Top 10 Strength & Conditioning Infographics

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know all about the fantastic infographics produced by YLM – French Sport Scientist, Yann Le Meur, PhD. He has literally created 100s of infographics focussing on research in sport science, strength & conditioning and sports medicine, to provide a short-cut to the ‘nuts & bolts’ of the research, in a visually attractive and easy-to-follow image. Which is what all good infographics should do right?

Yann has also recently launched his own app which provides some of the most up-to-date sport science infographics and best of all, the first month is FREE!

Below is my Top 10 list of YLM infographics with a brief explanation of why I think it’s important. Excuse the bias to my interest in sprinting and profiling!

Number 10

Olympic lifting and their derivatives can be as polarizing as Nordics. Some coaches love them, some hate them, some think the time investment is too much. If you’re a coach who uses them, understanding where each exercise fits on the force-velocity spectrum is essential information. Throughout the season, athletes will likely ‘surf the curve’ and used derivatives from all parts of the spectrum but understanding when to move from one part of the curve to the other is the real key. If you are unsure, keep some component of high force (clean from floor), high velocity (hang high pull) and power (power clean from knee) in the programme.

Number 9

Resisted Sprint Training is another one of those training methods where anecdotal evidence often overrides the research. If you asked 8 out of 10 coaches how to prescribe sleds, most would mention something like, 10% of bodyweight. This might be a good guide at the fundamental level but it is subject to so many factors. Petrakos et al. have done a great job analyzing the differences in sled load and how it affects the acceleration curve. Sled loads <10% BW appear to enhance late acceleration, whereas loads >20% BW appear to assist early acceleration, or overcoming inertia. JB Morin et al. has also published a study using loads up to 80% BW, which appears to enhance the lower limb musculature necessary for effective acceleration.

Number 8

Peak power, or optimal load, is a research topic which guides much of the literature on power training. With new technology such as the 1080Sprint and DynaSpeed, quantification of optimal load while sprinting is now more accessible. Cross et al. identified that the loads which achieved peak power were far greater than the anecdotal findings of 10% BW, see Number 7. Therefore, this may be a more task specific training method to overload, develop and enhance linear speed, compared to unresisted or free sprinting. More interventional studies are needed here but in my opinion, this type of loading will become more common with visible results.

Number 7

All track coaches know, there is no substitute for fast running. No gym exercise is going to even get you in the ball-park of moving near 10m/s or replicating the ground reaction forces of sprinting. Although exercises like the squat, hip thrust, power clean and plyometrics may assist athletes in force application and force absorption, the intramuscular coordination and limb velocities required to sprint are specific to themselves, see Tony Holler’s ‘feed the cats’ approach. If you want to run fast, then SPRINT.

Number 6

For sports performance changes, the force-vector or training axis matters. If the sport is largely vertical, basketball/volleyball, then the training interventions should focus on exercises which occur in this plane of movement. If the sport is mainly horizontal, rugby league/American football, then interventions should includes exercises which target the hip extensors, see Number 5.  There are no absolutes, see Number 3, but see specificity, transfer of training and dynamic correspondence.

Number 5

Sprint mechanics are universal for individual and team sport. Orientation of force application (horizontal), in favour of magnitude of force, is one of the limiting factors to sprint performance, particularly at the elite level. Although more horsepower from the lower limbs may be a vital component, focussing on the hip extensors in the gym and improving kinematics might provide a greater return. Limiting energy leaks or force dissipation at the ankle/foot, the transmission point of force, is important.

Number 4

Squat technique can be polarizing. There’s always someone who can offer advice to the kinematics of a squat pattern, or provide constructive criticism like ‘that’s not ass to grass’! When upright sprinting, yielding at the key joint angles (hip, knee and ankle) needs to be limited. Although a full squat might improve early acceleration, a 1/4 squat could be a useful alternative to provide a specific level of strength for upright sprinting.

Number 3

The performance-fitness-nutrition-health ‘industry/profession’ demonstrates perhaps the worst case of the ‘Dunning-Kruger Effect’. Social media has given everyone a platform to voice their opinion, thoughts and absolutes on anything and everything. The good coaches know where to go to seek guidance. The bad coaches think they know it all already; or that everyone else is wrong. The experienced coaches know how little they know. As Vern Gambetta says ‘you don’t enlist in the army as a general’.

Number 2

Determining where to place the focus once the mechanical determinants of the force-velocity profile is known is the real key to training. JB Morin and co have shown there is limited transfer between force at high and low velocities, therefore a high level of thought must go into developing a training intervention which will affect the profile in that training axis, see number 6.

Number 1  

Although not new, Force-velocity-power profiling is getting a lot of attention recently due to the work of JB Morin and Pierre Samozino (this is my thesis focus for my PhD). The ability to be guided by neuromuscular deficits, whether force or velocity (for vertical or horizontal profile), and then direct the training to this area, rather than guessing or using a traditional approach, may be a more appropriate method to improve neuromuscular output. More interventional and longitudinal studies are needed in this area, for both individual and team sports.

P.S This is an infographic i did a few years ago after reading Frans Bosch latest text. Let me know what you think!



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Performance: Is it just the change?

As Tupac wrote. ‘…things will never be the same’

This blog has been writing itself in my head over the past 4-6 weeks after listening to Derek Evely on the HMMR media podcast. The episode titled ‘Changes’ discusses the use of change as the stimulus in training to elicit the desired outcome. Change is the process by which something transforms or becomes different to before.  As coaches, this is general what we desire. We want positive changes from our athletes, which deliver improved performance outcomes on the field, court or track.

Derek is one of the world’s most experienced track and field coaches having been mentored by Dr Anatoliy Bondarchuk. Without going too deep into Dr B’s training system, it is based upon stimulus, adaptation and then change (systematic in this instance); along with a specific exercise classification (which is another good blog to be written). Derek was discussing the process of when athletes change coach and immediately see an improved performance outcome; and people celebrate the achievement and expertise of the coach as the answer and reason the outcome was achieved. Simplistically, yes it is. However, as he went on to theorise, that perhaps it is just down to the change of stimulus; rather than the coaching. I tend to agree.

As the Einstein quote details about Insanity (doing the same thing and expecting different results…), change is necessary to push the boundaries in all fields. Specific to performance, the level of change or stimulus required to force an adaptation will be dependent on the years spent training (not level of athlete – elite athletes who are new to the sport will not require huge changes to see performance outcomes). Athletes who have been honing their craft across the better part of the decade will need a new stimulus to see improved performance outcomes; and herein lies the issue… determining what and how much to change. Referring back to earlier, I would theorise that a chaotic change would be required for elite level talent with many training years under their belt. For those who are in the infancy of their career(s), systematic change is all that is required.

Although coaches may be bias to a particular philosophy or principle of training, often a little change of structure, session content or approach to performance may be all that is required to steer the ship back on course. Change needs to sit right next to more commonly used training principles: frequency, intensity, duration, overload and accommodation. Performance coaches need to be creative with how to manipulate the change in the overall scheme of the sport structure of season.

So do not get too carried away when there is a performance spike when an athlete is using a new system. The body has been stressed in a way never experienced previously; and aside from the acute stress response, it has disrupted homeostasis enough to elicit performance gains. In a sense, the process of allostasis is in effect. Whereby, stability in the system has been achieved by way of the physiological stress applied.

The human body is a dynamic system however and will rapidly adapt to the stressors placed upon it; see the SAID principle. But staying with change, a chaotic change will cause much stress to all systems and possibly muscle and connective tissue trauma. A systematic change will be more moderate in comparison but should still be within reach of current capabilities.

So I urge you to make changes… just do not make too many, as then, you will not know the cause of the effect!