A Better Way to Test Power

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend the Perform Better Summit in Providence, RI and was constantly putting pen to paper in an attempt to bring as much to my training as possible. One of the most fascinating lessons I picked up at the conference was from Greg Rose of Titleist Performance Institute. During Greg’s hands-on session, he showed us four power tests he uses with his athletes, how they relate to performance, and what they reveal in the athlete.

Important note: for male athletes, use a 4kg med ball and for female athletes, 2kg.

Test #1 – Seated Med Ball Chest Pass

This is a common exercise that I have used with hundreds of athletes, both as a test and in training. Have the athlete sit on a plyo box (about 18″ seems to be right for most people), and throw the med ball as far as possible while keeping their hips on the box the entire time. Distance in feet = #1

Test #2 – Supine Chop Throw

Begin in a sit-up position while holding a med ball, arms extended overhead on the ground. Perform a crunch/sit-up/chop throw, while keeping feet and hips on the ground throughout the throw. Distance in feet = #2

Test #3 – Vertical Jump

Nothing fancy here, a standard counter-movement jump for height. Feel free to use whatever equipment you have at your disposal – Vertec, Just Jump, etc. Height in inches = #3

Test #4 – Rotational Shot Put

Similar to the MB chest pass above, this is one of my favorite upper body power exercises (though, as a former thrower, I always hesitate when labeling it as a shot put…feels wrong on some level). With the athlete in an athletic stance, body perpendicular to the direction they will be throwing, have them throw as far as they can. There is no step into the throw or jump while throwing, the feet can turn and the back leg can come forward, but remember this is a test – tests are only beneficial if executed properly. Repeat with each arm. Distance in feet = #4

Here is where things get interesting, those numbers should all be connected. #1, #2, and #3 should all be equal or close to it, and #4 should be about 1.5 of the other numbers. For example, if an athlete has a 20″ vertical, they should have a chest pass and chop throw distance of 20′, and their shot put distances should be right around 30′. This shows a well balanced power profile of an athlete. If one or two of these numbers are below this ratio, it shows where training should be modified to improve total body power.

This is another demonstration of the body being a single unit instead of a collection of pieces – everything is connected. If you want powerful athletes, be sure they are powerful throughout their body and not just in common movements. If an athlete can generate sufficient power with their legs (let’s say a 30″ vertical), but are unable to transfer that power to their upper extremities (due to weak core/rotational power), their performance will suffer. We will always be limited by our weakest link, these tests can help reveal and remedy those weak links and improve performance.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, FMS-1
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley

Posted by Drew Henley, 2 comments

Perform Better Summit – Quick Recap of Day 1

As expected, day 1 provided an excellent group of speakers on numerous topics. Unfortunately, the internet in my hotel isn’t cooperating, so I’ll be brief in my recap as I’m writing it on my phone.

  • It was great seeing Mike Boyle again. Last year at spring training with the Red Sox, Mike was an excellent resource and mentor to have. As expected, his lecture on functional coaching didn’t disappoint.
  • Thomas Myers had several amazing insights, but his top moment was his explanation that “bones ‘float’ in a sea of soft tissue, not stacked upon one another as a single structure.”
  • Jon Torine shed some light on the “why” of programming in the FMS “Every ‘what’ needs a ‘why’ to flourish.” Hopefully I can explain that better next week with my full article on the conference.
  • Gray Cook broke down the three basic movements against resistance: locomotion – moving yourself, manipulation – moving an object, and combative – moving another person.
  • Finally, Dick Vermeil was an incredible finish to the night with some of the best lines I’ve heard. Excellent motivator and easy to see why he had the success he did as a coach. “There is no such thing as a coach without problems. However, a problem in the right hands is a wonderful asset because it leads to a solution.”

That’s all for day 1. On the docket for tomorrow – Charlie Weingroff, Duane Carlisle, Al Vermeil, Nick Winkleman, and Martin Rooney.

Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Perform Better Summit Introduction

Just arrived in beautiful Providence and wandered around the convention center where the Perform Better Summit will be held the next three days. This will be my first PB Summit and I am looking forward to an amazing lineup of presenters.

Here’s a short list of presenters this weekend:

  • Michael Boyle
  • Alwyn Cosgrove
  • Thomas Myers
  • Lee Burton
  • Gray Cook
  • Mark Verstegen
  • Jon Torine
  • Charlie Weingroff
  • Al Vermeil
  • Robert Dos Remedios

And that’s not including the keynote speaker who was just revealed recently – former NFL Coach of the Year and Super Bowl Champion Dick Vermeil.

It’s shaping up to be quite a weekend. I look forward to sharing as much information as I can pick up from all these great minds.

-DH

Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

I recently learned May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, specifically the pancreas, with build-up of abnormally thick mucus. Because of this build-up, CF patients are prone to multiple and severe lung infections, as well as the inability to properly digest and absorb nutrients from food.

Well, a close family friend, Jamina “Lil’ J” Winston, has CF and in January, had a terrifying experience while visiting New York City. I received a frantic call from my sister saying she was flying out to NYC and let me know Jamina was in the hospital and it didn’t look good. I am about 2.5 hours away from the city, so I told my bosses that I would likely be disappearing for a few days (I am very lucky to have the supportive network here that I do).

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Great Strides Walk 2009. My sister is the pink one (fundraiser) with Jamina kneeling just behind her left shoulder.

 

After a few scares and crashes, Jamina was able to communicate via notepad (she was on a ventilator and unable to talk). Even though she had been close to death for a week, down to 65 pounds, and filled with tubes, she was still able to crack jokes and (silently) laugh while I was with her. Amazingly, her sense of sarcasm was still evident in her writing and body language. To illustrate just how amazing of a person she is, Breaking Muscle had an article on Jamina and her battle to continue swimming with CF.

Lil’ J in her full hospital get up, yet still chipper.

Now time for the good news. This past weekend, Jamina received a double lung transplant and within 24 hours, she was off the ventilator, sitting up in her chair, and able to walk. This is an exciting, but expensive, development for Lil’ J, as her main caregiver (her mother) had to leave her job to move closer to the Duke medical facilities (one of the top CF/lung transplant facilities in the country).

I believe we will find an answer for cystic fibrosis in my lifetime, however this will not happen without increased awareness throughout the public. Please take the time to visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website and Jamina’s fundraising site to help cover medical expenses, and help spread the information available. I am not asking for anything more than your time to learn more about this disease. Everyone has a cause they fight for, and this is mine.

If you are able to help support Jamina and her medical expenses, please visit her donation page here. If you would like to donate to the CF Foundation, you can contribute to the 2013 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk. Please share this post with family, friends, coworkers, and as many people as you feel would be interested in learning about it. I appreciate your time and interest in this matter.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
Facebook.com/HenleySP

Posted by Drew Henley, 1 comment

26 Training Lessons From 26 Years – The 4 Rules

(Parts One, Two, Three, and Four, in case you missed them)

The following four lessons are what I refer to as my “4 Rules” of training and life. A key part of training all of my athletes is ensuring they learn the 4 Rules, in order, and can recite them at any time…which isn’t too hard because there are only four, they are quite basic, and I am frequently yelling “Don’t break rule number __!” In retrospect, I should have done a countdown style format building up to this post (as these are by far my top lessons), but hindsight is always 20/20.

Training lessons 23-26:

Rule #1 – Don’t Die

Simple enough. If you die, the game is over – it’s pretty tough to come back from that without luck, a defibrillator, or divine power.

How it applies to training: Push yourself, but don’t kill yourself. Remember, sometimes less is more, and more is too much. I’m as big a fan of gut-check workouts as anyone, when they are used in moderation and programmed appropriately.

How it applies to life: Pretty self-explanatory. But in a less literal sense, don’t kill yourself with stress or reckless decisions (smoking, drinking in excess, etc). Live a little, but don’t break Rule #3 (see below).

Rule #2 – Breathe

Another simple rule that most people do without worry for most of their lives.

How it applies to training: It amazes me how frequently people will hold their breath while training until their face turns red and they get light headed. Taking in and holding a deep belly breath is an excellent way of increasing intra-abdominal pressure while handling heavy, heavy weights, but working with 5+ reps is too long to hold your breath. If you’re working with 2-5 reps, take breaths between reps to make sure you don’t end up like this guy (skipping past the horrible deadlift technique).

How it applies to life: Other than a necessity of life, breathing can help control stress and anxiety. A saying I learned a long time ago was “Control your breath, control your mind.” Don’t forget to breathe through the tough times, it will help more than you think.

Rule #3 – Don’t Be Stupid Just Because It’s Easy

As mentioned above, it’s still important to take some risks, have some fun, and do some stupid things from time to time…but for the right reasons. What are the right reasons? If you’re going to be stupid, it better be for one of four reasons: it’s going to be fun, you have a chance to make some money (bet you twenty bucks you can’t _____), you are paying up on a lost bet, or you have a chance to get the girl. You can usually tell when someone was stupid just because they could be by how they tell the story. If it starts with “So this one time, I thought it would be a good idea to…”

How it applies to training: Don’t screw around in the weight room. Don’t try a max without a spotter. Don’t be reckless. There really isn’t a better way to put it than don’t be stupid.

How it applies to life: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to be stupid. Don’t take them all, avoid the unnecessarily dangerous or foolish opportunities. If it’s fun, profitable (not an investment that is just as likely to cost you money), or can get you a date, go for it. You only live once.

Rule #4 – Don’t Suck

An excellent quote describing rule #4 – “If you go outside, meet twenty people, and one’s a jerk, you met a jerk. If you go outside and meet twenty people, and they’re ALL jerks, then you’re the jerk.”

How it applies to training: Hold yourself accountable, be a good teammate, and apply yourself to your training. Don’t act better than everyone else, show up on your own schedule, or disrespect those your sharing the weight room with (rack your weights, don’t go around shouting, clean up after yourself).

How it applies to life: You won’t get very far in life if no one can stand being around you. If a friend asks a favor, don’t turn them down just because it requires you to get off your couch. The more you help and support those in your life, even casual acquaintances, the more likely you are to succeed.

I hope you enjoyed this series and if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
Facebook.com/HenleySP

Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments