If there’s one thing I have never been interested in, it’s baseball. Second runner up is football with hockey coming in third. I feel like the most exciting part of team sports is when a fight breaks out and that’s why I just stick to watching MMA and jiu jitsu. I started reading the 8 Weeks Out site contents years ago because it promised strength and conditioning advice for combat sports yet somehow it lead to my watching AND ENJOYING this online video course about the athletic requirements for American football.
This review focuses on Buddy Morris’ “American Football Physical Preparation“, an online course you can buy individually, or as part of the new 8 Weeks Out University 2017 curriculum (February 20-24, 2017 only). 8 Weeks Out University is a continuing education platform for athletes and coaches worldwide to stay on the cutting edge of athletic performance theories and techniques. This course will be one of eight featured in 2017. I received access to this platform for free for 2017 because of my previous purchase of educational content, MDME Training by Eva Twardokens, from Bioforce Project.
Purchase as part of 8 Weeks Out University – Access for 2017 – $197USD
(1 of 8 courses), offer valid February 20 – 24, 2017
And so it is in sports. How can a track coach help a football player? How can a football coach help an MMA fighter? Well, I think it’s pretty clear that regardless of the tribe, we are more alike than we are different. Still, I was quite surprised to see how much this course on physical preparation for football athletes could be used right away in my own programming for strength and conditioning for Brazilian jiu jitsu, particularly the mobility and explosive movement training.
Joel Jamieson, founder of 8 Weeks Out University explains, “Getting just ONE major takeaway from each expert could dramatically improve your coaching ability and the results you’re able to get with your clients—now and in the future.”
The thing is, with these courses you get much more than just one major takeaway and after watching two courses, in addition to Joel’s other MMA and conditioning products and the free content on his website, I feel like I’m finally wrapping my head around what is really important for me to understand in my own training and I’m better prepared to troubleshoot and adjust my workouts. I’ve just started Joel’s newest video series, Intro to Team Sports Conditioning, (also included in 8 Weeks Out University curriculum or on its own for $97USD) and I am much better prepared to absorb his lessons.
Sometimes I see online people saying that strength and conditioning isn’t necessary for BJJ, that just training should be enough, but when you think about it, would you drive your car for five years without any maintenance? We definitely need mobility and regardless of size, we need strength and conditioning. The small guy needs to get stronger and move faster, the big guy has to become more efficient and build better cardio to keep up.
The program used in American Football Physical Preparation is general enough to suit most athletes, I feel, and the demonstrations and explanations for each component are backed by experience and science. After a general overview of energy systems and training theory, this instructional series is broken down into different types of warm-ups for days when you’re training the central nervous system in either a high or low capacity, a segment on particular strength exercises deemed low risk/high reward are demonstrated and then Buddy explains how they program for the year, broken down by the season/off season, month and block.
Already, only one week after watching Fundamentals of Movement, which I’ve also reviewed, my body feels much better and now that I’ve learned so much about effective warm ups and programming, I am confident that the women in my class and I are much better prepared to eliminate injury and overtraining.
Thank you for reading my review of American Football Physical Preparation by Buddy Morris. For a detailed look at each video segment, please continue reading.
Regarding women on The Ultimate Fighter, BJJ black belt, wrestling coach and MMA strategist Ricky Lundell was a part of Team Tate and worked with the women building their technical skill and athleticism. He said, “ I think that MMA has grown to a level where just being a martial artist isn’t enough. Fighters who want to be at the top have to learn to become martial artists and athletes. I hear from some, “technique should work without the need for strength.”
There are some techniques that are built on an opponent using their strength, and you using the technique to counter. However, now we have fighters like Benson Henderson who can be athletic for 25 minutes straight, while being technical and beautiful with martial arts.Women are coming along in this idea. The women we see now are insanely talented, but in 10 years we are going to be blown away by the increase in talent. The martial art mindset of “always learning” is key; but building athleticism is vital, and what will change the most in women’s MMA. “
No training variables or programs are perfect. The job of the coach is to assess the readiness of each individual athlete and adjust his/her training load for that day, as necessary. Coaches use their experience and judgement to make an athlete’s training day optimal based on their physical readiness. Buddy is an intense guy and speaks quickly; he reminds me of a drill sergeant in an army movie. I get the impression that I better do what he says right away.
In this segment, Morris explains the different kinds of stress and how the human body adapts in response. The body doesn’t differentiate, stress is stress so if you are having financial, relationship, sleep or diet issues, it will all affect your physical readiness. If you are a user of the BioForce HRV system, you will have evidence that even on days when you aren’t physically fatigued from training, your HRV score can be low, your resting heart rate high and so you might want to use that day as a recovery day from other stress. This is the kind of thing Buddy is talking about when he assesses his athletes.
How can we help our athletes achieve an elevated level of physical preparedness, he asks. He is adamant that low risk and high reward is win/win every time. He expands upon several theories about fatigue, the eight biological systems, bioenergetic requirements of football, biomotor abilities of American football players, 4 different classifications of exercises, suppleness, preparedness and adaptation. Slides are included during this segment to break down and emphasize concepts.
Really, there is so much information in this one segment you can probably watch it twenty times and learn something new each time. I can’t believe he got it all in eighteen minutes. The write up breaks down the main points for your review.
I’ve never watched a football game because I don’t care about football and I never will but I still found value in this segment in regards to how I see my own training for BJJ.
Buddy Morris was absent from this segment. Instead, Ryan Williams stepped in. After watching Buddy for 18 minutes and getting used to his presentation style, I felt module two fell a little flat. Williams has a more sedate speaking style but I actually found this segment quite interesting because he explained how a team’s physical preparation is planned based on the style of team being trained. I feel I am learning about football against my will but anyway, it seems that some teams will have offensive strategies that require different positions to be trained in a particular way to carry out particular sequences, ie. teams that focus on passing vs those that focus on running. Different positions also require particular types of training to be successful and it’s the coach’s role to identify and provide the correct program to each individual.
I can relate to how different types of teams and positions are trained based on their playing style because we see the same thing in BJJ regarding different body types and game styles.
These segments is where we begin to get very detailed explanations about what Buddy touched on in the first segment. Ryan Williams explains the High/Low method. High/Low is the intensity level at which the central nervous system is trained on a particular day. High intensity has a 48-72 hour recovery period so training sessions per week are limited whereas low intensity only requires 12-24 hours and can be trained much more frequently. Ryan also listed and compared the different types of exercises used.
Next, the effects of different types of training effects were discussed as well as various bioenergetic methods depending on what type of athlete was being trained and their particular performance goals. I found this segment valuable because it helped me to understand what type of exercises can and can’t be combined and it’s a good guide for how to schedule different types of training, for example when to train heavy strength days as compared to cardio, BJJ, etc.
Buddy stressed in this segment that you don’t train to warm up, you warm up to train, which means you follow a specific warm up routine, meant to prepare your body for whatever you are training that day and to get the blood flowing. He had Ryan Williams demonstrate the rehab/prehab/mobility exercises using a foam roller, a PVC pipe, mini bands and a medicine ball.
I followed along and sampled the warm up exercises with the tools I had at home and I found it easy to follow. If I had followed the instructions for reps/sets/timing and did the whole routine, I’m confident it would be effective for warming up the upper body, especially the shoulders.
This warm-up is exactly what you’d need to do before you hit the outdoor upper body workout Leandro Lo used to gain twenty-plus pounds to get into the heavyweight division.
The write-up for this segment could be printed to take away to the gym with you but as I mentioned in my review for Fundamentals of Movement, I prefer downloadable PDFs with photos and instruction, just because it’s easy to forget and do something wrong when you’re initially learning new exercises.
Regarding the self-myofascial release work in this video, I don’t find a PVC pipe roller gets in deep enough for me on my back so I’d use the highest density (black) RAD Roller on my upper back, the Rod on my neck and the Atom/Helix for my lats, pecs, etc. I’m a very light person so a larger person may want to stick to the PVC roller or the RAD Roller XL.
Buddy and Ryan are back again in this segment but they’re out in the field preparing for a high CNS day. The program is in the write up and it focuses a lot on hip mobility and glute activation. To start, “Begin with some form of heart rate elevation activity, such as a 100-yd stride regression. Once the heart rate is elevated, begin ground base activation drills.”
In addition to firing the glutes and warming up the hips, movements in this particular series is ingraining the correct sprint movement patterns into the athlete’s motor system. Next, they demonstrate standing/walking movement prep exercises and follow up with some general strength work.
Buddy was a high-level sprinter and this segment begins with power speed drills. What I really like about the programs in 8 Weeks Out University is that these coaches will take movements and drills used in all sports and show you how they’re actually supposed to be done. In particular, something I’ve done in BJJ warmups for the past nine years, butt kicks, have been performed incorrectly all along. No matter what the exercise, if you’re not doing it correctly, what’s the point?
This segment also demonstrated proper jumping technique for high CNS jumps, which I’ve wanted to learn about and kept forgetting to look up, and then we were back into high CNS med ball throws to develop explosive strength.
This is a warm-up for a low CNS day and expands further on the lessons we learned in Fundamentals of Movement regarding warming up the feet, knees and hips. I really like lateral work like the lunges and rotational squat movements demonstrated in this video to warm up the groin muscles as well. Sometimes we forget about them until we get banana splitted by some jerk and pull something because we refuse to tap to a stupid move like banana split.
I’ve noticed that in these videos, Buddy is wearing sandals, not sneakers, and frequently takes them off to demonstrate exercises. Ryan also removes his sneakers to demonstrate. The women in my class and I always train barefoot, mostly because we are always barefoot for BJJ. Jamieson has a good article/video about strengthening the ankle and mentions that martial artists are likely to have healthier ankles because we are constantly training barefoot.
Morris explains that Louis Simmons, Dave Tate and the guys at Westside Barbell is where he gets their technical lift information but for the football team, where they are focused on low-risk, high-reward, they perform lifts that will challenge the athlete and get all of the benefits and strength increase they need without the additional risk that powerlifters and Olympic lifters take in their lifts.
I feel the exact same way when it comes to strength training for BJJ. We’re there twice a week, I’ll work on my numbers but I’m not there to burn myself out so much that I can’t walk the next day. And what’s funny is that doing this, my numbers have increased anyway, just as much as when I was lifting five times a week before I started BJJ. We have to remember when we are doing our S&C training what our goals are.
This is my goal:
One thing I noticed during Buddy’s technical explanation of the box squat was that he said the scapula of the shoulders should be pinched together the same way we do for the bench press. When I went to physio talking about how I couldn’t squat at all because of protruding/bulging discs at L4/L5, the therapist told me that I should have more of a neutral shoulder because when the scaps are squeezed together, the butt comes out in what looks like a curved low back. When Ryan does his box squats, he has a curved low back, as you can see in the photo.
I asked William Wayland, the UK-based performance coach I bought my program from when I was preparing for two somewhat different competitions in a row with opponents of various weights (and before I injured my low back), if he would please check out my form in a video I took February 18, 2017 with and without the scapula pinch. (Those Inverted Gear shorts are supposed to be for BJJ but they are very good for squats!) I’ve always done box squats in the past but over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to get good form for regular back squats, using very low weight.
Buddy describes the yearly schedule for NCAA and NFL athletes and explains what is done with them during the off season to help them to recover and prepare for the next season. In this segment, everything that has been discussed previously is brought together and laid out in various systems or blocks that accomplish specific goals throughout the season.
“At the monthly level, concentrated blocks involve the heavy loading of one bio-motor ability, such as strength, speed, power, stamina, skill, etc. Every day is devoted to alactic capacity work.
Bioenergetic blocks are performed to secure biochemical, physiological, and morphological adaptations necessary for high performance levels, especially power and capacity.”
Buddy offers alternative theories and strategies and provides resource suggestions for further research. Football is a lot like jiu jitsu where the athletes are already dealing with absorbing a lot of technical knowledge so it doesn’t make sense to overload them with learning complicated lifts as well. Coaches should assess the athletes not only on a daily basis regarding plans for the day, but over time as well to determine whether programming has been effective. Coaches watching this program are already following his advice because they are continuing to learn and grow as more scientific research and tools are developed for them and their athletes.
Sign up for 8 Weeks Out University to access all four (with four more on the way) HD original series here for an annual fee of $197USD from February 20 – 24, 2017 only! After that, registration will not be open again til Spring/Summer.