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Chalk Talk: Draftees Success Dependent on Training Protocol?

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Chalk Talk: Draftees Success Dependent on Training Protocol?

The Background Information

I started this piece because I was reading one of Louie Simmons’ articles on www.westside-barbell.com. For background information, Louie Simmons is often regarded as being one of the world’s best in powerlifting and sport strength training. His client list includes the Kansas Jayhawks, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, and Utah Utes (Not all necessarily are under his guidance now, however)

In the article, Louie speaks on he and his buddy (and fellow strongman also owner of elitefts.com) Dave Tate’s research into the HIT system. HIT stands for High Intensity Training, and it’s a system that was developed on making athletes better. Many high schools, colleges and even pro teams employ the HIT method. Michigan uses it as well. In the article (found at: http://westside-barbell.com/westside-articles/PDF.Files/01PDF/HIT.pdf) Louie says that a top lineman who played for a top 5 school used the HIT system in college. When he left and went to the combine he was only able to rep 225 pounds on the bench press for a total of twelve reps. That’s not good for an offensive lineman who is a 300 pound human, for those of you who don’t quite know about the standards in power lifting and weight training. When he left college he went to an NFL team that utilized Louie Simmons’ Westside Barbell Conjugate Training System.

Louie states that the lineman that used the HIT methods in college eventually said that the HIT method was “useless”. Once word got back to the college that he said that, they banned him from their weight room for life.

Interesting to say the least.

Let’s delve into the HIT concept a bit more. HIT does a great job of training the muscle. It creates strong “looking” athletes. They have impressive physiques and great strength endurance (strength endurance is one of four parts of the strength spectrum) It neglects the other three parts (absolute, speed and explosive).

It’s designed to do one set to failure on a lift, sometimes making lifting sets as long as 15 seconds. These sets, with a solid amount of weight done are impressive to be sure, but it takes much longer than 35 seconds to recover from a set of these.

So let’s talk about what that means: You exercise for 15 seconds and you need a long recovery time. So what? Well, a football play is usually 3-8 seconds with a 35 second play clock. So why not train that way?

The HIT method also utilizes Nautilus type machines, which really put you at a biomechanical disadvantage when lifting and don’t allow for stabilization muscles to be worked.

I’m not going to get into the Westside Method for the sake of boredom and simplicity (which already seems to be out the window), but the basic is that it involves all four parts of the strength spectrum (absolute, explosive, speed, strength endurance).

So, to the point:

Does the style of training correlate to success in the NFL?

From this link, here are some teams who utilize HIT:

http://spartatraining.com/blog/fitness-news/high-intensity-training-athletics/

“University of Florida wins 2 national championships in college football. The Steelers win the Super Bowl. Michigan State gets to the NCAA Championship. Penn State wins the NIT in basketball. The one thing they have in common? They all use H.I.T. training methods. Maybe this stuff actually works.”

Teams Using HIT

Football: Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers.

Hockey: Stanley Cup Winners The Pittsburgh Penguins.

Baseball: The Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres.

Basketball: The Boston Celtics.

Olympics: 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (gold medal)

Collegiate: The University of Kentucky, Southeast Missouri State University, University of Detroit – Mercy, Michigan State, Penn State, Villanova, Stanford, Michigan, The University of Toledo, The U.S. Military Academy, Providence College, Western Kentucky, The University of Cincinnati, Drexel University, University of Miami.

The claim was never that teams that use it can’t win, it’s more that they aren’t as strong/explosive as they could be. For instance, a team who utilizes hit in college can probably recruit a lot of people that can get through with the HIT principle. There are some absolutely tremendous teams and programs using it, and most notably our Washington Redskins seem to utilize the HIT method. For this concept, we’re going to look primarily at the football aspect.

So here’s who we have that utilize HIT in the NFL: Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Arizona, Washington, Tampa Bay, NY Giants, Carolina.

And in college? Florida, Kentucky, Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan, Stanford, Toledo, Cincinnati, Miami.

You can’t argue with some of these teams. Miami has been a NFL factory.

But let’s think critically about this:

Devin Thomas came in his first season and couldn’t pass the physical testing. Could his weight program have been a part of the reason why and not so much his work ethic and preparation?

But, the article that inspired this post even said the skill guys can overcome a lot of the HIT stuff, but linemen really can’t. So, let’s look at these teams’ lines.

Miami has produced very few high quality offensive linemen. The same can be said for any of the above colleges. I think the most notable lineman to come out of any of these schools is Jake Long from Michigan. Even when you expand the field to the defensive line, how many of those schools have produced high quality defensive linemen? Miami (but most of those were from years ago, and it can’t be certain what training method they used.) Vince Wilfork comes to mind immediately (but he’s also involved in the New England Patriot strength and conditioning program which uses the Conjugate Method).

Now let’s look at the NFL teams who utilize HIT:

The Steelers usually have a pretty poor pass-blocking offensive line, and pass-blocking is where a lot of strength comes into play. You can’t really take an angle on a defender and have to rely on strength and form to guide you. It comes into play in the running game as well, but not to the same extent as you can use angles and momentum more so than pass blocking.

Minnesota has a very good offensive line, as does the Giants. But the rest? Not so amazing.

The Findings

Since I can’t find all of the teams that utilize the Conjugate system, I can’t fairly make a true conclusion, but the data points to the fact that Mr. Simmons article may very well be on point. It appears that teams that use the HIT method don’t produce players that produce at the professional level. The jury, however, is still out on if the Conjugate Method produces NFL players who are better equipped.

From my own knowledge of the system, I know that the system produces some of the strongest people in the United States of America as well as the world. It since it involves training multiple parts of the strength spectrum, it typically shouldn’t affect mobility.

As I get more time, I plan on doing more individual research on this matter, going on a player by player basis and really taking a good look at this. But I do find the concept to be interesting, and even as a strength guy I hadn’t previously thought of this as such a large factor in bust potential for athletes. This very well may be a key cog of the formula (as far as drafting linemen goes, anyways) that helps makes some of these picks much more reliable.

I’ll be watching the combine closely as well.

Kind of long here, but I hope you enjoyed the read, if not for anything more than learning about a couple of strength protocols, however briefly I touched on them :)

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thanks for all the research and analysis. Its appreciated. Im actually getting more interested in what teams do for training to get an edge. Though I seem to remember Thomas struggling with fitness because he didnt work out that summer.

Still, great read.

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thanks for all the research and analysis. Its appreciated. Im actually getting more interested in what teams do for training to get an edge. Though I seem to remember Thomas struggling with fitness because he didnt work out that summer.

Still, great read.

That very well could be. But, I have no idea if DT worked out or not that summer. I wish I had access to a crystal ball that answered all of my questions for me. These threads would be a hell of a lot more useful :P

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Great read as always. Training and lifting is interesting, because they learn so many new things every year. I think the point about the timing is very revealing as well.

I also think, when you have guys who attribute increased success in a year, to moving to a training style, that involves more full body work outs like flipping tires and real word working strengths, from a purely muscle grouped, gym focus program, it means something.

I like the full body type of work outs, over hypertrophy style work outs. Even a Mr. Universe type will tell you, he is no athlete.

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Great read as always. Training and lifting is interesting, because they learn so many new things every year. I think the point about the timing is very revealing as well.

I also think, when you have guys who attribute increased success in a year, to moving to a training style, that involves more full body work outs like flipping tires and real word working strengths, from a purely muscle grouped, gym focus program, it means something.

I like the full body type of work outs, over hypertrophy style work outs. Even a Mr. Universe type will tell you, he is no athlete.

I don't like full body routines for football players. I REALLY like the conjugate method, it's one of a few methods I use with my athletes. It involves a dynamic day and a max effort day for the squat and bench days. They train full body (but not all in one day)and although centered around the big three (squat, bench, deadlift) and it puts a focus on using lifts that strengthen your weak points.

It also involves the use of GPP (general physical preparedness) which is things like sledgehammer hits, sled pushing *major staple* and many other real world activities.

HIT is more of a hypertrophy style routine. It focuses purely on strength endurance and size. The Conjugate Method is much more than that.

Conjugate Method is a power lifting style of training, as opposed to the body building type which can make people a bit more immobile.

I think you get all of that, I just wanted to elaborate. :)

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That very well could be. But, I have no idea if DT worked out or not that summer. I wish I had access to a crystal ball that answered all of my questions for me. These threads would be a hell of a lot more useful :P

It certainly was an interesting topic, but I fear you just raised more questions than answers and not just for yourself. How level are these methods applied to various positions?

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It certainly was an interesting topic, but I fear you just raised more questions than answers and not just for yourself. How level are these methods applied to various positions?

Not sure how that's a fear. Knowledge should never be scary.

Sure, it's going to involve some more thought and research, but that's what makes this stuff fun.

I'm not sure what you mean by "how level are these methods applied to various positions", though.

But, according to Louie in his article, he thinks skill guys can overcome the problem a bit more, but linemen have a harder time doing that.

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That very well could be. But, I have no idea if DT worked out or not that summer. I wish I had access to a crystal ball that answered all of my questions for me. These threads would be a hell of a lot more useful :P

I remember he said that the only thing he did was pretty much a few sets of pushups in his hotel room. That's not going to cut it for a high school player let alone a professional athlete.

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I remember he said that the only thing he did was pretty much a few sets of pushups in his hotel room. That's not going to cut it for a high school player let alone a professional athlete.

Regardless, that wasn't really the point in bringing Thomas up. It was more of a food for thought statement. Yeesh. Of all that typing I did, that's what gets picked out :)

Oh well, at least we're talking about it :P

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