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Entries in loading order (3)

Coach's Corner: Loading Order

Loading Order is one of the three things we coach at the Champions Club. When the hips and shoulders do most of the work, things tend to go well, and they can only do most of the work if they bend first.

For the lower body, we exaggerate this by doing box jumps, squats, kettlebell swings, and lunges with our shin vertical. Again, in real life it will never be that perfect, but we hope the more we practice it that way, the closer we'll get to the standard.

Cleans, especially ones from the ground, pose a pretty difficult challenge for Loading Order; the weight is usually heavy, you're tired, the movement is relatively fast, and there are a lot of moviing parts. Depending on the workout I am either very strict about the landing or somewhat strict on it.

Yesterday I was somewhat strict because I wanted to keep the weight on the heavier side while also trying to reinforce the timing going from the ground. Here is what Jesse looked like on his first rep, set of :20, 3rd. round.

I would call this okay for Jesse. We know he's been working on this a lot since he came back from a 4-year hiatus this Summer, and it's my fault for not coaching this as much in his early years. Shins are not vertical by any means, but you can tell there is some semblance of hips loading back. For yesterday's workout, I can live with that.

Two reps later...

Not so much. Imagine if he needed to immediately push this rep over his head; which body shape would give him better leverage to do that?

Remember, the one thing we want to avoid is dead-end positions and movements. The squat position Jesse shows in the second picture is never good for anything. So keep working to reinforce the good shapes, and slowly but surely they will become the default.

Vertical Shins FYI

So yesterday we did weighted step-ups, and they could have been a lot easier on everyone if they were judged on a completed rep basis - meaning did you or did you not successfully make it to the top of the box? But they became much more difficult, and therefore much more annoying, when the standard of "vertical shins" came into play. I did this for a few reasons, which I'll get into a bit, but there it one very important thing to understand:

Vertical shins have virtually zero direct real-world application.

Correct, this is a near perfect position according to our standards yesterday, but if we are stepping up stairs in real life, for example, our shins aren't going to be vertical. Same goes for walking, running, cutting, kicking, or throwing. So why the emphasis yesterday? The answer comes from our purpose.

Step-ups weren't in the workout yesterday to see if you guys could actually make it up to a 20-in. box. I know you can. For Mrs. Gloria or Mr. Don it's a different story; I throw step-ups into their workouts and warmups all the time and don't worry so much about their technique (yet) because I want them to develop confidence walking up stairs. For you young folks, they were in the workout so we could develop some strength in the hips while only being supported by one foot.

If the shin stays vertical, that means the hip is doing the work. If the knee comes forward...

... like Murley and Morrow are showing from back in the Fieldhouse Days of Summer 2011, then your hips are missing out. Over time, this is also bad for your knees.

Any time we are practicing or doing drills we are exaggerating reality so that in real life, you are more likely to have a good outcome. The more you practice vertical shins in here, the better it's going to show on the outside.

Loading Order Case Study: Thrusters

At the bottom of a squat (aka, full knee flexion) having our knees forward is actually not a bad thing. In fact, from what I understand, your knees can rotate in, out, or forward in that bottom position and there is a very low liklihood of anything bad happening. Where this does become an issue, however, is when we get closer to a standing position. The further up you stand out of a squat, the more important it is to have the knees out while keeping the shin as vertical as possible. This is the basis of one of the three universal movement standards we abide by: Loading Order.

In essence, whatever bends/moves first carries the most weight. Let's take a squat for example. On the descent, our hips move back first so they can take the weight; if our knees shot forward first, they would take the weight. This applies for air squat, front squat, squat clean, or the squatting motion you go through every time you jump and land. And this last point has become very relevant on thrusters.

The normal squat portion of a thruster seems to be money across the board; everyone is going hips back first and their knees are staying out, and on the way up we're seeing the same thing. But the movement is not done there; you still have a weight on your shoulders that needs to be thrusted over your head, and when that weight is very heavy - as was the case last Tuesday - we often need a little extra oomph to complete the lift. Add in fatigue from a burpee sprint and that little oomph turns into an all-out jump. And guess what happened? All your jumping flaws came out to in the open!

I should note that Mrs. Fitz, Shannon, Sabal, and Sexton were all filmed at the very end of the workout and needless to say they were sucking wind and wishing for death. Nevertheless, Loading order is Loading order; gravity and our physiology does not make modifications for how tired we are. Knees forward shooting forward is not an ideal pattern to jump from both a safety and power perspective. What you will hopefully notice is the difference between Fitz's/Shannon's first two examples and Sabal's/Aaron's last two examples. Mrs. Fitz had the knees forward and knees in fault, while Shannon just had the knees forward. On the other end, Sabal and Aaron Sexton, while not perfect, would be acceptable by my standards considering the extreme fatigue.

Just some stuff to chew on as we mindlessly flow through this week's workouts...