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Manual Resistance

In 1978, 76 strength coaches attended the first National Strength Coaches Association convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, many of these coaches were part time employees.  Manual Resistance was introduced to the college and professional strength and conditioning coaches in 1979.  Dan Riley was the head strength coach of Penn State University and a speaker at the NSCA, during his presentation he showed film of his players training, selected exercises were done with partners and without the use of weights which he deemed manual resistance.

With colleges and universities previously uninvested in strength training and tremendously limited facilities manual resistance was a great way to augment training for the newly founded position of strength and conditioning coach.  It gave coaches an avenue to accomplish work with limited strength training tools.  In 1982 Dan published Maximum Muscular Fitness which discussed the art of manual partner training.

Manual Resistance

Since the 70’s and the advent of diverse weight training technologies many have stepped away from manual training and built great weight rooms with different types of exercise devices that make manual training no longer necessary.

West Virginia Neck Program

Manual resistance still has value as it allows a coach to teach athletes movements that the athlete may not be able to do away from the facility or if their facility is lacking.

The issues you must keep in mind if Manual Resistance is part of your program:

  • We have a concussion crisis in athletics. The absolute best tools for strength training the muscular that lowers subconcussive forces are the 4- Way and 5- Way Head and Neck Machines.  Manual resistance can be used to augment these exercises or used when these devices are not available but the 4 and 5 -Way Head and Neck Machines should be priorities in your facilities.
  • When training manually all athletes must understand the rules and not only perform the exercise themselves but be able to teach, as well as administer the exercise to others. 
  • Once an athlete understands how to perform manual resistance it requires the same effort and motivation as if trying to improve on a bench, squat, clean or any other strength training exercise.
  • When training manually to progressively overload it requires some strength measurement to track progress.  A circumference will give you information but fluctuates in regards to time of day, body composition and other physiological variables.
  • Remember when training manually around the head and neck athletes should have clean hands especially during flu season.
  • After a head or neck injury you need strength values for return-to-play.  The athletic trainer and physician use strength levels of the shoulder and knees for return-to-play but without a neck machine and previously obtained strength results one can only guess about the levels needed to resume activity safely.

Manual Resistance

Manual Resistance Rules

1). Each athlete must know and understand the rules.

2). The Lifter begins each exercise with the goal of 6-8 reps. This requires pacing, in other words, the first repetition is not an all out effort. The effort must be increasing for every subsequent repetition.

2a). The Spotter should allow the lifter to perform each repetition at the same pace or speed of movement. This will require different amounts of pressure by the spotter during the rep (because of leverage). The lifter will feel as though the resistance is similar at all joint angles (the resistance will feel smooth).

3). The lowering phase of every repetition should be slower than the raising phase. A guide in learning manual resistance is raise the involved limbs up in 1-2 seconds or at a 1-2 count and lower them in 4-5 seconds or at a 4 or 5 count.

3a). The Spotter must make sure that they feel more force by the lifter during the lowering phase of each repetition.

4). The Lifter should continually contract their target musculature during the raising phase and the lowering phase of every repetition.

4a). The Spotter must give feedback to the lifter to ensure there is always a constant contraction on every repetition performed. The spotter should identify any relaxation or loss of force by the lifter during the movement.

5). The Lifter should pause with pressure against the spotter’s resistance at the top of every movement. Pausing with pressure and no relaxation is extremely difficult.

5a). The Spotter should insure the lifter is applying force at the top of the movement. The spotter must feel if the lifter is relaxing. The spotter must ease slowly into the lowering phase of the exercise. Slowly easing into the lowering phase or decent is extremely important.

6). The exercise is completed when the athlete reaches momentary muscular failure.

Pendulum 5-Way Neck Machines


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