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12/29/2014 - 10:45pm HIT

HIT can be effective, but generally is not optimal for athletic performance when used by itself. The teams that Gittleson had, mostly under Bo and Moeller, were more benefitted by solid recruiting and coaching. 

That said, it can be effective, as Ken Mannie at MSU uses a lot of HIT type methods over there and it seems to be working. I don't think it was the methods the past two coaches were using, moreso the implementation. You can create the best program in the history of programs, but if you aren't good at coaching it, it's not going to work. There are a lot of ways and methodologies that work, and Tolbert has been around long enough that he knows what he has to do to prevent injuries and keep players healthy, which is what the team needs more than anything after all the injuries the past several years. 

12/29/2014 - 9:05pm Strength coaches

Strength coaches tend to model their style of programming after the coaches that mentored them. Tolbert I believe has been at Miami and a few other places as well. This may mean he's not as strict of an HIT coach as his old boss, as you were sort of pointing out. There is nothing wrong with incorporating elements of HIT into training, as all styles should be part of a coach's toolbox, but it generally isn't the most effective to center a program around. Hopefully, if Tolbert is the new Director of S&C, he does the former. 

12/29/2014 - 9:02pm Gittleson

Gittleson's techniques weren't necessarily outdated, but may not be the most effective for football. He was more of a machine based, HIT training style of coach. HIT training essentially deals with performing 1 maximal set to failure on an exercise and moving on. Which, while it can be effective, there's a lot of research showing that it is not optimal.

Barwis is a tireless self promoter, who tends to spout exercise physiology terms to make the lay person think that he's a genious. That's not to say he isn't intelligent, but he has glaring weaknesses when it comes to the concept of recovery and peaking.

Wellman, for whatevef reason, trained all athletes with the same program, rahter than having separate programs for linemen, skill, and big skill guys. This, I believe, is one reason why certain position groups did not appear to be as strong as they should be. For instance, with linemen, you can afford to "beat them up" a little bit more with more volume because they are bigger guys and they can handle it. Not getting that type of volume in could certainly have a negative impact.

It'll be interesting to see who the new Director of S&C and his support staff are. 

12/29/2014 - 8:52pm Not Barwis

Shannon Turley would be great, as his work reducing injuries at Stanford has been second to none. Tolbert has been around the block so he probably wouldn't be bad, although if he is a disciple of Gittleson it's likely we'll be going back to more of a HIT, machine based training style, which IMO isn't ideal. 

10/31/2014 - 10:35pm Your points make sense

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. 

10/31/2014 - 6:25pm It is a challenge

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. 

10/31/2014 - 6:13pm Only partially

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. 

10/31/2014 - 5:49pm Gittleson

utilized HIT trianing methods for the majority of his programs. This involved 1 or multiple sets to failure on mostly machine based exercises. Favre's methods are the polar opposite of Gittleson's and largely more effective. 

10/31/2014 - 5:43pm Re: Wellman and Favre

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. 

10/30/2014 - 4:48pm I know a bit

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. 

10/26/2014 - 1:16pm Barwis

I have heard the same sentiments about Barwis. Also, Barwis attempts to use weightlifting movements (Power cleans, etc) in his training, yet when you watch his tv show, the athlete's form and even Barwis' form when demonstrating the lifts was horrendous. He yells a lot and is a great marketer and can self promote very well, but he does not grasp the ideas of recovery and peaking very well.


in regards to "functional training", I believe there needs to be a balance. Stabilization training has some merit, and obviously the coaches need to make sure imbalances are limited, but there are only so many ways to continue to overload stabilization. Also, I'd argue that proper resistance training through a full range of motion should not make a person less flexible, but should actually improve flexibility. The bottom of a back squat, for instance, is really just a loaded stretch. By continuing to work through the range of motion flexibility should be enhanced. I do know that football coaches tend to skimp on technique oftentimes, so if this is the case that could explain changes in flexibility. That being said I do agree that there needs to be a balance between the two. Jon Sanderson and the rest of the strength and conditioning coaches for Olympic Sports at UM have this balance and are some of the best in the business.


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, 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

12/30/2013 - 8:33pm There

are only so many ways to implement the principles that are used by Wellman and co. They are sound principles. You can be as big and strong as you want, if the coaching you recieve is no good, it won't matter. If all that mattered was being big and strong, they would just recruit powerlifters to come play for them.

12/30/2013 - 7:01pm Wellman

runs a similar strength and conditioning program to Ken Mannie, strength coach at MSU. He learned under Mannie and follows many of the same methods. MSU is considered one of the toughest, hardest hitting teams in the country. Strength and Conditioning is not the problem. 

09/09/2012 - 10:37pm Can't forget him

Also Barry Stokes. Played for EMU then was a journeyman lineman in the NFL for a while

09/09/2012 - 7:41pm Davison, MI

Ken Morrow, played hockey for team USA in 1980 and was part of the miracle on ice. Also won a few stanley cups with the New York Islanders i believe

05/01/2012 - 6:34pm I'm

not sure what your obsession is with Barwis, but maybe you should actually look up who is training Mario. It's not some big secret . And it's not Mike Barwis. JVick would have no reason to say he was training Mario if he wasn't. 

04/26/2012 - 3:17pm I think he might be referring

I think he might be referring to Mike Barwis 

04/24/2012 - 11:25pm And just about anyone

Oh noez i used the wrong word. And anyone in the strengtha and conditioning industry who isn't best pals with him will tell you that Barwis is not the "best of the best" and that his methods are predisposing his athletes to injuries. Barwis makes it seem like he is great because he uses big words and talks really fast. Most athletes and people in general aren't educated in exercise physiology and will blindly follow whatever they hear simply because they don't know any better. Barwis also tries to make it sound like his style of training is unique and he is the one who created in when in fact olympic lifting and proprioceptive training are quite common. Barwis gets people to buy in to his methods, but that doesn't mean his methods are right. Barwis does not grasp the concept of training economy. That is, using multi-joint exercises that give you the most transfer over to the playing field and not heaping large amounts of exercises on athletes. Instead, Barwis uses multi-joint exercises, but uses a large amount of volume which very few athletes can handle. He also has a very unbalanced program. I've seen his workouts so I'm not just pulling this out of nowhere. Overtraining and muscle imbalances are two huge causes of injuries. Just because every single athlete was not getting injured and that some athletes made progress does not mean his training style is fantastic. Some athletes succeed in spite of what they do in the weight room and not because of it

04/24/2012 - 7:28pm It is the job

of the strength and conditioning coach to design a program that will be balanced in order to prevent injury, provide progressive overload in order to stimulate improvement in strength, speed, and power, and allow adequate recovery time for his athletes between workouts, because without recovery no progress will be seen. Koger may not have torn his achilles tendon working with Barwis, but Barwis' training may have set him up to tear it by creating muscle imbalances or overtraining him, which Barwis has been known to do (See: 6 hour combine prep days). Can every injury be blamed on a strength and conditioning coach? No. But when the vast majority of athletes working with a coach tend to keep getting injured in a specific area, such as the upper/lower leg in this case, you have to begin to question the methods of a coach. I used to be a big Barwis supporter, but after looking at his methods from an unbiased perspective, there definitely seems to be flaws in his program design that are attributing to these injuries.

02/26/2012 - 8:12pm Many people

who are actually in the Strength and Conditioning profession share this view. You won't see many strength coaches have continuous sessions like Barwis did without a peaking phase where volume is tapered down leading up to competition. In track and field, for instance, workouts are very high volume at the beginning of the season and then toward the end of the season are tapered down so that the runners have recovery time to make sure they're fresh for the most important meets of the year. You must let the CNS recover in order to have optimal performance. I've also heard that when Barwis was with M, players would be sore from lifting on game days. That should not happen. Yes you can lift hard during the season, but the volume needs to be much lower. Some athletes, albeit very few of them, can handle what would cause most people to overtrain. Brandon Graham pulled a hamstring when he was running in the combine. He also ran a much slower time than the time that was reported when he was in combine training with Barwis. Molk puts up 41 after hitting 39 reps after working sets when with Barwis. Martin only manages 36 when he states that he believes he can break the record, and I don't think he would say that without knowing he could do it. Don't get me wrong, 36 reps is still very impressive, as were Molk's 41, but all evidence just seems to point to these players working with him not peaking when they should be, but instead getting hurt and performing below what they know they can do. 

02/26/2012 - 6:34pm Wrestling and

Boxing are a lot different in terms of the demands of the sports. Preparing for a combine isn't about being conditioned and preparing for the demands of a competition like wrestlers and boxers do. You don't need to break someone down for combine tests the same way you do during preseason or even in season conditioning. It's about being your strongest and fastest for those days at the combine. It's very possible keeping that rigorous of a schedule could have overtrained them. I've defended Barwis before but he has a reputation for overtraining his athletes. 

01/01/2012 - 6:17pm Not necessarily

ACL  injuries typically occur when there is contact with your leg when it is slightly bent so the ligaments are at their weakest point which puts a lot of stress on the ligaments, or when your foot gets caught in the turf when your leg tries to rotate. This could possibly be because of training, but ACL injuries are extremely common because the knee isn't designed to take the punishment that it faces in sports like football. Sure, weak hamstrings could have caused the ACL tear, but it could have also just been because the forces put on his knee were just too severe. I'm not a Barwis lover by any means, I actually like Wellman's training methods more, but it's unfair to put all the blame for injuries on a strength and conditioning coach.

Barwis' training styles aren't that unique. A lot of strength coaches do the same sort of prehab exercises and design their programs in a similar way. His program design similar to the standard NSCA design, although there are some differences. If Barwis' training style was so bad, then why do so many other strength coaches have similar methods?

Lastly, as it was stated previously, his large following of professional athletes speaks for itself, and if he wasn't a good/successful S&C coach, he wouldn't have such a large following and FSU wouldn't have offered him such a huge contract after RR got fired. 

01/01/2012 - 4:56pm Most injuries


that occurred while Barwis was at Michigan were injuries that weren't really preventable. There did seem to be some incidences of hamstring injuries, which I think was partly due to the fact that in Barwis' training programs hamstring training  was trained with a lot of knee flexion exercises, which are not very transferrable to athletics.

Hip extension exercises are much more specific to the stresses put on the body during sports and in my opinion his exercise choices there my have been part of the reason why those types of injuries occurred. However, there are many factors that can cause injuries apart from the training program the athletes are on.

12/08/2011 - 12:53pm I played

football and currently run track at a Division III college, and even though it's a smaller school there aren't any sorts of stress tests that the doctors run to check heart function.

It would be fairly costly for them, and there are quite a few athletes that they have to check out. It's more of just a check of the major ligaments in the knees, asking you if you've had any pain in other places, and checking for a hernia.

Most athletes seem to be in good health and would probably never think about having any testing done on their heart function. It's really too bad when something like this happens.