Jim Wendler - jimwendler.com - London, OH
The second half of the day began with a disclaimer.
"I'm gonna say some things you might find offensive," Wendler warned, "but I'm not trying to offend anyone. I was raised a different way."
He then paused for a few moments of awkward silence before diving into the four principles that form the backbone of his newest book.
1. Use multi-joint movements.
While the traditional squat, bench, dead lift and press work best for most people, it's important to have a big arsenal of variations that fit the needs of individual athletes.
"We all know there are athletes who look like a dog taking a dump when he dead lifts," he said. "Let them use a trap bar."
Variations of the core lifts should be used as accessories, but limit the variety with in-season athletes.
"Mastering one exercise variation is key for in-season training so they can perform them without soreness," he said.
2. Start too light
Wendler believes starting light improves and maintains good technique.
"The core lifts should be focused work. Make sure athletes are doing the lifts correctly and with purpose. The minute you let bad form pass, get your resume ready because you don't care anymore," he said.
3. Progress slow
The key to progressing slow is finding the right training max. Wendler bases his loads off 90 percent of his one-rep max because it accounts for the athlete's stress levels.
"90 percent is key because lifters have bad days and athletes have REALLY bad days (because of additional stress). If the athlete feels great, let him set a rep max or add joker sets up to a 3-5-rep max."
Working at 90 percent also ensures the athlete has a chance to succeed every day.
"If your athlete's hitting the required reps, but no more, he's feeling 90 percent that day," he said, "but he's still reaching his goals."
4. Set PRs
"Have a multitude of rep records with different weights in each core lift. It helps save athletes from themselves on the days they're feeling stress."
Working with rep maxes also eliminates the need for "test days," as every session measures where you stand in comparison to previous records.
"Intelligent programming makes it easy to create a legion of kids dying to show you what they can do," he said.
Bonus: Things Wendler hates.
- Skipping the warm-up: "If you don't have time to warm up, you don't have time to train."
- Multitasking: "What's better: a great squat session or a complete but rushed session?"
- Conditioning in a power rack: "Time with a barbell is time to get strong."
- Neglecting jumps and throws: "Do box jumps or hurdle jumps and throw (don't toss) a med ball with a partner. Wherever the ball lands, your partner has to throw it. Whoever is driven farthest away loses."
- Neglecting pull ups: "There are three reasons why athletes can't do pull ups. They're either too weak, too fat or injured."
- Hypocrisy: "Soft-bodied coaches produce soft athletes. If they see you kick your own ass they will respect you. Do not expect greatness from athletes if you do not expect greatness from yourself."
Eric Hegedus - High Point University - High Point, NC
Dr. Hegedus is the founding chair of High Point's Doctor of Physical Therapy program and the director of Targeted Enhanced Athletic Movement (TEAM), a community-based health and wellness program designed to improve athletic performance and prevent injury. He shared his thoughts about physical performance tests.
"Would you stop an injury if you could?" he asked.
The room full of coaches nodded.
"FMS," someone answered.
"A physical performance test must be reliable, valid and responsive," he said. "The FMS does not have all three qualities. No performance test is perfect. Use what you know, but remember--you don't know everything."
Hegedus then walked us through a simple squat test and showed four examples of athletes whose movements revealed significant risk of injury and discussed effective interventions:
1. Valgus collapse: fix with hip extension exercises (but not more squatting if they do it poorly), hip abduction and landing technique.
2. Ankle mobility: stretch (be sure foot is neutral) and increase ROM (dorsiflexion)
3. Tight lats and pecs: stretch, soft-tissue and increase ROM
4. Poor core stability and/or hip mobility: strengthen core and increase ROM
I drove home from Winston-Salem with a pocket full of new business cards and a head full of new training ideas for myself and my athletes. If you're south of the Mason-Dixon next January, don't miss this clinic!