• Hot Topic: Utilization of Slosh Pipe Training into a Strength and Conditioning Program to Improve all Areas of Training
    Over the last several years, stability training has become a hot topic of the training world. Balls, bands, bamboo bars, strongman equipment, chains, etc. have all been utilized to train the “core.” This article discusses how to make and implement slosh pipes - PVC pipes filled with water.
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  • Slosh pipes laying on a turf fieldIntroduction
    Over the last several years, stability training has become a hot topic of the training world. Balls, bands, bamboo bars, strongman equipment, chains, etc. have all been utilized to train the “core.” In utilizing these pieces of equipment, the idea is that the athlete will need to use the muscles to stabilize the joints of the body in order to complete the activity successfully. People that did physical labor such as farming, construction, and masonry work had this great ability to be strong and stable in lifting or carrying any type of heavy object—this is how the term “country strong” came about.

    I would love to claim that slosh pipe training was my idea, but the reality is that it has been around for a long time. A couple of my colleagues introduced the water training method to me about 20 years ago. They had made bars and dumbbells with handles that were filled with water, creating a continually uneven weight distribution in the equipment. In this article, I am going to talk about how we made and implemented slosh pipe training methodology in our strength and conditioning program at Valdosta State University (VSU).

    Building the Slosh Pipes
    At VSU, I am very fortunate to have a great friend who is a contract plumber who donated the materials to the program. We used commercial-grade PVC pipes and end caps to make the slosh pipes. We made the following size slosh pipes for different strength levels and needs. We capped one end of the pipe, then partially filled the pipe with water to the designated amount (as seen below) before capping off the other end.
    • 10 feet in length, 6 inch diameter pipe filled with 8 feet of water weight (about 125 lb) 
    • 8 feet in length, 6 inch diameter pipes filled with 6 feet of water weight (about 100 lb) 
    • 5 feet in length, 6 inch diameter pipes filled with 3 feet of water weight (about 50 lb) 
    • 5 feet in length, 4 inch diameter pipes filled with 3 feet of water weight (about 25 lb) 
    • 5 feet in length, 3 inch diameter pipes filled with 8 feet of water weigh (about 15 lb) 
    Three people holding a slosh pipeTraining Methods for Slosh Pipe Training
    At VSU, we utilize slosh pipe training to work on the following areas in our program: stability training, mental conditioning, teamwork, abdominal training, and balance training. The following will describe how we use the slosh pipe in each area of training. The nature of these types of training crosses over into various areas, which is the reason for different sizes and lengths of pipe.

    Application of Slosh Pipe Training
    Abdominal work: Any type of sit-ups can be performed with the 5-ft slosh pipes for individual training. Examples include traditional, decline, and twisting sit-ups with the pipe in front, behind, or overhead with feet flat or legs straight, side bends, or a standing twist. Really anything you can think of that works the abdominals can be performed.

    Carries for stability and balances: Walk with the slosh pipes in a “Zercher carry” where the pipe is carried by hooking the arms under the pipe, securing it in the crook of the elbows. Walking directions can include forwards, backwards, and sideways while using various angles and even lunges across the same directions. Progressions include beginning with holds in front of the body, then behind the neck, and finally to overhead and single-arm carries. 

    Teamwork and developing leaders: The development of a team working together and developing leaders is an integral factor to success. The slosh pipe is a great way to incorporate this skill into your training program. The 10-ft and 8-ft pipes are great for teaching the athletes to work together as a team. Depending on the size of the athletes, you can have two to four athletes per pipe. 

    You can perform hundreds of exercises utilizing a variety of different holds. The team on the pipe must work together to ensure the water is evenly distributed or the pipe will tilt to one side, causing the water to build up on that side. One member in the group must lead the others so that the pipe will move in harmony and remain balanced. Some team exercises that can be performed with the slosh pipe include: sit-ups, sit-up and press, over shoulder press, floor bench press, Zercher good mornings, sitting overhead press, standing biceps curl and press, and front squats; your imagination is the limit.

    Person sitting, holding a slosh pipeMental conditioning: This part of our training is the most valuable. Slosh pipes are a great tool to develop mental conditioning. Mental conditioning lets teammates see how far other players will push themselves, and who on the team is going to push the furthest. It has been said that mental conditioning is not something that can be developed—you can only bring out what the athlete possesses. In my personal opinion, I believe that you can take an athlete and teach them how to work when things get uncomfortable. Conditioning an athlete’s mental toughness can give you an edge in tight games, during times of uncertainty, and when fatigued and in pain. 

    All different sized slosh pipes can be used for mental conditioning. Players can be conditioned in small groups with the larger pipes, or individually with the smaller pipes. Isometric holds can be used to create a competitive environment through holding a position for an unknown amount of time. Dynamic repetitions can also be used between two teams of players for a competition of maximum repetitions. The slosh pipe makes this type of training difficult due to the movement of the water, size of the pipe, and the need to stabilize and balance throughout the exercise. 

    If performed at the end of a workout (i.e., as a finisher exercise), this training can simulate the end of a game or overtime in a game when stress levels rise while players are already in a state of fatigue. Each time we utilize the slosh pipes, we motivate our athletes to do one more rep, or hold on for one more second than the last time; thus, building the mental conditioning we need to be successful in competition.

    Slosh pipe training is a great tool to incorporate into a training program. At VSU, this type of training is incorporated year-round with teamwork and leadership, and mental conditioning is mostly addressed during the off-season and pre-season. We need all the tools we can for our athletes to perform at the highest level; giving them the best chances to be successful. I hope that you took away one thing from this article, to help your program reach its highest level of success.
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    About the Author:

    Michael Doscher, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D

    Now in his 17th year as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Valdosta State, Michael Doscher has been instrumental in VSU’s athletic success during his tenure with the school. After all, Doscher’s leadership in the weight room has aided the school in winning four of its five NCAA Division II National Championships, including three in football. He has aided the remaining ten Blazer programs to numerous Gulf South Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances. Doscher has received numerous honors for his work in the field of Speed/Strength and Conditioning. In 2007, he was named the Samson Division II Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly while also earning the NSCA Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year award in 2005, an honor he was also nominated for in 2003 and 2004. Doscher has had numerous articles published during his career while he has also been selected to give presentations both nationally and internationally. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 he delivered presentations in China at NSCA seminars presented in Xining City, Shanghai and Hefie while also presenting seminars at various NSCA conferences over the last 17 years.

  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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      Have been using the slosh pipe in my modified strongman class and it's been described as the most challenging piece of equipment on the pitch - even harder than the tyre flips, deadlifts, farmer's walks and prowler. I first heard about it in Danmore» John's book Never Let Go. I have people do walking/walking lunges with the slosh pipe either on the shoulders (like the front squat) or overhead. It's a great piece of equipment.«less

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