10 Considerations For An Effective Performance Program Part 1
This post is a contribution for a new author to this website who will be putting out some posts over the next few months.
Danny has been working in the S&C department at Leeds Met with me for a year now and has done a great job with the athletes I have asked him to work with.
He also has experience in the states with JC Santana and runs his own S&C sessions for his base in Scarborough. If you’re in the Scarborough area I recommend you get in touch with me and ill forward your email to Danny.
He has also recently passed his UKSCA accreditation which is a great achievement and another success for the thriving internship programme here! To top it off he has done all this whilst preparing to be a father which he now is, a busy year in all for Dan I think you’ll agree.
Anyway I think Danny is going to bring a lot to the site and thats why I asked him to put some stuff together. This first post is an overview of his training philosophy when it comes to programme design.
Enough rambling, on with the piece!
Here is a list of 10 components I believe will help an athlete/or client develop an effective program to improve performance. While this is not an exhaustive list and there are other things to consider also, these points below should get you starting in the right direction:
1) Use Multi-Joint, Multi-Muscle Compound movements:
The human body is an integrated unit, the muscles work synergistically together to produce, transfer, and reduce force in movements efficiently. It is the nervous system that orchestrates the muscles to produce smooth movement patterns, not the muscles in isolation. As Vern Gambetta states “Train movements not muscles”.
Fundamental exercises I choose from are, deadlifts, squats, presses and pulls horizontal and vertical, Olympic lifts and their variations, along with bodyweight movements such as pushup variations, chins, rope climbs, jumps, bounds, hops and throws.
2) Train the Posterior Chain:
From a society who sit too much and primarily train the anterior chain, the posterior chain often gets left out. This can be disasterous in terms of poor posture (rounded shoulders, thoracic rounding, forward head, and anterior pelvic tilt) and can lead to a whole host of injuries and problems throughout the kinetic chain (knees, hip, low back, even shoulder injuries). As well as improving structural imbalances, training the posterior chain (the whole backside, hamstrings, glutes, paraspinals etc…) will improve athletic performance greatly. The hip and back extensors are the most powerful fast twitch fibers in the human body that are responsible for high strength and power expression, if trained properly that is. So instead of training bench, crunches and curls, hit the posterior chain hard with, kb swings, deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts, glute ham raises, good mornings, Olympic lift variations, sled work, jumps and sprints, and improve performance and structural balance.
3) Train the Core as an Integrated Unit:
The body’s core is much more than the rectus abdominis, internal/external oblique’s and the TVA. It essentially consists of the interaction amonst all the muscles between your shoulders and hips, so force can be transferred from the lower body to the upper body (and vice versa) to the extremities (arms, legs). So the core is the hub, the foundation from which movement can occur. Without a fully functioning strong core strength and power expression in movement will be limited. Primarily the core works to protect the spine (low back), and contracts to form hoop like tension around the torso to keep the lumbar spine stable while force is transferred via the legs, hips and shoulders. Current research from Dr Stu McGill states that core stiffness is the most productive way to train the core to ensure spinal health and the correct routing of force through the body’s kinetic chain while minimising energy leaks through unstable joints. So anti-extension, anti-flexion, anti-lateral flexion, and anti-rotation is the way to go. I also incorporate rotational movements into my programs, as the core is designed in a criss cross format from left shoulder to right hip and vice versa, known as the serape effect. With these movements though please note rotation is coming from internal external rotation of the hip, and rotation of the thoracic spine while the lumbar spine remains stiff. Exercises I choose from are, rollouts, barbell rotations with without pivot, plank rows, anti-rotation presses, pushup variations, single arm carries, and single arm pushing and pulling movements etc… As you can see situps and crunches are not the most functional way to train the core, McGill has shown that repeated flexion based movements can cause disk hernations. So train for go not show!
4) Incorporate Single Leg, and Unilateral Work:
While I love the bilateral lifts (squats, deadlifts) for maximal strength development, a very important consideration is the use of single leg work. Just think about it in sport or life most activities occur off of one leg. The stronger you are on a single leg the better you will move and perform through increased joint stability, and you reduce the risk of those dreaded ACL tears. Its very important that you can control force in all planes of motion, and when you train on one leg, frontal, and transverse plane stability comes into play. There is more recruitment of the stabilizers of the hip and core (all three gluteals, tensor fascia latae, adductors, and quadrates lumborum) when you train from a single leg, which get neglected in the bilateral lifts. Exercises I like are split squats, reverse lunges, walking lunges, RFE squats, step-ups, single leg squats to/ off a box, and single leg deadlifts.
I also use unilateral upper body work with my clients/athletes for much of the same reasons above, increased joint stability, and unilateral imbalances. Also incorporating these movements require the body to resist rotation or lateral flexion depending on the plane of motion, as described in the core work above. Exercises I choose are alternating DB presses, rows, angled bar presses, rope pulls, and pushup variations.
5) Be Specific:
Specificity is a main principle in strength and conditioning, and has to be considered if your training is going to improve the performance of your particular sport or activity. The body is a living organism that if shown an outside stimulus will adapt to that stimulus in a specific way. As they say form dictates function, and you train how you want to be. This is why a sprinter can’t perform like a marathon runner (vice versa) in each other’s sporting events. So things to consider are needs analysis of the athlete; training history, injury profile, chronological age, training age etc… A needs analysis of the sport; kinematics (movement patterns), kinetics (force profiles), energy system requirements, work dynamics (work to rest ratios), and injury trends. From here amongst other considerations you can program accordingly, so that your training will transfer and improve your performance for your particular sport. With that been said specificity often gets taken too far and out of context, especially in the weight room. Being specific does not mean loading the exact sport skill with resistance; this can alter the motor pattern/skills that the athlete has taken years of technical work to perfect. As long as the joint angles, plane and range of motion, force outputs, and speed of movements are taken into consideration then this will ensure that the training is specific. A term I prefer is ‘transfer of training effect’. Will this particular movement or exercise transfer over and improve my performance for that sport? If the answer is yes, then happy days!
Danny Hague ASCC, MMA-CSCC
That concludes the first part of the article, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and let us know!
Stay tuned for 5 more considerations coming very soon.
Yours in strength,