So, in my earlier post, I was singing the praises of the Olympic lifts & making bold claims that all their variations/regressions are the total package when it comes to training. Most coaches will gripe that the learning curve is simply too much and outweighs the benefits of the lifts. To an extent, I understand, particularly when it comes to full power cleans and snatches from the floor. But in this post, I’ll get into the specifics regarding certain lifts and how/where they would fit into a training program and still provide benefits.
(Again, if you’re more inclined to follow the Olympic lifting school of thought and want more, check out Wil Fleming’s new DVD – he’s the pro, I’m just an Olympic lifting minion in comparison)
Typically, after an initial assessment using whatever strategy you employ (that’s another post in and of itself) the most important movement to teach is the hip hinge – this is the foundation for all of the lifts and has to be perfected before anything else can be taught. Even if Olympic lifting isn’t on your agenda, all hope is lost if a proper hip hinge isn’t the goal of your program. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, but my favorite is using a PVC pipe and an RDL movement. The PVC pipe is great because it isn’t loaded, but when you’re forced to hold something and keep it close to (or, in this case, touching) your body, the movement pattern is much easier to accomplish. Once this is mastered, I like to throw in variations like KB hip hinges, band pull throughs, kettle bell swings, etc.
[See http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/teaching-the-hip-hinge/ for more on teaching the Hip hinge movement]
Another movement that is very telling as an assessment but that I like to keep in programs no matter what is the Overhead squat. This can be particularly unforgiving if you’re lacking flexibility or stability, but is a crucial movement should your athlete/client progress to catching a load overhead. If they are particularly lacking in the skills necessary to make this movement worthwhile, assisted variations should be used (cable or TRX OH squats) and unilateral work should be emphasized. For one, you can load the hell out of it, and two, you will see significant progress vs forcing a movement pattern that just simply isn’t there. This is where you can employ the use of OH bulgarians, OH lunges, and some of the TRX Y’s & T’s. In most cases, a lack of core stability is a problem as well, so your plank variations and roll outs are useful here too. Again, it is worth noting, that even if your athlete never needs to catch a load overhead, the ability to progress to a solid OH squat is a great goal because it corrects imbalances, improves posture, and makes you closer to being an actual human being (instead of a version of real life version of the QWOP game)
The front squat is probably the most useful component to teach for a variety of reasons. It is my favorite to work with because it builds a solid foundation, is easy to monitor (if an athlete is ever struggling, it is much easier to drop a bar from the front than the back), and demands excellent form. With the load in the front, the body is forced to maintain a neutral spine and upright chest, which is sometimes hard to constantly cue when using another variation. The learning curve can be tough, particularly for females who find the bar placement on the chest slightly uncomfortable and/or the stress on the forearms to be painful, but it does not take long for them to get used to it – plus there are a ton of variations in grip to use. To progress to the bar, front loaded KB squats/Goblet squats can be an option (to teach stabilization with a front load) and the PVC pipe can be used to teach that hand placement. Again, even if this is as far as you go, a solid front squat can be loaded substantially for awesome strength gains in a later phase of training.
Proper landing mechanics will need to be enforced simultaneously before loading the clean movement. I find it is really easy to teach the hip hinge, but once it needs to be done at speed (i.e. the catch portion of the clean), the athlete/client defaults back to a quad dominant pattern. In this case, I like using drop squats (that’s what I call them – essentially you start in an athletic position and drop into a squat as fast as possible. The key is to drop down without jumping first. The hips flex rapidly and the athlete gets comfortable sitting back). Once that is mastered, box jumps and plyo variations are awesome. Emphasis on landing silently through the heels will help enforce the proper hip hinge. Not only is this great prep for an eventual hang clean, but these exercises are neuromuscular necessities for athletes to improve speed and reduce the risk of injury. Doesn’t seem like a waste of time to me….
Finally, a full clean cycle will be used. This will be the 3 components that make up the hang clean and can be used as a neural prep once the athlete has mastered it. They start with the clean pull (a rapid jump shrug), then a high pull, and finally the full hang clean. This is usually done with just the bar for 2-3 sets of about 5 reps each. Eventually, you can start loading the cycle and emphasizing the clean pull and high pull in this phase.
There are also variations you can start to use – RDL with a hang clean receive, hang clean to step up, SA snatch, just to name a few. These are great total body “connector” exercises that improve athleticism immensely.
As you can see, a beginner is still doing a whole lot of work and getting stronger, more flexible, and also improving power using this method. Most of these exercises can be used in the beginning of a workout, and other movements, like loaded pushes/pulls and other circuits will complete the workout. As I mentioned earlier, the hip hinge/landing mechanics/and core stability are all components that need to be taught and emphasized ANYWAY – so that whole ‘learning curve’ thing is really just a poor excuse. Even if you stopped here, and didn’t emphasize heavy cleans or full snatches, the Olympic lifts still create a perfect base for most of the training. From there you can go on to teach some pretty awesome deadlifts with athletes that actually have the capacity to pull from the floor.
There are so many terms in fitness/training/strength & conditioning that are getting to be taboo. The most cringeworthy being “muscle confusion”, “functional training” (As opposed to dysfunctional training) and “core”….but the newest term to add to my list is “Corrective exercise”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about correcting muscle imbalances and I start all my programs with circuits that address individual issues. However, I believe we are getting so caught up in being pseudo “physical therapists” that we forget the point of a work out: to do WORK.
One of the first days of grad school, (After already achieving a few training certifications at this point) I had a class strictly dedicated to programming. We were given a case study, and told to address the concerns & come up with a program for the particular athlete. I remember being pretty pleased with my corrective exercise strategies, but when my professor looked at it, he laughed and asked me, “so… when do they actually lift weights?”. I was taken aback for a few minutes because I felt like I had included some good stuff: a variation of the back squat, lateral lunges, inverted rows, etc. Excuse me, what???
I had been familiar with the Olympic lifts and used them in a lot of my own programming, but didn’t particularly know how or when to program them (and all their variations) into a solid training program, particularly in an early phase of training. So, when I was given a case study of a typical basketball player, with a variety of issues (tight lower back, tweaked hamstring, tight external rotators, susceptible to ankle rolls…) I could really only focus on a corrective intervention. Isn’t that what everyone says? “You’re only as strong as your weakest link” “Do no harm” “[Any other cliche comment about correcting problems here]”…and all I knew was that the Olympic lifts are really freakin’ hard…even for someone with great mobility.
Eventually, as we got deeper into the semester, it occurred to me, most exercises we have were originally designed to help with dynamic flexibility, stability and strength IN ORDER TO complete the Olympic lifts to their full potential. Understanding this mentality helped me to design better programs with more lifting work being done, because I could understand how these exercises related to a higher goal (not just a body part). Even if you do not subscribe to the Olympic lifting school of training, or your athletes never progress to doing full power cleans or clean/jerks (which is completely fine, because you may decide it just isn’t worth the time to teach), you will still use a variety of exercises that are just Olympic lifting regressions (OH squats/lunges, RDLs, Deadlifts, Shrugs, Split Squats, just to name a few…)…so it’s cool to know why they exist and where they belong.
What’s the point of all this? Basically, don’t be afraid of higher work. Do your assessments, figure out your limitations (or those of your clients), but don’t get so caught up in simple correctives. I know some will argue that corrective exercises are difficult, and I completely agree (we had a class where we only did correctives for about 2 hours – I was so stiff the next day I felt like I had run sprints)– but if you could combine interventions (flexibility & stability) with your strength & power work – you would, right?
Check out Wil Fleming (the Olympic lifting guru) ‘s DVD ‘Complete Olympic Weightlifting’ – I love his system because it is simple, effective, and for all athletes. It is similar to the way I was taught to approach teaching and performing the lifts and I think it’s useful for just about everyone. Contrary to learning the style of Olympic lifting for actual Olympic lifters (which, remember, is a true sport, and the %’s and volumes are usually written as such for those looking to compete) or Crossfit that simply abuses my beloved O Lifts, this shows a great progression from soup to nuts.
I’m splitting the post up to let this idea marinate, but in part 2, I will break down the components and show how to classify these exercises for use among all types of lifters and athletes.
Hi guys! I promise to do a proper blog post soon, but in the meantime, I need your help!
I’m taking a general survey of as many people as possible to get an idea of their personal fitness preferences and suggestions of what they’d like to see in their particular gym/daily routines. I have the survey on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/sten023 – add me as a friend and take it on there!) OR copy/paste and answer the questions via comment on my blog OR you can email me the answers at firstname.lastname@example.org – I know you all are super busy, but this would help me out a lot 🙂
Also, if you could repost this on your blogs & share with your friends and encourage them to do the same, that’d be amazing. Thanks!
- How old are you?
- Male or female?
- Are you a full time student? If not, are you working full time?
- Do you currently exercise regularly? (> 2x a week)
- If yes, what do you do?
- If not, why not?
- For both: what motivated you to start, or what WOULD motivate you to start? (friends, certain classes being offered, a trainer, etc)
- Did you grow up playing sports?
- If yes, how many?
- Even if you don’t participate regularly, what is your favorite type of fitness activity? (running, playing basketball, swimming, etc)?
- Are you more likely to work out alone or with someone?
- Do you enjoy the gym atmosphere or would you prefer to be exercising outside?
- What are you more likely to spend money on (choose as many as you want):
- Nutrition assessment / consultation
- Personal training & program design
- Small group training (3-5 people per group)
- Classes (yoga, pilates, boot camps, conditioning)
- DVDs (p90x, etc)
- Other (please specify)
10. If you already belong to a gym, what services do you use the most (pool, juice bar, cardio, etc)?
11. What would you want to see offered that you aren’t getting currently?
I usually keep my blog posts pretty upbeat (albeit sprinkled with sarcasm) but today I feel the need to vent. This is directed at mainstream media for perpetuating the idea that sustainable weight loss can happen overnight and that SKINNY = healthy. Particularly now, with the end of the Olympics and everyone suddenly convinced they can be Greek gods in 2 weeks, I feel this is a great time to be blunt. So read on & consider this some “realistic motivation”.
First & foremost, shout out to Erika for posting this on facebook a few days ago – this is an article on “extreme conditioning” (like INSANITY, P90x, etc.) – it warrants a read for anyone looking to break into these types of programs, and provides a word of caution for the TOO MUCH TOO FAST mentality.
Along the same lines, people constantly ask me for advice on training or nutrition, and for good reason. Normally, if someone approaches me with a question, I’ll dedicate the time and effort to help them make sense of some of the really confusing concepts out there. I get that the fitness industry has become so muddled lately with the arrival of various forms of Crossfit, the ‘GET THIN QUICK’ schemes, and the Tracy Anderson’s of the world preaching their “women shouldn’t lift weights greater than 3lb” shenanigans. It is constantly evolving, sometimes for the good, mostly for the not-so-good, and it can be a very hard and daunting task to embark on a fitness/weight loss journey for the first time (or any time). What I don’t understand, however, is the reaction I get when people come to me for advice and leave utterly disappointed with what I have to say.
I get it. You think fitness professionals with our various certifications and degrees in college make us some kind of guru with a magic spell that can provide results. Trust me, if I had the secret to easy, fast and cheap weight loss, I wouldn’t be living in my aunt’s basement and applying for jobs every minute of every day. But whenever I’m asked “Hey, how can I lose some extra pounds?” or “Hey, what’s a super food I should eat every day that will make me leaner?” or “What’s the ONE exercise I should be doing to tone up (insert problem area here)?” everyone looks absolutely flabbergasted and downright disgusted when I tell them the truth. You want to lose some weight? You have to work at it hard and consistently. You want a “super” food? There is no such thing. Too much of a good thing is a tragedy. You want ONE exercise? Why limit yourself?
*End conversation & Insert awkward “this girl doesn’t know what she’s talking about face”*
For those of us that really make it a habit and a priority, and our results are obvious, don’t be shocked when I tell you the truth. Why am I stronger than I look? Because I lift heavy weights. Why am I able to sprint on a surgically repaired knee? Because I rehabbed hard and I sprint consistently. Why am I not overweight anymore? Because I stop eating when I’m full. There isn’t anything ground breaking here. There also isn’t anything glamorous. I have tough work outs when no one is looking. I spend more time doubled over trying to breathe than reading magazines at the gym. I try my best. People don’t see that part though. They only know I studied strength & conditioning and therefore probably achieved my goals by default. Let me tell you – it’d be pretty awesome if I got fit just by studying. But there’s a practical application side that needs to be recognized here.
Honestly – we all start somewhere. We all fail and start OVER somewhere. Myself included. Everyone always thinks “yeah, but this is your life’s ambition and you know what you’re doing so how hard can it really be for you?” and “YOU MUST HAVE A SECRET!!!”. Just because I know HOW to program doesn’t mean I always WANT to follow my own ambitious guidelines. Granted, I try to be a living example of what I constantly preach – but I could easily expend my energy searching for an ‘easy out’. I’ve just decided that it’s not my style – and it shouldn’t be yours either. I have had MULTIPLE set backs where I gained weight and had injuries. I’ve had days where my workouts thoroughly kick my butt, and I have days where I don’t feel like getting off the couch so I don’t. I even have days where I eat McDonalds TWICE in one day. My weight randomly fluctuates because I’m a female and that’s just how we roll. So really, I’m no different from anyone else trying to achieve consistency in their health. But mentally, I know it takes much more than mediocrity.
So, sorry to disappoint you, but if you want to results, you have to be willing to take the time to earn them. I am almost insulted by people that think they can take a shortcut to look like an Olympic athlete. Does that really make any sense? You know how hard they train and the type of motivation they have. If you were so genetically gifted and could look like them in half the time, don’t you think you’d be a medalist by now?
So the moral of the story: it took more than a day to put it on, it is going to take more than a day to come off. Simple as that.
My favorite week of the Olympics is almost over, so in its honor, I am providing a track workout.
This may come as a shock, but I run a lot. Not the traditional running (I have a horrible knee & and some ADD that only kicks in when workouts last longer than 60 minutes), but conditioning is still a major priority for me no matter what my other goals are. Most people like the simplicity of running – there isn’t someone over their shoulder judging their form, they can enjoy beautiful weather, and they don’t need kettlebells/sleds/ropes or other awesome metabolic conditioning tools. All it takes is some motivation, some sneakers, an ipod, and the open road. I think that’s awesome and I will never knock someone for trying (I’ll just beg that they lift weights once in awhile and show them a lot of pictures of sprinters….ahem…)
BUT for those that want a change of pace, or are looking to improve body composition/increase endurance, this type of workout is for you. The best part about it: you can tailor it to your level & modify it any way you’d like. For athletes looking to maintain sports shape during an off-season period, this is also a great option because you can stay game-ready while still giving your body a break from your sport. In my opinion, this is a moderate workout for field sports like soccer and lacrosse, and great base conditioning for court sports like basketball.
Before beginning, you may want to have an idea of your 1/2 mile time, and your fastest 400m (1 lap) time. This will help to gauge the intensity for repeat runs. For perspective, elite Olympic sprinters will finish a lap in < 50 seconds. Most of us will be in the 1:30-3:00 range. So, for example, if you’re at the 1:30 mark for your best lap, you’re going to want to start this workout at a slower pace (~2 minute laps).
Dynamics – pick any 3 mobility drills (inchworms, spidermans, hip flexor mobs, glute mobs, etc) and perform a circuit 2x
Line drills – A march, B march, A skips, B skips, Lateral shuffles, Frankensteins, Hurdlers, backpedal, butt kicks, high knees, easy sprint starts
Optional: Here is where you can include things like burpees, squat jumps, bounds, plyos or shuttle runs if necessary for your training. If you’re experienced with sprinting, you can do some short speed work here. 5x50m with walk back, for example.
Conditioning: 400m at designated pace for the day with same recovery. (1:1) so if you’re trying for 2 minute pace, then you get 2 minute rest. — Be cautious because 2 minutes might feel easy and you might hit the finish faster than expected. Really try to stride and pace yourself because you’re repeating the interval 5-7 times.
Ways to progress/modify: I do this workout 2x a week to start, keeping it constant (possibly adding a lap or 2 until I hit 7). Then I start changing up the interval times (faster pace (1:45) with same 2 minute rest, then faster pace (1:45) with same rest (1:45), etc until I get back to my fastest pace for repeats. Then I retest my fastest pace and see where I’m at.
I’m a fan of treating my running the way I treat reps in the weight room – I like counting them instead of just steadily staring at the clock. This approach works for me because I can periodize and see my progress, but it might take some getting used to for others. Either way, it is a great change of pace (literally ;), so give this a try and let me know your thoughts.
The past few weeks I’ve been preparing to move/moving out of my apartment. For anyone that’s ever moved before – whether its big or small – you know that a mission this really is. BUT fortunately, despite my aching shoulders and poor attitude, it gave me the perfect idea for a blog post. Every box I lifted, every load I carried and every awkward trash bag I tossed made me thankful for the type of training I do on a regular basis. So here are my top 10 moving-related exercises that made this whole thing possible!
1. Deadlift – This pretty much goes without saying, but the number of boxes that were deadlifted and put on trucks, in cars, or in dumpsters this past week made me thankful for every variation of this exercise and the good technique that comes with it. If you don’t deadlift – start. Even if its not heavy, just having the proper technique saves your back a ton in the long run when you have to do something epic, like move your life
2. Cleans & Clean/Overhead Press combinations – Since I’m a staggering 5’3″, the amount of lifting overhead I do in real life is probably more than the average person. Reaching to put things on shelves, for instance, turns into a Herculean effort. Most of the time, the momentum from a good clean & press helps me get the job done – but only because my CNS is used to that movement pattern.
3. Front squats – I included this for a few reasons – mainly the stability gained from the front squat, but also because of the rack position. Being able to hold that position is vital to holding really awkward boxes/loads and putting them on shelves or in cars (aka: in front of you). Front loaded split squats would also be appropriate to include here.
4. Farmers walks – This is another no-brainer. Holding a lot of things in both hands and power walking to the nearest place to drop it has become an Olympic sport for me. I recently added it to my training but I tend to do this on a regular basis with groceries, books, or anything else. Very useful & also helps with your grip.
5. Asymmetrical ANYTHING*** – This is triple starred because OH MY GOD. Even the most innocent looking box will shift and cause complete mayhem (trust me), so being able to stabilize is the most important thing ever. Also, there are a lot of times where something will end up on your shoulder, and another thing in your hand, and you have to walk (and/or probably squat down and pick something else up, because…of course) and being able to balance it all makes you a Gladiator. Asymmetrically loaded step ups, lunges, split squats, farmers walks, etc – they are lifelines.
6. Lateral movement – Being able to stabilize in the frontal plane is also valuable because there are a lot of times, particularly when things get cluttered, that you have to side-step & shimmy around with huge boxes still in your hand. Lateral squats, lunges, step ups, etc – also helps to fight muscle imbalances.
7. Pulls/Presses – These are standard, but very useful, particularly compound movements like overhead presses, push ups, push presses, pull ups, inverted rows, etc. Just being able to activate all those muscles in synchronicity helps avoid a lot of problems & makes you mighty
8. Grip training – This is sort of a by-product of Olympic lifting & pull up variations that you might include in your training, but grip is super important when trying to move awkward things. Being able to carry things when there aren’t convenient little handles is a skill in and of itself, so give yourself a fighting chance and work your grip.
9. STAIRS – loaded, unloaded, walking, running, lateral, backward, whatever – You will encounter stairs. Lots of stairs.
10. Conditioning in general – This is kind of a cop out, but if you’re in generally good shape, you’re still going to be sore as hell after moving. Do yourself a favor and sprint a little.
Anyone have some exercises they would add to the list or fun moving stories for me? Comment!!
Finally coming off the high of birthdays, graduations, mother’s day, etc. If I was in the NFL this time in my life would be flagged for Excessive Celebration.
As promised, here is the final installment of my posts on agility training & conditioning workouts. The sample I have involves lacrosse, but it provides some insight into the training phases & concerns for a particular sport. Often times in strength & conditioning, a ton of emphasis is put on the strength part – what rep schemes, rest periods, and exercises fit into a particular phase, etc. But there is definitely a lack of information for the same type of programming on the conditioning end. For example, if an athlete is in a “hypertrophy” phase of training in the weight room, does that affect how many times a week he/she conditions? Do the number of drills within a session change? What kind of drills should be emphasized? AKA: How do you make it all fit together?
Truth be told, (and even contrary to the title of my blog) the way I like to program SHOULD be called “Conditioning & Strength” – I think conditioning is extremely important & often underemphasized in certain cases. I’m not saying S&C coaches don’t know how to program for it, because they do, but the information reaching the masses very rarely discusses conditioning as it applies to the particular “phases” of training.
So first of all, here are some of the basic concepts & their order of operations when it comes to conditioning.
A. Speed foundation: flexibility, muscle balance, dynamic balance
B. Speed technique: form, coordination, technique, ROM
C. Speed strength: metabolic efficiency, speed loading, MD efficiency
D. Speed power: neuromuscular efficiency, MD efficiency
E. Sport speed: preseason and practice; sport efficiency, metabolic efficiency
Order of operations
In a particular workout, this is the structure you’re shooting for
1. Injury related issues (corrective exercises)
2. Dynamic warm up (line drills)
3. Technique drills (acceleration, landing drills, med ball work, etc)
4. Speed of movement drills (ladder drills, agilities)
5. Metabolics (the main conditioning portion with key emphasis on energy system development & the goal of the phase)
6. Cool down
Breaking down the “phases”
So how do you put it all together?
A. Speed foundation: Warm up, dynamic flexibility, Circuit 5-7 exercises. Glycolytic power for 20 minutes [transitional rest – building a base]
B. Speed technique: 3-4 technique drills [10-20 yds, 1:3 rest], 3-5 speed drills [15-20 yds, 1:5 rest]
C. Speed strength: 2-3 technique drills [15-60 yds, 1:3 rest], 5-7 movement drills [20-120 yds, 1:5 rest] 6-7 minute sport specific distance drills
D. Speed power: 1-2 technique drills [1:3], 7-10 movement drills
E. Sport speed: Sport specific drills 15-20 yds; 10-15 sets metabolics 20-30 yds
Training example – Prep phase
This would be an example for a lacrosse player in the beginning phases of a program. Its okay if you don’t know the particular exercises, but its just to get a sense of how the program flows & what some of the major points of emphasis are. In this case, all of the technique drills are focusing on form & landing mechanics. Later phases will involve more ballistic movements, med ball throws, and power development.
- Warm up: OH reverse lunge; SL transverse rotation; Adductor windmills w/ arm to toe reach 2x through
- Line drill warm up
A march w/ ankling
B march w/ ankling
High knees/Butt kick combo
- Fwd/Back/Lateral Reaction line drill x 6 movements (3 x through)
- Tuck jumps (x8; 3 times through)
- (Arms across the chest) speed squats – no jumping, triple extension x10
- Swivel jumps x10
- Lateral jump w/ reach x10
- Box drill 3x each way (6 total) x4
- Sprint/shuffle/backpedal always facing forward around the box
- Same drill w/ change of direction on whistle
- Z drill x4 50%, 75%, 100%, 100%
- Triples x4
- Figure 8 (10 yds) – 2 loops each time; x4
- Over – back – over partner sprints [1/2 gassers using width of the field] x5
So there you have it. This goes for any average joe working out as well. If you’re following a strength program that’s pretty heavy on the weight side (pun completely intended) but you try to fit in some conditioning on the other days, do you really know what you should & shouldn’t be doing? Countless fitness books have the weight training down to a SCIENCE – and then leave about 1-2 chapters going over all the different little cardio options. “Light cardio” “no impact” “moderate” etc. What does that even mean? Too many times people are unaware of the effect conditioning has on the CNS – they try to run 400m repeats on their “off” days because they think its a suitable option (PS if done correctly, those suck. i do them far too often. they are NOT a light activity).While everything I’ve written applies directly to sports performance, the same concepts can be taken. If you know you’re in a strength phase, then your conditioning, while not the main focus, should still help with that goal. Sled pulls, med ball work, metabolics, etc – all can help boost your program while still falling into place with what you are truly trying to accomplish.
Hopefully this has provided some insight into the conditioning madness. Now head over to my homegirl’s blog over at I Train Therefore I eat & check out her conditioning workout for the day!
So it hasn’t stopped raining here since I last posted – which is ironic considering my enthusiasm for outdoor workouts & agility drills was semi-based on great weather and sunshine. BUT, as promised, here is part 2, and when the skies clear up, we’ll be back in business.
The only “equipment” you need for these are some cones – and if you’re not a nerd like me who keeps things like that in her car for just this sort of thing (what?) then don’t worry. I can’t even list all the times I’ve used random objects for markers – extra sneakers, water bottles, backpacks, a jumprope, a beach towel, and even an umbrella have all made appearances in my park workouts. Just this past Saturday, in fact, my TRX, t-shirt and medball all made a fascinating box drill. As long as you can clearly identify the points, its fine. You just might want to hold off on putting that particular work out on YouTube 😉
Here are just a few drills that I tend to use the most – I like them mainly because they’re easy to set up, applicable to various goals, and don’t require a ton of technical skill practice.
1. Box drills & all their variations.
The box drill can be set up in various sizes. I tend to keep it smaller ( < 5 yds) if I use it earlier in the session to work on faster changes of direction and I’ll make the box bigger if I’m going for more conditioning. I usually do 3-4 “reps” in a row before resting, but you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to how many you do. The key is to be explosive, however, so going around too many times will just negate the training stimulus.
You can also change the sprint/backpedal/shuffle parts – it can be all sprinting, all shuffling, all facing one direction around the outside of the cones, etc. There’s no “wrong” way.
2. “L” drill
This looks way more complicated than it really is, but essentially it incorporates quick change in direction (Cone 1 – 2) and then weaving around cones 2-3 (balance, flexibility, speed, etc).
Here’s a [hardcore & therefore awesome] example of what this looks like – NFL combine guys will start in a 3 point stance, but for general training, you can start in a simple athletic position
3. Figure 8’s
These can also just be set up with 2 cones at various distances – similar to the 2nd half of the L drill, the main goal is to keep your hips centered and your feet moving while weaving as close as possible to the cone(s). You can run through 1-2x in a row, or change direction in the middle – again, very flexible with how you want to do it.
4. T drill
This is typically used in a lot of s&c programs as a speed/agility/quickness fitness test, but I also like to use it for conditioning. It is just another variation that incorporates lateral agility with sprints and can be very applicable to any sport. Sprint from A-B, Shuffle from B-C, Shuffle across from C-D, Shuffle back to B, and backpedal to A.
5. Shuttle runs / Suicides
There are a million variations to this type of run – I usually put these at the end of a workout for strictly conditioning. You can vary the # of times you change direction or keep it very simple and just run through it multiple times. Here are a few examples:
So there you have it – some awesome ideas to get you started. I really hope you guys give these a try – it breaks up the monotony of the treadmill & turns you into an all around fierce specimen….& lets be honest, isn’t that always the goal?
Part 3 will have a full sample work out & some energy system concerns for various sports. I know I said I’d do it in this post, but this one got a bit lengthy and I’d rather build up the suspense. 😉
ALSO shout out to “The Varsity Zone” since I stole your videos – I am not affiliated with them in any way, just thought they were useful for this post. Thanks!