It has been two weeks that I traveled to Sao Paulo, Brasil to speak at the Elite Training Conference 2018. It has been a great four days with four different speakers which each one to present a full two hours every day. A great concept for a conference for both attendants and speakers as it gives both a much deeper and broader insight into the individuals work. With the other three speakers being heavily involved in Sports Science over the last decade and beyond, the conference also gave myself some great insights and perspectives. With many new pearls picked up. Some of those were:
The Agility Deficit
One of my favorite pearls learned on the first day was from Dr Sophia Nimphius, a researcher from Perth, Australia who primarily works on the topic of agility. Which is the skill of changing direction. Linear speed correlates with agility. Many athletes have great linear speed, yet they are not got at changing direction and vice versa. A test she uses to differentiate both are a 20m sprint and a 10m+10m sprint with a 180° change in the middle. The distance covered is the same – 20m. Subtracting the first from the second number is what can be called the "agility deficit". Which determines the correlation of linear speed to agility. Some have great linear speed, yet poor agility, and of course the reverse happens, too. Assessing and correlating both times is an excellent indicator to determine the direction of training, either more focus on linear speed, so train more acceleration. Or more focus on the training of agility which is the ability to absorb forces eccentrically to decelerate and then reaccelerate quickly
The Rise and Fall of Velocity-Based Training
Velocity-Based-Training (short VBT) is simply a method of training which uses a piece of technology to track the movement speed of the barbell primarily during the concentric part of an exercise. I have used one of the earlier VBT Tools back in 2012 being very interested in the numbers, yet not seeing the practical value to use it for the athletes and clients I work with. Over the last years VBT has become more and more widespread with many studies being done on it. One of the speakers has the Elite Conference 2018 here in Sao Paulo, Mladen Jovanovic from the University of Belgrade is currently doing is Phd on VBT, with the primary focus on its applicability and different devices. He shared some of the results with us which were quite interesting. Two choices he made when collecting data were, first he used the trap bar deadlift in his study, as its a lift that is easy to learn from a technique standpoint and there is not much spectrum of technique – especially compared to a squat or barbell deadlift which may vary in technique from person to person quite a bit. And second every lifter in his study had to be able to lift more than 200kg on the Trap Bar Deadlift. Especially the later is a rare quality found in studies on strength training amd increases the validity and practical application tremendously. As he will submit his Phd in September, I cannot share the actual results here. Yet his results were highly interesting and it definitely was one of the better studies done in training that soldifiy the point of low practical application of VBT in a gym setting, yet makes VBT a higly interesting tool for reasearch and collection of data.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Planning and periodization are critical for peaking. Less than 50% of athletes achieve their season personal record - not all time personal record, just season best - at their main competition such as Worlds and Olympics. Which is a clear sign that planning and periodization in sports is not even close to were it has to be. To be able to perform at peak performance when peak performance is crucial.
The purpose of strength and conditioning
"Strength and Conditioning Training is needed to develop what Sports Training doesn't develop" - my favorite quote from Nick Winkelman, Head of Athletic Performance & Science of the Irish Rugby League. One of the best one liners I have ever heard on the value and task of strength training for sports.
"The number one reason to tear a hamstring is to have torn a hamstring before" - depending on the sport the rate of recurrent hamstring tears is up to 63%. That means 2 out of 3 players who have torn a hamstring once, will tear it another time. With the highest re-injury rate being within the first 2 weeks of playing again. Why do hamstrings tear? The major reason for a muscle tear is that once the eccentric force during a movement is too high for the mu scle to absorb the fiber will tear. Which directly leads to the solution: Increase the eccentric strength of the hamstring to avoid re-injury, which is statistically the number one non-modifiable reason to avoid hamstring tears.
Motivation is key
"Renewable Motivation is like renewable energy, its the only long-term solution" - Great quote from Nick Winkelman who has written programs for over 700 NFL Combine Athletes. Short term motivation like motivational quotes and memes never work long term. Because they are not intrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the primary renewable form of motivation. find it Spark it. use it Simple, but not easy.
Next the presentation the Elite Training Conference 2018 also hosted the first-ever in-conference Squat Holiday . An abbreviated version of the original Squat Holiday where eight of the over 200 attendants from all over Latin America went through three workouts per day on the four days of the conference. Twelve workouts in those four days led to an overall progress of 15-20% in each rep bracket. An amazing progress for such a short time. Scored with some big PRs.
Overall the conference has been an excellent experience with many pearls picked up!
Picture: The expert roundtable on the last day with Dr Sophia Nimphius (left), Mladen Jovanovic (second from left), the host Luigi Marino (middle), myself (second from right) and Nick Winkelman (right).