Chris Beardsley

Chris Beardsley

London, UK / Making sense of the latest strength training, biomechanics, and sports science research
Chris Beardsley
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When trying to increase performance in an exercise such as the squat most strength coaches will focus on developing physical qualities.  However research is increasingly demonstrating that performance in exercises is at least partly dependent upon mental qualities as well such as self-efficacy or mental toughness.  Importantly these mental qualities can be developed with dedicated training in a very short period of time.  This study showed that just 3 days spent performing a mental imagery…

When trying to increase performance in an exercise such as the squat most strength coaches will focus on developing physical qualities. However research is increasingly demonstrating that performance in exercises is at least partly dependent upon mental qualities as well such as self-efficacy or mental toughness. Importantly these mental qualities can be developed with dedicated training in a very short period of time. This study showed that just 3 days spent performing a mental imagery…

Eccentric strength training produces very different effects from concentric-only or stretch-shortening cycle strength training. In particular it leads to:  eccentric-specific strength gains  greater increases in strength across most measures  greater increases in muscle fascicle length  smaller increases in muscle pennation angle  greater muscle damage especially when performed for the first time  Recently the muscle damage that occurs after strength training has been suggested by some…

Eccentric strength training produces very different effects from concentric-only or stretch-shortening cycle strength training. In particular it leads to: eccentric-specific strength gains greater increases in strength across most measures greater increases in muscle fascicle length smaller increases in muscle pennation angle greater muscle damage especially when performed for the first time Recently the muscle damage that occurs after strength training has been suggested by some…

Bodybuilders make use of a range of advanced or specialized techniques that are intended to enhance long-term gains in muscle mass during resistance training programs.  Surveys report that bodybuilders most commonly use:  Pyramids  Supersets  Forced repetitions  Partial repetitions  Negative repetitions  Pre-exhaustion  Drop sets  Surprisingly the acute effects of these techniques on proxy measures of hypertrophy (such as mTOR signaling or muscle protein synthesis) and the long-term effects…

Bodybuilders make use of a range of advanced or specialized techniques that are intended to enhance long-term gains in muscle mass during resistance training programs. Surveys report that bodybuilders most commonly use: Pyramids Supersets Forced repetitions Partial repetitions Negative repetitions Pre-exhaustion Drop sets Surprisingly the acute effects of these techniques on proxy measures of hypertrophy (such as mTOR signaling or muscle protein synthesis) and the long-term effects…

Pre-exhaustion training involves performing a single-joint exercise before an exercise that uses that same muscle group in a multi-joint exercise. The theory is that this increases fatigue in the targeted prime mover which then increases its activation in the main exercise.  A common way to use pre-exhaustion is to perform a dumbbell fly before a bench press workout with the intention of fatiguing the pectoralis major and making it work harder in the bench press.  However several studies…

Pre-exhaustion training involves performing a single-joint exercise before an exercise that uses that same muscle group in a multi-joint exercise. The theory is that this increases fatigue in the targeted prime mover which then increases its activation in the main exercise. A common way to use pre-exhaustion is to perform a dumbbell fly before a bench press workout with the intention of fatiguing the pectoralis major and making it work harder in the bench press. However several studies…

Strength is velocity-specific which means that training with a light load and a faster bar speed leads to preferentially greater gains in high-velocity strength. In contrast training with a heavy load and a slower bar speed leads to preferentially greater gains in low-velocity strength.  Previous research has identified that there is an optimum balance of force and velocity during any athletic movement for any given individual. Researchers can thereby calculate an optimal force-velocity…

Strength is velocity-specific which means that training with a light load and a faster bar speed leads to preferentially greater gains in high-velocity strength. In contrast training with a heavy load and a slower bar speed leads to preferentially greater gains in low-velocity strength. Previous research has identified that there is an optimum balance of force and velocity during any athletic movement for any given individual. Researchers can thereby calculate an optimal force-velocity…

For any athlete it is possible to establish a force-velocity profile (FV) during the vertical jumping movement.  The FV profile can be found by measuring the mean force exerted into the ground and the mean velocity of the center of mass during both unweighted squat jumps and jump squats with a range of loads.  Plotting all of these values on a graph provides a line. The gradient of this line is the FV profile. Using the formula derived from the line allows us to then produce theoretical…

For any athlete it is possible to establish a force-velocity profile (FV) during the vertical jumping movement. The FV profile can be found by measuring the mean force exerted into the ground and the mean velocity of the center of mass during both unweighted squat jumps and jump squats with a range of loads. Plotting all of these values on a graph provides a line. The gradient of this line is the FV profile. Using the formula derived from the line allows us to then produce theoretical…

In the last few years a method of improving back squat strength for strength athletes has been promoted involving a daily 1RM back squat attempt followed by several back-off sets.  Daily strength training is obviously quite unusual except in Olympic weightlifting. This is because Olympic weightlifting differs from heavy strength training exercises because of the much faster bar speeds (and therefore where the prime mover muscles are working on the force-velocity relationship). Consequently…

In the last few years a method of improving back squat strength for strength athletes has been promoted involving a daily 1RM back squat attempt followed by several back-off sets. Daily strength training is obviously quite unusual except in Olympic weightlifting. This is because Olympic weightlifting differs from heavy strength training exercises because of the much faster bar speeds (and therefore where the prime mover muscles are working on the force-velocity relationship). Consequently…

The gluteus maximus contributes to hip extension along with the hamstrings and adductor magnus muscles. Of these three muscles the gluteus maximus seems to be the "laziest" and tends to reduce activation particularly when the hamstrings are more highly activated.  As the hip approaches full hip extension bending the knee reduces hamstrings involvement by over-shortening the muscle. This over-shortening increases the overlap between the actin and myosin filaments of the individual muscle…

The gluteus maximus contributes to hip extension along with the hamstrings and adductor magnus muscles. Of these three muscles the gluteus maximus seems to be the "laziest" and tends to reduce activation particularly when the hamstrings are more highly activated. As the hip approaches full hip extension bending the knee reduces hamstrings involvement by over-shortening the muscle. This over-shortening increases the overlap between the actin and myosin filaments of the individual muscle…

Elastic resistance is a useful tool for strength training for several reasons. When used in combination with a barbell it can be used to create accommodating resistance.  Accommodating resistance changes the point of peak contraction which is sometimes called altering the strength-curve. This leads to different joint angle-specific strength gains compared with free weights.  It also increases the velocity at which the same relative loads are moved. And this probably cause greater…

Elastic resistance is a useful tool for strength training for several reasons. When used in combination with a barbell it can be used to create accommodating resistance. Accommodating resistance changes the point of peak contraction which is sometimes called altering the strength-curve. This leads to different joint angle-specific strength gains compared with free weights. It also increases the velocity at which the same relative loads are moved. And this probably cause greater…

Pull ups and chin ups have traditionally been used by both bodybuilders and athletes to increase overall back strength and size.  All pull up variations involve a combined shoulder and elbow flexion movement from a position of full shoulder and elbow extension through to (nearly) full shoulder and elbow flexion which is a large range of motion. And this large range of motion is likely to be advantageous for developing the shoulder extensors and elbow flexors.  Traditionally it has been…

Pull ups and chin ups have traditionally been used by both bodybuilders and athletes to increase overall back strength and size. All pull up variations involve a combined shoulder and elbow flexion movement from a position of full shoulder and elbow extension through to (nearly) full shoulder and elbow flexion which is a large range of motion. And this large range of motion is likely to be advantageous for developing the shoulder extensors and elbow flexors. Traditionally it has been…