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The 5 Pillars of Strength and Conditioning

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  • Imran Bajaj

    The world of strength and conditioning advice is full of impossible promises and complicated programs and methods.They not only drive innovation in the world of athletic training, but also drive the world of competitive sports as every team and individual will train for their sport specific demands in a unique way.

    While the differences in each training program address the specific needs of the trainee, there are undeniable pillars of an optimal training system. Every program should be built on these 5 immutable laws of strength and conditioning.

    1.Pick Up Heavy Things Often

    ou must lift heavy things often to gain physical strength. High-level athleticism stands on a foundation of work capacity. Nothing trains overall work capacity like heavy loads. Heavy means truly heavy, near the peak of your physical abilities.Set a goal to move something heavy every day. Lift, carry, push, or pull a load that makes you truly uncomfortable.

    Only when you push your strength limits do you stimulate an increase in bone density, connective tissue strength, and overall work capacity. You do not need to attempt a one-rep-max lift every day, but challenge your physical strength with heavy carries (farmer’s carries, suitcase carries, front rack, or overhead), lifting heavy objects like stones, sandbags, or logs, dragging or pushing heavy sleds, or the classic lifts such as squats and deadlifts.

    2.Hip Hinge and Triple Extension

    The hip hinge is the method that the human body uses to generate maximal power.All athletic movements require power that originates from the core (and a strong hip hinge) that radiates out to the extremities.
    The kettlebell swing and the Olympic lifts offer the greatest training effect for the hip hinge. Focus on speed in these movements and engagement in your posterior chain, particularly your glutes.


    Just as you need to “pick up heavy things” near the peak of our abilities, you need to challenge your speed and turn over near your physical limits.There is simply no substitute for sprinting and jumping. Kettlebell swings and power cleans are the best developmental tools for power, but the triple extensions required to run your fastest or jump your highest have no training equals.When running, focus on distances that you maintain your maximal turnover cadence & When jumping, focus on heights (for box jumps and vertical jumps) and distances (for long jumps and broad jumps) that require nearly maximal efforts to achieve.

    4.Cycles of Tension and Relaxation

    Athletic performance and vibrant health both depend on the ability to switch on and turn off effectively and at the right moment. This rule applies to a micro scale within the range of certain movements, but also to the macro scales of rest between sets and rest days between workouts.
    Think of the requirements of hitting a baseball or returning a tennis serve. The athlete must go from a state of relaxation to full engagement in an instant.

    Practice cycles of relaxation on every scale to develop your athletic abilities:

    Within a Movement: During a kettlebell swing, recognize and utilize the ability to release your body tension during the “float” phase to more effectively engage during the hinge phase.

    Between Sets: While resting between sets of movement, practice an active recovery strategy known as “fast and loose.” Actively rest and recover by walking to moderate your heart rate, jiggling limbs to release tension, and focus on deep, slow, belly breaths to encourage full body relaxation.

    Rest Days: Use active recovery and mindfulness strategies to optimize your rest and recovery days. Mellow jogs, swims, bike rides, or paddles offer a perfect combination of low impact and restorative movement with a moving meditation. Tai chi, qigong, and yoga present even better ways to mindfully connect with your body and movement. Use targeted mobility and flexibility work and myo-fascial release techniques (both self-applied and from practitioners) to aid in recovery.

    5.Mindful Movement

    All high-level movers – yogis or dancers, Olympic lifters or gymnasts – share one key characteristic: a deep connection and awareness to how they move and feel. No matter how you train, maintain a mindful awareness to how you move and the physical sensations that you experience. Seek a coach or training partner that can offer a keen eye to your movement. Always strive to improve efficiency in your movement quality and mastery of your body.

    Have fun with the details of your program, but make sure that your training is built on the five pillars of strength development.


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