1. As an athlete we train movements not muscles

–          Biceps are cool and yea, girls like them but they aren’t helping you in competition.  So it’s essential to know it’s what are muscles are doing for us in the cage not what they look like.  Our body is designed to work in chains, let’s take for instance when we are sprinting or jumping (hip extension/flexion), we are predominantly using our posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and lower back).   Our hamstring doesn’t contract then glute follows, we would look like robots.  Instead our chain of muscles work in synchronicity to run or jump, so why do we spend so much time isolating muscles?  Well this is what happens, athletes love to train what they are good at, so what happens is their quads become strong and glutes become inhibited & we get injuries + a slow sad athlete.

–          Solution – Train multi-joint movements that can mimic movements in your sport, take for instance any sport you explode your leg from the ground, hip extension, hip flexion are essential when for this, not your calves or biceps.

2. We don’t perform slow, so why would we train slow?

–          When we run, jump, strike in competition we don’t do this at a slow speed so why would we train at a slow speed.  Our muscles are able to work because we send a signal from our brain called an action potential.  As this reaches our muscle it allows it to contract.  At the muscle we can fire either Type I or Type II muscle fibers.  Type I = low power, less fatigue (SLOW).  Type IIa/b = high power, fatigue quickly (FAST).  You guessed it we want to activate the Type II fibers, because if we recruit Type I we will get slower.

–          Solution– We need to train our nervous system to fire our muscles as quickly and efficiently as possible or you will get SLOW.    Make sure the movements specific to your sport are loaded and performed as fast and forcefully as possible.  This will not only improve the power but improve how fast the signal will get there to activate your muscle which is called rate coding.

3. Maxing out is cool but do you even know how to use it this season?

–          When I was in high school the only question that mattered in the weight room was; How much can you bench?  Having a huge number maxing out is cool but it doesn’t stop there how are you using that “number” in the cage?  We need to manipulate our Type II muscle fibers (the ones we use in competition), to display our absolute strength (1 rep max) to move the weight as forcefully as possible (power).

–          Solution– take the absolute strength gained and transition the load into power which can be used in competition.  So as you move up in your max, make sure you move up in your sport specific power movements in linear progressions.

I know I know you’re thinking how do I put all these together and apply them to my training.  Well it took me years of trial & error plus studying performance in a lab, until I finally was able to apply these principles to my own performance. But let me tell you the results were insane & they speak for themselves. Putting it all together and pulling out the most athletic potential doesn’t need to be confusing anymore.  After everyone asking me what I did to drop my 40 time .4 and get blazing quickness I finally put together everything you need to do in a complete training manual and when this season comes everyone will be asking what you did or better yet what you are on!

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Chris Barnard
Chris Barnard

Chris Barnard is a strength and conditioning coach at Strength Camp, a hardcore athlete training facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as author of multiple performance programs. He has worked with athletes at all levels and from many different sports to produce the highest level of performance in each. He currently resides in St Petersburg, Florida and continues to pursuit breakthroughs in athletic performance.