The horrible title above was from my “from the field” presentation at the recent NSCA conference from a few years ago (I just found the outline when I was clearing out some stuff).

The “from the field” segments are designed to show some stuff that practitioners are doing with their clients that may not yet be validated by scientific research. I think it was Lyn Jones who originally said that researchers are typically 5 years behind practitioners and good research just tries to explain the results that practitioners are getting. So this portion of the conference is one of my favorites.

My overall idea was that I have worked with several sports outside of the gym – where we are lacking equipment etc – but I still have to get them in better condition. Also – even though it’s the 21st Century there is still some resistance from athletes and coaches to traditional strength training. So a useful approach is to start their conditioning programs in their own environment.

So for example – you’d work with MMA athletes on the mat or in the cage and gradually introduce more external loading before “graduating” to the weight room. Same with soccer players – start on the field.

I’ve found that over time that you get more “buy in” from the coaches and athletes in this manner.

Here’s a few things I demonstrated:

1) Timed sets – basically the idea is to complete as many reps as possible with good form in a given time. It obviously becomes more metabolic but it still creates some muscular overload. Remember – the only reason that the cardio system kicks in, is to supply oxygen to a working muscle.

2) Paused sets. Research has shown that it takes at least a four second pause to eliminate the plyometric effect (the ‘bounce’ or the ‘momentum’) from an exercise. So a good way to adjust an exercise is to introduce a 4s isometric hold in the stretch position – for example the bottom of a lunge or a push up.

3) Isometric to explosive (iso-explosives). This is a continuation of the above paused sets – however instead of performing a normal concentric contraction – we perform an explosive contraction. An example would be holding the bottom of a push up for 4 seconds and then performing a push up where your hands leave the floor. We can also do a version of this where we combine plyometric work, with normal strength work and some isometrics.

4) Adding in additional muscular work.
What we do here is to add an offset load (adding a single dumbbell to the same side shoulder as the working leg in a lunge will increase core demands as essentially your center of gravity has moved up and to the side). Other examples would include doing a jack-knife for abs in between

5) Counter-rotation: similar to the above – we bring in additional muscular work. In squats and lunges we will have the athlete extend their arms out in front of them holding the end of a stretch band. A partner then provides resistance so that in order to maintain their position, the athlete has to counter rotate and stabilize.

Give some of these a try.