Join Date: Dec 2006
Triple Extension Movements for Football
From Elitefts this AM. Food for thought.
Many people subscribe to the belief that the only way to lift explosively is through Olympic lifting. When performed with sound technique, Olympic lifts are great for building explosive power. Many elite athletes efficiently use Olympic lifts. Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell has advocated a speed day using the dynamic method of training with weights at 50–60 percent of one’s max. However, he still puts maximum force on the bar.
Dr. Fred Hatfield, co-founder of the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) and author of numerous books on training, devised compensatory acceleration training (CAT.) In layman’s terms, CAT is lifting with maximum force but with a submaximal load, usually 60–80 percent of a 1RM. Hatfield held several world records in the squat in the 1980s, including a 1014-lb squat at a body weight of 255 lb in the over 45 years of age division. Rarely would he go over 800 lbs in training, but he would put maximum force into the bar.
If properly implemented, the use of Strongman events in a football training protocol is a superior method for an average or elite athlete to develop explosive power using triple extension exercises. Olympic lifts can be tedious and take years to execute properly. Eastern block Olympic lifters, routinely the best in the sport, begin training as early as age five. With technique being a critical component, most high school kids learning to Olympic lift correctly must start off using just the bar or a broomstick. They never develop any strength or explosive power. In some cases, athletes are prematurely given the green light to go heavy and often get injured in the process. Olympic lifts must be broken down and analyzed microscopically and therein lies the problem. This teaches athletes to concentrate more on form than on attitude and the amount of weight they can or should be using.
Strongman training encourages athletes to be aggressive, focusing on “kicking butt” rather than perfecting technique, which is similar to a game situation. Very few high school football players are “fired up” to do Olympic lifts, but most do look forward to and enjoy Strongman training. These training techniques allow athletes to focus on being aggressive. Too much aggression in Olympic lifting will destroy technique.
According to Bob Jodoin, strength coach and ISSA master trainer, “With stone lifting, you start with your knuckles on the ground and finish at triple extension. The loads and leverages are different, however, and this plays well into the concept of dynamic, real world training. Good stone lifting technique emulates the perfect football tackle.”
Does a snatch emulate a perfect tackle? Triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles trains a football player to put maximal force into the ground in a shorter period of time. Is the best way to train this triple extension with a barbell or variously shaped Strongman objects? Football opponents move and are all shaped differently, making Strongman training more relevant. If done in a team setting, Strongman training gives athletes a chance to compete and gives coaches a chance to coach as they would in a game without having to break down every small detail.
“It’s like game day every time we do it,” says Ken Mannie, head strength and conditioning coach at Michigan State University, speaking about team Strongman workouts. “It puts pressure on the players and forces them into truly competitive situations—more than weight room sessions and scripted workouts ever could.”
“It’s irregular lifting, which makes it closer to football movements than ordinary weight training. It makes the body perform when it’s not in a perfect line, so tendons and joints get stronger. And just like in football, a player is forced to use his whole body,” argues Mike Golden.
Compare the starting position in a tire flip and the starting position in a clean. The tire flip starts with the shoulders on the tire, the feet shoulder width apart, the chest over the tire, and the back arched, similar to a four-point stance. As the athlete lifts the tire up and gets triple extension, he will push the tire downward as hard as possible like a bench press. This mimics extending an opponent on to his heels and pushing him to the ground. An athlete gets triple extension with a clean, but even if the athlete jerks the weight, it is not nearly as sport specific as the triple extension of pushing over a heavy tire.
I could give other examples of the biomechanical superiority of Strongman training, but world renowned strength coach, Joe DeFranco says it best: “The beauty of Strongman training is that there’s no one way to perform the exercises. Athletes usually end up improvising to complete the event. The tire doesn’t always flip over the same way. The sled doesn’t always glide easily over the surface. The awkwardness of these events builds true ‘functional’ strength from head to toe. This enables the athlete to strengthen muscles that are nearly impossible to strengthen with traditional training.”
Olympic lifting is great for developing competitive Olympic lifters and for some elite athletes. However, Olympic lifting fails to duplicate the movements in football in any true way, and the risk to benefit factor is extremely great. Strongman training is very similar to actual football movements and will build legitimate transference strength. Strongman training develops every type of strength. In a future article, I will expand on other Strongman training techniques—not just triple extension ones—that will help your football players.