Archive for the ‘Ask Coach Chadwick’ Category

When you are dealing with an athlete that has anterior pelvic tilt, what certain steps would you take to train them? -Will Franco


This is something I’ve learned a lot about from training myself and will be a common finding in most athletic populations.  It is not neccessarily a bad thing, as it puts the hamstrings at a greater mechanical advantage, but when it is excessive it can lead to a host of problems.  Anterior pelvic tilt is caused by some combination of tight lumbar erectors (lower back) and hip flexors.  Due to reciprocal inhibition, relatively weak glutes and abs are usually found.  Tight hamstrings are typical and other issues may contribute such as lats (tight), obliques (inhibited), and just about any other muscle that inserts or originates at the pelvis.  For the sake of this post, we will stick to the basics, but watch your athlete/client and take note of how they compensate to see what is really going on.

It is important to start by teaching them what a neutral spine is and how to correct their posture throughout the day.  Foam rollers are a useful tool to help loosen people up.  For mobility and activation work, I like hip flexor mobilizations because they are easy to coach and don’t take a lot of time and bridges with a narrow base and the knees spread to get the glutes firing.  Both of these are easy to add to a warm-up.  Resistance is what will make a lasting change and this will need to be coached closely.  Sumo deadlifts, wide stance box squats and hip thrusters will be money exercises to restore activation in the glutes if done correctly while a physio ball/bar rollout will hit the anterior core hard if the right progression is chosen and a neutral spine can be maintained.



How do I make a career out of strength and conditioning? -A. Wong

I don’t know that I am qualified to answer this yet but I will give it my best shot.  I will list a few principles that I think hold water in a lot of fields and not just strength and conditioning.

  1. Don’t Hit Snooze- An unorthodox first bullet, but hear me out.  No matter how bad you want it, I challenge you to not hit the snooze button.  I guarantee you will feel more alert if you just wake up when you wake up.  Those extra 15 minutes won’t be quality sleep and will only make you groggy.  Besides, there isn’t enough time in the day for everything you need to do.
  2. Read- Never stop learning.  You will never know everything.  I try to put down a book every week or two and regularly read the blogs listed in my resources tab among others.
  3. Network- Like I said, you will never know everything and you need to find people who do.  You need places to go with questions and you need to have a network of specialists to refer to when something comes up that you are not qualified to handle (physical therapists, athletic trainers, nutritionists, etc.)  In addition, network yourself to expand your brand.
  4. Find Mentors- Intern, Intern, Intern.  Find people who do what you want to do and learn how they mastered their craft.  You can even learn from people not in your field.  I learned a lot from my experiences shadowing  athletic trainers and physical therapists.  Do this while you are young.  The sooner you find your path, the better off you will be.  The built up resume will just be an added bonus.
  5. Learn anatomy- Don’t just memorize it and forget it, actually learn it.  This is one of the most important tools you can have.
  6. Train yourself- How can you expect an athlete to do something if you can’t show them how?  How can you expect anyone to listen to you if you’re weak?
  7. Make Lists- Having a list of things that need to be done on paper or in your phone will beat having that list in your memory every time.  Even if you think that you can remember everything, the reduced stress from putting things on paper and keeping it out of your head is the real value in this.  Try it out.  David Allen’s resource “Getting Thing’s Done” is a great resource for those who struggle with this.  I got the audio CD’s and just listened to it in my car.
  8. Look deeper into things- Question everything and you’ll be surprised how many things most people do wrong.  Why do coaches of anaerobic sports train the aerobic system so heavily?  Why do some athlete’s lift like bodybuilders?  Why do people static stretch before exercise still?  Why don’t people accept sabermetrics yet when there is so much evidence supporting them?  Why couldn’t the Yankees draft Mike Trout?  Ok, I’ll stop with the tangent, but you get the point.  There is always a better way to do things if you look hard enough.
  9. Take advantage of opportunities or make them happen yourself- What do UMass, Bishop Stang, and Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning all have common?  None of them reached out to me, I reached out tot them.  It will never happen the other way around.  Make opportunities happen for yourself.  They’re lives will carry on without you, but if you can impress someone enough to give you a chance and make a big enough impact on them, they won’t be able to ignore you.
  10. Find Balance-  I’ve struggled with this one recently but I’m getting better.  Don’t let the gym define you.  Have a social life outside of the it.  Develop other hobbies.  Watch Breaking Bad, follow the news and when your friend asks you what teams are left in the NBA play-offs, it wouldn’t hurt to actually know the answer.

Why do you have to keep your elbows up during a front squat? -Jake



Not sure if you guys are always conscious of some of the funky things you do in the weight room but this is one of them.  I’ll let the picture do the talking.  The bar should be resting on your deltoids in a position that you can take your hands off of the bar and it won’t go anywhere.  The reason we’ve used the clean grip is to simultaneously teach you the correct way to catch a clean, which a lot of you were also doing wrong.  Most people think they don’t have the wrist flexibility for it, but with a little help positioning the elbows, they are usually proven incorrect.


Coaching Neutral Spine

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Ask Coach Chadwick

What is a neutral spine? -Nathan20140429-194842.jpg

Sometimes explaining the concept of keeping a neutral spine to a high school student is easier said than done but it doesn’t change the importance of  teaching it to keep their backs healthy and improve performance.  Explaining the importance of locking the rib cage in above the pelvis can sometimes go over their heads and isn’t completely necessary for them to understand as long as you can get them to do it correctly anyway.  An over simplified method of teaching I’ve developed (or stole somewhere along the way) is to have the athlete lift both arms overhead and inhale maximally and then sink into an athletic position.  Usually they will engage their core in an optimal pattern and no other cue will be necessary.


What is the difference between the muscles working in a front squat vs. a back squat?  Is one more beneficial than the other? -Will

The issue over which lift is superior is the cause of a lot of discussion in the strength industry.  It seems to be something everyone has an opinion on.  Mike Boyle even declared the squat dead a few years ago.  As with everything, I fall somewhere in the middle.

Gun to my head, I probably pick the back squat if both are done with perfect form because it will put the posterior chain at a greater mechanical advantage.  So, to answer your first question, front squats are more of a quad-dominant exercise that also take some stress off of the lumbar spine.  That being said, my kids are probably wondering why we’ve been front squatting for the past few weeks and I have good reasoning for the switch.  This leads me to the answer to your second question, it all depends.

I came into a program that had a lot of kids quarter squatting too much weight with a flexed spine and no idea how to catch a clean.  My first week on the job, I saw the weight room go nuts for a kid taking 500 lbs on his back and not even getting to quarter squat depth.  I knew then that the culture had to change.  We are now in an environment where squats that don’t reach parallel are made fun of.  Depth seems to come more naturally to the masses when using a front squat.  No one is jumping to load them too heavy because the ego factor of “how much can you squat?” is diminished due to the necessity to use less weight.  Front squats are also self-correcting, if you can’t keep a neutral spine then you are going to have a lot of trouble holding onto the weight.  Lastly, using the clean grip teaches the correct position for catching a hang clean.  The back squat is not gone for good.

There are a few other factors that can make the type used more individualized in certain circumstances.  When AC joint issues are present, it would be wise to stay away from the front squat.  The back squat will be tough if you lack the external rotation in your shoulders to get your arms on the bar correctly.  Safety squat bars are a way around this issue.  Taller athletes tend to have more issues with the back squat as well because of their long femurs.  In the end though, I think that both variations should be used for most of the population.



Today I got the question, well what about leg curls? Same thing?

Short answer: yes.  Though I don’t hate them on quite the same level because I’m not as worried about the ACL.

My reasoning is much of the same.  Your hamstrings will never work in isolation, so why train that way?  Most people have a hard enough time turning their glutes on as it is so why intentionally decrease activity of a commonly dormant muscle in favor of an already overactive one?  One point to understand is that most hamstring strains don’t occur as a result of weak hamstrings but as a result of your glutes being weak synergists due to the all too common lower crossed syndrome.

The next question I get is well what is the difference between a leg curl and a physio ball leg curl or a glute ham raise?  Truth is, I’d write slide board leg curls in to the programs as well if I had access to one.  I think my reasoning will be fairly obvious, I like the increased glute activity and added contributions from the core musculature required to perform the exercise.  Take home lesson: cut out the isolation work and you’ll not only make your workout more functional but you’ll save time in the process.


1. Mcallister, Matt J., Kelley G. Hammond, Brian K. Schilling, Lucas C. Ferreria, Jacob P. Reed, and Lawrence W. Weiss. “Muscle Activation during Various Hamstring Exercises.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2014): 1. Web.


Why don’t you let us do leg extensions?  That’s one of the only leg exercises I did before football and I think it helped make my quads stronger. – Faris

You probably think that they made you stronger because they did, but does that mean it is the best exercise for your goals?  Let’s look at this a little closer.

From a safety perspective, a leg extension will produce a great deal of shear stress on the ACL and other tendons surrounding the knee joint.  You should avoid loading passive restraints whenever possible.

From a performance perspective, leg extensions are an open-chain exercise which means that you do it without your foot in contact with the ground.  What do you use your legs for in football?  Sprinting, cutting, jumping, etc.  Can you think of anything where your foot isn’t in a closed-chain position (foot in contact with the ground)?  The carryover to athletic performance just isn’t as great as exercises like squats, deadlifts, step-ups, lunges and other compound movements.  Very rarely in sports will you have knee extension without some sort of simultaneous movement at the hip.   Eliminating your hips from the equation reduces the need for co-contraction of the glutes and hamstrings.  To take this further, the fact that you are sitting and not standing eliminates the need to stabilize in the frontal plane by co-contracting your abductors and adductors; therefore, balance and proprioception are not challenged.

Studies also show that EMG activity of the quadriceps are quite different during open-chain exercise.  The rectus femoris will take on a bigger load(the already tight muscle that makes foam rolling the front of your thigh hurt so much) than the vastus medialis (the medial quad muscle whose weakness contributes to the valgus stress exhibited when your knees buckle).  You must remember that when training for performance, you are training movements and not muscles.  I’ll say it again, muscles that fire together, wire together.  There is no need to try to isolate a group that will never work in isolation.



1. Cressey, Eric. “The Truth About Leg Extentions.” 24 Oct. 2006: n. pag. TESTOSTERONE NATION. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

2. Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Zheng N, Barrentine SW, Wilk KE, Andrews JR. Biomechanics of the knee during closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain exercises. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Apr;30(4):556-69.

3. Stensdotter AK, Hodges PW, Mellor R, Sundelin G, Hager-Ross C. Quadriceps activation in closed and in open kinetic chain exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Dec;35(12):2043-7.