mobility

Internal Program Review: Enhancing Power Transfer in a Collegiate Golfer

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Tiger Woods reportedly has a bench press 1RM of somewhere around 300 lbs. (up to 350 lbs. by some estimates) and evidently Rory McIlroy is a known gym rat. Regardless of these reports, the facts are in regarding the the efficacy of strength training in pursuit of a better golf game–strength training works.

Strength Training for Golfers.jpegLike most groups of athletes, golfers do however need to realize that their sport doesn’t require ‘sport-specific’ training in the weight room as much as it requires ‘individual specific’ training. This fact should be painfully obvious when you realize that both Tiger Woods and John Daly occupy nearly the same space. In all, golfers should aim for more dynamic thoracic spine arthrokinematics, enhanced power development at the hip, and increased power transfer through the trunk. These performance goals may seem self-evident, but are common amongst most athletic domains, not just golf.

Because of these commonalities with any other sporting domain, what we’re looking to do is enhance the overall athletic capacities of our golfer, while allowing sport-specific training to be done on the driving range, putting green, etc… The biggest differences in training won’t come from the fact that an individual is looking to pursue one sport, but from their individual training history, injury history, and assessment outcomes (including limb length, muscle imbalances, and spinal abnormalities).

Below are some segments from a Day 1 of a program I’ve designed for a collegiate golfer. Ultimately this is a great example of what we’re trying to do to maximize overall athleticism while working specifically on developing power, power transfer, and thoracic spine mobility. Even without having placed this athlete in front of a high-speed camera, I can guarantee we’ve improved the maximal output of this athlete’s drive in the short time he’s been working with us.

1. Overhead Pressing Facilitates A Better Golf Swing

Strength Training for Golfers 1

This is a perfect example of something we pride ourselves on at Ruthless Performance,  which is incorporating something that seems as though its has no bearing on the sport-specific demands of a particular sport/athlete, but is actually extraordinarily utilitarian.

In the case of our Day 1 with this athlete, our ‘A1’ is a Half-Kneeling Fat Gripz Dumbbell Overhead Press. This is a long name, but is only so because we have this athlete on a very specific overhead press. The active Half-Kneeling position is useful for inhibiting the rectus femoris. This facilitates more glute activation in later sets, separates the hips, and minimizes any kind of momentum.

In the case of a golfer one of our goals is indeed power transfer, but in the case of this, we’re trying to minimize momentum from the lower body as a means of fostering recruitment of the musculature of the upper back. By strengthening the upper back, we’re also enhancing the ability of the scapulae to move with more precision and force around the thoracic spine–this is step 1 of ensuring a better golf swing, from a kinesiological perspective.

 

2. Heavy Carries Promote Rotator Cuff Stability

Loaded carries should be a mainstay of most strength & conditioning programs. In this case we’ve chosen the classic farmer’s carry for a few reasons. Chiefly because of the athlete’s limited overhead range of motion.

Overhead ROM can be limited for a handful of reasons, in many cases it can be chronically tight lats and pecs. Here, however, the cause seems to stem from limitation to the thoracic spine. Since we already have the athlete completing an overhead exercise in his ‘A’ sets, I did not think it was wise to double down with overhead work on his primary AND secondary sets.

Strength Training for Golfers 2

I chose to add the overhead work as his ‘A1’ because getting in this position more comfortably is one of our top priorities. The ‘B1’ actually helps us in this regard by causing some very serious cuff activation that we’ll utilize later in the workout. Even though the farmers carry can internally rotate the shoulders, we can mitigate this with cueing and frequent correction.

As it relates to golf, we’re focusing on the cuff because of its interplay with the spine. A weak rotator cuff is a potential site for energy loss in the swing and needs to be addressed accordingly.

 

3. Conditioning Can Reinforce Main Program Objectives

If there’s anywhere we come dangerously close to what would be traditionally viewed aJosh Zelinsky - IPRs ‘sport-specific’, it’s here. These two exercises were combined as a finisher for the general purpose of cardiorespiratory endurance (this is strength and conditioning, after all…). But these two exercises are pretty well suited for building a better golfer as the rotary component of the Rotational Overhead Med Ball Slam helps facilitate power transfer outside of the sagittal plane while the Low Handle Prowler Push yields glute development.

I’ll be using exercise pairing with more frequency moving forward. The Rotational Overhead Med Ball Slams provide movement at the shoulder with a semi-rigid trunk and unloaded hip hinge action. The prowler keeps those arms stationary while loading the legs in a range of motion where they are otherwise understimulated.

Many rightfully view balance in terms of anterior-posterior, but rarely do people realize that balance of stimulation within a joint’s potential range of motion is an important form of balance as well. The deep hip musculature in particular is rarely stimulated sufficiently at these end ranges. Part of the reason why the low-handle is so strenuous is why it is so effective; the low-handle more fully stimulates the hips. And in a sport like golf, maximizing action at the hips is of utmost importance.

 

Wrap-Up

Training for golf has some unusual demands as many of its participants are white-collar desk jockeys.  This fact, mixed with the vast requirements of the spine, shoulders, and hips call for tremendous amounts of work in the gym that most of these athletes are not getting. Time in the gym for golfers should rely on enhancing thoracic spine mobility in the transverse plane, enhancing glute recruitment, and strengthening the shoulders.

Golfing more is obviously the best way to get better at golfing, but even practice has its limitations; once you’ve honed in on your swing, the only other means of getting better is adding more force.

Ruthless Performance Ride America – Weekly Update

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In order to more efficiently communicate with the RPRA Sponsors, donors, and supporters, I will be putting out a weekly update with new information, FAQs, and more about the ride.

Have any questions about the ride? Reach out on our Contact Page.

 

1. Bike I’ll Be Riding

Boxed Long Haul Trucker.jpgI can always tell who has experience in cycling based off of this… I’ve noticed cyclists tend to be gearheads about their bikes–and for good reason. I’ll be riding a modified Surly Long Haul Trucker. The Long Haul Trucker is considered to be the ‘Gold Standard of Touring Bikes’ making this an ideal candidate to support me and my gear for 43 days on the road.

 

2. Upcoming Fundraising Opportunities

One of our business affiliates, CrossFit Hereafter, has agreed to let us host a class to support the RPRA. On Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM, we’ll be running a ‘Sunday Morning Mobility and Weekend Recovery’ workout series.

Any of our athletes who have experienced our corrective protocols will have at least a slight understanding of the nature of the class. The description for the class is as follows:

The class will consist of a series of mobility exercises, activation drills, core exercises, and correctives in general. Although this will mostly be bodyweight exercises and stretches, it will be formatted in a way to elevate your heart rate and provide a full-body workout.


If you’re unsure if you’ll like it, don’t worry, the class is free to attend. There is a suggested $20 donation to support the 4,000 mile ride and the charities that the ride benefits.

Although this workout series will be on-going throughout the summer, it will not be every single sunday. The schedule for the Sunday Morning Mobility and Weekend Recovery class is listed below.

Sundays at 10:00 AM on the Following Dates:

June 9
June 16
June 23
June 30
July 21
Aug 4
Aug 11

3. Logistical Updates

The RPRA route is largely predicated upon the existing Adventure Cycle Route Network as the backbone for the ride. From the start, I’ll be riding along the Western Express Bike Route which will encompass the first 18 days of my trip. From the end of the Western Express in Pueblo, CO, I’ll pick up the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.

The TransAmerica will be my home for the following few weeks until I diverge from the route to head north on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

Beyond Skyline Drive, there are just a handful of bike routes which will take me to my ultimate destination in Pottsville, PA.

In all, I’ll be averaging about 90 miles / day for the duration of the trip. The entirety of the trip will take 43 days to get from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Garfield Square in Pottsville, PA.

4. Foster with Back in Black Dog Rescue

Love dogs but not ready to commit to raising and caring for a dog long-term? Back in Black Dog Rescue’s distributed network of foster volunteers is always in need.

As a foster you’ll care for a pup until its ready to move-in or be adopted to its furever home.

Contact Chivon Murray at backinblackresq@yahoo.com for more information.

5. Sponsors Wanted!

To help us reach our fundraising goals, we’re actively seeking business partners to sponsor the ride, helping us defray some of the costs, pay for promotional materials, and more.

Interested in sponsoring? Reach out to us on the aforementioned contact page. You can also donate in smaller increments to the ride’s GoFundMe

Sponsor Request

Internal Program Review: Strength Programming For a CrossFit Athlete with Patellar Tendonitis – Day 1

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Since our Internal Program Review Series has been getting consistently positive feedback, I’m going to continue today with a look at a Day 1 from one of our comprehensive programming athletes. This particular client is a CrossFit enthusiast and upland hunter who has been regularly supplementing his training with Ruthless Performance programs for some time.

Though this is more of a general look at the Day 1 of his strength programming, we’ll be addressing some modifications we’ve made along the way with regards to the patellar tendonitis.

From the perspective of the training lay-out, we’ve cut back his strength programming to 3 days (which has been as high as 4-5 days in the past). We’ve also supplemented with some training that’s been inspired by our in-house Posture Restoration & Injury Prevention Training protocols. The athlete can choose to perform those and forego his traditional strength programming in the case of a day in which there’s a high prevalence of knee pain. 

Those supplemental workouts consist largely of stretches, mobility drills, and activation drills of varying intensities designed to enhance kinesthetic awareness and proprioception while minimizing the impact and input required of the affected joints.

Furthermore, the Day 2 workout consists of a lower body dominant day, with exercise designed to keep knee strain to a minimum, while encouraging blood flow for a more expedient recovery. Day 3 is a full body day designed around the primary goals of maintaining size and enhancing strength even under the reduced workload of this phase. The athlete is still undergoing 3-4 CrossFit workouts / week with various exercise modifications designed with his knees in mind; namely substitutions for the olympic lifts, plyometrics, and burpees. 

But now onto the subject of today’s Internal Program Review, Day 1…

 

1. Stimulation through Antagonistic Training 

Internal Program Review - Day 1-1

We’ve all seen programs before with two antagonist exercises paired together (i.e. push & pull, bi’s & tri’s, etc…), this is a time-tested way to get more work into a shorter period of time, while building some muscle. To take this a step further, we’ve manipulated the rep range of the Floor Press in such a manner that we’ll see a quick adaptation and supercompensation to the exercise. This will make for enhancements in strength while still stimulating growth.

What we’ve also done here with the A2 is add a contralateral stance. So not only is our athlete getting some good lat work in, but he’s also stabilizing and strengthening the musculature of the foot on the support side.

As opposed to a regular unilateral band row, a contra-lateral band row implies that the athlete is standing with his weight resting on the non-working side. This further enhances trunk activation, glute development, and more. Adding a contralateral position to various exercises where feasible (much like adding the half-kneeling position for hip mobility) can serve to achieve these secondary goals.

 

2. Make Glutes not Low Back Pain

The Tall Kneeling position is something we don’t use all that much at Ruthless Performance. In fact, Tall Kneeling Overhead Press is one of the select few exercises we advocate in this position. The tall kneeling, when added to the overhead press helps engage the glutes, as the skeletal system can’t so passively stabilize as it may otherwise be able to do from standing.

As far as the reps are concerned on the Tall Kneeling Overhead Press, we are keeping the volume rather high. The reps here are the primary variable that we are manipulating. This does a few things that we find rather advantageous to performance and longevity: the extended time under tension further enhances gluteal stimulation, contributes a greater degree to resting posture (as the shoulders and traps tend to respond better to higher reps), and also takes some strain off of the shoulder when compared to higher loads and lower reps.

Load on this may remain consistent for the entirety of a 4-week cycle. This will more than likely be the case here as this comes with a particularly steep influx of repetitions throughout the cycle (going from 2×10 to 4×20 in a matter of 4 weeks)…

Since we are so concerned with the athletes on-going knee issues, we’ve directed most of our lower body strength work to be hinge-dominant. With this in mind, we’ve gone out of our way here to design this ‘B’ set to lessen the requirements of the low-back. Though the B1 (Tall Kneeling Overhead Press) will require some low-back involvement, we’ve moved the B2 into a split stance position; this is a rather universal modification to help lessen the requirements of the low back in most exercises.

The Face Pulls are a constant in most of our training programs. The high volume of work on these is nothing special, as we’re constantly trying to stimulate that mid-back and undo some of the damages of daily sitting during commutes, work, and even downtime.

 

3. A 3×8 Protocol is Rarely Ideal on Supplemental and Single-Joint Exercises

Corrective exercise is frequently thought of as unfamiliar and even bizarre body contortions meant to pull and stretch soft tissue from the bone… Very frequently, particularly in the CrossFit world, some very common exercises can be highly corrective. Humeral abduction in the frontal plane can stimulate the rotator cuff in some ways that are rarely replicated in a traditional CrossFit WOD. 

With this DB Lateral Raise as a stand-alone exercise, we’re targeting the deltoids for hypertrophy in a manner that happens to be conducive to not only rotator cuff function, but posture as well. This makes for a very efficient exercise choice when we’re trying to help an individual move better while adding some strength and size.   

We’ve told the athlete to start with a weight in which he could complete the totality of the reps in approximately 3 sets. The goal here is to progressively do more reps in the same amount of sets as the weeks go on. Ideally this is with the weight remaining consistent from week 1. As many coaches that advocate these high rep ranges for shoulder exercises will point out, athletes that most commonly have large shoulders are those who train the shoulder with a very high frequency and to fatigue like in swimming or gymnastics. 

 

CrossFit is a Sport, Treat it as Such

Many coaches and athletes from the strength sports are quick to assume that since strength is implicit in their sport that they do not need outside strength and conditioning (in this case more specifically outside technique correction and individualized programming). CrossFit participants looking to attain a high level must realize that the highest levels of performance in CrossFit come from highly individualized programming, with CrossFit WODs being a sport-specific skill rather than a fitness challenge (take Fran for example, this should be viewed as an event, not a series of exercises). By customizing training to the needs of the athlete and matching that with the demands of CrossFit as a sport, we can enhance athletic performance far beyond what we can expect with the existing standalone CrossFit model.

 

Thoughts on Strength & Conditioning for Paddleboarders

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Given that Ruthless Performance is based out of a land-locked state, the paddleboarding or surfing communities are not populations which we traditionally cater to, but given my own predisposition to the sport (surf when I’m on the west coast, paddleboard on the east…), I’ve spent some time thinking about the demands of paddleboarding, as well as what it takes for me to make sure that I’m most prepped for when the opportunity to take a road trip with the board arises.

IMG_5399Paddleboarding itself is a workout and can be easily classed as its own sport, so with this in mind, most of the strength & conditioning exercises and techniques I’ll employ to maximize performance on the board are done to stimulate some of the neglected or underused movement patterns, muscles, and skills while alleviating some of the overuse that can develop over long days on the board.

Consider the following points to help develop your skills on the board no matter how far away you are from your favorite spot…

 

1. Glute Development Still Reigns Supreme

The glutes are the powerhouse of the body and are pretty heavily correlated to peak IMG_0002athletic function (regardless of domain). Even in the case of paddleboarding, where you are more stationary and have less force input/output demands than some other sports, you still need the glutes for a handful of reasons.

Glutes work in synchrony with the lats (most notably through the lumbodorsal fascia) to assist in each stroke of the paddle. Weak glutes in paddleboarding can also cause severe long-term back pain. Because the standing position on a paddleboard relies on a hinged hip, the inability to maintain tension over time throughout the glutes causes unnecessary tightness in the low back.

Consider including box squats, 180 hip extensions, side-lying clams, lateral band walks, deadlifts, and glute bridges/ thrusts to maximize development of all three glute muscles (max, min, med).

 

2. Don’t Fall Into Sport-Specific Traps

IMG_5377It’s easy to see how an athlete would want to utilize his/her time in the gym replicating paddle after paddle, pop-up after pop-up, but this is not an efficient use of time. Keep the paddleboarding-specificity in the water. When strength training for the sport, you should want to engage in what we call ‘anti-specific training’, which mostly just means engaging in exercises, drills, and positions that bring about a more neutral posture while maximizing power and force development that you couldn’t otherwise get while on the board.

Many paddleboarders will align themselves with the ski erg for their energy system training because it most closely replicates their sport. I’m highly averse to the ski erg to begin with, then putting a population whose entire sport exists in a state of flexion onto this machine is a recipe for overuse injuries in the shoulder (and elbow for that matter), slipped discs in the lumbar spine, and hindered transverse plane arthrokinematics.

 

3. The Value of Unilateral Work Can Not Be Overstated

There aren’t very many sports or events that exist on such an unstable surface, so maximizing strength and stability at contact points is paramount. Then, take a guy who boarders on flatfooted like me and put him on a paddleboard for a few hours and his/her ankles will be smoked. Strengthening the feet with various unilateral drills will help extend a paddleboarders’ time on the board each day.

Most exercises that can be done on two feet can be done on one. In fact, performing IMG_4713some of the aforementioned glute exercises on a single-leg is a great way to maximize time in the gym. Some of my favorite unilateral exercises are Unilateral Cable Deadlifts (can be done with barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells…), contralateral push press, contralateral low cable row, pistol squat, Chaos Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat.

This shouldn’t be misconstrued as instability work on a BOSU ball. The goal of the exercise isn’t to make balancing harder, but rather to make balancing easier over time. This can not be achieved on something like a BOSU ball / instability trainer.

 

 

Overall this has barely scratched the surface of strength training for paddleboarders. These are just some quick thoughts I’ve had on this topic, mostly as it has related to my own development as a paddleboarder, but from the perspective of a scientific and methodological practice and training environment.

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Are you a paddleboarder interested in starting a workout program to maximize your skills on a board? Reach out to me at John@RuthlessPerformance.com to get started today.

Why Do Ruthless Performance Workouts Use the Same Mobility Drills in the Warm-Up and Cool-Down?

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Most of the programs that we design and implement at Ruthless Performance have some meticulously detailed cool-down for an athlete to do following their last exercises of the day. And in most cases these are some combination of mobility drills, breathing techniques, or myofascial release strategies.

Past all of the very significant reasons that a proper cool down in crucial for athlete development, there’s a handful of additional benefits an athlete will receive by doing their prescribed combination of mobility drills at this particular time. When an athlete does these drills early on in the workout, likely in their warm-up or as an accessory drill between main sets, more mobility (active use of ROM) is required of the articulations themselves–like in the spine or at the hip.

But after a workout, while there is more blood circulating in the muscles, the mobility drills will more specifically target these areas–even if it is the same exercise that is done pre-workout.

There also seems to be more lasting changes in range-of-motion when these exercises are completed post-workout. Whereas in the warm-up, these drills serve to enhance proper movement and function during the workout, but the lasting effects seem to be negated by the workouts themselves.

This is why we recommend including high-priority mobility drills in the pre and post-workout time period.

Internal Program Review: Corrective Exercise Program for an Elite Female CrossFit Athlete

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Throughout the entirety of my college tenure and time as a collegiate strength & conditioning coach, I was extremely averse to CrossFit. Though my stance hasn’t changed much regarding CrossFit as a means of enhancing athletic prowess, it has changed considerably towards using CrossFit as a means of enhancing fitness in the general population as well as CrossFit as a sport unto itself. My thoughts on CrossFit as a whole are best saved for another day, but my opinions on it have been trending more positively as of late.

During this time in my life, I would have never anticipated that moving forward I’d have a wonderful working relationship with a handful of CrossFit affiliates, as well as having a roster on-hand of over 300 CrossFit athletes that I actively assess, program, and am generally accountable for with regards to health and longevity in the sport.

With all this said, I wanted to do a break down of one of the Ruthless Performance Ex Phys Interventions, one of our flagship corrective exercise protocols. This internal program review will vary slightly from some in the past, as some information has been redacted/blurred. I don’t have any problems answering any questions, or providing explanations for these programs, but because of the highly individualized and semi-clinical nature of these programs, sharing the entirety of these programs can be counterproductive as many exercises that work for the client may not work for others.

I’ve only left the information visible on this program that I want to share (and am capable of covering) within the scope of this article. The Ruthless Performance Ex Phys Interventions are largely just corrective in nature and do not comprise the entirety of an athlete’s program. These are usually done in conjunction with our Remote Programming, Athlete Development Training, or in conjunction with other sports (like CrossFit, powerlifting, or weightlifting).

Ex Phys Interventions typically have a handful of components meant to mend well with existing programing. Programs are almost always comprised of warm-up, cool-down, activation work, and then from here may include some combination of at-home work, daily mobility circuits, weekly totals, etc..

So let’s dig in…

1. To Fix Something Rapidly, Do it Frequently

Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7The daily exercises typically involved in our Ex Phys Interventions seek to address some underlying physical deviation causing undue strain on the musculoskeletal system. By assigning these exercises to do frequently, but with low-intensity, these can be completed shortly before bed, upon waking, during lunch breaks, and so on…

In this case, we’re dealing with an athlete that has prominent Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT), slight Upper Cross Syndrome, and flexion-intolerant back pain (read more on flexion vs. extension intolerant back pain here). The at-home exercises were largely meant to remedy these issues, while requiring relatively little input from the CNS, allowing the athlete to perform these with a greater level of frequency.

This exercise circuit is listed to be performed 3x / week. More is better in the case of these exercises, but 3x / week is a frequency that an athlete can adhere to with relative ease.

2. Breathing Drills are Making a Come-Back

Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7Breathing Drills are one of those topics that deserve their own article (if not their own book). There are many great resources to learn about the significance of proper breathing in greater specificity, but suffice it to say that in a cool-down, we are looking for activation of the diaphragm to help pull the athlete into a more parasympathetic-dominant state (the CNS should be the focal point of Exercise Science curricula rather than the muscular system, again another post, another day…).

The Deep Squat Belly Breathing w/ Lat Stretch drill is useful specifically with this athlete as we’re attempting to alter the CNS, while simultaneously helping the client feel better overhead, minimize input from various accessory breathing structures, and get some extra post-workout work on that deep squat position; mobility drills done post-workout seem to have longer-lasting effects on range of motion and function.

Additionally, I’ve left in the header of her assigned myofascial release work for a quick note… The effects of myofascial release seem to be slightly overblown BUT myofascial release is still important enough to make our corrective programs. By drastically cutting down the time on the rollers & lacrosse balls, but maintaining frequency, we can experience the benefits of myofascial work without it taking up more time than is needed. 15 seconds on the roller and LAX ball per muscle group as a standard and doubling this only for trouble areas.

3. Corrective Exercises Aren’t Always Crazy Stretches

I’ll be the first to admit that many of the exercises within our corrective protocols are complex and can be viewed as a novelty. This theme can encapsulate athletes’ perceptions generally towards correctives, but this isn’t always the case.

Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7

Both biceps femoris (legs) and biceps brachii (arms) tend to be an issue for CrossFit athletes… Since many CrossFit facilities tend to avoid use of machines, the hamstrings (biceps femoris) tend to be neglected, specifically the short head of the muscle, whose primary responsibility is lower leg flexion. In the case of the arms (biceps brachii), which are stimulated by exercises like traditional dumbbell or barbell curls, there again tends to be an imbalance between the long head and short head, leading to problems at the shoulder, elbow, and even wrist.

By adding in a weekly total for barbell curls, we can ensure the athlete is getting sufficient short-head activation without much complexity. Barbell curls, no weights, hit this total every week; that’s it.

4. Multi-Function Joints Need Multi-Function Stimulation

The joint-by-joint theory popularized by Physical Therapist Gray Cook can appear invalid Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7at the shoulder, as it is comprised of two primary joints. But as the data points to, the theory fits as one joint provides stability (acromioclavicular joint) and the other yields greater range of motion (glenohumeral).

With this in mind, we’ve focused the athletes Day 1, 3, and 5 activation drills around ensuring these various functional components of the shoulder and thoracic spine are being stimulated.

The Half-Kneeling 90/90 External Rotation stimulates the Supraspinatus in isolation. I reference the significance of the Supraspinatus regularly, but its significance is largely rooted in its function as one of the few muscles that externally rotates the humerus. Bench T-Spines are ideal for wedging the shoulder blades into the thoracic spine, thus forcing some sagittal plane mobility (thoracic extension). And of course, this variation of carries works the rotator cuffs of the shoulder independently of one another, while ensuring large amounts of irradiation (tension directed upwards in the kinetic chain) because of the bottoms-up grip. This further supports the desired outcome of very active, healthy rotator cuffs.

 

For more details on any of our corrective exercise programs, send us an email at info@RuthlessPerformance.com. Program facilitation available in-person and online.

Internal Program Review: High School Swimmer Pre-Season Strength Training – Day 2

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With the vast expanse that is the winter swim season raipidly approaching, I wanted to take the time to yet again detail one of our swimming programs. In this particular case, we’re going to explain the Ruthless Performance methods that made this program so effective.

To provide context for this case study, we will be talking about a male swimmer, approaching the end of his high school career, who specailizes in short to mid-distance freestyle and butterfly…

We’ll be looking at ‘Day 2’ of his 3-day program, and what we’re doing to get him in-shape for the upcoming swim season.

Preseason Prep Internal Program Review
1. Emphasising Both Activation & Mobility as Needed

1 Preseason-Prep-Internal-Program-Review.jpg

Like most other programs we run our athletes through, this workout begins with a comprehenisve warm-up. Athletes are compartmentalized into a warm-up by age, ability, past injuries and training history. From there, we specialize and individualize the workout starting at our ‘A’ Exercises which are very rarely similar from one athlete to the next.

Landmine-based exercises have recently become a frequent addition to our programs because of the unusual loading parameters we see with this exercise variation. As opposed to a traditional barbell exercise, landmine exercises get lighter as the angle of the bar approaches 90 degrees; this has a wide array of benefits, but here we are using this to maximally loading the shoulder at the bottom of the press, while ensuring a greater ROM (range of motion) as we near the top of the exercise. Beyond just encouraging more ROM, this also assists in activation of the Serratus Anterior — a troublesome area for many athletes, which in the case of swimmers can be career ending.

In addition to creating muscle activation in the shoulder, we’re trying to use this ‘A’ circuit to enhance hip mobility. In our A1, the Half-Kneeling Overhead Landmine Press assists in creating hip mobility via Rectus Femoris Stretch caused by the Half-Kneeling position. Though this is a secondary component to the A1, hip mobility is the primary element of the A2 –the weighted cossack squat…

Because this swimmer is primarily a freestyler and butterflier, the hip is exposed to a relatively small ROM. By expanding this capacity in a structured and controlled training environment, we can help minimize injury (while maximizing power output) via enhanced ability of the hips to absorb and generate force outside of the saggital plane.

 

2. Creating a Neutral Spine Where and When Possible

In a previous article, I explained the differences between flexion and extension intolerant back pain, this particular athlete sits closer to the extension-intolerent end of the spectrum. To mitigate this, we’ve added Band Pull Aparts and 180 Degree Back Extensions as part of his ‘B’ exercise circuit.

1 Preseason Prep Internal Program ReviewBand Pull Aparts are one of the most common exercises within any of the Ruthless Performance programs, regardless of sport; but in the case of swimming, these provide countless benefits. Beyond the primary benefits to swimmers, like scapular control and improved stroke efficiency, we’ve added this as a means of minimizing kyphosis. Like many high school athletes who sit behind a desk for 6+ hours / day, this athlete demonstrates an internally rotated and kyphotic posture. The solution to these problems almost universally starts with a very high volume of band pull aparts.

Though the ‘B2’ is listed as 180 Back Extension, it is talked about and referred to internally as a 180 Hip Extension. Though this may seem semantic it is not. I won’t go into detail here again, though you can find more in our first installment of our Internal Program Review, where we go over this difference in detail.

The video below from our instagram also explains this to some extent with yet another one of our swimmers performing this exercise.

 

3. Enhance Cardiovascular Capacity, But do so Efficiently

The primary purpose of the off-season program should be to build up strength and other various capacities that are often neglected during the regular swim season. Going into the season, however, should at least provide some basic framework for sport-specific work capacity.

Another one of my frequent rants is that about the purpose and function of the rotator Preseason Prep Internal Program Reviewcuff… 4 anatomically independent muscles grouped together because of their function (physiology) with regards to the shoulder, which is simply to maintain the position of the humerus. With this in mind, any time we spend engaging and maintaining a stable shoulder, we are inherently training the rotator cuff. Here, we’re doing so concurrently with a few other goals in mind, enhancing cardiovascular capacity (as mentioned), but also encouraging overhead ROM with the slam ball, generating force outside of the saggital plane, and developing abdonimal activation/ trunk stability during both the C1 and C2 exercises.

Though these aren’t traditionally exercises performed for energy system training, we can manipulate the variables to ellicit this desired response. Rather than simply adding in more sets or extending the length of time to complete the exercises, we’ve focused in on the density component, which is simply the ability to do more work in the same period of time. A 5-minute time cap ensures that from weeks 1-4, the athlete is developing his work capacity, in a manner condusive to short to mid distance swimming events. As opposed to conventional wisdom, maintaining a high level of force output and muscular endurance over this relatively short period of time is all that we need for this particular workout going into more sport-specific pre-season swim training.

 

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 48

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Does Shaving Improve Swimming Performance? By Allan Phillips via Swimming Science

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

The 12 Most Effective Ways to Spark the Recovery Process By John Rusin

Are Nightshade Vegetables Bad for You? An Evidence-Based Look By Kimberly Yawitz via Diet vs. Disease

How Much Fish Oil Is Too Much? Via Strength Sensei

Carrageenan: Friend or Foe? By Nicole Spear via Strength Sensei

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Breaking Down the Depth Jump By Nancy Newell

7 Exercises Lost to the ’80s By Skip Hill via EliteFTS

Everything Lateral Lunges By Erica Suter

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

A Quick and Dirty System for Goal Setting: A Done-For-You 60 Minute Workshop To Live An Intentional Life By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Posture By Vern Gambetta via HMMR Media

 

Research

Hyperoxia Improves Swimming Performance By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Ruthless Performance Guide to Mineral Supplementation By Jesse Rodriguez via Ruthless Performance

Internal Program Review: Collegiate Swimmer Off-Season Strength & Conditioning Program – Day 1 By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 47

Posted on

View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Use Olympic Weightlifting To Transform Strength Into Speed By Antonio Squillante via Breaking Muscle

Softball: 3 Things You Didn’t Know That Will Upgrade Your Warm-Ups By Nancy Newell

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea  By Kris Gunnars via H

Brian St. Pierre on the Fundamentals of High-Performance Nutrition With Brian St. Pierre via Mike Robertson

Reversing the Low-Testosterone Lifestyle with Training & Nutrition By Mike Gorski via John Rusin

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Bench Press Mobility By Zach Long

How To Weight The Foot During Deadlifts  By Harold Gibbons

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

How to Define Your Company’s Values and Make Them Stick By Michael Keeler

5 Reasons Why You Should Man Up and Start Taking Cold Showers By Ollie Coombes via Addicted 2 Success

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Swimming Recovery: Why Aren’t You Foam Rolling? By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Research

Histamine Intolerance: Everything You Need To Know Explained in Plain English By Joe Leech

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function By Jesse Rodriguez

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto By Jesse Rodriguez

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 46

Posted on

View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

138 | Dane Miller | Country Boys Can Survive Hosted by Zach Even Esh

Everything You Need To Know To Write Incredible Programs By Nancy Newell

Assess And Correct Leg Dominance  By Jennifer Pilotti via Breaking Muscle

Should Your Personal Trainer Be Licensed? By Jeremy Lau via Halevy Life

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Himalayan Salt Lamps: Benefits and Myths By Helen West via Healthline

If it Fits With Your Micros: The Overlooked Key to Sports Performance By Zach Long

Restore Your Breathing and Improve Your Conditioning – Part 2 By Jim Smith

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

5 Advanced Squat Variations You Haven’t Tried By Meghan Callaway via Girls Gone Strong

Will Cardio Give Your Weight Training An Advantage?  By Dean Somerset

The Best Exercises You’re Not Doing for Shoulders – Cross Cable Flyes with “Y” Press  By Jim Smith

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

Freedom, fairness and equality By Seth Godin

The Salt Shaker Theory: 3 Principles of Effective Management By Mark Fisher via Business for Unicorns

 How to Set Boundaries with Clients By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

How to Fix Rounded Shoulders  By Annette Verpillot via Strength Sensei

The Science Behind Cryotherapy, Ice Baths, Fat-Loss and Recovery  By Kevin Masson via John Rusin

 

Research

The No Barbell Experiment On Squat And Deadlift And Hip Thrust Strength: The Results  By Bret Contreras

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Lecture Takeaways: Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function By John Matulevich