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NSCA Tidbits

By February 24, 2011December 22nd, 2015Sports Science Topics

I’m a HUGE fan of the NSCA. In the past year I’ve really stepped it up in terms of reading journal articles. While I peruse many different biomechanics, spine, and physical therapy journals, I find that the NSCA journals never disappoint. I’m lucky to get one or two articles that I find applicable to strength training when I look at other journals, but the NSCA journals always contain an abundance of applicable research. Earlier this week I went through a unique article that I accessed.

It was a collection of all of the 2010 NSCA Conference Abstracts. I hope that this doesn’t tick them off, but I went through the article and copied and pasted all of the practical applications (and some conclusions) from the articles that I found were most important to the strength coaches. Actually I just did this for my own records, but then I realized that some of my colleagues would benefit from having this information. Keep in mind these are simply author’s opinions based on their findings. I realize that these snippets are completely random, and many contain abbreviations, but I have a feeling that my strength coach and physical therapist friends who are experienced with research will be able to figure out the acronyms and will appreciate this blogpost. If you want to know more about any particular statement, find the abstract in this paper and then go hunt down the actual study. Of course, you need to be an NSCA member to access the journals. If you’re not a member, I highly recommend becoming one. Even if you’re not NSCA certified, if you live in the USA you can join for around $135 per year and you’ll receive the SCJ and JSCR.

Here are the practical applications of 52 different studies from 2010:

  • The FMS is not purported to be a diagnostic tool and perhaps the current findings are evidence that, although valuable for identifying pain and overt asymmetries, additional tests must be used to guide exercise progression. If the goal is to assess physical competence or capacity and to evaluate how an individual chooses to move, it is arguably more appropriate to examine performance over multiple repetitions and to modify the screening tasks to parallel the progression of loads/speeds of the physical skills being taught. (Frost, Beach, Callaghan, and McGill)
  • These findings may be useful for strength and conditioning professionals or other allied health practitioners who are interested in incorporating passive stretching routines into their training programs. It appears 9 min of passive stretching performed 3 times a week for 4 weeks results in significant (14%) gains in muscle strength.
  • Although strength and power can be significantly improved by strength and conditioning programs during an athlete’s playing career, speed and agility performance may be dependent more on genetic factors than by training adaptations.
  • Interpretation of previous work showing long compliant tendons were better suited for jumping should take into account that during the quick jump situations often observed in sport that tendon length may actually diminish rather than enhance performance, and thus decrease the importance of AT-length for talent identification. Optimal muscle architecture appears to be dependent on both the eccentric load and the phase of jump. While both strength and plyometric training have been shown to increase FL only heavy strength training has been shown to increase P. Thus when a high eccentric load or multiple jumps are required for sport heavy strength training should be used to allow for early force production during jumping.
  • Practitioners should consider the individual response of athletes to recovery time in complex sets when designing complex training programes. Although individualised recovery is ideal for the enhancement of power, it is not always practical. Selection of a fixed recovery time is logistically more practical, yet  practitioners must be aware that not all athletes will respond positively to the selected recovery time.
  • These findings suggested that stretching of the hamstrings may adversely affect the conventional H:Q ratio as well as the functional H:Q ratio. Thus, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, and other allied health professionals may want to avoid using hamstring static stretching as a mean of injury risk prevention immediately prior to athletic activities.
  • Resistance training programs should include hamstring based exercises in order to improve H:Q activation ratios and potentially reduce the risk for ACL injury.
  • To facilitate positive effects on potentiated concentric force and power during large amplitude SSC movements like an explosive leg press exercise, it may be beneficial to specifically train to improve force late in the eccentric phase of the SSC.
  • The session-RPE values recorded from the protocols in this study could be applied when calculating internal training load for periodised training programs for field sport athletes. If speed development is a primary focus, free sprint, resisted sprint and plyometrics training can enhance 0-10m velocity at a relatively lower intensity when compared to weights.
  • Exercise targeted at activating the GM group should be considered as a preperformance protocol in sports where peak power production is a key component. In contrast, the use of WBV as a preperformance modality should be reconsidered as its use may have a deleterious effect on peak power production.
  • While successfully hitting a baseball certainly requires high levels of motor control and skill development, it is clear that muscular strength (i.e., grip strength, upper and lower body strength) is an important contributing factor. Strength and conditioning programs for baseball must be sure to provide adequate amounts of heavy resistance exercise training to ensure appropriate strength levels are attained.
  • The results show that 30 seconds of foam rolling on each of the lower-limbs and back had no effect on performance. Post-foam rolling fatigue measures were significantly less than past-planking fatigue measures
  • The depth of the squat does not appear to be a critical factor in improving vertical jump performance in moderately active individuals.
  • Because VJ is a strong predictor of speed regardless of position, football players desiring to increase 40Y should incorporate exercises that improve vertical ground reaction forces. Reduction in body mass is important for improving speed in LM, but this may not be advantageous for success at the position.
  • Practitioners and strength coaches can use moderate-volume training to increase lean mass, strength, muscular endurance, and hypertrophy for athletes or the general population, regardless of their initial training status or protein supplementation.
  • Using the present protocol, WBV does not appear to have practical acute value for sprinting.
  • Differences in right/left and dominate/non-dominant lower body strength characteristics could indicate potential concerns dealing with both performance and injury. This data also indicates that female athletes may be more vulnerable to performance aberrations and injury compared to males.
  • Exercise to muscular failure results in a similar MPS response regardless of intensity. KW provide an occlusion stimulus allowing muscular failure to occur with a lower total volume of work. This benefits populations who cannot sustain the mechanical stress of high intensity exercise, or low intensity exercise with normal blood flow which requires more repetitions to be completed until muscular failure.
  • This study demonstrated a linear increase for PV, TOV, and RFD/Mass with reduction % as BWR increased. The use of assisted jumping may enhance high velocity performance. Practical Applications: Incorporating assisted jumping using elastic cords might elicit an adaptation when applied in a training study.
  • MMA fighters may benefit from adding grip strengthening exercises to their strength training routine, along with incorporating plyometrics and high velocity exercises to develop total body power and speed.
  • Using KT for increasing blood flow for rehabilitating or strengthening muscles of athletes may not be more beneficial than regular AT. It appears that the application of either tape may change blood flow to the targeted area, but most likely as a result of prior exercise.
  • Despite the well-known health and fitness benefits attributed to WT, participation is not without risk as the prevalence of shoulder pain among WT participants may exceed that of the general population. Those who perform behind the neck latissimus pull-downs and/or military press are more likely to report pain during WT, whereas those performing strengthening exercises of the external rotators are less likely. Practical Applications: The results of this investigation may provide direction for evidence-based injury prevention efforts and exercise prescription in the WT population. Modification of the behind the neck latissimus pull-down and military press exercise; as well as efforts to strengthen the external rotators may serve as a useful means to mitigate existing shoulder pain. One must use caution when interpreting these results as future intervention based trials are needed to investigate a causative and predictive effect.
  • Our results suggest that a lower level of daily physical activity may be a cause in retreatment of OBT and melatonin circadian rhythm. Practical Applications: Increased daily physical activities in children would contribute to the synchronization of circadian rhythm.
  • Intermittent ice application is recommended prior to dynamic full-weightbearing proprioceptive exercises, which may be prescribed during the late stages of rehabilitation. Not only does ice application reduce the athlete’s sensation of pain, it may also enable exercises to be performed earlier than would normally be possible.
  • These results indicate that engaging in a warm-up prior to resistance training does not enhance strength development over a six-week time period.
  • While both increased short distance speed with and without direction change and vertical jumping ability are critical skills associated with successful soccer performance, the means by which each are enhanced appears to be training specific. Accordingly, coaches and athletes should determine the desired performance-related outcome prior to developing and initiating a training plan.
  • Loading modifications (when targeting 75% of 1RM for 10 repetitions) are necessary for the second and third exercises performed in succession when the first exercise stresses similar muscle groups. Similar levels of fatigue were induced by the first exercise performed independent of RI length. However, the associated decrements in performance with short RI lengths are less in women.
  • From this preliminary study it appears that training with light load lunge exercise improves velocity, step length and joint range of motions. The jump squat exercise improves 1 RM on the box squat exercise and has a small impact on increasing velocity. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Light load lunge exercises should be included in exercise programmes with this population. It will improve their functional ability in a wide  range of movements and will help to make them less susceptible to falls.
  • Whilst some anthropometric measurements associated with climbing performance cannot be modified, variables such as pinch, crimp and hand grip ratios are trainable and grip strengthening should be included in a climbing specific resistance training programme.
  • These data indicate eight weeks of separate plyometric, sprint/resistance, and resistance training all result in significant improvements in both low and high speed muscular strength as compared to a control group.  The greatest improvement in high speed muscular strength was observed in the plyometric group while  there was no significant difference in improvement in low speed muscular strength regardless of training protocol. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: A variety of training methods appear to result in improvement of both high and low speed muscular strength including plyometric, sprint/speed, and resistance training. Plyometric training demonstrated the greatest impact on high speed strength, while there seems to be no difference in training employed on low speed muscular strength.
  • BM and BJ appear to be the best predictors of speed and agility in NFL football players. Interestingly, when BJ was included in the model, VJ was eliminated as a significant predictor of three of the five tests. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Exercise regimens that decrease body mass and improve horizontal and vertical ground reaction forces may be beneficial for improving speed in NFL football players. Research is needed to determine level of transfer of increases in BJ scores and decreases in BM to improvements in interval speed and agility scores.
  • These data suggest that older adults who possess higher levels of dynamic balance have greater global cognitive function. Thus suggesting that mobility in older adults is important for cognitive function. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: This study suggests a relationship between mobility and cognitive function, given the positive relationship between the two it can be suggested that steps should be taken to preserve the dynamic balance of older adults.
  • Based upon these findings it can be suggested that height and strength play an important role in shot put performance, but not performance in the weight throw. In particular shot put performance was significantly related to a preseason measure of upper body strength assessed via 1RM bench press. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: The results from this study indicate that track and field coaches should spend time during the preseason developing the bench press strength of female shot put athletes.
  • This study suggests that college aged student need to be aware of the level of physical activity, and attempt to maintain adequate levels as they advance towards graduation. Given the level of obesity in our society, keeping graduating undergraduate students aware of their physical activity levels might be an effective way to combat obesity in young adults.
  • This information could be useful to anyone performing a physical fitness assessment, or who needs an  alternative test for the one-minute pushup test. The 90-second dumbbell swing test is relatively easy to perform, and addresses more muscle groups simultaneously than the one minute push-up test.
  • The hypothesis that 8 weeks of core training would improve serve velocity in intermediate tennis players was not supported; however, several biometric measures were related to serve velocity. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Participation in core training alone may not be an effective method for improving serve velocity, but may be effective with the addition of upper- and lower body strength and conditioning.
  • The results of this study support previous research that few conclusions can be obtained from subjective rating scales and performance measures. However, it appears physical size is a more significant predictor in subjective ranking for this subset compared to the collegiate and professional athletes, which report lower body power (i.e. vertical jump) to be a primary predictor. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Certified strength and conditioning specialists can utilize the descriptors of this data set as a benchmark for an elite population, which may assist in goal setting for their athletes in their respective strength programs. Coaches can also use this information to understand the physical and anthropometric profiles that facilitate  an athlete to become a more attractive college recruit.
  • Physical agility training is as effective, or more effective, as traditional linear running in enhancing general physical fitness. Further, it is likely more effective than linear running in enhancing specific measures of physical and cognitive performance, such as physical agility, memory and vigilance. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Physical agility training should be a central component of military physical training and most sports training. It may also be a beneficial tool for improving both mental and physical fitness in the general population as well.
  • Sport scientists should not overly value combine tests as greater predictors of success than on-field performance. Previous research has demonstrated that the 40-yard dash time for running backs is the best predictor of playing performance regardless of draft status. Future examinations on a larger subset of participants from different positions could be beneficial to future predictions of performance. Furthermore, the inclusion of a sprint power calculation may potentially offer the greatest predictor of draft status with a larger pool of subjects.
  • Surprisingly in a large group of untrained subjects, RPE using the CR-10 scale should not be used as a singular measure of exercise stress and should be used as part of a group of stress indicators (e.g., HR, exercise technique, repetition speed) to determine the fatigue status of an untrained subject performing resistance exercise.
  • VJ and CP performance in adolescents may predict novice success in OL. In addition, these findings suggest those interested in promoting USAW, the sport of OL, and the prevalent use of these high-speed lifts consider these specific field tests as potential indicators of initial success. Further research is recommended on the efficacy of these tests in the prediction of long-term OL success. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Strength and conditioning specialists and OL coaches often recognize the importance of the early identification of talent in these complex, high-speed lifts. Using the VJ and CP in an initial battery of pre-screening performance tests may facilitate this identification.
  • The increased energy expenditure at each of the given walking speeds on the CT could have dramatic implications for populations that cannot achieve running speeds. For individuals whom are overweight, diseased or returning from injury, walking on the CT could allow the attainment of HR values similar to those achieved during running. The current study utilized a healthy, active population, but the results should be applicable to the aforementioned populations that cannot generally maintain running speeds for desired durations.
  • The strength and plyometric training integrated into the 8 week running program improved running performance and running economy to the same extent as the running only training, but with approximately 25% less running volume than the running only training. The increase of reactive leg strength and power appear to transfer into improved running economy more effectively, versus running only training. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Training with the portable self coaching system used in this study appear to improve running performance more effectively than traditional running only training, and prevent injuries or overtraining syndrome often  associated with run only training, while also building a foundation for subsequent training and development of running performance.
  • Although the straight crunch exercise is commonly used for the rectus abdominis and the rotating crunch for external obliques, this study has shown that the opposite may provide improved recruitment for the muscles tested. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: This study may provide some important information regarding commonly used exercises in the conditioning of abdominal flexors, improving certain performance outcomes.
  • Wider female grip widths were associated with less shoulder horizontal extension and greater bench press performance, whereas narrower male grip widths were associated with less barbell displacement and greater bench  press performance. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: 1RM bench press performance may be influenced by grip width and shoulder horizontal extension range of motion or barbell displacement distance. However, further investigation is necessary to explore if technique differences between males and females may influence overall bench press performance.
  • Despite the lack of significant physical fatigue, there was evidence of increased perceptual strain during each race trial, as average power was maintained throughout despite increases in ratings of perceived exertion. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: From a practical perspective, it appears that it did not matter if rowers had 6 or 24 hours recovery time between subsequent ‘‘all-out’’ 2000m performances on a rowing ergometer. This seems to demonstrate not only the highly trained nature of collegiate rowers but also their  mental toughness and ability to psychologically absorb and tolerate the physical stress of ‘‘all out’’ 2000m rowing performance.
  • This study was a hypothesis generating pilot study using a small number of well-trained athletes. TRA training had greater effects on strength performance and was more efficient compared to DUP. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Use of TRA was a more practical and efficient method of training.
  • The results suggest that 4 months WBV does not have an effect on BMD or BMC. This may be due to the duration of the study, the frequency and or amplitude used, varying upper and lower body stress through the week, or nutritional factors not measured. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: These results suggest that whole body vibration utilizing the current protocol is not a viable method for increasing bone mineral density and content of D-1 XC Runners.
  • It appears that most jump tests have high reliability and are highly interrelated to one another. Thus, any of several jump tests may be used with equal effectiveness to evaluate the jump performance of female collegiate volleyball players.
  • The results of this study indicate that a two-day a week sprint, plyometric and agility training program over four weeks can have positive results on the speed, endurance and power of high school soccer players. PRACTICAL APLICATION: High school soccer coaches and trainers should consider implementing an agility, plyometric and sprint training program for the development of speed, endurance and power in their athletes, even if they have a limited amount of time for training outside of soccer practice.
  • ACL intervention training can reduce deficits during the tuck jump assessment and may help reduce risk of ACL injury. There may be a dose-response relationship to the neuromuscular training targeted to prevent ACL injury. Future research is warranted to determine if pre-season combined with in-season maintenance training is optimal to improve biomechanics and reduce ACL injury risk. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Pre season neuromuscular training should  be utilized to help minimize the risk factors associated with ACL injury. Progress of the training can be evaluated using a field based Tuck Jump Assessment that is feasible for coaches.
  • These data suggest that significant relationships do exist between sports performance variables and BV, but one cannot interpret this to mean a cause and effect relationship. Other variables, such as hitting mechanics and bat properties (mass and moment of inertia), are also important in producing greater BV. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Strength and conditioning coaches wanting to improve player’s BV should design sport-specific programs to develop strength, peak power, lean body mass, and rotational power.

Congratulations for making it all the way through! To reward you for your efforts, here’s a picture of Jamie Eason:


  • js says:

    Great Post! I am a member of nsca and the provide great research and I learn a lot. I do suggest that people look into it. Thanks again.

  • Zach W says:

    Bret, I would highly recommend against posts like this. When you post conclusions without any context or methodology, you encourage readers to accept the conclusions without evaluating the source. Just because its written or presented doesn’t make it truth. For example, many of your emg studies simply can’t be taken at face value because of the poor reliability of surface emg measurements (I doubt you’re sticking needles in your muscles). It doesn’t mean the results aren’t worth taking about, but the results must not be overstated. The worst thing about the research world is how easy it is to publish bad data. Exclusively printing conclusions enables blind consumption. I think your site is fantastic, I just hope that you use caution and realize that with your extensive readership you can push good and bad ideas to the masses equally effectively.

    • Bret says:

      Zach, here are my thoughts.

      While the less-educated trainers might do what you said and accept the conclusions at face value, the more-educated trainers understand research and realize that 1) The quality of the study is paramount, and 2) You need to examine the entire body of research in order to draw conclusions about a particular topic.

      So the educated folks will benefit from this post, and the un-educated will in a roundabout manner. We all started out reading abstracts and accepting the conclusions. As time went on and we were exposed to more research, we realized that there is often contradicting evidence which led to a better understanding of research in general. As long as I continue to expose people to the research, they will figure this out over time.

      So I definitely see your point and thought about that prior to posting this blog, I decided to go forward with it because many of my friends like this sort of stuff. And in regards to your comment about EMG, I disagree. Surface EMG has good reliability if you do it right, but it’s examining a particular portion of the muscle, which is exactly what fine wire EMG does (albeit at a different, deeper portion of the muscle). I think there are definite conclusions that can be drawn from EMG data, and coaches/therapists who fail to see its value are short-changing themselves in my opinion.

      Anyway, thanks for posting your thoughts – they are appreciated.

      • Zach W says:

        Bret –

        I really appreciate your willingness to allow comments that are not 100% in line with your opinion to be posted on your site; I think it shows a level of sophistication that is rare in the lifting world. I’m sure many other authors would have raged and thrown up a written facepalm (or never allowed it to post in the first place).

        I completely agree that stimulating deeper discussion in this field is critical, as that’s not exactly the history, and I think your efforts in this direction are fantastic. I wasn’t saying to not post research, but that I think the greatest value in learning comes from the discussion around “does this study have value” and why, rather than just the conclusions.

        Keep up the good work; your blog is one of the first three sports performance feeds I look for every morning on my rss reader.


        • Bret says:

          Thanks Zach. I agree with you. But my hope is that some other folks (myself included) will pick out a study or two and take a close look at it, then perhaps write a blog about it. This one was all about exposure! I appreciate the kind words!

  • “Sport scientists should not overly value combine tests as greater predictors of success than on-field performance.”

    Whoever wrote that is probably very intelligent, and handsome…

    Seriously though, thanks for including my abstract in your post. Conclusions like these can sometimes get lost in the shuffle, but still provide good information.

  • Thanks for sharing, Bret. Some of our research here at NAU may challenge or confirm a few of the prongs over the next 1 to 2 years. We’ll keep you up to date.

    Carson Boddicker

    • Bret says:

      Carson, that’s very interesting! And I hope you’re getting involved in the research and getting your hands dirty. We need more people from the online world migrating over to the research world. Thanks!

  • Matias says:

    Hey Bret, I’m reading about that quake in NZ. Are you ok???

  • Edmund says:

    Hey Bret!

    Can you post a list of what all the acronyms stand for? I’m a little lost in all this.


  • Andrew says:

    “Because VJ is a strong predictor of speed regardless of position, football players desiring to increase 40Y should incorporate exercises that improve vertical ground reaction forces.”
    Does this statement conflict with your writing in a previous post where you discussed horizontal displacement in sprinting?
    Keep up the awesome content and goodluck in NZ.

    • Bret says:

      Andrew – yes it does. This is a fascinating topic and one that I’d love to write a review on….but don’t have enough time! Lots of brilliant research showing importance of vertical and horizontal forces in acceleration sprinting and max speed sprinting. As you speed up, you get more of both, but vertical force tends to drop out at around 70% of max speed, whereas horizontal force keeps rising.

      • Rich says:

        Great stuff Bret and wished you stayed at elitetrack. Here is a brief comment from Mike Young which I thought may be of interest:

        I addressed it VERY briefly. I think the research methods used to indicate that horizontal force application is more important than vertical when at top speed are flawed. The force is measured by a tether to the athletes back which means that they would have to apply more horizontal force just to run as compared to an untethered run. Dr. Weyand also felt the non-motorized treadmill used in these studies would also cause problems with the data.

        • Bret says:

          Thanks Rich! I am a big fan of Mike Young, and guys like Weyand are ten times smarter than me, but I disagree with them. The way I see it, vertical force is critical for max speed maintenance. Horizontal force is critical for going faster. I actually want to make this a topic of the week down the road. I’m going to ask one of the gurus here at AUT about the tether and hear his take on the matter. Thanks again!

  • Dan says:

    This is such a huge heap of information, it’s like candy to me. You are always at the top of my list of daily blog visits. Much thanks!

    This specific one caught my eye:
    •This information could be useful to anyone performing a physical fitness assessment, or who needs an alternative test for the one-minute pushup test. The 90-second dumbbell swing test is relatively easy to perform, and addresses more muscle groups simultaneously than the one minute push-up test.

    This seems intruiging, what is the 90 second swing test? I havn’tbeen able to find reference of it anywhere.

  • Paul says:

    Great post Bret! I can tell journal articles are your new favorite porn 😉
    The first point really hit the nail on the head…simple assessments only go so far…what do you believe is the best way to go about assessing somebody? How would you do it with your athletes?



    • Bret says:

      Thanks Paul!

      I like looking first at basic movement patterns such as those seen in the FMS (and a couple others such as single leg glute bridging and side planking) and table assessments/joint ROM’s, then looking at how the athletes function under load, then looking at how they function in high velocities. Looking at all four (basic patterns, joint ROM’s, high loads, high speeds) gives you a really good picture of where the athlete stands.


  • Alex says:

    When will you post a review of “The 4 hour body”?

    I take it you read a lot of books? You could have a section of your blog called “Brett’s books” where you post short reviews. Maybe make some cash from Amazon sales? When I am shopping for new books, I want them to be vetted by people I trust (ie you).

  • Alex says:

    I would also like to see eg reviews of non-training books. Business/self-development books, for instance. I bet others are interested in this as well!

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