Strength Training – A Definition

Strength is often trained is an independent motor quality, I certainly have made that mistake. Strength is a highly interdependent motor quality. Unfortunately it took me too many years to really understand and apply that. I think some of the problem and confusion lies in the definition of strength training. In order to clarify what strength training is it is important to have a good operational definition of strength training. When I was first exposed to the work of Frans Bosch ten years ago he defined strength training as: “Coordination training under increased resistance.” Just that concept got me thinking again about how much strength is enough and are you ever strong enough? I thought his definition was a step in the right direction to help me answer those two questions but it was not comprehensive enough. So over the past few years I have worked to come up with my own operational definition of strength training incorporating Bosch’s ideas. For the definition to be operational it needs to be applicable to all training environments. The definition I use for Strength Training is:

Coordination training with appropriate resistance to handle bodyweight, project an implement, move or resist movement of another body, resist gravity and optimize ground reaction forces.

Let’s parse this out and look at the elements of the definition in detail. Read more

Training Talk: Recovery with Joel Jamieson (Part 2)

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Over the weekend I started an interesting training talk on the topic of recover with Joel Jamieson. In part one both Joel and I commented on how recovery methods can be overused. But they are still important for training when used appropriately. This final part continues to discuss Joel’s thoughts on when and how to use different recovery methods.

Joel is best known as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the mixed martial arts world, although his experience is much broader. He has also developed an expertise in training recovery and he has created BioForce HRV, a portable tool to monitor an athlete’s training state through heart rate variability.
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Training Talk: Recovery with Joel Jamieson (Part 1)

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Strength and conditioning coach Joel Jamieson.

Recovery is an important aspect of training that is often overlooked. But, to the surprise of many, it is also an element of training that can be overdone. For decades the theory was that all methods of recovery were good and researchers tested out new technologies to see what might give athletes an extra benefit. But in recent years the pendulum has swung in the other direction: there can be too much of a good thing.

One of the first people to explain this topic to me was Joel Jamieson. Joel is best known as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the mixed martial arts world. His gym in Kirkland, Washington has trained some of the top MMA fighters around, including current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. His blog, 8WeeksOut, is one of the most popular MMA training blogs. His experience, however, is not limited to MMA. He started his career as a strength and conditioning coach at my alma matter, the University of Washington, and then for the Seattle Seahawks. He also has trained many pro athletes in a variety of sports. Joel has developed an expertise in training recovery and he has developed BioForce HRV, a portable tool to monitor an athlete’s training state through heart rate variability. His manual for the device contains what I find the best overview of the adaptation process available, as well as the impact of recovery methods on it.

When I was back in Seattle at the start of August I had the chance to sit down with Joel to discuss this topic and other topics. This is just the first in many posts I will have that resulted from my visit, but before we begin it is helpful to put this first topic into context.
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Functional Path Training Rules

These are simple training rules that I use to guide me on the Functional Path to grow, develop and nurture adaptable athletes who understand the wisdom of their bodies and it’s ability to self organize and solve movement problems: Read more

Continuous Improvement

Is it realistic to think that an athlete can seek and attain continuous improvement throughout their athletic career? At first glance it sees like the answer would be no, but in my experience that is not the case. As an athlete starts their journey the trajectory of improvement is almost linear, virtually everything the athlete does in training results in improvement in performance. Then there comes the inevitable leveling off process. This is the point in the athlete’s career, the proverbial crossroads, where the coach and athlete need to make a choice, stay the course or seek new ways to get better. Read more

Every Bit Counts

Training is a process. It is a process of blending all components of training into a useable whole to allow adaption in pursuit of competition goals. Every bit of training big and small counts. The art is assembling those bits so that they fit together seamlessly. Read more

Being Average

I find it very interesting to watch how hard people work at being average. It is easy to be average so I don’t really understand why people work at it but they do. Ever notice how those that choose to be average are always making excuses, it is too hot or it too cold. They overslept or didn’t get enough sleep. They forgot their water bottle. They forgot their spikes or their bathing suit and on and on. Read more

Functional Path Training – Eight Years Into it

Eight years ago this week I started writing this blog. I had no clue about blogging and even less about the connected world of cyberspace. I started writing the blog as a daily “warm-up” for my writing of my Athletic Development book. I had no idea that I would still be writing eight years latter and that it would be syndicated and have the followers that it does through various social media. As I have said before I do not write the blog for others, I selfishly write it for myself. I use it to organize my thoughts to direct my work at that time. If others get something out of it, that is a bonus. I have never shied away from expressing my opinions and will continue to do as long as I write the blog. If I am wrong I will apologize. Read more

Favorite Exercises

I always get a good chuckle when I am asked what are my favorite exercises and I answer I don’t have any. Why don’t I have any favorite exercises, really it is quite simple. I have a big toolbox of exercises accumulated over my years of coaching; I must know how to use each of those tools appropriately as demanded by the needs of the athlete and the sport and position. Read more

Another Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 2)

Earlier in the week I began a discussion with coach Derek Evely on how training needs to be tailored to the event for which you are training. He provided two examples from the hammer throw by looking at two unique aspects of our event. First, the hammer throw is the only track and field event where the athlete keeps contact with the ground at all times and the goal is to lengthen the amount of ground contact. In part one, we discussed how this fact has an impact on selecting exercises for the event. Second, hammer throwers must work together with an external object. In this final part we move on to discuss how the hammer’s forces also impact training.

For the best opportunity to learn from Derek about this and other topics, check out the Canadian National Throws Conference in Ottawa from October 18-20. Derek will be presenting along with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson and Esa Utriainen on the theme of “Developing the Throws: European Perspectives.” Registration is now open. Another good read from Derek is the training talk we did two years ago.

Part 1: Optimizing Jumping Exercises for the Hammer Throw

Part 2: Recreating the Hammer’s Forces in Training

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