Do What You Can With What You Got
One of the harder movement patterns to hit is the hinge/deadlift, even harder so is to then develop the hamstrings, glutes and lower back when you have very little weight to use.
Traditional choices like good mornings, bent over rows, stiff leg deadlifts, deadlifts and RDLs all feel a bit pointless if we can't load them up.
However, there are some things you can do, if you have some weight like Coach Leah is demoing these movements with you can still get a good training stimulus.
Give these movements a try, manipulate your tempo so you're making the eccentric/lowering phase longer and pausing at the bottom to make them more effective.
At the least you will maintain your strength and for some of you, this will actually put some strength and size on your backside as these exercises will be unlike your normal deadlift training!
Ankling, high knee runs, knee or ankle dribbles etc. are all drills designed to be able to establish better sprint mechanics, rhythm and feel without going full speed, because the limb movement is the same speed or faster but how fast we travel through space is nowhere near as high it allows us to focus on the mechanics more.
Ankling is about elasticity, stiffness through the ankle joint and cycling the legs through quickly. Check the video above to learn a little about how to make your dribbling drills go better.
Lockdown has forced our hand when it comes to finding different training modalities and honestly, doing something, anything will be better than nothing, but if you’re already doing something, or you want to do something that is the absolute best you can do; well then combining a bodyweight strength program with sprinting, jumping, bounding etc. is the best thing you could probably do in our opinion.
Getting started with sprinting for a lot of strength athletes is kind of like turning back the clock or restoring some old skills as most of us got into strength training because of other sports. Iain and Khrys because of rugby, Samantha because of volleyball, track and field, Leah and Krys from being former track and field athletes.
Remember Where You're At
As much as we all love to have confidence in our athleticism remember sprinting is something we’re built to do, but it’s also super stressful, in a good way, unless you do it wrong and then I can be very bad.
This blog is about preparing you to sprint with some nice and easy tips to break you in for you first few weeks.
Follow these principles
Slow to fast
Soft to hard
Simple to complex
Short to long
SlOW TO FAST
This seems like common sense, but too often we suspend common sense in favour of jumping gung ho with very little warm up into sprinting.
Start off with some nice and simple yoga flows, activation drills, dynamic stretching, same as you would for gym.
Then progress into some running form drills and then you get into your sprints.
Soft to hard
Don’t go straight into three points starts on hard ground.
Start off with soft starts, this further reduces the high impact on your body so you can properly recover and adapt to the new novel stimulus sprinting will provide.
Start with walking starts, then hit some rolling starts, then a falling start, then a half kneeling start, and THEN, we go to a proper dead start sprint.
If possible start sprinting on grass and/or up hill, it doesn’t have to be a big hill, but a incline is much kinder on your joints when starting out, it also promotes proper acceleration mechanics naturally.
Simple to Complex
Start with simple drills and simple sprints. A Marches, High Knee Runs, Walk in starts.
There’s a lot of cool novel drills, bounding, skipping, wicket runs, band resisted sprints etc.
But keep it simple, use these tools by gradually introducing after you’ve been sprinting in a focused systematic fashion for a few months.
Short to Long
Short sessions, short sprints, low volume. Start off with this only sprint for 10-15 meters, with 100-150 meters of value (only count your actual max effort sets), make the sessions short and sharp. As you get more conditioned and your skill improves then you can sprint further each rep, for more sets per session and have longer sessions as you will be ready for it.
Your First Session
Primal Flow Warm Up - options for this are to move through it for a solid minute or two or do 10 reps per side for 2-3 rounds and do some static stretching in the rest periods.
3-5 rounds of
A March 10 meters
A skip 10 meters
A Run/ ankling 10 meters
Backwards sprint x 20 meters
Walk in sprints x 5 x 10 meters, rest 1 minute between efforts
A run/Ankling into sprint x 5 x 10 meter ankling into 10 meter sprint. Rest 1 minute between efforts.
Power Skips (for height) for 3 x 20 meters
Walk in sprints x 6 x 10 meters, rest 1 minute between efforts
A run/Ankling into sprint x 6 x 10 meter ankling into 10 meter sprint. Rest 1 minute between efforts.
Power Skips (for height) for 3 x 20 meters
Jogging start sprints x 5 x 10 meters, rest 1 minute between efforts
Falling start sprint x 5 x 10 meter ankling into 10 meter sprint. Rest 1 minute between efforts.
Power Skips (for height) for 3 x 30 meters
Jogging start sprints x 6 x 10 meters, rest 1 minute between efforts
Falling start sprint x 6 x 10 meter ankling into 10 meter sprint. Rest 1 minute between efforts.
Power Skips (for height) for 2 x 40 meters
As you can see we have a simple, short, sharp warm up followed by simple drills. We then go into some walking start sprints and then into high knee run to sprint for short distances for not a lot of sets.
The power skip at the end again help you slow things down and simplify some of our sprint mechanic practice.
The working volume is low (100 meters of actual sprinting), the skips are sub maximal accessory work. The warm up is simple and brief, it likely wouldn’t take longer than 40-50 minutes from start too finish for this.
The progression of the sessions is very simple, increase volume, increase our skills then upgrade to harder, faster, more complex variations i.e. walking start to jogging start, high knee running start to a falling start.
These progressions don’t seem like much, but do this session 1-2x per week onto of your other training whether you’re in lockdown or not and you’ll notice some good things
A program of smart bodyweight training and sprints and jumps will surpass you and both are something keep in your training once lockdown is done.
Remember as athletes, we’re looking to get better any way and in every we can, being more powerful, being better conditioned, more co-ordinated, more athletic overall is something we can all say we want, it’s something we can get through sprinting. So rather than despairing over the gym being closed, think about getting creative and using tools like sprinting to get better.
Remember the plan has changed but the goal has not, the goal is to get better, change the plan and still get to where you’re going.
Two of our Ronin Coaches Khrys and Iain have produced some content in relation to handling bad sessions, one of the WORST things that can happen to your for your morale is to have bad sessions get even worse, when you have a plan b,c,e etc. it can be managed very easily and a bad session often doesn't feel bad, but if you try to do your programmed loads, volume or exercises on a day where you're just not up to it, it can be unpleasant and sometime extremely demoralising to try and fail the whole session.
check out the IGTV videos below to get some tips on how to navigate a session when you can't follow plan A and need to make some changes to make sure the sessions is still productive an enjoyable.
One thing that regularly gets asked of me is how do I warm up?
My warm ups vary a LOT based on what I feel like doing and what I feel like I need, one of the non negotiable things I do is this core prep work and some squat mobility work, this has helped me come back from a back injury quite quickly and maintain and work on my mobility and overall joint and soft tissue health with very very little extra work.
I do it before every session in some form, some of the movements will change every now and again, so in a years time this series will look different, but if you don't have a set core prep and mobility routine, start with this one and see how you get on.
Now since for weightlifting and a lot of other sports the movements are whole body compound movements, we need blood flow around the whole body we need to prepare all the joints, with special attention paid to the trunk (the hips, the back and the shoulders).
The video above is a simple series to get you prepped to hit the rest of your session, the idea is to preps the hips and shoulders through some choice mobility and activation drills and you warm up your squat pattern in barefoot first to make sure you're taking your ankles, knees, hips and back through a large range of motion to maintain and/or develop your mobility in that pattern.
WHEN SHOULD YOU DO THIS SERIES?
I would do this first in a session, if you wish to do cardio, band distraction or get manual therapy then do it after that, following this would come more high load or high impact specific prep drills like jumps, single leg work, throws or other core work to get you ready for your session.
Try doing this warm up series for one round every session, regardless of it being upper or lower body, high or low intensity work.
Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent
One of the biggest pitfalls with the non-beginner and intermediate lifter is doing "junk" reps.
A tell tale sign of your volume not being quality volume is getting through your sets x reps at the prescribed weight every week, then when it comes to max out day, you get the same or worse than your previous max and your technical flaws are still the same.
Intent is the name of the game when performing volume, 50-80% has a lot of room for error in terms of effort and movement quality, the point of performing volume, speed work, reps etc. at sub-maximal loads is to practice voluntarily producing maximum force with good technique. If you're usual pitfall in the snatch is the bar loops out and you don't shrug on the pull, your intent needs to be bar close, shrug to finish.
Otherwise you fall into the same trap you were before, looping the bar out and not shrugging. If you spend 100's of reps reinforcing the same technical flaw, you best believe it's going to rear its ugly head when you go to your max.
The key to making your reps count, whether it's on the competition movements or the variations, set yourself a target/focus point for the lift and make sure you're drilling it on the warm ups and working sets.