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I am having another busy fall with work, training, attending Emily and Lizzy’s cross country and volleyball events, and my volunteer activities as a strength coach with Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) Wrestling and Minneota Volleyball.
Similar to most in-season strength training programs, Minneota Volleyball’s time in the weight room is limited by a busy competition schedule. We are working in our training just one day a week on Fridays when the team doesn’t have a weekend tournament. The workout includes a mobility/plyometric circuit, speed squats, deadlifts, Olympic style hang cleans, bench press and planks.
The SMSU wrestling team is currently in heavy off-season training mode. Their training template is a slight variation to my 8-week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday program. This program includes a high volume of Olympic style hang cleans, deadlifts, bench press, 5x5 back squats, and heavy assistance work.
One common deficiency I have noticed with some athletes in both groups is a tendency to have excessive forward tilt while squatting, weak hip extension strength, and knees that collapse inward. With busy schedules and the lack of a lot of extra time for mobility work we have tried to incorporate mobility work as part of our pre workout warm up. Both the SMSU Wrestling Team and the Minneota Volleyball Team begin each workout with a circuit that includes Spiderman’s, Bulgarian split squats, box jumps, overhead squats, and other mobility work.
Why Bulgarian split squats? I began doing Bulgarian split squats a couple years ago after watching my oldest daughter Emily, who is in cross country and track, complete this exercise with a 50 lb. dumbbell in hand as part of her off season strength training workout. To be honest there was no way I could perform even one bodyweight repetition when I first started. I was embarrassed by my lack of mobility and muscle imbalances. I worked at least a month or two at this exercise by holding onto the squat rack in front of me. I have found it a great exercise to work on hip flexor mobility, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps as well as athletic balance. The Spiderman’s and barbell overhead squats are also great mobility exercises to help cure tight hips, and ankles, get the body warmed up, and to become more athletic.
Recently I made an adaptation to both training programs to include 8x2 speed box squats. The box squats have replaced front squats in the wrestling workout on Mondays following cleans and prior to deadlifting. We replaced high bar speed squats with box squats in the Friday volleyball team workout. Both groups are instructed to keep knees out and not allow knees to collapse inward, keep the shins vertical, sit back on the box, and explode off the box with a hard glute squeeze at final hip extension. I am seeing great improvements in mobility, form, and explosion with both groups. I am not sure if this is a permanent change, as each group of athletes is a little different year to year, but sometimes it does not hurt to change things up for a while.
Train smart, stay healthy, set your goals high, and make sure to add GNC Pro Performance HMB along with BetaTOR and BetaATP products, available at your local GNC Store, to supplement your strength, energy and recovery needs.
Brad Gillingham, CSCS