Raise The Bar

A project for the youth of Runnymede

Raise The Bar

Mission: 
Doing what is best for local young people

Overview:
Raise The Bar was founded in 2015 by Paul Elliott-Smith (CrossFit Kids Trainer) & Kristian Mcphee (U23 Olympic Weight Lifting South East & Southern Champion and Level 2 British Weightlifting Coach). Raise The Bar is a strength & conditioning programme used to teach Olympic Weightlifting to young people, ages 12-18.

Based on the principle of Mechanics => Consistency => Intensity, Raise The Bar emphasises good movement throughout childhood and adolescence. Consistently good mechanics translates to physical literacy, enhanced sports performance, and fewer sports injuries for young people. Not only that, a vast body of research indicates that exercise is beneficial to cognitive function, which means that consistent adherence to the program can have a positive impact on the young persons academic achievement.

Raise The Bar is fun and rewarding,  we provide an active alternative to sedentary pursuits, which means less childhood obesity and all-around better health for our children.

The needs of secondary school football, rugby and hockey players example differ by degree and not kind; the programme is scalable for any age or experience level and accounts for the varied maturation status one can find in a class full of young people.

Raise The Bar is an inexpensive school programme, this allows a wide array of socioeconomic groups to take part and hopefully remain physically fit and physically active throughout their lives.

Download Raise the Bar Poster PDF

Accuracy

According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, accuracy means “freedom from mistake or error.” In sports, as in most things, that is an ideal only, but it is a constant athletic pursuit. To be accurate in sports requires excellent kinesthetic awareness and proprioception, that is, body control. Accuracy, like its neurologically based counterparts agility, balance, and coordination, allows us to control our bodies to accomplish specific tasks under working conditions, that is, on the field of play, on the job, under load, or in other kinetic situations. Raise The Bar’s focus on mechanics first ensures that the skill of accuracy is trained all of the time in fundamental ways. In more direct terms, accuracy is practiced through the drilling and practise of the movement patterns for the Olympic Weightlifting lifts and associated exercises.

Agility

Agility is considered by many to be essential to athleticism. It is a complex and fascinating skill comprising cognitive, perceptual, and physical components influenced by a slew of variables. It also relies on accuracy, balance, and coordination. Agility can be viewed as the ability to quickly change direction, speed, and movement patterns as well as to stop and start quickly in response to environmental stimuli or in a predetermined manner. Although mobility and posture, that is, flexibility, are important components, equally important is strength And by strength, we mean muscular strength and local muscular endurance, particularly in the posterior chain, and midline stability. Raise The Bar sees agility as the real-world application of force in the face of counter forces unexpected or expected, and we approach it from a fundamental standpoint. Our goal is to provide young people with the most basic ingredients on which to build not only sports-specific skill but the capacity to move through a physical world that daily confronts them with obstacles and pitfalls, invited or unforeseen.

Balance

Balance, or postural control, is the ability to maintain the body’s center of gravity over the base of its support. Learning this complex motor skill is rooted in perceiving the difference between being in and out of balance in conjunction with the ability to correct oneself when out of balance. This requires the body to be in a constant state of automatic movement and relies on the coordinated activity of visual, vestibular, and somatosensory (which includes touch and proprioception) systems as well as movements of the ankle, knee, and hip joints.

Balance can be characterised as static or dynamic. Coordination, flexibility, and even strength play a role in balance, as do body weight and height. Raise The Bar offers young people various opportunities to practice balance during class. Here are just three examples of activities the young people might perform as part of a dynamic warm-up:

1) Snatch Balance

2) Squat Jumps

3) Precision jumps

Coordination

Coordination is the ability to execute complex interlimb tasks as a result of mastering the multiple degrees of freedom related to movements.

As with accuracy, agility, and balance there is a large neurological component to coordination, which like those other skills can be improved with practice. Athletic kids are often seen as having “good coordination,” which might even be looked at as shorthand for saying they possess good balance, accuracy, and agility, as these four skills are interrelated. Because coordination is required in the most basic of everyday things that people do, Raise The Bar addresses it with nearly every exercise that shows up in class.

Endurance (Cardiovascular and Respiratory)

Cardiovascular and respiratory endurance refers to the ability of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs to take in and deliver oxygen to working tissues and muscles and to the ability of those tissues and muscles to use that oxygen in a sustained manner.

This trainable skill also depends on the efficient function of the three metabolic pathways—the phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative pathways. Although we can directly impact our cardiovascular and respiratory endurance by engaging in aerobic activities such as long-distance running, biking, and swimming, anaerobic activities such as sprint intervals; Olympic weightlifting, and powerlifting have been shown to have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.

Raise The Bar trains cardiovascular and respiratory endurance nearly every class via workouts requiring constant movement through couplets, triplets, and other sequences of movements performed in relatively short time domains.

Bear in mind that the intensity of these workouts is relative for the young person and typically increases as they mature and are, at any rate, dependent on each child’s ability to perform the movements safely as determined by the qualified trainer.

Flexibility

Simply put, flexibility can be considered the ability to elongate muscles; it can also be considered a measure of the range of motion at a joint. This skill might also be looked at as the ability to achieve positions required to perform an activity. Some suggest that without this ability, we are unable to fully express our athleticism, but it is not a ‘stretch’ to say that our daily activities can be hampered as well.

Raise The Bar thinks in terms of the broader concept of mobility, which involves muscles, connective tissues, and joints and the degree of freedom of movement these elements allow. Good mobility has implications for not only sports performance but more importantly injury prevention. Raise The bar starts directly addressing flexibility/mobility when the students enter the classes and it becomes a central part of programming in the class as well as in teen strength training.  A variety of dynamic and static stretching, including proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation ( PNF), and forms of myofascial release are prescribed.

Power

Power, along with speed, is an adaptation derived from training and practice. Mathematically, power can be expressed as

Power = Force x Distance/Time

Power, then, is the “time rate of doing work,” where work is force exerted on an object and the distance that object moves. That object might be an athlete’s own body. Really, we are talking about our ability to perform work in minimal possible time.

As with strength, Raise The Bar uses developmentally appropriate methods to build power in students, drawing on, among other areas, gymnastics, plyometrics, and Olympic weightlifting. For example, students with the strength to do weighted barbell drills can be taught the snatch or the clean.

Some ballistic and explosive exercises for developing power include the following:

Box jump
Broad jump
Kettlebell swing
Power clean
Power snatch
Push Press
Thruster
Wall ball shots

It is important to keep in mind that strength is the basis of power and that exercises that develop strength will also develop power alongside ballistic and explosive movements.

Speed

Speed is one of two general skills, along with power, that develops as a result of practice and training. Speed can be considered as the time it takes to cover a fixed distance. It might also be looked at as the ability to achieve a high velocity through a range of motion.

In terms of functional movement, speed is an expression of strength, which we understand to be the application of force. This force can be characterized as the expression of both impulse—a change in momentum resulting from a force—and power.

Raise The Bar addresses speed in a manner similar to its approach to power. That is, through explosive and ballistic movements including the following:

Box jump
Broad jump
Kettlebell swing
Power clean
Power snatch
Push Press
Thruster

Stamina

Raise The Bar takes a focused view on stamina and considers local muscular endurance, which is tied to strength and how efficiently the metabolic path ways process and deliver energy. It should be noted, however, that stamina is often closely tied to cardiovascular and respiratory endurance and refers to the body’s ability to continue working under sustained high-intensity activity. This work might be more broadly characterised in terms of how efficiently the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems function while under load.

Raise The Bar hits this trainable skill in the context of the session. In fact, nearly everything an athlete performs at Raise The Bar classes will address stamina in its global and local context.

Strength

Strength is the one skill that is actually identified in the shorthand description of Raise The Bar: a strength-and-conditioning programme. So it should come as no surprise that Raise The Bar sees strength as a vital component of our ability to perform activities of daily living throughout the life course. Strength is the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specific velocity. In athletics, as in life more generally, we want this force applied productively, which means that strength must function in the presence of other physical skills. Given how highly that Raise The Bar values strength, we provide developmentally appropriate resistance training for all age groups.

Strictly performed body weight exercises require strength:

Dips – bar and ring
Handstand push-ups
Knees-to-elbows
Muscle-ups
Pull-ups
Press-ups
Squats
Toes-to-bar

And of course Raise The Bar trains strength with external objects such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, and barbells:

Deadlifts
Farmer’ and other weighted carries and walks
Presses
Prowler and sled work
Squats – back, front, and overhead

Proficiency in many of these movements means we can explore one-sided versions of some of them as well as other exercises, which as auxiliary work, yields agility, balance, and strength gains particularly important for injury prevention:

Box step-ups
Bulgarian squats
One-legged deadlifts
One-legged hops and jumps
Rockets
Russian squats

It is not until the teen level that the technically proficient athletes begin exploring maximal loads.

Sources

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