Notes From the Field II – Three More Ways My Clients Are Getting Strong


It’s about time for another edition of my Notes From the Field series. Here’s where I let loose with some of the experiments and techniques I’ve been using with my clients to get monster results. Make no mistake about it, though, this isn’t eggheaded lab rat shit. This is the real world stuff that’s making my clients real world strong.

1. Front Squats.

For the past few months my clients have done almost entirely front squats instead of back squats. Now, don’t worry, I’m not trying to go all Micheal Boyle on your ass and create a huge controversy by saying the back squat is bad. Jesus, nobody needs more of that shit. I’m a huge fan of the back squat for developing strength, power, and athleticism.

However, given that I train a lot of athletes with limited schedules we have to look at “bang for the buck” exercises. One of my highest priority exercises for getting strong and brutal is the deadlift and variations there-of. Given that the deadlift has been such a frequent inclusion in our training lately combined with all of the other posterior chain stuff we do like Good Mornings, Glute-ham Raises, Cleans, Swings, etc, the quads have been getting a little less love and the back has been loaded a lot.

So enter the Front Squat. Since incorporating it more often I’ve found that my clients are demonstrating better upper back flexibility, core stabilization, and better hip flexibility. All good things. They’ve been getting a lot less burnt out, too.

2. Neural Charge/Amp sets.

*****This is a little more of an advanced technique, but it’s working well for everyone that’s past the pure beginner stage.*****

Basically what I’m doing here is implementing my version of some things I’ve picked up from a variety of sources to get a little extra jack before doing a big set. What I mean by “Neural Charge sets” is performing a few reps of an exercise that promotes speed and explosive power to “prime” the nervous system before big sets. This gets the CNS fired up and ready to go and that power translates over to the big exercise.

For example, before each work set of deadlifts I might have my clients perform 3-5 box jumps (which help explosively activate the posterior chain), wait 10-20 seconds, and then crush the deadlifts.

For the upper body I like five clapping push-ups before a big set of bench press, as another example.

Some keys to think about:

-The Neural Charge exercise doesn’t necessarily need to by a plyometric exercise, but it needs to be fast and explosive.

-Chose exercises that are going to activate the primary movers used in the main strength exercise.

-Don’t come anywhere close to failure or fatigue. The point is to get charged up, not stress yourself.

3. Incorporating quickness drills into the warm-up.

We all know at this point that speed is governed much more as a function of strength versus bodyweight (ie high relative strength), technique, and flexibility. You do know that, right? True speed is not created by running around cones and other stupid shit that looks complex and sells memberships to “speed clinics” to hopeful parents. I’ve got a lot to rant about on that topic, but it’s a post for another time.

Quickness, on the other hand, is less a function of strength (assuming adequate strength exists) but more a function of elasticity and reactivity. These qualities can easily be drilled with various footwork drills such as hops, reactive jumps, bounds, etc.

Now, unless there’s a huge need to develop quickness in an athlete then I don’t devote a lot of time to it (our explosive lifts do a good job of keeping them quick anyway), but what I’ve been doing is throwing in a couple of quickness drills into our dynamic warm-up. What this does is:

-Improve my athletes’ quickness. Good.

-Take up little or no extra time (they’re warming up anyway). Good.

-Further excite the nervous system, which is a central point of the warm-up, so they’ll be stronger and faster during the work-out. Always good.

-Add a little fun in. Most of these little quickness drills are pretty simple and kind of fun, so people dig’em. Good.

There’s a quick look into three things that we’re doing at Relentless. It’s been a great summer and I’ve been playing with lots of new techniques and personal records have been falling like rain, so expect to see some more Notes From the Field coming up!

What’re some new things you’ve implemented in your training lately and what have the results been? Comment below!

Comments on Notes From the Field II – Three More Ways My Clients Are Getting Strong Leave a Comment

August 25, 2011

Atlas stone lifting without tar. my hands will soon crush rock, or fall off. Supersetting mid rep (8) heavyish DB cleans with neutral grip barbell pressing (swiss/log). Shoulders are feeling healthy (finally), getting stronger, and more stable.

August 26, 2011

Isaac @ 1:13 pm #

Nice, man.

I have really been digging the log press, too, for my trashed shoulders. I’ve actually added a Swiss bar to the “necessary equipment” list for the next facility.


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