Posted by vortexblog | Posted in Custom Programs | Posted on 30-07-2009
Garrett Garrels is the Owner of Garrels Training Systems LLC, as well as, a
Senior Exercise Science major and Business minor at Carroll College.
Garrett is also an Inside linebacker for National Championship team.
The Secret to Success: It’s Time to Update
Your Training Program
By: Garret Garrels, CPT, ISSA
6 A.M. all summer long, you are more than prepared for the first snap of the
season. Or are you? The ball is snapped and you drive your hands into the 300
lbs offensive lineman’s chest. He is strong but is no match for your monster
bench press that you worked on all summer. You dominated him on initial
contact, but all of a sudden that stops and it feels like you are now the
submissive one pushing against a brick wall. You realize that your hands are no
longer perpendicular to your chest and one of your arms is straight off to the side;
a very vulnerable position trying to cross face on 300 lbs. OUCH! The play ends
and you jog back to the huddle holding your arm and contemplating what just
This may be a bit dramatic, but often this is one of the reasons for the high
number of rotator cuff injuries. Not enough strength programs focus on extreme
ranges of motion in various planes. I am in no way speaking out against
benches, squats, and incline press. I do these exercises and have my training
athletes perfect all of them. However, that is not all that we do. We need to go
back to the basics of strength and conditioning and remember why athletes train
in the first place (To perform better on the PLAYING FIELD, not just in the weight
room). This seems obvious until you take a much deeper look at it. All of the
heavy weight training is awesome, but it can’t be fully utilized without a solid
foundation. What I mean by a foundation is that the athlete should be able to
handle his or her bodyweight in various planes of motion.
We have implemented not a template workout, but a philosophy at Carroll
College, where I currently play football. The Carroll College Fighting Saints are a
five time National Championship football team, and we have won those five
Championships in the last six years. Perhaps more importantly, the trainees that
have been on the protocol of the successive pages have been nearly injury free.
As for as a strength and conditioning program, the defensive front seven
as well as the offensive line has undergone a strict protocol. Without getting into
too much depth, the corner stones of the program that differ from the ordinary
are: 1) A focus of muscular strength in various planes of motion. 2) Rotational
core strength. 3) Sport Specific plyometrics. Much of the rest of the program is
very similar to that of the quintessential General Physical Preparedness (GPP)
plan, but let’ talk about what’s different in more detail.
The three focal points discussed were almost all done on one machine,
the Vortex Pro Trainer. Although the movements could have been mimicked to a
certain extent without the Vortex, we found it so much more economical and
efficient to use it. Therefore, subsequent paragraphs describe how the Vortex
assists the strength and conditioning program at Carroll College.
First off, I have mentioned the importance of muscular strength in various
planes of motion, but let’s expand on that idea. In most athletics, the required
movements are in multiple planes of motion and in an unorganized fashion.
However, most strength and conditioning programs focus on single planes of
motion. This reminds me of a famous quote from Vince Lombardi “Practice
doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect”.
With this in mind, we should have phases nearing the end of the off
season when transferring focus from GPP to Specific Physical Preparedness
(SPP) and strengthen the ranges of motion that we would experience during a
game. Therefore, I have found no better way to mimic specific movements than
the Vortex. Some of these movements include single-leg step ups (front and
sideways), incline and military with Swiss ball, weighted pull-ups or weight
assisted pull-ups, multi-directional lunges, RDLs, and this is just a sample. We
put posterior chain strength in the forefront of our workouts, and we try and get
as much variation as possible. I absolutely love the different variations of
weighted pull-ups as well as the hip and back extensions. We do straight-legged
dead lift both bilateral and unilateral, and the same can be said for good
mornings. We have even implemented DB rows only we perform them with the
different angles on the Vortex. I would actually prefer the Vortex because of the
different angles and the ability to go as heavy as you want. As you can tell, the
movements that we perform can be done without the Vortex, but time is much too
precious to me to choose a less efficient route.
Next, I had mentioned our focus on rotational core exercises. The same
can be said for generating specific movements for your core. When I say specific
I don’t mean balancing on a bosu ball either. I mean twisting and bending at
various different angles with weight resistance. We originally started doing
Russian twists and wood choppers with a typical cable cross-over, but we began
experimenting with the Vortex and have found the various angles to be much
more effective, and we are able to get a quicker rotation since there are two
sides. We like to use weights with our core programs and add that to multiple
planes of motion. As a result, we have built some pretty solid cores that have
actually had quite an impact on our vertical jumps.
Moving on, I want to tell you about the keystone of the transition of GPP to
SPP, plyometrics. Much of our thoughts and progression of plyometrics comes
straight from the source, the founder of the “shock method,” Yuri Verkhoshansky.
This is the most intricate part of the program, but let’s focuses on four main
1) We always perform plyometrics first.
2) We start with basic movements. i.e. regular box jumps.
3) We never perform for more than 5 seconds without brake.
4) We always have a complete recovery between sets.
As our athletes become more advanced, we like to add some weights to their
jumps. This can be easily done and tracked with the selectorized plates, but we
add the resistant bands to the weight stack. Now we have just introduced a more
advanced method of training into the program. Everyone has seen or heard
about the importance of training with bands, but here is the reasoning behind
why we use them.
The bands decrease the time of contraction in the eccentric portion of the
jump. Thus causing a greater reaction and utilization of the stretch reflex and
sending the athlete higher into the air. This is why they teach jumpers to descend
as fast as possible and they will ascend naturally fast and harder. Also, since we
are talking about bands let me briefly mention that the increased tension causes
a higher percentage of muscle fiber recruitment.
As the athlete becomes more advanced, we then begin to add movements
such as position get offs into the mix. Our linemen are able to get their in three to
four steps, and it is no secret that those steps are often the most important.
This just gives you a sample to our program, but I hope that it opens your
eyes to some realities about sport specific training. Also, I hope that opens your
minds to the infinite possibilities to training with the Vortex Pro Trainer. Perhaps
Carroll College athletic trainer Brian Coble put it best when he said;
“Regarding the transition from General Physical Preparedness to
Specific Physical Preparedness, the Vortex has been amazing from not
just a performance standpoint but from an athletic training perspective.
Our front seven began using the Vortex in the spring of 2007 and the
following season we had no acute or overuse injuries during the season.
Keep in mind that this was a season in which we won our 5
Championship. It is also amazing considering that our season began with
2-a-days in the first week of August and lasted continuously until the
Championship in December. I would highly recommend the Vortex for any
college, fitness or professional organization as both a performance
enhancer and for injury prevention.” (Brian Coble- MS, ATC, PES, CSCS)
The Vortex Pro Trainer has enabled us to create an amazing economical
workout. It is a win-win situation, and you really get the best “Bang for Your
Buck”. With the Vortex, we have been able to perform more movements and
sport specific variations compared to any other equipment available. As a result,
Carroll College has sculpted faster and stronger athletes that have been less
prone to injuries.