Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sissy Squats? Only for the Skinny Girlies!

Anybody else checked out the sport specific training article in the latest T&C? I have to say I am utterly shocked and disappointed in the article by Matthew Ludwig, assistant strength coach at the University of Washington. I was hoping to find some extra goodies and inspiration for AJ's workouts--which have been going well and I'll update after today's tough race.

You can see a full summer workout program for the Huskies women's distance runners here.

The long track sprinters and hurdlers actually get to front squat. Why is this?

I don't see how incorporating a "sissy squat" into a program helps any athlete gain the proper lower extremity strength and mobility to do any kind of other squat.

What is wrong with simply having them stay upright with a med ball or other implement and encouraging closed-chain ankle dorsiflexion? Why do the long track/hurdlers do front squats, but not the middle distance women?

AJ has been taught all kinds of squats: back, front, single leg, multi-directional lunges, step ups, squat and press (dumbbell), cross over & touch. She even knows basic push press. Even though she is a novice middle-long distance athlete, I still use the basic weight training tools one would use with any other athlete; they are simply dosed in different intensities and volumes, given the athlete's needs and abilities.

I include barbell movement because I think they are great for overall strength, leg and core, and they help me discover R vs L compensations. It is also imperative for loading to stimulate lean body mass and bone density in these athletes. Barbell work helps me to utilize the single leg work more effectively and measure the effectiveness of any remediation we need to do.

The entire WU program seems very watered--"dumbed"--down for women and for distance runners. I appreciate the need to avoid muscle soreness with these athletes. I appreciate the need to build a good base of strength. But the intensity, volume and variety of this program leads me to thing there is no real "strength" being built here. The article stresses the use of weightroom for active recovery and "pre-hab." Well, those things are well and good, but it makes me wonder if these athletes are given short shrift in the weightroom. Obviously having the NCAA Div1 1500 m women's champion lends legitimacy to this strength & conditioning program. But I'm not sure that's not just the tail wagging the dog. What about the REST of the athlete--how are they benfitting and improving in their performances?

I'll enable comments again as I'd really appreciate input and comments from Vern, Joe P and anyone else with an interest and experience working with this type of athlete. I don't mean to disparage anyone on the WU S&C staff, but this seems typical of strength coaches who give women and endurance athletes the short end of the stick. The athletes survive and those who are gifted do well, but are they doing best for the rest?

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