Developing High Performance Athletes W/ Christian Thibadeau
The Ultimate Coaching Guide!
Have you been stuck in a training rut? Trying to be more explosive, trying to be faster, trying to get stronger and you just can’t seem to smash through the big goals? Maybe you want to take your training to the next level but you can’t afford to train with one of the greatest minds in Sports Performance? We have ALL of your answers to conquer every roadblock in your way!
Atmosphere = Results
Chistian Thibadeau doesn’t like compliments. But he values the atmosphere of a gym. An intense atmosphere, a put on your suspenders, bring the noise, raw energy, let’s work, day in and day out for years and get results type of atmosphere. Gyms with the chrome plated weights, executive on their lunch break, let me squeeze in a sweat, fitness mindset aren’t his style. Put him in a basement under a church with a bunch of people driven to succeed and he’ll gladly sling some kilos.
Thibadeau is a big brain of information when it comes to training methodologies and programming. And yeah, he’ll tell you that all the deep theoretical methodologies of training are valuable, necessary and have their place in programming and navigating to positive results; but still, as Thibadeau says, “When it boils down to it…the number one, most important thing to get results is intensity; you need to train hard and be focused. That’s all that really matters.”
Here are three things Thibadeau had to talk about speaking on Dane’s Platform podcast.
Importance of the accumulation phase
Thibadeau says he uses block periodization to train his athletes. That the accumulation phase has a lot of value in his periodization methodology. Thibadeau comments that most people see it as a hypertrophy phase, but this isn’t its true purpose. Building muscle is a side effect. According to Thibadeau, the accumulation phase is used to prepare the body for the intensification of training that will take place as the athlete progresses towards realizing their enlightened physicality for performance in sport.
In a deeper dive, we get a clearer picture of why he stresses the incredible importance of the accumulation phase. Namely, that the main purpose is to first develop the structures needed to withstand the punishment to come in the future. This means developing and strengthening tendons. From there, what you want is to prepare the body to not break under intense loading.
How? Develop efficiency through solid technique and good mechanics to promote proper movement patterns to keep the athlete adding drips in the bucket. Finally, Thibadeau says you want to optimize this technique to gradually learn how to get under heavier and heavier weight to lift with more and more intensity.
If the time isn’t taken to prepare the body, this will lead to the athlete's breaking down, getting injured and failing to continue pushing that boulder up the hill. And if you’re dealing with a kid, a young kid, don’t hesitate to extend this period over years. In turn, this will build confidence, fearlessness, technical ability and work habits for the proper mindset to reach towards elite levels of performance.
Turning it on Mentally
It is 2020 and for some of us this means working from home. Sitting at a computer, developing zoom fatigue and attending meetings with business casual attire on the torso and gym apparel on the legs, if even that much. We like to reference this dress attire as the business mullet.
Thibadeau devised a pretty nefarious, but awesome AF way to add training volume and develop mental toughness, confidence and an attitude that breeds fearlessness.
Story goes a little something like this:
Once upon a time, not long ago, an athlete of his sat at home. There lived an athlete who loaded a bar with 70% of his squat’s 1 RM. Thibadeau said, ‘Today you’re gonna make some gainz, squatting the bar cold and lifting like a train.’ The athlete lifted another and another had 90% loaded, next thing you know he is squatting it cold.
As slick and as simple as that idea is, think of the benefits! How much confidence is built in an athlete who can step under 90% of a 1 RM and lift it cold? How can you ever be intimidated by a weight again? Think of the mental toughness! Think of the ability to come off the sidelines after a long drive, cold and not completely warm, but still being able to perform at the drop of a dime!
Tractor or a Porsche
Everyone has their sticking point in a lift: the place in the range of motion where speed is lost because of muscle imbalances or a strength-curve issue. Some get stuck just above parallel in a squat, some get stuck below the knee in a clean and some can’t finish those final few inches in a bench press. We all have them. They can’t be avoided.
Thibadeau tells people to imagine the sticking point as a mud pit that needs to be navigated through. This mud pit can’t be avoided. There is no taking the easy way and going around. The lift must travel through this mud pit. How is this going to be done?
He says there are two ways of overcoming a sticking point in a lift and navigating across this mud pit: be super fast before the sticking point or put it in low gear and grind your way through.
Extending the metaphor, if you are driving a Porsche don’t try the grinding strategy: it won’t work. On the flip-side, if you are driving a Tractor don’t try to use the speed strategy.
What does this mean for an athlete?
As a Tractor, isometric work near and around the sticking point will help develop the low gear, grinding force needed to overcome the slop of mud. On the other hand, as the Porsche, working on explosiveness and speed work will allow the athlete to best scoot through that mud pile.
Christian Thibadeau is a gift to the strength community. His depth of knowledge and giving nature has made him one of the best educators in the business. He is friendly, gracious and giving. Throughout the podcast he speaks to the glory of allowing tendons to ferment during the accumulation phase, the importance of mental toughness in stepping under a heavy barbell or the natural dispositions of athletes to trudge or speed through a sticking point of mud. Thibadeau drops even more knowledge bombs, like the importance of maintaining explosiveness in old age, velocity-based training, golgi tendons, stretch-shortening cycle and more, throughout Dane’s Platform.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.
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