Two New Podcast Interviews

I had the pleasure of being invited onto two great podcasts in the past few weeks and both just got published today.

Historic Performance Podcast

The first podcast was with James Darley on his Historic Performance Podcast. This podcast we talked a lot about the process of developing a high performance team – a team that brings together medical, strength and conditioning, and sport science/data science departments. Additionally, we discuss a blog post I wrote about the NBA draft and some ideas around drafting players.


Fit Info Club Podcast

The next podcast was with Guy Bortz on his Fit Info Club Podcast. In this podcast we talked in depth on the processes of sport science within a team environment and the importance of using data wisely. We also cover a lot of the concepts I discussed in my recent 2016 NSCA National Conference Presentation.


Concurrent Training – The Effect of Intensity Distribution

Periodization and planning of training is a topic that fascinates me as I enjoy studying how good coaches structure training and develop athletes. Lots of thoughts exist regarding the best periodization strategy to use (e.g., Linear, Block, Conjugate, Vertical Integration, Undulating, Daily Undulating, Fluid, etc.).

Concurrent training is one approach to structuring a training program where multiple qualities are trained within the same session. Of course, this may present problems where one quality (e.g., strength) may interfere with another quality (e.g., aerobic training) that you are looking to also develop in that session. For more on this issue, referred to as the interference phenomenon, see THIS blog post I wrote about 4 years ago.

A new study by Varela-Sanz and colleagues evaluated the effect of concurrent training between two programs that had equivalent external loads (volume x intensity) but differed in training intensity distribution. This evaluation may provide practitioners with a better understanding of the optimal dose and intensity needed to minimize the interference phenomenon. In team sport athletes, this may be essential as training and developing multiple qualities needed for sport is crucial and the shortened offseason periods can make program planning a challenge.

Study Overview

Subjects: 35 sport science students (30 men / 5 women)
Duration: 8 weeks
Independent Variable: External training load
Dependent Variables:

  • Counter Movement Jump
  • Bench Press (7 – 10 RM was performed and used to estimate 1 RM)
  • Half Squat (7 – 10 RM was performed and used to estimate 1 RM)
  • Max Aerobic Speed (Université de Montréal Track Test)
  • Body Composition (body weight & skinfold measurements)
  • HRV
  • RPE
  • Feeling Scale
  • Training Impulse (TRIMP)

Training Groups

  • Traditional Training Group
    • N = 12
    • This group followed the exercise guidelines recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which suggests that moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise is performed on most days of the week.
  • Polarized Training Group
    • N =12
    • This group followed a polarized training program. Polarized training programs have been recommended for endurance athletes as a method of distributing training intensity. Despite this polarized approach, external load was matched to the Traditional Training Group.
  • Control Group
    • N = 11

Training Program

  • Training Frequency: 3x/week (Mon, Wed, Fri)
    • Monday & Friday sessions were ~120min
    • Wednesday’s session was ~60min
  • Training Set Up
    • Monday/Friday Training
      • Cardiovascular Training
      • Resistance Training
    • Wednesday Training
      • Cardiovascular Training

      Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 2.41.03 PM


  • No differences for total workload, RPE, TRIMP, or Feeling Score were found between groups over the 8-week period.
  • The traditional training group was the only group to see a decrease in resting HR (both supine and standing) following the training program. No changes in HRV were seen for any group.
  • Both training groups saw improvements in 1RM for the bench press, half squat, and Max Aerobic Speed.
  • The polarized group saw an increase in body weight (without a change in body fat) following the 8-week training program and was still able to maintain their vertical jump abilities.

Practical Applications

I don’t know that this study moves us any closer to understanding the optimal distribution of training intensity when performing a concurrent training program. The polarized group performed easier cardiovascular training on days where they performed resistance training (Monday & Friday) and on Wednesday’s they performed easy cardiovascular training followed by high intensity interval training. The traditional group performed the same training session each day, with the same intensities for the duration of the 8-week program. Despite the differences in intensity distribution, both groups appeared to make improvements so it is really difficult to tell which method may be more beneficial (or perhaps, they are really just the same).

There are a number of things to consider when reading this study:

  • The subjects are not high-level athletes and it is possible that any form of training is going to provide a positive training effect.
  • Resistance training volume was low (they only used two exercises – Bench Press and Half Squat) so we don’t know what would happen if there were more resistance training in the program.
  • The polar training group trained opposite qualities during their training sessions, which is interesting given that a commonly held belief amongst coaches is to try and group similar qualities together in one session rather than mix them (IE, sprinting + heavy strength training or aerobic training + lower intensity resistance training).

Probably the most important thing that I think about with papers like this is that we need to begin to dig down into understanding individual differences. Comparing group means doesn’t really tell us how the individual’s responded and then allow us to make better inference to our own athletes about what sort of outcome we might expect to get when we write a training program. Training is a very individualized process and how someone responds to the program we apply to them is dependent on a number of factors – some that we might be able to measure and quantify and others which we might not be able to measure and quantify (and a few others that we might not even be aware of yet). In the process of evaluating individual differences we may find that some athletes in each group got better, a few stayed the same, and some may have gotten worse. Without understanding these individual differences and then attempting to unpack the deeper question of “why” it will be hard to plan individualized training programs in the future. If we can get to the bottom of how people respond to training and we can start to go down the road of figuring out the factors that influence that response we will start to have a better idea of the impact our training program will have for that athlete, allowing us to make individual adjustments that may lead to more favorable outcomes.



Functional Range Release & Developing Your Own System

This weekend I had the pleasure of once again learning from Dr. Andreo Spina at the Functional Range Conditioning Course. The course was assisted by Dewey Nielsen and Hunter Cook. For those who have never taken one of Dr. Spina’s courses, they are a great blend of science and applied work. This course was entirely focused on movement and developing joint range of motion and control throughout the variety of activities that an individual may encounter depending on whatever it is they are trying to do (play sport, workout, live life, etc).

Instead of just reviewing the course I figured I’d blend in some of my ideas of how I go about trying to take new things I learn and putting them into my own system. A lot of times, when people take a course they immediately gravitate towards some of the ideas but then show up to work on Monday and fall into what they’ve always done. They borrow a few exercises or “drills” that they were taught over the weekend, however they never really operationalize what they have learned in order to see how it truly integrates into THEIR OWN system. In fact, some people have never even sat down to write out their own system in the first place (for interested readers, I wrote an entire article about developing your own system a little over a year ago. CLICK HERE).

Functional Range Conditioning

First, Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) IS NOT:

  • “Mobility Drills” that you just add to your warm up
  • PNF
  • Fancy gymnastic type exercises

FRC is not “mobility drills” that you just add to your warm up for 5min. The goal of the system is to identify joints that have limited function and work to improve them before loading them. A lot of people end up attending courses like FRC and walk away thinking, “Oh, this will be a good hip stretch to give to my clients and this drill will be a good t-spine mobility exercise to prescribe to my patients.”. Chance are, if you are thinking like this, you are missing the point. The system is set up to help you identify limitations and plan a training program that is specific to the needs of the client.

While some of the exercises in FRC utilize isometrics or eccentrics and may resemble PNF, FRC is not PNF. Dr. Spina discusses the scientific literature extensively and is adamant about the fact that he did not invent any of this stuff. Rather, we are listening to his interpretation of what the science says and how he has taken that science and created his own approach to movement and exercise. Thus, if you say that some of this looks like PNF, he would say, “Sure, of course it does. But, what we are doing goes beyond what PNF is because the other components of my system come from other realms of science.”

Fancy gymnastic exercises are currently all the rage on social media and, while there are those who do FRC that can do some incredibly crazy movements, the goal of the system is not to get you to be a gymnast. Rather, the goal of the system is to conduct a needs analysis of your client, determine the prerequisite movement competencies they require for their task/sport and then test them to ensure they poses these prerequisite competencies. If they do not have these competencies then you at least know where to begin your training program. A good example would be a strength coach who wants their athletes to squat yet several of the athletes lack prerequisites of ankle dorsiflexion, healthy knee/tibial rotation, or hip internal rotation. The strength coach puts these athletes under load and then may wonder why the athletes report back, hip, or knee pain 6 weeks later (or it could be shoulder or neck pain or maybe elbow pain or…well, it could be whatever! The point is that if you lack prerequisite competencies to meet your movement demands then load will be taken up somewhere in the body and wherever load begins to exceed capacity we end up with an injury). The aim isn’t to turn everyone into Gumby. A football player probably doesn’t need to be able to do the full splits or do any sort of crazy movement exercise but they do need health joint ROM and then control and strength through that ROM to satisfy their needs and demands on the field in order to mitigate the risk of injury.

What Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) is:

  • Functional Range Conditioning is a movement based system that applies scientific approaches to developing (or re-developing) joint mobility, joint integrity, strength, and connective tissue resilience.

These goals are met through a progressive system consisting of:

  • Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)
  • Progressive Angular Isometric Loadings (PAILs) and Regressive Angular Isometric Loadings (RAILs)
  • Progressive Angular Loadings (PALs) and Regressive Angular Loadings (RALs)
  • Full Range Control

CARs can serve as both a warm (E.g., a daily routine) as well as an assessment of each joint. When a limitation is found, PAILs and RAILs are the initial starting point to help the individual re-develop normal joint function (NOTE: Don’t expect this to happen overnight). When an improvement has been made in joint function the soft tissue structures can begin to be loaded in order to develop end range control and strength, finally progressing to full range control. This approach is useful for both rehabilitation and strength and conditioning.

The concepts are simple. Assess joint ranges of motion and if the client lacks specific ranges of motion then work to improve those limitations through targeted strategies. I highlight targeted strategies because this is a critical component to the FRC system. Don’t just do “stuff”. Rather, assess for limitations and program targeted interventions that are specific to the individual’s needs. These targeted interventions should lead to a desired outcome/improvement and this should be tested to ensure that improvements are being made. Progress these interventions to train the individual with lots of variability through a wide range of motion. As Dr. Spina says, “You always end up regretting the position or range of motion you didn’t train in.” Why? Because the second you are thrust into that range of motion during a game (or at some point in life) and your tissue doesn’t have the capacity to control that range of motion, you end up getting injured.

“But how am I supposed to get my other lifting/training in?”

During the course, someone asked Dr. Spina, “So where would I fit this in with my normal training.” To which Dr. Spina replied, “You have a hip and an ankle with extremely limited mobility yet you want to squat in your training program and you are worried about where to fit FRC in? I’d look back at you and ask, “Where the heck are you going to fit your squat training into your FRC training training because it seems like this is what you need to do first!”".

The reply is brilliant and addresses the first point above about what FRC is not. FRC is not just about learning mobility exercises. If you want to use FRC and be effective in rehabilitation or training you need to think about programming this stuff just like you would any other exercise.

Does this mean that if you lack joint mobility in some of your prerequisites that you can no longer train until it improves? Absolutely not!! If you find areas of limitation, program exercises for those limitations into your training as you would any other exercise (IE, squats, bench press, sprints, plyos, etc) and work diligently on them while you also work on your other exercises to address your strength and power. Doing this might require a lateralization or regression of some exercises or a decrease in training volume or intensity, temporarily. This tends to scare people (as if the idea of decreasing lifting volume means they will automatically lose all strength and turn to mush) but if you work on improving your limitations you may find that as these prerequisites improve your strength begins to increase at a faster rate. I’ve discussed the concept of lateralizations and regressions, a concept discussed extensively by Charlie Weingroff, in a previous blog article. The concept basically tells us that we can still load and train while working on improving our limitation by choosing exercises that that don’t load us into that limitation. For example, if the football player lacks proper ankle dorsiflexion, while they are working on improving this limitation, you would lateralize their squat to something that does not require them to load into ankle dorsiflexion, such as a split squat, rear foot elevated split squat with a veritical tibia, trap bar deadlift, deadlift, rack pull, etc.

How Do I Fit This Into My Own System?

My training philosophy consists of three main elements

  1. Movement
  2. Stress Resistance/Stress Tolerance
  3. Fitness

philosophyWithin each of these buckets we have methods of testing and methods of training. What we test and how we train depends on the individual and the sport they are preparing for – this is not a one size fits all. The goal of the system is to increase the athletes Physiological Buffer Zone to make them as robust as possible against the stressors they will face in competition, across a season.

Obviously the FRC system fits into the Movement bucket – Does the athlete posses the necessary joint ranges of motion to satisfy the needs and demands of their sport (or even the specific position they play within that sport)?

Fitting the concepts of the FRC system into my own training methodology is not hard and actually compliments a lot of things I already do, which makes sense given that I’ve known Dr. Spina for a few years and his approaches along with those of Charlie Weingroff have been very influential on me within that Movement bucket. Here are some of the ways I’d take these concepts and begin to apply them:

  1. Deep offseason conditioning should be aimed at developing prerequisite competencies specific to the sport or addressing limitations that the athlete has. Strength training volume is lower during this time of year (we may only perform 2-3 days/week of 3-4 exercises with intensities of 70-75%) so it would not impeded on any of the FRC approaches we are taking to re-develop joint movement (NOTE: The exercises and the intensity of the exercises in the FRC system are absolutely brutal and exhausting because they are very specific and they target things that you are currently very poor at). CARs would be used as a daily routine to help move the joints through their available ranges of motion and exercises targeted at specific limitations (start by selecting just 1-2 limitations) will follow CARs exercises each day. Two to three times per week the individual will do a longer session of full body FRC (what is referred to as a Kinstretch Session). Aside form the strength training discussed above, we would have some form of energy system training, focused on developing general fitness and not highly specific to their sport at this time (E.g., aerobic adaptations, lower intensity conditioning activities, etc).
  2. As you begin to transition into more specific work and get closer to the season, use the Kinstretch sessions 1-2x/week to keep improving joint control. CARs will always be part of the daily routine (this may only take about 10min) and any limitations are noted. Hopefully at this point the athlete has acquired the important prerequisite competencies from the previous phase. Lifting, plyometrics, and sprinting need to begin to take a front seat in the training program in order to prepare for the competitive season. If the athlete is still lacking sport specific or exercise specific perquisite competencies lateralize or regress their strength and power exercises in order to develop those qualities while still working to improve joint integrity and soft tissue resilience in the areas of the limitations.
  3. During the season the 10min daily CARs continue. I see this being essential in-season! In-season, the wear and tear of competition and repetitive loading of tissues can become problematic for athletes and often lead to losses of joint range of motion or painful regions of joint movement (painful arcs or closing angle pain). The in-season daily CARs session serves to keep the joints healthy and maintain ranges of motion, allows the athlete to stay on top of any losses of range of motion or limitations, as well as inform the medical staff about any of these losses of range of motion or painful movements to pro-actively receive treatment and not wait until something breaks. The Kinstretch session may continue 1x/week to help maintain whole body movements during the in-season period.

The FRC system is highly useful and one of the things I appreciate about it is that Dr. Spina does not teach you exercises. He teaches you concepts. You, as the coach or therapist, need to determine which exercises your athletes need. You need to determine which prerequisite competencies are required for your sport. You need to plan the approach and develop the program and even develop your own exercises that target the individual’s needs. Rather than teaching you “stuff”, Dr. Spina teaches you how he thinks. If you have your own system, if you’ve taken the time to sit down and write out what things are important to you and how you test and train/address those things within that system, then it makes it a lot easier for you to operationalize concepts from someone elses system should you feel that those concepts compliment what you do and are important to you as well.

FRC is not about exercises, it is about a thought process. The concepts taught in the course are extremely valuable and useful, whether you train elite athletes, high school athletes, or general population clients of any age or ability. Because FRC is a thought process, you can adapt the concepts to any client as you, the coach/therapist, develop the exercises and interventions. Don’t just do stuff, train with a purpose!


2016 NBA Draft – How do you put together a winning team?

The 2015-2016 NBA playoffs have just begun meaning 16 fortunate teams are still playing ball while 14 others are preparing for the 2016 Draft and beginning to set up the structure of their team for next season (“There’s always next season”).

The concept of drafting players is an interesting one. So much goes into it – athleticism, physical stature, game smarts, college performance, and the player’s mentality (IE, will they be able to handle the pressure, will they fit in with the guys and have good team chemistry, etc). Recently, Motomura and colleagues (2016) discussed the role the draft can playing in building an NBA franchise. More importantly, they set out to understand whether having more or higher draft picks actually made an NBA team better. They concluded,

“We find that the draft is not necessarily the best road to success. An excellent organization and General Manager better enable teams to succeed even without high draft picks.”

This got me thinking – could we potentially try and understand which teams are “excellent” organizations in terms of selecting players that enjoy success at in the NBA? Additionally, I am really interested in the Philadelphia 76ers. Year after year they always seem to be in the conversation of tanking at the end of the season, in order to increase their chances of obtaining higher round draft picks in the NBA Draft Lottery. In fact, they have been so good at this over the past few seasons that the 2016 season is supposed to the final season of the tanking era in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, their efforts to tank and stock pile great players has not payed off. They seem to have a hard time either:

  1. Selecting good players. If you are going to tank you better not miss on your draft picks!
  2. Developing players or bringing in veteran players who can surround the young stars so that they don’t have to play a high number of minutes their rookie season and carry the team (something also addressed in the Motomura above).

The Data

2011 – 2015 NBA Draft data was obtained from


  • With 60 picks in the NBA Draft (300 total over the 5 year period) how many players, on average, do teams pick up?
  • What is the average value of players selected in each of the draft number spots?
  • Which teams have been most successful at picking players that added a high amount of value to their team?
  • What is going on in Philly?

Number of Draft Picks

Over the 2011 – 2015 NBA Draft 300 total players have been chosen, with teams averaging 9 players drafted during that period. The 76ers certainly are leading the way, selecting 21 players over this 5 year stretch. (NOTE: You will notice there are 34 teams in the table below. This is because I left in expansion teams and teams that moved from one city to another during this 5 year period. I did this to just represent what took place in the draft between 2011 – 2015).

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 8.02.38 PM
What is the value of a draft pick?

Value or Success metrics are often one of the more difficult things to pin down when studying team sport athletes. Lots of things players do can add value to a team without ever making it into the box score (which primarily consists of count metrics). The writers at display two metrics which I used to quantify a player’s value – Win Shares and Value Over Replacement Player. Both of these metrics are the type of metrics that were born out of Baseball’s Sabermetrics as a way of trying to provide more context to the box score metrics presented to fans everyday on websites or in newspapers. Win Shares is a metric that takes the teams success and divides up credit for that success among the participating players. Value Over a Replacement Player is a metric which projects the player’s value versus a fictitious replacement player. Both of these metrics have limitations and people argue frequently over which is more useful or whether we should use a different metric to represent value (E.g., Player Efficiency Rating or something like +/- or Adjusted +/-. Both of which have their own limitations). I simply chose these metrics because they were readily available and they would provide me with a quick way to represent player value. Any metric one deems important would suffice, though.

To reflect value per pick I summarized the data in a few ways:

  • I binned the picks into groups of ten (Picks 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60). Because I was dealing with a five year period it meant that there would only be 5 picks for each selection (1-60), which wouldn’t provide enough data. Thus, binning it this way helped me group more players together.
  • Since I am using 5 years of data it isn’t really fair to look at something like Win Shares for all of the players, since players who were drafted in 2011 have a much longer time to contribute to their win share compared to a player drafted in 2015 (a rookie). Thus, I reflected Win Shares over Games Played, to attempt to look at each player’s contribution to their teams success relative to the amount of games they participated in.
  • Finally, I added in Minutes Per Game, simply because I wanted to see what the participation differences were between the bins of draft picks.

The data in the below table is the average of each metric for the six different draft pick bins.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 4.29.23 PM

As we would expect (or should expect) there is a monotonic decrease in each of the three metrics as we move from Pick 1-10 to Pick 51-60. This is to be expected and tells us that the quality of player begins to decrease as we move down the draft board (better players are being selected higher up). The only place this doesn’t seem to happen is in Pick 41-50 for the Average Value Over Replacement Player. I’m not really certain why this is. It could be that during this five year stretch there were a lot of players selected from those picks that had minimal to no contribution to their team.

Draft Pick Value Per Team

First, we look at the sum of Win Shares Per Game for each draft pick bin. I added up the win shares per game for each player the team selected in each of the draft pick bins and then summed those up to obtain a 5 year “Value Add”. I then standardized the scores in order to see how each team did relative to the average Value Add during this 5 year stretch.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 4.35.42 PM
There is a limitation with this analysis in that I didn’t have a way of going through each player to see if they played for their draft team over the entire 5 year period. It is entirely possible that some players moved on or maybe got drafted and immediately traded and never had a chance to play with their draft team (as we will see when we discuss Philadelphia). That being said, what quickly jumps out is that 6 teams appear to be very good at identifying those who will be valuable NBA players, whether they still play on their draft team or not – Houston, Cleveland, Detroit, Denver, Minnesota, and Utah. It is important to keep in mind, however, that some of these scores might be coming from one or two players during this five year period. For example, guys like Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota) and Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) make significant contributions to their teams in terms of Value Add. Both players were also #1 draft picks.

Another interesting observation is the value Houston, Cleveland, and Detroit were able to find in Picks 31-40. Those three teams stand alone in that draft pick bin as all of the other teams seem to lack the ability to find valuable players. Houston looks to be pretty incredible at identifying talented players as they are green in several of the draft bins and have had the most success in drafting (using Wins Shares as the metric of success) compared to other teams over this period. Houston also happens to be a team that is praised for their analytic savviness and perhaps this helps contribute to their ability to scout talent.

In looking at this chart, Philadelphia doesn’t appear to be doing too bad (7th ranked team). However, it is important to keep in mind the limitation of this chart in that some players might be adding value for teams other than the team which drafted them. I do give Philly credit for identifying some of the players as potentially successful players but trading them away doesn’t help. This will be discussed later in the article.

 Next, we turn our attention to the Value Over Replacement Metric. For this analysis I took the average Value Over Replacement for each of the draft pick bins for each team. I then took the average of every draft pick bin for each team and created a 5 Year Average Value Over Replacement Player. This metric was then standardized for all teams to investigate how they did relative to the rest of the league.

 Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 4.54.03 PM

Now we get a little bit of a different look at the league and how successful teams draft players. As in the above analysis, there is a similar limitation in that players may have moved on from the team that drafted them; however, the main goal is to understand who is good at identifying talent.

We still see Houston in the top 6. Not only are they selecting players that are adding win value but these players are also contributing more than the replacement player would. Golden State, who was in the top 10 on the previous chart, looks to steal the show here with players above the replacement level player. Philadelphia takes a bit of a hit in this chart.

So What is Going on in Philly?

This is a tough one to sort out. As I alluded to above, sometimes teams draft players and then move those players on to other teams. Philly has been accused of tanking in order to get better draft picks and if you are going to try and go out of your way to get better draft picks then you need to ensure those draft picks actually turn into great players. Otherwise, you just end up being in the same position next year. Philly drafted 21 players over the past 5 years – well above the norm for an NBA team during this time.

  • Of the 21 players drafted only 7 of those players actually ended up playing for the team in some capacity.
  • Of those 7 players, only 4 of them remain with the team.
  • Of those 4 players, one is Joel Embiid, who has not played a game in his first 2 seasons with the team due to injury. Embiid was the 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft and has proven, thus far, to be a very costly selection for the franchise.

Here is an overview of the 21 players Philly has selected in the past 5 years:

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 5.26.42 PMPlayers in red are players that are no longer in the NBA or never even made it into an NBA game. That is 10 out of Philadelphia’s 21 picks (48%) who either don’t play in the NBA anymore or never made it in the first place. Stockpiling picks in the hope that a few of them turn into something valuable might not be a horrible idea, but when almost 50% of the players have washed out of the league it may be hard to justify this strategy. Moreover, 33% of the players drafted no longer play on the team. This is including the former Rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams and Maurice Harkless (8.5 win shares and a value above replacement player of 1.9) who was traded for Andrew Bynum (who turned out to be an NBA bust). With only 19% (4 out of 21) of the drafted players still on the team (counting Embiid who has made no contribution at all due to injury) it appears to have been a pretty unsuccessful 5 years of drafting. The team was 10-72 this season and didn’t show much improvement over years past. Perhaps the tanking era isn’t over yet in Philly?


Drafting players is really difficult. There are a lot of things that go into it and some may say it is a lot of luck. That being said, there are some teams that seem to come out on top or near the top, year-after-year. You can have those big luck years where you snag a lot of great talent and hit a home run but I think more importantly you just need to be consistent. The big luck years are good but the years where you are consistently bad end up setting you back. As discussed in the Motomura paper, having a well run organization that understands how to not only develop talent but also bring in veteran players to surround the younger players and take some of the pressure off might be the most important thing. Too often I think teams try and tank with the idea that their first round pick is going to save the franchise next season. Instead, they should consider the things they need to do to help that first round pick develop into the player they need him to be, down the road, in order to save the franchise.


Motomura A, Roberts KV, Leeds DM, Leeds MA. Does it Pay to Build Through the Draft in the National Basketball Association? J Sports Economics 2016. 1-16.


Daily Undulating Periodization & Performance Improvements in Powerlifters

Dr. Mike Zourdos and colleagues just published a new paper on Daily Undulating Periodization (Zourdos MC, et al. Modified Daily Undulating Periodization Model Produces Greater Performance Than a Traditional Configuration in Powerlifters. J Strength Cond Res 2015. Published Ahead of Print). Being a fan of the Daily Undulating Periodization approach to training structure I thought I would summarize the paper and share some of my thoughts.


  • 18 Male, college-aged powerlifters
  • Subjects were assigned to one of two groups: Hypertrophy, Strength, & Power (HSP) or Hypertrophy, Power, & Strength (HPS)
  • The groups were balanced to ensure that relative and absolute strength were similar

Training Programs

  • Hypertrophy, Strength, & Power: This group performed three sessions per week, on non-consecutive days. Day 1 had a primary emphasis of hypertrophy, day 2 had an emphasis of strength, and day 3 had an emphasis of power.
  • Hypertrophy, Power, & Strength: This group performed three sessions per week, on non-consecutive days. Day 1 had a primary emphasis of hypertrophy, day 2 had an emphasis of power, and day 3 had an emphasis of strength.
  • The rationale for testing the outcome between these two weekly training schemes is that in the former, which is a common weekly set up for Daily Undulating Periodization in research, the strength session takes place ~48 hours following the hypertrophy session, which is the higher volume training session of the three. This may create an issue with the subject’s ability to perform their strength session due to the lack of recovery from the high volume hypertrophy session.
  • The variables for each of the training days are described in the chart below:

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 2.52.09 PM

Summary of Strength Results

The strength change results from both of the 6-week training programs are summarized as follows:

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  • No statistical difference in the squat and deadlift were found between groups; however a statistical improvement was seen in the bench press for the HPS group compared to the HSP group.
  • No statistical difference was found between groups for powerlifting total.
  • Effect sizes greater than 0.5 were noted for the squat, bench press, and powerlifting total in favor of HPS, which may suggest a practically significant improvement in HPS versus HSP when developing training programs for powerlifters.

Comments & Thought

This was an interesting study and I like the approach of trying to find an optimal scheme within the training week. Perhaps someday we may find that the optimal scheme for the Daily Undulating Periodization Model (or any training model!) is one where the emphasis of training on a given day is dictated based on how the athlete reports and what they are able to tolerate? This very fluid approach to programming – where we are attempting to strike a balance between training variety, to prevent monotony, and a concentrated dose of training, to increase fitness in a certain capacity – has been suggested by John Kiely’s work on periodization. In the paper by Zourdos and colleagues, they used an autoregulation approach on the hypertrophy day to dictate the training load/intensity for that session (an approach discussed by Mel Siff in Supertraining and researched by Bryan Mann, as referenced above). Perhaps, in a practical setting, we could extend this a bit further and utilize a linear position transducer or some other form of velocity based approach (the folks at PUSH have come up with an affordable and easy to use solution) to dictate the load/intensity on the power and strength training days. If the athlete is sluggish and moving the bar slowly, then lower the load to stay within a desired range of bar velocity. Additionally, because training takes place on non-consecutive days in this type of frame work (E.g., 3 sessions over 7 days) it may be possible to utilize monitoring strategies (bar velocity, daily wellness, RPE training loads, HRV, etc) to make the suggestion that the athlete take a rest day, instead of performing the scheduled training session, and see how their body is the following day and if it is prepared to tolerate the load.

The use of effect sizes in this paper allows us to get a better understanding of whether or not the average difference between groups is of practical significance. One of the things that I find  critical when looking at research on training interventions is the understanding of inter-individual differences. It is very possible that some athletes in this study responded favorably to either of the training approaches while others had no result or a poor result.  The paper also look at things like changes in total volume and some hormonal measures. When it comes to understanding responders and non-responders in training, it isn’t good enough to just say, “Some people get better and others don’t”. At some point, we need to figure out who doesn’t respond and why they don’t respond. Perhaps there is something to additionally look at in this paper with the hormonal changes and the individual’s ability to increase training volume or get stagnant during certain periods of the training program.

Hopefully this group continues to do more research on the topic of Daily Undulating Periodization because I find it to be a practical method of programming training and they have done some good work thus far that they can certainly follow up on. While Mike Zourdos tends to aim his approach at Powerlifters (I believe because he is competitive lifter himself) there are concepts within this framework that can easily be extended to training team sport athletes as well as concepts that could be used for sport coaches when establishing the weekly practice structure.