THE INSIDER BLOG — Posted by: Jon Mangel

KEEPING IT SIMPLE - EMPHASIZING THE OLYMPIC LIFTS AND BARBELL TRAINING

Insider Training asked me to write a blog post on our training program with Football at Mercer University and how/why we utilize and teach Olympic Lifts and Traditional Barbell Lifts.

During my four years working at Mercer University, I’ve been able to attend many strength and conditioning clinics, primarily here in Georgia and the southeast. Many times at these strength clinics I get approached by other collegiate strength coaches as well as high school coaches. They often say something to the effect of “Hey Mercer Strength, you guys do all the Olympic lifts” or “Mercer; you are the Olympic Weightlifting style program”. “You guys do a lot of barbell lifts, is that all you do?” Yes, it is true; we teach/utilize the Olympic Lifts and barbell strength training, it is a big part of our strength program. These questions and comments from other strength coaches does not bother me at all, I like that we as a program are known for Olympic and barbell strength training. I even tell incoming players and recruits that at certain times in the training year we will train on the platform with the barbell eighty percent of the time. We do use other training tools; dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, GHRs, bands, chains and bodyweight movements. However, our identity as a Football Strength Program is training with the barbell. The Strength staff coaches our players to strive to be the most technically sound team in the weight room regardless of the training tool.

There are three main reasons I program the barbell lifts so frequently with our Football team at Mercer other than the obvious strength and power benefits. The maximal strength and explosive power benefits that can be attained through properly programed barbell training is well researched/documented and not necessary to repeat in this blog.

REASON #1: TRAINING WITH THE BARBELL REQUIRES A GREAT ATTENTION TO DETAIL IF YOU’RE GOING TO GET IT RIGHT FROM A TECHNIQUE AND MOVEMENT STANDPOINT.

I firmly believe teaching your athletes how to train with attention to detail has tremendous carry over to practice, competition and life outside of athletics. The barbell lifts require the athlete to attend to foot position, creating tension, grip position, the barbell and body position relationship just to name a few. We all know as Strength Coaches that the athlete must be an active participate in their own development. Teaching the athlete to train with attention to detail ensures their engagement in the training session both physically and mentally.

REASON #2: WHEN UTILIZING THE OLYMPIC LIFTS, THE ATHLETE MUST LEARN NOT ONLY HOW TO APLY FORCE TO GROUND/PLATFORM, BUT ALSO HOW TO ABSORB FORCE WITH THEIR BODY / TRUNK / HIPS IN THE RECEIVING POSITION OF THE CLEAN, SNATCH, AND JERK.

This is specifically referring to working with a collision sport like Football, but this reasoning could also be applied to a contact sport like Basketball, Lacrosse, or Soccer. For lack of better terms, the body will take a pounding when receiving the barbell and build up a “density” that is just not possible with single joint lifts or machine based training. The athlete building up this tolerance for absorbing force and decelerating the weight is essential in preparing a Football athlete for collision with another player and the playing field.

REASON #3: MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE.

We as Strength Coaches are expected to develop our athletes in a variety of ways, both physically and mentally through the training process. From a physical development standpoint the attributes that quickly come to mind are strength, power, and flexibility/mobility. The tool I’ve found that gets us to our training goal the quickest for strength and power development and has the most potential for long term progress is the barbell. As Strength Coaches we are always under time and schedule restrictions from NCAA rules (8 hour segment, 20 hour rule) and the sport coaches we work with. The athletes also practice, have film study, treatments, and competition that all eat into their amount of allotted time given the phase of year they in (offseason, in season etc.). If we can reach our desired training goal in a shorter amount of time, we have afforded our athletes and sports coaches time to work in other areas such as skill acquisition.

For a more in-depth look at Mercer Football and all of Coach Jon Mangel’s training videos on Insider Training, check out:

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