THE STRENGTH-SKILL OPERATING SYSTEM
The Exercise Categories
14 movement patterns that span the entirety of compound, multi-joint exercises for Heavy Strength Training.
Squat variations form a cornerstone of many strength programmes as a potent stimulus for neuromuscular adaptation. With such potency comes great necessity for technical perfection if we are to have the maximal positive effect on complex sports skills and cap the potential downsides from poor technique. Our technical model for squatting in the SSOS is derived from our technical model for vertical plyometrics.
Common Exercises: Back Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat
The Hinge series has 4 sub-categories of exercises which together form a comprehensive posterior chain programme: They are Glue-Ham, Nordic, Thrusting and Deadlift.
Fundamental to all hinging progressions is the ability to maintain a neutral spine position under dynamic hip positions. By developing strength in a stiffened trunk position we can have tremendous impact on both lumbar spine injury prevention and performance of our ability to transfer force through the body in the Kinetic Chain.
Common Exercises: Romanian Deadlifts, Good Mornings, Nordics, Hip Thrusts, Glue-Ham Raises, Bridging, Arabesques
Athletes must master moving through a full range of motion on single leg to cope with the intense and diverse deceleration demands of sport. Good strength and control on single leg frees the upper body to perform complex and precise sports skills.
We often see upper body postures fail under intense lower body impact loads which makes expert technique crumble under physical pressure.
The Lunge Progression challenges athletes from every direction in a range of tasks prioritising upper body posture throughout.
Common Exercises: Walking Lunges, Bulgarian Split Squat, Single Leg Squat
Step progressions are an accessory exercise in a lower body programme yet they offer a unique opportunity to develop strength and motor control specific to sprinting. Hip-Lock is a critical position for effective acceleration and top-speed running. Achieving it requires the coordination of hip and oblique system in single leg stance with the stance knee extended.
The Step progression targets this specific coordination under load and increasing movement complexity.
Common Exercises: Box Step Ups variations
2 key muscles of the lower leg are the soleus and the gastrocnemius. The ankle is subjected to forces of 2-3 x body weight whilst walking and up to 10 x body weight in explosive-reactive movements.
Failure to prepare both the gastrocnemius and soleus calf for these types of load has the knock on effect of completely derailing power development from the hips.
The Calf category could be considered a series of isolation exercises series but I decided calf development is far too important to not include in the main Exercise Categories list. As such this Category’s structure is slightly different.
Common Exercises: Calf Raises, Smith Machine Isometrics, Skipping, Ankle Hops, Drop Jumps.
UPPER BODY HORIZONTAL PUSH
The shoulder is a highly mobile joint. The horizontal pushing series is about first understanding a shoulder position which is conducive to intense loading to promote health and performance in parrallel through efficiency.
First we challenge that position under compressive loads with increasing coordinative complexity all the while integrating shoulder function with lumbo-pelvic control to optimise output from the athletic shoulder…
Common Exercises: Floor Press, Bench Press, Press Ups.
UPPER BODY HORIZONTAL PULL
Following directly on from the Horizontal Push Category.
… Next we challenge that same shoulder position under compressive loads with increasing coordinative complexity all the while integrating shoulder function with lumbo-pelvic control to optimise the athletic shoulder and it’s role within the kinetic chain.
Common Exercises: Ring/TRX Rows, Seated Rows, Single Arm Row, Bent Over Row, Bench Pull.
UPPER BODY VERTICAL PUSH
The Upper Trapezius muscle plays a critical role in resisting the strong pull of the latissmus dorsi and avoid excessive depression of the glenohumeral joint. This positioning has a knock-on effect on scapula positioning and the ability of the surrounding muscle to stabilise the shoulder.
This exercise category is designed to refine this subtle coordination strategy under increasingly complex and diverse coordination demands under load.
Common Exercises: Waiter’s Holds, Military Press
UPPER BODY VERTICAL PULL
The latissmus dorsi are powerful muscles for athletic performance but they also have a tendency to derail shoulder stability and trunk posture.
The Vertical Pull category is designed to harness and tame the power of latissmus dorsi with a major focus on shoulder and trunk postures to resist destructive postures and optimise this powerful muscle’s role within the kinetic chain.
Common Exercises: Pull Ups, Lat Pulldows, Muscle Ups
TRUNK: ANTI-EXTENSION ISOMETRICS
The ability to resist lumbar extension and an anterior pelvic tilt in the vast majority of athletic skills is fundamental to performance and injury resiliance.
‘Lumbar Neutral’ is a term used to describe a mid-range spinal posture from which the trunk musculature is optimally recruited to generate stiffness.
Lumbar spine stiffness is vital for the transmission of forces between the arms and legs and as such is fundamental to performance in almost every sports skill.
Common Exercises: Front Plank, Supine Hold, Front Levers
The ability to stiffen the lumbar spine in a neutral position while the legs and arms move is an important skill for both performance and injury prevention.
It is important to distinguish between this and Ant-Extension Isometrics. Here the flexibility of the hips and shoulders are as important as the brute force of the abdominals to resist lumbar extension and flexion.
Dissociation drills require both strength and flexibility
Common Exercises: Deadbugs, Rollouts
The vast majority of our S&C work is (quite rightly) done in a ‘braced neutral’ position when under load. As a result athletes often become very good at stiffening the spine.
The problem is that fluid sports skills often require a pelvis that is mobile and a lumbar spine which can move and adjust and flex to absorb and dissipate force. This is especially important in overhead throwing and javelin actions (e.g., tennis serving, cricket fast bowling).
Lumbar Flexion focuses on segmental mobility of the lumbar spine with a strong posterior tilt of the pelvis and ly developing the strength to control that mobility.
Common Exercises: Jefferson Curls, Curling Sit-Ups, Toes to Bar.
TRUNK: ANTI-SIDE FLEXION ISOMETRICS
The ability to brace against lateral flexion is an important physical quality in many sports.
In order to maximise the benefits of this physical quality during running, striking and throwing based activities it is important to adhere to postural principles that are aparant during these sports skills.
Common Exercises: Side Planks, Lateral Holds, Flags
TRUNK: SPIRAL LINES
Blistering rotational power is the effect of mulitple segments of the body co-ordinating together to achieve something much greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Rotational power is delivered from the hip to opposite side shoulder in a very specific plyometric stretch-reflex through the anterior oblique sling.
This category reverse engineers the freedom of movement, local segmental stability, multi-segmental co-ordination, timing and strength required to maximise the sequencing of this chain of muscles to transmit powerful forces from the lower body.
Common Exercises: Chopping, Striking with Bands, Medicine Ball