You Can’t Shoot a Cannon from A Row Boat

Why the Posterior is Superior and how to build an explosive athlete by focusing on the “Go before the Show”

One thing every coach can agree on, and that is very rare in the field of sports performance, is that contact based sports are largely an expression of Anterior Power.

From a wide receiver exploding off the line of scrimmage to a Left Tackle engaging a Defensive Lineman the level anterior power an athlete possesses is an extreme difference maker. 

So, what is Anterior Power?

Anterior Power is the athlete’s ability to accelerate, generate force vertically, and strike with the upper body.

The prime movers for Anterior Power are the chest, shoulders, and quads.  Those are some of the largest muscles in the human body and they have the ability to produce an insane amount of force!

Now, with all the force they produce you run into a problem…

How do you control the level of force from an injury prevention and body control standpoint?

Simple, you build your program with one thing in mind…

In order to truly express Anterior Power you must first build Posterior Stability.

Now, considering the title to this article, “You Can’t Shoot a Cannon from A Row Boat”, I want you to visualize a cannon being shot from an actual row boat…

Yep, absolute disaster.

The cannon fires and the boat goes exploding back most likely sinking the row boat and killing everyone on board.  Of course, this analogy is a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Without a base of support and stability on the backside there cannot be any violent movement forward. 

So, how do you go about programming to build Posterior Stability in order to truly express Anterior Power?

Here are my 4 Rules for Programming for Posterior Stability:

1: Start with Stability Based Isometric Holds:

Isometric holds teach proper positioning and do an outstanding job of building strength and stability.  Especially when it comes to the upper back and the musculature that controls the forward velocity of the arm, isometric holds do an exceptional job.  When dealing with young or untrained athletes isometric holds should be a focal point of your programming.

2: High Volume for the Upper Back: 

When you design your program you should make a habit of counting the total number of ‘push’ reps and ‘pull’ reps.  When you do, this allows you to ensure that your ratio of pull to push is 2:1. This means that for every push rep you should have two pull reps.  By doing this you will be certain that your athletes will have the proper stability needed to produce Anterior Power.

3: Controlled lifting tempos.  “The 1-2-3 method for Posterior Stability”: 

This is a big one and can literally change the way your athletes train.  When you teach any pull movement for the upper body teach your athletes how to lift with tempo.  What the 1-2-3 method dictates is that the concentric phase should take about one second, the isometric phase should be a two second pause, and the eccentric phase should take three seconds. By doing this you increase the time-under-tension of the movement which increases the muscle mass of the upper back and provides great stability.

4: Pair Anterior Power Lifts w/ Posterior Stability Movements: 

When you are training your Strength/Power lifts take the recovery time and incorporate some low amplitude movements.  I will typically pair a press movement with either a band pull apart or a face pull.  For squatting movements, I will pair a hip bridge hold or an eccentric kneed extension movement.  By doing this you allow your rest time to be optimized by incorporating lifts that benefit the Anterior Power movement and provide both stability and structure.

So, if you take these four tactics and incorporate them into your training you should see a drastic increase in the amount of Anterior Power your athletes will be able to produce.

Now you will be firing your cannon from a large, sturdy ship, that is capable of allowing you to hit your target and reload for your next shot.

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