When you are starting out training you shouldn’t do anything special for at least the first 18 months, maybe even 24 months. Use basic dumbbell and barbell movements, standard set, rep, and rest schemes, and focus on perfecting your technique. You will make gains like this and it gives you somewhere to go later on down the track.
Too often I see trainers getting their clients to use chains and bands, do a heap of plyo work, use all types of specialty bars, basically anything they think looks cool for their social media. This is the wrong approach in my opinion.
We have, and do use all these tools as well but not with anyone who can barely even perform the movement correctly with the bar alone. You have to deserve the method / technique / tool. You use these tools as ways to try and further challenge the movement. If you can’t perform it correctly then no bands for you, it will only confuse your body more.
The same goes for plyometrics. They are overused first of all, and secondly, a lot of the people need to develop their strength levels before performing them. You see them collapse and spend way too much time on the ground most of the time.
“The method that gets you to bench 90kg won’t be the method that get’s you to bench 180kg” – Charles Poliquin.
We often like to look at what the best in the world are doing and try to follow their lead. This makes sense, I do it all the time. But you have to put things in perspective and know where you are currently at. Following a professional athlete’s program isn’t going to serve you well if you are a beginner. It took them many years to build up to the type of training they are doing now, they didn’t begin there. So, take the principles but don’t follow everything to the letter. Again, you have to earn the right to do more advanced things.
Even if you do these advanced types of methods early on and get good results, where do you go to once you hit a plateau? Save them for when you need them and it will help you continually progress.
Youth athletes need better coaches in my opinion. What you often see is that these are the roles filled with volunteers but I think it is backwards and money should be invested in coaches for these younger age groups. It is much easier to start out the right way then it is to correct problems and injuries later on down the track.
The problem is that many clubs aren’t willing to invest money into professionals for these levels. They tend to hope that the kids will develop naturally, physically, and hope that they get by skill wise with their natural ability until later ages when they do get some more specialised coaching.
So, what I see happen a lot is that the gym is overseen by someone who has the most basic of requirements and is looking to post a few things on social media to try and use the role to build their business. The sad thing is they have no idea about program design or even correct technique for that matter, and the kids tend to either get injured or miss out on key development years, from both a technical stand point, and a physical one.
It would not take a lot of money to fix this problem. In doing so, you could also offer much more to the athletes. Programs would be individualised, they could have nutrition plans, they could be trained in smaller groups, which would mean they are coached through each rep, everything being monitored and updated regularly. By doing this, results would improve, injuries would be reduced, there would be accountability, the club would be looked at more professionally, and they would build a much better culture.
It is an investment, not a cost.
We have young kids on contracts but I think the money spent should be re-invested into their development. For example, you have a kid on a $5,000 contract. That amount of money is a lot for a 14-year-old who hasn’t proven himself yet, but it isn’t going to change his life. Why not use that money to pay a coach to train him privately, look after his nutrition, conditioning, rehab/prehab etc.? That way you can see exactly how they are progressing, they are accountable, and they have some buy in to the relationship. At the moment, most kids get a contract, do the minimum with the club, and then are back to park footy two years later. I feel more can be done to guide them through the process.
We do this privately and it has worked very well over the years with great success. If clubs invested more into the development of the athletes, we would see a much better game. Some clubs do it pretty well and are well ahead of the ones who don’t.
This explanation about the difference between flexibility and mobility from Chris Sommer was very good and to the point.
“Flexibility” can be passive, whereas “mobility” requires that you can demonstrate strength throughout the entire range of motion, including the end ranges.”
I find a lot of people say they have to work on their flexibility, which is true a fair amount of the time, but long term what they need is to increase their mobility. After a few weeks of stretching and gaining some flexibility I find they have to get stronger at those end ranges as mentioned above. People tend to over-do the flexibility and neglect the mobility in certain sports. There is an optimal level of flexibility needed for each sport, not a maximal level. Charles Poliquin taught me this a long time ago. For example, a rugby league player needs to be flexible but he doesn’t have to be as flexible as a gymnast.
Chris also has a good saying to remind athletes that adaptation takes time. He says “Slow down. Where’s the fire?” Adaptations from training can take weeks or months of consistent work. Gains don’t come linearly. You may see next to no progress for a while and then all of a sudden your strength seems to go through the roof all of a sudden or you pick up a skill you had been working on for a long time. It is like something just clicks. Sometimes you just have to be patient.
If you rush you increase your risk of injury. You want to coax the body into building strength or muscle mass not force it. So from one workout to the next we may only increase the load by 1kg but it doesn’t matter you are still adapting and making your way towards your goal. By doing this consistently you can maintain technique and eventually you will have increased the load significantly. If you add 5kg to the bar each workout it will not take very long before you are grinding reps, hitting a plateau, and injuring yourself.
Ed Coan spoke of this at great length in a seminar when talking about longevity in powerlifting. It also applies to other sports. Basically what he said was you can have a long career through making gradual progress from session to session and comp to comp or you can go crazy, train 3 times a day, get really quick results, but only have a short career because you have ruined your body and can’t do your sport anymore.
Each week our coaches learn about certain topics which we then discuss as a group. This week:
Milenko soft tissue:
Milenko spoke about why using a trigger point combined with movement of the muscle works better to release the tissue you are targeting. This is what Kelly Starrett would call "Smash and Floss".
You apply pressure to an area of painful tissue and move the limb around in all different directions, through as much range as possible. It is like you are trying to perform your own version of Active Release Technique (ART) or trigger point therapy.
The movement is trying to "unglue" the deep mechanical restrictions of the tissue and restore the sliding surfaces.
Sarah gave us a good review of what she learned about sleep.
You should try to keep your circadian rhythm – this is achieved by waking with the sun and going to bed a couple of hours after it goes down.
Manage light exposure – get blue light in the morning to wake you up / become alert. Early sun exposure is really good. Block blue light of a night to help prepare for sleep. Light sensors in the eye will be tricked by blue light into thinking it is still daytime. Blue light will suppress melatonin, which is a hormone that helps us fall asleep.
Sleep improves your memory. If you learn something and then sleep or nap afterwards you will retain more information.
Sleeping pills can be addictive. You also don’t go through all the sleep stages, so it isn’t quality sleep.
Some other circadian resets are the timing of your meals and exercise.