This is part 2 of the weekly “Friday Five” series where I ask 5 tough questions to world class elite coaches. Week 1 was with renowned jumps coach Boo Schexnayder.
Mike Stone PhD is currently the Exercise and Sports Science Laboratory Director in the Department of Kinesiology, Leisure, and Sport Sciences (KLSS) at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Prior to joining ETSU he was the Head of Sports Physiology for the Unites Sates Olympic Committee (USOC). From 1999 through 2001 he was Chair of Sport at Edinburgh University in Scotland. Dr. Stone’s service and research interests are primarily concerned with physiological and performance adaptations to strength/power training
Recently (Feb 2012), Dr. Stone has been elected to the scientific advisory panel for the National Basketball Strength Conditioning Association.
Before you begin reading this interview, one of my curiosities revolves around the bilateral deficit… something Dennis Mitchell had mentioned during my time in Clermont, Florida. A bilateral deficit refers to a situation where the sum of individual muscle forces when each limb is working on its own is greater than the combined forces produced when both limbs work simultaneously (bilaterally).
You can read more about that in NEURAL ACTIVATION AND PERFORMANCE IN POWER EVENTS by Warren Young.
Friday Five is sponsored by Freelap Track and Field, a leader in electronic timing.
Interview with Dr. Mike Stone, formerly with the USOC
Q1 – SpeedEndurance.com: The bilateral deficit is often a cited physiological piece of evidence to show single leg exercises are superior or a replacement to bilateral exercises. Could you explain what unique benefits the bilateral exercises offer so coaches can combine both options (single leg and bilateral movements) for proper development?
Mike Stone: First of all the bilateral deficit is only apparent in untrained individuals – training bilaterally almost always eliminates the BLD within a few months to about a year. The use of unilateral movements is largely justified by the concept of specificity – however, there are many different ways of mechanically executing unilateral movements – and I doubt there is always much specificity. The current scientific literature does not show any clear cut benefit of using unilateral movements over bilateral in terms of developing maximum strength. Certainly in terms of (for example) bounding triple jumps might benefit from single leg bounds (weighted and unweighted).
Q2 – SpeedEndurance.com: It seems that power development is a lost art with Performance Enhancement, perhaps because the role responsibilities have expanded beyond strength and conditioning, thus diluting the abilities of the coach. Could you share your views of the responsibilities of a team in reducing injury by increasing power? Perhaps the NBA position you have could share the unique challenges coaches in that sport have with their schedule and demands of the sport.
Mike Stone: Not sure this is true. – However, there is a good deal of evidence that among relatively weak athletes getting stronger will increase power output and explosiveness (RFD). Once reasonable levels of strength are attained (about 2 x body mass parallel squat for example) switching to power movements can increase power to higher levels. There is also some evidence that if maximum strength levels begin to fall – eventually so will maximum power levels. There is data suggesting that injuries are decreased with increased strength – as power tends to increase with strength as well – then yes increases in power tend to reduce injuries.
Q3 – SpeedEndurance.com: Bar path or trajectory on the Olympic lifts is a key component in ensuring the right muscle groups are challenged in order to make athletes more explosive. Could you share how a bar path too far away from the body could be dangerous to the body or reduce the ability to transfer the load? Perhaps a connection between center of pressure through the foot could also explain why great technique has a better transfer to performance. Could too many athletes don’t recruit leg musculature because they lift with their backs?
Mike Stone: Allowing the bar to move horizontally away from the body requires extra energy to bring it back – provided it can even be done (i.e. bring it back) – the connection to performance – is multifactorial – such as – these lifts will increase strength, power and explosiveness, – the better the technique the more likely these positive alterations are to occur . As the proper technique (double knee bend) is similar to a number of other athletic activities (e.g. jumping , parts of sprinting etc. ) then they (theoretically) should have greater transfer to these activities then less mechanically specific exercises. Certainly poor technique will reduce transfer.
Q4 – SpeedEndurance.com: Hormonal adaptations are often used to monitor athletes during the year. Could share a best practices of what teams can do to not only screen basic health, but to find more decisive conclusions of classic heavy lifting helping athlete long term? Many teams are afraid of lifting moderately heavy loads, could they be short sided in this conservative approach?
Mike Stone: Yes – if you want to get strong – you have to lift heavy weights at some point.
Q5 – SpeedEndurance.com: Team sports have an endurance demand, but often they look at the strength and conditioning elements being mutually exclusive. Could you share how endurance qualities performance wise can benefit from a solid strength program? Often inappropriate methods such as high rep strength training is often though as a solution to improving endurance in the weight room.
Mike Stone: High rep training will increase high intensity endurance capabilities – however, getting stronger will also increase certain aspects , especially as it concerns absolute endurance. (stronger athletes can do more reps at a given load). When to perform high reps etc. etc. is part of the periodization process – there are times that every athlete should perform high reps – but other aspects of training have to be deemphasized or the total volume may overwhelm adaptive abilities – high reps all the time will be counterproductive in the long run.