might me to decrease it just a bit.



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Optimal Number of Lifts

It’s important that an athlete or coach understands Prilepin’s Chart for this next data point. Here’s a look:

It’s important that a coach or athlete tracks the optimal number of lifts in three different categories:

  1. The Competition Lifts: Snatch and Clean & Jerk
  2. Variations of the Competition Lifts: Powers, hangs, blocks, jerk from blocks/rack, power jerk, or anything resembling the competition lift.
  3. Absolute Strength Category: Squats, Pulls, Deadlifts, Push Press, Strict Press, or relative accessory movements.

It’s important to know the optimal number of lifts (ONOLs) performed in each category to get an idea where an athlete is spending their time. Obviously category number one is the most important. However, for most category number 3 is just as important or more important. Category 2 is used to target specific movement or velocity flaws. I recommend dividing total training over a macrocycle like the following:

  • ONOLs in the Competition Lifts 40% of total ONOLs
  • ONOLs in the Squats, Deadlifts, Push Press, etc (category 3) 40% of total ONOLs
  • ONOLs in the variations of competition lifts (category 2) 20% of total ONOLs

Then consideration can be made for efficient athletes needing strength, and for incredibly strong athletes needing more focus in the competition lifts and their variation. A coach could consider putting more focus in one category over another, but the key is going to be tracking the data. That’s the message. If an athlete is performing 50% of their total optimal number of lifts in the competition lifts and experiencing a plateau, he or she might consider allocating a higher percentage of their ONOLs to the strength movements.

Frequency – This is referring to how often an exercise is used day to day and week to week. This is my go to training characteristic to manipulate if an athlete is experiencing a plateau in any category. If their snatch is stagnant, I recommend increasing the frequency of the snatch. If his or her squat isn’t moving, squat every dang day baby until it is moving. Obviously, it’s really hard for a drug free athlete to perform any movement day in and day out without experiencing overuse injuries. Therefore, I recommend using this protocol in 4 to 12 week blocks followed by higher volume density training.

Exercise Selection – If an athlete is experiencing a plateau, eventually exercise selection becomes a consideration. For example, I just had an elite weightlifter experience his first bit of a plateau and actually a slight decline. This happened right before the Senior National Championships, which was also the final tryout for the Junior World Team and Senior Pan American Team. So did I stick to the plan and hope for the best? Nope, I rapidly switched to accommodating resistance in the squats and pulls in hopes of exciting the nervous and triggering a positive adaptation. Guess what? It worked, and in the last two weeks he made a massive comeback earning a spot on the Junior World Team and almost pulling out a spot on the Senior Pan American Team at 18-years-old on a packed team of studs.

Accessory Work – This is a very long term approach to a potential plateau. We are constantly trying to identify weak muscles, and then targeting those weaknesses with accessory work. Basically this was the entire premise of our EBook “No Weaknesses”. If an athlete has weak hamstrings and glutes, I can promise you that targeting those weaknesses will aid in overcoming weaknesses in their competition lifts.

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Velocity Based Training – I realize this isn’t available for all athletes, but I recommend investing in a unit if possible. is my go to source for velocity based equipment. You can actually get their Flex Unit for less than $500 with our code ‘MASH5’. Then coaches can test their athletes to determine a force-velocity profile in each of the major lifts: snatch, clean and jerk, squat, front squat, pulls, or any movement deemed important in a strength and conditioning program. Once velocity weaknesses are identified, coaches can prescribe sets and reps at a particular percentage for a particular velocity to overcome velocity deficits. This is the way to get really specific and crush difficult plateaus.

Tempo and Pauses – This is my favorite way to target movement weaknesses and flaws. For example if an athlete is having trouble staying over the bar in the snatch, the coach could prescribe Snatch pulls or deadlifts with 5 second eccentric contractions (aka lowering phase) and/or pauses at the knee or any other trouble area. Remember isometric contractions are by far the best way to strengthen joints at particular angles. If you have a power rack, you can pull into pins for designated periods of time to produce maximal effort for periods of time. This technique is my favorite.

Mental Blocks

At this point I have given you a number of solutions for breaking through plateaus, but there is one more issue that needs to be addressed. Sometimes an athlete will go through a block of time with certain mental blocks for whatever reason. I consider myself a mentally strong athlete, but I am not pretending to be a sport psychologist or counselor. Lately I have invested in my ability to aid my athletes with their mental approach by reading books like “Mindful Athlete” by George Mumford. Next semester in my ongoing pursuit of a PhD, I am excited to take an advanced Sports Psychology course.

The truth is that most plateaus and lack of performance is directly related to a mental block. Unfortunately there is little attention to this area by most athletes. For some reason in America, there is a negative connotation around sports psychology. Athletes believe that a focus in this area is a form of them admitting something is wrong. Is this logical? Nope!

We all know that work should be done with strength training, sprinting, relative strength, range of motion, and recovery. Therefore why do athletes believe they are 100% proficient in their mental capacity? Once again, this thought process isn’t logical. When I was an athlete, I worked with a sports psychologist, and I studied the topic on my own. Why? Well, I identified sports psychology as one of the mundane elements of becoming a great athlete that could set me apart from other athletes. I always assumed that if I mastered more of the mundane tasks than my competitors, I would increase my advantage over them more and more leading to me becoming the strongest 100kg/220lb athlete of all-time in 2004 and 2005 and pound for pound the strongest powerlifter in the entire world.

I implore all of you reading this. Sports psychology is the differentiator between good and great athletes. Since there are very few dominant athletes sport to sport, logically that tells us the majority of athletes (99.99%) need to work on their mental capacity. If you come with me to a world championship in almost any sport, you will notice one common trait amongst the champions, amazing confidence. They will be relaxed, focused, and fearless. All you have to do is look at the face of Michael Jordan when the Bulls were down by 1 with five seconds to go. Did he look scared or worried? No, he wanted the ball because he knew he was going to win the game.

Let me leave you with this question, and I am going to ask it in a way that will resonate with any athlete. When you:

  • approach the barbell in a weightlifting competition for your opening snatch, do you think to yourself “please don’t miss” or “Let’s smoke this lift?”
  • approach the line of scrimmage in a football game knowing the football is getting thrown to you with one second left on the clock down by 5, are you excited to win the game or scared that you might drop the ball?
  • walk up to the plate in a baseball or softball game in the final inning down by one, two outs, and bases loaded, are you excited to be in this situation, calm, and focused on the task, or are you scared, sweating, and able to hear your heart pounding from your chest because you are scared to mess up?
  • walk up to a golf ball on the final hole needing to sink the putt to win the US Open, are you relaxed and focused on the process of putting like any other putt or are you shaking from fear of missing the putt?

Improving Our Mental Game

If you aren’t a world champion, you know which athlete you are in the above examples. That’s ok because you can change that if you’re willing to work on it like anything else. I wrote an eBook along with Sports Psychologist Nathan Hansen, and is to date my least-selling eBook. That was an eye-opener for me in regards to most athletes and coaches’ views regarding sports psychology. No one wants to believe they need help in the area. Sad because that tells me most athletes will finish their career where they started it in regards to mental capacity. That’s an exciting fact for coaches and athletes that look to master all mundane components in his or her athletic ability. It is a component that can and will give an athlete a distinct advantage over their competition.

I think it’s funny watching athletes perfect sleep, nutrition, mobility, core strength, movement proficiency, and recovery, but then never spend one ounce of their time improving their mental game. They would be better off to neglect all the others and just focus on their mental performance. I know plenty of athletes that have gone on to be amazing due to their natural ability to dominate his or her sport mentally, while neglecting their bodies in sleep, nutrition, and recovery. My point is that mentally strong athletes can dominate without perfecting several other areas of their game. However, there isn’t a dominant athlete in any sport that is mentally weak. It’s the one requirement of all champions. I hope I got your attention because this is a magic bullet that the majority of you could use to dominate.

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Well, this article turned into a small book, but I feel good in the fact that I have spelled out several areas that each of you can use as a coach or athlete to crush through any plateau. If a coach’s answer to a plateau in performance is to keep on doing what you are doing, you might consider changing coaches. Now you know that there are multiple ways to break through a plateau. It’s up to you and your coach to continue trying these protocols one at a time until you break through. I promise there is a way out if you are willing to put in the work and try different protocols. If you believe that continuing down the exact same road will eventually break through a plateau, you aren’t using logic to make your decision.

Let me know if you have any questions! I hope that each of you go on to become champions in your chosen sport.

Your Questions Answered – The Barbell Life 336

You’ve heard me say this before – but I LOVE these podcasts.

We get to listener questions today on a variety of subject from fixing sticking points in the deadlift to the challenges of coaching high school to squat technique… and even someone asking advice about powerlifting in their 70s!


Learn the High-Level Muscle Science, Physics, and Biomechanics Principles to Give Your Athletes the Fastest and Safest Progress Possible

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  • Deadlift sticking points
  • Active recovery days
  • In-season programming
  • Leaning forward in the squat
  • Lifting into your 70s?
  • and more…

Understanding Power to Individualize Programming

The word power is thrown around a lot in the strength and conditioning world, but unfortunately most coaches and athletes aren’t fully aware of what power truly is.

I am talking about the real definition of power as defined by biomechanics. Today I am going to explain this definition in as simple terms as possible, and then I will give you some ideas regarding application. The best part of today’s discussion is once you understand this biomechanical equation, application is only limited by your imagination.


In sports, coaches and athletes are always talking about working hard. You will constantly hear phrases like:

  • “out work”
  • “do work”
  • “hard work”
  • “work hard”

Those are all nice phrases, but what do they mean? I am glad you asked because I am going to tell you.

You might be wondering why I am talking about work when I said that we are going to talk about power. If you stick with me, I will explain. You can’t have power without work because at the end of the day power is performing a large amount of work in a short amount of time. So let’s break it down!


Work is defined as force x distance. Most of us already know that force is mass x acceleration. Now my goal is not to show you my skills in biomechanics. My goal is to help all of you understand the complexities of power in the simplest of terms. Therefore force in its simplest of terms is moving a mass. How do I know force is referring to displacement or moving positions? I know this because acceleration is a change in velocity, and the time it took to make that change. With work we’re referring to the distance that this force occurred.

When a strength and conditioning coach or biomechanist refers to power, they’re talking about doing work as quickly as possible. Power explained even more simply can be stated Power = Force x Velocity. We will come back to this shortly.

Power pretty much explains all things in sport that bring the crowd to their feet: hitting a homerun, sprinting at high speeds (foot striking the ground as the end point of the moment of inertia from the body’s center of gravity), a tackle in football, or a massive leap in the sky for a rim-shattering dunk.


Almost every athletic feat is going to revolve around one of Newton’s three laws of motion. Let’s take a look:

Newton’s First Law (Law of Inertia) – Newton’s First Law of inertia states that objects tend to resist changes in their state of motion. An object in motion will tend to stay in motion and an object at rest will tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by a force.

Newton’s Second Law of Motion (Law of Acceleration) – “The velocity of an object changes when it is subjected to an external force. The law defines a force to be equal to change in momentum (mass times velocity) per change in time.” Newton’s second law of motion explains how accelerations occur. (McGinnis, 2013). The acceleration (tendency of an object to change speed or direction) an object experiences is proportional to the size of the force and inversely proportional to the object’s mass (F = ma). Therefore, a greater force will cause a faster acceleration, and a heavier mass will create a slower acceleration.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion (Law of Reaction) – This one states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore when an athlete’s foot strikes the ground during a sprint causing ground reaction forces between the foot and the friction encountered on the ground, the athlete is propelled in the opposite direction of the foot. The foot strike is creating force downward and backwards, and the ground with the help of friction creates a force upwards and forwards allowing the athlete to sprint down the field or track at an acceleration proportional to the force applied to the ground.

The one common trait amongst the three laws is force. Therefore force needs to be a consideration in all solid strength and conditioning programs. However, force can’t be the only consideration as velocity plays a massive role in power. If you want to improve an athlete’s sprinting speed, there are multiple concerns with none as important as the velocity the foot is traveling at the instant it strikes the ground. Does that mean coaches should only train velocity aka speed work? It depends, but probably not.


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If you desire to increase the sprint speed of an athlete, there are multiple factors that need to be considered:

  • Relative Strength – this has to be a major concern since that’s the main mass that an athlete works with during most athletic events that involve sprinting, jumping, and change of direction.
  • Absolute Strength – this is especially true up until a solid base of strength is developed with most sources stating 1.7 to 2 times bodyweight in the king of all strength lifts, the back squat. However this isn’t equivocal as there are many conflicting pieces of research out there with varying standards all over the place. I will talk more about this one a bit later.
  • Sprint Mechanics- I want to say right away that I love sprint specialist coaches. One of my favorite coaches in the world is Coach William Bradley. If you don’t know him, that’s your loss. He’s a magician with the 40-yard dash.
  • Mobility/ROM – this is where I believe a lot of arguments center without people knowing. The body has to be able to move throughout complete ranges of motion without restriction. One easy example is the effortless elevation of the femur placing the foot at a peak height before being driven into the ground will provide for maximal potential energy which is equal to mass x gravity x height (hint I am talking about the height).
  • Optimal Neural Adaptations – I am really talking about the neuromuscular system, and the relationship between the agonist and antagonist (when one is contracting, the other is relaxing). This comes with practice and the proper stimulus in training.
  • Power Production – we’ve already talked about this one a bit, and I will touch on this one a bit more later in this article.
  • Tendon Stiffness – Strain Energy is Another type of potential energy is also used in sport. Strain energy is energy due to the deformation of an object. This comes with proper strength training, plyometrics, bounding, and other drills on the track.

There are a few coaches out there taking relative strength to all new levels. Unilateral squats, pullups, pushups, and unilateral hinges are all a part of the equation. It isn’t just pullups. How stable is your leg when the foot strikes the ground? These are all considerations.

Absolute strength is where there are a lot of variables that come into play. When I talk about absolute strength in regards to squat strength, I am talking about a full range of motion. Yes, I agree that partial ranges of motion are great for power development. However only when joints are taken through a full range of motion is synovial fluid released in the joint providing nourishment and lubrication. Not to mention, if I train an athlete like a powerlifter, that means I am teaching them to bottom out at right below parallel. That would be me purposely shortening the ROM of a sports athlete just to get them stronger. This doesn’t make sense in the world of athletics.

Sprint Mechanics should probably have been discussed first on this list. If you want to get good at a certain activity, you need to do that activity. The same goes for sprinting. This leads me to my belief on “how strong is too strong.” When you get so strong that the volume required to get any stronger takes longer than you have set aside for strength training, then you can start to slow that process. If not, strength training will start to take away from other categories that need to maintain their state of equilibrium. It’s the athlete’s version of homeostasis. All categories related to faster sprinting times need to improve in relation to one another with the priority remaining sprint mechanics. I hope this makes sense.

I already discussed range of motion, but the deal is that strength can’t come at the cost of range of motion. When that starts, you are now a powerlifter. An athlete has to be able to travel through space within all the planes of motion. For that to happen the body needs to maintain a complete range of motion. Kinesthetic awareness and proprioception rely on the athlete’s ability to flow through space unrestricted. To be clear I am not referring to hypermobility, but rather I am referring to optimal mobility.

Optimal neural adaptations will take place within the neuromuscular system with proper sprinting mechanics as well as using movements in training that encourage this agonist/antagonist relationship. Weightlifting is the perfect example if you think about it. The body produces a massive force, experiences complete relaxation from antagonist allowing for maximal acceleration during the change of direction aspects of the pull under aka third pull phases and drive under phases of the jerk. Just like in sprinting the best weightlifters are not just the athletes that can produce the most force, but rather they are the athletes that have systems effectively inhibiting those antagonists during those crucial phases. Specificity relates to the style of training as much or more as the specificity of the movement.


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Power Production is something that we discussed earlier on, and was the lead in to the entire argument. Once an athlete realizes those amounts of absolute strength where volume requirements exceed that of more important aspects, velocity based training should become the primary component in the weight room. I recommend developing a complete force-velocity curve with the movements that you intend on using in the weight room. I recommend movements such as bilateral back squats, unilateral squats, deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, push press, and rows. Once you define the quality of speed/velocity that you are deficient, that becomes the focus of one’s strength training. However at this point you can call it speed-strength training. This will be a lot less taxing on the body, and will yield big dividends with speed.

Tendon stiffness is where plenty of athletes still have room for improvement that could lead to sprint personal records. This form of potential energy is related to tendon stiffness and the amount of deformation of the tendon. Tendon stiffness can be improved with plyometric training and complete range of motion training at the ankle and knee especially. There’s a lot of great work out there right now. You can check out plenty of new work out there on tendon stiffness. Some of the guys creating all-time vertical leaps have tapped into this quality.

So there it is guys. This is my way of coaching athletic performance. I don’t believe that you can be dogmatic toward any one component. I believe the ones that are trying that are the ones that are inefficient in one or more categories. Check out @spikesonly on Twitter for some real information in the sprinting world. I promise you will thank me. Now can we all go back to creating holistic workouts that develop well-rounded awesome athletes?

McGinnis, Peter M.. Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise . Human Kinetics, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Hypertrophy Research with Dr. Alex Koch – The Barbell Life 334

Gaining muscle seems like it should be simple.

In one sense, it is. Eat right. Lift heavy. Repeat.

But in another sense, building the MAXIMUM amount of muscle possible in the MINIMUM amount of time? That’s an art and a science.

Well, my good friend Dr. Alex Koch joins us yet again on today’s podcast to share the latest science on muscle building and performance. This is one everyone will enjoy!

A World Class Coach's Guide to Building Muscle

Hypertrophy for Strength, Performance, and Aesthetics.

World champion and world-class coach Travis Mash has combined the latest research with his decades of practical experience to bring you an amazing resource on muscle hypertrophy.


  • Following Arnold’s bodybuilding program as a teen (and how it was HORRIBLE for him)
  • How muscle science has changed recently
  • Finding the right way to build muscle for the individual
  • Tempo training, fiber types, and tendon health
  • Science proves lifting light to failure is just as good as going heavy?
  • and more…

Nutrition for Power and High Intensity Athletes

It’s so easy to get information regarding the nutritional needs for endurance athletes. Nutritional advice for bodybuilders is literally everywhere you look online (although most of it is wrong). But what about power athletes? What about athletes who compete in high intensity sports? I am referring to the powerlifters, weightlifters, sprinters, throwers, and even to the football players. This article is for you.

I believe nutrition is a tool that could easily be used to maximize an athlete’s potential. I have so many athletes who tell me they want to medal in the Olympics, win world championships, and break world records. They tell me they will do whatever it takes. They tell me so much!

I always respond that the true champion will do what everyone else refuses to do. Everyone trains hard, so don’t tell me about your work ethic. You should love your sport, so training hard is easy. What about the mundane things like nutrition, sleep, and recovery? Don’t tell me you want to be a champion and then fail to keep a food journal. I am simply not going to believe you.

I have watched several athletes win national championships, make world teams, and have really amazing careers. However, I have never witnessed someone become incredible without becoming a master of the mundane. Tommy Bohanon spent seven years in the NFL, and I can promise you he did the mundane things and a lot more. Greg Olsen is one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. Coach Joe Kenn told me that Olsen takes personal responsibility for every area of his health and wellness.

I think I have made my point. This isn’t an article to make you feel bad, but I wanted to set the record straight. Now let’s look at the different components of nutrition, and hopefully give you some insight on making nutrition decisions for yourself or your athletes.


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Understanding Energy Systems

The two main systems involved with power sports and high intensity sport athletes are the creatine phosphate system (PCr) and the Glycolytic System. Both are, of course, anaerobic (meaning they don’t rely on oxygen). But that doesn’t necessarily mean the aerobic system is useless. The aerobic system, like the glycolytic system, uses oxidative phosphorylation to breakdown carbohydrates, fats, and even protein into Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) with the help of oxygen. All three systems have the job of creating ATP (aka energy), and the way we fuel our bodies is directly related to how efficient those systems work.

The PCr system is the one of importance for short duration single efforts like in the sports of weightlifting, powerlifting, throwing, and even short sprints. PCr is stored in the muscles and consists of a creatine molecule combined with one phosphagen molecule. The PCr provides the fuel for the first 10-ish seconds of a high intensity event. The means that PCr donates the phosphagen molecule to ADP to form ATP and continued energy.

(If you guys want me to explain these energy systems in detail and in a way that you understand, let us know at I will get right on it.)

The glycolytic system kicks in after the PCr stores are burned up. This system is fueled by the glycogen stores in the muscles. Glycogen is what carbohydrates (CHO) are stored as in the muscles and liver. CHO are stored as glucose in the blood, which transports the glucose to the cells throughout the body including the brain. The brain’s sole source of energy is also glycogen.

I won’t go into detail in this article on the aerobic system – but I can say that in regards to recovery, it’s a good idea to do a little low intensity aerobic work. The increased capillary network aids with recovery and ridding the muscles of waste. FYI, more recovery equals a greater capacity to train. In a sport where the highest volume wins, that’s a big advantage. Obviously people have won world championships without aerobic work, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. Sometimes it’s the guy or gal who does every single thing right who ends up on top. You simply have to ask yourself if you’re willing to do those little things.

Nutrient Balance

Now that we have the different energy sources cleared up, let’s take a look at the macronutrients and micronutrients suggested for powerful athletes.

For carbohydrates, 5 to 7 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day is the recommendation. There are no concrete studies that would support going above this amount for power and/or high intensity training. Glycogen is important, so I wouldn’t go below this amount. However, with eating between 5 to 7 grams/kg/day, you will have plenty of glycogen storage in the muscles to produce ATP for movement and plenty in the brain and the PNS to keep the neurological system performing.

For weightlifters, powerlifters and throwers who are involved in sports where the duration is just a few seconds or less, the recommendation is to stay closer to the 5g/kg mark. If you are a sprinter entered in events greater than 10 seconds or practice with repeated bouts and longer distances, the recommendation is to stay closer to the 7g/kg amount. If you are competing and/or have multiple bouts of practice or events, some studies would suggest having some CHOs between sessions at 0.7g/kg for recovery and replenishing of glycogen. I would like to note that extra CHO consumption hasn’t been shown to have any performance benefits, but on the contrary the extra weight gain that might follow could hurt performance.

For power sports, protein synthesis is the name of the game. Complete proteins are essential for protein synthesis. By complete I mean proteins that contain all the EAAs or essential amino acids. Those are the building blocks during muscle protein synthesis, especially leucine.

This is where all protein isn’t created equal. Red meat, chicken, fish, and eggs are all rich in EAAs along with whey protein if you supplement. The recommendation is 1.8 to 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Based on the latest information, if you are trying to cut weight and maintain muscle mass, upwards of 3 grams/kg have been shown to have good results. Not to mention, the extra protein has been shown to increase the thermic effect of food and to increase satiety. If you want to get jacked or stay jacked, this is one area you want to focus on. When you train, muscle protein breakdown is occurring. Complete sources of protein are the building blocks needed to repair damaged muscle fibers, making them bigger and stronger than ever.

What about fat? After you determine your daily caloric needs and figure out the two recommendations for CHO and Protein, the rest will come from fat. There isn’t a big need for fat when it comes to power sports. These sports are too short in time duration to ever get into the aerobic phases where fats are used efficiently for energy. Fat is needed for other processes in the body, so I am not recommending a fat-free diet. However, fat isn’t going to be the priority.

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Hydration and Supplements

Now this is where most of you miss the mark. Dehydration levels of less than 1% can have negative effects on power athletes. At levels of 3-4% muscular strength and power is majorly affected. One ounce per kilogram of bodyweight is a safe amount. I recommend drinking 20% of that amount four hours before training or competition and 10% two hours before. Then continue to drink water throughout training or competition. Many studies have shown several top athletes lacked optimal hydration.

As far as supplements go, obviously creatine is a good idea. This will saturate the muscles with more available sources of PCr in the muscles, which as we stated above is the critical energy source. Whey protein is filled with EAAs, making it a smart choice for athletes needing help getting in the proper amounts of complete protein. Vitamin D might also be a good micronutrient to supplement, since we found many athletes are slightly deficient.

Neurology and Coaching with Evan Lewis – The Barbell Life 331

Our bodies are amazing.

The more we progress in terms of science, the more we realize the complex connections between neurology, muscles, and performance.

And our podcast guest today, Evan Lewis, is on the cutting edge of these developments – using his knowledge to help rehabilitate athletes in pain and to help athletes perform at their peak.

There are also some great nuggets of wisdom for coaches in this one. I was blown away by Evan!



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