Spoiler alert! We are not advocating the performance benefits of consuming cat poo. For those I have misled, I’m sorry, but I promise you, this info is much more useful.
In previous blogs, on our podcast, and in @John’s famous 42 Things I’ve Learned (check number 40), we’ve discussed how moving the bar as fast as possible must be common practice in your training. We call this CAT, or Compensatory Acceleration Training. I won’t pull a repeater, beat a dead horse, and waste time echoing what we’ve already said. If you haven’t dug into that info, do so now. I’ll wait.
Now that you know what CAT is, let’s talk about HOW to apply CAT to your lifts, and how to accurately measure it.
CAT works with any training movement. However, it is not practical to apply CAT to shorter, single movement patterns (1). We’ve found the biggest return on investment with the big, full body compound lifts: The Squat, Deadlift, Press, Bench Press, Power Cleans and Power Snatches. Could you “CAT” a front squat? Yeah you could. But, improvements in bar speed would only be relative to the front squat. In the grand scheme of things, your time would be better spent applying CAT to your Squat, which would carry over to it’s variants. Since the two lifts share the same Primal Movement Pattern and because the back rack of the Squat allows for a more stable base of support for the bar, applying CAT to the Squat will allow you to move more weight faster, ultimately driving a more potent training response for that movement pattern. This is common to all lifts and their variants; the core lift that gives you the most stable base of support will allow you to move heavier weight faster. That’s the style on which we focus on applying CAT.
Here’s the point I’m trying to make: If you are not accelerating a heavy bar as fast as you physically can, you are leaving gains on the table.
So how do you know if you’re moving the bar as fast as possible?
Let’s separate these lifts into two categories, open chain movements first. These are the Olympic lifts. Through the execution of the lift, your base of support (feet) will leave the ground, opening the chain.
[youtube width=”540″ height=”304″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRthvp0TKo4[/youtube]
Applying CAT to rep max Olympic lifts is pretty intuitive. You cannot slowly hit a 1.5 x bodyweight clean. The demands of these movements at maximal effort require you to move the bar as fast as possible. However, there is still a chance you are not consistently moving it fast enough, yet still completing a lift.
The other barbell lifts is where it gets trickier. The widely accepted “activity” of “completing” our big lifts is successfully travelling through a “range of motion”. An athlete puts a really heavy bar on their back, sits below parallel and stands it back up. They’ve crushed a squat.
Do not confuse activity with achievement.
You can stand that really heavy bar up slowly or grind through a bench press to set a new PR and impress the bros or score in a competition. This is possible because they are closed chain, meaning you set your base of support before the lift and it remains in contact with the ground and/or bar through execution. The problem is, if you’re training to empower performance, the slow grindy pace doesn’t allow you to apply maximal FORCE to the bar! Even when the bar is LIGHT, moving slow is WRONG.
If you are not moving a heavy bar with as much force as you physically can, you are leaving gains on the table.
Uh oh, we tagged in force. What happened to acceleration? Well, Force has an exact relationship with acceleration. How do I know? My buddy Sir Isaac “Fig” Newton did all the heavy lifting back in the 1600s to prove it in his 2nd law of motion. It is thanks to this relationship that we at Power Athlete now have a new and amazing piece of technology to tell us WHEN we are accelerating the bar as fast as you can.
We are happy to announce that FORM Lifting has finally launched their Kickstarter for their FORM COLLAR.
Before the Form Collar, we had to extrapolate force with a $1,500 Tendo Unit to measure bar speed (velocity) and acceleration. It was a clunky process. We had to manually enter weights with up and down arrows that incremented by 1 kg, then had to hook a string up to the barbell. If we had multiple lifters, fortunately we had a monolift to adjust rack height. If we didn’t, we’d be screwed.
Seeking other solutions, we picked up all the other “wearable” devices that claimed to measure exactly what we wanted. The results were disappointing.
Then, Scott, the Form Collar developer, walked into a cert in December 2014 to showcase his pride and joy. A few days later, he came to PAHQ and we ran it through the gaunlet. This thing had potential. Scott tapped us in to help him make the most accurate, most accessible device on the market. And just over a year later, we think we have.
The Form Collar measures take 200 measurements a second to determine acceleration and force. Their smartphone app links to the collar via Bluetooth. The collar transmits measurements to your device, which are then sent to the cloud. Have training partners? No problem. The app allows you to “hot swap” between multiple lifters. We are now beta testing 2 early models and the iOS and Android apps. The results?
Form Collar is LEGIT!
[youtube width=”540″ height=”304″]https://youtu.be/eem1jj03e7E[/youtube]
If you train athletes, this is a no brainer. It absolutely changes the game in empowering your athlete’s performance using a barbell. In the world of sport, speed is king. When a coach wants to develop speed and power in the weight room, they need to be sure their athletes are lifting with as much force as possible. If you powerlift, or crush the Olympic lifts, I really believe this device will take you further than new shoes, wraps, or any other accessory. For the gym warrior who slings weight around in their garage or at their local gym, this is your golden ticket to the gainz train.
We’ve said time and time again, numbers don’t matter. All you coaches had to go off of was 1RM’s and the weight on the bar, but with the introduction of a device that can show an athlete’s force production, and acceleration, some numbers become very important.
Improvements in 1RMs are not nearly as important as improvements to max force production. It took an experienced S&C coach to be able to point that out up until now. With the Form Collar, you can now see that info in the palm of your hand almost instantaneously.
Check out the Form Collar’s kickstarter page to get in early.
(1)Hatfield, F.C. (1989). POWER: A Scientific Approach: Advanced Musclebuilding Techniques for Explosive Strength!. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, Inc.
John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.
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