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Understanding The Nervous System: Your Greatest Asset In Your Pursuit of Strength

Why The Nervous System Matters When most athletes train, their focus is on improving or altering the physiological capacity of the muscle – whether that be through increasing density, volume, or altering the length. Similarly, most of the research around adaptations to training usually focus on the physiological changes that occur – changes to the mitochondria; storage of glycogen, presence of enzymes, cross-section of the tissue and the like… The nervous system gets much less attention. With that said, most experts agree that the initial improvements that ‘newbs’ see from strength training are primarily due to neurological factors (brain-spinal cord-motor neuron), especially the...

Hamstring Damage Resistance: The Distal & Proximal Continuum

Are You Attacking Both Ends? Power, strength, speed, all of these are sort after abilities in a majority of sports around the world, but are we chasing the golden egg before looking after the chicken? Within team sports, one of the most common thread among successful teams is the relatively low changes made to the starting line-up from week to week. This makes sense as it means the coach has his/her best squad available for selection, could this mean availability is perhaps the best ability for an athlete? Soft tissue injuries and in particular hamstring strain injury (HSI) is a leading cause...

Principles Over Methods: The Role and Importance of Contrast Training

Contrast Training One of the most effective training methods for developing the whole range of the force velocity curve is contrast training. The principle of this method revolves around its capacity to provide a more complete development of the motor capacities and strength qualities by varying the external load during the workout, exercise or (with considerably more difficulty), the repetition. This type of training has a substantial effect on the nervous system as well as the peripheral muscular structures. This was first brought to my attention through coaching legend Cal Dietz, who, at the time, wrote one of the legacy strength and...

Principles Over Methods: The Role and Importance of Accommodating Resistance and Overspeed Eccentrics

Accommodating Resistance Have you ever thought that if you can just get through that sticky point, you can always get the rep? That is because the amount of force you can produce is position specific. What that means is that at certain points in the range of motion, you could be mechanically weaker or stronger in relation to a different point along the way. In the vast majority of barbell lifts, you are normally stronger as you near the end of the lift. We’ve all seen ‘that guy’ who quarter squats a tonne of weight. He can only squat that amount of...

Principles Over Methods: The Role and Importance of Plyometric Training

Plyometrics Almost every athlete wants to be more explosive. They see themselves running faster, cutting with more intent, jumping higher, or in collision sports, being the dominant contact. Plyometrics is a special form of strength training because it involves exercises where there is an important build up of kinetic energy as the body absorbs the contact which is then used to potentiate the concentric portion of the exercise. Does that sound complex? If it does, I don’t blame you – Lachy and I did over four years of university to get our head around the concepts of joint stiffness and plyometrics. In layman terms,...

Principles Over Methods: The Role and Importance of Concentric Action Training

Concentric Action Training The concentric component of a lift is officially called the miometric action, but more simply (and how I’ll refer to it), as the overcoming portion of the lift. It’s the most sport specific muscle action, as ‘overcoming’ a resistance is the basis of all sporting actions and everyday activities. Concentric Action Training for Strength Gains Concentric training is especially important for those athletes that are required to apply high levels of force through the ground – powerlifters, rugby players, olympic weightlifters, sprinters, and most field sport athletes. The more force that the athlete can apply through the  ground… the more...

Principles Over Methods: The Role and Importance of Isometric Action Training

Isometric Action Training We’ve all probably experienced a physical stalemate. Whether that be an arm wrestle or a rugby scrum, despite a lot of effort being applied, there is little to no movement. This type of physical activity can be broadly referred to as isometric exercise, which involves the muscle exerting tension without producing movement or a change in muscular length. More commonly, it has been referred to as ‘static’ training. In case you can’t quite picture the concept, here are some examples: Pulling or pushing an immovable object Holding a barbell at a fixed joint angle Although it would be fair to say...

The 5 Key Components to Develop a Sport-Specific Strength Program

What You Need To Know As A Coach & Athlete As a coach, you make your money on your ability to improve the general qualities of an athlete so they perform better at their sport. You know that over the course of a training intervention, weight on the bar needs to increase. You know their quality of movement needs to improve. You know their confidence needs to lift. If you get those things right – performance improves and injury risk goes down. It’d stand to reason that if you want to be a strength coach, that mastery of programming is your first priority. However,...

Adolescent Motor Development: Build the Framework of the Car Before You Add Horsepower

Youth Athlete Development Strength and Conditioning for our youth and adolescence during their formative years of motor development has only recently reached mainstream popularity; it was only nine years ago during a shoe fitting by an ‘expert’ I was told to not go to the gym until I was 18, in fear of compressing my spine and stunting my growth. Times have certainly changed, and the value of complementary training as a means of developing movement competency in our youth and adolescents is regularly discussed and implemented amongst school sport programs. In an age where free, unorganised play is dwindling, the...