Tuesday Sep 08, 2015

Sports-Specific Training Seminar Martin Bingiser and Cal Dietz

Presented by HMMR Media and XL Athlete

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The Essentials

  • Date: Saturday, October 10, 2015

  • Time: 9am to 4pm

  • Location: National Sports Center, 1700 105th Ave, Blaine, MN 55449

  • Registration: Pre-registration online for early bird rates

  • Price: Early bird rate of $100 until Labor Day, $125 thereafter

The Topics

We don’t just train to train, we train to be good at our sport. In this full-day seminar leading coaches Cal Dietz and Martin Bingisser will discuss both the theory and practical applications of sports-specific training, including:

  • Transfer of training. Finding what strength, skills, and qualities are needed in your sport. We pull from the influential work of Anatoliy Bondarchuk, who Martin trained alongside for 10 years.

  • Developing Sports-Specific Exercises. Key factors that should be looked at in developing special strength exercises.

  • Integration. How you can use a variety of approaches to integrate technical, tactical, and physical training and ensure the highest level of transfer.

  • Feedback. Collecting and analyzing feedback to optimize training and better tailor your methods to the individual needs of your athlete and their sport.

  • Periodization. How sports-specific training fits together with long-term training plans.

  • Therapy methods. Utilizing therapy to help improve running, lifting, and throwing technique

About the Presenters

Martin Bingiser (HMMR Media)

  • Swiss National Hammer Throw Coach and 6-Time Swiss National Champion in the Hammer Throw

  • Contributor to Juggernaut, Elite FTS,New Studies in Athletics, Modern Athlete and Coach, Track Coach, and the author of The Ball and Chain: A Guide to Hammer Throwing.

Cal Dietz (XL Athlete)

  • Head Olympic Strength and Conditioning Coach, University of Minnesota, helping 11 NCAA national team championships, 33 Big Ten Conference team champions, and 450+ NCAA All-Americans

  • Strength coach for numerous professional athletes and a world-leading expert on training for hockey.

Co-Author of Triphasic Training, which puts together a training method by breaking down athletic movements into their three components: eccentric, isometric, and concentric

Monday Aug 24, 2015

Olympic lifting Questions for Triphasic Concepts

Questions by Jim Fanara

1.       A common way to set up weightlifting training would be to do snatches or cleans in the beginning of the workout, then to go on to training the squat. This falls right into the mixed training problem you describe. How would you set-up the daily training of a weightlifter to maximize adaptation?

Cal Dietz Answer - Yes that is correct, the training of these two movements within the same session does have the potential of causing mixed training. At least at the deepest levels of adaptation. Mixed training occurs when the athlete applies multiple, non-compatible quality training (strength, strength-speed, speed-strength, and speed) within the same time period. When the body experiences these multiple qualities being trained simultaneously the athlete will not adapt optimally to any of the stressors being applied. A coach must always consider the goal quality of the training session (strength, strength-speed, speed-strength, and speed). Transitioning from snatches to squats within the same training session can lead to less than optimal improvements as the Olympic exercises are typically completed at higher velocities than a squat. For example, a clean executed at 90% will be much faster than a squat at 90%. For this reason two entirely different qualities are trained, strength-speed with the clean and maximal strength with the squat. Each movement’s velocity/load must be considered in order for the desired quality adaptation of the training session to occur in theory.

 2. On a podcast you were on, you mention the story of a Chinese weightlifting coach that had an injured athlete who could only do assistant lifts. This athlete went on to break records at the next competition. Would your training focus be on assistant lifts even with a healthy lifter?

CD Answer - Absolutely, the assisted training exercises are implemented to strengthen any weak link found within the main movement. In a competitive movement where a one rep max is completed, the max weight completed ultimately represents the strength of the athlete at the weakest point in a movement. Using a deadlift as an example, if the posterior chain is weak, an athlete may be able to pull heavy weights from the floor to knee level but be unable to complete the movement for a successful lift. Training of an assistive movement, such as an RDL will strengthen the posterior chain and increase the odds of the athlete to complete the lift successfully. Another example of an assistive exercise is the use of isometric training to improve the strength in a specific joint angle. These can be particularly useful around a sticking point. The understanding of these weak links within the main movement will also play a role in the use of oscillatory training methods discussed later.

 3. Could the undulated weekly model you use be expanded across consecutive days? A quick example of this would be something like:

     Monday -Fronts squats @80% 5x2, Tuesday- Snatch/Clean Pulls @83% 3x2, Wednesday – Back Squat @ 90% 3x1, Thursday- Snatch/Clean pulls @ 75% 6x2, Friday- Back Squat @ 70% 6x3.

CD Answer Yes, the undulated weekly model can be expanded across multiple days, I have seen people use this programming method with great success. The modified undulated model I have created fits the needs of the drug free athlete. The original undulated model (Bulgarian) could not be completed without the use of performance enhancing drugs due to the high volume utilized.

4. When peaking for a weightlifting meet, it is not uncommon to see back squats programmed at percentages around 90% for sets of doubles or triples. If you were to peak a lifter for a meet, would you keep the squats and pulls more in the 55-80% range in order to maximize speed-strength qualities?

CD Answer  The program must ultimately revolve around the needs of the individual athlete and their weakest qualities, or their limiting qualities in performance. The strength quality serves as the foundation for all Olympic movements, however it is possible for an athlete to be strong enough that it is no longer efficient for improvements in strength to be sought after. When this inefficient training of strength occurs, training percentages used could be lowered to train other limiting qualities in performance. It is for this reason, to determine specific quality needs of each athlete, that all individuals should work with a knowledgeable coach.

 5. Russian texts speak of the importance of the explosion phase on the pulls and the change of direction on the jerk. Do you see eccentric and isometric training as a way to enhance these aspects of the lifts?

CD Answer These movements, just as every other dynamic movement, contain the three muscle action phases (eccentric, isometric, and concentric). These two phases (eccentric and isometric) of muscular contraction can definitely be used to improve an athlete’s ability in Olympic training movements. Failure at these lifts occurs typically when the athlete is required to absorb extremely high levels of force created by the implement. This is due to a lack of eccentric strength, which results in a lowered ability to absorb high forces. By training eccentrically and isometrically, the muscle tissue’s ability to reverse the force of the bar is improved, leading to an increase in one rep max.

6. Russian programs commonly speak of the benefits of the shock method and program depth jumps multiple times throughout the training cycle. Do you see a benefit of incorporating he French contrast method into the training of a weightlifter?

CD Answer The effectiveness of the implementation of these shock training methods depend on the limiting qualities in performance, which were discussed earlier. If an athlete has a solid strength foundation the improvement of their speed-strength quality may be their limiting quality. If these exercises are to be used, they should be placed within a program about 10-12 weeks from competition. This will allow adaptation of the speed-strength quality while also ensuring appropriate focus can be placed on the specific movement required in competition. Once again, a coach that understands the requirements of competition must be used to guarantee appropriate individual quality needs are being met through training.

7. Similarly, do you see a benefit of using the oscillatory method for a weightlifter and how would you incorporate that into training?

CD Answer Oscillatory training methods can be applied with the same mentality as assistive exercises discussed earlier. Returning to the idea that one rep max is truly only an indicator of strength at the weakest point in a movement, heavy oscillatory training can be used to further increase strength in a weak range of motion. Returning to the RDL example as an assistive exercise, if there is a specific weak point within the RDL full range of motion is realized oscillatory training can be used to improve the strength levels at this point. Oscillatory training ultimately allows work to be completed at the absolute weakest point in a movement, whether it be a main or assistive exercise. By improving strength at this weakest point one rep max will continue to climb for the athlete.

Thursday Aug 06, 2015

Tuesday Jun 02, 2015

Supramaximal Isometric Training

 By Matt Van Dyke and Cal Dietz

Following the methods of Triphasic Training and the goal of applying maximal stress on specific adaptations from training, the three phases that occur in every dynamic contraction, eccentric, isometric, and concentric, are trained on an individual basis. A previous article “Supramaximal Slow Eccentrics and the Safety Bar Split Squat” explained the training ideologies, reasoning, and implementation of supramaximal training in the eccentric phase. As laid out in the previous article, the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), which is utilized in every dynamic movement and consists of the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases, is one of the most important aspects of training and is the focal point of Triphasic Training. Once the eccentric phase of contraction has been improved through specific, supramaximal training, the isometric training phase is implemented to continue the optimization of the power and efficiency of the SSC.

The isometric phase of movement is absolutely critical for the optimal transition between the lengthening and shortening of a muscle in contraction. Without the training of this phase specific to movement requirements, every athlete will lose potential free-energy from the SSC in each completed action in training and competition. This reduced free-energy leads to inefficient movement and reduced power production.

If the “V” shape, used in the previous article and shown again below in Figure 1, is readdressed, the eccentric and concentric muscle actions of dynamic movement become clear, while the isometric action is commonly overlooked as it is not clearly portrayed within the “V”. The isometric phase occurs in the brief amount of time as the muscle shifts from the eccentric to the concentric action. Amortization is another term that has been used for the isometric phase of dynamic movement.

A knowledgeable coach, one who has utilized the supramaximal eccentric training outlined in the previous article, understands the eccentric portion of the “V” now has the ability to occur at a steeper slope due to the increased ability of the body to absorb high forces. This enhanced capability of the muscle and tendon components of the body to absorb force leads to a greater potential ability to store free-energy within the elastic components of the musculo-tendon structure. However, unless the isometric phase of contraction is trained appropriately, this enhanced ability of these elastic components to produce force in the concentric manner will be diminished. As the isometric phase becomes trained, the amount of free-energy that can be transferred from the eccentric to the isometric and finally through the concentric muscle action is improved. It is only through the specific training of each of these dynamic muscular contraction components that the efficiency of the body and power production can be truly optimized.

Bench Press Power

Specific, Supramaximal, Isometric Training:

Now that the importance of the isometric phase of dynamic muscular contraction is better understood, it is necessary to address the specifics of training this phase to the greatest extent. Figure 2 below depicts the force-velocity curve of a muscle depending on the specific phase the muscle is experiencing. In the previous article discussing supramaximal training it became clear that in order to truly improve the eccentric, force absorbing capabilities of the musclo-tendon structure, loads greater than the concentric 1RM of that movement must be used. If lower loads are used the adaptations seen in this phase of movement will not occur to the greatest extent. The same principle applies to the training of the isometric phase. Although the isometric phase is weaker than the eccentric phase, it is still able to produce higher force values than concentric muscle actions. For this reason, supramaximal loads are continued to be used throughout the isometric training block in Triphasic Training. This training is completed specifically to maximize the ability of this brief, yet vital portion of dynamic movement and the SSC. Once again it should be noted this supramaximal eccentric training should be used only with highly advanced athletes and a spotter should be used on both sides of the bar at all times.

The “V” graphic in Figure 1 has already been referred to in the previous section, but its importance to performance enhancement cannot be overemphasized. If the isometric phase, which can be easily overlooked in training, is not maximally trained, an athlete will do a poor job of transferring the energy stored from the eccentric phase into power; especially if the eccentric phase has been maximized as explained in the previous article. When the isometric phase is overlooked, the steep “V”, which is the goal, as increased force is produced in less time, may end up looking more like “\_/”. Clearly this second shape is less than ideal as it takes a greater amount of time to reach the concentric phase, thus less free-energy from the SSC is transferred and is lost.

Supramaximal isometric training continues to lead to high quality tissue adaptations to the muscle fibers being trained. As there is no muscle length change in isometric movements, velocity of contraction is zero and is not considered in training. This means the amount of time spent in the desired position and load used are the determining factors of adaptation in this training method. By training isometrically in a supramaximal fashion, greater tissue adaptation is realized within the muscle. This adaptation occurs as muscle fibers are fired and re-fired throughout the duration of the repetition to the greatest extent with supramaximal loads, even though no movement is occurring. The adaptations occurring within the tissue through this training maximizes the free-energy that is transferred throughout every dynamic muscle contraction and the SSC.

As introduced above, with zero length change in the muscle during isometric muscle actions, the two primary factors in determining stress in this training method include the load utilized and the duration of each completed set. With loading parameters already being set according to the supramaximal training used in this muscle action phase training, only the time of each set remains as a parameter affecting this training. With the goal of training with high-quality at all times, sets are kept below ten seconds in the Triphasic Training Program. By keeping this time low and allowing brief rest between all movements energy utilization is reduced in training ultimately leading to mTOR, or muscle building abilities, being enhanced.

Adaptations outside of the musculo-tendon structure also occur within the supramaximal isometric training model. As with the supramaximal eccentric training, supramaximal isometric training leads to the greatest hormone response within the body due to training. This is due to the high stress levels applied in this training protocol. This increased hormonal response continues to enhance the adaptation processes occurring within the athlete. A second, more centralized, adaptation that has been seen due to this training model is improved efficiency within the cardiac output system. This could be due to multiple factors in this training program, but it is believed to be due to the high pressures placed on the cardiac system that lead to this improved efficiency.

Figure 2 below solidifies the training mechanisms used within the Triphasic Training System to specifically train the isometric phase of any muscle action. In order to train the isometric muscle action phase to the fullest extent, which is the main purpose of this method, loads must be high enough to stress the isometric phase. It is with this idea in mind that supramaximal loads are continued through the isometric training block. Supramaximal loads must be used if the isometric muscle action phase is to be stressed and improved to the greatest extent, which must be the purpose of training in this block.


How to Apply Supramaximal Isometrics:

The same exercise used in supramaximal isometric training as was used in supramaximal eccentric training, the hands assisted, safety bar split squat. As described in the eccentric article, this training exercise has been found, at this time, to be the optimal movement to induce total body stress. By training this exercise in all three muscle action phases, efficiency and power outputs are increased in single leg movements. This leads to greater transfer of training to sport, which is the ultimate goal of all training. The hands assisted aspect gives a better support system and takes pressure off the back, which is usually the weak link in squatting exercises. The support of the arms also allows single leg training to be used without balance becoming an issue. Once again the goal of the program is to maximize stress on the body, the hands assisted, safety bar split squat allows for this and leads to the necessary adaptations for enhanced performance.

Supramaximal isometric exercises, such as the hands assisted, safety bar split squat described above should only be used in the first training block of the day. If supramaximal loads are used for more than one exercise, or too many sets with these high loads are completed, too much stress will be placed on the body, leading to performance decreases. Supramaximal isometric exercises can be used as potentiation exercises, just as the supramaximal eccentrics were in the previous phase. This potentiation leads to increased rate of force development during plyometric movements, such as the French Contrast Method. Supramaximal isometric training can be applied in any manner that you desire as a coach, you can even keep the exercises you are already using within your program.

Coaching Points:

The coaching point used for the hands assisted, safety bar split squat will be the same as in the supramaximal eccentric article, other than the exercise is now being completed strictly as an isometric exercise. Focus is still placed on the back, chest, and leg positioning. The back should be kept in a neutral, supported position with the chest up. The front leg position should be around 90-90, with the back leg at an angle slightly extended beyond 90 degrees, be sure the back leg does not become too extended, as it will begin to pull the athlete’s hips out of proper alignment. Another key coaching point in this movement is teaching athletes to push through their back leg and fire that corresponding glute. This leads to increased stabilization of the pelvis while also utilizing the correct kinetic sequencing for athletes. To begin the set, the athlete will move from the starting position into the bottom position in a controlled motion. Once the athlete has reached the bottom position, the timed set will begin and the athlete will hold the bottom position until the set is completed. The athlete is encouraged to begin every isometric lift with a belly breath and then hold their breath for the duration of the rep. This is believed to cause greater adaptations within the circulatory system, as discussed earlier, and will be covered thoroughly in a separate article. Just like the eccentric phase, spotters will be required as the supramaximal loads will be too heavy for the athlete to lift concentrically on their own. We suggest a spotter on each side of the bar for these supramaximal load movements. The athlete will continue to focus on exploding out of the bottom position concentrically when the set is completed, even though the load will be too heavy for the athlete to lift completely on their own.

The three phases of every dynamic muscular contraction must be trained individually based on both their physiological and force producing capability differences. Based on the differences shown in Figure 2 supramaximal training is necessary to train both the eccentric and isometric phases of contraction to the greatest extent. Isometric strength, when maximized, allows for the optimal free-energy stored throughout the eccentric phase of the SSC to be converted into power through the concentric phase, which is the ultimate goal for athletes. The stress imposed on the body using supramaximal loads during isometric contractions allows the maximization of this second phase of the SSC. Supramaximal isometric training will continue to strengthen the tissue, which was also done during the supramaximal eccentric phase of Triphasic Training. To this point the greatest adaptations have been seen using the hands assisted, safety bar split squat which maximizes stress on the body. This controlled stress leads to increased adaptations, and ultimately maximized performance. After the isometric phase of Triphasic Training has been utilized properly, an athlete is now prepared for the reactive phase of Triphasic Training. This final phase of Triphasic Training’s specific muscle action phase training will put all 3 components of the SSC together and the free-energy transfer through the SSC will be maximized to steepen the “V” even further. This steepening of the “V” will continuously lead to a more explosive and efficient athlete.

Friday May 29, 2015

CVASPS conference on July 16th & 17th

More Details Here




Click here to read Dr. Mike Gentry’s Introductory Q & A


Click here to read Michael Regan’s Introductory Q & A



Click Here to read Erik Korem’s Introductory Q and A


Click here to read Dr. Ben Peterson’s Introductory Q & A


Click here to read Jimmy Snider’s Introductory Q & A


Click here to read Landon Evans Introductory Q & A



Click here to read Dr. Bryan Mann’s Introductory Q & A


Click here to read Cal Dietz’s Introductory Q & A


Steve Magness’ Introductory Q & A Coming Soon


Click here to read Andrew Althoff’s Introductory Q & A

Saturday May 23, 2015

Safe and Loaded Core Training

Download Here


Monday May 18, 2015

Supramaximal Slow Eccentrics and the Safety Bar Split Squat

By Cal Dietz and Matt Van Dyke

The Triphasic Training method is implemented with one goal in mind, STRESS. Stressing the body often, and in a different manner each training session, should be the goal of every strength coach to achieve optimal adaptations from their athletes. The stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), which is utilized in every dynamic movement, consists of an eccentric, isometric, and concentric phase and is the one of the most important ability in sports in terms of athlete power production and efficiency. Stressing the body specifically in order to maximize muscle and SSC force output is the ultimate goal of Triphasic Training. By training each of the three phases seen in every dynamic contraction separately, these three phase are maximized in their force absorbing and producing capabilities on an individual basis. When trained appropriately, this specific, individual training leads to an enhanced power transfer and efficiency in every movement completed in athletics.

The eccentric phase of movement is vital for deceleration of the body. It is necessary to train the eccentric movements as the body cannot produce what it cannot absorb. In Figure 1.1, the left line is eccentric, or absorbing force, and the right line is the concentric, or force producing capabilities of an athlete. The isometric phase occurs briefly between the eccentric and concentric phases. This concentric action commonly gets all the glory in athletics, but when we look more closely, the importance of the eccentric and isometric phases becomes more apparent. When these three phases of dynamic contraction are combined, the “V” shape is formed. Based on our understanding of the SSC and the force producing capabilities of the muscles, the concentric portion of this “V” will never be steeper than the eccentric portion. By improving an athlete’s ability to absorb force eccentrically, the concentric, power production aspect is maximized, leading to improved sports performance. It becomes clear the elite athlete has an advantage based on their ability to absorb and produce force in a much more rapid fashion, while also working more efficiently with a higher percent of this power coming from the elastic components of the SSC.


Specific, Supramaximal, Eccentric Training:


Now that the importance of improving the eccentric component of dynamic muscle contraction is better understood, it is necessary to cover how this specific phase can be maximally trained. Figure 1.2 displays the force-velocity curve of a muscle based on the phase being completed. It can be seen the eccentric component of movement has a much higher force producing capability than both the isometric and concentric muscle actions. A back squat is a simple example of this, an athlete is capable of using much more weight if they are only required to slowly lower the bar to the bottom position than if they were required to stand back up with the weight.

Eccentric muscle actions are not only stronger than the isometric and concentric phases, but they also function differently on a physiological level. The brain, specifically the cortex, uses a different strategy for motor recruitment during muscle lengthening than muscle shortening. During eccentric movements completed at the same load, the motor pool is less activated than during isometric and concentric contractions, leading to fewer muscle fibers being utilized. The fact that fewer motor units are activated means there are fewer myosin head attachment sites during this eccentric movement phase. These fewer myosin-actin attachment sites lead to increased stress on those filament attachment sites that are being used.

This figure and example solidify the training mechanisms used within the Triphasic Training System to specifically train the eccentric phase of any muscle action. In order to train the eccentric movement phase maximally, which is the main goal of this method, loads must be high enough to stress the eccentric phase. It is with this idea in mind that supramaximal loads were implemented in the training of the eccentric block. Supramaximal loads must be used if the eccentric muscle action phase is to be stressed and improved to the greatest extent.



Eccentric movements cause both muscle fibers and tendons to absorb high amounts of force as the muscle fights being lengthened. Due to the different recruitment pattern seen in eccentric movements, along with the supramaximal loads utilized, the stress on each myosin-actin structure is increased to an even greater extent. This increased stress will ultimately lead to microscopic muscle damage and athlete soreness, especially if the supramaximal training model is used (1). By applying maximal stress on the muscle fibers the body adapts accordingly and strengthens both the myosin-actin attachment site as well as the tendons utilized. Once the fiber has been rebuilt, the body has now adapted and prepared itself optimally to handle the stress of eccentric movements. The hormonal response of the body is also maximized when the high stress levels of supramaximal training is applied. This increased hormonal response continues to enhance the adaptation processes occurring within the athlete.

When appropriate stress and adaptation is applied in eccentric training, the movement now has an overall improved and more rapid eccentric movement. Improving the eccentric, or force absorption, phase leads to an increased storage of “free-energy” via the SSC within your athlete’s tendons throughout this phase. The muscle damage from supramaximal eccentric movements will cause soreness in the muscles, but once the soreness subsides, a strengthened and rebuilt muscle fiber remains. The muscle fiber and tendons have now been maximally trained eccentrically within the dynamic muscle contraction phases and the athlete is now prepared to handle the isometric phase of the Triphasic Training Method.

The isometric and concentric phases, combined with this training, will allow that “free-energy” from the SSC to be applied to all sport-specific movements. The supramaximal training of the eccentric phase leads to the creation of the steepest “V” possible for every individual athlete. It should be emphasized here this supramaximal eccentric training should be used only with highly advanced athletes that have a spotter on each side of the bar to assist in the concentric phase, as the load will be too high for the athlete to complete the rep on their own.

If we return to Figure 1.1, it is realized the two “V” graphs shown are actually the same athlete. The difference being pre- and post-supramaximal training. The supramaximal training will lead to the “V” becoming even steeper, or more compact, leading to greater free-energy utilization from the SSC. Not only will your athletes produce more power in less time, they will be spending less energy with every movement due to an improved SSC.

How to Apply Supramaximal Eccentrics:

We have chosen to apply supramaximal eccentrics in a unique way while training our athletes. The hands assisted, safety bar split squat has emerged, to this point, as one of the best ways to stress the body. This exercise turns a lower body movement into a unilateral, total body movement. The split squat portion allows individual leg training, which is vital for increased sports performance as athletics movements are completed dominantly using a single leg. By training with a single leg method, axial loading is also reduced while stress placed upon the individual leg muscles is increased. Adding the safety bar allows the athlete to train without using their hands to hold the bar on their back. By freeing the arms, the athlete is allowed to assist with the split squat by using their upper body to support and grasp the bar set out in front of them. The support of the arms also takes balance out of the equation as supramaximal loads are being used. Increased support and the use of the arms allows for even more weight to be used than a barbell split squat would allow, leading to even greater stress being applied to the entire body. The use of the arms, along with the increased load, stresses the core to an even greater extent than a barbell split squat. Supramaximal eccentrics using the hands assisted, safety bar split squat creates total body stress, engaging the arms as well as the core to improve the musculo-tendon structure maximally. The nervous system is also maximized through this supramaximal training, which is not the main focus of this article, but necessary for absolutely vital for improved athletic performance.

Supramaximal eccentric exercises, such as the hands assisted, safety bar split squat described above, should only be used in the first training block of the day. Using supramaximal loads for multiple exercises, or too many sets within a single training session, will cause too much stress to be placed on the body, actually leading to decreases in performance or injury. We have followed these supramaximal training method guidelines over the past five years with thousands of athletes and have never had an injury occur due to this system of training. In multiple cases, this training exercise has even shown potential impingement issues in the shoulder with overhead, throwing athletes. Supramaximal eccentrics can be used as potentiation exercises and can be completed prior to plyometric methods, such as the French Contrast Method. A key positive aspect of supramaximal eccentric training is that it can be applied to the exercises you are already using within your program.

Coaching Points:

While completing the hands assisted, safety bar split squat, focus must be placed on the back, chest, and leg positions. Keeping the back neutral, in a supported position, with the chest up will ensure that the lower back is well protected against harmful injuries. The front leg position should be around 90-90, with the back leg at an angle slightly extended beyond 90 degrees. It is important to make sure the back leg does not get too extended. If the leg becomes too extended, the athlete’s hips will begin to be pulled out of position, causing unnecessary stress. To protect the hips the split position is used rather than the rear foot being elevated on a bench. The rear foot elevated lift is useful at certain times, but not with the stress of supramaximal loads. The athlete will move in a slow, smooth, and controlled fashion through the entire range of motion during the timed set. Breathing throughout the set also will be important to complete these heavy loads. Belly breathing can be used to increase intra-abdominal pressure and is the preferred breathing method. A spotter will be required as the supramaximal loads will be too heavy for the athlete to lift concentrically on their own. We suggest a spotter on each side of the bar as we have athletes nearing 600 lbs on the eccentric phase of the hands assisted, safety bar split squat. Even though the weight will be too heavy for the athlete to lift on their own, they will still focus on exploding up once the eccentric phase is completed.

Eccentric strength is a necessary component of every dynamic movement and is required to decelerate the body. The eccentric phase of contraction also plays a key role in the functioning of the SSC. The stress on the body from supramaximal, slow eccentric movements causes this first phase of every dynamic contraction to be optimally adapted. Maximizing the eccentric phase is an important first step to increasing power and efficiency in any desired movement, which ironically is missed in “typical” concentric training. Supramaximal, slow eccentrics cause damage to the muscle fiber heads but, in turn, lead to the body reconstructing those muscle attachment sites, creating a stronger, more resilient fiber. The use of the hands assisted, safety bar split squat leads to maximized stress placed on the body in training, which leads to enhanced adaptations, and ultimately maximized performance. Once the eccentric phase of Triphasic Training has been completed, the athlete is now able to move into the isometric training phase. As a performance coach, always remember Figure 1.1, the steeper the “V” becomes, most specifically eccentrically, the more powerful, explosive, and efficient your athletes have the ability to become.



1. Maughan, R., & Gleeson, M. (2010). The Biochemical Basics of Sport Performance (2nd ed.). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.


Monday May 04, 2015

Balance of Power

Balance of Power

It's no secret that making athletes stronger is not the key factor in enhancing their performance. It's about making them more powerful. Over the past few decades, strength and conditioning coaches have been developing strategies to do this, from identifying optimal exercises to deciding on the most effective periodization plans.

Despite the gains made in this area, until recently, a piece was still missing. Even the best programs for developing power seemed to lack a key ingredient--they

focused solely on the acceleration phase of a movement, ignoring the stages that come before it.

The deceleration stage and pause before acceleration can make all the difference in performance. A prime example is two equally skilled athletes who perform at similar levels in the weightroom but have a wide gap in their competitive results. This was the case at the University of Minnesota in 2003 when the track and field team had two shot-putters who lifted comparable loads in the weightroom and had the same one-rep max on the bench press. When they entered the shot put circle, however, one consistently threw 10 feet farther than the other.

When we used a force plate to analyze both throwers' power over the time it took them to complete a bench press, we found that the more successful shot-putter was absorbing more force eccentrically at a higher velocity. In doing so, he was loading up his muscles with energy to use concentrically. In essence, his longer puts didn't come from being the strongest athlete but from being able to produce more force in the movement.

It's one thing for an athlete to be naturally powerful, but it's another to enhance the stretch-shortening cycle of someone who lacks this ability. For strength and conditioning coaches, finding optimal ways to do this has been elusive. Over the years, many have made the attempt with Olympic lifts and plyometric training.

A new idea, however, which we've implemented at Minnesota, is to train the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases of a movement separately. By allowing athletes to zero in on each one individually and learn how to optimize it during training cycles, they are better able to reach the ultimate goal of increased power.

We have introduced this approach, called triphasic training, to Gophers athletes in many sports over the past few years with great results. Paired with block periodization, this method is helping basketball players jump higher, soccer players cut more sharply, runners accelerate more rapidly, and so on. It's also proving helpful for injury rehab.


The concept of individually training the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases does little good without a system to operate in. We've had success at Minnesota with block periodization and a careful breakdown of its three stages: accumulation, transmutation, and realization.

The first stage, accumulation, includes the individual block training of the eccentric, isometric, and concentric actions and plays a major role in creating the stretch-shortening cycle. The value of accumulation lies in the fact that basic motor skills are improved in this stage, which serve as the foundation for adaptations such as power and sport-specific speed. Specifically, training the eccentric phase of a movement leads to an increased storage of "free energy" within tendons. This energy is then transferred to the concentric action during the isometric phase, resulting in greater velocities and increased power outputs.

A sample accumulation stage that we use at Minnesota allows for two weeks of training for each of the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases. For example, with the back squat, the athlete lifts at 80 percent of their one-rep maximum and completes three or four reps in each block. The only change comes in the points of emphasis. When training the eccentric phase during the first and second weeks, the focus is on a slow, controlled tempo down into the squat. When working the isometric phase in the middle two weeks, the athlete concentrates on the pause at the bottom of the movement. And the concentric phase in weeks five and six prioritizes completing a dynamic, quick squat.

While the accumulation stage improves the building blocks of a movement, they are applied to sport-specific means for the first time during transmutation. In this training stage, maximizing power output is the ultimate goal. Power is increased by completing high-velocity repetitions with slightly lower loads, ranging from 55 to 80 percent of one-rep max.

The realization phase takes sport-specific training a step further by maximizing the transfer of skills the athlete worked on in previous phases. It utilizes the high velocity peaking method, which calls for athletes to lift at less than 55 percent of their one-rep max. Using lighter weights at a maximal velocity continues to increase power outputs and the rate of force development.

In realization, the nervous system and muscles must also be trained to fire at high velocities to reflect the instantaneous movements of sport. This can be achieved through plyometric exercises, antagonistic facilitated work, and oscillatory training.


We incorporate triphasic training into our existing strength and conditioning regimen using an undulated training cycle. Undulation allows for daily changes in load intensity and volume, which stresses the body, ensures constant adaptation, and provides a wide range of variability.

A typical week during triphasic training splits the work into three separate days: medium intensity and medium volume, high intensity and low volume, and low intensity and high volume. It's beneficial to place the low intensity, high volume day at the end of the week to allow 72 hours of recovery between the two higher-volume sessions, ensuring the athletes stay fresh and are able to complete quality lifts.

The daily variety of undulation can be further enhanced by incorporating timed sets into workouts instead of numbered reps. Timed sets both push athletes to lift using maximal velocity and regulate the amount of stress that is exerted on the body, making them a valuable tool in training sport-specific energy systems. For example, football players engage in quick bursts of activity in their sport, so we put them through short timed sets. Distance runners, meanwhile, require endurance and stamina, so they perform exercises over a longer period of time to better train these traits.

Block periodization and undulation can be combined with the concept of residual training effects to set up an annual triphasic training cycle. While block periodization determines how long to train each phase and undulation ensures constant adaptation from the body, residual training effects set the framework to ensure athletes peak at the right time.

For instance, say an athlete is approaching a competition and you are deciding what to train and when so he or she is firing on all cylinders on game day. Aerobic endurance and maximal strength have the longest residual effects at 25 to 35 days, which means these qualities can be trained earlier in the workout cycle and not decline in the time until competition. On the other hand, the residual effect of the nervous system (speed work) is two to eight days, so this ability should be trained just prior to competition in order to reach maximum levels. When block periodization, undulation, and residual effects are utilized correctly in triphasic training, all abilities will be near maximal performance after all stages are completed. This leads to optimum performance and results.

It's important to note that our triphasic training has benefited from using the French contrast method. French contrast training supplements a primary strength exercise with three different plyometric actions--bodyweight, weighted, and accelerated. A sample sequence could be a back squat followed by a tuck jump, a weighted squat jump, and a band-assisted jump. The plyometric movements provide additional stress at maximal velocities to improve an athlete's power output and rate of force development, preparing them for the high-velocity peaking phase.

In addition, we have had success incorporating weeklong de-loading periods after each block. These sessions include general preparatory exercises and circuits, such as contralateral and super endurance, to maintain aerobic energy system gains, while helping athletes recover. De-loading weeks promote super-compensation and lead to an improved athlete when beginning a new block.


In addition to boosting performance for active athletes, triphasic training can also help players who are sidelined by injury. Because triphasic training is ideal for improving general strength and the ability to absorb force, rehab is an opportune time to introduce it to athletes.

Consider a traumatic knee injury. Several force plate studies have shown that rehabbed knees may experience a 30 to 40 percent decrease in their ability to absorb force compared to pre-injury levels. Training explosiveness with the triphasic method can help bolster the knee's ability to absorb force and get the athlete back on the field at full strength.

A slight tweak is made to apply the accumulation stage to rehab. When an athlete is recovering from an injury, they should start with the less impactful isometric exercises, followed by concentric. Eccentric exercises should be last because they are typically the most taxing on muscles and joints.

A quad rehab, for example, should begin with isometric exercises to increase range of motion and strength. These movements emphasize a gradual buildup of the muscle contraction to a maximal level, a five to six second hold, and then a slow and gradual decline to full relaxation before the next repetition. Examples of isometric exercises can include: quad contractions without motion, straight-leg raises, and hamstring sets where the athlete sits supine with the affected leg slightly bent while pushing their heel into a table.

Once these movements can be completed without pain, the individual should move on to knee extensions, lunges, and hamstring curls in the concentric phase. Finally, eccentric activities should be introduced to challenge the muscle by slowing down its elongation, which leads to strength gains and faster repair. Effective exercises at this point include double- or single-leg eccentric squats on a foam block or slant board, double- or single-leg eccentric wall squats, and eccentric leg presses.

The rehab transmutation stage serves as a transition between the healing stage of accumulation and the strength and sport-specific stage of realization and prepares the player for a more functional phase of exercise. It focuses on improved function and movement technique, which includes the start of a running/sprinting program. The athlete should begin with straight running and slowly move to directional changes and quick starts and stops.

Finally, the realization stage in rehab is a high-velocity phase that advances the athlete toward large, powerful, sport-specific movements. For example, a rehabbing basketball player may focus on explosive jumping, speed, and directional changes. Once these skills are mastered, the athlete is pain-free, and strength associated with the injury is back to 75 or 85 percent, return-to-sport skills can start and a normal return to team weightroom activities.

To ensure that athletes have time to heal and advance in the safest way possible, the strength and conditioning coach and athletic trainer must be on the same page as the rehab progresses from accumulation to transmutation to realization. When working with players who've suffered knee injuries, we urge them to continue with as much of their regular upper-body lifting program as possible, but once the athlete is ready to start a lower-body program in the weightroom, we work closely with the athletic trainer to devise an ideal plan. Both staffs must be in constant communication every step of the way.


The great thing about triphasic training theories and concepts is that they are fluid and can be seamlessly implemented into any strength and conditioning program. We have integrated triphasic training into thousands of different workout regimens and have yet to find one case where it did not mesh effectively and improve athletes' performance.

Strength coaches looking to add the triphasic protocol can start by gradually training the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases in a single exercise. This strategy allows coaches to implement triphasic theories slowly, giving athletes the chance to grasp the concepts without altering their whole program.

As for the results at Minnesota, we've seen triphasic training make an impact in the weightroom and on the field. Over the years, we've had athletes add six inches to their vertical jumps, increase 200 pounds in the bench press, and gain a 300-pound bump in the squat, all after switching to triphasic protocols. In combination with recruiting great athletes and hiring excellent coaches, we believe triphasic training has been a key part of the dozens of Big Ten Conference titles and six national championships won by Gopher athletes in the past decade.


By Matt Shaw

Matt Shaw, MEd, CSCS, SCCC, is Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach and intern coordinator at the University of Denver, where he works with the men's ice hockey and men's and women's soccer, golf, and diving programs. He can be reached at: Matthew.Shaw@du.edu.

I first heard about triphasic training a year and a half ago when a coworker introduced me to Cal Dietz's book, Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Performance. Intrigued by its concepts, I reached out to Cal with questions about the method. Using his feedback, I conducted a 10-week program evaluation with the University of Denver men's ice hockey team to test the efficacy of triphasic training. Our results showed it was tremendously effective.

To start, I formed a partnership with DU's Human Dynamics Lab because I wanted a way to evaluate neuromuscular adaptation while testing. We designed a multiplane, plyometric-based force plate protocol to assess three neuromuscular performance variables: peak force production, rate of force production, and temporal variables such as ground contact time and amortization time. We augmented the force plate evaluation with our standard pre-summer strength and vertical jump baseline testing.

Over the course of the 10-week training period, we completed five two-week phases. We did six weeks of accumulation (subdivided into two-week phases of eccentric, isometric, and concentric exercises), a two-week transmutation phase, and two weeks of realization.

The accumulation phase utilized French contrast training as the primary source of neuromuscular stress and secondary plyometric exercises to match the intensity, volume, and tempo demands for that day. Dynamic effort methods and cord-resistance exercises were used in the transmutation block to keep training within strength/speed and speed/strength ranges, and athletes completed ballistic exercises in the realization stage to elicit the highest training velocities.

Because triphasic training includes methodology our athletes had not been exposed to yet, I added it to our workouts conservatively. With 13 returning players training four days a week, the team completed lower-body pushing/upper-body pulling on days one and three and lower-body pulling/upper-body pushing on days two and four. This gave us systemic training stress every day and allowed for a 48-hour break between similar movement patterns.

The athletes trained moderate volumes and intensities on the first two days and high intensity and low volumes the second two days. This format allowed for one day of tempo training per week during the accumulation phases, where I was concerned that stress would be at its highest due to greatest time under tension.

Typically, a triphasic training program includes one high-volume day each week, but I removed that from our plan because it was the team's first exposure to tempo training and plyometrics at high volumes. Doing so placed increased emphasis on recovery. Although the high-volume training days were eliminated, additional training volume was gained through supplementation of secondary exercises that matched each day's training volume, intensity, and tempo.

After completing the pilot program and analyzing the data collected from the force plates, we saw striking results. Measurements from a repeat skater jump test (side-to-side jumping as fast and forcefully as possible) showed a reduction of 44 percent in ground-contact time, 38 percent increase in rate of force production, and 22 percent increase in peak concentric force. When it came to vertical jump displacement, 10 athletes jumped at or greater than 30 inches, up from four athletes in pre-training, and the team average increased from 28.75 inches to 31.12. In addition, the amortization period was reduced by a team average of 61 percent.

Not only did the data clearly support the performance benefits from 10 weeks of triphasic training, but I could see anecdotal results as well. As the athletes progressed from block to block, I noticed greater eccentric loading speeds, faster amortization periods during plyometrics, and greater force production.

What truly validated the triphasic training program for me was the subsequent success the team had on the ice. After reintroducing triphasic-based protocols in-season, the squad won the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's inaugural championship. Every strength and conditioning department aims to improve competitive performance by enhancing physical abilities, and triphasic training helped us make it happen at DU.

Post-Pitching Recovery Protocol

By: Ryan Faer and Matt Van Dyke

Pitching is one of the most, if not the most, high-velocity action found in the world of athletics. That being said, proper recovery from this explosive, repeated movement becomes vitally important in determining not only the timeframe of return to maximal strength and velocity for a pitcher, but also the longevity of their career. This article will emphasize the importance of implementing recovery techniques based on the physiological stressors pitchers experience during competition. It is important to note that the methods used in this article may be applied to any athletic event, however the focus will be placed on different areas of the body as needed in each individual sport.

Why Recovery Post-Pitching Matters:

As we briefly explained earlier, pitching is one of the most explosive, high-velocity movements found in athletics. Peak shoulder internal rotation reaches a velocity of 7000 degrees/second with peak elbow extension velocity reaching 2000 degrees/second. To put this rotational velocity in perspective, 7000 degrees/second is the equivalent to rotating your arm in a circular motion 70,000 times per hour. This almost unimaginable feat displays the true explosive power that pitchers’ shoulders must produce and endure with each pitch. Think about looking at a pitchers arm found on a baseball card and the way the pitcher’s arm is “cocked” or in the “layback” position. There is clearly a tremendous amount of force being transferred through the entire kinetic chain, and it is all transferred specifically through the throwing arm. The rapid acceleration of the arm through the throwing motion must, ultimately, be stopped in a rapid fashion as well. This rapid deceleration of the arm places high eccentric stress on the arm, specifically the posterior shoulder musculature. This means the posterior shoulder muscles are violently contracting while still elongating as they attempt to decelerate the humerus during its internal rotation and extension toward home plate.

It is well understood that high eccentric stress is the leading cause of muscle damage in high-velocity movements. Taking a brief look at the physiology of a muscle contraction, the myosin head is attempting to attach to the actin in order to decelerate the arm moving at an extremely high-velocity. If the myosin heads and their actin attachment sites have not been properly trained to handle these high-stress, eccentric loads, muscle damage almost always occurs. Even with proper training, the explosive action of pitching will lead to muscle damage, just not as much. Multiple exposures to high eccentric stress, as seen in pitching, without proper recovery methods leads to a loss in range of motion, inflammation, and soreness. It is for this reason the recovery protocol for pitchers becomes an imperative piece in keeping them not only injury free, but continuously performing optimally.

Immediately Post:

Once an outing for a pitcher has concluded, they can immediately begin the recovery process. The goal of this recovery protocol immediately following pitching is to begin the process of rebuilding as rapidly as possible, thus optimally preparing the pitcher for their next competition date. The primary modes of recovery immediately post-pitching can ultimately be broken down into three segments, the first being AVOID ICE AT ALL COSTS, the second is the completion of dynamic movements of the shoulder, and the third is active recovery.

We know the first aspect of recovery goes against everything the majority of us have been taught about treating injuries. However, icing will lead to the halting and even reversal of the healing and recovery process. Simply put, a pitcher will take longer to recover if ice is used on their shoulder or elbow. The logic behind this anti-icing movement is simple and easily understood. When any tissue is damaged within the body, our ultimate goal should be to improve that tissue to its highest functioning state. In athletics, our goal is then made more difficult as we attempt to treat injuries as quickly as possible to get our athletes back on the field. We accomplish this task by removing the waste or “junk” produced by the injury via the lymphatic system and by increasing the blood flow to the injured area, which will bring the necessary nutrients to begin the rebuilding process. If the lymph system is understood, you know the only way lymph or the “junk” within the lymphatic system is cleared is by active muscle contraction in the nearby area. If we take these two basic principles of recovery and then realize that ice both leads to immobilization and decreased blood flow to the injured area, we can clearly see icing is completely ineffective and significantly hinders recovery.

If you are interested in learning more about the “anti-icing” movement, click here for a link to a video featuring Gary Reinl explaining his profoundly simple idea to maximizing recovery.

Dynamic movement of the shoulder is the second piece in our immediate recovery plan. These movements not only assist with the inflammatory process by increasing waste removal via the lymphatic system, but they also function to strengthen posterior shoulder muscles and the entire range of motion of the shoulder joint. As covered earlier, it is the posterior muscles of the shoulder that experience the highest levels of eccentric stress and potential micro-trauma. Strengthening these muscles immediately post-pitching will jump start the building process for the next outing and ultimately reduce the likelihood of chronic overuse injuries down the road. It is important to note that if there is pain experienced during these muscle actions, movement should be reduced to a pain free range of motion. This will prevent any further damage being done to these damaged muscles. The goal of causing no more harm is always in effect during training.

Active recovery is simply putting the body in motion. This can range from a dynamic warm-up to a brisk walking session, with the goal of keeping the heart rate around 100 bpm. This recovery protocol ensures all tissues receive the blood flow necessary, which carries the needed nutrients for proper regeneration. This low-intensity training also assists in the removal of any remaining metabolites within the body produced during the pitching outing. This method can be paired with the dynamic movements of the shoulder if so desired.

Day after:

The first day after a pitching outing is another opportunity for a coach to maximize a pitcher’s recovery time. The training methods implemented on this day play just as vital a role in reducing needed recovery time as the methods used immediately post-pitching. Covered here will be training protocols that will hinder recovery and potentially subsequent performance. Training methods to enhance recovery also will be given.

The mentality of avoiding ice continues to be applied in this phase of recovery, just as it was during the immediately post-pitching recovery process. The reasoning for this approach is outlined above and is based on the principle of getting “garbage out and groceries in”. This refers to the process of removing the “junk” or “garbage” via the lymphatic system produced by the damaged tissue, and getting the proper nutrients or “groceries” to the recovering muscles via blood flow. Once again, the reasoning for this method is expressed in a more detailed manner above.

One of the biggest, most misguided, training protocols prescribed to pitchers is the “flush run” or jogging poles. Physiologically speaking, based on the requirements of pitching, there is simply no need to “flush the system” after a pitching outing. Pitching consists of a short duration, max-effort bout, followed by 20-30 seconds of rest. This high-intensity bout is then repeated an upwards of 100 or more times, and broken into segments (innings in this case) that allow much longer rest times. Short duration, high-intensity movements, as seen in pitching primarily use the ATP-CP energy system, as long as creatine phosphate is available. This is the shortest metabolic pathway and allows the rapid use of energy, or ATP, for explosive movements. It should be noted that all energy pathways are utilized at all times, however, they function in an ever fluctuating model depending on the intensity and time requirements of the activity being performed.

As stated above, pitching primarily relies on the ATP-CP energy system when a pitcher is fully recovered, or has available stores of creatine phosphate. As more pitches are thrown during a single half-inning, the body must begin to rely on other energy pathways to meet the high-intensity demands required in pitching as creatine phosphate cannot fully recover between pitches. Anaerobic glycolysis, or the use of glycogen, is the next available energy system capable of producing high-intensity efforts and becomes utilized to a greater extent, leading to the production of lactate. The hydrogen ions produced along with lactate lead to the reduced ability of the ATP-CP energy system to produce the needed energy. The ability to clear and tolerate these hydrogen ions becomes vitally important as more pitches are thrown within a single half-inning. Once the half-inning is completed, properly trained athletes will have enough time to clear the majority of hydrogen ions prior to the start of their next inning. This will allow the body to begin to replenish ATP stores and the ATP-CP system. The fact that the body can clear these metabolites rapidly demonstrates a “flush run” is not a requirement for recovery during the next day after a pitching performance.

The training methods to increase an athlete’s abilities in clearance of lactate or tolerance of high concentrations of lactate are laid out in the following article, Understanding Blood Lactate to Optimize Training and Performance.

Below is a figure showing the estimated energy system contribution during a 3 second sprint, which is similar to the short burst, high-intensity movements seen in pitching. As the inning continues and more pitches are thrown, energy system contribution will shift toward the anaerobic glycolysis pathway.


If simply being unnecessary isn’t enough for a coach to discontinue these “recovery” methods, such as jogging poles, then it should be understood that these exercises can lead to decreased maximal power outputs, or reduced explosiveness. The first sentence of this article portrayed the importance of explosive power for pitchers, so the fact that a training method commonly used leads to decreasing the ability so vital for success should immediately lead to the training being questioned.

Explosive power, which is provided via contraction of the type II, “fast twitch”, muscle fibers, provides the backbone to elite, high-level, pitchers. As coaches, it should be our goal to provide training protocols to optimize the power producing abilities of these type II fibers. Distance jogging, as seen in running poles, leads to a shift in fast twitch fibers to slower, more oxidative fibers. Once this occurs, research shows the ability to transition those fibers back to their original explosive form is virtually impossible. This means your star pitcher, whose success relies almost solely on being explosive, just trained their body to be less explosive. As coaches, we never want to facilitate the shifting of explosive type II fibers to more aerobically trained fibers. Now some of you may be questioning the walking method as an active recovery method, as discussed in the immediately post-pitching section, after reading these last few sentences. Walking as a method for active recovery will not lead to the shift of type II fibers to a more oxidative, or less explosive form. This is simply because the type II fibers responsible for maximal power are not activated during this low-intensity activity. The activity does not require their activation, thus they are not changed.

As mentioned earlier, the violent eccentric contractions of the posterior shoulder musculature can cause significant Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Also, DOMS can be experienced in the forearm from the eccentric contractions by the wrist flexors, as the wrist must rapidly decelerate during the ball release phase, and in the lower body from decelerating the entire body upon foot strike and follow-through.  To reiterate, DOMS is caused by mechanical damage to the muscle cells and the ensuing inflammatory response. This inflammation causes the cells to swell, whereby pressure receptors are activated, causing pain. It’s important to understand that, although this swelling causes soreness, it is a vital part of the muscle’s recovery and repair. Coaches and pitchers DO NOT want to ice the sore muscles, for exactly the reasons stated multiple times above, and they certainly do not want to take anti-inflammatory drugs, as this will impede any positive physiological adaptations your pitcher’s body can incur from the eccentric muscle damage.

However, there are a few modalities that can be used to assist with the DOMS in order to achieve the goal of returning to maximal strength and physical state before the next outing. When muscle fibers are damaged, as frequently caused in pitching, they do not always repair themselves in an orderly fashion. This improper healing can lead to the formation of adhesions within the muscle, which can cause additional pain along with that already experienced due to the DOMS. If these adhesions are not continuously addressed, overall muscle functioning and power production abilities will be reduced dramatically over the course of a season, along with an increased risk of traumatic injury due to potential muscle and movement compensations. Self myofascial release techniques (SMR), through the utilization of foam rollers or a lacrosse ball, can be of assistance to reduce and potentially relieve the muscle adhesions. These SMR techniques also facilitate regeneration and recovery of the muscle tissues. Foam rolling can be used on the posterior shoulder musculature, as well as the rest of the body.

Light stretching and mobility work also can contribute to relieving the symptoms of DOMS and restore joint function after the tough eccentric bouts experienced during pitching. Over the course of the season, a pitcher tends to lose particular ranges of motion, particularly internal rotation of the shoulder along with scapular upward rotation. Mobility work along with stretching will support and keep the glenohumeral joint functioning optimally throughout the long seasons experienced in baseball.

Training in the weight room should consist of a lower body emphasis the day after a pitching outing. Dynamic movement of the lower body will continue to assist in the recovery from DOMS. If a pitcher is on a 5 day rotation, this will allow 4 days of recovery prior to their next appearance. This allows the legs to be continually trained and strengthened during the long baseball season, but also gives proper time for a full recovery to be made so their legs will be fresh for their next appearance.

For relief pitchers, much of the recovery protocol becomes variable based on their workload throughout the week. Communication between the pitching coach and the strength and conditioning coach is vital to ensure the relief pitchers receive proper training and recovery, which will vary on a weekly basis. For example, if a relief pitcher makes an appearance on Monday, throwing 50 pitches, and the pitching coach deems him “down” for the next game, this would make the next day a great opportunity to get a full-body training session in and perform some dynamic movement and recovery techniques that are needed to prepare for their next potential outing. Conversely, if a reliever throws 15 pitches on Monday and is deemed “up” for the next game, some dynamic movement would be encouraged, but a lift would be out of the question, and other recovery techniques could be performed as needed on an individual basis. Communication between player, pitching coach, and strength and conditioning coach is key in this process.

Summing it all up – Do’s and Don’ts:

Clearly there are methods coaches and pitchers can utilize post-outing that can dramatically improve recovery. However, if improper protocols are used, the recovery process can actually be hindered. The recovery process should begin immediately after the pitching session has been completed in order to maximize recovery time and efficiency.  Avoiding ice at all costs, paired with dynamic movement and active recovery are the first 3 steps and should be implemented as soon as possible. The following day of recovery should continue to avoid the use of ice, avoid the use of “flush running” or jogging poles, and should include light stretching and mobility exercises along with a high-intensity lower body training session. These methods will vary slightly based on the rotation schedule of each individual pitcher and their individual needs. Remember, any coach can make an athlete tired; our goal as coaches should be to provide the proper adaptations necessary to be successful in competition. It is important, once again, to note the recovery methods outlined in this article can be applied to virtually all athletes post-competition. However, the demands of the specific posterior shoulder and locations of SMR work will vary based on the requirements of the sport. There is no doubt in our minds that as the understanding of the physiological process of pitching continues to grow, these recovery methods will become even more proficient.

Thursday Dec 18, 2014

Triphasic Training Results - Pre Season Training

University Arkansas Women's Track Team

Result from Arkansas Strength Coach Alex Luhring Email him at aluhring@email.uark.edu


Saturday Nov 22, 2014

Triphasic Hip Strengthening Exercise Series

Download Workout Here

Complete Each Block for 2 to 3 weeks and Perform 2 to 3 times Each Week.

Weak hips are often mistaken for a weak core.

Block 1 - Eccentric Hip Series - Perform 2-3 Sets x 3-5 Reps – 3 sec count down each rep

Partner Bench Abduction Eccentric - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Partner Bench Adduction Eccentric - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Partner Single Leg Glute Bench Lift Eccentric - Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Partner Hip Flexor Prone Eccentric - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Isometric Hip Series - Perform 2-3 sets x 3-5 Reps – 3 sec hold each rep

Partner Bench Abduction Isometric - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Partner Bench Adduction Isometric - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Partner Single Leg Glute Bench Lift Isometric - Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Partner Hip Flexor Prone Isometric- Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Concentric Hip Series - Perform 2-3 Sets x 8-12 Reps

Bench Abduction -Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Bench Adduction -Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Single Leg Glute Bench Lift - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Hip Flexor Prone - Complete Each Side - Rest 20 to 30 Seconds

Thursday Oct 30, 2014

Supplementation for Sports Performance – Controlling your Pathways

By Matt Van Dyke, Cal Dietz, and Zac Brouillette

It is commonly understood athletes involved in explosive competition events must have the goals of increasing muscle mass and maintaining explosiveness while reducing unnecessary body fat as these are key factors in improving performance. The nutritional tactics used must create an environment specific to the desired adaptation of training. Adaptation goals will typically fall under one of two categories. The first being to increase muscle mass, and the second to increasing the rate of fat usage for energy, leading to a reduction in fat mass. The training completed, dietary intake, and supplements consumed by athletes must be in proper alignment with each other and work towards the same adaptation goal. When these three factors, training, nutrition, and supplements, function towards the same adaptation goal, that desired adaptation will be realized to a greater extent, leading to maximized performance.

For the sake of this article, these adaptations systems of the body will be broken down into two separate pathways. The mTOR pathway, and the AMPK pathway. The mTOR pathway is responsible for protein synthesis and has an anabolic effect on the body. If you are attempting to increase lean muscle mass this pathway is an important aspect in accomplishing that goal. The AMPK pathway works in the exact opposite of mTOR, and occurs when the body is utilizing energy. The AMPK pathway is activated with decreased ATP levels, which are used for energy, and will be used to increase lipolysis, or the burning of fat. It is important to understand that these two pathways, mTOR and AMPK, cannot be activated simultaneously. Knowing that these pathways are opposites, and cannot be activated at the same time, along with the knowledge and methods to activate each pathway, allows for coaches and athletes to shift their training, nutritional, and supplemental strategies towards the pathway of their desired training effect.

The mTOR and AMPK pathways are a constant balancing act that a coach and athlete must focus on in great detail to achieve optimal adaptations. The key to reaching the potential desired adaptations of increased muscle mass, maintained explosiveness, and reduced unnecessary body fat is to shift the body, using proper nutritional tactics. Nutrition tactics will create the environment needed for each of these individual adaptations.

Keeping it Simple

A vital aspect of adaptation is to keep supplementation simple and minimal. Ensure the body is receiving the needed materials for the desired adaptation, and that adaptation only. The simplest example of this is if a coach is training an athlete with a program to decrease body fat, the coach will not supplement this athlete in a manner that will activate the mTOR pathway. The goal, in this scenario, would be to keep the AMPK pathway activated for as long as possible. The specific methods to apply this will be covered in greater detail in a later section. If this model of simplicity is not followed, the consumed supplements may cause the body to attempt to adapt in both directions, and end up, in a worst case scenario, not gaining any adaptations. A simple example of this can come from the weight room. If a performance coach attempts to train multiple qualities simultaneously, the body doesn’t know which adaptation to improve because it is being pulled in too many directions.

Pre-workouts used by athletes are a prime example of simplicity in supplementation being overlooked. These pre-workouts have the ability to blunt the adaptive process as they contain many different substances that may conflict with each other in their desired effects. Many times the ingredients list on these supplements can reach the teens and even into the twenties in their number of ingredients. With this many substances being absorbed at once, the organism becomes confused in what it is supposed to do, as each chemical has a different effect on the body. Two simple, and unnecessary substances found in pre-workouts are caffeine and arginine. Caffeine influences the AMPK pathway by increasing lipolysis, which increases the ability to use fat as an energy source. However, it should not be used habitually as an athlete has the ability to become accustomed to its effects after prolonged use. This leads to a greater amount of this stimulant needed in order to reach the effects seen in early supplementation. If a benefit is seen from caffeine, use it solely for competition days, but be sure to test it out a few times before doing so. This decreases the likelihood of a bad reaction and can assist in improving performance. Arginine is another substance found in many pre-workout supplements, along with its claim to increase vasodilation. Arginine is a pre-cursor to nitric oxide, which is a one factor in vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels. The thought process is correct in supplementing with arginine, however, arginine has a relatively small effect on vasodilation when consumed orally. Another issue with using this supplement is that vasodilation already occurs during exercise, and blood flow is not the limiting factor of muscle performance.

mTOR Pathway

Muscle contraction is a stimulator for the mTOR pathway, however, building explosive muscle ultimately relies on creating the proper environment within the body and muscles that permits growth and adaptation. Creating this environment, when broken down simply, requires energy (ATP), protein, specifically amino acid availability, and the activation of the mTOR pathway. When one of these steps is missing, building muscle is not a possibility and training time is wasted. Once these steps are realized and implemented properly, the focus must shift, more specifically, to the rate-limiting step in the muscle building process. The rate-limiting step can occur at any point along the muscle building continuum, from transcription, to translation, to the building of structures with the use of amino acids. Once this rate-limiting step is identified, it can be corrected, and then a new rate-limiting step can be identified. The improper daily supplementation leads to the inactivation of the mTOR pathway as the rate-limiting step for many athletes.

An athlete must understand that it takes energy for the body to build muscle. If the proper nutrient and supplement tactics are not followed strategically, there will not be enough energy for this anabolic mTOR pathway to remain activated. Knowing energy is a requirement in order for mTOR to be activated and build muscle, it then makes sense that there is a transition period from a catabolic state (AMPK pathway), to an anabolic state (mTOR pathway) once training has been completed. Your body needs time to replenish ATP near resting levels before it can begin to shift to building muscle. The reduction of this transition time should be the goal of athletes attempting to maximize their muscle building capabilities. Simply put, spend more time building rather than breaking down. The use of carbohydrates, specifically high-glycemic carbohydrates that are rapidly absorbed, can reduce this transition time and ultimately lead to a longer time spent in the anabolic phase. A detailed article explaining nutrient timing post-training can be found in this post, Nutrient Timing for Proper Recovery.

Protein availability within the body is the second step in this muscle building process. Athletes and coaches must understand there is no pool of amino acids stored in the body just waiting to be used. Protein supplementation is all about the proper timing of intake, along with the correct form of protein consumption. Whey protein is a great source of protein as half of it is made up of essential amino acids, or the amino acids the body cannot synthesize on its own. Whey protein also contains a higher amount of branch chain amino acids, or BCAA’s, these BCAA’s include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA’s are a key ingredient in this process as they are not required to pass through the liver before being utilized by the body, which means faster availability for the building muscles.

While protein supplementation timing is crucial for explosive muscle development, athletes should understand the amount of protein their body needs. The body can only utilize around 10 grams of essential amino acids from 20 grams of whey protein at a time. After this level of intake is reached, supplementing with more protein is useless and will lead to protein being used as an expensive fuel by the body. For this reason, the timing or “pulsing” of protein supplementation plays an important role in the continued activation of the mTOR pathway. Understanding the mTOR pathway requires the use of energy, along with the transition time post-training from catabolic to anabolic, and the muscle-protein saturation effects, athletes can properly “pulse” their protein intake. Consuming 20-25 grams of whey protein between 30 minutes and one hour post-training is a great way to jump start the anabolic process, this time allows ATP levels to be replenished. Supplementation should continue with 20-25 grams of whey protein every 3 hours. This ensures muscles stay saturated and with the amino acids needed to continue building muscle, without the burning of protein as an energy substrate. Ultimately, this program would have 3 protein doses post-training, all being 20-25 grams in size. The first occurring 30 min post-training, the second around 3 hours, with the final dose being taken about 6 hours post-training.

AMPK Pathway

AMPK is an enzyme that is activated during times of energy depletion, such as those seen during strenuous training and practices. This energy usage leads to a decrease in ATP levels and an increase in AMP levels within the body. This pathway, when activated, mobilizes energy substrates stored within the body in order to sustain performance. AMPK also functions to block the mTOR pathway, as mTOR requires the further use of ATP, or energy, which is exactly what the body is avoiding at this time of increased fatigue. AMPK also improves insulin sensitivity and increases mitochondrial density when activated, which leads to a more efficient utilization of fat for energy during training.

As an explosive athlete, the “switching on” of AMPK must be done methodically. Turning on this pathway continually, when programmed incorrectly, will lead to aerobic adaptations, which can lead to a decrease in explosive performance. However, there are three routes available to activate AMPK, while preventing an aerobic shift of explosive athletes. These three methods to keep explosive power while increasing fat burning capabilities include AMPK activators, intermittent fasting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

AMPK activators are substances, when consumed, lead to a slight stress response within the body. This stress response activates many pathways, one of which is AMPK. By activating this pathway using activators, athletes can increase mitochondrial biogenesis and achieve more efficient fat loss, while keeping their type II, explosive muscle fibers unaffected. Examples of these AMPK activators include green coffee bean, green tea, and resveratrol, along with many more. It is important to realize that more is not always better in supplementation, and that these substances are toxic to the body at high doses, yet assistive at stressing the body in smaller doses.

Intermittent Fasting is another method to activate the AMPK pathway. Restricting caloric intake prior to HIIT increases the amount of fat utilized as an energy substrate, particularly during recovery. Avoiding consumption of calories, particularly carbohydrates, up to two hours post-training will further enhance this fat burning process. Carbohydrates should be avoided prior to, during, and post-training when the goal of an athlete is to decrease body fat. Carbohydrates provide ATP to the body rapidly, meaning the body does not have to produce more mitochondria in order to replenish ATP levels. The mitochondria are a site of fat breakdown within the body, with fewer mitochondria in the body, less fat can be used as an energy source. A half day of fasting, up to 2-3 days per week, can be used to activate the AMPK pathway as well. This will increase the mobilization of fat used as energy within the body. It is important to ensure enough carbohydrates are being consumed throughout the day in order to support training. For this reason, the timing of nutrient intake plays a pivotal role in which pathway, AMPK or mTOR, is activated.

HIIT is one of, if not the, most effective means of increasing mitochondrial production while also maintaining the explosiveness of trained athletes. This low-volume, high-intensity exercise method is much easier on an athlete’s body, particularly their joints, than long-slow aerobic exercise, while also being more specific to an explosive athlete’s metabolic and neuromuscular demands of competition. All of this is accomplished by HIIT programming, all while requiring less time than the long-slow aerobic training protocols. Proper timing of nutrients is an important aspect of this fat-burning training and must always be considered. As discussed above, carbohydrate consumption will blunt the AMPK response and should only be used with appropriate timing. In order to maximize the training effects of HIIT, avoid consuming calories for up to an hour prior to training, especially carbohydrates, during the workout, and for up to two hours post-training. These recommendations will increase the AMPK pathway throughout training and keep it elevated post-training as well, leading to increase fat burning.

These three methods to increase the activation of the AMPK pathway can be used simultaneously when fat loss is the goal of training. HIIT training is the fundamental aspect of this model, especially for athletes in explosive events. The other two factors can be built around this training method and rely on proper nutrient timing in order to maintain AMPK pathway activation. Once the time of a HIIT program is set, caloric intake, especially carbohydrates, can be reduced and manipulated. An AMPK activator can also be added to post-training supplementation to increase the activity of the AMPK pathway, leading to further mitochondrial production and increased fat burning.

Anti Anti-Oxidants

Another area of interest in regards to nutrition and supplementation are anti-oxidants, which inhibit reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals. ROS are produced during muscle contraction and can lead to the damage of protein structure DNA, rendering them useless as building blocks for muscle and can potentially lead to cell death. In the most basic explanation, anti-oxidant supplements, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, inhibit the ROS produced during training from causing damage to the DNA of cells. On the surface, a coach would be under the assumption that the use of anti-oxidants should be a daily aspect of supplementation in order to prevent damage to cells. However, the generalized use of anti-oxidants in an attempt to ROS produced during training is another example of improper supplementation. In reality the ROS produced by training are used by the body for adaptation, they are a stressor. These ROS can function in the same way strength training stresses the body, and ultimately leads to improved strength. If the body is never stressed, it never has to adapt, if it never adapts, no performance increases are realized. Anti-oxidant supplements lower the levels of ROS, ultimately leading to less stress being placed on the athlete’s body. If the ROS levels drop below the signaling zone due to the intake of anti-oxidants, smaller adaptations within the organism will be seen from training. A simple example of this necessary stress within the body is the law of natural selection, the strongest will survive. If the body experiences these stressors to the maximum levels produced from training, re-building of a stronger organism will be the outcome of proper training and this recovery. It is important to note that this method should be followed along with a properly periodized training protocol. Controlling the stressors of training is a vital aspect of this supplementation technique.

The use of anti-oxidants must be periodized within a training cycle. Just as an annual training cycle works through its proper progression, the use of these supplements must do the same. Off-season training versus in-season competition are two simple examples of how to periodize the supplementation of anti-oxidants into a training program properly. During off-season training, the goal is to prepare athletes for the upcoming season by stressing them maximally. It is at this time the majority of adaptations are realized. This is a period of time where athletes are encouraged to avoid excessive intakes of anti-oxidants. Many foods are already fortified with these substances, so it is our goal, as coaches, to attempting to prevent even greater amounts from being consumed, particularly in a high-dosage, post-training form. However, during the competition season, this thought process changes. The use of anti-oxidants to reduce damage and enhance recovery is an imperative aspect of performance, especially for the athletes that participate in multiple games in a short time frame. The use of these supplements will not continue to improve adaptations during the competition season, however their use will allow athletes to compete fully recovered, leading to consistently improved performance, particularly at the end of a long competition period. Once again, the specific goal of training along with the time of year, within the competition calendar, must be considered when deciding on the implementation of these anti-oxidants.


The knowledge of these two pathways, mTOR and AMPK, allows coaches to program to the annual competition calendar, along with the needs of each individual athlete. The activation of the mTOR pathway post-training relies heavily on the ability of the body to resynthesize ATP, as this pathway requires energy in order to function properly. Training to improve the ability of resynthesizing ATP, particularly through the aerobic system, leads to a smaller transition time from AMPK to mTOR post-training. Shrinking the time spent in AMPK while increasing the amount of time spent with mTOR activated. This will lead to increased explosive muscle building within the body when proper nutrition tactics, as described above, are utilized. If the goal is to reduce body fat while maintaining explosiveness, AMPK activation will be the goal. The three ways to increase this fat burning pathway is to complete HIIT, use AMPK activators, and the use of intermittent fasting. Ultimately it comes down to determining the goal adaptation of training, and then implementing proper nutrition to achieve that adaptation.

It is important to understand that these two pathways have been over simplified in this article in order to improve basic understanding. The mTOR and AMPK pathways function most like a great soup recipe. You have your main components of the recipe, which in this case is the energy substrates carbohydrate and protein. The mTOR pathway requires energy, which is used by the body to begin the building process, while the AMPK pathway uses energy previously stored to increase breakdown. After the main components, of each individual pathway, have been properly placed into your soup recipe, the remaining “ingredients” function as flavor enhancers. These enhancers work to continually improve the overall “taste” or effectiveness of the individual pathway you desire to activate.


Monday Oct 20, 2014

Maximal Speed Development vs. Conditioning, A Systematic Approach

 By: Cal Dietz and Matt Van Dyke 

 All coaches must understand and have the ability to differentiate between the implementation of drills intended to develop speed versus increasing their athletes’ conditioning levels. In order to truly improve the speed of an athlete, high quality work must be completed at all times. A significant part of this high quality work includes a requirement that rest time be sufficient to allow complete recovery of the body and the nervous system prior to the start of the next repetition. Any time an athlete is not given adequate time to properly recover from a specific drill that drill becomes a conditioning tool. In the world of competitive sports, it is absolutely necessary to develop maximal speed and conditioning levels, but the differences between training for each of these qualities must be understood.

Speed Development Training

Speed development training in its simplest form requires one thing, SPEED. In order to improve the maximal speed of an athlete, they must be running at top, or near top speeds. Maximal speed training is the most demanding activity on the nervous system, and thus requires full rest times between repetitions to allow sustained, top speeds to be achieved. Full rest times between each repetition allow an athlete to repeat high-quality drills of maximal speed. If proper rest times are not allowed, athletes are simply being trained to run fast under fatigued conditions, and not to truly improve maximal speed. 

If an entire training session is designated to speed training, it is critical that proper rest times be given. However, if a weight training or other training session also is being completed, it is important to implement speed development training at the proper time within the training session. Due to the high neural requirement of sprinting, maximal speed must be trained while the athlete is fresh, typically early in the training session just after the warm-up has been completed. This is the period of time an athlete has the greatest ability to adapt to training.

Agility drills also can be used to train speed development since the ability to change directions is vital in athletic performance. Agility drills are one of the most effective ways to improve change of direction abilities. Cone drills should be trained using proper cutting mechanics, using a single foot, proper edge work of the foot, working all drills in a straight line with no wasted motion, etc. Simple cone drills can become great speed development training tools when work times are matched to the training day and work to rest ratios are set appropriately.

I base the time of my repetitions of speed development work based on the training time of the day. I use strictly timed sets in the weight room based on the modified undulated system. This method allows me to control each set based on time, rather than reps, which increases the amount of work each athlete completes per set. Programming training times just above, just below, and right at competition times optimize transfer of training for each individual sport. For example, if my athletes are completing a 5 second training session, every repetition completed in the weight room will be 5 seconds. I can then apply this timed method to my agility speed development training and make each rep 5 seconds in length. This pushes the adaptation of the body in the same way for the entire training session.

The chart below provides examples of times I have used to improve my athlete’s maximal speed and agility abilities. Remember, these are just general recommendations; athletes may need longer rest times and more or fewer repetitions depending upon their ability to recover from high-intensity work.

Improving Conditioning Levels

Now that the methods to improve maximal speed are understood, the conditioning aspect becomes relatively simple. Anytime an athlete is not allowed full recovery between sets, that drill becomes a conditioning tool. Conditioning is used to prepare an athlete for their actual competition. An easy example of the need for conditioning is a wide receiver during a 10 play drive in a football game. If he only trained according to the speed development model above leading up to a game, he may be the fastest player on the field, for the first play that is. After that first play, he will slow down substantially since he does not have the ability to recover between high intensity repetitions. His body was not trained in a conditioning aspect, so he is not prepared to truly compete in the sport of football, which requires maximal effort with less than full recovery rest times.

Let’s take conditioning another step though. Conditioning should be much more than simply making an athlete tired, giving them less than full recovery, and having them complete another sprint. The purpose of conditioning should always be to prepare an athlete for the next phase of their program, whether it is training in the weight room, on the practice field for a pre-season camp, or the competition season. Your conditioning methods can become as specific as you want them to be, even within the same sport. The total yardage covered during a football game is completely different between the wide receiver in our example above, and an offensive lineman of the same team, even though they are running the same offensive play. If conditioning is programmed and completed correctly, there will be a much smaller need for conditioning, if any is needed at all, during a pre-season camp or the competition season.

Conditioning can be achieved through methods other than running. A high tempo lift, as well as interval training, will drive the adaptation qualities of conditioning just as effectively as running, especially if the same work to rest ratio is utilized to prepare athletes for their next phase. Conditioning always should be completed at the end of a training session if it is a desired adaptation in that specific training phase. Completing conditioning at the end of training ensures that skill learning is not hindered which should be the ultimate goal for coaches and athletes.

Conditioning is often one of the biggest issues between strength and sport coaches during the competition period. As stated above, if conditioning is programmed and executed correctly leading up to the pre-season camp or competition period, the athletes will be prepared from a conditioning standpoint for that pre-season or competitive phase. Once that phase begins, the conditioning tool used is the practice itself, so the focus can be placed on preparing athletes with the skills needed for competition. This is the most specific training tool a sport coach has. There is no way to better prepare an athlete than with a properly scripted practice that will prepare the athlete for the tempo, and position specific volume, experienced in game situations. That being said, I am not suggesting I have the ability to do what a sport coach does programming wise. I am responsible for preparing athletes for the rigors of training camp or practice. Once training camp or practice begins, athletes should receive conditioning through properly programmed practices. This is because, simply put, that is the most specific, and transferrable, conditioning model available - their actual sporting event.

The final aspect of putting together a complete conditioning program is the consideration of time. Not only the conditioning time, but also the rest times allowed. Timed reps to match that specific training day should be used to optimize adaptations within each athlete. The reasoning for this is detailed above in the speed development training section. If more volume is desired, reps should be added to the program, not longer distances. This reinforces the concept of keeping training specificity as high as possible. Rest times must be carefully considered and should match the goal of each training phase. Be sure to anticipate what the upcoming phase will require of the athlete since it is always the goal to optimally prepare each athlete for the next phase. If the upcoming phase is camp, not only is total yardage important, but also the yardage covered at different intensity ranges. And of course, the rest times between reps must be considered.

Conditioning must always serve a purpose. Any average Joe can make an athlete tired. The key focus as a coach is to drive the desired adaptations within your athletes. Conditioning should be used to determine an athlete’s ability to complete high velocity movements with less than complete recovery times. These shorter rest times, along with timed sets just above, just below, and right at game times, prepare athletes for the specific rigors of competition. The optimal way to condition is actually completing the event.

To see the specific, in-depth, physiological changes seen in athletes due to different conditioning methods, click here

Monday Sep 08, 2014

Sports Rehab Expert.com Interview

Interview including an overview of Triphasic system, new strategies of implementation over the past two years, manipulating cortisol levels during the different phases, applying the principles with younger athletes and even into rehab programs, and more... 

Click here for the audio link 

Sunday Jul 27, 2014

Advanced Principles in Programming (Part 5)

Click the link below to watch the video presentation on Advanced Principles in Programming by Cal Dietz


Advanced Principles in Programming (Part 4)

Click the link below to watch the video presentation on Advanced Principles in Programming by Cal Dietz


Advanced Principles in Programming (Part 3)

Click the link below to watch the video presentation on Advanced Principles in Programming by Cal Dietz


Advanced Principles in Programming (Part 2)

Click the link below to watch the video presentation on Advanced Principles in Programming by Cal Dietz


Advanced Principles in Programming (Part 1)

Click the link below to watch the video presentation on Advanced Principles in Programming by Cal Dietz


Sunday Jul 20, 2014

From quantified-self to qualified-self. Or: from senseless numbers to useful Knowledge.

Posted on by Henk Kraaijenhof (http://helpingthebesttogetbetter.com/?p=817)

This weekend there was an article in the newspaper about the different brands of smart watches, i.e.  the combination of watch, heart rate monitor, stride counter and GPS systems. The movement that started this idea of progress through self-measurements is often called “quantified-self”, with Seth Roberts and Steve Mann as early developers of the concept (1,2). (Read Mann’s book if you think Google Glass is something new or recent).

In another interview people talked about the data-revolution that is happening in running.  Some recreational (?) runners try (in vain, in my opinion) to please us on a daily base with the kilometres, calories, stride numbers, average velocity and heart rate they recorded during yesterday’s workout. I couldn’t care less, nor should they, as this is just an example of useless “data-diarrhoea” .

Nice to know at the very best, but not need to know, since it’s information  without knowledge. Like a photograph of your lunch doesn’t make it taste better and for sure not for the recipient of the picture.


It’s about the illusion that the collection of data might directly contribute to better performances.

Going back to the example of the runners with their heart rate monitor, step counter, GPS, etc.

In this equation, data means just raw numbers: like heart rate, velocity, strides, etc. In this week’s  newspaper we could also enjoy a graph which showed the movement patterns of one of the Dutch soccer players during the match. But still it doesn’t tell us anything about the match, his opponents, his team, the other players or the final result of the match. Or about his efficiency as a player: did he run around like a chicken without a head not even getting close to the ball or did he shoot the ball  to his opponents instead of his team mates? So what does the distance or his location mean…… nothing.

Information is already more useful taking more factors into account, like temperature, wind speed, or other circumstances.

But knowledge consists of all contextual information as well. Like: what is my training program, how does this workout match with it, what do/did I want to accomplish, etc.

And even that knowledge does not allow me to control my training. Yes, of course, knowledge is part of it, but not the whole story, it just tells me where I am or what I did, but not where I am going to or how to get there or, in other words, what I have to do. It’s like you have a thermometer and you have a fever, but what to do now? Take an aspirin, stay home, see a doctor?

If you do the wrong training, too much or too little, too fast or too slow, you just don’t see any progress without really knowing what causes it or what to do about it.

That is where Knowledge with a capital K comes in. This Knowledge is not only about where you came from and where you are, it‘s about how to train or in this context: how to get where you want to go. This is where the need for a guide or a good coach comes in!

It seems that the human being loves simple and partial solutions to complex problems and like H.L. Mencken, one of my favourite writers, once stated: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong”.

Often “one-factor-thinking” is seen as a solution for all our problems. I bet you’ve heard them too: “you want to get muscle, eat more proteins”, “you are tried, avoid gluten”, “you want to lose weight, just avoid fat food”.

And in sports we have many of these “simple” solutions to complex problems too.

“You want to get explosive, just lift heavy weights”, you want to know how your endurance is, just do the lactate test”, ”you want to get strong, just do the Olympic lifts”, “you have back problems, here’s a simple solution”. The list is endless, and most of the time it sounds logical, it makes sense in way, and you tend believe it, because you don’t have to think yourself anymore. Just because it is simple and somebody who tried it was successful…..

Or maybe they did not tell the whole, more complex story, maybe they were lucky or maybe they claim success where there was none.

The “one-factor-thinking” shows our inability to oversee and handle complex problems and it even has lead to disastrous social, political and economical problems: “just get rid of this awful dictator and this country will become free, stable and happy”, “nuclear energy will solve the energy problem”, “the free market (or socialism) is the answer to all economical problems”. Easy: we just need one culprit, one scapegoat, one miracle solution, one magic potion, one overall rule.

Probably the result of our cognitive quality, unlike animals,  of magical thinking. Based on hope more than reality: the tooth fairy, father Christmas, Halloween, even our present rational, cognition-based society is full of irrational thinking, that has no basis whatsoever. And so in sports and training, superstition is all around, from magic shirts or shoes, or think about mascots and rituals, which should bring us good luck or victory.

So in the end we like to believe in our own sophistication and knowledge, while basically we are controlled by emotions and irrationality. The layer of rationality is really thin.

Here are my basic messages:

Datacollection can only be just a single first step towards improved performance, but by no means it is the only or most important one.

Quality always beats quantity.

Don’t be impressed by numbers, any phone book is full of them (but as meaningless if you don’t know whom to call).

Roberts, S: Self-experimentation as a source of new ideas: Ten examples about sleep, mood, health, and weight. Behav.Brain.Sci. Vol.27, 2004, pg.227-288.

Mann, S; Niedzwiecki, H: Cyborg: Digital destiny and human possibility in the age of wearable computers; Randomhouse Doubleday, 2001.

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) and training

The ANS is an relatively important component of our nervous systems and very important for all aspects of performance.
First of all it branches out to almost all organ systems in our body, controlling many important vital physiological functions too important to be controlled by our conscious control. Our heart beats even if we don’t realize it and we cannot control it.
Secondly, it is a beautifully designed control system with two major braches, the sympathetic (SNS) and the vagal or parasympathetic system (PNS).
Thirdly it is a very fast, electrical system, running through nerves at high velocity. This is necessary, since it greatly contributes to our survival as a species, responding very quickly to changes of (perceived) threats from the environment. It is an important part of our ancient survival systems and allostatic systems that maintain our homeostasis.

The ANS is responsible for adaptation to exercise (immediate) and our adaptation to training (epigenetics).
The functioning of the sympathetic part of the ANS can be compared to the “accelerator” of a car, geared towards spending energy for survival (fight-flight or perform)  whereas the vagal part can be compared to the “brake”, geared towards saving, conserving or recovering energy. It’s the recovery part of our ANS.  Of course this is only a limited and simplified view of this complex system.

To show the short term  changes in the ANS, this example.
Just sit down, take your heart rate and stand up and take your pulse again, and you will find a fast change in heart rate, caused by a change in the ANS. The moment you start exercising (spending energy) your SNS starts to fire, and dominates over the effect of the PNS and your heart rate will speed up.The moment you quit the exercise the PNS will kick back in, dominating over the SNS, and your heart rate will slow down again.

Like any other physiological system, also the ANS is subject to the effects of training. Dependent on the baseline status, and the type of training, the ANS might change to SNS or PNS dominance. This is a functional adaptation to training, however too strong a dominance on either side, can be one of the signs of overtraining. This was already described by Israel, GDR,  in 1986, describing the difference in sympathetic and parasympathetic overtraining.(1)
The measurement of the status of the ANS is one of the many factors we can measure to monitor the status of the athlete and the training process. Be aware however that it’s not the only, nor the most important factor!

ANS testing
There are many different tests to measure the status of the ANS. In one of my earlier posts I mentioned the recent popularity of the HRV test. It’s fast, easy, kind of sexy  and can be described by software in impressive looking graphs. But don’t be fooled by its looks. Interpretation of the ANS is not as easy as one wants you to believe!
It can only show you the cardiac autonomic system, since the ANS does not operate as an all-or-none system, that fires as a whole. Dependent on the stimulus it certainly differentiates in the organs and tissues that it innervates. This can very clearly be shown by making psycho-physiological stress profiles as I have been doing for more than 25 years.
We connect a person to electrodes to measure ANS-controlled organs and tissues simultaneously:
•    Cardiac system: heart rate and HRV
•    Respiratory system: breathing frequency and amplitude
•    Skin: skin conductance/resistance or sweat secretion
•    Peripheral circulation: the capillaries at the toes or fingers by measuring the skin temperature.
•    Muscle tension: by EMG or electromyography.
•    One could also look at blood pressure or pupil size.

These functions are all controlled by the ANS, Think about what happens when you encounter a threat, the SNS is activated, and adrenalin (epinephrine) increases.
The heart rate is going up, the HRV is decreased, the breathing becomes higher (thoracic), but also you start to sweat, skin conductance is increased and the skin temperature decreases (you turn pale) and the muscle tone increases like e.g. at the m.frontalis or the m.trapezius.

Now you will say that in this way the ANS does fire to all systems simultaneously, but when you look at these stress responses to standardized stressors, you will see that these profiles change from one individual to another. In some people you find a large increase in heart rate, while the sweat secretion is low, whereas in others you will find a large drop in temperature. So this shows that the ANS works in a differentiated way, not as one system. Or as Morrison  wrote in the chapter “Organ Specificity  of Autonomic Nervous System Responses”: “… an organizational model featuring an extensive array of functionally specific output channels, which can be simultaneously activated or inhibited in combinations that result in the patterns of autonomic activity that support behaviour,  mediate homeostatic reflexes, and cope with injury and disease.” (2)

But there are many more  tests to measure the ANS, as a matter of fact more than 100 different tests.(3)  Especially in Germany in the 1920’s and 30’s the ANS was an important object for clinical studies.  Like the regulation of the cardiovascular system with the transition from lying down to standing up.(4).In later years Ewing used ANS tests to measure the effects of diabetes on the ANS as the case of diabetic neuropathy.(5)

We should not forget that doctors in Traditional Chinese Medicine, already used the pulse testing 2000 ago, in an attempt to measure the status of the ANS, even if they did not know the mechanisms, to diagnose and prognosticate the health status of the patients.

In sports, the HRV measurements were used already in the 1960’s by Soviet sports physiologists.(6)

From an early stage in my work as a coach I knew that the autonomic system would play a role in training. Recently I saw an old presentation of mine presented at the International Track and Field Coaches Congress in Barcelona in December 1988 (6).
I wrote: talking about the “speed barrier” in sprints and the levelling off of performance:  “The mechanisms which are known to cause this specific curve of adaptation are: the adaptation systems of the body, the hormonal system and the autonomic nervous system. The support of future research of the adaptation  processes and the unlocking of the secrets of the nervous system for performance improvement in track and field may be a way to prevent the use of drugs in our sports.” (in this last part I was wrong). Furthermore; “The role of a coach is to optimize the adaptation in the widest meaning of the word.” Meaning:  the adaptation of cellular, biochemical, physiological, anatomical, biomechanical, and mental processes.

I also stated: “The central nervous system is the dominant “performance-organ” of the sprinter. As soon as our knowledge of the central nervous system increases, much more information may be gained about the functioning, changing and optimizing of (sprint-)performance limiting aspects.” It took twelve years more to get my hands on the Omegawave system in order to be able do this.

1.    Israel, S: Zur Problematik des Übertrainings aus internistischer und leistungsphysiologischer Sicht. Med. und Sport, Vol.26, No.1, 1976, pg.1-12.

2.    Bolsi, C.; Licinio, J; Govoni, S. (Eds.): Handbook of the Autonomic Nervous System in Health and Disease;  Marcel Dekker, 2003.

3.    Frowein, R; Harre, G: Vegetativ-Endokrine Diagnostik; Urban & Schwarzenberg, München, BRD, 1957.

4.    Schellong, F: Regulationsprüfung des Kreislaufs; Theodor Steinkopff, Dresden, Germany, 1938.
5.    Ewing, D.J; Martyn, C.N; Young, R.J; Clarke, B.F: The Value of Cardiovascular Autonomic Function Tests: 10 Years Experience in Diabetes; Diabetes Care, Vol.8, No.5, 1985, pg. 491-498.

6.    Sarsanija, S.K: Trainiertheit der Sportler und Variabilität des Herzrhythmus; Materialien der 9. All-Unionskonferenz uber Morphol.Phsyiol.Biochemie der Muskeltätigkeit; Moskau, 1966, pg. 22-23.

7.    Kraaijenhof, H: Trends in Biochemistry and Biomechanics of Sprints Methodology;  Track and Field Quarterly Review, Vol.90, No.1, 1990, pg.6-9.

For further reading about the ANS.

Wilson-Pauwels, L; Stewart P.A; Akesson, E.J; Autonomic Nerves; B.C.Decker, Hamilton, Canada, 1997.

Jänig, W: The Integrative Action of the Autonomic Nervous System. Neurobiology of Homeostasis; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006.

Robertson, D.(Ed.): Primer on the Autonomic Nervous System. Elsevier, Amsterdam 2012.

Friday Jul 11, 2014

Applying Triphasic Training Methods to Olympic Lifts

By: Cal Dietz and Matt Van Dyke

The means of applying Triphasic Training, from eccentric, to isometric, to reactive can be applied to any lift, even the Olympic movements, if a coach so desires. These exercises can be undulated for time in the same manner that any other lift utilized in the triphasic program can be, depending on a coach’s goals and their athlete’s needs.

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Monday Jun 23, 2014

Triphasic Training Metabolic Injury Prevention Running

 By Matthew Van Dyke and Cal Dietz

Aerobic training lays the foundation upon which all other methods of training are built. If this base aerobic training is ignored, specific, high-intensity training cannot be supported in later training cycles because an athlete will not achieve maximal benefits from the high-intensity work. “Metabolic Injury Prevention Running” enhances an athlete’s aerobic abilities, which is the main objective in the aerobic training cycle, while simultaneously working to reduce injuries to soft-tissue areas of the hip, groin, knee, and ankle. The reduction of injuries should be viewed as the primary goal of any coach and should be consistently and actively pursued. Metabolic injury prevention running focuses on both the reduction of injuries and training of the cardiovascular system, while keeping impact intensities minimal. Impact intensities can be kept relatively low in this aerobic training method due to the focus on movements that use the stabilizing muscles of the hip and groin area, such as shuffling and carioca. The activation and utilization of the stabilizer muscles leads to movement efficiency being reduced significantly when compared to running or sprinting in a straight line, while these commonly underused and injury prone muscles are strengthened and thus, less prone to injury. This method also can be used to prepare elite athletes for pre-season training camps or the competition season. The same movements are utilized as in the base endurance model, just at maximal intensities. This increased intensity further drives adaptations of the cardiovascular system while also continuing to reduce injury likelihood to the small, stabilizer muscles due to training muscle functioning and timing at high, game speed velocities. This high-intensity training prepares athletes with optimal conditioning levels and the increased ability to compete in their training camps.

Base Aerobic Training Aspects

Metabolic injury prevention running is used to drive extremely high levels of aerobic, cardiovascular fitness, which is the foundation upon which all other strength and conditioning abilities are built. This method of training allows for low-impact, high-intensity training by activating stabilizing muscles, particularly those of the hip and groin area. These stabilizer muscles are trained with the completion of non-typical running methods such as shuffling, carioca, and cross-over running. These methods of locomotion cause the body to work at a decreased level of efficiency which causes an elevation of the heart rate. It is important to note that the intensity will appear low at the start of this training piece as the athlete is moving at considerably lower speeds than when sprinting. The use of the commonly inactive and undertrained stabilizer muscles and movement patterns that cause the body to be less efficient than normal will lead to heart rate elevation to an aerobic training zone of 140-150 bpm. This[i1] heart rate elevation can be manipulated based on the needs of intensity. The intensity can range from as low as 110 bpm up to the lactate threshold of each individual athlete, which ensures that aerobic intensities are kept and trained. The intensity to reach this training zone will typically fall between the 30 and 60% effort range for athletes. The low impact intensities allow this aerobic training method to be completed barefoot. This aerobic training method leads to an increase in work capacity which lays the foundation for future, high-intensity training that will be completed in later stages of the block periodization method.

Injury Resistance Aspects

The activation and then training of the stabilizing muscles of the hip and groin lead to increased functioning at higher levels of work, which reduce injury patterns. This is accomplished by training these underused and weak links of the kinetic chain in planes in which they are not typically trained. These stabilizing muscles are commonly the victims of soft-tissue injuries in the lower body simply because they are not strong enough to continue to support the increased strength of the primary movers. As a strength coach and an athlete, it is easy to train the primary movers, such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, due to their direct correlation with improved lower body strength and maximal speed. However, the mentality that “an athlete is only as strong as their weakest link” must be remembered at all times. If an athlete has the ability to squat an enormous amount of weight but has not taken the time to strengthen the stabilizing muscles, they will not be able to perform maximally and will deal with soft-tissue, stabilizer muscle injuries. These injuries, although minor in nature, will hinder their performance until the true issue is addressed. This issue is addressed head on with this metabolic injury prevention running method. The low impact intensities allow this aerobic training method to be completed barefoot. Training barefoot leads to increased strength in the plantar and dorsiflexors of the foot, while also strengthening the muscles of the lower leg. This develops and trains the foot to properly absorb impact and prevents shin splints and foot fractures. Barefoot training used in this lower-intensity training continues to contribute to injury prevention by improving strength levels in the commonly weak and underused muscles.

Game Speed Training

As the competition phase approaches and specificity of exercise selection is high, metabolic injury prevention running can be used to peak athletes before the rigors of their long, demanding season. The stabilizer muscles of the hip, groin, knee, and ankle are continually improved through the same movement patterns as described above, but they are now completed at maximum intensities. These high intensities will drive extremely high levels of cardiovascular fitness, even higher levels of cardiovascular fitness than sprinting, when distance and intensity are compared, as the body is continuing to move using inefficient movements. This game speed training using the methods of metabolic injury prevention running can be implemented during the final four to five weeks prior to the start of camp or the season and can be individualized based on position to increase specificity. Adaptations from this high-intensity method can be seen in as little as two weeks if an athlete is properly trained throughout the rest of the off-season, meaning they have had adequate aerobic training, as well as high-intensity training. The more specific movements made to the position and/or movements that will be completed in competition, the greater the benefits will be in injury reduction. This increased specificity leads to training the commonly underused and injury prone stabilizer muscles in the same planes they will be required to be used in competition.

Example Program

The keys of metabolic injury prevention running are the cardiovascular response and the strengthening of the stabilization muscles of the hip, groin, knee, and ankle. The target heart rate zone of this specific aerobic conditioning piece lies within 140-150 bpm. The first phase of metabolic injury prevention running includes three laps of low intensity, continuous jogging. The pace of jogging should give a heart rate response of about 110 bpm, which is an extremely low intensity. After the three laps are completed, the different running techniques such as shuffling, carioca, and backpedaling are implemented at the same pace as the low intensity jogging was completed. The inefficiency of the body through these movements will amplify the intensity and spike the heart rate into the goal aerobic heart rate zone of 140-150 bpm while keeping impact intensities low enough to train barefoot, thus strengthening the muscles of the ankle and foot. The intensity of these movements can be manipulated slightly as needed in order to attain a heart rate within this aerobic training zone. It is important to reiterate the speed of these movements does not need to be increased from the slow jogging since the heart rate will increase due to the movements being used in this method.

The example below shows how the five exercises used in this metabolic injury prevention running can be cycled through continuously. The cones can be set up anywhere between 20 and 50 yards apart. The key to this exercise is ensuring the lactate threshold of the athlete is not reached which is why an intensity of 140-150 bpm is set as the goal heart rate range. This method of training can be used with any set-up, even just two cones. This example falls in line with the use of metabolic injury prevention running around a concourse of an arena.

Game speed training with the metabolic injury prevention running method uses the same movements as above, just at maximal intensities. This high-intensity training method strengthens the stabilizer muscles and trains proper timing and firing rate of the stabilizers to prevent injury during competition. During game speed training, different positions can go through different movements, which increase specificity of training prior to the competition period. It should be noted this training should be completed with shoes on due to the high impact intensities.

The example of game speed training below shows the progression through this phase of training. Repetitions at this point of training can be completed based on time or distance, depending on how training is set up for that specific day. The same movements will be used during this progression, but will be completed at maximum velocities. The distance or time of each rep, rest time between reps and between sets, and the number of sets completed can all be determined based on each athlete’s individual needs to prepare them for a successful camp and/or season. In the example below, a single set is shown with the distance set of 15 yards from each other (30 yards there and back), 10 seconds of rest between each rep, with 60 seconds rest allowed after each set. The example shown is one of the more difficult programs of metabolic injury prevention running, as it uses minimal rest times between repetitions as well as between sets.

The off-season can be broken into 3 phases of conditioning training as follows.

Phase 1 – Off-Season Program – Figure 1

During this phase, base running and training are completed. This is the phase in which metabolic injury prevention running will be completed. This first phase of training typically lasts between 2 and 4 weeks, with the goal of creating a solid foundation of training which will allow more intense training as the off-season progresses. Metabolic injury prevention running can be completed between 2 and 3 times per week due to its low impact intensities and overall lower intensity on the body.

Phase 2 – Off-Season

Phase 2 consists of sport specific speed development and includes the qualities of acceleration, top end speed, and change of directions. The majority of the time within this phase will be spent completing as many sport specific drills as possible. This intermediate phase will last between 4 and 8 weeks to allow optimal development, with high quality work being the goal of each repetition.

Phase 3 Off-Season – Figure 2

This final phase of the off-season periodization consists of game speed conditioning. This will be completed 2 to 3 weeks prior to the beginning of training camp or the season. This phase is used as the final peaking method to prepare athletes for camp or an athlete’s season. It will offer optimal conditioning and injury prevention using maximal intensities. It should be performed at least twice a week, if not three times, when no other conditioning methods are being utilized. However, if speed development of athletes is still required, this quality can be trained throughout the week.

Wednesday Jun 04, 2014

Triphasic Max Effort Day 4 reps 5 Seconds 1200 pounds

Weight is a little light but that's all we can get on. Body Weight of 189

Max Effort Day 8th Set of the workout.