The Anterior Chain

Do you want the squats done with weights?

Hell yeah! :cool:

Dumbbells work best, but you could use a barbell across your shoulders instead.

So I better keep the spilt squats and 1 leg squats in the program.

I’d keep them in. They’re great movements from a lot of perspectives.

I’m sorry, but this is just incorrect. Yes, you are right that I did not train them in the right way (which is the first thing I stated in my post ), but the alternatives that I have seen are no better.

Training the psoas when thigh is in neutral position to the thigh is just not going to develope any greater knee lift either. I should know, because I used to do all the split squat stuff ages ago. I’m not being funny, but that split squat stuff is old hat and antiquatted. It is not the solution.

Secondly, where did you get the idea that the thigh needs to be in line when training the hip flexors? That idea comes from your observation of bio-mechanics, but not an understanding of where power is developed.

When the foot leaves the ground in sprinting, the hip flexors are doing allmost nothing in that very moment (contrary to popular belief).

However, once the support leg has begun to touch the ground, the hip flexors of swing leg, imediately go in to about 3 g’s of power. It is at THAT moment where the hip flexors make the crucial differance. I can promise you the thigh is not supposed to be in line with the torso at that moment. Firstly because the torso is leaning forwards slightly. Secondly because the hips are tilted, far more so than what they are in most gym exercises. Thirdly, consider your own argument of front side mechanics. Because the theory of good front side mechanics invovles the step over cue - where ideally - the swing knee would be ever so slightly in front of support knee, when support foot touches ground.

Also, the power they express at that moment is more to do with anterior pelvic tilt (which creates a leverage advantage for the glutes and hams during running) and it creates angular momentum for the swing leg to whip forwards and upwards quickly, and only when other foot touches ground. So think how far forwards the thigh bone allready is, relative to the pelvic tilt, and at the moment where other leg, support leg, has just touched the ground. Not how far forwards it is relative to the parralel track, but how far forwards it is relative to the pelvic tilt.

If you look at the videos on Asafa Powell’s skeleton when he runs, the pelvis shift from anterior tilt, to posterior tils and back to anterior tilt on every single stride. It is NEVER EVER in a neutral position. It spends more time in antwerior tilt than in posterior tilt during each stride.

Even when it goes in to posterior tilt, (during first half of air bourne phase only) it is as much to do with the rear leg folding and there-by shortening its lever.

It was a long time ago that I did those resisted knee lifts, and I learnt my lesson at that time.

I can promise you that knee lift is more the result of positive shin angles and anterior pelvic tilt, creating great angular momentum, than all the split squats and standing knee lifts in the world. My previous eercises didn’t help, and I’ve got to tell you that split squats will not help the situation either.

If anything, bulgarian split squats would make the problem worse, and increase rear side mechanics. Think about it, the bulgarian split squat is only teaching you to manage stability with a rear leg far up behind you - which would carry over negatively to your sprinting.

If you think it adequately trains the hip flexors, just because it is stretching them and strengthening them at the same time, that is not going to develope their ability to swing forwards and upwards fast in a sprint. I should know, I did that split squat stuff in the past myself. (I’m faster now - significantly - than I was back then.)

I can’t believe the comments in this thread. we’ve got people actually trying to get rid of their anterior pelvic tilt, no doubt they have been reading articles on other websites, posted by pilates experts, chiropractic and general sheep, who know nothing about track and field.

I made that mistake a long time ago, and I’m glad I’ve moved on since then.

Also, copy and paste this in to your browser, and have a quick 2 minute read: You’ll have to scroll up the page a few paragraphs above the photo.,M1

Carl and Ben in particular, are demonstrating anterior tilt.
Now, we move in to posterior tilt, when rear foot leaves the gound, and move back to anterior tilt just before other foot touches ground and during all of ground contact, the hip moves even firther in to anterior tilt.

Look at Linford Christie in the above photo. This is the point where hip flexors start up there high g-force power for th eknee lift. If the photo were to be take 0.01 seconds erlier, that would be an even better example.

Goose, I don’t mean to be rude, but you’ve said and done a lot of “incorrect” things over the years here. You’ve always been looking for the one “secret exercise” that’ll take you over the top, but it doesn’t work that way. I don’t want to make it personal, but you’ve misinterpreted even simple things for a long time, and you’re doing it again here.

I just woke up and really don’t have the energy to go into a full-on diatribe here, but your statements show a basic lack of understanding of the way in which the muscles and nervous system work.

You state:
If you think it adequately trains the hip flexors, just because it is stretching them and strengthening them at the same time, that is not going to develope their ability to swing forwards and upwards fast in a sprint.
But this is simply not true.

If you’d done any good research on the topic you would know that training a muscle at its greatest length results in strength benefits that transfer over to the rest of the ROM. You’d also know that muscle length (flexibility) is neurologically mediated and that training against the end of the ROM with load is probably the single best way to increase flexibility. If you knew that, you’d know that the methods I recommended are exactly what need to be prescribed.

Regardless of where peak power of hip flexion is developed, having a larger, stronger, and more flexible sets of psoas is beneficial. Higher size and strength increase their potential ability to create force, plain and simple. The direct transfer of said strength will be accomplished with regular sprint training. Even trying to argue against this is complete idiocy.

As for pelvic position while sprinting, it’s not that important. Regardless of what the pelvis does, the fact that we need strong abs and hip flexors remains true. And of course knee lift is not a function of hip flexor strength, that’s not why we’re training them. We’re training them to allow a faster transition from backwards to forwards and we’re training the abs to handle the forces encountered while stabilizing the pelvis. Knee height has nothing to do with it, that’s almost entirely a by product of speed and momentum.

After this, I really don’t want to talk to you, Goose. You’ve missed the point of the article entirely and have somehow decided that making the psoas larger and stronger won’t transfer over to a sprint. I just don’t get it.

And I feel obliged to say it again, even though I and others have said it in the past, but stop looking for secret exercises. Exercise choice is perhaps the least important variable in any program. And just because you tried an exercise once and it didn’t make you Maurice Greene doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Again, you call the split squat “old hat” and “antiquated”, but we’re not looking for something novel. Just because it’s been used doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Once more, even basic understanding of what’s trying to be achieved here would eliminate the conflict.

Please, stop looking for “novel” and “special” things and go back and review the very basics first.

This is the problem I have with your single limb lifts for a sprinter:

In the spp, with intensification taking place in the the target events I often find it necessary, among other adjustments to drop single limb lifts, to allow for greater recovery and to keep the performances moving forward. Again I think it’s a risk/reward situation and I find them more draining to the overall training load and not providing any significant advantages. I’ll keep the other lifts such as back squats, rdls, hyper complex etc in the program.

If you must add single limb lifts to your program I think gpp would be the perfect time for this type of work.

The difference is that I would focus on single-leg lifts over squats. So as SPP got going I would drop squats and keep single-leg lifts. I know they don’t have the same effect on the CNS, but they load the local musculature much more heavily and cause less of a drain on the organism as a whole, allowing for more specific work to be done.

Once again in spp the athlete will be performing a 3-1-3 max strength block and I wouldn’t recommend to load single leg lifts with maximum weight. If you think so highly of single leg lifts, I would do the following:

Bs 3x5

Bs 2x5
Single leg squat 2x5-6

Remember the reason for a max strength block is to increase maximum strength in the primary lifts (squat/bench) and most of all stay injury free.

In order to get to the bottom of this you’d have to ask yourself: what am I training to increase maximal strength? The answer is as follows.

  1. Muscle Size (contractile element volume)
  2. Central Neural Drive
  3. Intramuscular Coordination
  4. Intermuscular Coordination

Out of those things, only two transfer over from the weight room to the sprints: muscle size and intramuscular coordination. Central neural drive is best trained through sprinting and other plyos, while intermuscular coordination is specific to the task, meaning that raising it with squats won’t mean jack on the track.

So, with that, we’ve narrowed down the purpose of a max strength phase to increasing muscle size and intramuscular coordination. But why are back squats necessary? I don’t think they are.

Muscle hypertrophy is a result of the strain put on a muscle (and the volume of said strain). In movements like the back squat the load is limited not by the legs, but by the amount of weight the back can support. Similarly, the bilateral deficit ensures that you won’t be producing peak tension with either leg during a squat. Split squats don’t have this problem though.

During one leg movements the back is no longer a limiting factory, and neither is the bilateral deficit. The only factor limiting how much weight you can lift is the strength of the hip and leg being trained. Since the leg is no longer held back by the aforementioned factors, it will be able to create more force (in the local musculature) than it would have been able to during a squat, and therefore will be put under more strain. This will lead to higher gains in intramuscular coordination and muscle growth.

Of course, since there are less muscles involved per set, the stimulatory effect on the CNS won’t be as great, but neither will the drain.

So, like I said, you have to understand why you’re trying to get your 1RM up. It’s not just about the weight, but the effects getting stronger will have on the system. This is why you don’t need squats during a MaxS phase, nor do you need to work up to a 1RM or even close to it. The purpose of the phase is really to increase the intramuscular coordination of the working muscles and generate hypertrophy while momentarily putting speed work on the back burner.

EDIT: And I entirely forgot to mention the greater training effect on the adductors, abductors, and hip rotators that single leg work provides. Squatting can’t even come close.

RJ max loading a single leg lift is down right dumb and very dangerous and this is coming from a person who has done 335lbs+ while performing lunges.

I still dont understand why you must cross out certain lifts from your program, very similar to what you have done with tempo runs etc etc.

Couple more reasons why you shouldnt make single leg lifts primary:
1: introduces instability which limits the expression of maximal strength

2: because the total spinal load is significantly less if additional training is not implemented the muscles of the core could detrain.

First of all, I even said in my post that you don’t need to come close to a 1RM to reap the actual benefits of a strength phase. Doing a 1RM split squat would be dumb, which is exactly why I said not to.

Second, I’m starting to like the idea of tempo runs more and more, but I still don’t believe they’re necessary. As long as low intensity work is in place, it should be fine.

And as for your two points, I just went over one of them in my last post. Maximal strength expression is not limited by training on one leg. The muscles of the working leg are actually under more tension than they would be in a back squat. Similarly, you never even need to approach doing a 1RM to increase maximal strength, nor is there any other reason for lifting that heavy. A lot of sprint programs use reps of 6-15 and still increase their max strength just fine. Hell, lkh can bench press over 400 lbs and he uses sets of 15.

As for your second point, the spinal erectors are not a limiting factor in sprint speed. Sprinting is performed on one leg as well, meaning the limiting factor is the strength of the legs and hips, not the back. Yes, back and ab strength up to a certain point is needed, but the legs need to be relatively stronger than the back during a sprint.

Please and lkh does 3-8 reps on squats and no single leg lifts either. :slight_smile:

I don’t think you can be dogmatic either way about this issue. Many roads lead to Rome. Even Charlie mentioned that he didn’t consider lunges, split squats or step-ups to be single leg lifts because they are supported on both legs. Personally I find that once you reach a certain level of maximal strength, you can afford to shift the emphasis to some other options like the step-up or split squat as long as you maintain your strength on the squat (perhaps as little as once every 10-14 days). We’ve seen Asafa do just fine with the exclusion of the squat and even Pfaff mentioned in his latest seminar that the squat was not the end-all-be-all that many make it out to be. He mentioned that a high box step up can actually be as effective and more challenging. I believe his leg series replaces the squat in his program if that is the decision made.

Speaking from personal experience I really do like squats, however I’m not really interested in going over a 5RM ever again as I’m not convinced that it’s necessary to continue to improve. Additionally I’ve found that high volumes of olympic lifts matched with a leg series of 2-3 exercises such as step-ups, lunges, weighted jumps, etc is just as effective, if not more so.

I’ll keep both in my program however as both options have worked for me in the past.

I am not dogmatic about anything, I have used single leg lifts with my athletes for example spilt squats 205x5 and the athlete squat max was 485.

My point was I don’t think single leg movements are very efficient for building max lower body strength and dont allow for the biggest bang for the buck when following CF system. Remember CF systems dont include high vol ol’s.

Also ask James about all the hip injuries etc they had at Pitt after Coach K went away from all the heavy lunges etc.

Man, I’m ready to tear my hair out. You’re missing the point.

I’m going to try and condense this whole thing down as simply as I can.

All neural adaptations relevant to sprinting are gained through plyos and sprinting. Physical adaptations are gained through a combination of strength work, plyos, and sprints. The only real purpose weights need to serve in relation to sprinting is increasing muscle and tendon mass in relevant locations.

And as I’ve repeatedly said, single leg lifts allow for heavier loading of each leg individually. To demonstrate this once and for, I’m going to use the good morning as an example.

When you do a good morning you’re lifting roughly 40% of your body weight in addition to the bar weight. I weigh roughly 200 lbs and can GM 180 lbs for sets of 8.

Doing the math, that’s 260 lbs that both of my legs are lifting for each rep. (80 + 180)

That means that each leg is lifting 130 lbs and the spinal erectors are lifting the full 260.

When I do single leg GMs I can use 120 lbs for 8 reps. 120 lbs of bar weight plus 80 lbs of bodyweight equals 200 lbs. This means, each leg is now under 200 lbs of stress, even though the back is also only under 200 lbs.

So, breaking it down…
Regular GM: Legs lift 130 lbs each, back lifts 260 lbs
SL GM: Legs lift 200 lbs each, back lifts 200 lbs

Though the back receives less of a training effect, the legs receive a much higher training effect. This distribution of stress between the back and legs is roughly how it is during sprinting. So, as you can see, using single leg lifts can actually load the legs better than during bilateral lifts, and since sprinting is a unilateral sport, the back does not need to be equally strong.

RJ, it doesnt matter because it all boils down to results… How has the single leg lifts, no tempo or speed gone for you over the past 4yrs. Cant get any simplier then that…

Do what works for you!

Thomas, thanks. I’ve just been trying to get across that there’s no reason that maximal strength ever needs to be demonstrated in a 1RM bilateral lift for a sprinter.

tamfb, those split squat numbers are weak. I’ve done 210 for sets of 5 and I’ve never squatted more than 320 x 8 and 335 x 5. Funny enough, I do have a 10’+ SLJ.

My point is that you don’t need bilateral lifts to build strength. Unilateral lifts work just fine, and as Tom said, Dan Pfaff and Stephen Francis seem to think so too.

I thought you were a big fan of the heavy lunges? Also you must remember that RJ doesn’t follow Charlie’s system, although I personally think it’s a much better program. I just think that there have been too many sprinters who have had success without squatting anything near maximal loads to say that it is totally superior to other options. Obviously it presents the best option for heavy loading and MU recruitment but oftentimes guys aren’t loading the bar enough to exploit these advantages. In this case I would argue that they would get more work and benefit from step-ups or lunge variations. I’m also curious to see what the effect of heavy OL’s (80%+) paired with something like the step-up is compared to similar loading on the squat.