Splash - May/June 2013 - (Page 14)
sTRENgTH & CoNDTioNiNg
YoU DoN’T KNoW
by Mike Mejia CSCS
n the ever-evolving field of human performance training, coaches
and trainers alike are always seeking out the best ways to assess an
athlete’s physical ability.
Having an accurate gauge of how much he or she can lift, how fast
they are, or how long they can endure before succumbing to fatigue,
can be extremely helpful in programming effective fitness strategies.
As valuable as this type of information is, it’s not the be-all, endall many make it out to be. In fact, it can be argued that the most
important physical assessment of all is one that yields little in terms
of performance-related measures of fitness. But it can tell you a whole
lot about an athlete’s current physical state.
I’m talking about the overhead squat, one of the simplest and most
effective physical assessments in existence. By using nothing more
than your own body weight, you can test your dynamic flexibility,
balance, core strength and coordination.
What’s more, you’ll be able to quickly and easily identify potential
weak links along the kinetic chain that if left unaddressed, could
impede your performance at best, and at worst, cause you to become
injured. Not bad for a test that can be administered in just a couple of
minutes with the help of training partner, or coach.
Proper Execution: Begin by standing with your feet shoulderswidth apart and toes pointed straight ahead (it’s recommended the
test be performed without shoes to get a better view of what’s going
on in the feet and ankles). Next, raise your arms up overhead, with
your elbows straight.
Once in position, begin by squatting down to the height of a
chair (usually just short of the thighs being parallel to the ground)
and then pause for a second before returning to the start position.
Repeat the drill until you’ve completed 5 full repetitions and note
any changes in form from a couple of different angles. You can either
have your coach or partner do this for you, or have them film you
doing the drill and make the notations yourself upon playing it back.
When viewing the test from the front, you ideally want your feet to
remain pointing straight ahead, with your knees lined up directly above
them. From a profile view, you want to maintain a normal arch in your
lower back and avoid allowing your arms to fall forward, or lean the
torso forward excessively. You’re basically looking for your torso and
shins to be parallel to each other at the bottom of the movement.
Form Deviations: There are several things that can go wrong
from a bio-mechanical standpoint when performing this test – each
of which can serve as a predictor of future injury, especially if nothing
is done in terms of stretching and strengthening to correct the
problem(s). The chart below will show where your imbalances lie.
If you find that you’re unable to do the test with proper form, it’s
important that you devote the necessary time and effort to fixing
what’s wrong. If you don’t and continue to train hard on top of a
faulty foundation both in and out of the pool, you could be in for
trouble down the road.
Be sure to check out the accompanying video at usaswimming.org,
which will address these corrective strategies in more detail.
UnDeR active/ weaK
Flatten and/or turn out
Lateral aspects of calves and hamstrings
Medial aspects of calves and hamstrings, Gracilis
Adductors (Inner Thighs) Hip Flexors
Gluteus medius, maximus
Hip Flexors, Lats and Spinal Erectors
Glutes, Hamstrings and deep core muscles
Calves, Hip Flexors and Abdominals
Glutes, spinal erectors and anterior tibialis
Arms Fall Forward
Middle/ lower trapezius, rhomboids, rotator cuff
SPLASH • May/June 2013
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Splash - May/June 2013
Splash - May/June 2013
Table of Contents
Swim Briefs/Justin Case
Top Ten Tweets/Point-Counterpoint
Strength and Conditioning: You don’t know Squat!
Nutrition: What to Eat Before, During and After a Workout
Mental Training: Quick Tips for Addressing Your Mental Concerns
Lessons from the Masters
Best Race Ever
Swim Nut Zeke
Getting To Know
America’s Swim Team Athletes
Splash - May/June 2013