Decrease in Performance: Undertraining or Lack of Recovery

“Coach, my vertical decreased.” “Why did my 10 yard dash get slower?” “I played well the first half of the game, but in the second I tanked.”

Coaches have you ever had a new athlete come to you with these questions or concerns? Sometimes even after “grinding” in the gym for months, following a “science based” program, or even training with another coach, an athletes performance doesn’t improve or even gets worse. So, what happened?  As performance coaches, we often celebrate the increases in performance by our athletes, but rarely examine the “why” the performance decreases. Below are two major reason why some athletes see their performance decrease when training.

What is Undertraining?

Undertraining is when an athletes training program or routine does not cause enough stress for the body to adapt to. The purpose of training is to elicit specific stressors that the body adapts to. If the stressors are not at an optimal level for that individual, there will be minimal to no performance increases. This can happen when athletes are continuously prescribed a generic training program that may not be suitable for their physiological ability. An example is performing ten pushups three times a week. To start this might be strenuous, but after three weeks if there is no increase in reps or intensity the body will no longer adapt and there will be no increase in performance. To avoid undertraining, athletes and coaches should use simple methods such as, *RPE scales after training sessions, and the *Daily Readiness test before. These tools can give athletes and coaches an idea of what level of stress was placed on the body during training.

Lack of Recovery

There are three recovery pillars: nutrition, sleep, and hydration. From my experience, most if not all athletes don’t spend nearly as much time recovering as they do training. Ideally, the training to recovery ratio is 1:2. This gives the body enough time to adapt to the new stressors of the previous training session and to prepare for the next session.

Simple recovery methods such as eating at least three meals a day, sleeping eight hours each night, and drinking a gallon of water each day is the best prescription for any athlete. Recovery is vital to performance and should be the first topic discussed with athletes as they start a new training program.

Key Takeaways

  • Training is testing. Athletes should be evaluated daily to ensure an optimal training program
  • Athletes should focus on recovery just as much or even more than the training

*RPE Scale

*Daily Readiness Scale


Self Talk: The Real Motivator

A huge part of motivation is what we tell ourselves, or self talk. Having positive self talk is key to success when it comes to fitness goals. According to expert neurologist we average 70,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts include both conscious and unconscious.  Conscious thoughts are dictated by our surroundings and environment, along with past experiences. Our views, outlook on life and perception of ourselves is determined by our different upbringings and life experiences. these experiences will dictate whether you have positive or negative self talk.

What is self talk?

Self-talk is the act of talking to yourself either outloud or mentally. The messages you tell yourself will encourage and motivate you, or they will limit you if they are negative. It’s important to recognize your inner voice so you can identify when you’re having positive or negative self talk.

Here is negative self talk that you want to avoid

  • Mind reading: assuming we understand what other people are thinking without any real evidence.
  • Overgeneralization: the habit of telling ourselves that a negative event is bound to continue happening in the future.
  •  Magnification: when we take our own errors or flaws and exaggerate them.
  • Minimization: the mirror image of magnification, being dismissive of our strengths and positive qualities.
  • Emotional reasoning:  the habit of making decisions based on how we feel rather than what we value.
  • Personalization: assuming excessive amounts of responsibility, especially for things that are mostly or entirely outside our control.
  • Fortune Telling: the mental habit of predicting what will happen based on little or no real evidence.
  • Should Statements: are a kind of self-talk we use to try and motivate ourselves by always telling ourselves what we should and should not do.


In order to combat negative self talk use these positive self talk strategies

  1.      Have a purpose higher than yourself
  2.      Cut negative people out of your life
  3.      Be grateful
  4.      Don’t compare yourself to others
  5.      Use positivity with others
  6.      Believe in your success
  7.      Don’t fear failure
  8.      Replace negative thoughts with positive one
  9.      Positive affirmation
  10.   Don’t dwell in the past
  11.   Visualize your success
  12.   Limit your intake of news and media
  13.   Help others
  14.   Be physically active
  15.   Dream and set goals

When and how to be effective at self talk?

In order to be effective at self talk you must make it a habit. To start, Every morning think of something that you are a grateful for and give thanks. Then give yourself positive affirmation such as:

  •      I am determined and successful
  •      I am confident
  •      I am strong
  •      My life has meaning and purpose
  •      I am in control of my choices
  •      I am not afraid to fail because it will help me grow

How is self talk is critical to building confidence?

Do you feel shy in front of a big audience? Do you have little belief in your talents and skills? Positive self-talk can Positive self-talk can make you feel more confident in these situations Negative self-talk will hinder you from performing at your fullest by allowing doubt to come into your thoughts. With positive self-talk, you can put your doubts aside and focus on accomplishing your feat successfully. Confidence and success go hand in hand. Those who are successful at what they do, truly believe in themselves and their abilities.  Confidence is so important to success that many psychologists believe that it is one of the primary prerequisites to personal and professional success. Be confident in everything you do by lifting yourself up with positive self talk.


The Truth About Core Training

The Truth About Core Training

What if we told you everything you know about core exercises is wrong?  Straining your neck and back doing hundreds of sit-ups, trying to get a “shredded six-pack,” is a complete waste of your time. Sure, you may feel “the burn” in your abs for two to three days after your workout, but that won’t compare to the burn you will feel in your back five years later from bad posture, due to those high repetition ab routines you used to do.

It is time we challenge the status quo when it comes to fitness and performance. I challenge you to be inquisitive and question the fitness content you consume in magazines, articles, blogs, social media, personal trainers, and performance coaches.

There are a lot of great well-educated fitness professionals out there, but the reality is, the fitness, strength, and conditioning industries are becoming over-saturated. A simple test must be taken in order to receive a personal training certification, but should that be enough to be considered a professional?

Technology and the advancement of social media have made it easier for people to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with a wider audience. This can be great in some cases, however, when individuals are given misinformation on effective exercise prescription, it can have a snowball effect on your health and wellness. This could potentially lead to muscle imbalance, joint pain, dysfunctions, and ultimately chronic injury or illness.

After reading this, you will have a clear understanding of what your “core” actually is and its purpose. You will also have information on effects your core strength has on your everyday life and insight on why you should change the way you train your core. You will also be given our top five functional core exercises.

What Exactly is Your “Core”?

Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. It is incorporated in almost every movement of the human body. Your core is comprised of the following muscle groups:

Pelvic floor muscles, Tansversus abdominis, Multifidus, Internal and external obliques, Rectus abdominis, Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), Erector spinae (sacrospinalis), Longissimus thoracis, Diaphragm, Latissimus dorsi, Gluteus maximus, Trapezius, Gluteus medius, Psoas major, and Serratus anterior.

Train your core the right way to prevent bad posture and other dysfunctions. The true purpose of your core is to stabilize your joints, which prevents unwanted movement and transfer of energy forces from your extremities.

Your core most often acts as a stabilizer and force transfer center rather than a primary mover. We often isolate our core with exercises like crunches or back extensions versus functional movements like deadlifts, overhead squats, and pushups, among many other functional exercises.

By training your core the right way, you can optimize the major function of your core. You will also enhance movement efficiency, strength in your muscles, and joints. Strengthening your core will help your tendons to prevent injury and future pain, which will aid long-term health.

How Strengthening Your Core Will Impact Your…

Everyday Life

A strong core enhances balance, stability, and energy transfer. Thus, it can help prevent injuries during day-to-day activities and sports injuries. Core strength directly correlates to exercise and sport activities like walking, jogging, sprinting, throwing, squatting, jumping, and swinging motions. The stronger your core is, the more efficient you will be at these activities. Through strengthening your core, you will see an increase in your performance as well as minimize your risk for injuries.  

Everyday Activities

Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still. These are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living bathing or dressing, for example call on your core.

Work Place

Jobs that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. But less obvious tasks like sitting at your desk for hours engage your core as well. Phone calls, typing, computer use, and similar work can make back muscles stiff and sore, particularly if you’re not strong enough to practice good posture and aren’t taking sufficient breaks to stand and go for a walk.

Sports and Other Activities

Sports comprise of a series of explosive complex movements that require a lot of core strength and satiability. Think of sports like golfing, tennis, baseball, and softball. The rotational nature of these sports causes the spine to twist and coil up just to be rapidly released in the opposite direction. Without good foundational core strength, these movements can cause serious harm to your body.

Other sports like basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer require speed, agility, coordination, strength, and balance. All this qualities are built on and enhanced by having a solid core. Even recreational sports like running, swimming, kayaking, rowing, skiing, and snowboarding heavily rely on your core.  So, it is important to consider training your core when participating in these hobbies we love.

Good Posture

Good posture decreases wear and tear on your spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture also allows you to perform everyday task easily and more efficiently saving you time and energy.

Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of these realms. And while it’s important to build a strong core, it’s unwise to aim all your efforts at developing rippling abs.

Overtraining abdominal muscles while snubbing muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries and cut athletic prowess. If washboard abs are your holy grail, it’s essential to trim body fat through diet and aerobic exercise and build strong abdominal muscles through frequent core exercise sessions.

Why You Should Change the Way You Train Your Core

When you think of a core exercise, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Sit ups or crunches, right?  These exercises are very popular because they give you that burning tightening feeling in your abdominal which is the problem area for a lot of us.

Lets dig deeper. The abdominal muscles play a key role in protecting the inner organs. They also assist in respiration breathing and work together with back muscles to stabilize the spine for good posture.

When performing a sit up or crunch you’re engaging your rectus abdominus (abs). But, you are also using other muscles groups that assist in hip flexion sush as the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, and Sartorius.

The Problem

Over exerting your hip flexors during a sit up or crunch is a common error due to lack of engagement of your abs. Overtime you will develop a shortened tight, hip flexors which pulls your torso forward when standing. This puts excessive strain on your lower back. Individuals, who sit for long periods of time daily, are also at risk of developing tight hip flexors.

According to the American Medical Association we sit on average 7.7 hours a day! The long-term effect this has is, bad posture, movement dysfunction, pain, chronic injuries, and high medical bills from physical therapist and doctor visits.

When performing a sit up or crunch you’re engaging your rectus abdominus (abs). But, you are also using other muscles groups that assist in hip flexion sush as the iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae, rectus femoris, and Sartorius.

Top Five Core Exercises

Choosing the right core exercise can be overwhelming. To simplify, we have provided you with 5 functional exercises to strengthen your core to improve your performance and long-term health.

3-Way Plank: Pron Plank

    1. Get into a prone position on the floor, supporting your weight on your toes and your forearms. Your arms are bent and directly below the shoulder.
    1. Keep shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in alignment.
    1. Squeeze your abdominals and glutes to engage your core
  1. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and increase by 5 to 10 seconds each workout

3-Way Plank: Side plank

  1. Start by lying on your side with your elbow under your shoulder.
  2. Keep shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in alignment.
  3. Squeeze abdominals and glutes to engage your core
  4. Repeat on other side and hold for 15 to 20 seconds and increase by 5 to 10 seconds each workout.

Medicine Ball Dead Bug

    1. Begin lying on your back with one hand extended above you toward the ceiling and the other pinning the medicine ball against your opposite knee.
    1. Bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees.
    1. Exhale hard to bring your ribcage down and flatten your back onto the floor, rotating your pelvis up and squeezing your glutes. Hold this position throughout the movement. This will be your starting position.
    1. Initiate the exercise by extending your free leg and arm, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg and arm just above the ground.
    1. Maintain the position of your lumbar and pelvis as you perform the movement, as your back is going to want to arch.
    1. Fully Stay tight and return the working leg and arm to the starting position.
  1. Repeat on the opposite side.

Alternating Glute March

    1. Start by lying on your back with your hands at your side.
    1. Bend knees to approximately 90 degrees with feet flat on the floor.
    1. Initiate the movement by driving your heels in to the ground and fully extending your hips in the air by squeezing your glutes.
  1. Pause briefly at the top then lower hips back down to the ground and repeat.

Superman

    1. To begin, lie straight and face down on the floor or exercise mat. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you. This is the starting position.
    1. Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor and hold this contraction for 2 seconds. Tip: Squeeze your lower back to get the best results from this exercise. Remember to exhale during this movement. Note: When holding the contracted position, you should look like superman when he is flying.
    1. Slowly begin to lower your arms, legs and chest back down to the starting position while inhaling.
  1. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions prescribed in your program.

Half Kneeling Wood Chop

  1. 1. Attach a rope or pulley handles to the high cable pulley
  2. Begin in a half kneeling position with your side to the machine, your inside knee down, and outside foot on the floor with your leg at 90 degrees
  3. Holding the rope handle with your inside hand palm up and your outside hand palm down. In one fluid motion turn hips and shoulders away from the machine, pull the handle down towards apposite hip while keeping arms relatively straight.
  4. Rotate shoulders away from the machine and then towards it with each repetition. Prevent unwanted movement other than the rotation of the shoulders and bring arms down towards hip.
  5. At the end of each repetition, your chest should be up, your shoulder blades should be back, and your stomach should be tight.

Congratulations on taking the first step to learn how to train your core properly to enhance your performance and long term quality of life.  I challenge you to put this information into action and implement these exercises into your daily workout routine to strengthen your core the right way! We assure you with time and constant effort you will see and feel a difference in your core strength.

I would love to help you further develop your core strength with online personal training. Get handcraft personalized exercise programs tailored to your needs so you can accomplish your goals faster! If this sounds like a good fit for you lets connect so I can learn more about your personal goals to set you up for success! There is no better time than now, get started today!


Mobility vs. Flexibility: Which is Better?

Mobility vs. Flexibility: Which is Better?

Mobility is not synonymous with flexibility. People use the terms flexibility and mobility interchangeable, but recently fitness professionals have made a push to separate the two concepts.

Most people know that stretching is good for you for multiple reasons, this is usually based on how they feel after stretching. The reason why you may stretch is to relieve stiffness or tightness. What most people don’t understand is there are multiple factors that may contribute to tightness. There are also many ways to address tightness. Generally enhancing your mobility and or flexibility will help you move properly without restriction or pain. Your probably wondering, whats the difference between mobility and flexibility? These two terms seem to be used interchangeably, yet actually have different meanings. Let’s distinguish the difference between the two.

What is Mobility?

Mobility is our ability to take our body through a range of motion, before being restricted, with control. Mobility is having strength within your flexibility.

Mobility is needed to perform everyday activities and it’s especially important when working out or participating in sports. Our ability to move without restriction or pain means that we can comfortably perform daily activities and strength train. If your body isn’t moving through its natural movement patterns, you’re at risk of injury. If you think about your shoulder joint, which is shaped like a ball-and-socket, it’s designed to move in all directions. If your shoulder can move like it should, the joint is healthy and mobile. If you have restricted movement in one direction or another, like you can’t raise your arm next to your ear, then you a lack shoulder mobility. This increase your risk of pain and injury, especially when loaded.

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility refers to soft tissues (muscles and tendons) ability to temporality elongate. Our connective tissues are like finger traps; the amount of material doesn’t actually change, you can’t lengthen it, but you can contract it. Flexibility is passive. It’s your ability to move connective tissue with the help of a another person or tool, while their muscles passively allow the movement to happen. Flexibility means the soft tissues are stretchy and elastic.

Think of a rubber band. If you pull both ends, and it stretches like any good rubber band should, it’s flexible. If it doesn’t stretch, it’s inflexible. It’s the same thing with muscles, which actually have elastic components designed to help the muscle stretch.

Flexibility is important because when your body is restricted by inflexibility and you can’t move through your natural range of motion, pain can occur. Lack of flexibility can make all activities more difficult.

What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between mobility and flexibility is that in order to move a joint through its range of motion with control (mobility), you need strength.Which is why mobility is a better indication of how well and efficiently we move. Flexibility is one part of mobility. But strength, coordination, and body awareness are also elements of mobility. Flexibility is a component of mobility, extreme flexibility usually isn’t necessary to perform most exercises or activities. That means that mobility can be limited by flexibility, but super-flexibility is not necessary for most people or strength athletes.

Someone with great mobility may be able to squat below parallel while maintaining joint integrity and posture with no restrictions of range of motion. A flexible person may be able to break parallel, but they lack the ability to maintain joint integrity and posture because they may not have the strength, core strength, balance, or coordination to perform the same motion.  Someone with poor mobility may be able to complete a partial rep with decent posture but does not have the range of motion necessary to break parallel. There are a number of possible muscle imbalances that can cause lack of mobility and flexibility,  but these problems can be fixed with a combination of soft-tissue work (foam rolling/massage), stretch, and strengthen.

Both mobility and flexibility are important. You need your muscles to have the strength to support your movements, and elasticity which allows you to move without restriction. Luckily, you can work on improving flexibility and mobility.

Here’s why you should be doing flexibility and mobility exercises.

  1. Eliminate joint pain or injury
  2. Perform movements with great range of motion
  3. Increase muscle recruitment
  4. Burn more calories
  5. Move with freedom
  6. Perform wider range of movements
  7. Prolong quality of life
  8. Increase strength
  9. Increase stability
  10. Increase speed/power
  11. Enhanced joint health

How to Increase Your Mobility and Flexibility?

To enhance your flexibility and mobility, start with areas that you are really tight or areas affected by bad posture. This may include the neck, mid/low back, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

3 methods to increase mobility: 

  1. Foam Rolling: foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release trigger points or “knots” in your muscles.
  2. Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints.
  3. Stretch: This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re a naturally bendy person stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury than if you just left it out. But if you’ve always been fairly stiff, and it’s stopping you from performing exercises correctly, you may benefit from a few short stretches as part of your warm up, and longer stretches for after your workout.

Now that you know everything you need to know about mobility vs flexibility, here is a short routine that you can do daily to enhance your flexibility and mobility for better workouts, enhanced performance, and overall health/quality of life.

 


Periodization: The Key to an Effective Workout Program

Periodization: The Key to an Effective Workout Program

Have you ever experienced stagnation or boredom with your workout routine? Have you hit a plateau where no matter what you do, you just feel like you’re not making progress? Have you experienced long term exhaustion physically, mentally, or even sickness? These are all symptoms of a manotineous workout program  that is not well planned or a program that you have stuck to for too long. With strategic periodization, you can avoid training plateaus and overtraining. Here’s how to break free and take your training and your results to the next level.

What is periodization?

Strength and conditioning programs cause an alarm phase that provokes our bodies to respond to external stimulus (strength training or cardiovascular training). Our bodies responds by adapting the stimulus so the next time it encounters the same stressor, we will be able to better deal with the stress. This is referred to as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Homeostasis is our bodies baseline or equilibrium, so anytime we encounter a stress whether physical or psychological we experience a physiological adaptation. This is why it is important to constantly adjust variables of stress (workout routine) through periodization.

To promote long term training and performance improvements, a good training program should include preplanned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, volume, and load organized in periods or cycles within the overall program. This allows you to optimize adaptations made from training either from strength training or cardiovascular training.

Periodization for Strength

So, you have to disrupt homeostasis with a progressive overload to cause the body to adapt.  Here are three key training parameters that will drive gains in strength and muscle. 

  1. Mechanical tension: external forces put on the muscles by the weights, resulting in muscle contraction. Lifting a heavy load in big compound exercises (squats, chins, rows, bench presses etc.).
  2. Metabolic stress: the accumulation of metabolic byproducts, referred to as metabolites (e.g., lactate, hydrogen ions, and inorganic phosphate) during and following resistance exercise, which indirectly mediate cell and muscle swelling. Using higher rep sets with shorter rest periods and intensification techniques such as, drop sets, supersets, rest pause and occlusion training.
  3. Muscle damage: referring to micro tears accrued from deliberately lifting weights, usually accompanied by DOMS. Exercises which place a big stretch on the muscle like Romanian Deadlifts, are great at achieving this. Eccentric overload training is also excellent. So, using a weight heavier than you can lift and just doing the lowering phase (you will need a spotter for this). 

Periodization for Cardio

You should also periodize your cardiovascular training for the same reasons—to further challenge your body while still allowing for adequate recovery time.

If, for example, you’re a recreational runner, running for fitness, fun and the occasional short race, you’ll want to allow for flat, easy runs, as well as some that incorporate hills and others that focus on speed and strength.

What you don’t want to do is complete the same run every time. If you run too easily, and don’t push yourself, you won’t progress. And chances are you’ll get bored. Conversely, too much speed or high-intensity training will lead to injury or burnout, and most likely, disappointing race results.

Training Variables to Consider

Here are 5 key variables to consider that will impact your workouts. Now that you know the importance of altering your training program, here is how periodization manipulates these variables. A change in your program doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change all of the exercises, sets, reps, and weight periodically. In some instances, that may be the case, but a change in your program can be as subtle as increasing or decreasing the volume. Or maybe you increase the weight in your strength training routine. Maybe, you increase the weight and decrease the volume respectively. There are many ways that you can alter a program, the most important thing is that your program is adjusted periodically with the end goal in mind so that you get results.

Here are 5 key training variables:

Volume: The number of repetitions per set, or the number of sets of each exercise 

Load: The amount of resistance used and cumulative effective of stress from your workout physically and psychologically.

Frequency:  How many days a week you train a muscle group, movement pattern, or energy system.

Intensity: Rest period between sets or bouts,  exercise type, order of the exercises, types of exercises, weight used for the exercise, and speed at which you complete each exercise.

Specificity: exercise selection that is specific or non specific to your goals

How Frequently should you switch up workouts?

Macrocycle: Traditional periodization models divide the overall program into specific time periods. The largest division is a macrocycle, typically (6-12 months)

Mesocycle: Within macrocycle are two or more mesocycles, each lasting several weeks to several months. The number depends on goal and peak time periods. (2 weeks – 6 months)

Microcycle: Each mesocycle is divided into two or more microcycles that are typically one week long but could last for up to four weeks, depending on the program. This short cycle focuses on daily and weekly training variations. (1-4 weeks)

With this in mind. It is recommended that you adjust your training program at least every 4 weeks to avoid plateaus and negative effects of overtraining.

Types of Periodization

Here are 3 types of periodization methods.

Linear: Most frequently used. Best for beginners. training plan that gradually increases volume, intensity, and work by mesocycles in an annual plan. Progressive overload is a major key to success here.

Non-Liner/Undulated: Relies on constant change in stimuli throughout training cycles. As opposed to a linear periodization that focuses on gradual increase of one variable, this style manipulates multiple variables like exercises, volume, intensity, and training adaptation on a frequent basis. The time frame for these manipulations can be daily, weekly, or even bi-weekly. Non-linear periodization is more advanced than linear and incorporates multiple types of stimuli into a training program.

Block Periodization: Block periodization is arguably the “newest” periodization style. The concept of block periodization focuses on breaking down specific training periods into 2-4 week periods. Each block encompasses three different stages: accumulation (50-75% intensity), transmutation (75-90% intensity), and realization (90%> intensity). The goal behind these smaller, specific blocks is to allow an athlete to stay at their peak level longer.

Periodized training will ensure that you continue to make measurable progress, which will keep you energized and interested in reaching your goals

As you incorporate periodization into your fitness program, keep in mind your body will need adequate rest as well. It’s important to track your workouts and record sets, reps along with the amount of resistance you used. This long-term plan will allow you to stay focused on different goals throughout the year and will support continued and measurable progress.

 


The World’s Best Vertical Jump Exercise

The World’s Best Vertical Jump Exercise

So, you have probably heard, the best way to improve your vertical jump is by doing plyometric training. This type of training includes ballistic hops, skips, and jumps that enhance the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) in your tendons, and in particular, your golgi tendon organ (GTO). The GTO is a proprioceptive sensory receptor organ that senses changes in muscle tension. It lies at the origin and insertion of skeletal muscle fibers into the tendonsof skeletal muscle. When there is tension placed on your muscles or tendons from lifting weights or landing from a jump, for example, the GTO sends signals to inhibit the muscle from exerting too much force as a safety mechanism. This is important as it ensures you don’t strain or tear a muscle. However, structured plyometric training can inhibit or desensitize the GTO to allow your muscles and tendons to harness more kinetic energy thus giving you the ability to produce more force and power in your jumps.

Depth Drop to Box Jump Trumps Them All

The depth drop to box jump is the most effective jump training that you can do because it inhibits the GTO with the deficit drop landing. The other mechanism that makes this drill effective is that it not only has a shock method but also effectively trains all three kinds of muscle contractions. These include eccentric, isometric, and concentric muscle contractions. Training all three phases will enhance intramuscular coordination which will allow you to jump higher and get off the ground faster.

How to Do This Drill

Landing– Reach out with one foot with your toes pointing up. This is calleddorsi flexion.Step off the box and land on both feet simultaneously applying pressure through the middle of your foot. You don’t want to land on your toes or your heels. Next, focus on sinking your hips back and positioning your chest over your thighs or knees while swinging both arms back. If you look at the video, notice that when I land, both arms are being pulled down and back so there is no wasted movement. This will make the transition faster so you can get off the ground quicker! For beginners, pause on the landing to ensure good mechanics and posture. As you progress, decrease ground contact time.

Transition– This phase of the jump is all about joint stiffness. As soon as your feet hit the ground, don’t allow your hips to continue dropping toward the ground. To avoid this, think about landing like a brick hitting the floor versus a slinky. This shock mechanism will help you improve the rate of force absorption allowing you to transition into your take off quicker.

Take Off– This is the part of the drill that everyone emphasizes. However, if the landing and transition are not efficient or done properly, the opportunity for an explosive take off will be minimized. To decrease your take off time and increase your jump height, push through the ground swinging your arms forward and upward. Think about driving through your big toe and rapidly extending your hips to get triple extension.

If you emphasize each aspect of the depth drop (landing, transition, and take off), you will notice more pop off the ground and increase your vertical jump height.

Program Implementation

After doing a proper warm up, you can include the depth drop to box jump drill before your strength training routine or superset with a compound lower body exercise like squats. When doing plyometrics drills, you want to focus on quality not quantity so keep the reps low and gradually increase the volume by adding more sets as your training progresses.

Week 1-2: 2×5

Week 3-4: 3×4

Week 5-6: 4×4


Aerobic Training For Athletes

Aerobic Training For Athletes

What is aerobic training

Aerobic training, also known as cardio, improves an athlete’s ability to use oxygen to sustain activity for periods of time. The aerobic energy system utilizes fats, carbohydrates and sometimes proteins for re-synthesizing of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) for energy use. ATP is the primary energy carrier in all living organisms. The aerobic system produces far more ATP than either of the other energy systems but it produces the ATP much more slowly, therefore it cannot fuel intense exercise that demands the fast production of ATP. However, aerobic training for athletes is key to optimizing performance.

Why aerobic training is good for athletes

The aerobic system is the dominant source of energy in sport and activities lasting longer than 3 minutes of continuous activity. Here are a few examples: endurance runners, cyclists, and distance swimmers, etc. All athletes can benefit from aerobic training even if they rely on quick short bursts of energy. Building a larger aerobic base will help increase anaerobic thresholds and improve energy efficiency.

Effects of aerobic training for athletes

Our bodies adapt to low to moderate-intensity activities that last for more than just a few minutes. Sustained workouts improve your body’s ability to breathe in and use oxygen. Here are the types of adjustments our bodies make internally to make these improvements:

  1. Increases in the number of mitochondria (small structures known as the powerhouses) inside muscle cells that produce energy from oxygen,
  2. Increases in the muscle’s ability to use fat as fuel,
  3. Greater lung capacity,
  4. Improved heart stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with each beat),
  5. Changes in hormones (epinephrine) that break down and move fat through the body for use as a fuel,
  6. Increased lean body mass.

 

What are the best Aerobic Training Workouts

Intensity (how hard), duration (how long), and frequency (how often) are key ways to improve your ability to maintain aerobic activity. Fitness improves when intensity is between 70-80% of maximum heart rate, but this may not be adequate for endurance athletes in some sports and events.

Elite endurance athletes often utilize high-intensity interval (HIIT) exercise in their training regimens. Recent studies indicate that HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to stimulate a number of muscle adaptations that are comparable to traditional endurance training. Athletes may include other sport-specific activities in interval training workouts.

The aerobic energy system can be developed with various types of training.

  • Interval training– Interval training for the long term aerobic energy system would have a work-rest ratio of 1:1 or 1:2. The work periods would usually exceed several minutes and the rest periods would be active but at a lower intensity that could be sustained.
  • Continuous training– Training that maintains a constant intensity and lasts for a prolonged period of time (usually longer than 15 minutes)
  • ‘Fartlek’ training– A type of interval training whereby the exerciser varies the speed and effort throughout the training session according to how they feel ensuring that they can continue to exercise at all times (i.e. no rest intervals).

Workout Examples

  • Run for two minutes at mod/high intensity, followed by two minutes at low intensity (active recovery) repeated for 30 minutes.
  • 30 minutes low/moderate intensity cycling, swimming or jogging without change in intensity.
  • 30 minute jog over hills requiring bursts of extra effort every now and then but never stopping throughout the jog.

 Process and rate of recovery

 Recovery for the aerobic system is about restoring fuel stores to their pre-exercise levels. This requires the ingestion, digestion and transportation of the fuel and can take between 12 and 48 hours depending on the intensity and duration of the aerobic training for the athlete’s performance.

 


The Number One Exercise to Increase Your Upper Body Strength

The Number One Exercise to Increase Your Upper Body Strength

Are you looking to increase your upper body strength? There are tons of exercises out there that can help improve your strength. But there is one that is above the rest. That is, the bench press. This is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength. You can spend hours in the gym doing countless reps of push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder presses, and bicep curls, but none of these single exercises will have as much of a positive effect on your upper body strength than the bench press. Let’s dive in to see why the bench press is the best exercise for building strength!

Bench Press for Gains

The bench press is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength because it gives you the most bang for your buck. It allows you to recruit more muscle fibers than any other upper body exercise out there. When it comes to building strength, you want to stick to exercises that use major muscle groups when exerting sub-maximal and maximal effort to get the gains you are looking for.

The bench press is a compound exercise, meaning it utilizes multiple joints and muscle groups to help you develop functional strength by following your body’s natural movement patterns. Compound movements are among the best exercises to gain total upper body strength because they help you develop the greatest amount of muscle tissue possible. Compound lifts create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time and also have the added benefit of helping develop the body proportionately.

Heavy Weight Champ

Gaining upper body strength requires exercises that stimulate muscular growth by imposing enough stress on your muscles. The bench press is the number one exercise to increase your upper body strength because it allows you to contract your muscles against heavier loads, which exhaust your muscles with fewer repetitions. The bench press maximizes damage to contractile proteins in your muscles. Your muscles adapt by repairing the damage and synthesizing more proteins, which effectively increases the contractile strength of your muscles.

Is the Bench Press Right for You?

If you’re looking to increase your upper body strength while improving muscle definition and posture, the bench press is the way to go. However, if you have shoulder issues or any other pain in your back, elbows, or wrist, you may want to stick to exercises that work on stability and control to help strengthen that area or prevent further injury. A great alternative to the bench press is the dumbbell bench press or push-up. These upper body exercises have great benefits but do not put as much stress on your joints. Remember to train mobility and stability, then endurance, then build strength. Failure to follow this progression will result in injury. Also, be sure to incorporate these warm-up exercises before doing any upper body strength routine.

1×10 Each


What’s Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?

What’s Better, High Intensity or Low Intensity Training?

What type of exercise is better for your body—high intensity or low intensity training? The answer is not that simple. It comes down to individual goals and how your body responds to exercise on a given day. Is your goal to decrease your body fat percentage, increase your VO2 max, recover faster, or have more power for anaerobic work? Different energy systems are used when performing high and low intensity workouts as well as a different ratio of carbs vs. fats burned within the body.

Low intensity exercise is aerobic work where your heart rate stays within 60-80% of your max heart rate. Working on your endurance boosts your heart’s left ventricle that pushes blood out to the rest of the body to increase in capacity. That means that more oxygen gets delivered to nourish crucial tissues and organs which support better overall health. Not only does more oxygen reach crucial parts of the body, but your circulatory system gets better at transferring it from blood to tissue. That’s because low intensity exercise increases capillary density, so more channels are on hand to deliver oxygen to the tissue’s cells. This in turn increases base oxygen intake leading to enhanced endurance.

High intensity exercise, often referred to as HIIT (high intensity interval training) or SIT (sprint interval training), burns more calories in a shorter period of time compared to the time put in for low intensity training. However, high intensity exercise escalates your resting metabolism so you burn more calories post exercise. The high intensity nature provides improved athletic capacity and condition as well as improved glucose metabolism. High intensity may not be as effective for treating hyperlipidemia and obesity, but has been shown to build more lean body mass and increase recovery time which is more applicable to sports performance athletes.

You get more bang for the buck when muscles burn fat because fat has more than twice the number of calories (nine calories vs. four calories per gram from carbs). Fat is the high-test fuel. Less oxygen reaches the muscle when you exercise hard, or fast, and get out of breath. The term “sucking wind” means that you are working hard to get more oxygen in. When less oxygen reaches the muscles, known as oxygen debt, carbohydrates become the preferred fuel because they burn completely with less oxygen.

With the information above, can we now narrow down what type of exercise is right for you? The simple answer is to combine both high and low intensity exercise into your routine. Where it gets confusing is when we ask ourselves, “what ratio of each should I do? 50/50?”. This is where it becomes individualized. The most popular ratio, and what I use for metabolic workouts, is based on Olympic programming. This breaks down low, moderate, and high intensity workouts into a ratio of 80% low, 12% moderate, and 8% high intensity throughout the week. After looking at these numbers, doesn’t the ratio of high intensity workouts seem very low?

The reason is that low intensity exercise promotes longevity and muscle recovery when done correctly. An overdose of high intensity exercise has its downsides. Although it is a great way to increase resting metabolism, crush carb stores in the body, and increase VO2 max, it is a sympathetic stressor and can lead to adrenal fatigue. In large doses, high intensity puts an incredible strain on your nervous system, joints and muscles; especially if you are overweight and unfit. It also puts you at a high risk of overtraining, which is a real danger as it can ruin your immune system, cause insomnia, affect your appetite, and release cortisol, which in turn can make you more likely to put on fat.

I would love to see more individuals build an excellent oxidative system base through low intensity exercise while slowly adding in high intensity training one day per week so their bodies can adapt appropriately. Work your way up to the 80%, 12%, and 8% and then get creative with your workouts. So long as you’re in the correct energy system, you may do CrossFit, Tabata, 5K’s, marathons, sprints, lifting—take your pick!


4 Tips for Maximum Recovery

4 Tips for Maximum Recovery

As an athlete or gym warrior, it’s easy to get caught up in the barbells, sleds, and plyo boxes. While what you do in the gym is unbelievably important, taking care of your body when you’re not at the gym is equally as important. I have put together a list of 4 tips for maximum recovery to keep you at the top of your game.

Get moving

One of the worst things that you can do on your recovery days is to be a couch potato. When we workout, our body produces byproducts like lactic acid, pyruvate, and NADH+. These byproducts pool up and cause our muscles to be sluggish, slow and sore. In order for our body to get rid of these byproducts, it requires blood flow to carry them out of our muscles. A blood flow elevated above resting will help to drain these byproducts from our muscles and speed up recovery.

Tips for moving during a recovery day:

  • Go for a light jog/walk
    • Just get your heart rate up, don’t push it
  • Foam roll
    • Spend 20-30 seconds on each of the major muscles
    • Glutes/Hamstrings/Calves/Quads
    • Lats/Upper back/Pecs
  • Lacrosse ball
    • Spend some time isolating specific knots or trigger points
    • Place the lacrosse ball on the knot and slowly grind into it
  • Stretch
    • Stretch the major muscles. If you neglect mobility, over time you will develop pain and injuries because the muscles aren’t functioning the way they should.
    • Spend 20-30 seconds on each muscle
    • Dynamic stretching combined with a light jog/walk is a great combo
    • Try this 5 minute mobility routine

Eat right

Proper fuel is absolutely essential for competitive athletes. In order for our bodies to function properly at competition, they need fuel. Not only do they need fuel, they need the right fuel. Think of your body like a car. You could fill your car up with bleach and it would run … but not for long. If you’re filling your body up with junk food and missing out on the right nutrients, your body won’t perform the way you want it to for very long.

Tips for improving your nutrition:

Sleep

One of the biggest factors that significantly influences your body’s performance is sleep. Proper sleep has been shown to increase performance, motivation, concentration, and improve cognitive performance. While we are sleeping, our bodies go to work. During sleep, your body increases the hormone productions that lead to rebuilding muscles, increasing the tensile strength of your actin and myosin within the muscle fibers. It is recommended for athletes to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you are in the middle of pre-season or heavy training times, an extra hour is typically recommended. If you can’t manage to get that much sleep at night, naps can be a way to add up to that sleep total.

Tips for getting good sleep:

  • Get in a rhythm and stick to it! Plan ahead, finish homework/work in time that you can get to bed at a consistent time
  • Avoid being on your phone in bed, the stimulus will fight your body wanting to sleep
  • Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day

Make goals

The process of setting goals for yourself will help you structure your plan to achieve those goals. During this process make sure that you structure in your recovery. Keeping to a schedule will keep you motivated and you will see significant results. Follow the strategy of SMART (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Results. Time.) goals. By creating goals that you can attain in a realistic amount of time, your schedule will practically create itself.

Tips for making goals:

  • Follow the SMART goals
  • Don’t over-do it. Setting a goal that you can’t attain will crush your motivation if you don’t achieve that goal. Be realistic.
  • Stick to your schedule. You created it for a reason.

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