At #GlobalHumanPerformance, we pride ourselves on setting aside time to devote to our continuing education. We devote one evening a week to “shop talks” where our staff can participate in an active conversation surrounding coaching, performance, personal development, methodology, philosophy, etc. This is an awesome opportunity for our staff to engage in meaningful & advancing dialogue.
Sometimes these discussions happen more candidly, and when they do, some absolute GOLD can be discovered. Recently Coach Benny & Coach Donald reflected on the muscular and neuromuscular skills that can be gained with proper and consistent training in the weight room. These are fundamental aspects of movement OR foundational skills that we believe allow a person to be successful in learning a huge variety of future physical skills.
The key here, as indicated by the reference to riding a bike, is that all of the above should be unconscious on some level, so thoroughly ingrained that the athlete could take a 5 year break from training and remember the following 4 points like they had just stepped away yesterday. In other words, these are things that should be so automatic to the experienced weight training athlete that they should be as intuitive as “riding a bike”.
Without further ado… The “Riding a Bike” of Strength Training.
- Breathing: Every athlete should know how to actively use their breath. For lifting and sprinting, this means not only being able to execute a Valsalva Maneuver (or a less intense equivalent) on starts and heavy lifts, but also having it be second nature. Additionally, an athlete should know and feel the difference between breathing into the chest (“breathing up”) vs the belly (“breathing down”).
- Posture: Every athlete should be able to control the position of their spine and pelvis. This means feeling and adjusting for posterior/anterior tilt and being able to execute any and all exercises, from squats and deadlifts to push-ups and rows, with a flat, neutral spine. Success in this area is characterized by both conscious control of the lower back and consistently having a flat spine with every single movement (when appropriate).
- Shoulder control: Every athlete should have conscious control over the position of their scapula. This means being able to actively depress, elevate, protract, and retract the scapula and hold them in the appropriate position for the given movement (e.g. protraction for push-ups, depression and retractions for rows/pull-ups, strong retraction for deadlifts, etc.).
- Movement-muscle relationship: Every athlete should know and feel, at least in broad strokes, the target muscles of their most commonly done and/or favorite exercises. This means having sufficient mind muscle connection to not only know that a pull-up is a back exercise, but also feel their lats/traps engage. The corollary is feeling when something is not engaging (e.g. only getting a bicep pump from pull-ups) and being able to adjust accordingly.
Coach Benny talks more about this core belief on Episode 62 of Training Well Done titled "Learning to Crush the Brick". To you, experienced strength training athletes, we pose the question: Is strength training like riding a bike?