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"It All Starts In the Weight Room" Part 3 | Articles | Matt Johnson's Strength Coach Concepts

"It All Starts In the Weight Room" Part 3

In this final episode of my "top-secret" study, I will give meaning to the results.  If you have not had an opportunity to read Part 1 and Part 2 here are the links for each episode.  I recommend reading them before going any further.  Part 1   Part 2  

As the data shows, every athlete increased their multi directional and linear speed during the study.  Keep in mind, this occurred without any speed or agility training.  Why did this occur?  Well, I believe the following video gives us a bit of insight on the results. 

Yes, I am relating strength and conditioning to formula 1 racing.  I could have never imagined I would be doing so but the idea hit me!  In formula 1 racing, some of the most technologically advanced race cars are used to maneuver at high speeds around a designated course. It struck me that with speed and mobility our bodies are our race cars.  Our hamstrings the brakes, quads/glutes the engine and our core the shocks/stabilizers.  Briefly, when skill and understanding are set aside, what occurs when a driver improves their engine, brakes and shocks( I often refer to this as one's functional system)?  Simple, they have the ability to move faster!  When you watch the video make sure you have your sound turned up.  When you hear a downshift think hamstrings, a upshift think quads/glutes and a tire screech think  core! 

Answers to the Research

1.  Hamstring Strength-  Improved hamstring strength will allow your athletes to change directions efficiently.  The primary component of multi directional speed is "change of direction" ability.  I have trained a number of athletes who ran 4.4-4.7 40 yard dashes but they suffered in drills such as the 5-10-5, nebraska and L.E.F.T test due to inadequate hamstring strength and core stability.  To fall back on our formula 1 reference, these athletes had the engines but lacked the brakes.  If you want to become an athlete with excellent mobility and lightening fast MD speed, train the hamstrings!  In addition, increased hamstring strength will improve your stride frequency which increases your pulling power in linear situations.  Transitional and top end velocities rely on the hamstrings for support.  As you can see, a muscle group that tends to be poorly trained but yields a ton of worth when focused upon. 

2.  Quad & Glute- Improved quad and glute strength will provide your athlete's with the ability to produce force which means improved linear speed.  During linear movements, the hamstrings provide pulling power and the quads/glutes provide the pushing power.  Training these muscle groups by the practice of single leg movements will increase your athletes speed because they contain a high amount of transfer specificity to sprinting.  One method I use is adding an explosive knee drive during lunges and step ups which activates the hip flexors and lower abdominals.  If you want to be fast, you have to build a powerful engine (Another Formula 1 reference).  Turbo charge your lower body by performing single leg movements (SL Squat, Lunge, Step Up, Bulgarian Spilt) and  bilateral  squats  for muscle balance, strength and dynamic flexibility.  I recommend a 2: 1 ratio, Single Leg to Bilateral squat movements when designing a program for any athlete with average lower body strength, flexibility and stabilization.  For athletes who lack skill in these areas, I keep the ratio but reverse the modalities to a 2:1 Bilateral to Single leg until improvement is noticed in the aforementioned areas.

3.  Core-  In linear and multi-directional speed, the core is an integral component for speed improvement.  I tend to avoid implementing Russian twists, sit ups and especially crunches.  I recommend using functional-dynamic movements such as chops, swings, throws and slams that train the mid section in 360 degrees.  These movements will produce power and torque in the core as well as recruit synergist muscle fibers for stabilization.  Speed mechanics rely heavily on posture, without an adequate amount of core stabilization your posture will collapse along will your speed. Stabilization exercises such as planks, atomic push ups, supermans, bird dogs and opposite prones will give you the structural support you need to maintain your acceleration lean in linear movements and an athletic base in MD movements.

Remember, this was a research study.  The purpose of the study was to investigate the responses on speed when engaged in a full time strength training program.  The results display that strength is one of the pillars for athletic ability.  To optimize your strength and conditioning program, combine both training modalities.  In the offseason I implement, 70 percent strength/explosiveness and 30 percent speed.  In later offseason microcyles and pre season training my percentages will shift to a 60 % (Strength) 40 % (Speed).



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