Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Sprinting Tabloid” -Facts, Fallacies, Recent Research, and One Liners to Live by

"Fast Friday Five" (4)
  1     “Push!  Extend! Cover Ground!”Just after the 2012 London Olympics, 110m hurdler Aries Merrit broke the world record by .07 seconds to finish in an astounding 12.80 seconds. What did he owe his WR too? Flawless technique; specifically he switched his first hurdle approach from eight steps to seven. Merrit’s coach, Andreas Behm, said “overall strength and power output is most important with seven strides. The stronger and more powerful you are, the more ground you can cover.”Amen! Once again, real life application and verification why a solid strength and power program is so important to speed. In our football combine training context, many coaches find it easy to reduce the 40 yard dash times of athletes by improving their 10 yard times. Take an athlete from 7 or 8 steps at 10 yards, to 6 and you have great improvement.  Usain Bolt ran 9.58 in the 100m in 41 strides; back in ‘99 Maurice Green 45 to go 9.79. “LONGER STRIDE=FASTER TIME”
2.       “Recover, recover, recover”- Recent research has shown that training for sprint cycle “in air recovery” or “quick swing phase” will yield… improvement whatsoever. Limb repositioning doesn’t get you anywhere faster and we may be spinning our wheels here. I will talk about this drill and concept in its entirety in the near future, but do away with the “anchor drill.” A study by infamous sprint researcher Peter Weyand found that the studies slowest subject (a avg. field sport female athlete) and fastest subject (Usain Bolt) both repositioned their legs at roughly the same time/speed. When it comes to teaching mechanics, teach positions through “feel” and forget the bells and whistles. “USE THE LEGS FOR POWER (stride length) AND THE ARMS FOR SPEED (stride frequency)!
3.       “Stay grounded”- Ground contact time is our big indicator of speed and performance. In short, applying large amount of force in minimal time. Remember Master Sprint Coach Loren Seagraves words, “BIG FORCE, SHORT TIME, PROPER DIRECTION, FULL R.O.M” Elite sprinters can execute five strides per second, with a touchdown time of .09 seconds, and a recovery time of .11 seconds. Train for better GCT and you get better times.
4.       “Fast Twitch”-Many believe sprinters are born not made. Well to a certain degree genetics will pre-determine a portion of what you have. No offense to Tim and Kathy Gifford, but I tapped out my Irish-German-Scottish genes awhile back. However, I understand” SPEED IS A SKILL.” It can be taught and it can be improved upon. Through appropriate and directed training, fiber type will change (greater change at site of need, for instance hamstrings are naturally more predominantly fast twitch vs spinal erectors functioning as slow twitch) and intra/intermuscular coordination can be enhanced.

5.       “How Fast Can you Climb 47 flights”- On Saturday, March 23, NX Level will be hosting the Fight For Air Stair Climb at the US Bank in Milwaukee to raise money for the American Lung Association. The Goal is to get up the 1034 stairs in a fast, fast time. Get off your butt, come out and raise money for a great cause. For More info check out-- and get prepped with this quick workout featuring Shannon Carney, Matt Cerra and myself:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fast Friday Five (3): Assessing your Mobility, Stability, Relative Strength

                               Fast Friday Five Part two: “Assessing the Speed Athlete and Your Life”

             At NX Level, the training process of the athlete starts with an assessment. I’ve come to find that “physical training” and life are direct reflections. Not a day goes by where analogies and parallels can’t be made with something as simple as teaching a snatch or taking kids through a dynamic warm up. Often I find that the lessons I am teaching the athletes, are in fact, lessons God probably wants me to learn or reflect upon. This week’s “Fast Friday Five” is part two of a two part series dedicated to some of these parallels I make when dealing with our standard assessment process. 

1 “Mobility”- When we think of mobility we think of free, undeterred movement. Physical and mental mobility are extremely important for performance and intellectual/social growth. Joint mobility in the strength and conditioning context deals with range of motion at the ankles, hips, thoracic region, and glenohumeral region. If one has restriction here, movement competency or efficiency will be altered locally and globally. If one has poor alignment, soft tissue quality, muscular tone/imbalance, or structural genetic disposition, their ability to put themselves in effective positions will be altered. Performance is affected; the probability of injury is heightened. Can you squat, can you hinge, can you move your arms and shoulders? At NX Level we want to teach two main things: the ability to bend the knees, the ability to extend the hips.  Life is always throwing curveballs, fastballs, and sliders at us. Can you hit that certain pitch? Do you have the keen eye to take a ball? Do you have the mental fortitude to recover from a strike out? One has to be a little malleable to keep or make relationships and to weather the occasional storm with life. Remember, no two people or situations are the exact, so bend a little and keep an honest open mind. I guarantee you won’t break and remember the words of Dale Carnegie, “Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.”
2  “Stability”- Mobility and stability are so very opposed. But the yin and yang of the two in its physical form is just like life. You need mobility to grow and learn, but you need stability to develop and stay strong as well. Trainers and coaches across the country will use the word “core” redundantly.  One of the core’s main functions is to create stability. The root of human movement and physical existence deals with one’s ability to stabilize their spine. To be fast you need great lumbopelvic stability and as I often tell athletes, a tight pillar leads to great arm and leg action. Without developing and adhering to your mental core values, one will have no direction, no sense of why they do things or who they are or what they want.  Stability here means trust, belief, discipline, consistency, faith in one’s self, and the loyalty to moral or religious principals. If you don’t value yourself, your actions, your relationships—your character will be ghostly.  Whatever or whoever you are, stick to it. The stronger you are on the inside, the greater your ability to create and express your most extraordinary strength and power.

3 “Relative Strength”- To succeed in life, we don’t all have to be presidents, saints, millionaires, philanthropists, or NFL MVP’s. To gain true success in life, we just have to master ourselves. Without getting too Zen like in my preaching, your life is relative to your surroundings, your perceptions, and your wants. If you can master and be happy with whom you are and what you have, you will call yourself a very happy soul. Being happy is our number one human goal. Happiness is relative. Likewise, athletic strength is relative to your body. Relative body strength is simply how strong one is in overcoming their own resistance. Sometimes you are your own very worst opposition (I’m sorry for, yet again, blowing your mind and leaving you in the mental/physical conundrum). So as we talked about earlier on, get rid of the extra garbage body fat and emotional stressors, get strong and you will be quicker, more resilient with all your movements—physical and mental alike.
4 “Motivate and surround yourself”- There is the assessment process laid out. You can now call yourself a "self aware athlete." Making changes starts with awareness and acceptance, but now for true change and growth you need action. Once the ball is rolling you will soon realize that discipline is only as good as the “why” to the “what” you are doing. Find what motivates you, find who motivates you and prioritize them as being one with your goal. A successful journey is easy. Stick to the map, learn and weather the storms, surround yourself with other good sailors. Chances are the journey will be the reward. The reward is just icing on the cake.

5 “Combine Buzz”- Tis the season and I live for the 40 yard dash hoopla. After all, I am a speed nerd. Marquise Goodwin rounded out the fastest of the NFL Combine with a solid 4.27. I would’ve changed a few things on his starting stance and his hand position. But 4.27 is fast. More on the 40, combine and pro days later, in the meantime check out his amazing run… (Whats up with that back leg)