Improving athletic performance

Submitted by BIGBLUEWORLD on October 30th, 2014 at 2:08 PM

On October 14, 2014 m1jjb00 presented a statistical analysis examining the relative incidence of football injuries: "Comparing injuries across the Big Ten".  According to his calculations, Michigan had the second highest rate of injuries among fourteen teams.  Since I have 24 years of professional experience in the health and fitness field (also worked as an addiction counselor), I thought it was time to speak up. I put together a diary titled, "Reason for so many injuries".

In summary it said: When a human being trains to get bigger and stronger, in the process their neuro-muscular system, the kinetic chain, becomes tighter and less flexible. For optimum athletic performance, training must include various compensating modalities to regain and increase freedom of movement, such as stretching, yoga, myofascial release, massage, etc. The various types of resistance training (i.e. weights, cables, elastic bands, body weight, etc.) must be taken into consideration.  

Multi-planar activity incorporating twisting movements (Transverse Plane) develop coordination and support joint stabilization.  Flexibility, mobility, agility are central components of a complete, integrative training program.  These areas are often undervalued or neglected, not only in gyms around the world, but even in the most sophisticated professional environments.

Some people's comments noted that I did not make an airtight case to support the conclusion which I reached. I agree that's a legitimate question. However, athletic training is a complex, evolving field. When you study practices such as Olympic training, body building, power lifting, martial arts and yoga, just to name a few, you find tremendous diversity in methods people use to improve physical performance. There's a lot of disagreement, even among top professionals in the upper echelon of sports science. This is far from a mature, exact science. So then, was "Reason for so many injuries" an overstatement?

No, it is not.

The time is way overdue for someone to speak up for the well being of these young athletes, who put their health on the line for our football team. The University of Michigan is a world leader in many areas; I expect nothing less from our strength and conditioning program. John Bacon recently reported that NFL scouts find U of M football players lacking in key parameters of physical conditioning. When you take a look at the work of people like Paul Chek, Kelly Starrett, Gray Cook, Naudi Aguilar and Shannon Turley, you see we lag behind. 

Making a convincing case that details the deficiencies of our current training regimen, and mapping out a comprehensive program that would help prevent injuries and improve athletic performance is not really practical in the parameters of a football blog. In this context, I can only summarize and indicate directions where we can move forward.

So moving forward, I propose we begin a conversation which will consider some of the methods our football team can use to improve their athletic performance. Of course, this applies to all sports in general, and your own personal health and fitness as well. Please note: I'm not a statistician. I study this field intensively, including human performance in general, work with amateurs and professionals, and speak from personal experience. I would like to invite you to contribute any information you think is relevant, or personal experience you feel is interesting. I'm not expecting to avoid controversy, but prefer to engage it in a respectful, courteous way.

Let's begin by considering a comment from Blueinsconsin. He noted there's "incompetence at the top of the program", and made a really good, if somewhat unlikely suggestion, that we "steal Shannon Turley from Stanford". Bluesnu provided this informative link to an article about Turley:…

Shannon Turley at Stanford is one of the tops in his field. Some of his innovations are now being practiced at all levels, even well received by the NFL. He employs dynamic, multi-planar methods of training, and utilizes a functional movement metric (that is, he monitors and tests for flexibility and range of motion) to gauge the progress of his players.

I've seen many indications that such progressive training methods are lacking with our football S&C training. They may well be being employed for other sports at the University of Michigan. I'm curious about that, and welcome any information on this subject.

In a conversation with Bluesnu, we discussed the relative merits of Hypertrophy training (getting bigger) versus training for Power (generating force with speed). I presented this analogy: "Would you rather have a 300 lb lineman who is carrying all sorts of dysfunctional, neuro-muscular internal restrictions, lumbering around like a water buffalo? Or would it be better to have a 285 lb lineman who has been trained to move and "deliver a blow" (quote from Greg Mattison) with the speed and agility of Chuck Norris?"

Now of course bigger and stronger is necessary. But take a look at this video which demonstrates combined functional and martial arts training. Then you decide if these methods would make our football players more athletically powerful, efficient, and less susceptible to injury.

If the topic of health, fitness, and S&C training generates an interesting dialogue without  too much kneejerk negativity, we might continue this conversation further.

Thanks. Peace.





October 30th, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

I tend to agree with your overall thesis, but can you get more spefic?  

Do you have intimate knowledge of UM strength and conditioning program and can you critique it? Or are looking at the out come and making that judgement?

Truly not trying to argue with you, just want to understand where you are coming from.




October 30th, 2014 at 2:52 PM ^

I'm an alum living in California, and don't have cameras planted inside the training facility. But based on the statistical record, what I've observed, heard from inside the program, and learned through 24 years of intensive study and practice with clients, the fact that there are major deficiencies in our S&C program is glaringly obvious. 

The reason I'm putting the time into this post is that I care about the well being of our football players, who deserve the very best in training and conditioning. I would definitely invite any observations from inside the football S&C program, whether they agree with my own observations or not. I welcome transparency and open dialogue. It could greatly benefit the well being of our players, and the performance of the team on the field. 


October 30th, 2014 at 4:19 PM ^

I understand your dilemma  being in CA.

Until Bacon came out and said that, I had not thought about this perspective.  I wondered why all our lineman, other than Glasgow, were basically under 300 lbs or really close despite coming in pretty big  Figured they had "high metabolisms". Your perspective is appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time. I really look forward to this discussion. It could be one huge area the next coach can come in and make a quick and important improvement.  

Maybe not do an Iowa and have 30 guys and their kidneys shut down, but get with more cutting edge ideas.


Thanks again.


October 30th, 2014 at 2:45 PM ^

I think a valuable contribution here would be you teaming up with someone who might be able to provide a more data-driven perspective.  You seem to have knowledge of the particular S&C methods used at different schools, which would be critical in trying to gather data regarding whether training type actually correlates with injury rate.

Here's what I liken this conversation to: say I want to argue that the spread offense is superior to pro-style offenses.  I would want to (1) demonstrate conceptually that the spread offense is harder to defend, generates easier reads for players, etc, and therefore should be more effective, and (2) show that spread offenses are in fact doing better in terms of metrics (scoring, yards, etc).  

With regard to S&C, you're doing #1.  I'm hoping you and others can shed some light on #2, since that's so much more objective.


October 31st, 2014 at 4:58 AM ^

I certainly agree. I can only work with what I observe and have learned over the years. Information from inside the S&C program would be "a valuable contribution". Also, information from other U of M sports programs could provide a useful frame of reference.

Anyone with relavant knowledge of what's taking place withn our football S&C program want to speak up? Here's your chance.



October 30th, 2014 at 3:02 PM ^

I know little and less of S&C but perhaps interested and informed folks reading this thread can respond to a question I've had regarding injuries.  You hear stories (myths?) about people being in accidents sustaining lesser injuries when they don't see an impact coming because their body doesn't tense up.  That got me thinking, could being nervous or tense while competing in a football game make you more prone to injury?  Whether you're an athlete or not, when you're nervous or tense there's a physical response-- everyone's felt it.  So could that translate to a higher risk of injury on the football field?


October 30th, 2014 at 4:22 PM ^

What you've noticed relates to the most advanced research in the mind-body connection. Cutting-edge research in this field is ongoing. Some interesting studies are being conducted at the University of Michigan. In the behavioral sciences, The U of M and Penn University have leading departments in "Positive Psychology". Duke University, the University of Arizona, and Scripps, among others, are leading the way in the growing field of "Integrative Medicine". Practioners of martial arts and yoga are often knowledeable in this area.

From my experience in training clients, there's a definite correlation between mental stress and physical tension. That's where I find the work of Dr. Janet Travell regarding Myofascial Release (she was President John Kennedy's personal physician) most useful. Trigger Point Therapy is great for both stress reduction, and to increase flexibilty and range of motion.



October 30th, 2014 at 4:05 PM ^

The good news is: This team does have an S&C program. The bad news is: They're not tops in the field.

Once again, I welcome information regarding training methods from other sports S&C programs at the U of M, relevant information from other athletic training institutions, and especially, knowledgeable sources from within our football S&C program.

Transparency can only benefit the well being of our athletes. This could get interesting. 


October 30th, 2014 at 4:38 PM ^

I have zero knowledge of this field, but I'm inclined to think that cutting-edge applications can lead to a significant increase in relative performance.  I'm a believer in scientific progress.

I have no idea what's going on in the Michigan program, but who wouuld be surprised to learn that the guy whose vision of football appears to be twenty years out of date also has an SC program 20 years behind?

I'd advise everyone to restrain their enthusiasm that one easy fix will fix everything.  Deep excavation is needed.

I appreciate the shout out and will try to run an update soon.  I'll add preseason starters as evnisioned by Phil Steele as a work around the criticism that guys like Braxton Miller and Noah Spence (not injured) should be counted too.


October 31st, 2014 at 12:17 AM ^

Your diary "Comparing injuries across the Big Ten" provided definite evidence of the relatively high incidence of injuries among U of M football players. You confirmed what many people were personally observing, but we did not have a quantitative frame of reference. That sort of work comes from clear thinking and care about the well being of our football players.

m1jjb00, you deserve the thanks of everyone who supports Michigan football. I had been observing this problem developing, and seen numerous indications of deficiencies in our S&C program. Your analysis of the situation is what actually moved me to take action and speak up.

Thank you once again for your valuable contribution. You are a leader, a true Wolverine.



October 30th, 2014 at 4:48 PM ^

and my biggest issue with Wellman is that I know for a fact he trains every player the exact same way. Generally with football, you train the linemen on a somewhat different program than the big skill (RB,LB, TE), and also differently than the skill positions. Wellman does not do this and has everyone on the same program. Buddy Morris, former strength coach at Pitt, who I believe is in the NFL now with Arizona, said that you should train the linemen like track and field throwers and skill positions like sprinters. Linemen should be given more volume and should be "beat up" (in terms of doing more work) more than the skill players. The fact that Wellman doesn't do this, to me, does not put the players in the best conditions possible to maximize performance. 


I'm not certain if they use any type of functional movement screening, but I know that the strength and conditioning staff for olympic sports uses it. From the videos of workouts with Wellman that I've seen, some of the form appears to be subpar. The one that I remember without much thinking is a video of pullups being done with weight through about half of the full range of motion. Unless they were doing this for a specific reason, it would be a better idea to do less weight through the full ROM. IF this type of form is allowed with other exercises, it could lead to imbalance and injury as well. I know in the olympic sports department they do not tolerate subpar technique. Mike Favre is a worldwide leader in strength and conditioning and the program would be better suited in his hands. 


The last point I have is that the staff doesn't take advantage of their chances to train. We all praised the trips to work with SEALs in California, but that's a week they could have been training. The ENTIRE staff takes weeks off over the summer to go to conferences, rather than sending just a few representatives. Every training session is critical, and it seems to me the staff hasn't been taking advantage of all of them, especially in the summer when they are most critical. 


October 31st, 2014 at 5:05 AM ^

Among his many certifications, Mike Favre is: "Functional Movement Systems Certified".

At the Functional Movement Systems website it states:

"The philosophy behind the FMS is rooted in the concept that, in order to maximize performance, the whole body must be functioning properly. When the body is considered as a chain of individual elements, it’s reasonable that a weak link weakens the entire chain. Ignoring a weak link increases the potential for disaster, and strengthening the wrong links will not improve the integrity of the chain. The FMS provides the means to identify and resolve any weak links that may be jeopardizing the body and its healthy motion."

Favre is a world-class expert in the advanced type of S&C training I'm talking about. It's well known that Olympic training utilizes the most sophisticated, cutting-edge methods; often better than top professional coaches in caring for the well being of athletes, and enabling the epitomy of human athletic performance. 

Thanks for the heads up, MStrength.


October 31st, 2014 at 4:29 AM ^

Here's the link to the official MGoBlue bio for Aaron Wellman:

Here's the link to the official MGoBlue bio for Mike Favre:

Holy smokes. We're screwed.

Meanwhile, those namby-pamby, nothing but the finest, only-go-to-work-once-every-four-years Olympic athletes, who everyone knows stole their symbolic rings from Audi, are living it up in "Athletic Training Paradise".


October 30th, 2014 at 7:48 PM ^

Thanks again for a nice analysis critical of our S&C program. I've been noting all season that Wellman seems to be training his athletes into underperforming. There's something to this. I don't think, though, that the absence of statistical data is so damning as some others. But I also do think it's hard to defend this position without more insider info.


October 31st, 2014 at 4:48 AM ^

Yes, under the circustances, it's difficult to "defend this position" in a manner that would absolutely prove the deficiencies of our football S&C program.

However, based on the athletic performance of the football team that we've all seen with our own eyes, it is much harder for our S&C coaches to defend their position, that the athletic training which our football players receive is attaining good results, or is up to the standards which our hard-working athletes deserve.



October 30th, 2014 at 10:08 PM ^

I believe we need look no further than our basketball program for an example of world-class S&C. Our player development there is epic. Perhaps Wellman could take a few notes from Sanderson.

From my own anecdotal experience, hypertrophy looked nice but didn't ever seem to affect performance like low-rep/high-weight powerlifting ciruited with explosive plyometrics. I'm not sure what Wellman actually focuses on, but it does seem like he promotes bodybuilding over explosive power.


October 31st, 2014 at 2:17 AM ^

Perhaps our S&C coaches could "take a few notes" from Sanderson, Favre, Turley, Starrett, Chek, Cook, Aguilar...this could be a damn long list...Jack LaLanne, Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Kareem Abdul Jabbbar...or for that matter...Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe probably know more than they do.

It would also be beneficial for me to learn some advanced methods of physcal fitness; especially from Kate Upton.



October 30th, 2014 at 11:25 PM ^

Don't worry, BIGBLUEWORLD.  No matter what you write here, you will always find someone who disagrees.  There are three ways to cope with it.  You can get into long pointless arguments about minutae, develop a very thick skin or just not bother reading responses.  I already spend too much time here and chose door #3 long ago.


October 31st, 2014 at 5:18 AM ^

I've learned very interesting things from the comments which people made regarding my two diaries on this subject. I believe most of us share a concern for the well-being of our young athletes, along with our expectation that Michigan football stands for a history of excellence. We don't want that to turn into ancient history.

Sports science is a relatively new approach to athletic performance. It's filled with controversy. The great majority of comments are informative, thoughtful, or entertaining. I'm grateful for the participation and knowledge which I've received from my fellow Wolverines.

In the bigger picture, this is not about me. We need to stand up for the football players who work so hard, and deserve every opportunity for good health and success.



October 31st, 2014 at 4:05 AM ^

The theory is called: "Ugg. Get them big and strong so they can club dinosaurs. Well, at least they'll be able to keep up with slow, lumbering dinosaurs."

Not to mention any names, but which one of our football coaches, who coincidentally looks like Fred Flinstone, would talk like this? Well?

This is sort of like funny; except it's pathetic.


October 31st, 2014 at 5:23 AM ^

Mike Gittleson, the Michigan football S&C coach, was a leading innovator in his day. Concepts such as flexibility and functional training were not as well understood, or highly valued, as they are today.

Mike Gittleson, a martial arts and Jeet Kune Do instructor in Colorado, has more personal experience with training for flexibility and how to generate power (force with speed) than 95% of football coaches.

Mike Favre, Director of Olympic Sports Strength and Conditioning right here at the University of Michigan, has the significant advantage of being able to learn from his predecessors. He has access to more advanced methods of athletic training, including flexibility, generating power, and functional training, than Coach Mike Gittleson could have imagined.

I would suspect, based on his background, training, certifications, and his combination of classic and advanced knowledge, that Favre knows more about athletic training than both of the others put together.

Thanks for the interesting question.


October 31st, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

Hi BigBlueWorld.  Awesome post.  I have two questions for you.

1) I have been training consistently for the past 5 years and working with a strength coach weekly. I'd like to get certified as a personal trainer and take on a few clients outside of  my "day job". I was looking at some of the certifications Wellman and Favre have.  I may not need anything that advanced. As someone with a lot experience in this field, do you have a recommendation for someone that is just starting out? I was looking at the ACSM.

2). You mention training for Hypertrophy vs. Strength or Power.  How does this translate to rep ranges and intensity?  It seems like everyone says a different thing even though this seems to be a basic part of weight training.  I've heard higher reps with lower weight induces sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and increases the muscles ability to store glycogen aka . . . Bodybuilders. Compare this to Myofibrillar hypertrophy induced by lower reps and higher weight or % of 1rm . . . aka power lifters.  Others say neither occurs independently, but heavier for lower reps is better because it activiates all types of muscle fibers, while lighter does not.  Others say the different look of body builders and power lifters is due to dieting and genetics.  Certain body types are better at certain types of lifting and people at the highest levels end up choosing the sport that matches their genetics.  Others say that certain muscle groups on the same individual/athlete can respond better to higher reps and others better to lower.

So far, I've noticed when I liftt heavy things a lot I will eventually grow, however lateley I've been doing more research and I'd like to nail down the most effective methods of training for a specific goals (Size vs. Strength).

Thank Again!


October 31st, 2014 at 12:55 PM ^

The short answer is Higher Weight @ Low Reps for strength, Lower Weight @ Higher Reps for Hypertrophy. However if you want to be a 'bodybuilder' you will have to get strong first, you will also need to take steroids to be able to handle the volume of training necessary to pack on the slabs of muscle they carry around. Fact of life in that 'sport'.

If you want to get knowledgeable on the lifts and basic programming so that you can eventually coach them you can check this out. The S&C certification programs are a waste of brain bandwidth and money.


October 31st, 2014 at 12:07 PM ^

Yeah unfortunately this whole discussion is way off base. The fact is that athletic coaching on all levels is pretty pathetic.

Elite athletes are mostly getting that way based on hard work and genetics not based upon what the trainers are prescribing. The S&C field is generally badly misguided, S&C science is pathetically bad, and S&C coaches instead of focusing on increasing strength get wrapped up on prescribing fancy exercises that look good and make you feel a 'burn'.

I would suggest anyone who cares to really learn about strength training takes a read of Starting Strength, or PPT3; both by Mark Rippetoe.

Here he actually addresses the state of S&C coaching.

FYI the Stanford S&C guy is just as bad as the rest of them, i've seen some of his 'training' on the internet... Yikes.


October 31st, 2014 at 1:41 PM ^

"Starting Strength" is a good book for weight training. However, weight training is only one element of athletic training. Multi-planar activity, functional traing, flexibility are also essential elements. The beginning of this diary has more detail.

Martial arts has been developing explosive power for centuries. If you'd like to see a demonstration that combines these elements, check this out. 

What do you think some training like this would do for our football players?


October 31st, 2014 at 6:24 PM ^

No. I think if they are worried about their ability to convert strength to power they should just clean. By what mechanism can martial arts develop power?

Strength is the whole point. It is the most trainable athletic attribute which affects the other attributes the most(including power)


October 31st, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

The first question is easy. The American College of Sports Medicine is a great choice. The National Academy of Sports Medicine is another great choice. 

The second question is more involved. Resistance training is sometimes divided into four protocols: Strength (How much you can lift); Hypertrophy (Adding muscle mass); Endurance (Duration of maintaining a physical activity); Power (Generating force with speed). While there's overlap from one to the other, each particulr goal varies widely along the parameters of Intensity (% of ORM); Repetitions; Sets; Speed of movement: and Rest period between sets. Your ACSM or NASM material can give you the latest recognized parameters.

I've found the type of resistance training you do, and the results you obtain, varies tremendously based on the resistance method you use: Machines; Free Weights; Elastic Bands: Cables; Body weight; and so forth.

There are some key factors which you haven't mentioned. Whether determining you own training, or working with clients, it is absolutely critical to include Aerobic fitness; Strength training; Core exercise; Balance training; Flexibility and Stretching; Nutrition; Compound, Whole body movements. The most neglected Element, and the one that will make you more athletic, aid recovery, and keep you in the game for a long time, is Flexibility.

If you want to concentrate on power lifting or body building, okay, that's your sport. If you want to train clients for active, dynamic living, and athletic activity, you are responsible to learn about and teach them all of the factors that go into a complete, integrated training program.

The problem with our current footbll S&C program is that they are training the wrong protocols and getting inappropriate results. They're traing the players to get bigger and stronger, and not doing enough dynamic, athletic elements such as multi-planar movement, agility, flexibility and explosive power. Someone set the wrong goals.

Making choices and setting goals is important, because it puts in motion a powerful, dynamic process. In the bigger picture, what are your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual goals, and your connection with the natural world? Make sure your goals are really what you want to achieve. 

I'm not sure if this is the answer you were looking for. It's the best answer I can give.



October 31st, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

Yeah you are selling psuedo science dude sorry. ACSM and NASM should not be associated with 'sport/strength science'.

Core exercise? Cmon. You want a stronge core then deadlift and squat. Or instead you can pay  money to a guy who will teach a bunch of "functional" movements.

The falacy is that functional movements work. Strength is transferable. Get strong doing basic barbell exercises, train technique without a load. Conditioning is easily built in a matter of months.


This is strength coaching today.

Guy works with an elite athlete so everyone thinks he knows what he is talking about. No. Dude is wrecking Cain's knees and Cain is probably paying him good money....


Being a good strength coach is by no means easy. The actual technique and programming involved are actually quite well established and usually ignored.


October 31st, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

Yeah you are selling psuedo science dude sorry. ACSM and NASM should not be associated with 'sport/strength science'.

Core exercise? Cmon. You want a stronge core then deadlift and squat. Or instead you can pay  money to a guy who will teach a bunch of "functional" movements.

The falacy is that functional movements work. Strength is transferable. Get strong doing basic barbell exercises, train technique without a load. Conditioning is easily built in a matter of months.


This is strength coaching today.

Guy works with an elite athlete so everyone thinks he knows what he is talking about. No. Dude is wrecking Cain's knees and Cain is probably paying him good money....


Being a good strength coach is by no means easy. The actual technique and programming involved are actually quite well established and usually ignored.


October 31st, 2014 at 3:15 PM ^

I didn't associate ACSM or NASM with "sport/strength science". Olympic training is the very top in sports science. I said that ACSM and NASM are the best personal trainer certifications. The difference is like, what's the best grade school vs. what's the best college.

If I had to choose between powerlifting and body building methods, I'd go with powerlifting. The good news is, I don't have to choose one or the other. I incorporate elements of martial arts, functional training, stretching, yoga, core training, myofascial release, and of course, compound movement and whole body exercise, which I usally do with elastic bands or cables.

Whole body movement is actually the best training for most people to stay fit and active, if they take time to learn how to do it safely with a high level of intensity.

I also include as much of this as possible when training clients.

That, my friend, gets you a real, legit workout. And will keep you in the game a long time.


October 31st, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

There might be something to the idea of bulking up causes injury.   A few years ago I began lifting weights pretty seriously.  All free weights with lots of power lifting moves.  I got pretty strong and gained 25lbs.  However, when I would play sports on the weekend (soccer, softball) I was getting injured frequently.   I pulled my groin and quad muscles multiple times as well as something bizarre happening in my knee.  

I'm not sure if I lost flexibility but this fall I cut back on the lifting and was injury free through soccer and softball for the first time in three seasons.  I couldn't hit the ball quite as far, but I was able to run around the basepaths without blowing a tire. 



October 31st, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

Power lifting definitey causes your muscles and connective tissue to tighten up. Simply develop a compensating program for flexibility, which ideally includes stretching, yoga, Trigger Point (Myofascial) Release, etc. Train with elastic bands and cables more. There you go; you've got the best of both worlds!

You might also use this as a good reason to have someone you like give you a massage, then return the favor. But then that gets into an entirely different type of physical activity.


October 31st, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

Stretching does nothing to a.) prevent soreness, b.) alleviate soreness, c.) or improve strength or any other measure of fitness. In fact, the vast majority of the studies done on stretching not only support this summary, but also indicate that stretching prior to either training or performance produces a significant decrease in power production. That’s right: tighter muscles can contract harder and faster, and even you can see the application for this in performance athletics.


You gotta update your info.


October 31st, 2014 at 2:35 PM ^

As you noted, stretching done prior to training or performance can decrease power production, due to physiologial processes at the muscle fiber level.

Stretching, yoga, Trigger Point release, martial arts, done as a complement to strength training improves performance, aids deep tissue recovery, increases ciculation, relieves psychological stress. You might be interested to see Chuck Norris or any other martial artist doing their flexibility work. Same with Floyd Mayweather.

Would you actually try to tell these people they're wasting their time stretching?

Are you trying to describe basic power lifting? Are you including explosive, full-range-of-motion sports and athletic activity?

This diary is mostly about training our football players to be better athletes. It sounds like you and I are talking about different sports.

Anyway, thanks for the info.


October 31st, 2014 at 6:16 PM ^

I'm talking about sports in general. Sport specific training should really have nothing to do with strength and conditioning it should just be about refining movement patterns. That is the job of the position coaches not the S&C. The S&C should be building up the strength base and the coaches should be showing them how to use it. Strength is the most trainable of the athletic attributes and has the greatest effect on the others thus it should be the focus until they reach the point of diminishing returns.

I would say there is a point to warming up and getting the blood flowing. Stretching? I have never read or seen anything that made me think it was particularly beneficial for any athlete. Tendons and Ligaments don't stretch so no value there. Loosening up some scar tissue once in a while may increase range of motion, but to what end? That scar tissue was built up by your body for a reason right? These athletes don't have mobility issues.

So Floyd stretches, that is a study of n1. How do you know it is helping him? It is a logical fallacy to believe that because an elite athlete does something and they are successul that their method is inherently correct. These are extremely gifted athletes, they can be successful in spite of some bad training.


October 31st, 2014 at 1:31 PM ^

I have incorporated a lot of stretching since the injuries, so I'm venturing back to the lifting this winter and will include more stretching than I did in the past.  I agree with you.

As for the massage....I've been married for 16 years so I'm out of luck there.



October 31st, 2014 at 2:50 PM ^

You like working out 543Church. That's cool. Even without an evaluation, I suggest learning how to do Compound movements, that is, whole body training with cables and bands. Learn how to do this safely with high intensity, and you'll get the best results for sports and physical activity.

And dude, get creative! Surprise her with a bottle of massage oil. Start with the Trapezius, and wind up wherever you like. You'll both figure it out from there.


October 31st, 2014 at 1:43 PM ^

I did want to make one more point since everyone is stomping on these coaches based on ... I'm not sure... The poor performance of the athletes on the field? Has anyone read 1 of their papers? Watched them coach the lifts? Etc?


October 31st, 2014 at 5:43 PM ^

I have read numerous papers by Favre, seen him coach, and know others who are close with him. i know some coaches who have worked with Wellman, and some who have worked with both. Favre is far and away a superior coach. He worked at the Scottish Institute of Sport and the Olympic Training Center, and has had articles published on how to perform the Olympic lifts properly and train properly, as well as being asked to go to China along with Bo Sandoval to present training concepts to them. He is one of the best coaches in the country. Wellman has very few papers, if any, that are published


In regards to training for hypertrophy/using higher reps: There is a place for higher rep training. High rep training can build work capacity, which is helpful to create a base as you progress into using heavier loads. Using higher reps to strengthen supporting musculature and gain some size will also help to ensure that those muscles don't give out as you start to train using heavy weight. This is simple linear periodization. You start with work capacity work, then go on to strength and then to power, building upon each as you go. There is bountiful scientific evidence showing that this works. There are other methods as well, but the key point here is you could have the best program in the world, but if you can't coach it or don't implement it properly, it won't work. From what I know about Wellman, that seems to be the problem. The players are soft and programs aren't implemented properly.


My last point, in regards to functional movement, is this: The functional training fad is overblown. If you want to get an athlete strong, have them squat, deadlift, and use other compound movements. If you want to get them flexible, combined with mobility work, ensure they are using a full range of motion. Research has shown that training on implements like bosu and stability balls does not enhance performance, and may make it worse. Is there a place for unstable training, sure. But it should not make up the majority of the program. Training with bands and whatnot may also have a place, but it is not to elicit strength gains to the level at which they are needed for athletics. It is hard to have any form of progressive overload with bands. In general, athletes should be using squats, bench presses, overhead presses(if shoulder health allows) deadlifts, olympic lifting variations, plyometrics, and other tried and true methods to improve performance. There are places in programs for many things, but the movements I mentioned should make up a majority of the program. 


October 31st, 2014 at 6:13 PM ^

The strength coach can help mold the program and mold that mindset, especially since they get so much time with the athletes during the summer, but it's not wholly their responsibility. It's the responsibility of the entire staff to light a fire in the team. A successful coaching staff should be able to do that. Obviously, we know that we don't have one of those at this point. 


October 31st, 2014 at 6:25 PM ^

It is a challenge. That I do agree with. I think you hit the nail on the head with establishing a mindset. The ability to show an athlete that they can push  farther than they think will bring some of that out and can potentially make one appear "tougher" although that's not really the word I'm looking for. Establishing that mindset to get comfortable being uncomfortable is huge though and like you said seems to be where the teams shortcomings lie. 


October 31st, 2014 at 10:17 PM ^

The guiding principle for physical training, and other things as well: The more you do a thing, the better you get at doing that thing.

MStrength, you've added a lot to this discussion. You did a good job summarizing strength training. I totally agree with your high estimation of Mike Favre. He could do a lot of good for our football team. But since it would be boring to agree on everything, let me attempt to convince you that Elastic Bands are a very useful, important tool in athletic training.

  • Bands provide progressive resistance, increasing through the movement.
  • Bands allow for explosive movement. Moving a free weight quickly generates inertia that can put unusual stress on the joints.
  • Bands can move through infinite vectors; that is, resistance can extend in any direction.
  • Bands fatigue the muscle with a continuous load that builds endurance.
  • Bands used in a standing position require core stabilization.
  • Bands demand joint stabilization, which stimulates tendon and ligament integrity.
  • Bands promote resilient muscles.
  • Bands allow the most natural, bio-mechanically sound articulation of the joints throughout a wide range of motion.

In my practice, freedom of movement is not an option, but a necessity. Bands allow for movements that mimic or best approximate the athletic activity being trained. Since I just did this off the top of my head, I'm sure to be missing some things, but that will do for now.

I don't expect this will make you jump on the BAND wagon (hahahahaha), but anyway, that's some of the reasons Elastic Bands are an increasingly important method for athletic training.



October 31st, 2014 at 10:35 PM ^

Your points make sense. However, the job of the strength coach is not to try and mimic the sport in the weight room, it is to ensure the athlete does not get injured while gettting the athlete strong and powerful so they can use this for their respective sports.. Lifting isn't sport specific. Playing your sport is sport specifi. But strength and power will carry over. bands have a limited capacity for strength and power. 


On your bullet points:

1. You can use accomodating resistance, such as chains, to increase resistance throughout the movement. This is on top of weight that you are using to stimulate strength. The point still stands that only so many thicknesses and resistances for bands are made, therefore very difficult to progressively overload and continue to see positive changes.

2. Weights also allow for explosive movement. Free weights may generate intertia that can put unusual stress on the joints, but so does jumping on a basketball court and tackling someone in football. A strength coach needs to prepare the athlete for those kinds of stresses. Obviously volume considerations need to be taken into effect to prevent overuse injury, but exposing the body to these stresses are important. Also remember, power = forcexdistance/time. If the load is not high enough, the force needed to move it will not be high enough to stimulate great amounts of power production. See the force-velocity curve. 

3. I cannot deny that bands can be used in any direction, however, with free weights dumbbells included, you can move through the frontal, saggital, and transverse planes with potentially more resistance which can = more strength. They may not be able to move in literally any direction, but again, we are not trying to mimic sport in the weight room. 

4. Constant fatigue of a muscle will build endurance, yes, but this can be done with free weights and in many sports isn't necessary. Most sports do not involve constant time under tension for long periods of time. Even in sports like long distance running, the load is not constant on one leg the entire time during the running cycle. 

5. Any exercise done standing will require core stabilization. Performing a back squat or front squat, an overhead squat, a deadlift, an overhead press, or any olympic lifting variation, as well as many other lifts, require tremendous amount of core stabilization. If you do not have a stable core for these exercise, you will crumple like a piece of paper. 

6. See above about joint stabilization and connective tissue integrity. Connective tissues respond to progressive loading just like musculature and bones, albeit slower. Progressive overload, with weight that is fairly heavy, especially for bone(although bone is not really a connective tissue) has been proven very effective at building connective tissue integrity. See Kongsgaard et al. which showed improvements in patellar tendinopathy with heavy, slow resistance training

7. Your last point I cannot refute. However, exercises such as squats send the body through the range of motion it should be able to work through. Exercises like overhead squats are great for joint health, and free weights can also be used very effectively in this regard


In sum, I enjoy a good discussion and this has become one. There are many different philosophies out there that are constantly developing and will continue to do so.