Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, to achieve your goals sometimes you must ‘hold the line.’
As a young man in boot camp we had some very spirited and very competitve tug-of-war contests. Your mission as a soldier was to win. I loved the competition and the emotion of the event. As a new strength and conditioning coach I wanted to try tug-of-war with our football team in the off-season.
‘Risk reward’ is always at issue and my fear of ankle sprains was warrented. I had seen a few in our lively military competitions. I needed to devise away the athlete could pull the rope and not roll an ankle.
What is interesting is that competitive rope pulling has actually generated data on how hard people can pull against a minimally movable load. A peak force for a strong and heavy man may reach about 140 pounds with a sustainable force of about 70 pounds.
I figured with a few reasonable rules and a tired athlete before rope pulling began, I could make the exercise safe. A fresh untrained athlete or a coach could be the spotter if I could get that initial sustainable pulling power down to about 35 pounds or less.
My strategy was this – first one athlete went through their workout with their last exercises being the grip, such as the Pendulum Gripper followed by the wrist roller. Immediately after recording the grip work the athlete was sent out the door for a 200 yard sandbag farmers walk.
The athletes returned to 100 feet of rope lying on the ground. A line was drawn on the floor that said, ‘Hold The Line‘. Their feet could not cross it. They were to remain in the designated area as they pulled. Fatigued from training and their hands and traps fried from the grueling 200 yard walk, they immediatly began the one man tug-of-war.
The drill was simple… pile all the rope in front of you in a timely manner.
Am I recommending someone do this…..no…..I am just telling you what I did and apologizing to those I did it to.