In my previous post I gave a brief outline of what LPTs are, what they measure and how reliable they are. In this post I will discuss the performance variables that I believe are most useful, the exercises I use for routine monitoring, and the analyses I perform on the results.
I will also cover the importance of athlete “buy in” and offer some strategies that will motivate your athletes to make every day a quality training day.
The Important Variables
GymAware offers a lot of variables for display on the iOS device, even more when export GymAware data from one of the online applications. There is a lot to look at, and if you are starting, it is easy to be overwhelmed: peak or mean, force, power, acceleration, velocity, concentric or eccentric, RFD, etc. In my opinion, in the early days of your analysis, I believe it is best to keep it simple and I feel that the main choices are between mean or peak and velocity or power.
I have selected mean power, my rationale was that:
- Power numbers are bigger than velocity and was perhaps a bit deflating to athletes (600 watts sounds much better than 1.2 metres per second, even when they can be the same)
- Athletes like talking about power, who is more powerful
- Then explaining the concept of mean power to athletes, and that it is the calculation of power throughout the entire movement, it illustrates to them the importance of the full range of motion, and not just a single point in the exercise.
Additionally, in certain exercises, peaks can occur at different places between athletes.
These rationale may be influenced by the population of athletes I work with (rugby union players) and perhaps with T&F, soccer or Australian Rules Football, I may have chosen velocity. Many of my peers working in other sports use peak power or peak velocity and I don’t believe that one way is better or worse than another. The important point is to pick one method and stick with it across all the exercises you want to measure. When you start to change what you report, it can make it harder for your athletes to follow you. You will have to understand what it is you are going to have to discuss with athletes. For example in a bench throw, with increasing resistance, the barbell velocity is always going to decrease. However, with power, it will actually increase to a point and then decrease (find out how power and velocity are related here). These subtle differences will be recognised, and understood, by your athletes, so it is important to understand what variables are going to use.
I have instrumented most of my “core” resistance exercises: squats, push press, split jerk, clean pulls (from rack), leg press (and single leg press), bench press and bench pull. I have these setup as “stations” with a PowerTool at each one. This set-up is a straight forward process and often, the athletes, who are very proficient at setting up GymAware, will conduct their own recording session . Empowering the athletes in this way has proven to be a great motivator, to the extent that they feel like a training session is incomplete without the recording the PowerTool performance measures. More on this below…
I use Pivot Tables to manage and analyse my data. I will discuss Pivot Tables and my use of them in later editions. The important analyses I complete from this include:
- Creation of tables for the gym for immediate “on-the-floor” assessment
- Graphs for assessment of programs, long-term player strength and power tracking, seasonal assessments
- Asymmetry assessments
Power graphs for exercises can be created on-line, and also through exporting of the rep analysis data. In the early stages of analysis, these can be incredibly overwhelming, and while I look at these from time to time, the bulk of my analysis is in the three sections outlined above.
The number one factor in being able to utilise the LPT technology, and the reason for using them in the first instance, is the athlete and the education of the athlete.
The more “buy-in” athletes have, the more they will use it. The more it is used, the more you can apply the findings.
I have been fortunate to work with a tremendous group of athletes who have embraced this technology, and can understand and explain, some fairly important training principles based on the GymAware data. They can also take the Pelican case out of the office, set up the GymAware, and complete a session using the iTouch version, trouble shoot if necessary (a bad Bluetooth connection or entering the wrong weight, athlete or exercise).
There are a couple of key points I think have helped with athlete education:
- The gym tables provide immediate feedback and by updating them frequently (I print the date at the bottom of each page), demonstrate how important it is to you and the athlete
- Being able to suggest load selection, or adjust training phases based on their own power curves
- Providing asymmetry reports (eg. Left and right leg press performance) demonstrates the individual feedback and the precision of the GymAware over simple kilograms. This is a very important feedback mechanism for athletes returning from injury
- Recent upgrades that include the post-set analysis by bar graph has been very useful for immediate asymmetry assessment.
Having established this performance culture in the gym, it’s now very easy to maintain, as each new recruit can call upon any of the 30 experts training beside him should he need any assistance or encouragement.
In future editions, I will discuss the development of various analysis, diagnostic and profiling methods I use.