No BS Football Strength For In-Season by Elliott Hulse
The recent release of the Critical Gridiron Program has sparked some debate
amongst football and strength coaches. It seems that my bare bones, no BS -
style of program design and communication has created 2 classes of peopleÖ
Those who think Iím full of sh*it and those who KNOW Iím full of sh*it!
Here are some great questions about My Football Strength Training System
from Coach Billy Sexton, Strength & Conditioning Coach at Southern Nazarene
University in Oklahoma.
One thing I disagreed with at the college level, athletes are smart enough
to pick up Olympic lifting, pretty quick, I have realized if they cant they
probably are not athletic enough to play, so we spend a year developing them
Billy, I make some bold statements about Olympic Lifting in The Critical
Gridiron Program - but the truth is that I use them myself, especially in
preparation for strongman events.
When training HS athletes I have simply found that it is more economical for
me to use the the time allotted to get them lifting heavy and jumping.
Performing exercises like Squats and Dead Lifts followed by Box Jumps or
Hurdle Jumps elicits a similar response as a Power Snatch, but with 1/4 the
Also, since it may take a few weeks to learn an Olympic Lift - the weights
used will typically remain low until proper technique can be executed. (I
hate wasting time with light weights) With in that same time, I can take a
kid who has never squatted and have him using at lest his body weight for
reps in a few days and double that in a 6-8 weeks.
#1. I have had some problems with AC joint injuries, I think from the Snatch
exercise, what exercises would you recommend to correct these injuries?
AC joint injuries from the snatch exercise is typically due to a muscular
imbalance in the shoulder joint. Namely the pec minors, sides and back of
the neck (SCM and cervical extensors) and lats and traps are over developed
or simply tight and the scapular abductors, deep cervical flexors (infra-
and omo-hyoid sp?) are weak.
Some people might tell you that the upper traps are weak, but I disagree - I
think that they may actually be too tight. Notice the over developed traps
in the pic below, this causes the shoulders to round and the head to come
forward during the shrug / snatch, the line of gravity moves forward, as
indicated by the dotted arrow. Such faulty head and shoulder position
predisposes the middle and lower cervical vertebra to excessive sheer forces
because the fibers in this region (C3-C6) are optimally arranged to elevate
the load from this position.
Try this: stretch the neck, lats and pec minor prior to snatches (ooh, did I
say static stretch before liftingÖ damn right!) and add prone cobras,
external rotations and bend over rows to the strength program.
Out of curiosity, ask the guys that are having shoulder issues with the
snatch if they get headaches and/or their skull feels tight. Let me know.
(Since this email Coach Saxon has confirmed that many his athletes DO get
headaches - this is due to the pressure created in C3-C6 region from
cervical hyper extension created from an over developed upper back muscles
in relation to the mid-back and scapular adductor muscles.)
#2. If you have time, I would like to see an example program for what you
would do in the in-season. We lift twice a week Monday and Thursday. I would
like to see your progressions on percentages as well with what exercises you
would use. Your program is well designed with a lot of good things, I have
implemented most of it in my program already. It really helped me out with
the three stretches, best part of the program for me, really interesting.
As you know, the biggest benefit of an in-season strength training program
is to maintain the size and strength that you developed through out the
off-season. In-season is for football and you donít want to over burden the
nervous or muscular system with too many unnecessary exercises or sets.
Before I give you my opinion of a good 2-day per week in-season training
program Iíd like to offer you a point to consider.
Your guys need to EAT during the in-season. It is essential that their
calories donít drop too low or they may be at risk of severe weight loss.
During my freshmen year at SJU I remember some of the 270+ lb linemen
finishing the season at 190lbs. (I SWEAR). Our coach had us doing too much
bullshit conditioning and the kids would just go home and fall asleep after
practice. You donít want weak skinny bastards at playoff time.
Here is a sample in-season program for 2 days per week following the
principles stated in the Critical Gridiron Program. Youíll notice that I don
ít follow percentages, sets 1-4 work up in weight until set 5 - maximal
effort. I think percentages are BS! Train with max weights for 3 weeks and
take the 4th week off. Many will disagree - I guess I am full of sh*t!
Day 1 Monday
1) Hang Cleans - 5 x 5
2) Squats - 5 x 5
3) Barbell Russian Twists 3 x 12
Day 2 Thursday
1) Bench Press - 5 x 5
2) Bend Over Rows - 3 x 10
3) Seated Front Plate Raise 3 x 10
GO CRIMSON STORM!!!
Elliott Hulse's eBook - The Critical Gridiron Program