drawings of muscles and exercise apparatus

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Jerry Yanuyanutawa the most powerful prop in world rugby?

This video shows Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Fijian-born Sydney University front rower, box-squatting 260kg for 6 reps at the University gym in September 2008.

Prior to 2007, Jerry had been a back rower, but changed to the front row under the tutelage of Trevor Woodman, England World Cup winning front rower and Sydney University scrum coach. For most of that season Jerry played Third Grade but was elevated to the Firsts by Woodman for the Sydney Premiership Grand Final won by University 34-11.

In 2008 he was the only non- Super 14 contracted player to make the Australia A squad for the Pacific Nations Cup. Also, during the Club Premiership season he scored 12 tries including one in the Grand Final again won by University 45-20. A highlight of that game was the dominance of the University front row comprising Yanuyanutawa, Nathan Charles and Laurie Weeks.

The video was shot during the week after that Grand Final, clear evidence that max strength work can be continued throughout the playing season.

So where does Jerry Yanuyanutawa rate among the strong men of rugby?

When the most powerful props in the world are discussed two names that invariably crop up are England’s Andrew Sheridan and New Zealand’s Carl Hayman. Both are credited with a 275kg squat, presumably for one rep. More recently Ben and Owen Franks, Crusaders and All Blacks props, have been mentioned as contenders for the title of world’s strongest rugby player. The All Blacks web site quotes scrum guru Mike Cron saying, “I was told yesterday they were doing about a 240kg squat.” But all of this is anecdotal with no actual evidence.

However, on July 8, 2007, a video titled “NZAllblacks in the Weight-room” was posted on YouTube. The description read: “Pushing Tin: Join the All Blacks in a gym workout and watch big Carl Hayman squat a personal best 220kg.” Hayman is shown box-squatting 220kg for three reps spotted by strength coach Ashley Jones.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Coefficients used to determine 1RM, a squat set involving 3 reps at 220 equates to a single rep of 249kg.

By the same measure Jerry Yanuyanutawa’s 6 reps with 260 equates to a single rep of 323kg! This means that Yanayanatawa's squat set would rate 30% heavier than Hayman's effort, although of course relative box heights need to be taken into account.

Tim Leahy, Jerry's strength coach at Sydney University, had long recognised that his player had freakish physical capacities. "It was just a matter of getting him to apply himself and stay focussed."

Fortunately throughout 2008 he responded to the challenge with Tim Leahy spending many hours one-on-one with his young charge; "The key to getting the best out of Jerry was to constantly vary his training tasks and to continually challenge him.”

“Jerry is a very gifted guy athletically with great genetics and an abundance of fast twitch fibre. Along with the then SUFC forwards coach and former English World Cup winning front rower Trevor Woodman the major focus we had for Jerry was to build a base of strength and power that would be a benchmark for front rowers worldwide.”

Significantly Yanuyanutawa’s max strength program involved quite limited actual squatting, with greater focus being placed on the Romanian deadlift and MyoTruk and MyoThrusta apparatus.

Making full use of his Melanesian genetic endowment Jerry Yanuyanutawa was able to record some outstanding speed and power numbers to match up with his prodigious efforts under the squat bar. As Tim Leahy notes, “During the actual playing season he was able to post best times of 1.71s and 5.38s for the 10 and 40 metres, as well as a vertical jump of 76cm. With a peak power output of nearly 9000 Watts, there is a lot of power that can be used at scrum time and during the collision.”

Jerry became something of a cult figure in Sydney club rugby with his barnstorming runs producing most of his 12 tries in 2008. As he says, “I like to get the ball in my hands and run. If there’s an opportunity to score a 20-metre try then I’ll back myself. Fijians are known for throwing the ball around a bit and I like that too. But I’m also learning the technical side with scrummaging and lifting [in lineouts] and learning to play within that team structure, but when I get out there I like to unleash and show what I’ve got.

“I do thrive in loose play and love to get my hands on the ball and run with it.” However, front rowers are never permitted to get too far away from their basic craft. “Trevor Woodman said to me none of that counts if you can’t scrummage or lift.”

Jerry’s first two seasons with the CA Brumbies were disrupted by injuries, but he is focussed on cementing a run-on spot for next year’s Super 15 season.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Triple extension activation using the MyoTruk accommodating resistance strength builder

The key factor in a sprint start is achieving triple extension out of the blocks, that is, extending the ankle knee and hip joints simultaneously. The same combination is required in the vertical jump.

The main resistance exercises used to train triple extension are Olympic lifts, i.e., the snatch and clean. However there is very limited movement of the ankle joint in these lifts. Only a moderate degree of plantar flexion is involved whereas in a sprint takeoff or a vertical leap the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are strongly and fully activated.

The MyoTruk accommodating resistance strength builder provides an alternative and more effective method of training for triple extension. As this video makes clear full range plantar flexion is automatically achieved in the exercise movement. It is also possible to train triple extension in each leg separately.

A further advantage of the MyoTruk is that its operation is intuitive. By contrast the Olympic lifts are very much learned movements which take considerable time to master.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Jerry Yanuyanutawa, rugby front rower, box-squatting 260kg for 6 reps

This video shows Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Sydney University front rower, box-squatting 260kg for 6 reps at the University gym in September 2008.

Prior to 2007, Jerry had been a back rower, but changed to the front row under the tutelage of Trevor Woodman, the University's scrum coach. For most of that season he played Third Grade but was elevated to the Firsts by Woodman for the Sydney Premiership Grand Final won by University 34-11.

In 2008 Yanuyanutawa scored 12 First Grade tries including one in the Grand Final again won by University 45-20. A highlight of that game was the dominance of the Uni scrum.

This video was shot in the week after that Grand Final. Right throughout the season Jerry's strength coach, Tim Leahy, had kept Jerry on a max strength program, although the amount of squatting was limited. Instead the lower body strength work was focussed on the MyoQuip MyoTruk and MyoThrusta apparatus together with the deadlift.

The ScrumTruk - an integral part of the Auckland strength and conditioning program

In November 2005 Auckland Rugby, through their then coach Pat Lam, installed a ScrumTruk, one of the first Myoquip machines to be exported from Australia. Now, almost five years on, the machine is still helping the Auckland squad in developing "strength and flexibility through the hips, back and shoulders"

The current strength and conditioning coach at Auckland is Simon Kent, proprietor of Dynamic Fitness Solutions. Simon sees the ScrumTruk as a very flexible tool for developing players:

"I use it with the boys in a number of different ways. It's a great way of teaching good body position especially for our young players. For the front row boys we load up the weight and the boys practice their engagement, with the heavy weight they can hit and 'squeeze' holding the position in an isometric hold.

"The more I am involved with the physical preparation of rugby athletes the more I believe in the importance of having strength and flexibility through the hips, back and shoulders. This enables the athlete to apply force more efficiently on the rugby field, the ScrumTruk is one tool that helps develop hip and back strength.

"The ScrumTruk allows me to teach correct scrum set-up and pushing position especially to our young athletes, for our more established athletes, the ScrumTruk provides a rugby specific strength training tool. ScrumTruk is a integral part of the Auckland strength and conditioning program."

The ScrumTruk has now been superseded in the MyoQuip range by the more advanced MyoTruk, but it still continues to give good service for a range of users internationally.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Are the Wallabies being properly conditioned for the Tri Nations Tests?

A characteristic of the Deans era Wallabies is their seeming inability to sustain their performance over the full 80 minutes of a game. This raises the question of whether their training methods are appropriate for the intense physical demands of modern international rugby. In short, is there enough emphasis on strength training?

It is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from the team’s patchy performances in the June Tests as quality of the opposition and the effects of long distance travel were complicating factors. A more valid measure is how the team has performed against its closest neighbour. In contests between Australia and New Zealand distance travelled is not really a relevant factor and both nations always endeavour to select their strongest team, so these matches provide an ideal environment to search for consistent patterns evident over a number of matches.

In the ten Trans-Tasman Tests prior to Robbie Deans assuming control the Wallabies led at half-time in 3 matches, were level in 2 matches and were behind in 5 matches. In the second half the Wallabies outscored their opponents 4 times, scored equal points once and were outscored 5 times. Overall they won 3 games and lost 7.

There have been 8 Wallabies-All Blacks games since Deans has taken over. During this period the Wallabies won an impressive 6 out of 8 first halves, but lost 7 out of 8 second halves and 7 out of 8 matches! The one time when the Wallabies won the second half and the match was in July 2008, when Deans and his assistants had just taken over. Since then the team has lost every second half and every match.

On June 28 the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article titled, “Don't despair - fitter Wallabies might rise from last in Tri Nations rankings”. The author, Spiro Zavas, wrote:

“It is an open secret that many Waratahs and Brumbies players shirked their full training obligations in the Super 14. An unfortunate feature of the Wallabies, this season and last season, has been the way they have faded in the second half of Test matches. A fitter Wallabies team might convert those half-time leads to full-time victories.”

To address this problem “the Wallabies conditioning coach will monitor the entire squad with GPS tracking devices that will record the intensity of their training.” Distance covered is hardly an appropriate measure of intensity given that rugby players spend much of a training session in prolonged static physical engagements. But having been labelled “shirkers” it is totally predictable that the players will run themselves into the ground to impress their masters.

Unofficial feedback from Wallaby training in the lead-up to the Tri Nations is that the players are running hills three times a week as well as having forwards running 100 metres 10 times with a 20 second rest between and 200 metres 10 times with a 20 second rest.

So the overwhelming emphasis appears to be on trying to improve aerobic fitness which ignores the fact that rugby is a strength-oriented sport, certainly the most strength-oriented of all the football codes. Players need to have a solid strength base to be able to compete for 80 minutes.

Traditionally Australian rugby has placed less emphasis on strength and physicality than any of the other major rugby countries, and it appears that this has become more pronounced in the Deans era. Rather than pursuing max strength the Wallabies’ weights sessions have reportedly seen a heavy focus on bar-speed routines using loads as little as 30% of 1RM.

One of the enduring impressions of the 2007 World Cup was the ferocity of the Northern Hemisphere teams at the breakdown. It is probably too late to do much about the upcoming Tri Nations, but unless the approach to training changes dramatically the Wallabies are likely to be physically overpowered in New Zealand next year.