Often times, as strength coaches, it seems the only way to measure progress in athletes is by lifting heavier weight, or doing more repetitions. These are the two age old ways to measure progression, and rightfully so, as they do prove that the a muscle or muscle group has the ability to produce more force than it did previously. However, there are other ways to measure progression, and they are not discussed enough amongst strength and conditioning professionals. At STT, we have twelve different methods of progression (and subsequently regression) that we utilize, but we will only discuss a few in this article.

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A way that many coaches may be aware of, or may practice without even knowing it, is to increase the time that a muscle or muscles are under tension. This can be done unknowingly by adding repetitions, making repetitions slower, doing 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 reps, as well as other ways. By increasing the time under tension, the total stress on the muscle is increased and therefore the response of the body to repair said muscle (in a stronger fashion) may be increased as well. This is not to say that doign longer time under tension will always elicit a greater response after recovery, but it will certainly make an exercise more difficult. In between repetitions, if tension is removed and the muscle is given a chance to relax, the body has a brief moment to reset and it is likely that more reps will be achieved than if a brief rest was taken between every rep. A great demonstration of this is the Rogers Athletic Pendulum Series Hip Press, which, like many other Pendulum pieces, has a range limiting mechanism. To use the the Hip Press normally is a great strength training tool in itself, but to use it with the range limiter and not allow a rep to be full completed – keeping the working muscle groups under tension for the duration of the entire set – will increase the difficulty of the exercise immensely.

Another way to challenge an athlete without increasing weight is to increase the density of a workout, or essentially, take less rest between sets. For example, if a simple protocol of four round of 12 is being conducted, say with one minute rest between each set, have the athlete only take 55 seconds of rest with the same reps and weight the next time. Then 50, then 45, then 40, etc. Before long they will be completeing the same amount of total work (in terms of resistance and volume) but in a much shorter time frame, therefore increasing the density of the training session.

One other method for increasing difficulty of training is to lift the same weight at a greater velocity. A great tool to be able to measure this is EliteForm systems for lifting in the rack. Using their high tech gear, we can track velocity of the bar, power output, max velocity and max power output, among many other things. There is even the capability to video record each rep and set and provide visual feedback to the lifter. To reinforce what Coach Jim Kielbaso of the IYCA says in the video below, trying to produce max power with a heavy weight and a high velocity is near impossible – just imagine trying to run on a treadmill at 20 miles per hour while holding 70 lb dumbells in each hand – and you will see what he is talking about. By using a lighter weight and moving it in a rapid manner, a lot force can be generated and a response is elicited form the body wihtout necessarily having to put an incredibly heavy load on an athlete. This comes in handy with young athletes whos bones and joint are fragile and not fully developed – why put heavy weight on them when you can make an exercsie very difficult by using a lighter weight, and movign it faster.

Be sure to visit STTEvents.com to see when STT will be hosting professional development clinics in your area. Be sure to register early for the #12SCADConf on July 20-21, 2018.

Whether you are talking dominating the scrum or getting wide with speed, rugby players have to be fit, fast, and strong. The body takes a toll from practices, games, and travel. Be prepared for this season. Learn more when you CLICK HERE.

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The posterior chain has to be an emphasis in all athletic development programs. Training the back side of the body and not putting the spine in a poor/bad position can take time to learn. If time is a concern and productive training is the goal, check out the videos of us training on the Reverse Glute Ham when you CLICK HERE.

Thank you to all our sponsors for their support. Rogers Athletic offers the best on-field and at-practice equipment for Football. Plus they also feature the Pendulum Strength line which is featured at SMARTER Team Training’s facility and events around the country.