In this interview, Critical Bench author, Jedd Johnson interviews Jerry Shreck, from Variety Trainer and originator of the Deceleration Training program.
1. Jerry, tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a Strength Coach at a Division 1 University.
Well I graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a major in Movement and Exercise Science and a minor in Sports Medicine/Athletic Training. My first job was working at a pretty big high school that was serious about their sports; so serious that the town would all but shut down for Friday night football games.
What surprised me when I got there was they never had an athletic trainer or strength coach there before. I was their guy and I was able to accomplish some great things there.
Then an opportunity presented itself, one of those “being in the right place at the right time” situations. So I pursued it hard and landed a job working as an athletic trainer at a D-I University (Bucknell). To my surprise they had no full time strength coach. Just a guy who kind of worked with the football and wrestling programs.
To make a long story short; within a year, I was volunteering in the mornings 5 days a week to train 7 different sports teams. Within 2 years I was hired as Bucknell’s first full time strength coach and have been there ever since.
2. Jerry, what sports do you work with at the Division 1 Level?
I work with 27 varsity programs and one club varsity team (men’s rowing). I oversee 2 weight rooms and have one full time and one part time assistant. My full time assistant works directly with football in the stadium weight room. The other weight room houses M & W Basketball, M & W Lacrosse, M & W Soccer, Field Hockey, Volleyball, Women’s Rowing, Baseball, Softball, M & W Swimming & Diving, M & W Track & Field, Cross Country, M & W Tennis, M & W Water Polo, M & W Golf, Cheer Leading, and Wrestling.
I think I got them all and I oversee all of them. Injury prevention is my top priority with all of their training. They do keep me busy!
3. Jerry, I know a very serious injury that athletes experience in college athletics is ACL Tears. For those who might not know what is the ACL?
Well first, I would really like to point out that ACL tears occur at all levels of sport and it can be one of the worst injuries an athlete can suffer. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or commonly known as the ACL is a major ligament that really helps to stabilize the knee. Without getting too technical, it attaches the femur bone (upper leg) to the tibia bone (lower leg/shin) and runs across and through the main joint of the knee. Its main purpose is to keep the tibia bone from moving forward.
4. What causes an ACL Injury? What types of movements in sports bring about these tears?
An ACL tear occurs when it is stretched beyond its tensile strength limit and it essentially gives until it snaps. It would be like stretching a rubber band until it breaks. This normally occurs either by a contact or non-contact injury. A contact injury would be from contact with someone or something violently. An example of this would be if a football lineman was involved in a pile up and another football player rolled up on or fell into his leg.
A non-contact tear occurs normally in stop-and-go sports, usually when changing direction or landing poorly form a jump but without touching anyone or thing. An example would be a soccer player sprinting down a field and was going to cut to the left. He/she would typically plant with the right foot and extend through the ankle, knee, and hip (triple extension) to push off towards the left.
What can happen when sprinting, if there is not good glute activation and the athlete is quad dominant, the tibia will be pulled forward and when the athlete tries to pivot it will result in an over stretching of the ACL – - “POP” – - – the ACL tears.
5. What does it mean if an athlete is Quad Dominant, and can this increase ACL injury risk?
I see quad dominant athletes more and more now days for reasons that I won’t go into right now. Basically, what this means is an athlete is relying on their quads as the main muscle groups of the lower body to decelerate and accelerate when doing athletic types of movement. This quad dominance can place the knees into improper positions that can predispose athletes potential for injuries.
Getting good activation of the gluteus muscles during deceleration and acceleration types of movements will not only assist the quads but also place the body into more proper biomechanical positions resulting not only in lower chances of injury but a more stable and explosive athlete.
6. Jerry, you have developed a program to prevent ACL tears. What is the program called, and what is the basis of the program?
It is called, Deceleration Training To Prevent ACL Tears. It is ten years in the making and has been tested and used on all levels of athletes for the past 8 years with outstanding results! It is basically a systematic progression of exercises and drills that re-train an athlete to use his/her glute muscles when moving in or out of any athletic movement.
Younger athletes today sit more than ever before in front of the TV, computer, texting on the phone, and/or playing video games. I believe this to be shortening their hip flexors and in return causing other problems. One major problem is the inability to fire up the glutes properly. This is one of the main reasons I believe we are seeing a rise in ACL tears each year in athletics.
7. Jerry, is this something that just Football players would benefit from or can other athletes do it as well?
ALL athletes that are involved in any sport where sprinting, jumping, cutting and/or change of direction will benefit from this training system.
8. Jerry, is this the type of program that is only good for University-caliber students, or can other athletes use it as well?
I have used this will athletes at all levels from jr. high school to professional athletes. I once used this system with a U-10 soccer team (all under 10 years old). You only advance to the next phase after the athlete has mastered the current one. Obviously, the more mature and athletic the athlete is the quicker he/she would advance.
9. What kind of equipment, space, and time requirements are needed in order to implement your Deceleration Training Program?
Not much equipment is needed at all. A plyo box and some cones is it and if you were creative you would need no equipment.
Space will be determined by how many athletes are going to be trained at a time. Usually, an area of 30 yards would be sufficient. I do the majority of these drills on a basketball court with teams.
Time would be determined more on which phase you are on and the level of athlete learning the phase. Most drills are very short and would normally be done in the beginning of practice 15-30 minutes; twice a week would work on average.
10. Where can we find out more about your Deceleration Training Program?
Check out the full details about the training program here: http://criticalbench.com/goto/ACLtear
You’ll get to see even more details about the program itself, and even get to see me performing some of the drawers full speed.
How To Prevent an ACL Tear Video
Guest post by Jedd Johnson
Hi, my name is Jedd Johnson, and I bend steel with my hands.
That’s right, I take steel bars, wrap them in suede to prevent a cut to my hands, and bend them into a U-shape.
“Why the hell would he want to do that?” you might ask…
I’ll tell you straight up…
Because it makes me feel like a friggin’ animal.
It makes me feel like I am a 800-lb rain forest gorilla that can destroy anything put in front of me.
And I like that feeling…
Maybe that description is too wild, and you can’t identify with it, so let me describe it a little differently…
A PR Bend is like adding 50 lbs to your deadlift, and holding it there while you scream before dropping it back to the platform like a bomb from an airplane.
Completing a bend you never were able to do before is like hitting 100 snatches in 5 minutes for the first time ever, and letting out a warrior cry because it took so much hard work and determination to get there.
Much like the landmark feats described above, I love taking a perfectly good nail or bolt and making it completely useless.
Some people think this is ignorant, but they don’t realize that BENDING IS THE PERFECT COMPLIMENT to movements such as the kettlebell snatch and the deadlift…
Now, you’re probably thinking: What!?!? How in the world could bending steel compliment my snatch and deadlift work?
The answer is the principle of Antagonistic Balance.
“Antagonistic” means opposite, against, contra-indicative.
Think of a Broadway Play. The agonist is the main character and the antagonist is the character that plays opposite him or her. Many times these two are enemies, or their views are somehow contra-indicative of one another – they are opposites; they disagree.
So what is Antagonsitic Balance, then?
Well, your body works the best, improves its performance, and is at its healthiest when the antagonistic muscle groups in the joints and opposing sides of the body are within a reasonable balance.
Think of the shoulder. If you do too much bench pressing and not enough rowing, pull-ups, retractions and other opposite movement patterns, you can really do harm to your shoulders, messing up the posture, pinching off nerves, and thus ruining progress on the bench.
You’ve heard of this before probably a hundred times and you are well aware of it in your training, right?
And you know, if you do too much pushing and not enough pulling, you could be setting yourself up for a serious fall down the line.
Now, where does this come into play with respect to the relationship between steel bending, the kettlebell snatch and the powerlifting deadlift…?
To fully understand this, let’s look at the movement patterns of these movements individually.
The Kettlebell Snatch is marked by Extension throughout the body.
The athlete starts in a flexed position with the knees, and hips bent. The bell is swung back through the legs, loading the hamstrings.
The momentum of the bell is reversed with controlled violence and then extension begins throughout the body. The hips and knees extend to give momentum to the bell. The spine is lengthened.
And finally, the arm punches itself into a straight, extended position.
The Deadlift is very similar.
The lifter starts out in a crouching position, grasping the bar as it sits on the floor.
From there, the lifter pulls the weight up along the body, extending the knees and the hips.
Once the bar is pulled to its highest point, the lifter further extends himself, pulling the shoulders back into a position of pride.
Upon analyzing both of these movements, the action that is repeated time and again is extension: extension in the knees, hips, shoulders and arms.
So, what is the natural antagonistic balancing action for the movement pattern of Extension?
There has to be some kind of contra-indicative movement pattern that essentially will negate these two big lifts, right?
The answer is Flexion.
To repeat, we are looking for an antagonistic, or opposite movement pattern, and we already said that KB work and Deadlifts involve a lot of force into extension, so the natural antagonistic movement pattern would be flexion.
BUT WAIT – I thought that, just like the ghost busters crossing the streams, having your “body in flexion” was bad!?!?
Sure, sitting at your desk all day in flexion is BAD. In can have a huge toll on your body over the years, so let’s try to avoid that…
How about Crunches?
SCREW THAT! BORING!!!
There has to be some other exhilarating strength training practice that involves flexion, while also requiring the same level of dedication, the same level of discipline, and the same level of technical precision in order to succeed that the Kettlebell Snatch and the Deadlift require. But what is it???
The answer – STEEL BENDING.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at steel bending, now, and the movement patterns involved.
The athlete starts out by grasping the nail high up under the chin with the spine, hips, and knees extended.
From there he takes a small step forward, initiates pressure into the steel and begins to lean forward into flexion.
As the steel heats up under the pressure, he feels it begin to move and puts on one last pulse of flexion as he “crushes the can,” compressing his abdomen down and further bending the nail.
Hit after hit on the nail, he does the same thing, flexing his body, until the ends of the nail are within two inches.
Being stuck in it at an office desk or behind the wheel of a car all the time is a bad thing. It makes you tight in the hip flexors, it can weaken the glutes and it can hurt your posture.
However, performing flexion in order to translate the power from your core and torso into your hands and to make the steel tap out to your strength is a good thing.
And not only does it help balance out all of the other training you do all the time, it makes you feel like you are a monster with green skin that can smash through concrete walls.
I’ll warn you right now, though…
As fun as it is, Nail Bending isn’t easy.
If it were easy, everybody would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
If you want to learn how to bend nails the right way, I’ll show you.
Check out my killer DVD: Nail Bending: How to Melt Steel with Your Bare Hands. <= Click that link right away!
All the best in your training, my friends. Now go get your SAVAGE on!
AFFILIATE LINK: Nail Bending: How to Melt Steel with Your Bare Hands. <= Click that link right away!
Jedd Johnson is a certified Red Nail Bender, a CSCS, RKC and Captain of Crush. He is a World Record Holder in the Two Hands Pinch, AND he likes to bend sh*t.
Guest post by Jedd Johnson
Hi, my name is Jedd Johnson. I am a CSCS through the NSCA, an RKC through Dragondoor, and am co-founder of DieselCrew.com. Our website is dedicated to exploring the development of strength and conditioning for all athletes in all sports.
Over the years, my favorite facet of strength training has been Grip Strength and I compete in several competitions every year. Grip Competitions involve Crushing, Pinching, Support lifting and other forms of hand and lower arm strength.
One of the coolest parts of the sport of Grip is Nail Bending. Bending nails, spikes, bolts, steel stock, drill rod, and other things is one of the most exciting and obsessive types of strength training you can do.
Up until now, Nail Bending might be one of the last things you would ever think of doing in your program, but there are actually a ton of benefits that you can get from Bending. Check these out…
1. Forearm size
Nothing has built my forearms over the years like Bending
Nail Bending involves a great deal of tension in the hands, wrists and forearms which leads to major forearm muscle development. Often, forearm work at the gym involves movements like wrist curls and other simple variations.
While wrist curls and similar classic forearm exercises bring about results, they pale in comparison to the bulk build by bending. The sustained tension of nail bending causes growth in both the flexor side of the forearm and the extensor side of the forearm, creating an impressive look of balance and control.
In short, your forearms will probably BLOW UP!
2. Mental and Physical Toughness
Bending nails, bolts and other items involves taking a perfectly good nail and twisting it into a shape that makes it completely useless for any of its normal industrial applications. You’re doing something that was never meant to be done, and to do this requires you to focus all of your strength and your mental power into the bend. A lack of commitment from either end of the spectrum will end up in your inability to finish up the bend.
In order to Bend Big Nails, you have to work hard and be mentally strong
When you become proficient in harnessing your mind’s and your body’s power in nail bending, imagine the results you will see in your other lifts or in the sport you play. You’ll be unstoppable compared to everyone else who has never truly tested themselves in the ways you have after taking on the challenge of bending.
3. Make an Impression!
Take Note: Nail bending is NOT some form of trickery or slight of hand like magic is
However, it DOES bring about much the same reaction from a crowd.
Imagine talking about this new sort of strength training you are doing and when they ask you to show them, you bust out a nail, wrap it in a towel and bend it right before their eyes.
How awesome will that be?!?!
You could use this classic feat of strength of Bending to set yourself from everybody else at school, at the gym, or at your place of work. Instead of just blending in with the rest of the people, you will automatically be set apart from everybody else.
Instead of just somebody in the crowd, you’ll become the Strong Guy/Gal (Yes, ladies bend too!!!), or The Nail Bender.
Every time people see you, even if it’s only occasionally, you’ll be burned in their mind as somebody with a strong grip – nobody to mess with, that is for sure.
4. Get Your Name “Up in Lights”
Nail bending has been growing in popularity exponentially. In fact, you can now get certified for Serious Nail Bending.
The first widely known certification system for Bending was the IronMind Red Nail, a 7-inch long, 5/16-inch thick round piece of steel bar. This bar takes over 450-lbs of strength in order to bend.
Other sites have come on board with certifications of other pieces of steel stock, including Fat Bastard Barbell and Bender’s Battlefield. The numbers of people bending challenge bars steadily increases each day
Isn’t one of the reasons you train in the first place to have fun? Well, the best thing about nail bending is that it is good pure fun. You are able to test yourself and see improvement in your technique and strength while seeing increases in confidence and mental edge.
You can crank up the music and go for a new personal best.
Over the course of time, all of the nails, bolts, and stock you bend can be saved for posterity. You can see how you progressed over the years.
One day, you’ll be able to tell your grand kids about when you first dominated the 60-penny nail or the grade-5 bolt. And maybe you can even log them onto one of the certification sites and show them the certifications you were able to acquire.
In short, nail bending is one of the most exciting parts of the sport of Grip Strength. For me, the physical and the mental benefits I have seen from nail bending are outstanding, not to mention the friendships I have made with some of the top nail benders in the United States and around the world. I
In fact, I love the challenge of Nail Bending so much I recently put together a DVD showing you everything you need to know in order to get started. This DVD contains info on Bending Techniques, Strength Building, and Hand Health so you can continue to bend and enjoy it for years to come.
Until then, all the best in your training, and get ready to bend some steel!!!
Jedd Johnson, CSCS, RKC
Red Nail Certified – 2007
The Diesel Crew