Why BFS considers this lift a must for serious athletes
By Kim Goss
For many years this BFS core exercise has been attacked by those who thought it had little value for an athlete, by those who thought it was dangerous and by those who thought it was too difficult to teach. They were wrong, and the survival of the exercise has benefited those who want to run faster, jump higher and be overall more powerful.
A recent survey involving 137 Division I coaches found that 85 percent used Olympic lifting movements such as the power clean to train their athletes. In the NFL, that percentage was 88 percent. High school football programs are also catching on, especially the ones that enjoy a tradition of victory. I know this from my personal experience as a strength coach.
When I was a strength coach for the Air Force Academy, I enlisted the help of the university’s math department to conduct my own experiment to determine which strength training exercises had the highest correlation to the ability to play football. I compiled the results of the top three athletes on the depth chart for each position, and their maxes on our core and auxiliary exercises, for a three-year period. For defensive and offensive linemen, and in fact for almost all positions, the exercise that had the highest correlation to playing ability was the power clean. The reason is simple. Linemen need to be able to express a high level of strength quickly. Because the power clean allows you to accelerate your limbs over a large range of motion, it’s one of the best exercises for improving what sport scientists call the rate of force development. This is in contrast to conventional power lifts such as squats, which for safety reasons require more time to decelerate the weight – in fact, the only time maximum force can be exerted is at the beginning of those exercises. And there is practical evidence in peer-reviewed journals supporting the idea that power cleans are a superior exercise for developing power.
For example, in 2004, researchers at the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the College of New Jersey conducted a 15-week study on weight-lifting exercises involving 20 Division III college players. One group focused on powerlifting exercises such as the squat, while the other group focused on Olympic lifting exercises such as the power clean. Although both groups showed improvements in the vertical jump, a standard test for athletic power, the authors said, “Results suggest that OL can provide a significant advantage over PL in vertical jump performance changes.”
For those athletes seeking to improve muscle mass, the power clean is also an effective exercise. Let me explain. There are essentially two types of fast-twitch muscles fibers that can increase in size: the Type IIa and the more powerful Type IIb. The Type IIb fibers respond better to explosive lifts such as the power clean; and much of the massive development of the traps, lower back and hamstring muscles on Olympic lifters is due to the development of Type IIb fibers. So if you want as much functional muscle mass as possible for sports, you need to perform the power clean.
But what about the idea that the power clean is dangerous? Again going back to my days at the Air Force Academy, I found that data collected from our athletic trainers showed that the total number of injuries for the first five years I coached there had decreased by 60 percent! I was the person solely responsible for designing the workouts for the football team, and one of the features of my workout programs was extensive use of the power clean. If this lift was so dangerous, how can one account for such results? I have a theory about this – and a story.
I was talking to a friend of mine, a bouncer who also competed internationally in judo, and he said that in a bar fight between a boxer and a martial artist, a boxer would almost always win. The reason, he explained, is that a martial artist could not take a punch, at least not to the extent that a boxer could. In effect, the nature of their sport was such that the boxer learned how to minimize the force of a punch – they had to, as in training they are continually receiving blows to the head. In contrast, martial artists seldom strike each other hard enough in the head to develop this skill.
Likewise, during a power clean the athlete not only must explosively lift the weight but also must catch it. In effect, doing power cleans teaches the athlete to rapidly control the impact, a.k.a. disrupted forces, that occur during the lift. When you consider the ever increasing numbers of athletes suffering ACL injuries, you can see how valuable it is to be able to handle the dynamic, disrupted forces that occur to the ankle and knee during athletic competition. Further, the faster an athlete can handle these disrupted forces, the quicker they will be able to move on the court or in the field.
Finally, the Olympic lifts are “economical” exercises, meaning that they work many muscle groups simultaneously. To achieve a similar training effect with conventional exercises, an athlete would have to perform a leg press, back extension, calf raise, shoulder shrug, upright row, and biceps curl – and even then they would be neglecting a few muscles. Time is a major limiting factor in many athletic programs, so it’s important to use exercises such as the power clean that give you the most bang for your buck.
Is the power clean difficult to teach? Certainly not, if you have the proper educational materials and coaches who know how to teach it. BFS currently gives more than 400 clinics a year to young athletes, and has been doing so for over 30 years. The power clean is taught in all these clinics, and we often see athletes who have never performed this exercise come away with sound technique that will quickly lead to gains in athletic performance. Further, at our certification clinics, we ensure quality instruction, because coaches must show not only that they can perform the power clean at these clinics but also that they can teach it.
Despite its critics, the power clean has proven to be an exercise that can be safe, easy to teach and is one of the single most important exercises for achieving physical superiority.
After 45 years in the business, we know what to look for. We’ll start by helping you identify your specific needs. Then we’ll show you how to decide on a bar that has the proper combination of price, strength and function.
Beware of False Advertising
Tom Lincir, president of Ivanko Barbell Company, warns, “Some manufacturers throw around impressive-sounding measurements of a bar’s strength that are either irrelevant or misleading. Ratings like “1,000-pound test” or “2,000-pound test” may sound impressive because the numbers are big. However, there is no such thing as “1,000-pound test”-it is all a fantasy created in an attempt to satisfy buyers.
BFS proudly offers a wide variety of equipment lines to cover a multitude of requirements from our customers. Among the most common issues are, available space, number of potential users, and of course budget. By offering a varied selection of equipment, racks, benches, cardio, and selector machines your gym or school can get exactly the weight room it needs and can afford.
Recently the Kit Carson school district in Colorado built an all new K-12 school and wanted to maximize their budget for the PE and athletics programs. By working closely with BFS they were able to install exactly the equipment they needed on budget. Working in synch with our providers BFS was able to get the Wildcats up and running with a variety of equipment even in this difficult year. Squat Racks and Olympic Benches were the first order of business and then selector machines and cardio equipment rounded out a complete weight room that can double as a community fitness center.
To learn how BFS Can bring your weight room solutions to life or equipment and the BFS Total Program call one of our experts in education centered athletic and physical development, - 800-628-9737.
One of the greatest marketing ideas in the fitness industry was the invention of the term “energy drink.” The word “energy” sounds much more positive than “sugary sweet,” the primary characteristic of those liquid formulas, which often cost several dollars and often have exactly the same content as soft drinks (with perhaps a bit more caffeine). Let’s take a closer look at the problematic ingredients of most energy drinks, and some healthy alternatives.
Jersey Shore High is a Class AAA school in North Central Pennsylvania. In 2012 the team was 0-10, and the season could not have been considered a rebuilding year, as the Bulldogs had only won a total of five games in the past five years and had not won a district title since 1997. However, Gravish believed his team had a shot at the district title because his team had many athletes returning from the previous team, possessed a good worth ethic, and were motivated by the fact that no one. except for the Bulldog coaching staff.
Coach Gravish, says that one aspect of the BFS program that he particularly likes is that it instills accountability among the players and helps them set performance goals every time they step foot in the weightroom. Jackson especially likes the BFS focus on striving to set personal records with every workout, as well as the fact that BFS is not a “football specific” workout but one that works for all types of athletes.
The BFS Solution
Rather than circuit training, athletes should perform all the sets of a core exercise before moving onto another exercise. This is technically referred to as “station training.” The key to getting athletes through all their exercises efficiently and safely is to develop a rotation system. Let’s go through two examples of athletes performing the squat, one station involving four athletes and another station involving five...
Practical guidelines on what to eat for peak performance
During the weekday, parents have considerable control over what their kids eat for breakfast and dinner. For lunch, there are three options: eat at school, brown bag it, or – and this is the worst decision – hold out for dinner. Let’s talk about it.
Although tightening school budgets make it a challenge, most schools take considerable effort, and expense, to serve hot meals for lunch. Some schools, however, simply do not have the resources, and compromises must be made.
The United States has not had an Olympic champion in men’s weightlifting since 1960, when Charles Vinci won gold in the 123-pound bodyweight class. In Toyoko, our medal drought may end when Clarence “CJ” Cummings steps on the platform.
Going into the Olympics, CJ Cummings is currently ranked fifth in the world, only 8 pounds off of the #2 ranking. On July 29th, CJ will be showing America’s best at the Tokyo International Forum – be sure to tune in!
Many coaches and athletes know BFS because of our highest quality strength and conditioning equipment, and having the right tools to prepare athletes for competition is an essential aspect of athletic fitness. However, the heart of BFS is our clinics, seminars, and certifications, because having the right tools for a job is worthless if you don’t know how to use them.
Since our company was founded in 1976, BFS has been teaching BFS clinics to help athletes learn how to train effectively and efficiently.
The bench press is a BFS core lift that is unparalleled for developing strength in the triceps, chest, and shoulders. It has become such an important part of any athlete’s training that the most common question asked to those who lift weights is, “How much can you bench?” The right tools can accelerate your gains on this valuable lift!
Lifting Bands provide the most resistance at the end range of the lift, such that the athlete can apply more force during this portion of the lift.
We begin junior high and high school athletes with lunges without any weight. We want to get the correct movement down. As in all lifts, the technique is vitally important with lunges. Start with a narrow stance and step out – the challenge is to see if the athlete can come back to the starting position smoothly without any false steps.
Power balance is important in football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, and the following events in track: hurdles, high jump, long jump, pole vault, discus, shot put, javelin, and the hammer throw. Whenever an athlete needs to change direction explosively and transfer quickly from one leg to the other, power balance is required. Lunges are fantastic for that purpose.