General Tools for Specific Results Part 2

In the first part of this series I discussed the idea of using corrective methods to enhance the performance of general and specific training means.  In part two I plan on diving deeper into the idea and looking at the general exercises selected, or more importantly the General Physical Preparation phase of training.  GPP is a term that gets thrown out there in many different ways but first, let’s talk about what it actually is.  GPP is exactly what it says: it is general physical preparation that is setting the foundation for more intensive and more specific work to be performed.  The athlete needs to be trained GENERALLY in this phase.  Take a step back and think about it.  People come up with all these “cute” general training exercises, but what are we doing with them?  Shouldn’t we just be looking to improve the qualities of the athlete?  Wouldn’t training to improve strength of the connective tissue and muscles in a broad sense allow us to build more specific qualities in the later stages?  With that being said, we need to look at each and every joint action and train it accordingly.

Now, without going on a rant about how the use of the exercise is just as important, if not more so, than the actual means selected, let’s look at the FMS compared to the joint actions of the body.  The ASLR looks at hip mobility, the Shoulder Mobility looks at the shoulder, T-Spine, and scapular functions.  Stability is examined in the push up and the antirotory stability test.  Putting actions “together”, meaning stability and mobility in a movement, shows up in the step over, lunge, and squat.  Looking back at the first article, I’ll say it again: proper mobility brings proper stability.  If the right parts are moving the right amount to get into the positions required then there isn’t compensation by a “stable” part of the body performing the movement.  Lumbar flexion occurring in the shadow of poor hip mobility is one example that many of us in this field would agree on.

So my question now is this: how can these “screens” help us with our programming?  Here’s how.  Let’s look, in a general sense, at what you can expect out of a basketball player.  For the most part, the ASLR will score poorly (2 at best, but many athletes will score below this) while they’ll score well on the Shoulder Mob. It seems odd since they’re so tall, but if they couldn’t extend their T-Spine, these kids couldn’t jump.  You may see some imbalances based on shooting preference in the Shoulder Mob, but more often than not they’re scoring a 3 here.  Ok, so now let’s look at exercise selection.  What exercises would limited hip mobility cause an issue with?  Squats, good mornings, and any variation thereof for that manner would be limited because of this “limiting factor”.  So let’s look at the warm up for these exercises along with other general ideas about these athletes and find a way to “grease the gears” so they can perform them better.

I like to use a 4 warm up set approach (sometimes we’ll only use 3) to get to a “training weight”.   In these warm ups we will hit 4-6 exercises before/after the set to help them move better.  Again, looking at the 1st article, we can say that basketball players, for the most part, have very tight hip flexors and locked up ankles.  You can probably assume that for just about everyone really, but the warm up will look like this:

Wall Ankle Mob                                             Warm Up Set 1

½ Kneeling Ankle Mob/Hip Flexor Mob        Warm Up Set 2

Leg Lowering/ASLR Work                            Warm Up Set 3

Squat To Stand w/ Reach                               Warm up Set 4

Hip Flexor Stretch                                          Working Sets

I like to give the kids a stretch before so they can focus on what the job at hand is.  They should be “ready to go” at this point; now it’s time to get their minds right and zone in on what they’re doing here.  It’s time to squat, and it doesn’t matter if you’re an “everyone must squat” or an “only single leg squatting” kind of coach.  I honestly don’t care.  This is pertinent for everyone.  It can be changed a bit based on the exercise, but this would be the general guideline.

So what next? What about simple hip hinging?  Exercises like Good Mornings, RDL, single leg variations, could look like this:

Toe Touch Progression 2 Legs                        Warm Up Set 1

Toe Touch Progression 1 Leg                         Warm Up Set 2

Leg Lowering/ASLR Work                            Warm Up Set 3

SL RDL Rotation Stretch                               Warm up Set 4

Down Dog                                                      Working Sets

With the ankle playing such a limited role here, there isn’t much need to go there, which is why we spend more time on it before.  If this is not the 1st “lift” we’ll only use 2 or 3 warm up sets so I would group the toe touches together.

The next question I’m sure many will ask is, “Where’s the work for the stability exercises?”  I think we can all agree that “stressing” the core probably isn’t want we want to do prior to any sort of heavy squat or good morning variation, so where would it make sense to throw it in?  Maybe when you’re doing some heavy upper body work?  So an upper body warm up could look like this.

T-Spine Mob (Bench or roller)                        Warm Up Set 1

Multi Planar Scap Work                                  Warm Up Set 2

Rolling                                                            Warm Up Set 3

Bird Dog Holds or SL Push Ups                    Warm up Set 4

Band Shoulder Rotations/Lat Stretch                        Working Sets

There are just a few examples of how I approach this in our general exercise phase to help our athletes be “more ready” to perform well.  Listen, if you’re picking an exercise to use with an athlete it better matter, and it needs to help improve performance, even in the GPP phase.  It has to have a purpose to prepare them for later, more intensive training.  If it has that goal in mind, they have to be put in the best situation to perform it to top quality.  Better gains in the general exercises result in better gains later on in the ones later that really transfer- specific exercises.

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