Random Observations on Spotting, Core Work, and Speed

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It has been a while since I have done a random thoughts post. I have a few things that I want to discuss but each one probably doesn’t warrant its own post.

Most athletes would get stronger without spotters on the bench press

exactly what is going on here?

Ok so I am just jumping right into this one. I know that spotting is important for safety so I am not condoning unsafe lifting.

I do think that a lot of people are too reliant on spotters with the bench press. It is, after all, one of the biggest lifts that has ego issues.

How much do you bench? It doesn’t matter because someone definitely benches more than you.

This becomes a real issue with people that lack upper body strength. A lot of young lifters are trying to accelerate the process and get to certain numbers. This quest leads to a lot of questionable spots on the lift.

I like to let our high school kids spot each other as much as they can. I always remind the kids to let the bencher do the work. Too often it is my turn to spot and the lifter misses gets stuck on the third rep.

The problem is that the athlete was missing reps but counting them because the spotter took care of the rest. One of the big themes from Jim Wendler’s book, 531, was to never miss a rep.

The best way to ensure not missing a rep is to not let the spotter touch the bar. If they have to touch it, rack the weight because its too heavy.

You cannot get all that strong if you are constantly missing reps. It drives me crazy when someone tries to bench 155 lbs and gets stuck on the second rep. One reason is that 155 isn’t heavy and the second is that we have now wasted a good chunk of the program.

Also, if you can bench around 1.5 your bodyweight, I’m not really talking to you.

Core work should be done first in the workout

When I was learning about strength and conditioning in school and early in work, core work was considered accessory and saved for the end of the workout.

I don’t know how many programs that would be completely spelled- every set, rep, weight, tempo- just to have the last thing on there read: “abs.”

Is that the best we can do? Abs?

Core work is a lot more important than most people think. I find the best way to incorporate it is to put it at the beginning. The first 2 movements on our weight cards are for core stability.

This serves two purposes. First, it ensures that it gets done. It secondly means that the core is properly activated for the next movements that need to get done.

Add it in to your program as the first movement to help finish off the warm up and to avoid the idea of skipping it. Also pick specific movements so that its easier to follow.

Speed is directly tied to effort

Some athletes are slow because they don’t try very hard.

I am not sure why but some athletes are afraid or hesitant to run hard. I don’t know what the problem is but some just can’t/won’t really give it a good run.

I also wonder how many athletes give it a real sprint when they are supposed to. Running at a really high speed is a good way to get faster. If we never reach a decent speed then we cannot expect to get any speed benefits out of it.

You must try really hard to improve on speed.

Now there is the other side of the equation where someone might give good effort but still be slow. That is not the person discussed here.

I like to trick athletes into running all out. This can be done with partner chases or timed runs. Sometimes we have to get athletes to go all out without them knowing it.