Mary Lee Tracy share more great drills for Yurchenkos. This time covers the blocking phase.
Archives for May 2012
The key concepts to consider as precursors to beginning a comprehensive strength training program are:
Build a broad a base of activity and general fitness
Build a firm foundation in movement skills
Young growing athletes are not miniature adults therefore we must adjust everything to the size, weight and maturation level of the youngster
Always weigh biological age against chronological age
Always teach first then train. Do not assume that because it is taught that it is learned. Make sure that the skill or movement is mastered before you let the athlete begin to train with a particular exercise or method.
Incorporate variety as much as possible to force adaptation and to maintain mental freshness.
Machines are not necessarily safer, they must fit the athlete, most machines do not.
The following chart is adapted from: Growth and Development Considerations for Design of Training Plans for Young Athletes by Lyle Sanderson. SPORTS. Volume 10 #2, 1989. This chart can give us a good template to guide the progression of strength training throughout the athletic lifespan.
|Phase||Duration of Phase||Stage of Development|
|Initiation||3-4 years||Early School Years|
|Basic Training||5 –7 Years||Pre-pubescent and during puberty|
|Buildup Training||3 –4 years||Post-pubescent|
|Systematic HighLevel Training||6 – 10 Years||Adulthood|
The following are the stages of strength development relative to the stages of development in the above chart:
Foundational Strength Development Phase (Initiation)
In the beginning it should be play in the form of crawling, climbing, tug of war, hopscotch. In other words it should be playful and FUNdamental.
We are not East Germany or Bulgaria – Beware of false prophets bearing gifts, you do not have begin specializing in a single sport at this age to be successful in later stages. This should be very unstructured and should occur with a frequency as often as the youngster feels like participating. The key is to put the youngster in an environment where there are a variety of strength building activities are available.
Functional exercise criteria also apply to children. Therefore the exercise should engage the whole body in multi-joint, multi-plane activities that are of high proprioceptive demand. These criteria apply to all levels of development.
Developmental Strength Development Phase (Basic Training)
A good strength base will go a long way to prevent injuries.
Start with developing a routine and good training habits.
During the early stages of this phase strength training workouts should be scheduled two to three times a week gradually increasing to four and possibly five workouts a week in the later stages of this age span.
The resistance spectrum begins with bodyweight and then adds loading such as weight vest or weighted belt that allows the body to perceive the resistance as an internal load. The next step is to add external loading in the form of medicine balls, stretch cord, and dumbbells. The last step is to add resistance in the form of a bar with weight. The key is to progress gradually through this spectrum with gradual incremental jumps that allow the young growing bodies time to adapt.
Strength is the precursor to speed. It is an enabler that will make significant improvements to agility, coordination (motor control). It can also make significant contributions to endurance by improving posture.
Teach technique of the Olympic lifts during the skill hungry years. Use a broomstick or a bar appropriately sized to the athlete’s bodyweight so that correct skill is ingrained.
Specialized Strength Development Phase (Buildup Training)
Strength training should be schedules a minimum of three workouts a week and sometimes up to five workouts a week.
We must also consider development of muscular bulk for the growing athlete participating in sports that demand this emphasis. This is necessary for armor or protection in collision sports like football and hockey to the increase body mass in the throws.
As far as training programs go, one size does not fit all. Ninth grade boys should not be on the same program as senior boys. There is too much of a gap in development. This phase has some of the biggest discrepancies in biological age.
This is the age where the greater proportion of work is done with external resistance in the form of free weights and dumbbells.
Application Strength Development Phase (Systematic High
This period really does not encompass the growing and developing athlete. This is where more advanced strength training methods are applied.
- Strength training equipment and implements must be of appropriate design to accommodate size and maturity differences.
- Do not base the strength training programs on chronological age; instead carefully consider biological age (maturation level).
- Strength training program should be bodyweight based, with the core strength and stability emphasized first.
- Overhead lifting or loading of the spine should be de-emphasized until sufficient core strength & stability is developed.
- The child must have the emotional maturity to accept instruction and follow a program.
- Strength training should be part of a comprehensive fitness program.
- Qualified adults must supervise the program.
References & Recommended Reading
Drabik, Jozef. Children & Sports Training.(1996) Stadion Publishing Company, Inc. Island Pond, Vermont
Hartmann, Jurgen. and Tunneman, Harold. (1989) Fitness and Strength Training. Berlin: Sportverlag
Strength Training and the Growing Athlete
The fact is that strength is a basic motor skill, which is an important precursor to other motor skills. To ignore strength development will only serve to limit the development of other key motor qualities such as speed, coordination and flexibility. Everything, regardless of the level of athlete, is related to a broad fitness and activity base. Someone completely sedentary will be more likely to not make good progress and get hurt than someone who has been very active. It is generally acknowledged that youth today are not as active and fit as previous generations. They also tend to specialize in specific sports earlier; this has the effect of narrowing their range of motor skills as well as limiting their ultimate development in their chosen sport. The key is to do what is natural and playful first. If you watch children play in their natural environment they perform amazing feats of strength relative to their bodyweight. They push, pull, jump and throw with ease. If the object is too heavy they leave it alone. Nobody has to tell them it’s too heavy! No one has to instruct on technique, they put their body into positions that are natural to achieve the desired outcome.
We must really rethink how we look at strength, how we characterize it. There is no doubt that the growing and developing athlete should strength train. Over the years the benefits that have I have seen far outweigh any possible negatives. As I consider the various pros and cons I am increasingly aware that it is more a controversy regarding methodology and methods than whether or not the growing athlete should strength train. The most common questions are: When should they begin? How should they begin? How much should they do? How should they progress? These are all legitimate questions that I will answer in the course of this article.
Some of the controversy results from unclear definition and confusion of terms. Strength training and weight training are not synonymous. Weight training is part of strength training (resistance training). Strength training is an umbrella term that encompasses a spectrum of resistance modes from bodyweight gravitational loading on through to traditional weight training and Olympic weight lifting. All the modes are appropriate if utilized properly and are carefully taught as part of a progression over the course of the growing athletes development. The key to all of this is to start where you can succeed with bodyweight gravitational loading and then to progressively add resistance as the growing athlete adapts to the stimulus of the current mode of strength training.
There are definite gender differences in regard to the need, response and adaptation to strength training. The growing female athlete is physically more mature than the male athlete at the same chronological age. A good rule of thumb is to consider the female two years advanced in physical development over her male counterpoint at the same age. The percentage of muscle mass is lower in women than in men 30 –35% for the female to 42 – 47% for the male. Generally 11 –13 for girls and 13 – 15 for boys are considered the optimum ages to begin formal training. This usually coincides with puberty where the production of anabolic hormones is considerably increased. The female must strength train earlier and keep the strength train threaded throughout the training year because of the differences in muscle mass and testosterone levels.
It is also important to consider motivation, emotional maturity, and cognitive development. These are essential qualities in taking instruction and following directions and the ability to follow a set prescribed program.
Beware of one-sided training biased toward heavy lifting. This can have a negative effect as it takes the strength component out of context. The growing athlete can lift heavy after puberty. I tend toward to side of conservatism regarding heavy lifting before puberty. I know that the Bulgarian lifters are cited as example of this approach, but what we now know of their drug biases in their programs. We must take this information with a huge grain of salt. The growing athlete can begin to Olympic lifting as their chosen sport, but I still think a sound base of fitness and physical activity will allow the young athlete to reach a higher level of performance in their later peak athletic years.
Develop strength relative to the demands of the sport, the position or event in the sport and the qualities of the individual athlete. The goal is to think long term. Progressively develop a base of general strength progressing to maximal strength development in sports where overcoming external resistance is necessary
Lately I have been reading a lot of Vern Gambetta. Vern is currently is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several teams in Major League Soccer as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men’s World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and Director of Athletic Development for the New York Mets. Vern is recognized internationally as an expert in training and conditioning for sport having worked with world class athletes and teams in a wide variety of sports. He is a popular speaker and writer on conditioning topics having lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe. Vern’s coaching experience spans 39 years at all levels of competition. He has some great stuff at his web site FUNCTIONAL PATH TRAINING
The common myths about strength training the growing athlete are:
- Before puberty the young athlete cannot put on muscle mass or make significant strength gains because of the lack of androgenic hormones
- It stunts growth because of stress on the growth plates
- It will limit flexibility and hinder skill development as well
Over the years these myths have grown without any basis in fact. Anecdotal evidence gathered over the years by coaches who work with young growing athletes completely refute each of these myths. In fact in each case the opposite is true. The growing athlete who undertakes a comprehensive progressive resistance program will incur fewer injuries than their counterparts who do not strength train. The myths are usually propagated because the popular press goes to so-called experts for advice, usually doctors, who have no actual experience working with growing athletes. Typically the parent is referred to the family physician that has no background in exercise or training. This was certainly not part of their medical training.
Growing children and developing athletes are not miniature adults. Sometimes we are fooled by appearance. After puberty when the athlete’s linear growth is greatest they look like adults, but they are still growing, therefore copying programs from mature athletes can eventually lead to problems with injury and overuse. The principles governing strength training are the same for the growing athlete or the mature athlete.
Train movements not muscles -The brain does not recognize individual muscles, it recognizes patterns of movements Therefore for optimum return in terms of strength gain and actual transfer to coordination we want to train movements. We do not want to isolate out specific muscles because that creates neural confusion and we want to create an awareness of the whole body and how the parts work together to produce efficient movement. A popular of expression is to train the go muscles not the show muscles.
Train Core before extremity strength – The core – the hips, abdomen and the low back – is the relay center of the body. Without a strong and stable core to as a transmission to transfer force produced off the ground or from above by the upper extremities it is virtually impossible to produce efficient movement there forte functional core training in standing positions that put the body perpendicular to gravity are the foundation of the growing athletes strength development program. Core training is part of every session.
Train Body weight before external resistance – We must start with the ability to handle bodyweight, overcome gravity and effectively interact with the ground. The basic principle then is bodyweight before external resistance. The growing athlete must be able to effectively handle bodyweight in a variety of movements and specific exercises before even thinking about any significant external loading. How do you do this? The basic bodyweight exercises are pull-ups, pushups, dips, rope climb, crawling, body weight squats, lunges and step-ups. Use your creativity and imagination to design exercises and routines that incorporate the following fundamental movements: swinging, pulling, pushing, reaching, extending, bending, jumping, hopping and bounding. Work against gravity with the bodyweight as resistance will strengthen the bones, tendons, and ligaments and muscles in preparation for further external loading work to follow. Think of it as a small upfront investment for a large backend return. Every exercise regardless of the age of the developing athlete should incorporate multi-joint and multi-plane exercises. Starting with bodyweight only serves to reinforce the concept of total chain training that essentially means that the body is a kinetic chain with all the links connected to produce efficient motion. Starting with bodyweight serves to allow the growing athlete to gain awareness of their body. It serves to improve coordination and recruitment. I feel that it increases self-confidence and self-image. There is no doubt that strength gains will be reflected in better skill acquisition and development. As the athlete grows strength as measured by the ability to handle body weight should increase commensurate with growth.
Train Strength before strength endurance – Initial strength gains are neural; essentially the initial strength gains come from learning the movements. There is plenty of time to incorporate strength endurance once a good foundation of strength has been established. The primary means of developing strength endurance is through circuit training.
Over the years I have learned to beware of artificial limitations imposed by so called experts who probably have never worked day to day with the growing athlete. The growing athlete is highly adaptable provided the stress is carefully applied in a progressive manner after a sound fitness base has been established. Once again the level of expectation determines the level of achievement. Often times you get what you look for. If a proper sensible criteria based progression is followed then strength training is a very appropriate activity for the growing and developing athlete.
A pretty spectacular Peel of High By Tim Leibiger.
Here he is making it through his routine
World Champion Jordan Jovtchev takes us through the second part of his conditioning workout for rings.
View PART 1 of his ring strength here
Share your videos and ideas at Gym Momentum. Keep the Momentum going!
As you can tell this week has been devoted to ways to spice up your conditioning program. There are countless EXPERTS on gymnastics strength. I am NOT one of them.
Most coaches must be a jack of all trades, but a master on none. We are responsible for not only skill training, routine composition, safety, education, and mental health of their gymnasts, but also their conditioning. I get frustrated when I feel our conditioning has gotten into a rut or when I feel that our lack of strength is preventing us from accomplishing our skill goals.
There are Four basic principles that will help coaches to evaluate strength training. Each conditioning program should be:
- -Consistent, special strength training is necessary for maximum performance in gymnastics;
- -Training to increase muscle size and strength is important, but maximum strength from minimum size is the most important training goal;
- -Rest and recuperation are important aspects of strength training, also in gymnastics;
- -Strength training must be integrated with the skill training in gymnastics.
What are the exercises?
Gymnastics conditioning can be distilled to a group of only seven fundamental movements. Coaches should be aware that gymnasts train movements – not muscles. Bodybuilders train muscles and muscle groups. Patients recovering from surgery or immobilization train muscles and muscle groups. Gymnasts and virtually all other athletes train movements. While this may seem to be a trivial distinction, the difference is absolutely fundamental to athlete conditioning. With only a few exceptions, most gymnastics movements are multi-joint, multi-planar, and multi-directional. Simple uniplanar movements rarely mimic sport movements and result in a somewhat misplaced priority for training and conditioning.
Training for gymnastics conditioning consists of the following fundamental movements:
- Shoulder flexion – casting, press handstands, planche
- Shoulder extension – kipping, uprise, downswing phases of in-bar work
- Upper extremity pushing – handstand, handstand push up, rebounding during hand contact phases
- Upper extremity pulling – pull up, pullover, withstand the bottom of swinging skills
- Jumping and landing – tumbling, vaulting, mounts, dismounts, dance movements
- Torso and hip flexion – piking, tucking, leg lifts, forward somersault take offs, hollow body positions
- Torso and hip extension – arching, back bends, walkovers, flic flacs, most backward take offs
Any complete conditioning program for gymnastics should include these movements. Therefore, a circuit program should have at least seven stations. While more exercises are certainly possible, and in some cases desirable, these seven movements are the “core” exercises.
I view conditioning in stages. Looking at what I want at the END. If my goal is for an athlete to do sets of cast handstands by nationals next year. Once you strengthen a shape and have a basic action you move through the shape. Then do gymnastics skills in sequence.
Just a very basic Example-
Step 1- Hold Hollow and Rope climb
2. Hollow hold to V up Slow
3. Hollow hold to V up Fast
4. Kip Pull with Bungee
5. Cast pull with bungee
6. Mean 18 with medium weight
7. mean 18 with heavier weight. By this point they should be doing rope climb with No legs and good form
8. Spotted Cast handstands in a row (for Body shape)
9. Spotted hanging uprises
10. Planche leans/ Bounce handstands
11. Cast Handstands alone in a row
12. Spotted Kip Cast handstands in a row
13. Sets of 5 Kip cast handstands in a row.
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Mary Lee Tracy Shares another set of great exercises for Core strength at Beam. Check out her youtube page to get even more great drills.
View Part of of Mary Lee’s Beam Core Strength here
Share your drills and ideas at Gym Momentum. Keep the Momentum going!
World Champion Jordan Jovtchev Shares some great Conditioning Ideas and Exercises on Rings.
Share Your drills and Ideas with Gym Momentum! Keep The momentum going!
Mary Lee Tracy shares some great exercises for core conditioning at Beam. Check out her youtube page to get some other great drills.
Share your drills and exercises at Gym Momentum.