10 Practical S&C tips

10 Practical S&C tips from the gym floor

By The Stoic Strength Coach 

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10 Practical S&C tips – Photo by Jelmer Assink 

Since many of you enjoyed my last post on the 10 S&C lessons from Academy football, I thought it would be good to post on what I have learned from the gym floor to get strong. Here is a post on 10 practical S&C tips you can apply right away. Enjoy!

Our emphasis is on execution, not winning. – Pat Summitt

  1. A wooden dowel is a great teaching tool. Simple and cheap. I have attached an amazon affiliate link of the ones I have purchased in the past. (Click here).
  2. Barbell complexes are a great way to warm up as it hits all major movements from squat pattern to overhead pressing. 
  3. Foam Rolling – No need to do more than 5 mins. You can cover the whole body in less than 5 if done efficiently.
  4. For group-based work be sure to organise your gym space before players/clients come in, as it will help your session run more smoothly. Placing exercises in certain positions is key, to reduce confusion and waiting times.
  5. Use your imagination – Utilise the equipment you have. For example, if you don’t have enough barbells and have squatting and RDL work in your program, use the barbell to squat and dumbbells to RDL. By using different pieces of kit you will reduce waiting times between exercises.
  6. If you are limited on weight, using Single leg (SL) various of exercises is a great way to load up. 
  7. Supersetting exercises is a must if you wish to use the most of your time in the gym. There are many ways you can do this from upper and lower body lift superset to linking a lower body lift with an upper body mobility or core exercise. It is important to identify what each area players need to focus on and ensure they are working on that particular area. Using the results from a players individual movement screen is a great way to identify this.
  8. Pairing athletes together is a great way to encourage communication among the team and it’s a fantastic opportunity for players to lead on certain exercises. This will also give you more eyes on the athletes that require more attention.
  9. If you don’t have the budget for gym programming software, the use of google drive is great way to link players to their gym programs without the use of sheets of paper. By doing so all they will need is a Gmail account which is free to set up.
  10. Don’t forget to put in Frontal and Transverse plane exercises. We as coaching tend to get stuck in the sagittal plane.

Food for thought. Till next time, Stay Stoic,

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Clear the Mind

Clear the mind – Has your mind got too many tabs open?

Here are a few tips you can implement straight away to declutter, clear the mind and gain some mental clarity.

  • Less consumption (news and social media)
  • More exercise (both cardio and resistance training)
  • Take 5 minutes to sit in silence, zone out and let your mind wander
  • Have a written daily diary to write down all your thoughts (brain dump)

Have you taken time out to clear your mind?

For me personally, I find the following tricks helpful to build the habit of clearing the mind

  • No phone for at least 30 mins before going to bed and within 30 mins of waking up
  • Set the alarm right in the middle of the day to remind me to take my 5 mins zone out
  • Write in my brain dump diary every morning. The key is not to force it and write down what comes into your head. If you notice yourself trying to think of what to say, put the diary down and move on with your day

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

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Clear the mind – Has your mind got too many tabs open?

The Business of Core Training

As Strength and Conditioners/Sports Scientists working with athletes, we program everything from conditioning and gym-based work to core development. In theory, there should always be a rationale for anything we do based on evidence from previous experience or academic research. It has been stated that the development of the trunk region or “core” (the more common term) is ‘a vital part of strength and conditioning (S&C) and general fitness programs for athletes and non-athletes’ (1,2,3). The implementation of core training has been cited to potentially have a positive effect on sporting activities and daily living (4,5,6). Now before we dive further, we must cover the following from a business perspective as ultimately, it is our business to look after our athletes/clients in regards to physical training.

  • What is the core?
  • Why do we train it?
  • When do we look at training it?
  • Whom do we train it with?
  • How do we train it?

What is the core?

Among the research, the core has been stated as the connection between the upper and lower extremities (3,7). It refers primarily to the muscular structures around the trunk region and has been split into 3 groups: 1) global core stabilizers (e.g., rectus abdominus), 2) local core stabilizers (e.g., transverse abdominus), and 3) upper and lower extremity core-limb transfer muscles (e.g., latissimus dorsi, glutes) (8). Putting it in simple terms, the core is nipple to knee and everything in-between!

Why do we train it?

Strength and stability around the trunk region through the use of core-based training has been very popular in recent years, but are we doing it for the right reason? Research has shown that the use of such training has a potential effect on sporting performance (1,2,3), but this has been debated in a few empirical studies also (9,10). The use of core training as a method of reducing injuries of the lumbar spine and lower extremities has also been suggested (2,5,6,11). It has been noted that the use of localized isometric trunk work around the lumbar region can potentially reduce lower back pain (LBP) (3,12).

When do we train it?

In regards to when to train the core, it really does depend on your environment and circumstances. If you are limited for time, there are various options to can use to ensure you get what you require out of your athletes.

  1. Player led prehab – This is prehab work that your athletes carry out without you being present, although I would recommend that a coach is present for the first few weeks of preseason to ensure players are performing the exercise correctly.
  2. Warm-ups – You can easily implement trunk-based exercises in the warm-up, especially on lower intensity days such as MD+2.  You can also flip this and perform the exercises as part of a cool down. Literature in recent times has noted that the use of an active cool-down is largely ineffective; therefore, you can gain some valuable time here.
  3. Gym rest periods – Placing exercises in between rest periods during your gym sessions is every effective as it keeps athletes switched on for the whole course and did not take any extra time. 

Whom do we train?

This section is pretty self-explanatory, but with working with athletes in regards to core training, your focus is on all athletes but in particular those who are suffering from recurring LBP. Athletes and general populations with trunk weaknesses are your main area of concern. 

How do we train the core?

The use of isometric based core training, which uses exercises such as the front plank and the Pallof press instead of exercises that require repetitive flexions such as the sit-up or crunch, is recommended. Academic work by Stuart McGill has outlined this, and I would recommend reading into his work on this area (2). The rationale of using such exercises is to promote stability in the area and not mobility (which occurs through repetitive flexion); therefore, it would be deemed wise to use isometric based exercises such as the deadbug or front plank. Mike Boyle, in his fantastic book Functional Training for Sports, also outlined that core training is about motion prevention and not motion creation (14).

Now since we have covered which type of exercise to perform, we need to talk about where exactly. As mentioned previously the core is from nipple to knee and all around, so it is essential you target all; therefore, you must focus on the front (anterior), side (lateral), and the back (posterior). With this in mind, one must ensure they are programming at least one of each to keep the core training balanced. In regards to programming, keep it simple stupid (KISS) – meaning start easy and gradually build up.

Core training is about motion prevention and not motion creation.

Here I recommend the following training guidelines as a simple starting point:

ExerciseWeek1Week2Week3Week4
Deadbug (Anterior)10 reps x 3 sets12 reps x 3 sets15 reps x 3 sets20 reps x 3 sets
Side Plank (Lateral)20 sec x 3 sets30 sec x 3 sets40 sec x 3 sets50 sec x 3 sets
Glute Bridge (Posterior)10 reps x 3 sets12 reps x 3 sets15 reps x 3 sets20 reps x 3 sets
     

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

The Stoic Gym Goer

Stoicism and physical exercise – are these two areas linked more than we think? People invest time in both areas to be better humans overall. The research has outlined a strong link between physical exercise and a positive mental state, and this is familiar to many. Therefore this post is going to take a slight detour.

Stoicism has been defined as the following  – “a philosophy designed to make us more resilient, happier, more virtuous and more wise–and as a result, better people, better parents and better professionals”. As outlined by Ryan Holiday, the idea of Stoicism is based around being a better human being through the following cardinal virtues.

“a philosophy designed to make us more resilient, happier, more virtuous and more wise–and as a result, better people, better parents and better professionals” – Ryan Holiday.

The gym for many people can be an intimating place, with everyone being very conscious of how they look. Therefore this is an environment in which one can practice being a better human being in more ways than one.

Wisdom – If you feel that a less experienced gym fellow is struggling with their training, you can try and help them out in any way you can.

Justice – Being kind, and good-hearted on the gym floor by not being selfish with the amount of equipment you use and making sure to wipe down after use.

Self-Control – Having the discipline to go work out regularly.

As you see, implementing stoic philosophy in a gym environment can be done helping you and fellow gym-goers on your fitness journeys.  

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

The Sunday Stoic Shoutout #5

The weekly Sunday post on what is worth checking out in regards books, podcasts and much more!

Stay Stoic,

The Stoic Strength Coach

Book of the week

Podcast Episode of the week

Article of the week

https://stoicstrengthcoach.com/2020/07/09/strength-training/

Tweet of the week

Instagram of the week

Don’t feel like Squatting?

Squatting is a fantastic exercise for the lower body. It works everything from the quadriceps, adductor group, and glutes to the hamstrings and erector spinae. The squat is considered the number one bodybuilding movement pattern.

Squatting is a fantastic exercise for the lower body. 

With this in mind, one should always try to implement a squat pattern in their resistance training programs. Now you may be saying to yourself, ‘Does that mean I need to back squat every time I am working out?’. Not at all, there are plenty of options out there in regards to exercise selection for the squat. The following list is created so you can spice up your sessions while keeping the basics in place

Enjoy!

Barbell ExercisesDumbbell/Kettlebell ExercisesBodyweight Exercises
Barbell Back SquatGoblet SquatPrisoner Squats
Barbell Overhead SquatKettlebell SquatSquat Pulses
Barbell Front SquatDumbbell Squat and ReachWall Sits
Barbell X Front SquatOverhead Kettlebell SquatBasic Bodyweight Squat
Range of Squat Exercises

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC