Check out my Week 3 Q & A with the summer interns at MBSC. This week we discuss the logistics of programming, progressing conditioning, proper cueing and much more.
When looking at the 80-20 principle (80% of results come from 20% of programming) what would you consider the 20% in our program?
The core lifts (Hang Clean, Deadlift, Bench, Rear-foot Elevated Split Squat, Incline Press, Row and Chin-Up) comprise the 20% where we get the majority of our results. Simply, getting stronger brings about many of the adaptations that we are looking for, especially in younger athletes. That being said, think of strength and conditioning programs as a whole rather than the sum of their respective parts. It’s all the little things that add up and make our program more effective.
What is the proper rate of progression for energy system development? If working with advanced athletes is it recommended or encouraged to increase their workload as long it is properly progressed?
When progressing conditioning we follow the 20% rule. We never increase volume more than 20% from week to week. This is our general rule of thumb to avoid overtraining and injury. Over the course of the summer we progress from more general conditioning (Tempo Runs/Slideboards) to more intensive and game specific work (Shuttles/Bike Sprints). If an athlete wants to do extra work find a head coach to assign them a protocol.
Can you give a quick overview on the essential nutrition advice you give to athletes?
We provide very basic nutrition info for our athletes. Read “Food Rules” by Michael Pollen. We use this as our guideline for athletes only with a greater emphasis on protein intake. We encourage them to eat high quality, unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables and have protein at every meal. Often our biggest nutritional battle is eliminating the bad things they are eating on a daily basis. The key is simplicity with these kids if we want them to integrate these habits into their life.
What’s the reasoning behind using a clean grip when snatching as opposed to the normal snatch grip?
We use a narrow grip when teaching the hang snatch because it is a safer and easier version to teach. The reason Olympic weightlifters use a wide grip snatch is to lift more weight. The wide grip makes for a shorter bar path making the lift more biomechanically efficient. Since we are not training competitive weightlifters we don’t have to worry about maximizing the number on the bar. The narrow grip is less technically demanding and more relatable to the pull in the clean making it easier to teach. Also, there is far less liklihood of a shoulder injury or the chance for an athlete to fall backwards during the catch.
Check out Meghan Duggan from USA Women’s Hockey demonstrating the clean grip snatch…
My question this week is do we continually progress a long-term athlete’s conditioning? For example if you have a spring sport athlete and you have them for the summer & fall what does the periodization of their conditioning look like?
If we have an athlete who is training with us through multiple sessions then we will adjust their conditioning accordingly. We would not regress them back to phase 1 as they entered a new session because we want to have them properly prepared for their upcoming sport. This means continuing to raise the intensity of their work as their season gets closer. What progression we choose will depend on what phase they are in, what they are preparing for as well as their trianing experience.
At MBSC, you obviously deal with a lot of collegiate athletes that have their own strength coaches and off-season programs. What do you do in a situation with an athlete that comes to you with an off season program that is either well below the standard of your programming abilities and/or way to advanced and complex for the athlete to safely complete? Secondly, if they are training with you during the summer I would assume they are there to complete the Boyle program, so how do you get around recording numbers and tracking progress for their program that has been given to them by their school strength coach?
Every athlete that comes in to train with us will follow our program. We don’t allow athletes to train with programs from outside of the gym. More often than not, the programs that these kids bring in are extremely outdated and often dangerous. We train them on our program and have them fill in numbers for their coaches the best they can. If they need to test in a specific lift when they arrive back at school then we will prepare them to test that lift.
What is something new that we are going to really have to pay attention to when we move to phase 2?
Moving into phase 2 we will have to watch carefully to be sure that athletes are getting the proper progressions. We do not want athletes receiving phase 2 progressions who are not ready for them. Keep athletes in phase 1 who need to stay there and move them on when they have earned it.
My question this week is how much does training at different altitudes through the course of the year effect the overall success of the athlete?
In the grand scheme of things I do not think an altitude stimulus has much of an effect if the altitude is changing throughout the year. Overall, the effect of high vs. low altitude will even out if you train in both intermittently. If you train at a high altitude regularly and then compete at a lower one then you will see benefits but if you are training in different levels though out the year the net effect would be negligible. My thought is that ultimately, high altitude training is only is effective as the training that the athletes receives at that altitude.
What’s the protocol if an athlete vomits in the facility?
Make sure that athlete is ok and clean it up quickly. We do not want people throwing up and if they do scoop it up, mop the floor and disinfect the area. First one to see it, cleans it.
Earlier this week I saw a group doing 10/10s. The treadmills were set to ten incline and emergency stop was off so that the treadmill could spin when you started to run on it. Kids would then run as hard as they could, while holding onto the handles, for 15 seconds. What does this train, and why isn’t it included in conditioning? It seems that it is safer because the speed is regulated by the athlete, and it also seems that lower body running mechanics of 10 10s are more similar to on field running mechanics than the treadmill running the kids normally do.
The manual resisted 10/10’s and tempo runs are aimed at achieving different adaptations. 10/10’s are for the purpose training alactic capacity. It is a maximal effort, often with incomplete recovery. Extensive tempo runs on the treadmill are a sub-maximal effort (roughly 70-80 %) focused on training the athletes aerobic capacity (we’re trying to reduce the need to rely on anaerobic processes) and coaching upper body running mechanics.
Similarly, are you worried about any issues with running mechanics that come up from using a treadmill?
When the athletes are training on the treadmills our #1 goal is to coach good upper body running mechanics. We want to see square shoulders, erect torso and good arm action. They key here is attention to detail and good coaching. Don’t stop coaching them, if you get lazy, they’ll get lazy.
It seems that all aspects of programming at MBSC follow the core training concepts of anti rotation/extension and an overall ‘prevention’ of motion (e.g. planks, side planks, 1/2 kneeling chops and lifts etc) except for one exercise: the kareoka performed during the dynamic warm up. I have always questioned this movement based on the kinetics being awkward as athletes never even come close to moving this way in sport and, likely more important, the act of driving rotation into the lumbar spine. I view a kareoka as a dynamic form of the windshield wiper exercise which Coach Boyle mentions eliminating from the program. Also, Sarhman’s statement on page 98 (para 6) in Advances seems to discuss the dangers of this type of movement. What is the purpose of the kareoka and is it a safe exercise?
We use the carioca drill during the lateral movement portion of the warm-up to raise overall body temperature and create some dynamic flexibility work through the spiral fascial lines. We want to encourage the athlete to move in all planes of motion. True, it violates Sarhmann’s statement but we are not loading the movement or training it in a high repetition manner. It’s the same thought process as training flexion, we don’t train flexion with our athletes but we may go through flexion range of motion during a drill like the inchworm. We are only performing these movements for 10 yards at a time. It’s not necessarily the range of motion that is bad, it’s high repetition and loading of that range of motion that is bad. So if you have an athlete with current or history of back pain then omit the drill for them and give them an alternative. For more information on muli-planar movement check out the stuff Todd Wright and Logan Schwartz at Train 4 The Game…http://train4thegame.com/articles-education/
This is one of the reasons we want athletes moving multiple planes of motion
I’ve noticed a lot of kids not understand some of the coaching ques, is it better to just not be so nit picky about some things and let some things slide instead of yelling out things that the kids have no idea what they mean?
When coaching the athletes you have to use external cues as oppose to internal ones. For example, don’t tell the kids to “retract their shoulder blades” tell them to “stick out their chest.” Using anatomy and internal cues will only make an athlete confused and disinterested. Give them cues they can relate to. Find better cues to get the job done and use your hands to get them in position. Don’t settle for “ok”, make the kids looks awesome.
Check out this article by Sam Leahey where he discusses external cueing….http://samleahey.com/science-of-coaching-cues/
How do you decide which movement patterns to address with some of the mobility and core exercises that we have seen in the different series/circuits? For example, why are all the 1/2 kneeling exercises included where they are? Is this to address the inline lunge from the FMS? If so, why the inline lunge? Is there a particular template or framework that you use when creating the program, and then fill in the blanks with different exercises?
The ½ kneeling stability drill like chops and lifts are used as corrections for rotary stability and in-line lunge. The goal is to increase midline stabilization.
When creating the program we follow a template of upper body push and pull, knee dominant, hip dominant, core and a corrective. We always program core exercises for anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-flexion and anti-lateral flexion. We always program mobility drills for the ankle, hip and t-spine, all of the joints that often have deficits in mobility. The corrective and core drills find the way into the program based on where they are most effective and where they make the most sense logistically. Often, we plug core exercises in wherever it will allow the program to flow the best.
This week I noticed some athletes use the slideboards in different styles. Some will shorter the boards and slide faster, others will lengthen them out and really force themselves across the slideboard. There are even some athletes that would strap on a weighted vest. My question is, how are the slideboards supposed to be or does it not matter at all? If the athlete shortens the boards they go faster and get less recovery during the conditioning, but the athletes that lengthen the boards are exerting more power and strength to the conditioning. Is there a particular style the slideboards should look like and is the weighted vest really necessary?
We shorten the slideboard for shorter and less experienced athletes. The shorter board, initially makes learning to slide across the board easier. As the athlete improves their technique we can lengthen the width so that they can achieve full abduction and express more power across the board. Ideally, the slideboard should look like skating especially for our hockey athletes. We want them to stay low and smooth through the entire movement. Speed on the board should be an afterthought until they can stay low smooth through the entire interval. The weight vest just allows us to increase intensity for the more advanced athletes. Do not allow athletes who do not have adequate technique to wear a weight vest while slideboarding.
Check out my slideboard technique..
or Tricia Dunn’s because she’s a waaaaay better skater than me….
In the straight leg march the back is supposed to remain flat, but in the straight leg skip can the back round and leg bend?
We want a flat back and straight leg in both drills. Cue the athletes to keep their chest up and back flat. I discourage them from trying to touch their toes as it encourages them to reach forward and kick their leg as high as they can. We don’t want them getting their foot up high at the sacrifice of their lumbar. The focus of the drill is to get some dynamic flexibility through the hamstrings and achieve a heel strike on down swing of the leg.
Check out the video below for examples of straight-leg walk and straight-leg skip.
Do you have a preference when using a slideboard or stability ball for leg curls? Who and when would you prefer to use each with?
We use the slideboard for leg curls as oppose to the stability ball because it creates a greater eccentric demand on the hamstrings than the stability ball. We also don’t like using the stability ball for the leg curl because it is an unstable surface. The instability of the ball makes teaching what can already be a difficult exercise more difficult. Also, from a logistical standpoint we use the slideboard for many other exercises and they take up less space than a bunch of stability balls so it makes more sense for us.
What is the best way to restore a proper gait in elderly people?
The gait pattern is a very complex pattern that cannot be restored through a single method or approach. If you have a client who is old or young that has an impaired gait pattern then that means there is some sort of dysfunction at the fundamental level of movement. They likely have dysfunction with a lot of movements and their gait is just one that really sticks out. You can watch them walk and assess their patterning as well as their standing posture to get a good picture of how they are move but I think you are best served to put them through a fundamental assessment. For me this means using the FMS as well as some isolated assessments. If they are not walking well I can guarantee you something will show up here. Once your results are out in front of you work backwards to the solution. Follow the FMS hierarchy and connect the dots to the pattern. With “gait problems” I find there is often a web of interconnected issues between loss of mobility in the toe, ankle and hip and stability in the mid-foot, hip and core.
What should we do if an athlete had a sore back during warm up but starts to feel better as they loosen up, do we let them do cleans or trap bar or should we regress them?
It’s not often a “sore back” just goes away. The way I see it their back was in pain in the first place because of some sort of dysfunction. Minor or major back pain is nothing to be ignored but unfortunately, many athletes will try to play it off as nothing or say, “it has loosened up.” Don’t buy their excuses. More often than not they just want to lift regardless of their discomfort. Give the athlete a regression, have a senior coach assess them and get them on the low back rehab program. I may choose the Shuttle Jump as a regression for the Hang Clean and Single Leg Deadlift as a regression for the Trap Bar. Both of these options un-load the spine.
I have had a tough time coaching the clean with some kids, especially the kids who swing the bar away from their chest instead of catching it at there shoulders. Sometimes the weight is just way to light and their form improves with more weight, but for those kids who struggle with the form what are some good coaching cues you use to help them keep the bar close and receive it correctly.
You’re absolutely right that often a little more load can make the difference for kids struggling with the clean. Hang clean and goblet squat are probably the only exercises I can think of where this is the case.
As far as cueing athletes to keep the bar close to the body, here is what I do…
First…..Demo, Demo, Demo. With the clean especially great visual demonstration goes a long way. For new kids, this exercise is completely foreign to them. They don’t have a pre-conceived notion of what it should look like, as they might with the bench press or squat.
For this reason, bombarding the athletes with great visual cues is huge for these kids to pick up all of the little details. Most of these kids are visual learners so I think they learn better watching than they do listening.
Tell them “Watch how close the bar is to my body on the pull” and give them 5 perfect demos.
Second….I say “Drag it up your shirt” or “Keep the bar against your body”
Third… Continue to demo.
Give them demos that look like this…..
I hear people talk about the agility ladder not making a big impact on speed/acceleration. What, in your mind, does the agility ladder actually help an athlete accomplish/develop?
You’re right the agility ladder does not do anything to increase speed and acceleration. Speed and acceleration is developed through increased force production NOT increased foot speed. The reason we continue to keep the ladder in our program is for a couple of reasons.
1). For younger athletes the ladder teaches overall coordination and develops some proprioception. A lot of theses kids spend the majority of their time sitting on the couch or in school and have no control of their body in space. Often they come into the gym and trip over their own feet the first time they try the ladder. Physiologically, we want to myelinate new neural pathways for these kids and enhance their overall motor skills.
2). For the more accomplished athletes it serves as a good tool for lateral movement and overall warm-up. The 1-2 stick, Shuffle and crossover are good tools to teach lateral agility when done correctly.
Why is there the addition of the “bounce” in phase 2 plyos? Why not just go straight to continuous hops/jumps?
The “mini-bounce” in between hurdles in phase 2 is the second progression for athletes who show requite stability by sticking the movement in phase 1. The “mini-bounce” in between the hurdles is when our hops start to resemble “true plyometrics.” This is our way to begin incorporating an elastic component into the hopping progression. The reason we initially use the mini-bounce to begin training elasticity is because it allows the athlete to better control the movement before we go to the continuous method. The mini-bounce between hurdles allows the athlete to begin training to absorb and express elastic energy. The continuous hops we incorporate in phase 3 are “true plyometrics” where the athlete lands and hops as rapidly as possible through the hurdles.
Union Head Strength Coach/Former MBSC Coach Dan Gabelman shows a great video of the progression for medial/lateral hops here….
I have heard Coach Boyle talk about the concept of “If it’s important, do it every day.” Why, then, do we do the static stretch circuit twice per week and the mobility circuit twice per week? Why not one or the other 4 times per week? Is twice per week enough?
It’s about logistics. If we could, we would program both circuits everyday but there just isn’t enough space or time. We want to get both of them in every week so doing them both twice a week allows us to fit it all in the best way we can. I think we get enough frequency of both make them effective. If an athlete does need some extra mobility in a certain area make sure that you program it in for them somewhere in their program.
Why don’t we have the athletes use the t-spine peanuts anymore during the mobility circuit? Why are floor slides no longer in the MBSC program, either?
The t-spine peanuts just don’t make sense in the program logistically. Teaching the concept to young kids is often difficult in a group setting. I find these kids will just flop around on top of the ball without really understanding what we are trying to achieve. We’ve found that we get better results using extensions over the foam roller and the kneeling t-spine rotation drill. This way we mobilize the t-spine into rotation as well as into extension and this drill is much more foolproof for young athletes. Floor slides and wall slides are not currently in the program but I plan on having them in the FMS circuit in the next phase.
Thanks for reading, ask your own questions in the comment section below!