Sunday, June 8, 2008

A New Article and a New DVD!

Anatomy of a Throw

To make our athletes more explosive we must create an adaptation via their routine engagement of reactive, speed-strength similar sport specific movements or through their involvement in actual sporting events or practice. For our athletes to become faster and more explosive, general and general specific physiological qualities can be developed in the weight room through the incorporation of throws. As we know, one of the greatest benefits of throws is that there is no deceleration at the end range of movement which is typical of strength training movements. Therefore, true kinetic extension of the engaged segments can be achieved. Another benefit is that various implements and movement patterns can be utilized. We must also acknowledge that in training, these explosive throwing movements are patterned, efficiently executed, without the hindrance of accumulated physiological and CNS fatigue and with optimal breathing. This is not the case in sport. Therefore, their inclusion should be a compliment to their sport and routine sport practice sessions.

How to teach an explosive throw:

Level 1: Uninstructed

Verbally instruct the athlete or lifter to perform the movement in general terms. Have them execute the pattern. Notice the weaknesses, where the form breaks down or the kinetic alignment throughout the throw. Provide greater step-by-step instruction on each transition and segment of the movement with specific attention to the needs of each individual athlete. Remember, perfect practice makes perfect.

Level 2: Braced / Breathing

Now, have the athlete repeat the movement with the specific additional instructions of breathing execution and bracing of the torso to ensure force transfer, speed of movement and rigidity.

Level 3: Speed

With the torso now isometrically stabilized and intra-abdominal pressure engaged, the speed of movement can progressively increase. Note: As the speed increases so does the shadowing of the compensations or inefficiencies of the movement. Incorrect movements can become harder to identify so reinforcement of proper movement should continue, focusing on the basics.

Level 4: Leg Drive / Extension

As the speed increases, explosiveness can also improve with the instruction of driving through the legs (driving the ground away) and “reaching” at the end of the movement.

Level 5: Visual Target / Accuracy

We’ve established the force transfer, increased the speed and explosiveness, now we will improve the accuracy of the movement with a visual target. Introduction of cognitive (conscious intellectual activity - during the pattern will now bridge the mind/body interaction. This becomes essential as we are trying to increase the potential for sub-conscious movement on the field.

Level 6: Identify Weaknesses / Modify Training Protocol

After Level 5, we are now ready to record next step strategies for developing the general strength qualities that will enhance our athlete’s throwing performance. These are modifications and updates to their training protocol.

Throws will enhance starting and explosive strength. With the right means, we can also dynamically introduce these implements into a movement to elicit and enhance a reactive throwing expression.

Get creative and understand that without a strong core we cannot develop the torso strength and rigidity our athletes need to perform explosive, multi-joint, unanticipated movements.


Also, check out the new Combat Core DVD set!

Jim Smith, CSCS

Author Combat Core

Friday, June 6, 2008

Combat Core - DVD Release 6/9

Check out this amazing promo for the upcoming Combat Core DVD release on 6/9.

Jim Smith, CSCS
Author Combat Core

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bracing and the Long Ball

The Long Ball and Bracing

The Benefits of Combat Core

I had one of my baseball players laying the smack down with a sledgehammer on a tractor tire last night.

He was setup in his stance and the movement engaged a rotation, high to low or what some call the "golf swing." Our goal was quality of movement so he targeted 6-8 swings, resetting with each swing.

I noticed as he was swinging his breathing patterns were random and his shirt was moving inward.

We talked at length about anticipating the pitch and timing it with his breathing. We also worked on bracing. Bracing involves forcing the abdominals outward with a powerful isometric contraction throughout the movement. Similar to the bracing drill I demonstrate in Combat Core.

There was a noticeable difference between the sound of the sledgehammer hitting the tire on the first set and the sound on the last sets.

He called me tonight and told me he had the best batting practice he's had all season just by focusing on anticipating, breathing and bracing.

If you've been using Combat Core in your training or with your athletes, send me an email of your progress!

Your strength coach,

Jim Smith, CSCS
Author Combat Core

Monday, April 28, 2008

Do Not Try This....Ever!

The Combat Core DVD Set is Coming!

The official release date is Memorial Day - May 26th!

What you will see in the DVD set are some of the most intense torso training exercises ever filmed! The DVD set is the perfect compliment to the best selling manual and will include over 140 exercises!

Want a sneak peak?

In the DVD, Mike Hanley introduced me to the Progressive Plank with Chains!

Here is the setup:

Have the lifter or athlete setup in a plank. Once stabilized, start adding chains (or sandbags) across their back. We used a total of 6 chains in all! Once all the chains are loaded the timer begins. Every 10 seconds take 1 chain off. Continue on until all the chains are removed. The total time will be 1 minute plus the loading time. Each chain weighed 20 lbs, which means at the highest weight, Mike had 120 lbs of chains on his back! Talk about muscular endurance.

Check out how it all started...

Jim Smith, CSCS
Author, Combat Core

Monday, April 21, 2008

Athletic Performance from a Different Angle

Athletic Performance from a Different Angle

Hey guys, this weekend I had a chance to sit down with my longtime colleague, John Alvino. John is a strength and conditioning specialist and an advisor for Men’s Fitness. I know firsthand that John gets amazing results with the athletes he trains. He is well known in the industry for getting his athletes completely ripped, and stronger than ever. I asked John to tell me a little bit about his fat loss protocol for athletes. Here’s what he had to say:

John, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions about fat loss and athletic performance. This is a topic I rarely address with our newsletter because we are typically so focused on building strength, power, agility, flexibility, etc…

Tell me, why is it important for athletes to maintain a lean physique and how can they do it without affecting their performance?

Most athletes want to become leaner to improve their sports performance. Unfortunately, most of the fat loss methods out there actually act as an enemy to athleticism. A typical fat loss program involves eating low calories, which significantly hampers the athlete’s ability to recover. Athletes tend to experience a decrease in performance as well as a lack of energy when they employ these fat loss protocols for too long.

For your body to function optimally, you must take in an adequate amount of nutrients in order to aid in recovery, prevent injury, and keep your immune system healthy. Fat loss training methods tend to completely ignore this fact about the human body. Thus, most fat loss programs end up making you weaker, slower, and less explosive. Moreover, typical fat loss methods actually encourage the fast twitch muscle fibers to take on characteristics of slower twitch fibers (for those of you who don’t know, it is your fast twitch fibers that provide you with explosive strength and quickness). These are very serious consequences to a high level athlete. Fortunately, there is a better way.

My fat loss approach actually encourages more athleticism, more power, and more explosiveness, as well as a higher level of anabolic hormones (testosterone and growth hormone). My athletes find that as they get leaner, their conditioning for their sport actually improves, as does their energy levels. They feel lighter on their feet, yet stronger and even more explosive than they were before. That’s because my program is specifically designed to burn fat while encouraging dexterity, speed, and a maximum maintenance of lean muscle.

I usually have only 12 weeks to train an athlete prior to their returning to camp for pre-season. Although their primary goal is to get stronger and faster, I also like to get them as lean as possible. In the 12 weeks they work with me, it is quite typical that my athletes lose 20 lbs of body fat, and yet they make great gains in their strength, power and conditioning. My athletes excel in the strength and conditioning tests upon returning to camp: exercises such as vertical jump, 40 yard dash, 225-lb for reps on the bench press, power cleans, squats, etc.

Here are a few keys to successful fat loss for an athlete:

Do not lose more 2 lbs per week.

Doing so can result in water loss, lean muscle loss, and rapid glycogen depletion. This is turn causes weakness, loss of endurance, fatigue, reduced mental focus, and increases the athlete’s susceptibility to injury.

Don’t cut carbs too low.

Carbohydrates are an athlete’s primary source of energy. It is essential not to restrict carbohydrates too much for too long. This will directly decrease power output and performance in general.

Emphasize cardiovascular activities that engage fast twitch fibers.

By doing so, you ensure that you will not lose power or lean muscle mass as a result of your cardio training. Also, by training this way, you will actually be better prepared for the rigorous requirements of the training regimen of your particular sport, as well as the demands of the sport itself.

Avoid working out exclusively in the high rep range.

High reps are a common prescription in any fat loss program. The athlete’s perception is usually that a high rep workout is a better and more thorough workout. They sweat more and the workout often feels more taxing; thus, they mistakenly feel that this means they are burning more fat. There is a big price to pay for this misconception.

The truth is that the high rep protocol is yet another reason performance can decrease. The weight that is used is just too light to adequately engage the neuromuscular system. This, in conjunction with the high volume of these workouts, this protocol often contributes to muscle wasting, and causes the athlete to become slower and weaker.

Thanks John – awesome information!

Just so you guys know, Alvino is not the typical “bodybuilding” trainer. All of his fat loss techniques have been refined and perfected on the top level athletes he has trained for the last 7 years.

Check out his program here – Click Here

The Diesel Crew

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Combat Core - Sandbag Loaders

Combat Core - Sandbag Loaders

Exercise: Sandbag Loaders

Hanging from a pull-up bar the lifter will load a sandbag or medicine ball to a partner or onto a platform. This compound torso building exercise ties in the upper back and lats with the abdominals and hip flexors.

- compound movement incorporating many muscle groups
- support grip strength endurance
- a variety of trunk postures can be executed, not just linear flexion / extension movements
- controlling the extension (eccentric) phase of the movement creates a balance of the musculature surrounding the hip

Increase difficulty by increasing the weight in the sandbag, increasing the required loading height or by decreasing the rigidity of the implement (i.e. slosh ball or water keg).

Check out the most valuable abdominal training resource ever created - Click Here

Jim Smith, CSCS
Author Combat Core

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Combat Core - Reactive Rows

Exercise: Reactive Rows


- improved transverse deceleration of the torso
- improved anti-rotation / bracing of the torso
- improved thoracic mobility
- improved upper body reactivity
- improved grip strength


- Increase weight of DB
- Remove stability points (hand and knee on bench) and perform free standing

You've never seen this level of strength before - don't miss out - Click Here

Jim Smith, CSCS
Author Combat Core