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Safe & Effective Training Principles; Applications

Often times, we get caught up in just getting the ‘workout’ done at any and all costs of effectiveness and quality for the individuals you train or coach. When this happens, we not only sacrifice the quality of strength or function that is suppose to be implemented, but also the safety in which any form of training is administered. As overseers of youth or beginning trainees, this can NEVER happen. The following are important key factors of consideration that an APX professional must always concern themselves prior to any engagement of classroom or weight room performance coaching. These 8 factors must be understood and committed to memory for the performance and safety benefit for you and your trainee:


1. Proper Circulatory & Neuromuscular Preparation. This component was predicated in the previous Chapter with how APX directs its populations to coordinate the correct progressions of circulatory to high motor-unit warm up. Please read through this PDF (below), witten by a Duke Univeristy Professor, who coordinates his efforts towards the International Football Federation (FIFA) in making certain that all soccer athletes incur the similar approach that APX illustrates with every program.






2. Safety bars engaged at an optimal and safe Range of Motion (ROM) within all of your Rack systems.

Make absolute certain that the safety bars are engaged, the following are critical safety issues to be aware of for these 3 major prime mover groupings that are consistent within the APX system:


Bench Press - Positon the safety bars appropriately so that the trainee stays above their chest cavity at the bottom of their ROM. (This protects the insertion points of the Pectoralis major, AC joint & Elbow joint - as well as the literal life of the trainee if the bar free falls from any position and the spotter isn't paying attention or if they are attempting the lift by themselves). Also, when handing the bar to the trainee, make certain their pointer fingers are aligned within the shoulder joint. This is where the human body generates the most neuromusular force from in any pressing movement. We want that emphasized. Also, make sure the trainee is asked if they are 'ready' for the bar and that they respond to you with a verbal 'yes'. Lastly, pull the bar with both hands from a pronated pulling position that is within the trainee's hands; the closer your hands to one another for maximum pulling force and control of the barbell that is in their grasp. We will review this the day of your cert.


Squat - Whatever the selection of exercise for this broad-ranged lower body movement, make certain that the safety racks are placed at the exact maximum ROM that the trainee is capable of attaining. Also, if there are multiple trainees at the rack, the barbell starting hooks should be placed to the height of the shortest participant. The taller trainees can hinge their hips in order to get under the bar for their work. We will review this the day of your cert.


There are numerous squat thresholds that we utilize (15/30/45/60/90 & > 90 Degrees). For example, if the depiction of the squat demands 30 degrees, set the safety racks just below the knotch that dictates 30 degrees. This allows the trainee to perform the correct movement pattern, and offers piece-of-mind to both YOU and the TRAINEE, knowing that they are protected from a potential major injury in light of a serious fall due to muscular fatigue and/or improper spotter oversight.


Cleans-Deads-Pulls - Find the correct pulling or starting position of the trainee, coordinate the safety bars according to their maximum ROM. These particular movements generate a lot of force, weight and power in our 'Relative Strength Training' phases. It is paramount that the safety bars are positioned properly per trainee to avoid futile injury. The hands are recommended to be placed shoulder-width apart, in a pronated grip position. We will review this the day of your cert.


3. Powerblocks-Dumbells. Always spot these exercises from the wrists of the trainee. If you spot these exercises from the elbow joint and/or actual weight apparatus' themselves, the strength curve of the athlete's training is manipulated into an unnatural motor pattern - thus decreasing the affect of the exercise, and inhibiting the neuromuscular force of proper activation. Not only do you prevent correct force pattern, but also the trainee is exposed to injury due to improper pathway.


4. Pull Ups/Chin Ups. In any of APX's progressions that involve posterior torso chain work, it is emphasized that correct motor pattern and grip be performed to sustain safe and effective pulling exercise. We utilize (5) pulling grips -

#1) Pronation External Shoulder, #2) Pronation Internal Shoulder, #3) Supinated External Shoulder, #4) Supinated Internal Shoulder and #5) Neutral Internal Shoulder. We will review these grips on the day of your cert. Also, it is stressed that the trainee crosses their legs throughout the pulling motion. Crossing the legs is standard protocol for the major Professional organizations such as the NHL, USOTC, NGO, ect.. that subsidize the 'Pull or Chin Up' as one of its testing protocols. APX follows that consistency as well.

















5. Risk Level Associated with Strength Training. Attendance is critical. Use data.

In regards to risk involved with resistance training, injury rates are highest for team sports, intermediate for running and aerobics, and lowest for walking, cycling and weight training. A study of collegiate football players showed only 0.35 weight training-related injuries per 100 players per season. Injuries due to weight training accounted for only 0.74% of the players’ in-season injury-related time loss. (MacDougall, J.D., G.C.B., Elder, D.G. Sale, and J.R. Sutton. Effects of strength training and immobilization on human muscle fibers. Eur. J. Appl, Physiol, 43: 25-34. 1980).


APX has maintained a 97% ratio-injury prevention rate within programs and/or clients that maintain a participation rate of 4 sessions per week for an 8-12 week periodization plan. These rates incorporate all four major knee ligaments, all three major hamstrings, hip flexor, plantor/foot extensors, elbows, wrists, torso musculatures/joints and neck injury aspects. The 'non-science based version' of what this all means is that the body responds better to more functional, relative, hypertrophy and strength endurance qualities better when FREQUENCY is administered and held accountable. The more consistently the neural drive can be activated of what training goal you are working to accomplish, the better the outcome from the Intensification & Accumulation phases that you will coach them through.


It's of great importance to monitor attendance and attrition rates of your indiviual(s) and/or team(s) you are working with for these very specific reasons. If the majortiy of the group has made the physiological gains through body mass and body fat ratios, as well as overall relative strength, speed and function testing - then it is highly likely that their attendance within that training population is near perfect. Participants who are inconsistent with their attendance are typically lazy in nature, unmotivated and full of excuses. These will be the same individuls who will make your life difficult if they incur an injury during their season.; as they will look for someone or something else to blame (such as your training program).  Studies, like the one above, are helpful to use and substantiate the efforts you are installing within that particular training culture.


6. Anatomical Planes of the Body; Fundamental for Safe Exercise Application.

Anatomical position: The body is erect, the arms are down at the sides, and the palms face forward. Anatomical views of the body are generally shown in the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes, which slice the body into left-right, front-back, and upper-lower sections, not necessarily at the midpoint. Examples of movements taking place in each plane would be: #1) Standing barbell curl (Sagittal plane), #2) Seated lateral dumbbell raise (Frontal/Coronal plane), and #3) Dumbbell fly (Transverse plane). We will cover these planes the day of your cert.


                 #1                                           #2                                       #3                                #4                            #5

Anatomical Human Plane: Critical for understanding the safe application of APX Program Design in Tier 2; and knowing how to evaluate and prescribe appropriate balance exercise for your trainees under the APX system in Tier 1.

7. Movement Analysis and Exercise Prescription Using Specificity.

The concept of specificity states that resistance training for an athlete is most effective when the exercises are similar to the movements within sport or activity the trainee participates. Specificity is a major consideration when designing an exercise program to improve performance in a particular activity. The movement must be analyzed to determine the specific joint movements that contribute to full-body movement, then exercises that use similar joint movements are emphasized in the resistance training program.


Important sport movements not typically utilized in standard resistance training programs include shoulder internal and external rotation (throwing, pulling), knee flexion (sprinting), hip flexion (kicking, sprinting), ankle dorsiflexion (running), hip internal and external rotation (pivoting), hip adduction and abduction (lateral movement), torso rotation (throwing) and all neck movements (impact absorption).  


At APX, we recongnize that the need to recruit maximal efforts of sport-specific periodization, is essential to recruit the maximal amount of motor unit activation (MUA) from the neural drive system. Regardless of the strength quality being sought (Relative, Functional, Hypertrophy or Endurance) thoughout an Accumulation or Intensification phase.


A resistance program designed around sport-specific movement is important for both improving performance and reducing injury. Simple visual observation is enough to identify the basic features of movement within a sport, while other observation methods could include slow-motion film or video. The APX system coordinates its work for each particular athlete's sport, client's function and program's specific performance goals; keeping both of these prominently in tact.


8. Full Range-of-Motion exercises are preferred/best in most cases. The range of motion is defined as the distance that a lever can move while attached to a fixed point. Think of your bones as levers and the joints that they are attached to as the fixed points. Your muscles are what move those levers in order to create motion and movement. Although there are some cases in which it should not be used, most of the time training full range of motion can help you gain strength faster and give you better results.


One of the main reasons for training in general is injury prevention. The strength of your tendons and ligaments are dictated by the stresses that you put on them. Training in the full range of motion will place positive stress on that connective tissue and decrease the chance of injury. In some exercises, however, especially if you are using heavy weight, going in the full range of motion may not be a good idea. If you are doing dips, for example, normally the full range of motion is getting your shoulders below your elbow. If you are using additional weight on top of your body weight, you may want to stop when your shoulders are even with your elbow. You almost never want to completely lock out your joints. If you are doing a squat or leg press never completely lock out your knees. On the bench, chest press, or dips, you never want to completely lock out your elbows. That puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on your joints.


Aside from injury prevention training your muscles in the full range of motion will also increase your efficiency of movement. Your muscles should be able to produce force even in awkward positions. This is especially important for athletes. If you train in the full range of motion, your muscles will be used to producing force even in the farthest point of mobility. If you only train one segment out of the whole range of motion, you can only expect your muscles to work efficiently when they are in that specific range that you train. Flexibility can be decreased if you only train in a short range. This is very important for beginners to understand. Many people have very inflexible hips which makes it hard to get into a full squat. If you only practice a partial squat, your hips will tighten and it will be harder to improve the technique in the full range of motion. If you force your hips down, you will eventually loosen up your hips and get more flexibility. When you are first starting to learn the proper techniques of an exercise always learn the full movement pattern. Never sacrifice the full range of motion just to add weight to an exercise.


Another reason to train full range of motion is that you will burn an extra calories. In order to burn more calories make your muscles work harder by making them move your joints farther. If you are only doing quarter squats, your muscles are not doing as much work as they would be if you got your hips below your knees. The farther you have to move, the more work you are doing and more energy you are expending.


Finally, training the full spectrum of movement increases overall muscular strength. There have been studies done that support the fact that when weight training is done in the full range of motion there are greater strength gains and more muscular growth when compared to training partial range. Don’t get me wrong, even if you train in a partial range of motion you will still get stronger and bigger. It just won’t be as effective.


:: Keep these factors discussed in Chapter 3 in tact when applying safe and effective training applications ::

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