The following post was featured by my friend and Endurance coach/beast Jeff Ford of Conviction Training Facility on his site FireCoachingConsulting.com (I was stoked to talk ideas with their coaches and athletes a few weeks back).
Look, my purpose here has always been to blend and coordinate the languages of strength and conditioning, rehab, and performance as it truly is, and should be, a continuum. Rather than guarding information in different fields, perhaps we should promote the sharing of it with the ultimate goal of building more resilient, adaptable, and efficient humans in sport and function. The physio who's also an S&C coach is often able to blend these principles for a powerful perspective on human movement and performance. Physio-coaches like Charlie Weingroff, Kelly Starrett, Danny Matta, Dan Pope, (and myself) are doing some awesome stuff - and it's just the start. Thanks to Jeff for this kick-ass primer.
This past weekend, CTF (Conviction Training Facility) had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Seth Oberst, DPT, CSCS and Movement Specialist extraordinaire. With no specific topic planned for the session, we quickly realized that Seth could drop knowledge bombs with anything we asked and even suggest techniques to try. In the United States (and anywhere for that matter) Physical Therapy is a competitive field. Only the best of the best get selected into schools and given how people are moving these days, professionals in this field couldn’t be more important. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics this field will grow by 30% from 2008 to 2018.
Coaching is one thing, but being a highly trained DPT is a whole other ball game. Physical therapists must receive a graduate degree from an accredited program before (if they can get in) and then sit for a national licensure exam. Physical therapists have the most specialized education to help people restore and improve human movement. That means their goal is to help clients avoid surgeries and the need for long-term prescriptions. It’s this idea of fixing the actual problem causing the issue.
As Coaches we set up the initial program and have the ability to evaluate how a person moves with our knowledge in functional movements and experience. The best coaches know how to scale movements and provide reasonable substitutes that hit the intended muscle group or promote a similar metabolic response in the event an athlete cannot execute a movement safely. Every great program should scale up or down. We’re even pretty solid at providing sound suggestions on mobility or self-myofascial release techniques to target where a person may be lacking range or motion or experiencing pain. With guys like Kelly Starrett and Seth Oberst, we have an increased number of experts to learn from and grow our coaching knowledge. Along these same lines, great coaches should have the knowledge to implement mobility techniques before and after workouts. At CTF, mobility happens before our warm ups and after our conditioning in order to prep our athlete’s for the days positions and promote proper recovery. Sounds like we got a pretty good handle on everything huh?
Let me ask you this though, what happens if even after you start moving more and implementing all these techniques you still can get a handle on your motor control or mobility issues? Maybe your strength plateaus or you’re simply just unable to perform certain exercises? I think you know where I’m headed. A coach’s scope of practice only runs so deep.
Here’s what you need to know about Physical Therapists (other than that they’re awesome):
1) Get to them before they get to you – If you’re experiencing pain or not functioning in a certain area anymore its already too late. What if we all started with a mobility screen before beginning exercise programs? Coaches know how to program and the best ones know the purpose behind their program with the ability to target it to the general population or an individual. The beauty of working closely with a DPT is that they can tell you the exact needs of the individual including the movements that can be executed safely as well as areas to target in between sessions. Whenever we get a nagging injury it has to go back to the movement pattern. We have to remember to fix the actual problem. DPTs come in to provide and correct movements that can get someone back to normal much quicker. Their knowledge runs quite a bit deeper than a coach and they have a greater tool box in this department. It takes years of schooling, experience and practice of mobility techniques to be a reputable DPT. Above all, these professionals attempt to get in front of the lagging indicators with their clients. I know this is Seth Oberst’s mission and a good one!
Lagging Indicators “It’s already too late”
Leading Indicators Movement
2) Not all are equal – DPTs know their stuff, but you have to find a good one with a reputable track record who fully understands human movement. This is an evidence-based, evolving field and the best DPTs stay up with the times and the research of various techniques. In any field, professionals can get complacent. Who wants a car from the 1980s? Great DPTs will adjust when an application isn’t working. They’ll do their best to try different techniques while going thru a mastered step process. What’s incredible is this can happen all in their heads. Recovery time can vary depending on the situation, but the top DPTs like Seth have quick recovery times with their clients. Improving movement and fixing the actual problem can take a ton of time, but the sooner one of these “great” guys or gals gets in front of you, it will surely pay off.
3) Find one working closely with a well known Strength and Conditioning Facility and your life will change forever. At CTF, we understand the importance of movement and technique focused coaching. We implement mobility before and after sessions and by what visitors tell us more so than most CrossFit Facilities. Having a resource such as Seth Oberst to simply shoot a line to is quite incredible. Imagine the opportunity to see someone like that on a regular basis? After you learn what’s causing the issue and receive treatment from DPTs the work won’t ever stop there. Changing movement is just like changing a nasty nutrition habit or bitting your nails. You’ll have to remain conscious of your movement, normalize a mobility pattern and strength the muscles surrounding the issue. This is where the strength and conditioning side of things comes into play. Check out Evolution Sports or San Francisco CrossFit these guys have squads of incredible professionals and have established themselves as one stop shop facilities, pretty cool. No matter your goals it will take a number of professionals and supportive people around you to get you there. No one can be truly great without the push from a collective team of people who care and understand human movement. It’s a pretty powerful thing.
Thanks to Jeff for this awesome post - look for more from the guys at CTF in the future!
Olympic lifts and their derivatives are complex, powerful, and pretty awesome movements. We feel that a graded approach is necessary in coaching these movements in order to maximize performance and efficiency as well as prevent injury. Here's a guest post from my friend and performance beast Steven “Keith” Scruggs, CSCS, USAW, USATF-2. Keith is a Sport Performance Coach and a PhD Candidate at The University of South Carolina (get at him at firstname.lastname@example.org):
From Joe’s to Pro’s it seems as if every fitness enthusiast is fascinated by the power clean and the snatch. We have Crossfitters that want to perform high volume. Sport-specific athletes are focused getting a new “max”. Lastly, we have competitive Olympic lifters that focus on technique, form, and attempt to improve their art.
Regardless of your mindset, goal, or sport the clean and snatch movements are some of the most complex resistance training exercises in our arsenal. In my experience I’ve witnessed youth athletes to weekend warriors wanting to impress me Day 1 in the weightroom with their bastardized versions of what they call “weightlifting”.
Some common errors I see:
* Noodle Back - inability to remain taut from initial pull due to weak mid-section (abs & back)
* Muscle Man Syndrome - inability to differentiate between a deadlift & a clean pull (no Double Knee Bend aka stretch reflex)
* “Short-Strokers” - inability to achieve triple extension (ankles, knees, and hips)
* Reverse Curlers - inability to control center of mass and/or lack of elbow/shoulder flexibility
Generally, I see a combination of 2 or more of these common errors because every component of the movement series sets up the next movement. We need to develop a strong fundamental base of movements in order to get strong skill transfer and ultimately improve athletic performance.
I have developed a “Tier System” (shoutout to Joe Kenn - Carolina Panthers) that I use prior to implementation of full weightlifting movements. Though I am all about implementing scientific & sound programming, there’s not a whole lot of information out there on progressive development of the Clean & Snatch. Be patient though...one of my key mentors, Dr. Brad DeWeese, is in the process of publishing some information through the NSCA on proper progressive implementation of weightlifting movement derivatives (see suggested readings below).
Prior to advancing into more complex training for any athlete (competitive or weekend warrior) I want to ensure that they can at least perform basic fundamental weightlifting movements. For a competitive athlete I would prefer to plan long-term & perfect each segment with progressive overloads prior to advancing complexity and load. Remember folks...SAFETY FIRST & excellence/best performance don’t just appear under your pillow from the Weightlifting Fairy! Below you’ll find a graph & descriptions of each movement along with a brief video description.
All of these exercises demonstrate crucial movements within the Power Clean. I prefer to take a “short-to-long approach” (see Charlie Francis reference below) with teaching weightlifting movements. We should focus on building foundational components of the weightlifting movements prior to trying to be the best at it. Let us not disregard the fact the WEIGHTLIFTING IS AN OLYMPIC SPORT! Some of these guys & gals eat, breath, sleep, & demonstrate weightlifting technique like the majority of us WISH we could.
Bottom-line: Treat weightlifting with respect...and it will repay the favor. Take it slow... learn what makes it flow, tick, click, and giggle. Take the time to learn the in’s & out’s of the movements so that they’ll be as smooth & as flawless as we all wish for them to be. A Maserati was made to be driven for power & with precision speed…just as the bar was made for strength, power, & speed lifts. An inexperienced driver may not (in most cases...WILL NOT) be able to handle the power, torque, and handling of the Maserati, at first. Just as a skilled driver becomes one with their car before taking it to an advanced road course we must become one with weightlifting derivatives before progressing into full movements. WEIGHTLIFTING ZEN!
Clark, J. (2005). From the beginning: A developmental perspective on movement and mobility. QUEST,57, 37-45.
Comfort , P., Fletcher, C., & McMahon, J. (2012). Determination of optimal loading during the power clean, in collegiate athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(11), 2970-2974.
DeWeese, B., & Scruggs, S. (2012). The countermovement shrug . Strength & Conditioning Journal, 34(5), 20-
DeWeese, B., Serrano, A., Scruggs, S., & Sams, M. (2012). The clean pull and snatch pull: Proper technique for weightlifting movement derivatives.Strength & Conditioning Journal, 34(6), 82-86.
DeWeese, B., Serrano, A., Scruggs, S., & Burton, J. (2013). The midthigh pull: Proper application and progressions of a weightlifting movement derivative.Strength & Conditioning Journal, 35(6), 54-58.
DeWeese, B., Serrano, A., Scruggs, S., & Sams, M. (2012). The pull to knee—proper biomechanics for a weightlifting movement derivative. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 34(4), 73-75.
Garhammer, J. Power clean kinesiological evaluation. Strength Cond J 40: 61-63, 1984.
Garhammer J. A review of power output studies of Olympic and powerlifting: Methodology, performance prediction, and evaluation tests. J Strength Cond Res 7(2): 76-89, 1993.
Hori N, Newton RU, Andrews WA, Kawamori N, and McGuigan MR. Does performance of hang power clean differentiate performance of jumping, sprinting, and change of direction? J Strength Cond Res 22(2): 412-418, 2008.
Stone MH, Stone MH, and Sands WA. Principles and practice of resistance training. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics, 3-4. 2007.
Suchomel, T., Beckham, G., & Wright, G. (2013). Lower body kinetics during the jump shrug: Impact of load.Journal of Trainology, 2, 19-22.