LAB REPORT-365 #66 Importance of Weak-Point Training

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#66 Importance of Weak-Point Training


While the majority of good strength programming is developed around the 3 main lifts – squat, bench and deadlift – the importance of incorporating weak-point training into yours or your athlete / client’s programming cannot be ignored. What exactly do we mean when we refer to weak-point training? As coaches we should be screening our athletes or clients in the main movements before we develop any sort of program, in order to identify movement or form deficiencies and what is causing them. Once these deficiencies have been identified, we can incorporate specific movements or exercises to strengthen the weak areas to help counter these problems – this is what is known as weak-point training.

The initial screening can be done in multiple ways, but should include at the very least the squat, bench and deadlift, with the weight dependent on the experience level of the athlete or client. A beginner with no lifting experience may complete reps with a broomstick initially, moving up gradually to a 5RM; while an advanced athlete may comfortably begin with the bar, and move to a 1RM. Regardless, it is encouraged to increase the load to the point where a) your athlete or client is working at a relatively high intensity, and b) there is some form break-down, as it is only at this point that you are able to identify true weak areas. Note – do not push your athlete or client to complete form breakdown where they are unable to even move the weight, as for an initial screening this is both dangerous and a pointless exercise for what you are trying to achieve.

Once you have completed the screening and identified these weak areas, you can then develop a program that includes relevant accessory work to target such areas. For example, if you noticed a loss of thoracic tightness during the deadlift (upper back rounding) you may include some pendlay rows to help address this. While each athlete or client will have specific individual needs and weaknesses, you will no doubt see a common trend amongst a lot of people (particularly posterior chain weakness); as such, having a ‘bank’ of accessory exercises for specific areas and muscle groups to draw upon as needed is important for effective programming.

In summary:

* Always screen your athletes or clients to identify weak-points, regardless of their experience or training age;

* Develop custom programs for each client specific to their needs or weaknesses if you truly want them to progress in strength;

* Most importantly – continue to monitor your athlete or client, and constantly review their main movements for progress in existing weak-points and to also identify any new areas that need attention.

Weak-point training is a constant process, and will need to evolve as the athlete or client’s overall strength increases and different / new problem areas pop-up.

– Callum



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Lift Like Jess- Strength Performance Coach

Most of us have probably experienced this struggle along our fitness journey. We’ve gone on holidays, came back to training and pretty much sucked. This is called DETRAINING or DECONDITIONING and it is frustrating as hell. I’ve experienced this many times in the first couple years of my career so here’s some facts to help you make an informed decision about the breaks you take!

Many physiological changes start to happen once you stop exercising. Your hearts ability to move blood more efficiently begins to decrease as does your muscles improved ability to utilize oxygen and your body’s ability to metabolize carbs for energy (decrease in fitness). You’ll start to loose gains in muscle fibre size as well as other neuromuscular adaptions (strength and hypertrophy). Any improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar that were brought on by training will begin to disappear also.

How quickly detraining happens once you stop exercising depends on many factors such as age, how fit you are, how long you’ve been training, what type of training you had been doing and at what level. This is referred to as your “training age”. People who train intensely and have been quite fit/strong for a number of years will experience a much slower process of overall decline in comparison to someone with a younger training age.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, not training for as little as two weeks can cause complete detraining in some individuals. It can take up to 8 months for people with a higher training age. Most people saw a decline in fitness before strength. How quickly this happens varies from person to person. I’ve seen people that had been training for almost a year, at a recreational level, completely detrain after a 5 week holiday with no exercise and a fair bit of alcohol consumption. I’ve also seen clients that have been training less than a year come back after 5 weeks with noticeable fitness losses and only small strength losses.

The moral of the story is if you’re new on your fitness journey, plan to include some sort of exercise on your holidays if you want to minimize the effects of detraining. The longer you’ve been at it the less you’ll lose. It seems like it takes forever to make these strength and fitness gains and no time at all to lose it. Really, in the first few years, it’s true. Once you’ve put in your miles and converted to a healthy, active lifestyle for a couple of years you will start to reap the benefits more and more and actually NEED the breaks from training whereas people with a younger fitness age generally aren’t lifting at a high enough intensity or frequency to require deloading or breaks from training. Just to clarify, I’m not saying deloading needs to take the form of a flat out break from training but that is another topic. What I am saying is if your goal is to get super fit/strong and maintain it then you better be willing to put in the work. Particularly in the first couple years!

Lift Like Jess- Strength Performance Coach

LAB REPORT-365 #64 Sleep is for the weak (and the strong).

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#64 Sleep is for the weak (and the strong).


Proper training and nutrition are two well-known requirements to achieving athletic success. A key aspect of exercise often overlooked is SLEEP! Believe it or not sleep is essential to effective training and many say we should consider sleep as important as an actual workout. Muscle growth, fat burning ability and athletic performance are all diminished by sleep deprivation.

We know that muscles do not grow during a workout, but during the repair that occurs throughout the recovery period. Recovery doesn’t just involve a simple post- workout protein shake. After a workout, your muscles need rest to repair. Specifically, you (and your muscles) need sleep! A proper nights sleep is vital in muscle development and in order gain strength – largely due to the fact that growth hormone (GH) is released naturally during sleep. Although the production of this hormone declines with age, it is still present in adults and 50% to 70% of daily GH secretion occurs during the deepest sleep cycle. Depriving the body of sleep means that this opportunity for growth is lost.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that you can have too much of a good thing – and oversleeping has its downsides too, such as drowsiness. So exactly how much sleep is the right amount? Studies have found that in adults, between 7 – 9 hours of sleep optimises the benefits of your z’s and promotes the natural production of GH. Additional benefits of a good night’s sleep include improved cognitive function (focus and attentiveness), regulation of ghrelin and leptin hormones (improved appetite control), and improved memory. With the right amount of z’s, you can get more of these!

E-Dawg (Elvin)

LAB REPORT-365 #63 Running: One of the most misunderstood skills in human movement.

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#63 Running: One of the most misunderstood skills in human movement.


Part Three: Executing Mechanics

Leading on from the first two parts of running mechanics we now need to look at how to use the laws of nature to have the most efficient and beneficial running technique.

The four key areas here are:

Translation / forward lean
Hamstring / pulling mechanics
Landing / foot strike
Transitioning from one leg to the other

1: Translation / forward lean, always maintaining running posture (see part two) we shift or lean our center of mass forward (this comes from ankle only) until we “fall”. This will create forward momentum as gravity is acting on our body and we have two options; fall on our face, or step forwards. I cannot emphasis enough that the lean MUST come from the ankles only and not break at the hip etc as that will lead to poor form / mechanics and increase the chance of injury. Note, the lean shouldn’t be excessive, basically the greater the lean the faster you’ll need to run / catch yourself from falling face first.

2: Hamstring / pulling mechanics, in running posture the hamstring should pull the heel until it is level with the knee of the opposite leg. The foot should be relaxed. This will not change with running speed, apart from the height the foot is pulled too. Fo example sprinting the heel will be pulled to the butt with the hamstring vs a slow jog the heel will only be pulled to just below the knee. Note, if you are fatiguing in your hip flexors youre pull with those and not hamstrings, this is a big issue for runners and a main reason they have poor posture and no bum development.

3: Landing / foot strike, feet must land straight and stay that way if you cannot do this you have a restriction, your arch should support this, and if you have shoes because you have bad arches you’ve been lied to because you need to fix your arches not buy fancy shoes.
You should land on the ball of your foot, heel touch and rebound. This applies the muscle elasticity principle we spoke about in part one. Upon landing the foot should not pronate excessively (roll inwards) as this is a weakness and will lead to a chronic injury, nor should the knee shift inwards through the landing or take off phase as this tells us you have a lack of stability and again are getting closer to injury and this is why strength training should be a stable in your running diet.

4: Transitioning from leg to another, should be done with little vertical and lateral movement. We shouldn’t drop in height very much nor should we move laterally excessively. Posture should stay intact the way time and forward lean should be maintained, the moment we become weightless is when both feet leave the ground as we translate forwards then repeat our landing mechanics as mentioned above.

NOTE: changing technique will take some time and will cause quite a different response initially with soreness and volume and intensity need to be managed closely. I recommend look at a post referring to changing the paradigm of endurance training I wrote earlier in the year or message me for further guideance.

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Cam Burnside – B.App.Sci (HONS)

LAB REPORT-365 #62 Running: One of the most misunderstood skills in human movement.

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#62 Running: One of the most misunderstood skills in human movement.


In my experience 99% of people, (recreational exerciser through strength coaches) have little or no understanding of running mechanics. The running community tends to prioritize volume (km’s) over skill and form.

Part Two: Mechanics / Posture

A lot of traditional running mechanics theory tell us to push off the ground, long stride, knee lift, land on the foot (heel) in front of the body, transfer weight through the foot and push off again. This is also the natural running technique for much of the population due to mimicking others they subconscious see daily and due to imbalances from lack of correct strength training (will get into this later on).

With efficiency, performance and lower risk of injury in mind we need to use the science (part one) to our advantage. Gravity needs to be utilized through the correct amount of forward lean, to create momentum through acceleration and maximize torque and the use of muscle elasticity vs muscle contraction. Therefore we are using nature’s laws and physics to run rather then forcing ourselves in a less efficient way against them.

1: Midline / Trunk Stabilization, we use a number of indicators for correct posture before running and lifting.

Feet: are they straight and “screwed” into the ground (creating torque).
Hips: Slight anterior tilt, glutes contracted and pelvic floor contraction.
Rib cage: pulled down (not into trunk flexion though)

2: Head Position in crucial to keep posture and breathing maintained during running.

Head should sit directly over shoulders and centered over the mid line. Far to many people will “reach” with their chin to try and move faster / maintain speed once fatigue hits, which is a technical flaw.

3. Arm position, is critical for efficient movement balance once neutral / running posture can be achieved.

Arms should sit at 90 degrees by your side with a lightly clenched fist, thumb on top of index finger. This will allow for energy to be maximized during movement rather than “leaking” energy with flailing arm movements.

In part three we will look at translation (forward lean), pulling the foot, landing and transitioning

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Cam Burnside – B.App.Sci (HONS)

LAB REPORT-365 #61 Running: One of the most misunderstood skills in human movement.

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#61 Running: One of the most misunderstood skills in human movement.


In my experience 99% of people, (recreational exerciser through strength coaches) have little or no understanding of running mechanics. The running community tends to prioritize volume (km’s) over skill and form.

Part one: Science
In this first post lets look at 5 areas of science in running we can’t argue:

Ground reaction force
Muscular qualities

1: Gravity, has the same affect on everything in same way. A forward lean (change in placement of center of gravity) will cause forward translation.

2: Ground Reaction Force, of the foot strike to allow you to continually move forward and absorbing force, this is why “heel striking” (heel hits the ground in front of the center of mass instead of the forefoot under the center of mass) is bad for runners. The heel strike will cause you to absorb force incorrectly leading to injury, often chronic injuries (eg back pain).

3: Muscular qualities, both elasticity and contractility are critical to one another in the process of running. The better we can use muscle elasticity the less muscle contraction is required, meaning a more energy efficient movement is achieved. This can only happen in optimal positions, which a heel strike is not.

4: Momentum, keeps us in motion, and once in motion it is easier to maintain a set pace because we are out of the acceleration phase.

5: Torque, as we translate forward we are creating torque through our feet to our body. This prevents us falling on our face and if done correctly allows us to stabilize the rest of the body through motion creating better efficiency and less risk of injury.

Using the above principles it is obvious that a better, injury free running will run faster for longer. In part two we will look at running mechanics.

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Cam Burnside – B.App.Sci (HONS)

LAB REPORT-365 #60: The Art of Coaching.

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#60: The Art of Coaching.


As a young strength and conditioning coach I made my fair share of mistakes as I made my first forays into the professional world. A trap that many new university graduates fall into is thinking that being the most technically adept and knowledgeable person is the best measure for success in their role and an indication of expertise. I myself got caught up in this line of thinking and spent most of my time post-university reading and absorbing every single piece of programming based knowledge I could get my hands on. At this stage of my career I was primarily working with the general population, and my thought process was that providing my clients with results through the most up to date and cutting edge programming/training was the best possible way to provide service. What I realised later was that this was ignoring one of the fundamental aspects of training/coaching: the person. An important realisation for me recently has been the understanding that I am first a coach and a sport scientist second. To do this you need to suck up your pride and accept that you need to go back to ‘school’ and rethink most of the way you go about your work. It is important for your work to deliver results (at the end of the day our job is to enhance performance). However, this cannot be the sole focus of your ‘coaching’. There were a few resources that had a profound influence on my coaching and really changed the way that I thought about my role as a strength and conditioning coach. These books are: Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman Quiet – Susan Cain Mindest – Carol Dweck (all available on

Understanding out emotion can effect physical state, how the manner and focus of praise can change behaviour and how each athlete requires a different coaching approach created a massive shift in my perspective. So how has this changed how I coach?

* Being more responsive to athlete emotional state – this has meant spending more time getting to know my athletes and then attempting to match their mood and body language to make them feel more comfortable. Using this knowledge to make an informed decision on when to push or when to pull back in sessions.

* The actual delivery of my coaching – praise is focused on process and effort. Centring our praise around a result subconsciously directs our athlete to believe that it is their inherent talent that has allowed them to achieve their goal and not hard work and commitment. Indeed, in early training years this may be the case though as the requirements of training and competition become increasingly demanding it is that latter that is going to have a more direct impact on their performance.

* Individualisation of the coaching approach – Understanding that people fall on a spectrum from highly introverted to highly extroverted and as such will respond differently to training stimulus and situation. Extroverted athletes are going to thrive in a high energy environment whereas this is potentially detrimental to your more introverted athletes. A high energy and socially demanding training environment will drain these athletes of the energy they require to train. This means you need to think about who you pair your athletes with in sessions and what the actual environment your creating is.

As coaches we deal with people and fundamentally you can put the most perfect program together but if you are not creating a training environment that is conducive to peak performance for the athlete/s then your program may not be successful. The most successful training program is the one that the athlete buys into and commits to.

Simple programming with attention to detail will yield results.

-Jon Danaher
Valkyrie Strength Performance