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Article Post: February 26th 2013

Any soccer players and/or coaches out there? Check out this article on the importance of squats in improving overall power, speed and strength.

Soccer Players: To Squat or Not To Squat?

GOOOOAAAALLL! We’ve got one question for all of you soccer players…Do you SQUAT? Although we are not expecting any answers back at the moment, we do hope you are saying yes to your computer screen while reading this.

It’s not a coincidence if you are reading this and questioning, “Well, why should I squat if I do indeed play soccer?”

In all honesty, we could sit here and explain all the great benefits of squats, but that could take a whole other article itself to school everyone on. Instead, we would like to breakdown a study that the great Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras discovered and dissected on their fantastic Strength and Conditioning Research.  

The aforementioned study revolves around how strength training can lead to increases in power and speed for elite soccer players.

So, if you’re a soccer player or coach soccer players we highly recommend you sit back, relax, turn off the FC Barcelona game on the flat screen for a bit and take some notes.

If you are a current soccer player or former soccer player, you should know that the sport involves movements that involve speed and power. Ask any Strength and Conditioning coach how important those two elements are for athletic performance. We promise they will tell you it is very damn important for sports performance. If you want to be the best, you have to train like the best!

Back to our original question:  If you play soccer do you squat?

We asked this question because the study we are about to break down by Keiner et al. shows strong correlations that sprint performance and leg strength can improve by doing both back squats and front squats. Man, if only we knew this back in our days when playing futbol, aka soccer. We probably would have been bending it like Beckham ;)

So What Did the Researchers Do?

The researchers wanted to track the development of 30m sprint performance in youth soccer players over a 2-year strength training intervention. So, they recruited 134 elite soccer players, not world cup stars ladies and gents.

The players were subdivided into three age-groups (A, B and C cohorts) and the average ages of each group were 17, 15 and 13, respectively.

To be very clear here, the participants in each cohort were divided into two groups. One group (Strength training group [STG]) was subjected to regular soccer training in addition to strength training twice a week for 2 years. The other group (Control group [CG]) completed only the regular soccer training.

The strength training group performed their workouts on non-consecutive days and the exercises varied between the parallel front and back squats during the week and also performed bench presses, deadlifts, neck presses, and exercises for the trunk muscles as well as the standing row.

Squat training for the strength-training group was periodized such that following initial technique training, the subjects started with a hypertrophy training block, which comprised 5 sets of 10 repetitions with 3-minutes rest between each set.

The next training block comprised a strength period of 5 sets of 6 repetitions with 3-minutes rest between each set followed by an additional training block of 5 sets of 4 repetitions with 5-minutes rest between each set.

The researchers measured 30m sprint times, including splits every 5m, and maximum 1RM front and back squat strength after two years of training.

So What Happened After All of This?

For Maximum Strength, the researchers reported that the strength-training subgroups of all three age-groups displayed greater improvements in the front and back squat 1RMs than the control sub-groups.

For 30m Sprinting Performance, the researchers found that in the A and C groups, the strength-training sub-group displayed significantly better reductions in sprint time than the control sub-group at each 5m split time between 5m and 30m. They found that in the B group, there was a significant difference between the strength-training and control sub-groups at the 5m, 20m and 25m splits.

Correlations; the researchers performed a correlation analysis and found that there was a significantly positive but moderate relationship between strength gains in 1RM expressed relative to body weight and improvement in sprint performance in all age groups.

The correlations were highest for the first 15m of sprinting, indicating the greater importance of squat strength for accelerating rather than maximal speed sprinting.

What Did the Researchers Conclude?

The researchers concluded that a strength training program involving front and back squats led to a positive improvement in the sprinting performances of young soccer players. Pretty cool. Right?

Wrapping It All Up

As you can see the research doesn’t lie. Of course there were limitations, but all studies have limitations. And, at the end of the day if those do not agree with these findings, that’s ok too because science is always open to debate.

We can definitely tell you from anecdotal experience that squats and front squats will 99.9% of the time increase speed, power, hypertrophy, strength, and overall athletic performance. In other words, we highly agree and approve of this study by Keiner et al.

So, just too briefly recap, if you are a soccer player, coach, or just an overall jock, we highly recommend you implement some sort of squat variations into your training regimen to maximize your full potential.

Don’t get us wrong here ladies and gents, we are not asking you to go load up a squat bar and max out for 500 lbs. We are simply saying whether its conventional back squats or front squats that you chose to do, do them with proper precautions, make sure you squat deep, and don’t be afraid to progressively overload.

And hey, if you squat more often, maybe you will score more GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLSSSS than the famous “Pele” did.

“No Excuses, Only Solutions”

 References:

 1). Influence of a 2-year strength training programme on power performance in elite youth soccer players, by Sander Keiner, Wirth and Schmidtbleicher, in European Journal of Sport Science, 2012.

2.) Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras, 2012.

About the Authors

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training.” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

 

Article Post: October 18th 2012

FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT SCREEN (FMS) What is it?

“The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is the product of an exercise philosophy known as Functional Movement Systems. This exercise philosophy and corresponding set of resources is based on sound science, years of innovation, and current research.”

Put simply, the FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.

The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.

Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and to identify those exercises that will be most effective to restore proper movement and build strength in each individual.

»What it Does – Widespread Benefits

The FMS simplifies the concept of movement and its impact on the body. Its streamlined system has benefits for everyone involved – individuals, exercise professionals, and physicians.

Communication – The FMS utilizes simple language, making it easy for individuals, exercise professionals, and physicians to communicate clearly about progress and treatment.

Evaluation – The screen effortlessly identifies asymmetries and limitations, diminishing the need for extensive testing and analysis.

Standardization – The FMS creates a functional baseline to mark progress and provides a means to measure performance.

Safety – The FMS quickly identifies dangerous movement patterns so that they can be addressed. It also indicates an individual’s readiness to perform exercise so that realistic goals can be set and achieved.

Corrective Strategies – The FMS can be applied at any fitness level, simplifying corrective strategies of a wide array of movement issues. It identifies specific exercises based on individual FMS scores to instantly create customized treatment plans.

To Book your FMS screen email Jackie at jackie@e3fitness.ca. The screen takes only 15 minutes and will provide the information you need to effectively restore proper movement and build strength.

 

Article Post: October 12th 2012

As an Exercise Physiologist I’m always getting the same questions from clients day in and day out. How do I lose weight, increase muscle definition and get stronger quickly? My answer is always the same: You need to have consistency with your workouts, lift heavy weights with proper form, perform longer sustained cardiovascular exercise and eat healthy focusing on nutrient dense foods. Any exercise program that deems itself as a “quick fix” will NOT be sustainable or effective. Seeing results takes a lot of hard work and determination.

The article below was posted on www.muscleandstrength.com. The author is Nia Shanks. Take a read through as I feel as though it answers some common questions people may have about “lifting heavy”.

Want to Look Better? Want Results Faster? Want More Motivation? Here’s the Solution: Lift Heavy and Get Strong(er).

Back in the day the primary focus and reason for weight training was to get stronger. Just think about that for a second. That is a much different reason than why people join gyms in this day and age. For whatever reasons, the focus has undoubtedly switched from getting stronger to just looking better.

Here’s a quote from Brooks Kubik’s book Dinosaur Training on this very same topic:

. . . they always looked better as a result of their training, but gains in appearance were viewed as a natural by-product of training for strength (my emphasis). You trained for strength and you ended up looking better as a by-product of your strength training. You didn’t train to look better.

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look good. Heck, it’s nice to feel confident in a swim suit, in your clothing, and when you’re naked. But my concern is that most people focus too much on looking good, and that is solely what drives their weight training goals.

Here is something most people fail to realize, and it’s the driving force behind Fat Loss Detour – if you focus your efforts in the gym on getting stronger and improving your performance in big, compound exercises and you eat smart CONSISTENTLY, your physical appearance and body composition will change for the better.

Yes, it really is that simple.

I no longer concern myself with training for pure aesthetics. I’ve been there and done that, and the results weren’t near as great as what I achieve now. My main focus when I am in the gym is not on “toning up” or “shaping” my body; it’s on getting stronger. My priority at the gym is to either:

  • Put more weight on the bar.
  • Perform more reps with the same weight.

And the best part about focusing on those two things is that they will force my body to change for the better aesthetically without me directly intending to do so. As long as I’m eating properly and resting, my body composition does, and will continue, to improve.

Another great thing about training for strength: it is much more motivating and enjoyable than simply training to look good. Well, at least in my opinion, and those of the people I train.

Think about it. What’s more motivating? Setting a new personal record in the deadlift, or going through the motions and just getting the workout over with hoping you see the fruits of your labor in the near future?

With all that said and out of the way, let’s delve a little deeper into the whole “Lift Heavy. Get Strong(er) and Look Better” title at the beginning of this post.

What Do I Mean by “Heavy”?

First of all, the term “heavy” means different things to different people. Conventional deadlifting 255 pounds for four reps is heavy for me. But, for some people that would be considered light weight. “Heavy” is a relative term depending on the individual and the exercise being performed.

When I tell people to train “heavy”, I simply mean use as much weight as possible for a given exercise for the prescribed reps with perfect form. It doesn’t matter if you’re performing a set of triples on the deadlift or 10 reps on overhead presses. Just make sure you are working very hard with whatever weight you are capable of using.

What Exercises Will Get Me Strong(er) and Make Me Look Better?

This is something I have mentioned on numerous occasions, and one being Back to Basics for Better Results. Here’s a fact for you: if you had nothing to use for your training except a barbell, some weight plates, a bench, and a power rack, you could get far better results than 99% of people who have access to fully equipped gyms.

Too many people get so caught up with the “latest and greatest” exercises (I’ve been guilty of this myself) that they lose sight of what will help them achieve great results in the least amount of time – hard work on the basics! They begin to suffer from “paralysis from analysis” because “this trainer said to do this”, and “this trainer said I have to do that”, and “this is the latest and greatest training technique”, and what ever else it’s popular at the moment.

Well, here is something the vast majority of great trainers and strength coaches would agree on: the basics are what matter most and what will deliver the greatest results. Yep, that’s right. Nothing is ever going to replace squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, chins, and dips. (Note: yes I am vividly aware of the fact that some people have limitations that keep them from being able to squat and/or dealift properly. However, most people can, and should, squat and deadlift).

If you have limited time to train or simply want the “biggest bang for your training buck”, then you need to focus on the basics. Forget about the specialty exercises for the time and bust your butt on those primary exercises. You won’t be disappointed.

Let me put it another way: if you train hard, increase the weight you use for your exercises, and train consistently on the basic exercises, and you are eating smart, then you will have a body that most people will only dream of achieving. AND you’ll do it in much less time than you might think is possible.

There’s a reason for you to focus on the big, basic, compound exercises mentioned above – because they work! And there is a simple explanation for why I don’t tell you to work hard at isolation exercises such as triceps kick-backs, cable pec flyes, leg extensions, lateral raises, and other isolation movements – because they are NOT nearly as effective as the basics.

Brooks Kubik once again sums things up nicely in Dinosaur Training on why you can’t build a strong and great looking body with nothing but isolation exercises:

If you don’t believe me, then train for three months on a program that consists of nothing but leg extensions, leg curls, pec deck movements, concentration curls, and tricep kickbacks . . . After that period of time, train for three months on a program where you do nothing but bench presses, squats, and pull downs on Monday and nothing but presses, deadlifts, and curls on Thursday . . . At the end of the second three month period you will be enormously bigger and stronger than when you started the program. The first program will be a waste of time while the second program will be very productive, solely because you have focused your attention on the important exercises.

Here’s a quick note for all of the ladies who read the “enormously bigger and stronger” part and freaked out – that message is for men, and Dinosaur Training is written for men. However, I train with the same big, basic exercises and train as heavy as possible, and so the women that I train. No one, and I repeat, no one, has gotten “enormously big” or “big” in any negative use of the term when applied to a female. In fact, they look far better when training in this manner than they did when following the typical “women friendly” workouts that are so prevalent in magazines, books, and TV shows today. Ladies, heavy lifting with the basic exercises is your ticket to a better looking body. If that wasn’t true, then I would be out of a job.

Bottom line: man or woman, training hard and heavy with the basics WORKS.

Why YOU Should Train for STRENGTH

The question remains: why should you train for strength, even if your only concern is to look better in a swim suit?

Simple: because it’s a sure fire way to actually make progress in the gym, and making progress through improved performance in the basic exercises is the fastest and most effective way to transform your body. Combine that with smart eating principles and you will be well on your way to building not only a great looking body, but a strong body as well. What could be better than that?

Look. There is no stock or secret club for hard and heavy training with basic exercises. I have no ulterior motive in making these suggestions. I am sharing with you the information that I have seen produce results time and time again, without fail. If wimpy isolation exercises would transform your body, I would tell you to do them. But I’m not here to lie to you or give you warm, fuzzy feelings about changing your body. If you want results, you’re going to have to work HARD on the basics.