Sunday, December 15, 2013

Killer Upper Arm Workout

Hi Everybody!

Here there is a very effective and challenging workout for your biceps and triceps.

Take a look.

You may ask:"What the hell  does 3NEG mean!?"
No Panic! I will show you.

3NEG means that once you have completed all the ten reps, you will perform three negative (or eccentric) repetitions straight away.
If you are pumping your biceps properly, you will not be able to lift the dumbbell after ten or elven reps; so, in order to perform the 3NEG, use the free arm to pull the weight to the chest.
The eccentric movement should last between three and six seconds.

Instead, SLOW means to perform the Push Down in a slow and controlled fashion. Both the concentric and eccentric movement should take two or three seconds. Moreover, make sure you lock your shoulders and elbows to focus the effort on the triceps; always engage your abs.
If you would like to make this exercise more challenging, after the concentric movement, rotate your wrist 90° out and squeeze your triceps hard for one second. I guarantee that it will burn! 

And finally last, but not the least, the STRIPPING(1). It simply means to drop the weight after completing ten repetitions and do other 10 reps straight away.
Push\pull + Drop + Push\pull = one series

When you are pumping iron, always remember to squeeze the muscles you are working!

The workout should take about one hour with warm-up and cool-down.
Try it and let me know how it went ;)

Enjoy it,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The 5-0-5 Agility Drill

Today I would like to talk about one of my favourite agility drill: the 5-0-5 acceleration test.

The idea of this drill is to found out  how fast an athlete can fully stop from max speed and sprint back again.
This drill can be used in those sports where agility is a "must", such as American football, basket, football etc etc.

Let's see how this drill works.
Our pinkish cubic athlete will sprint from a distance that allows him to reach sub max speed before the 5 meters mark; generally, 10 meters away is a good distance. So, he will run toward the stop line, stop in front of it, turn back, and sprint again to the starting point.
The time starts when the athlete pass the 5m mark for the first time and we will stop the clock when he pass the 5m mark for the second time.

One key point of this drill is the stop phase. When the athlete reaches the stop line, he does NOT perform a change of direction (one foot on the line and sprint back); instead, he places boot feet in front of the line and then sprint back. Basically, he has to perform an 180° spin.
Moreover, the athlete, on the way back, has to sprint toward the starting point and not decelerate after the 5m mark.

We can adjust the marks according to our needs. For instance, we can start the clock at 10m and stop it when the athlete reach the 10m mark again.

In order to have an accurate result, is better to perform this test three time, allowing the athlete to have enough rest between sets. Moreover, we can do a practice set before the drill begin.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Adaptive Efficacy in Resistance Training [Infographic]

Here there is another infographic, this time about adaptive efficacy in resistance training.

In a nutshell, what are you training for according the RM (repetition maximum, which is how many reps you can do with a certain weight).

Enjoy it ;)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Light Traffic [Warm-up Drill]

The warm-up could be the most boring part of the training session.
2 laps of run, back-pedalling on the short sides, sprint the last 20 meters. Then, all on one line and do some dynamic stretching; job done.
Every time the same routine. If people spends a lot of time thinking about new drills to avoid the tedium, why shouldn't we do the same for the warm-up?

Here I will show you a nice warm up drill that I use when I am coaching multisport.

This drill is called “The light-traffic”.
All your players are on the line (again?). When they are ready, you shout red, orange or green.

Green → they sprint forward
Orange → they slowly run forward
Red → they stop

You keep on shouting the colours and you can even change the exercise, e.g. back-pedalling or frog jumps, focusing on the muscles that the players are going to use the most during the training.

To make the drill more competitive and fun, you can introduce a forfeit every time a player doesn't follow your command, for instance you shout red! Then, red again and someone runs forward instead of staying still.

The effectiveness of this drill depends on the “creativity” of the coach and on his ability to make the training “interesting”.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coaches in UK [Infographic]

I quite like infographics. They allow you to represent data in a creative way... "Miscere utile dulci" as Orazio said once (for those of you who does not speak Latin - unbelievable - it means "to mingle the useful with the pleasant").

This is my actual first infographic (click to enlarge) and I do recognise that there is a lot of room for improvements. Please let me know what you think :)

Enjoy it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Netball: Possession analysis 1.5

As I promised in my last post, I watched a match on youtube to test my performance table.
Well... I watched only a quarter...

I came up with some improvements.

Column POSS.
If the team get possession because the opponents committed a fault, e.g. foot work, I will put F under this column.

Moreover, if the team loses possession because of a fault, I will draw a line over that possession.

It might happen that the team is defending and loses a rebound. I should put this under the REBOUND.DEF column, but in this way I will use a line for the possession and the team hasn't got the ball (my table track possession only).
So far, I put an L to remind me that they lost a rebound and to not count that line as possession; I think I should write them down somewhere else.... any idea?

Anyway, this is an infographic that I created to show the data of the 1st Quarter Commonwealth Netball Final between New Zealand and Australia.

Bye bye!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Netball: Possession Analysis 1.0

During our last lecture of Performance Analysis we have been asked to design a table to analyse the possession in netball.
I thought: "Cool! Eventually we begin to do practical stuffs!"

Yet, I have only a little concern. I have no idea how to play netball. Just a small detail.

In my country netball basically does not exist; the same goes for cricket for instance. So I decided to go to watch the training of one of the uni team.
After getting a vague idea how does this sport work, I came up with this table (click to enlarge):

I am considering all the output of the possession: shoot (miss or score) and losing ball (due to wrong pass or interception by an opponent). I am not counting the number of passes because it is irrelevant, unless there is a specific need, e.g. decrease the passes to get into opponent’s area.
Moreover, on the first column I am tracking down how the team got possession and the data concerned to rebounds is in the last two column.

Next image shows the table with some raw data in it. Bare in mind that is a “hand and paper” table. I just virtually recreate it for the purpose of this article.

I am going to explain how this table works.
Every line represents one possession and the output of that possession.

Column POSS.
If it is empty, it mean that the team get possession after a shot missed by the opposition, so they move the ball from their area or they keep possession after scoring. If they intercepted the ball, I put In; if they won a rebound in defence, I write down Re and I use Wr if they got the ball because the challengers missed the pass .

This one is very easy. If they score I put O and if they miss I put X under the right column.

You will find an X under MISS if the team misses the pass. On the other column, you will find an X every time their passes are intercepted.
Still, there is one more output. If the pass is intercepted but the ball goes out (the team still keep possession). In this case, you will find X(F).

If the team win the rebound, I write O under the correct column (if it happens while attacking, under ATT and under DEF if it happens while defending); on the other hand, if they lose the rebound, I write X.

You may have noticed that sometimes there is a number close to an X. I use this number (apex) to keep chronological information of the possession.
Let's have a look at the row 6. The team intercepts the ball and they manage to shoot but they miss (X1); yet, they win the rebound (O2) and finally score (O3).

Let me know what do you think and how can I improve it.
One limit of this table is that is general and not specific to the single athlete; moreover, we do not know in which part of the court interceptions and missed passes take place.

I am going to watch more games (real one would be better; otherwise youtube is the place to be) to test it further more and to make some arrangement.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hypertrophy Training: planner overview

To track the progression of my friend's hypertrophy workout I created a training log with OpenOffice Calc, a software like Microsoft Excel but free.
This is what a week of training looks like (click to enlarge):

We use the Strength Training Anatomy book of Delavier as reference for the exercises. The number  between brackets referred to the page of Delavier's manual.
This is a daily workout:
This image is from TUE workout.
We started with a warm-up with the skipping rope. 15 set of 30sec, 10sec between sets. Follow this, we did dynamic stretching for the upper body.

First body part worked was shoulders. We began with a superset focused on the front deltoid; after we did the Nautilus in stripping mode to isolate the deltoids and to stress them as much as possible. Last exercise for the shoulders was focused on the front deltoid too.

Second body part was upper arms.
All the exercises were executed normally and wee mainly focused on the biceps for this session.
As you can see, the triceps extension is highlighted in green. It means that my friend enjoyed this exercises or he found it very useful to pump the muscle. In this case, he felt that the squeezing was very emphasized during this movement.
On the other hand, I will highlighted an exercise in red if something went wrong (or he didn't like it).

A workout ends always with a cool down, generally a low intensity run on the treadmill, followed by 10 min of dynamic stretching.

The next image referred to the feedback.
On a scale 1 to 5, we cover fun, challenging, satisfaction, fatigue pre\post workout of the day. He also write me his weight after the training.
Training intensity is a formula (tot.reps divided by tot.sets) to have an idea of the workout load.

This is how my planner looks like!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Calculate how long a workout will last

When I was planning the first week of hypertrophy training for my friend I realized that I had no idea how long a workout session would last.
So, I tried to come up with some sort of formula that could roughly predict the total time of the workout.
After various attempts, I have this formula that has a 10 min range of error (between my prediction and the actual time that my friend has been training):


set.tot is the total amount of sets in the session.
1.55 is an estimation of the duration of a single set plus the rest between set. 1 min of rest between sets and more or less 30 second to complete one set (1+ 0.55)
25 includes the time for warm-up, cool-down, stretching and some setbacks that may happen in the gym, for istance waiting to use the bench press

This formula helps me a lot when I'm a workout, especially if my friend has to go to the gym between classes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hyperthophy (muscle mass) Training: workout structure

Last August a friend of mine asked me for an hypertrophy workout. This friend of mine is absolutely in love with the gym, he would literally spend all day pumping iron.
So I accepted his request.

(Before the hypertrophy training, we worked one month on his strength)

I designed a workout based on bodybuilding trainings that will last until February (currently we are at week 3).
I'm not going to discuss the aerobic training and the diet. I will focus on the “weight” part of the program. I would just like to say that my friend takes protein shakes after every training session and he follows an healthy diet.

Here is the plan in details.
  • 82kg of muscle mass by February
  • Get a V shape
  • Do at least 5 dips and 5 pull-up with 20% of body weight loaded by February
  • Reduce body fat percentage

5 days of gym training, from MON to FRI, for 5 weeks + 1 one of deload. Repeat the cycle until Febrary.
I'm using a split training system, divided in even and odd weeks.

upper arms.....
lower arms.........
upper arms.....
lower arms.........

upper arms.....
lower arms.........
upper arms.....
lower arms.........

*WED* ---> Wednesday is the “test day”. My friend has to pick a body part not trained the day before (that's why the workout is divided in even and odd weeks, otherwise he will always test the same body parts), e.g. chest, and try to beat his 1 RM max. After that, he carries on with legs and abs.
I added this test day to motivated him to go beyond his limits and to set new targets every week.

*FRI* ---> Friday is the high intensity day. I introduced this day to shock the muscle and to avoid its adaptation to the workout. I wanna catch it by surprise with more weight and less reps than usual.


Always keep an equal number of pulling and pushing exercises to maintain a balanced body structure.

Train to failure. If you have to do 12 reps of bench press, you have to reach the 12 th reps almost dead and try to do a couple more. As Arnold said, are those two last reps that make the muscle grow (and make the difference between champions and normal people)

Lifting weight is a mean, not the goal. We are training to make our muscles grow and not to lift heavier weights. You need to know the right weight for the right exercise and for the number of reps you are going to perform. This is an ability that comes with the experience.

Number of reps and rest. Generally, we will work between the 8 and 12 reps per set with one minute of rest between set.

Warm-up and cool down. Every session begins with a warm-up (rope skipping + dynamic stretching) and it ends with a cool-down (low intensity treadmill run + static stretching)

Feedback. At the end of the session, my friend has to follow a little questionnaire about his pre-and-post workout fatigue, enjoyment, satisfaction, challenging (scale 1 out of 5). Moreover, he writes me his weight after training and the duration of the workout. Finally, he tells me what he liked and what he didn't liked about the training session.

Focus on the muscle that we are training. Targeting the muscle is a matter of technique and right weight. All exercise should be execute with the proper technique. Wrong weight might deviate from hypertrophy training and could even lead to injuries.

Listen to your body. Learn to listen to your body will help you to train better and to avoid injuries. If it hurts (actually pain) then stop!

To work the muscle harder, I use this techniques in top of the basic concentric movement.

Squeezing: squeeze the muscle at every contraction! You will work it even harder

Stripping: get to the last rep, push to the limit and go above the limit. Now, drop the current weight, immediately pick up lighter one and repeat from the beginning. You will surprise how much energy you muscles have when lifting a lighter weight.

Negative: get to the last rep and instead of dropping the weight, perform an eccentric movement (negative). Ask to someone to help you to lift the weight again and perform eccentric movements until you can.

Supersets: perform two or more exercises in a row without rest between series.

Isotension: between sets, keep on flex and contract your muscles. This help to feel “the pump”, which is to keep the blood pumping in the muscles. Arnold said that the pump is like an orgasm (or maybe better)...

Body weight exercises: this kind of exercise stimulate the body to produce growth hormones.
This is it.

At the beginning I had two main issues:
a) In his gym there is anything to measure body fat (I don't really trust the formula method)
b) V shape?!
Bonus) I'm in UK, he is in Italy.

For the first problem, I will use photos to track his progress. I had a picture of him before begin the workout and I will ask him to send me one at the of the program.

To get a V shape I will make him work on the superior part of the latissimus dorsi (with pull up for instance), expand the thoracic cage (pull-over), shoulders and I will try to get his waist slimmer.

While I'm writing this article we are in week 3 of training and he is 79kg. At the end of August he was 76Kg. During September we worked to improve his general strength and the workout described above started on October.

I will post example of a week planning later on; I need to collect more data first.
If you have any advice, question or critic, please don't be shy and fell free to leave a comment: I will really appreciate it.


I know I know, I am a student and I'm supposed to reference properly (e.g. in text); yet, I have already finished the article so... maybe next time :)
Bompa, Di Pasquale and Cornacchia. Serious Strength Training
Delavier. Strength Training Anatomy                                                                              Freitas de Salles, Simao, Miranda, da Silva Novaes, Lemos and Willardson. Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training                                                                                    Low. Overcoming Gravity                                                                                      Schwarzenegger. The New Encyclopedia Of Modern Bodybuilding

Oh my God!? What is he doin'?!

Please please please Lady and Gentleman,
please. Do not panic.

I am just a sport performance analysis student (the name of this course is so cool) with a lot of free time during the day; and I pay a lot for this free time too.

As you may know, boredom is unproductive. You realize this when, at 2.19am of Monday night, you are on wikipedia reading about worms life and death.
So, the next phase of boredom is action. I decided to publish a blog. "Why?" you might ask... well, here there are your answers:
a) I like writing
b) I can improve my written English
c) I already know everything about worms
d) It might help my university journey.

Next step is to keep the blog update. It might sound stupid, but when you begin something you like you are always enthusiastic about it. This is the way I fell right now: I have a lot of ideas and lot of posts that I would like to write.
On the other hand, I know myself very well. I start projects and complete a quarter of them. Still, 25% is not too bad; hopefully this blog is within that quarter.

See ya around boys and girls!