Physical Characteristics of sprinters and runners

Sprinters are clearly differentiated from endurance athletes. Simply look at their physiques and you will note the remarkable muscle bulk of the sprinter in the key prime movers especially.

Workable periodisation for MMA

I get a lot of emails from grapplers and MMA fighters asking about training and planning questions. While I enjoy helping people out, one issue seems to reoccur, most people have no sort of plan!

Child/ Youth section

Information on strength and conditioning for the child or youth.

Setanta College

Setanta College is a blended learning institute which offers players, coaches, managers, teachers, physical education teachers and sports science graduates the opportunity to pursue practical coaching courses via the internet learning process (blended learning).

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Path To Mastery!

by Brandon Richey, B.S.,CSCS

Im 37 years old so if youre reading this and arent sure about some of my cool pop culture references then make sure you go YouTube them or Google them. Im saying this because youll never catch me referencing anything with Miley Cyrus, or with the movie Twilight. Well, at least I wouldnt check them off as something coolin my pop culture column. 

No, Im more of a Metallica/James Bond kind of guy so now you can put your mind at ease. Now on to the topic at hand. As todays guest on The Strength And Conditioning Blog I want to talk about the path to mastery.

Mastery: Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or specific accomplishment.

Now mastery in terms of human function can take on a number of roles. I mean it just really depends on what type of athlete you are, or what your physical interests are as to what steps you should take to master a skill level in your respected sport or interests, right?

In other words, if you want to be a master of performing the deadlift then you dont want to spend all of your time out on the streets pounding the pavement running marathons. You see outside of just good ole effort you must be willing to execute 2 key steps if you want to acquire mastery. First, you must be able to follow effective instructions and secondly you must be willing to apply the SAID principle.

Ok, so let me first address the SAID principle. This means Specific Adaptations To Imposed Demands. This is essentially a fancy way of saying that your body will specifically adapt to whatever stress you place on it. So if you want to get better at deadlifting then practice the deadlift. If you want to get better at running marathons then practice running for distance. So now do you see how this pattern works my young grasshopper (cool pop culture reference from original Kung Fu movie starring David Carradine)?

Now the second part of this equation is learning how to follow instructions. Now I know this may seem like the obvious, but as a strength and conditioning coach I cant tell you how many times Ive listed out and communicated a clear set of instructions to a trainee only for that trainee to follow up with doing exactly what I pointed out NOT to do.

Now I dont want you to get the wrong idea here. Im not here to bash on people and to take out the big ole whooping stick to take people to task. No, Im not here to do that, but as Im sitting here pounding the keys on my laptop I am telling you that there is no doubt in my mind that if you expect to obtain mastery for a specific task then youll fall short if you arent able to accurately follow and carry out an effective set of instructions.

When talking about mastery in terms of physical learning there has to be a clear highway of communication between coach and athlete. Aside from the student stepping up to follow instructions it is also up to the coach to do his or her job effectively by delivering clear and simple to understand instructions. One way to do this is by implementing sound cuing.

As you can see the coach has his or her responsibilities as well. However, I do want to go back to focusing a bit more on the studentsside of the coin here.

To add on to this concept of mastery I want to address a question I got from one of the readers to my blog the other day. I received an email in my inbox with a simple, but very common question. Here is the email:

Hello Coach Richey,

My name is (no name to protect the innocent) and Ive been following your blog for a while now. I just have one simple question. In your opinion what is the absolute BEST workout that I could possibly do for myself? Im 17 years old and just want to be in shape.

As you can imagine I was honored that this individual thought enough of me to ask me what the BEST workout would be for him to do. I mean the fact is that there are so many programs out there to follow.

My response to the young Jedi was rather simple and immediate (Jedi: Another cool pop culture term from the original Sci Fi movie series Star Wars). I responded by saying the following:

Dear (no name to protect the innocent),

I am pleased to hear that youve been following me online now for quite some time. Im even more honored that you would think enough of me to ask what the BEST workout is for you to follow, however Ive got a feeling that my answer is going to shock you.

First of all, there is no single BEST workout program for me to point to and say pick that one. Obviously I have a ton of workouts that Ive put out that are free to access that youve probably seen, and some that you can even purchase.

The truth is that no matter what program you decide to go with, whether it be a powerlifting program, a bodyweight program, a circuit, interval, or bodybuilding structured one, just make sure to follow the instructions of that program to the letter!!!

I mean make every single rep count, be strict on the work to rest intervals, and gauge your intensity to maximize your results. In addition to this you will want to choose a program that is MOST fitting to your needs. In other words, if you are looking to get stronger then I would select a more Hybrid or powerlifting model over a circuit training model. This is being specific to your needs and/or wants. 

If you do this to the best of your ability thinking only about the workout that is in front of your eyeballs for that day then you WILL have the absolute BEST workout that you can possibly have!

As you can see the 2 main characteristics that I pointed out here in this email were being specific (SAID principle) and making sure to follow instructions!

Once again if you are doing these things then you arent far from obtaining mastery for whatever task lies ahead. You can have the absolute best workout, the best business plan, and the best blueprint for life, but youve got to follow instructions and be specific to your needs. In order to maintain the motivation having the Eye Of The Tiger doesnt hurt either (Eye Of The Tiger: Cool pop culture reference from Rocky III).

The fact is that if you are going to achieve physical mastery in any way youve got to be consistent and persistent with your actions. Understand what you are doing and then go and do it. Whatever plan you decide to take just make sure that you DONT allow your focus to fade.

Keep your mind on the task at hand and dont try to alter or make variations with the instructions that are in front of you. As a strength coach this is one pet peeve of mine.

As an example of this I remember programming a finisher at the end of a workout one day by having some of my students execute 3 sets of 10 burpees at the end of a workout. One of the students in a hurried attempt to just finish the workout decided to hammer out 30 straight burpees with a very rushed and sloppy technique.

So I caught him doing this, let him finish, and then made him do 3 sets of 10 burpees with perfect execution to communicate my mantra of Quality over Quantity. Afterwords he got the meaning of what I was trying to convey.

I hope you enjoyed my post today on mastery and enjoyed some of my pop culture references here on The Strength And Conditioning Blog. If you would like to learn more about my programs and my mantra of Quality over Quantity then please make sure you sign up to be one of my members here for FREE.  

Once again I want to thank The Strength And Conditioning Blog for having me on today and look forward to being back again real soon. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Muscle Architecture - Part 1

The following article will be divided in three sub-articles. On the first one I will briefly define muscle architecture, then (on a 2nd article) I will describe what are the functional implications on the variation of each muscle architecture parameter. Finally, the last sub-article will cover the most practical part of the question: the adaptation of muscle architecture parameters to training.
In the Human skeletal musculature there are as many different architectural arrangements as the number of muscles (1–3). Roughly, there can be distinct two main classes of skeletal muscles according to the arrangement of their fibers: the fusiform or parallel muscles (e.g. biceps brachii) whose fibers are oriented in parallel to the line of action of the muscle (4,5) and the pennated muscles where fibers insert in the aponeurosis with a certain angle to the line of tension (4–7). Pennated muscles can be further divided into unipennated muscles (e.g. semi-membranous) and multipennated muscles (e.g. deltoid) depending respectively if muscle fibers insert in aponeurosis at a single angle or several angles (1,2). As we will see later, this angle that characterize the pennate muscles, has a determining role in muscle function.

Figure 1 An example of a parallel (A) unipennated (B) and multipennated muscle (C) (1)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Less is more!

It is not uncommon for a coach to feel that as the championship approaches that he or she has to ramp up the volume of training. In other words there may be self imposed pressure on the coach to do more work with his team. After all this is what he did as a player. And the harder you work the better you get is an often cited comment by many players and coaches. Also the Coach  may have heard of the great volume of training that the opposing team has been doing and in the desire to make sure that he leaves no stone unturned he piles more work on to the players in the weeks coming into the all important championship game.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Key Distinctions Between The Squat And Standard Deadlift

by Brandon Richey

So how many times have you been to a day to day health club or local gym only to see those brave young inexperienced lifters over by the squat rack curling the weight instead of squatting it? I know I know...they’re curling in the squat rack. We live in a crazy world! In addition to this have you also noticed many inexperienced trainees attempting to squat when they are seemingly attempting a standard barbell deadlift?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Bringing Strength and Conditioning into the Real World for GAA Coaches

By Ainle Ó Cairealláin

Math was never my strong point in school. Maybe I didn’t have the grey matter to process the formulas and equations that I was presented with at an adequate rate. However, I do know that at a certain point during my secondary school education at Meánscoil Feirste on the Falls Road in Belfast, things started to get a bit ‘easier’ to understand. At 15, we had a fantastic Math teacher named Joe, who looked rather like Moses, but could get the message across in an clear way that seemed to be well suited to the speed of my internal calculator. It was after this point that I started to think that it wasn’t the actual Math that was it the problem; n’or was it my own lack of prowess with algebra, but in fact, the method of delivery had a lot to do with it. This was reinforced even more when I started my Sports and Exercise Science degree in 2003 in UL. Here, ‘Science Math’ was a requirement (and still is). It sent me right back to square one, and after the first two lectures, I vowed never to return to that class due to feeling completely inadequate. I also thought that a few pucks of a sliotar up against a wall would be a better use of my time. However, I committed to attending the brilliant ‘Math Learning Centre’, crowned the ‘Early Learning Centre’ by some of our witty classmates, twice per week, every single week. They came in at my level, and through some hard work, I got a C3. In my 3rd year, I got my Math score up to an A, again thanks to the Math learning center, and a few extra classes from my old school teacher Joe. Anyway, the point is not that I am now a mathematical genius, but that I was able to learn and excel most effectively when the subject in question was brought to my level, and taught in a way that made complicated things seem quite manageable and easy to understand. From then on, I made a vow that whatever line of work I ended up in, I would make every effort to take the things I understood well, and make them easy for others to understand and apply. This brings me to the purpose of this article.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A Method For Eliminating Your Joint Pain And Stiffness

So the topic for today is about joint pain. You see I believe there are essentially 2 types of people in this world. There are those that have experienced joint pain and then there are those that are going to experience joint pain at some point in their lives. Today, I want to talk about how to subdue this problem.

You see over the years if I’ve learned one thing that’s consistent with most anyone it’s that everyone at one point or another will experience some type of joint discomfort. Now having said this there can be a number of different factors involved that can cause this problem to arise.

I mean in reality it’s just plain ‘ole simple physics my friend. In other words there is just nothing we can do about entropy. Wow, did I just drop a knowledge bomb like entropy on this discussion? Yes, I did! I mean look I know that word “entropy” ranks pretty high up in the vocabulary list of fancy words, but the fact is that it’s just something that we all have to deal with.

The bottom line is that things at one point or another are just going to weaken, wear out, and sometimes even breakdown altogether. Now having said this the good news is that our bodies aren’t just stagnant objects that breakdown too easily. The fact is that we are essentially an ever adapting biological organism and a walking miracle for the most part.

Because our bodies have this ability to adapt to various environments, stresses, and to physical change we have essentially formed our own unique double edged sword. I know what you’re thinking “So what do you mean by that coach?”

What I mean is that with too much physical activity/stress we can sometimes cause injury, pain, or discomfort. Likewise with too little physical activity/stress we can cause much of the same problems. I tend to fall on the side of engaging in a great deal of physical stress, but there is a smart limit to everything.

The point is that with a large portion of today’s society ailments such as knee, hip, low back, and shoulder pain can generally be chalked up to one having a lack of mobility or stability in certain areas of the body. The fact is that certain lifestyle factors associated with a lack of self maintenance generally end up being the source of what plagues a great deal of the population, especially with much of my fellow countrymen here in the states (the U.S.).

If any of this sounds familiar to you then you may want to take a minute to check out this simple solution that I offer in the following video. If you are suffering from any joint pain or discomfort then you may be surprised at just how simple the problem may be to fix. 

Oh and by the way I live in the state of Georgia (U.S) and in case you weren’t aware we got dealt a crazy hand with some winter weather this past week. It was only about 2 to 3 inches of snow, but for this area of the country where we never get it the storm proved to be a challenge. We just simply aren’t prepared for this type of weather like our neighbors to the north.

It came early in the middle of the workday and for us the timing proved to be crippling to the city and much of the state. The storm kind of became known as SNOWMEGADDON, so I filmed this video outside right after SNOWMEGADDON. Enjoy.

Hopefully I was able to shed a little light on this particular situation, especially if you are experiencing some of these issues for yourself. Just like I said both earlier in the article and in the video our bodies will adapt in the way we train it. If you are used to moving then you are going to move better at it than a person that is more used to sitting!

I know I may sound like Captain Obvious by saying that, but the fact is that many people just tend to fall out of practice with movement over time. Now obviously the lack of movement may not be the case with competitive athletes.

However athletes can develop stiffness and other issues as well that obviously are never really derived from a lack of movement, but usually from having developed imbalances or asymmetries due to some type of faulty movement pattern. As we know this can usually be due to either a current or past injury, or from poor programming specifics related to their strength training habits.

Just as I pointed out in the video as it relates to the joint by joint approach to training the stiffness associated with these imbalances/asymmetries that can somewhat compromise a mobile or stable joint will potentially affect the surrounding joints. This is where stiff hips can cause lumbar pain, or even knee pain.

Aside from engaging in mobility based training remember to work on mobilizing your joints further both by implementing some good old fashioned static stretching and soft tissue work. Remember the process of self maintenance should be a regular ingredient and part of one’s regular training method. Correction of movement is a continuous process just like the progression of obtaining strength and performance is in the same way.

I just wanted to once again thank The Strength And Conditioning Blog for allowing me to come on again and do my usual rant and rave. I hope you enjoyed today’s article and if you are looking for other killer methods for developing your own level of strength, performance, and optimizing your own level of mobility then make sure you take a minute to look into my Brandon Richey’s Unconventional Conventional Method Of Strength ebook.

In addition to this please stop by and visit me at my blog here below. I always offer deals to my most engaging and committed readers. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Parents perspective : The Pathway of Long Term Player Development

A Parent’s key role

As a parent you will watch your child grow up, you better than anyone else are often able to see the different phases in your child’s development. You will know when your child has hit a growth spurt or when puberty has started. You have a perspective that your child’s coaches do not and this can be immensely valuable to the coach and to the long term development of your child physically and specifically when it comes to hurling.