This weekend we had the current (2X) Britain’s Strongest Man Eddie Hall at the gym to deliver a seminar on his training philosophies and practices. Eddie is quite literally one of the strongest men to have ever walked the planet with deadlift, squat and overhead strength that are freakish even when compared to his fellow elite strongmen. The day he spent with us here at Plymouth Performance Gym discussing his methods were extremely enlightening and I have compiled a list of the 8 main ‘take home points’ which I picked out during the day:
Many athletes are, quite understandably, sceptical as to the benefits of strength training for endurance sports. Sportifs and marathons require continuous exertion over an extended period of time, sometimes up to several hours, at a relatively low percentage of maximum effort. Strength training, conversely, takes place over an extremely short period of time (usually a matter of seconds) at a high percentage of maximum effort. How then can a form of training that so poorly mimics the demands of the other be of any use?
The advent of the internet means that the average, (motivated) gym goer has access to top quality information on training and nutrition the likes of which has previously been reserved for the clients and athletes training under the industries top coaches. By and large this exposure to elite training practices has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the methods people are using to better themselves in the gym, however it is apparent to me (working every day in my own training facility) that this knowledge has the potential to negatively impact on the results people are getting.
Squats are one of the greatest exercises known to man. They help build massive strength in the legs and core and have helped athletes to run faster, jump higher and hit harder for decades. I’m not disputing that. This article is not meant to malign the squat in any way but it is a simple fact that they, like all exercises, are not perfect and there may be a way to improve upon them in certain situations. If you want to know how, read on.
Every month I’ll be analysing a recent study published in one of the scientific journals on Strength and Conditioning. This time I’ll be reviewing a study entitled “Lower Limb and Trunk Muscle Activation with Back Squats and Weighted Sled Apparatus” (Maddigan, Duane, Button and Behm: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2014).
What do I mean by “speed work” and why would you do it? When I talk about speed work for strength athletes I’m referring to the method popularised by Louis Simmons, of Westside Barbell fame, which he described as using “sub-maximal weights with maximal speed…to increase the rate of force development and explosive strength, not to build absolute strength.”