Changeup – Power Clean

power cleanAs a changeup (Throwing a “Changeup”), about once a month, we substitute the Power Clean for the Hang Clean in our weekly workout.   There is not a great deal of extra teaching involved with the lift; most of the technique and instruction is the same as Hang Clean.  The starting position is different, so most of our coaching deals with getting into the proper power position at the beginning of the lift.

We like this as a changeup because it helps teach the position we want the athletes to get into at the beginning of the hang clean.  At the beginning of the explosion phase of the Hang Clean (The Core Lifts – Hang Clean) sometimes the athletes have a tendency to bend too much at the waist, consequently using the back instead of the legs to complete the lift.  By teaching a good power position (starting position) on the Power Clean, it reinforces the position we want the athletes to be in at the start of the explosion phase of the Hang Clean.

The athletes should begin with their knees over, toes under the bar.  This will get the bar close to their body where it should remain throughout the lift.  They should have good bend in their ankles, knees, and hips.  Their hips should be down, with their shoulders back, and head slightly elevated.

We teach that the movement will begin slowly, with the bar accelerating as it reaches the area around the knees.  From this point on, the lift is identical to the Hang Clean.

Below is a telestrated video (with audio) of athletes displaying varying degrees of technique.

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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Supplemental Lifts – The Hang Snatch

snatchAnother lift that we use to supplement our four Core Lifts (Bench, Squat, Clean, and Push) that make up our weekly (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout) is the Hang Snatch.  The Hang Snatch is a variation of the Olympic Lift, Snatch, and is essentially the same lift except we start from the hang position as opposed to starting with the weight on the ground.  It is an explosive movement that is going to work many major muscle groups – hamstrings, glutes, gastrocnemius, quads, delts, and traps.

We talk about the hang snatch as being a combination of the hang clean and push press.  The starting position is identical to the hang clean, which is the fundamental athletic position.  The finish position is identical to the push press finish, which is the overhead support position.  We teach each position, and then ask our athletes to move explosively from one position to the next.

We use light to medium weight, typically doing 3 sets of 8 reps.  We stress that the lift should be smooth, explosive, almost an “elegant” type of movement.  If it gets too “herky jerky” and slow, we tell the athletes to use less weight.  If it looks bad – it is… use less weight.

Just as discussed in the Squat, and Push Press breakdown, the athlete will begin with a good athletic posture; good base with feet about shoulder width apart and toes pointed straight forward; stand tall with shoulders back and head forward. We use just a slightly wider grip than in the hang clean, with the hands a few inches outside the shoulders, with the bar hanging from straight arms.

To begin the lift, the bar should slide down your thighs as you bend at ankles, knees and hips and (slightly) at the waist. Chest should be tall with shoulders back. Descent of bar should stop at the top of the knees.  Shoulders should be directly over the hands at the bottom of the descent.

As soon as the bar gets to the bottom of the descent (top of knees) the athlete will explode, extending the ankles, knees, and hips. These three joints are linked, as they all will fire at the same time to produce a force great enough to move the load explosively towards the chin.  We tell the athletes to try to jump, drive their hips to the bar and explode the feet off the ground.

After this explosion or jump phase, the athlete will enter the pull phase, shrugging with the traps, and pulling the bar with your biceps and lats.  We tell the lifters to try to “bounce the weight off the ceiling“.  Just as in the hang clean the bar should remain close to the body during the shrug/ pull phase.  A common mistake is to swing the bar out in an arc away from the body.  The athlete will move the weight, in one continuous motion, through the shrug/ pull phase into the overhead support/ finish position “dipping” to catch the bar with bent legs, while fully extending their arms overhead.  At the top of the lift the bar will travel slightly back, with the lifters head moving forward through the “window” that is formed with their arms being the side of the window and bar the top.  To finish, the athlete will stand or squat back to a fully erect position.

We position our spotters as we do with the push press, at each end of the bar.  Because we are using lighter weight than when doing push press, the spotters should not have to assist the lifter moving the weight from the overhead support position, back down to the start position.

Below is a brief video of some of our student-athletes doing the hang snatch during class last week.  It is telestrated, with audio comments included.

As I have mentioned before, the Central College strength and conditioning site is a great source for training videos.  Below is their video of Hang Snatch technique

Questions or Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

In the Spotlight – J.T. Hayes

hayesAs part of the “In the Spotlight” series, I have tried to highlight athletes in our program that have excelled in their sport(s) in part due to their dedication in the weight room.   I have also tried to select athletes that may participate in a sport not typically thought of as one that would benefit from a strength and conditioning program.  The strength and conditioning program that I have shared (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout), and detailed in this blog, is designed to make ALL athletes faster, quicker, and more explosive.

Today In the Spotlight is a senior two sport athletes at Truman High School, J.T. Hayes.  J.T. is a 3-year starter on both the football and baseball teams.  As QB on the football team, his senior season was cut short due to a Lisfranc foot injury in the third game of the 2012 campaign.  Up until that point, he had rushed for 182 yards and 2 TD’s in 36 carries (over 5 yd per carry average) and completed 24 of 39 passes for 240 yards and 1 TD.  This was against some good football programs in the Kansas City Metro Area – Blue Springs South, Liberty North, and Park Hill South.

In baseball, J.T. has earned the following awards:

  • 2nd Team All-Conference 2011
  • 1st Team All-Conference 3rd Base 2012
  • 2nd Team All -Conference Pitcher 2012
  • 1st Team All – Area 3rd Base 2012
  • 1st Team All –State Utility 2012
  • 1st Team All-Metro 3rd Base 2012
  • Examiner Player of the Year 2012

J.T. is a tireless worker both on the field and in the weight room.  His training over the past three years, particularly in the winter months between his two competitive seasons, has been outstanding.  We are expecting a great senior baseball season in 2013.

Below is J.T.’s most recent workout card.  Some of his estimated 1RM’s were adjusted down after the surgery to repair his Lisfranc injury.  You can click on the card to download the full size version.

jt hayes

Below is a brief video showing J.T. training, utilizing the 4 “Core Lifts“, and also the “change up” combination lift Clean to Front Squat to Push Press

Questions and comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Combination Lifts

combo liftNormally, as part of our weekly workout routine (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout) Tuesday is Heavy Squat, Medium Push, and Light Hang Clean day.  As mentioned in a previous post, about once a month we like to throw the student-athletes a “changeup”(Throwing a Changeup)  and vary from this normal routine.

Today in our Advanced Strength and Conditioning class we did a combination lift, Hang Clean to Front Squat to Push Press.  In essence we combined all the lifts we normally do on a Tuesday into one motion.  More detailed descriptions of these individual lifts can be found on previous posts

Whenever possible I like giving the student-athletes an exact weight to do on each set/ rep, rather than saying something like “do a weight you can handle relatively easy”. We determined the weight they would workout with by using the following process.  The student determined by looking at their card, what their lowest estimated 1RM was on the following lifts – Squat, Push Press, or Clean.  They then went to the “Light Day” sets/ reps/ weights for that lift.  If their lowest 1RM was Squat, they used Friday’s weight, Push Press Monday, Clean Tuesday.  These are the weights they used in completing the workout in class today.

On the sample card below, Lexi Hart’s estimated 1RM (the “Now” column) for Push is 165 lbs, Clean 130 lbs, and Squat 160 lbs.

Hart Card

Clean is her lowest 1RM, so she goes to her “Light” clean day (Tuesday) and uses the weights shown there for her 5 x 5 Clean to Front Squat to Push Press workout which would be:

  1. 5 x 80 lbs
  2. 5 x 85 lbs
  3. 5 x 90 lbs
  4. 5 x 95 lbs
  5. 5 x 105 lbs

Below is a brief video showing some of our student-athletes completing today’s combination lift workout.

This workout is taxing, but efficient.  In his most recent column for PrepsKC, Dr. Daniel Lorenz talks about the benefit of these combination lifts for multi-sport athletes:

“Secondly, workouts can be kept shorter for the kids by doing combination lifts. For example, an athlete can do a hang clean to front squat to a press, or a squat to press. These are extremely fatiguing movements, but because it’s multi-joint and gets both upper and lower body, an athlete can do 4-5 sets of this and be done. Numerous combinations exist and are only limited by creativity of the coaches. “

The rest of Dr.Lorenz’s excellent article can be found here :Training the Multi Sport Athlete

Questions or comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

In the Spotlight – Alexis Hart

In the spotlight today is Alexis Hart.   Lexi is a freshman three sport athlete at our school (Truman High School) participating in Volleyball, Basketball, and Track.  In addition she participates year round in club volleyball.

hartLexi started as a freshman (which is rare) on our Volleyball team this season as an Outside/ Middle Attacker.   She had the top hitting percentage on the team (.346) and was second in blocks with 16.5.  Lexi also led the squad in earned points with 175, which was 25% of the team’s total earned points.  Alexis was voted 2nd Team All-Conference (also rare for a freshman) and was nominated for the All-Area and All-District squads.  You can read about Lexi’s (and her freshman teammate, Brianna Savidge) volleyball exploits at this link

Examiner Article – Freshman duo sparks Pat’s strong start

In Basketball, Lexi was part of the squad that had a 25-1 record this season.  She started on JV and did earn some varsity minutes this season.  In Track, Lexi is a sprinter and is planning on competing in the 200m and 400m runs.

Lexi has been training in our program since the summer of 2012, and was enrolled in our Advanced Strength Training and Conditioning class both semesters this school year.  Lexi had the top Vertical Leap among the women athletes tested this year (22 inches measured on the wall, not with a Vertec) , and her Power Quotient (56.87) and Pound for Pound Ratio (3.84) were among the leaders as well.

This is Lexi’s current workout card:

Hart Card

Here is a video of Lexi doing some of our Core lifts (Push Press, Bench Press and Back Squat) and a supplemental “change up” lift (Hang Clean to Front Squat)

Lexi challenges herself every day when she trains, whether in the weight room, volleyball or basketball court, or track.

Questions or Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

What Are You Measuring?

Today I am sharing some additional testing data from our advanced strength and conditioning class for athletes.  Before sharing this data though, I think it is important to discuss the why, what, and frequency of our testing.

The primary reason we test our athletes is to make sure our workout program is accomplishing what we want it to.  If we want our program to make our athletes more explosive, faster, and quicker, then we should design our testing around those factors.  Generally, the battery of tests that we use are:

  • Estimated 1RM Bench
  • Estimated 1RM Squat
  • Estimated 1RM Push Press
  • Estimated 1RM Hang Clean
  • 40 yd dash (Straight Speed)
  • Vertical Leap (Explosion-Leaping Ability)
  • Pro Agility Shuttle (Quickness/ Agility)
  • Body Weight

And from these we can then calculate:

  • Pound for Pound Ratio (Lean Muscle Mass)
  • Power Quotient (Lower Body Power)

As was mentioned is a previous post (Pound for Pound Ratio Data), the Pound for Pound Ratio Takes the athlete’s Total Weight (1RM for the 4 Core lifts) and divides it by their Body Weight.  The Power Quotient multiplies the Square Root of the Vertical Leap by the Square Root of the Body Weight.  An athlete that weights 200 pounds and has a vertical of 25 inches is generating more lower body power than an athlete that weighs 100 pounds and has an identical vertical leap.  As detailed in a previous post (Workout Card Motivation and Efficiency) the workout card automatically calculates both of these numbers.

I also believe testing is a strong motivating factor, and with this variety of tests, most of the athletes can take pride in some aspect of their results.  Beyond just the raw data, the calculated results (Power Quotient and Pound for Pound) are great motivators as well.  The smaller athletes generally can score higher in the Lb/Lb category, and the larger athletes have a chance to score well in the Power Quotient.  All of the results are printed on their workout cards so that they can see it daily, and in the case of their estimated 1RM they can check their progress as well.

2011 NFL Scouting CombineWe typically test our athletes 2-3 times a year, depending on when and how often they take our strength and conditioning class.  Last week we tested the athletes in our class on the vertical leap.  The vertical leap test always gets a great deal of pub this time of year because of the NFL Combine. This increases the interest among our athletes.  We test using a measured tape against the wall.  We mark their reach, then note their jump/ touch mark, and subtract the two.  While not as accurate as using a Vertec (which we do have) we opt for this method because we can test more athletes during a short amount of time using the tape/ wall technique.  We do it this way every time, so when we compare data we are comparing “apples to apples”.  We tell our athletes (and it proves to be true ) that typically they could measure 2”-6” higher testing on a Vertec.

The following results were from student-athletes (both men and women) that were enrolled in our strength and conditioning class.  It includes athletes from all sports, and all grade levels (9-12)

The results for the 76 men we tested ranged from 12” to 31”.  The average jump was 21.26” and the Median was 21” This graph shows the distribution of the results.

Male Vertical Leap

The results for the 40 women we tested ranged from 12” to 22”.  The average jump was 16” and the Median was also 16”.  This graph shows the distribution of the results.

female vertical leap

The calculated Power Quotient for the 76 men ranged from 41.28 to 80.75 (higher number is better).  The average PQ was 59.34 and the Median was 59.23.  This graph shows the distribution of the results.

Male PQ

The calculated Power Quotient for the 40 women ranged from 39.50 to 61.32 (higher number is better).  The average PQ was 47.57 and the Median was 47.36.  This graph shows the distribution of the results.

female PQ

I do believe our testing protocol, in conjunction with the printed workout cards, serves us well in evaluating and motivating our student-athletes.

If you have any questions, please just comment or email!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Correcting Squat Technique

correcting squatI had a very good email question from a young man last week.  He was incorporating the core lift, squat, into his lifting routine, but was having a difficult time maintaining an athletic posture and going down past parallel.  He was a big man, over 6’ 3” tall.   It is not uncommon for a big person to have these difficulties and usually they can be corrected.  Tall people are at a bio-mechanical disadvantage when it comes to lifting weights.  They have long levers, and have to move the weight a greater distance than a small, squatty body person.  That is why it is important not to get caught up in the amount of weight that is being lifted, but rather correct technique and moving the weight through the full range of motion.

The root of this problem (not being able to go through the full range of motion) could be a number of reasons.  It may be a lack of strength in the supporting trunk or hip girdle, or lack of flexibility in the hip girdle.  Often we find that it is just having the kinesthetic awareness, of knowing what it feels like to correctly go through this motion; having correct posture, with head up and shoulders back and sitting back with their feet flat on the floor until their hips are below their knees.  Sometimes when they actually feel what the correct motion is, they “get it”.

Here is a progression, with accompanying video that we use for our athletes that are having these problems.  It will help develop strength, flexibility, and also give them a better kinesthetic awareness regarding correct body position.

Step 1 – Assisted Squat.

We have the student- athletes begin by doing sets of 8-10 reps with no weight or bar.  We position them in the rack, grabbing the rack on each side with their hands slightly below their waist.   They begin the squat , keeping good posture, shoulders back, big chest, assisting themselves by balancing and pulling slightly with the hands.  We have the athletes continue this until they get a feel for the correct depth and full range of motion.  This will also help with flexibility and strength.

Step 2 – Air Squats

Next, we progress to sets of “air squats” with no bar and their hands in front, again working on balance and flexibility.

Step 3 – Simulated Bar Squats

The next step is to do “air squats” with no bar, but the hands positioned outside of their shoulders where a bar would be.  There can be a difference in balance from the preceding set,  since the center of gravity has changed due to their hand and arm position.

Step 4 – Squats with the bar only.

Next, we progress the athletes to just doing sets with the bar only racked correctly across the back.  The athlete should concentrate on posture, shoulders back, head up, feet flat, and not bending at the waist.

Step 5 – Begin adding weight.

When the athletes have mastered all of these steps, then (and only then) do we allow them to begin adding weight to the bar. We continue to stress correct form and full range of motion rather than the amount of weight they are doing.

Below is the video that demonstrates each of these 5 steps:

Using this progression, we have been able to improve the technique and range of motion of our athletes that were having difficulties with technique and form.  A full description of the Core Lift Squat along with telestrated video can be found in this post – The Core Lifts – Squat

Tomorrow I will have some data for you regarding lb/lb ratios of our student-athletes

If you have any questions, just comment or email… either way, I will answer you!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Core Lifts – Hang Clean

core lifts cleanThe Hang Clean is the cornerstone of our Strength and Conditioning program.  We tell our student-athletes that it is the single best lift for improving athletic performance.  If they want to run faster, jump higher, be more explosive, than this is the lift to do.  We tell our non-athletes that it is the single best lift for improving overall body fitness.  It is an explosive lift (as opposed to a power lift) that works most of the major muscle groups in body; quads, hams, glutes, gastrocnemius, traps, biceps, and lats.

Just as discussed in the Squat, and Push Press breakdown, the athlete will begin with a good athletic posture; good base with feet about shoulder width apart and toes pointed straight forward; stand tall with shoulders back and head forward. The hands should be just outside the shoulders, with the bar hanging from straight arms.

To begin the lift, the bar should slide down your thighs as you bend at ankles, knees and hips and (slightly) at the waist. Chest should be tall with shoulders back. Descent of bar should stop at the top of the knees.  Shoulders should be directly over the hands at the bottom of the descent.

We break down the lift into three parts:

  • The Jump/Explosion
  • The Shrug/ Pull
  • The Drop/Catch

ExplosionJump/Explosion

As soon as the bar gets to the bottom of the descent (top of knees) the athlete will explode, extending the ankles, knees, and hips. These three joints are linked, as they all will fire at the same time to produce a force great enough to move the load explosively towards the chin.  We tell the athletes to try to jump, drive their hips to the bar and explode the feet off the ground.

PullShrug/Pull

After the explosion or jump phase, the athlete will enter the pull phase, shrugging with the traps, and pulling the bar with your biceps and lats.  Lifters need to understand that the bar needs to lose gravity (weightless) in order to complete a heavy load. The creation of power from the triple extension grouped with the activation of the traps, lats and biceps will accomplish this.  The bar should remain close to the body during the shrug/ pull phase.  A common mistake is to swing the bar out in an arc away from the body.

DropDrop/Catch

When the bar reaches the top of the ascent (and becomes weightless) the lifter will enter the Catch phase.  At the top part of the ascent the elbows are above the wrist. As the bar reaches its high point, the elbows “pop” forward, rotating under and forward from the bar. At the same time the feet will re-set flat (placing emphasis on the mid foot and heel). Athletes should quietly stomp their feet to the floor.  The hands and fingers should relax while the elbows rotate under the bar as mentioned above.  The body from chest down should drop into a stable front squat position as you balance and receive the load.  The athlete stands tall and reverses the movement back to the hips.

Below is a telestrated video breaking down six of our lifters executing the Hang Clean.  The comments in green are what the athlete is doing well, the red are things they need to work on

Our big coaching point is Legs First – Then Arms.  A common mistake is trying to pull the bar initially, then execute the jump/ explosion.  The lifter will lose much of the energy generated by the lower body with the arms acting like “shock absorbers”.

Spotting

It is difficult on the clean for the spotter to assist the lifter through reps as we do in the other lifts.  Positioned behind the lifter, the spotter’s main function is to keep them forward, insuring that if the lifter misses, the weight goes forward onto the catch bars and not back onto the lifter.

As was discussed in a previous post (Throwing a Change Up) we also will do variations of the Hang Clean such as Power Clean (from the floor) and Hang Clean to Front Squat.

As always, please comment or email with any questions you might have.

Remember – You Can Do More…. your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Core Lifts – Push Press

This is the third in the series detailing our four “Core” lifts.  Today we break down the Push Press, also known as the Push Jerk.

push pressThe Push Press is an explosive lift as opposed to a power lift like the previous two core lifts (Bench and Squat) we have discussed.  Typically in explosive lifts the bar (and body) is moving at a faster speed than in power lifts where the movement is a little more controlled.  The Push Press will work primarily the Quads, and the Gastrocnemius with the Delts involved to a degree.  The Push Press differs from the Shoulder Press (or Military Press) in that the athlete will primarily use the legs in driving the bar up and overhead as opposed to using the Deltoids in the Shoulder Press.

The lifter will begin with the bar racked across the shoulders either in front or behind the head; we leave this (the bar position) up to the preference of the athlete, but stress the finish point will be the same.  The elbows will be slightly forward, gripping the bar just outside the shoulders.  The set up will be similar to the squat  – an athletic stance, feet about shoulder width apart, maybe slightly wider, toes straight ahead, maybe out slightly.  Good erect posture with head up and shoulders back.

The lift will begin with the athlete “dipping” by bending at the ankles, knees, and hips while keeping the torso upright and shoulders back.  The dip will be about ¼ depth of the squat.  We tell the athletes to dip down like they were going to execute a vertical jump.  With no pause at the bottom of the dip, the athlete will drive the bar explosively up by forcefully extending the hips and legs.  We tell them to try to get their feet off the floor.

After fully extending their legs, the lifter will then “dip” again and catch the bar with bent legs, while fully extending their arms overhead.  At the top of the lift the bar will travel slightly back, with the lifters head moving forward through the “window” that is formed with their arms being the side of the window and bar the top.  To finish, the athlete will stand or squat back to a fully erect position.

I tell the beginners that I can just listen and tell if they are doing the lift correctly.  The two things that I want to hear are:

  1. The lifters feet “stomping” the ground.  This tells me they are exploding with their lower  body and executing the second “dip
  2. The bar “rattling” at the top of the lift.  This tells me that the bar is moving quickly, explosively to the upright position.

We try to have two spotters, one on each end of the bar during the Push Press.  Their first job is to make sure the lifter is safe.  This takes on increased importance since we do push press outside of the racks because of limited height.  Their second job is to “catch” the weight (bar) at the top of the lift and let it back down to the starting position.  We do this because the athlete can drive up a lot more weight (they are using their legs) than their deltoids can support letting the weight down.

Below is a telestrated video examining a few of our athletes executing the Push Press.  The green checks and comments are what they are doing right (or mostly right) and the red are what they could improve on.

As always, if you have any questions, just email or comment.  I will respond!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

New and Improved Video

squatThanks to my colleague, Amy Temples, for a suggestion to improve the telestrated video.  She thought it would be helpful to see the “good” points in green text, and the “not so good” points in red text.   I also added a grey masked window behind the text to make it a little easier to read.  Keep in my you can also pause the video if you need more time looking at any particular frame.  I will update the Bench Press video that I have already posted, and use this same technique when I post the Push Press and Hang Clean videos the next few days.

I hope this helps – Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments.  Leave them here or send me an email

Jeff Foyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com