Two weeks ago I had the opportunity of attending the 2nd SEA Conference on Applied Strength & Conditioning, organized by the Australian Strength & Conditioning Assoc. (ASCA). This was held in Singapore over two days. Heading into the conference, I was not too sure whether it would be worth my while to go all the way to Singapore to hear some PhDs present their research. The only person I was looking forward to learning from was, Dan Baker, PhD and also a S&C coach to the Australian Brisbane Broncos Rugby League team for 20 years, leading them to 4 titles. Boy, was I wrong and was I very pleasantly surprised by the quality of presenters who not only had a whole bunch of PhDs but also years of experience in coaching high level athletes.
The Conference was kicked off by Dr Gregory Haff’s presentation on Maximal Strength, a key requirement for Sports Performance. According to Dr Haff, there is astrong relationship between strength and function. He had data to prove that anybody who cannot squat at least half their body weight could well be on their way to be weak, frail and prone to falls.
For superior sports performance, Dr Haff recommends being able to squat at least double body weight.
Dr Haff is also the current president of the Colorado, USA, based National Strength and Conditioning Association which provides the gold standard certification in S&C – the CSCS.
Next up was the practical session on Acceleration and Velocity Progressions by the very able, Sophia Nimphius PhD. In team sports, acceleration and ability to change direction is of prime importance. Watch any Rugby, football match and you can see the most athletic players can gain speed quickly and are also equally adept in moving to the left or right as they are in moving straight ahead. All this they do while the ball in play.
Then we moved on the practical session on teaching versions of Olympic Weightlifting to non weightlifters. Olympic Weightlifting provides a great way to improve explosiveness and power in athletes as you cannot do the Olympic lifts slowly. I walked in to the gym and all I could do was drool. Please remember Singapore is a small city state which grapples with a lack of space so the gym was not humongous but the equipment was state of art.
The best part of the practical session was when my Hang Clean form was corrected by Dr Gregory Haff himself!
The afternoon session had presentations on using Olympic Weightlifting derivatives for non weightlifters. We do know that Olympic lifts are ideal for creating a more explosive athlete but the debate has always been about the need to catch the clean onto the shoulders or just do the pull!
The presenter, David Meechan, is completely on the side of using WL derivatives like Jump Shrug and Clean Pull in place of the Power Clean or hang Cleans for developing explosiveness as the Jump Shrug and Clean Pull are easier and faster to teach and believe or not produce better Force-Velocity results.
The last presentation of the day was by Tim Doyle PhD, on the exciting new area of Strength & Conditioning for the first responders like policemen, firemen and soldiers. Dr Doyle is using science to develop lighter equipment for soldiers and he has also been actively involved in creating fitness tests for the Australian Army which would be more appropriate than running 2 miles, push ups and pullups! His ideas are now being adopted by most of the developed countries’ militaries.
That brought the first day of the Conference to an end. All the attendees were invited to hit the bar, and get to know each other! Wait for Part 2 of this review to read all about Day 2 of the seminar where yours truly nailed neutral grip chin ups with 30 kgs of extra load for Dr Dan Baker’s practical on Velocity based training.