Badminton Q and A

After all the questions that were posted on the forums regarding the article which if you haven’t read is available HERE, I thought I would answer them all here, as well as some of the emails I received (minus the peoples names etc). After reading this if you still have any questions you can leave a comment at the end of the article.

All the videos are available on my youtube channel where you can subscribe for future updates.

Ok here we go…..

1. Is there any evidence showing that general explosive upper body exercises translate into improved power on the court? If so, could this be detrimental to the accuracy and control of strokes?

Although I have not seen specific research conducted on badminton players, it has been shown that in tennis, the upper body contributes to around 1/3 of the power generated in the stroke. Now clearly I am not suggesting that the biomechanics of the badminton strokes are similar to tennis, but what I would suggest from both looking at the research in other sports and watching badminton, is that there is a significant upper body contribution to the overall power of the shot. Therefore I do believe that this should be trained for. The overall percentage of training time dedicated to upper body power development in my programmes is around 20-30 dependant on training phase% as opposed to lower body/total body power production. I believe in building explosive athletes from the ground up, and explosive athletes from toenails to fingernails!

With regards to accuracy and control of strokes, there is evidence that training sport specific movement patterns such as badminton strokes etc with weighted implements such as hand weights, weighted racquets can detrimentally affect the speed and biomechanics of the movement. That is why the work I do in the gym is general in nature and is designed to increase general strength and power, which has been shown in countless studies to improve performance. That being said, I would have no issue supersetting specific movements to aid in the transfer of training and this will evolve with the players development in due course.

2. What season do you train the badminton players? If off-season, do they not train badminton and focus solely on physical preparation? If in-season, how do you manage physical training sessions with practising the sport in terms of fatigue, periodization, etc?

The players train all year round. During heavy competitive phases I have worked with them as and when they can train and programmed the sessions accordingly. For example tournament Fri they can lift heavy previous Monday and Tuesday. Some players train 3x weekly, others 2x, this depends on their experience and their schedule. I will get the players in 3x weekly once they have reached a level of competency in the gym and they have the time available to train with me. The off season we will be focussing on general preperation and will be doing 3 lifting sessions and 2-3 conditioning sessions weekly. Badminton will be minimal. The phases will be programmed 4 weekly using a medium, heavy, v heavy, light weekly progression for the more advanced athletes, and a light, medium, heavy, light progression for the more inexperienced athletes. Some will follow a progressive overload programme which means that I will look to increase intensity weekly. This will be the development level players typically.

I try to identify with the coach what are the key areas to focus on. If this is physical then this is prioritised over the badminton. The important point is that in order to optimise a players development you must have a good interaction between the coaching team and the support team and this involves regular communication!

3. How do you balance unilateral and bilateral exercises in your programmes? Both types in each workout? Alternate within a week? It looks like the videos have bodyweight unilateral exercises. Do you do loaded ones as well like heavy lunges or bulgarian split squats?

This is a great question and a topic of current debate in the industry! Clearly both are important to include within the programme. My sessions tend to have both unilateral and bilateral exercises in them. I use a knee dominant and hip dominant exercise model in one session their will be knee dominant bilateral and hip dominant unilateral and vice versa. This might be a deadlift and a single leg squat day 1, and a back squat, split squat day 2. In terms of loading, I do use heavy split squats and Bulgarian squats, I also use weighted reverse lunges, walking lunges, lateral lunges and single leg unsupported squats with weighted vests and dumbells. All of which are loaded exercises.

4: I was wondering why your exercises are so low in rep range. I understand you need to get the power but I would expect also that muscle endurance is an important factor. Which you train, in my belief, in a rep range of 15/20 and higher. I was wondering why you choose for only max strength and not for a combination of both.

If you would do a combination, how would you programme that in a schedule?

When I look at a sport from a physical perspective, I look at the demands placed on the body and work out how to best train for this within a programme in line with what the athletes are already going through. Clearly there are muscular endurance demands in badminton, no question. However the training volume the players go through day-by-day means that they actually have a good level of muscular endurance already. So from my point of view it would not be a good idea to focus on this in the gym. What the players lack is basic and maximal strength, which is developed through heavy loads and lower reps.

Also, when you look at the major movements in the sport, they require extremely high levels of strength to execute them with speed and power and then recover for the next shot. So developing greater maximal strength allows you to use relatively less effort when executing these movements meaning that in a sense your muscular endurance improves anyway.

5: Is it possible to combine the weight training with agility exercises? In the article it says agillty work should be done on the court.

If you would combine these two, how would a training look like. Would you it be like some kind of circuit?

You could combine weight training with agility but you need to take the exercise choice and rest intervals into consideration when doing so in order to maximise the power development you develop. The research on implementing heavy resistance exercise followed by explosive movements suggests that 5-12 minutes recovery is optimal. What does this tell you? Firstly, the prescription is highly individual in nature so when working with a group some will benefit from 5 minutes, others from 12 and others in between making programme design challenging! Secondly, it actually means that if you are training for an hour you can only really do 4 sets or so if you need 12 minutes rest! So clearly this is not practical when designing sessions. There is also no evidence to suggest that combining heavy exercises with agility transfers, although my feeling is that it would do to a degree. Most of the research is on very similar movement such as squats to vertical jumps. Myself and my intern Ben are putting together the next phased of training for some of the players now and are considering incorporating some combination exercises in one session. How I am looking to do this is by lifting heavy with the major exercises and following this with a short power session which will allow some recovery from the strength work first. I think this could be a good way of utilising post-activation-potentiation (PAP).

I certainly would not use circuits for this type of work as you will never be able to produce maximal levels of force due to fatigue. Save the circuits for general preparation and conditioning.

6 I’d be interested in hearing about the risk/reward in doing military press / bench press with a straight bar for badminton athletes considering the amount of overhead hitting they do and the high risk of shoulder injury.

Good question. I am not a big fan of bench press for any athlete although I do use it for testing and certain training phases. A better alternative would be the dumbbell bench press as you can move the shoulder through a natural movement arc. Close gip bench press is also an alternative. The key is that if you are training with the bench press you do it correctly, with the shoulders set and drawn back, the feet wide and heels digging into the floor and most importantly of all, you don’t over bench! Meaning that you don’t do it 3 times per week for example! You also don’t keep it in the programme week after week. Military press is not an exercise I generally use due to the stress it places on the shoulders. Push presses are better, as are jerks and split jerks. Dumbell press are also better for the same reasons as dumbbell bench presses.

7: Does the author consider cleans and snatches worthwhile considering the technical demands of those lifts vs just performing the snatch/clean pull variations.

For me the risk reward is worthwhile for the athletes as I see them regularly and have the time to work with them. If you are not working with players for extensive periods then I would probably look to use other alternative such as high pulls and clean pulls etc.

8: What would the author consider to be goal strength levels for elite players e.g. 2 x bw squat, 1.5 x bw pull up?

This is a very difficult question to answer! My general view is that you need to get the athlete maximally strong and powerful for their genetics! In line with their logistics! Meaning that if you only see a player for 4 weeks then they are competing for 6 weeks then back for 4 etc etc, you are never going to get them squatting 2.5-3 times bodyweight for example.

Having said that the players that I have are getting close to 1.5 BW pull-ups, and are deadlifting and squatting  close to 2x BW so I think this is certainly achievable. It really depends on a players training history, injury history, and their genetics. Sorry I can’t be more prescriptive with this one!

9: I’m an advanced coach and have recently started working with 2 U17 players around 8 weeks ago. At their age, they had done very little training and yet have achieved excellent results.

Bearing in mind their age, what weights, reps and exercises would you recommend for these lads? Whilst I have received a huge amount of training and information from personal trainers in the past, this is some time ago and I think it’s vital that they get off court training advice from qualified experts.

Do you have any material/videos that could help us?

The key with working with junior players is that you seek technical proficiency in the exercises before you seek loading ( this applies to all athletes). I tend to use slightly higher reps as this will enable them to learn the movement and provides more coaching time for me. Don’t be afraid to increase the weight provided the form is excellent however think more about increasing the complexity rather than the load. For example, go to a walking lunge as a progression from the lunge rather than go to a heavier lunge. If you are interested in more info in this area I highly recommend Kelvin Giles work. He has been a great mentor for me and has a very good resource available at www.movementdynamics.com.

I don’t have any material currently other than the videos etc you have seen but you never know what lies ahead!! I have a training DVD in the pipeline, register for my newsletter if your interested in updates on this.

10: I am 42 years old, I started badminton late on but represented England in the Vets 2005 Worlds ( Bronze ) and Europeans 2006 ( Silver ).

I am going to use your workout from now on, until now I have just used info from Mens Health/Fitness Mags and advice from the occasional coach. I play on average 3 times a week and gym on top of this.

Sorry to be a pain but if you could at some point answer the questions below I will be most grateful, and happy to put up any info at our dedicated Kent badminton hall if you wish.

1) Do I need to change any of the Reps or Sets due to my age ?

2) How often do you suggest I use this training per week

3) Would you combine it with some cardio after or keep this a totally separate training session ?

I think the programme as it stands will be good for you with a few tweeks. I would give yourself an adaptation phase, which is basically a higher rep version of everything with lower weights. Go for 12 reps and 3 sets for a 3 week period. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the exercises and will provide your body with a stimulus to adapt to initially. It also lets your tendons and ligaments adapt as well. A 2 day programme will be good to begin with, see how you get on with this. I have seen excellent results with athletes using 2 day programmes. I don’t think you need to worry about combining weights with cardio. In an ideal world you would keep them separate either on a separate day or morning/evening type set-up but if your struggling for time combine the sessions. The weights session can be done at high pace so you will likely experience an aerobic training effect from this anyway.

That’s it folks hope the responses are understandable, I do tend to go off on one at times so apologies for this! I will keep posting more videos and clips. In the meantime feel free to check out my youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/brendanc2009 where all the clips are shown or my website at www.brendanchaplin.co.uk and www.athletesunlimited.co.uk.

Many Thanks.