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Coach Sommer

Senders - A Dynamic Leg Strength Series

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Coach Sommer

Dynamic leg strength is the primary focus of all gymnastics leg conditioning. Senders are a series of bounding elements used to increase an athlete's explosive power. In addition to be very productive, they are also a great deal of fun.

It is appropriate and necessary for all new trainees to engage in some manner of dynamic leg strength training; I start beginning athletes on introductory dynamic leg strength variations on their first day in my program. Care, however, should be taken to lay a solid foundation of basic leg strength prior to allowing the athlete to perform the more high intensity variations or engaging in a high volume dynamic leg strength work. Moderation and patience here are key.

Options for increasing basic leg strength include single leg squat work (both unweighted or weighted) or some variety of barbell work. My personal preference for my own athletes is weighted single leg squat work; however I am considering experimenting with some sandbag leg strength options in the future. Potential benefits of sandbag work include; ease of use in a group setting, no racks required and low to no risk of injury when dumping a weight for either themselves or a nearby teammate.

Some Basic Progressions for Developing Dynamic Leg Strength:

1) Jumping upward - Far too many people fail to realize that the simple act of vigorously jumping upward is quite beneficial for the initial development of dynamic leg strength. Options include standing jumps, squat jumps or rolling jumps.

2) Rebounding in place - Essentially this is simply bouncing up and down in place with the legs rigid. The primary difference between a jump and a rebound is the amount of time spent in contact with the ground. A series of jumps contains a landing phase where the legs bend to cushion the impact and then the muscles re-contract to elevate the body once more. A rebound does not have a distinct landing phase; rather the body is already tensed and punches explosively off the ground immediately upon contact.

3) Jumping up onto objects - This progression is rather self explanatory. Simply make sure that the object you are jumping up onto is stable and in a safe area. Gradually increase the height of the object being jumped onto. The jumps may either be walked into or performed from a stand.

4) Jumping up and jumping off to a landing - With this variation you will now add an additional jump up off of the object followed by a firm landing. Remember that when jumping, you will generally be able to achieve greater heights than when rebounding only. When jumping off, rather than rebounding, be sure to bend the knees upon impact.

5) Rebounding over objects - This variation may also include rebounding up onto and off objects as well as rebounding over. Remember to emphasize with yourself that a rebound is not a jump. Begin with heights that are easily achieved and increase both the height of the rebounds required as well as the length of your circuit gradually over time.

These will be the most physically demanding of the progressions, especially on the connective tissues, and you should increase the intensity and volume these movements gradually; especially if it has been some time since you have been vigorously physically active.

The Senders variation demonstrated in the video above is a combination of rebounds for different heights as well as for varying distances. The front flip at the end of this particular series is entirely optional :D!

I recommend engaging in dynamic leg strength no more than two times per week for beginning athletes; in this category I include anyone who is not already engaging in dynamic leg strength work on a regular basis. Be patient, be creative and enjoy your workouts.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Alex

Awesome Coach thanks so much!

When you say single leg squat, what is the orientation of the unused leg? i.e out in front or behind.

i've been doing these recently, basically like a step up but with no drive from the back leg.

stepup.jpg

Picture from beastskills.com

Oh the video is just fantastic BTW

many thanks

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pistol33

i think he means the pistol, which would be your leg out in front,

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Alex
i think he means the pistol, which would be your leg out in front,

Yeah thought thats what it may be. 8)

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Coach Sommer

I referred to this movement as single leg squats for many years before the term "pistols" was popularized by contempory fitness culture, so that is what I am most comfortable describing them as.

Whether the non-working leg is held forward or dangles down when standing on an elevated surface; the key fact is that a single leg squat is being performed. The performance details inherent in a particular style of single leg squat are simply variations on a theme, are not indicative of a completely new exercise and therefore do not require the use of a new designation to describe them.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Raizen

This is definately something I've never tired before, looks like a very interesting way of training legs. Is the course in the video the average length of one of your sender series? What sort of series do you use with your advanced athletes? And one somewhat unrelated thing I was wondering was how many repetitions you have your athletes perform for the exercises in the progressions you lsited in this thread. http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=5618&page=1 Thanks for the info.

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Alex
I referred to this movement as single leg squats for many years before the term "pistols" was popularized by contempory fitness culture, so that is what I am most comfortable describing them as.

Whether the non-working leg is held forward or dangles down when standing on an elevated surface; the key fact is that a single leg squat is being performed. The performance details inherent in a particular style of single leg squat are simply variations on a theme, are not indicative of a completely new exercise and therefore do not require the use of a new designation to describe them.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Thanks Coach

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Guest Chiflado

Somone posted a comment on the video on youtube but I haven't seen a response to it soooo....

Does the floor help? Is it a sprung floor or no?

very cool exercise by the way.

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kbryk

When the short time I was in gymnastics we did something similar, just not as long, and with more than one flip, at the end of the run I was always dizzy from all the flips. :shock:

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Blairbob

Chiflado, that floor is sprung. That is a somewhat advanced level of a Sender. It helps somewhat, but he is still a very bouncy lad in general.

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Epimetheus

Hi Coach I had a minor question. Do you just do one set of this, or do you go for several sets, if so how many do you need? thanks.

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Coach Sommer

Rather than counting sets, I generally set aside 5-10 minutes during conditioning for my athletes to work Senders.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Epimetheus

Thanks alot coach, i'll definately have to put these in my routine. When I get to the rebounding over stuff progression would you suggest just going straight for 5 minutes or taking rests (short ones I presume) after each time I complete a series.

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Coach Sommer

You should definitely rest in between sets during dynamic work. My athletes generally line up and then go through the series one at a time, moving to the back of the line after each turn. Even so, I encourage them to step out of line and take additional rest if they feel insufficiently recovered by their next turn.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Epimetheus

oh ok, thanks for clearing that up coach =]

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cathal

coach i just have a quick question regarding rebounds. do the legs have to be completely locked straight while landing or can there be the slightest of bends in your legs. my legs seem to automatically want to bend everytime i try to keep my legs completely rigid. is this a habit i must stamp out? thanks

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Blairbob

This is way late, but I saw that it never was addressed.

You should try to keep your legs as straight as possible. If you watch slow motion capture of gymnastics tumbling on a sprung floor, you will see their joints bend and straighten quickly. It's a reflexive action.

How much are they/were they bending? Strive for an unnoticeable bend you don't even feel. However, the bigger you jump, the more they will bend, especially with the big jumps, flips, or connected flips ( front-front ).

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Nick Van Bockxmeer

another question.

for the rebound, the heels never contact the ground right? The aim is to land on the balls and punch out with the calves?

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Coach Sommer
for the rebound, the heels never contact the ground right? The aim is to land on the balls (of the feet) and punch out with the calves?

That is correct. The heels come in contact with the ground during walking, but should never contact the ground during running or jumping. To do so negates the elasticity of the arch of the foot and the achilles tendon.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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DanPlanche

Do you think having strong legs helps with moves such as the flare? For example keeping them locked and sweeping.

My legs are pretty skinny... I need to condition them more.. although they are not weak.

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Coach Sommer

No, strong legs will not help with flairs. Although strong hips will.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Alexis Solis

To do so negates the elasticity of the arch of the foot and the achilles tendon.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Quick question Coach: is having a flat foot then, affecting my ability to punch forcefully? :cry:

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Coach Sommer

Yes, flat feet will affect your ability to punch. However this can be somewhat mitigated by being meticulous in keeping the heel elevated during the punch.

I would also recommend that you check out Kit Laughlin's work. Kit excels at active flexibility work and my elite athletes were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend an evening with him earlier this Fall. During the course of that evening, Kit mentioned to me that he was able over the course of a year to correct one of his student's flat feet through therapeutic exercise.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Alexis Solis
Yes, flat feet will affect your ability to punch. However this can be somewhat mitigated by being meticulous in keeping the heel elevated during the punch.

...

I would also recommend that you check out Kit Laughlin's work.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Coach, I did check that webpage out and searched for "flat" "foot" and "feet" and there were no results :?

Do you know the name of an article, DVD, or something else that has this such valuable information for me? :mrgreen:

Thanks a lot Coach, I appreciate ALL of your work here on the forum. I love you! :lol:

P.D. I'm also checking out the forum and going to ask there about this flat foot therapy! :)

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Joshua Naterman

I can tell you that specific toe flexion resistance training, rolling of the bottom of the foot, and possibly use of a metatarsal arch support for a while during rehab to reposition the bones while you develop foot strength (I know, that sounds funny to me too) and stability with the exercises I will describe will make an enormous difference. I have fixed my falling arches permanently with this. Running and jumping rope in my five fingers also helps a ton, but my arches were already pretty well fixed when that started.

Exercises:

1) resisted toe flexion. Get a piece of 1/2 inch PVC or maybe even 1/2" copper which is a bit thinner. You can use anything that's about .5" thick and at least 4" long. Tie some sort of string to the center of whatever you are using so that it has a loop on it. Now attach light bands or even regular rubber bands to this loop and to an anchor point. Could be under your other heel or around a chair leg or couch leg, whatever it is just needs to stay stationary however you make that work. Now you take your right foor (for example) and put the pipe or whatever under your toes, drag it until there's a bit of stretch on the bands, and then plant your heel firmly and use your toes and the bottom of your foot to do curls. Work with fairly high reps, starting with maybe 10-20 and working up to 50-ish. Then add resistance until your reps drop to around 15-20 and work up to 50 again. Do with both feet. This strengthens the intrinsic muscles of the foot that help maintain your arch by providing compressive force that keeps the bones in place and allows the foot to act as a spring.

2) resisted inversion with dorsiflexion. Put your right heel on a bench or chair while standing, with most of the foot hanging off. Hang a book bag or plastic bag or whatever off of the top of your foot with the toes pointed and out to the side a bit. Now point your knee about 30-40 degrees to the right. Now, without moving your knee, pull the top of your foot towards the ceiling. This will cause dorsiflexion AND inversion. This strengthens tibialis posterior, which helps support the medial arch of the foot at the navicular bone by pulling directly up.

3) Resisted eversion with dorsiflexion. Same instructions as #2, but instead of pointing the right knee to the right you will point it to the left. You will find yourself in a sort of modified side kick position. Now lift the top of your foot straight towards the ceiling. This will cause eversion with dorsiflexion. This strengthens the peroneal muscles, which help support the arch from the inside to the outside of your foot and also protect you from the most common ankle sprains.

Same reps for 2&3 as #1, leg can be bent or straight however you like it. Add resistance in the same fashion.

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