Everything we know about strength training might be wrong (Part 2/4)

Last time I wrote about my first meetings with some of the best and most successful strength coaches in the world. And of all the wisdom that they have shared with me over the years (decade plus now) the reoccuring message was to make sure your athletes practice lifting and training with perfect technique (or as close to it as possible). So the question that we must ask is...what is perfect technique?

Before we dive into this deep pool I ask for your patience and read the summary of a study below. The study was a comparison of Collage Div 1 Football players vs regular "active" Collage students. The reason that this study is interesting is because the Football players perform in a systematically implemented strength program by a professional strength coach whereas the Active group doesn't do systematic strength training at all. The results were....surprising..if you want read the actual study skip below to Laudner

The Study

Two groups were asked to do a simple upper body balance test. Div 1 football players vs regular collage active men.  The test was an eyes closed one arm plank with both feet on a bosu ball. The athletes needed to stay in the position without moving for a standard amount of time. The total radial distance moved of each group was recorded. The collage active men beat the div 1 football players...badly.


Here you have well trained football players with superior genetics and training that ended up performing a simple upper body balance test and having worse results vs the untrained group. That is surprising given that div 1 athletes would be expected to exhibit superior sensorimotor control, proprioception and overall muscle function when compared to their non-elite counterparts. In fact, div 1 athletes typically partake in strength training and movement drills designed by professional strength and conditioning coaches with the goal of improving various markers of muscle function including strength, balance, stability and overall movement control.

However, in this study the traditional 'state of the art' training protocols used in collegiate settings, not only failed to produce high levels of movement control and muscle function, they actually showed significant reductions and impairments of sensorimotor control compared to non-athletes.

Studying this data we can argue that the condition of no training would produce superior results in muscle function when compared to the effects seen in those participating in traditional resistance training program at the highest level.

So the question gets to be.....what is wrong with "correct" traditional training programs?

The answer?

Read part 3

1. Laudner, K.G., Upper Extremity Sensorimotor Control Among Collegiate Football Players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2012. 26(3): p. 672-676 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822a69c8.

A study by Laudner (2012), assessed proprioception and muscle function of the upper extremities by examining the differences in sensorimotor control among division 1 football players and active college age male controls. Study subjects performed balance trials in an eyes-closed, single arm pushup position, with the test arm on the center of a force platform, and feet on a Bosu ball. Differences in radial area deviation between groups were then calculated. 

The results of this study showed a significantly greater radial area deviation in football players compared to the control group, reflecting decreased sensorimotor control as a result of impaired muscle function and proprioception [69]. Although the author of the study postulates that poor performance in the experimental group (football players) could be indicative of the high degree of contact related injuries in the sport, it should be noted that none of the participants in this investigation, including the football players, had a recent history (past 2 years) of any incident that would have affected their sensorimotor control, such as upper extremity injury, upper extremity surgery, or neurological disorder.

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