Entries by James de Lacey

Developing explosive power with creative solutions for eccentric overload

For decades research has shown numerous benefits for pure strength, speed, and power athletes. Practically speaking, however, it is not always easy to implement eccentric work into training. Achieving eccentric overload with traditional strength training is a pain. Having multiple spotters or adjusting weight releasers are typical forms of accentuating the eccentric phase during compound exercises like the squat or bench press. But the complications involved in eccentric training have left it as an afterthought to many coaches. Advances in flywheel and other technologies are starting to not only make eccentric training more accessible, but allow for new methods of eccentric training. Below I will overview eccentric training, its key benefits, and then share some ideas on how to achieve it using flywheel devices.

Preparing the neck for contact

The neck takes a tremendous strain in combat and collision sports. There’s nothing worse than anticipating the impending neck pain after your first session back following a short training layoff. Backing the car out of the driveway, turning to face someone next to you, and general daily tasks become painful. We often neglect neck training, but as with any muscle, you can strengthen the neck to help increase performance and potentially reduce injury risk as well.

4 sports science research trends to keep an eye on

I’m a science nerd. It was my best subject through school and this thirst for science and love for sport is what took me down the road of physical preparation as a career. Alongside coaching, I like to write. I synthesize the latest research for coaches in the trenches on my websites Sweet Science of Fighting and Lift Big Eat Big, as well as contribute research updates to Science for Sport. Being exposed to the latest research each month I get to see where the trends are heading and what might be emerging in the future. As 2021 comes to a close, below are a few of my thoughts on current trends in sports science research.

How little can we do?

In strength and conditioning we often have a “more is better” concept. A minimalist approach, on the other hand, has many advantages and can help make sure we are efficient with training time. Rather than doing more, we can also try to get more out of the work we’re doing.

The principles of preseason planning

Preseason training can vary from sport to sport. Some teams get just weeks to prepare athletes, some get a few months. Others are currently heading into preseason without a clear idea of when the season will actually start. No matter the situation, the principles remain the same.

Training for the demands of curved sprinting

While great attention has been placed on how to train linear sprinting, in team sports running in a straight line is only a small part of the game. As players have to evade the opposition, sprinting is more often curvilinear and very rarely linear. Does this mean as coaches we should spend less time sprinting linearly and more time sprinting in a “sport-specific” curvilinear manner?

Finding the right intensity while training at home

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world, many of us have been or will be affected. This likely means self-isolation at home for at least two weeks. However, this isn’t an excuse to become a couch potato! Being inactive for weeks likely isn’t going to be good for your health or your sanity.

Debunking the myth of core stability

Core training is a staple in the training program of most athletes and general fitness goers. “Core” stability training arrived around the end of the 1990s and was largely derived from studies that demonstrated change in timing of activation of the trunk muscles in lower back pain. Core stability, the argument went, was the key to relieving chronic lower back pain. This has led to worldwide teaching of trunk bracing and “tummy tucking” for lower back pain and injury prevention. 

The anatomy of a team sport speed session

Team sports require a mix of physical qualities to be trained concurrently due to the performance requirements, but one stands out above the others: speed. Speed is often the difference between elite and sub-elite teams. Speed is not just about that one breakaway play, it underpins all aspects of the game such as the overall tempo of play or the ability to execute skills at high speeds. Therefore, there should be an emphasis on training speed “in” within a structured training period.