The HPCT #8: Ground Based Training

The High-Performance Chalk Talk #8


*This is the 8th installation of what will become a weekly email covering high-performance training.  Now, what is “high-performance”? *


Ground Based Movements – “Why they work and how to use them”

We train athletes, not bodybuilders or powerlifters.  At the end of the day, our goal in the weight room is to improve an athletes ability to apply force to the ground and transfer that force through our hips and hands.

Sport, as I define it, is a competition that is movement based, played on your feet, and has a reactive component to it.

In the weight room, there is only one way to improve all three components listed in the definition above.

You have to train on your feet with an external element.

In strength and conditioning circles this is called Ground Based Training and what you are trying to increase with this method of athletic development is what is called your Ground Reactionary Force (GRF). As it relates to speed and explosiveness, which are the primary components of athleticism, an increase in GRF will relate to a longer stride length, a more rapid stride rate, and a faster first step.

Every athlete’s strength training program should be centered around Ground Based Training and have the intent to increase GRF. If looking to train for GRF you want to look at both explosive movements as well as strength based movement.

The difference between an explosive and strength movements is the velocity at which the bar moves.  Also, known as “bar speed”.

Examples Ground Based Movements for Explosiveness:

  • Power Clean/Hang Clean
  • Barbell Squat Jump
  • Landmine Push Press
  • Clean Grip Pulls
  • Dumbbell Rocket Jumps
  • Kettle Bell Swings
  • Barbell Push Press or Push Jerk
  • Banded/Chain Speed Squat
  • Banded/Chain Speed Bench

Examples of Ground-Based Movements for Strength:

  • Box Squat
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Front or Back Squat
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Bench Press or Floor Press
  • Dumbbell Pressing Variations
  • NOTE: The bench-pressing movements are ground-based if coached properly.

Both strength and explosiveness should be trained concurrently and they should be the first two major movements that you perform for each and every lift.

Why should they be performed early in the training session?

These two movements have the highest demand for your nervous system and require the most amount of effort.  Think about it like a triathlon…swimming has the greatest likelihood to kill you so they get it out of the way first.  Trust me, I did a triathlon a few years back and the swim portion damn near got me.

The way a daily training split should look is as follows:

  • A1: Explosive Movement (ground-based)
  • B1: Strength-Based Movement (ground-based)
  • C1: Auxiliary Movement
  • C2: Auxiliary Movement
  • D1: Sport Specific Strength or Injury Prevention
  • D2: Sport Specific Strength or Injury Prevention

Now, the program has to fit the athletes training competency, physical maturity level, and training goals.

The biggest thing is this – once a plan is set you have to trust the process.  A human’s ability to adapt to the demands you place upon it is unbelievable and if you give this style of training time to work you will be amazed by the results. If you train an athlete with their feet on the ground and an emphasis on transferring force through GRF you will build a fast and physical athlete.

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