Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TRX Challenges

Starting in November I will once again be having a weekly TRX Challenge to bring about some friendly competition.  Each week starting November 4th, a new Challenge will be posted with specific instructions on what to do for each exercise.

Each week the exercises will get more challenging and more advanced movements will be incorporated to challenge your fitness.  A video demonstration will be provided for each workout, and I encourage those who take each Challenge to post their results in the Comments section below each post.

Here is a taste of one of last year's Challenge in case you missed out.  In this Challenge, the goal was to perform each exercise in 1 minute (with 30 sec of rest between exercises) and record the total # of reps. The person who completed the most total reps (with good form) won the Challenge.  One minute can seem like an eternity when performing certain exercises.

This year' Challenges will be even more fun, so I hope you take the time to participate a few week, if not all. Remember to post your results from each week down below in the Comments section.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Athletes Performance Mentorship Team 1

As I look back on my week of Mentorship Phase 1 at Athletes' Performance, it's pretty impressive to think of all the participants that attended.  I was anticipating about 10-15 people attending, but there ended up being a total of 25 people and from many different parts of the world.

This is the power one of our lead presenters, Nicole Rodriquez, had on us
photo by Athletes' Performance

photo by

practicing absolute speed drills on a wall

Those that were there from the US included such states as New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Oklahoma, Maryland, Virginia and California.  There were also several Europeans (Austria, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland), Middle East (Lebanon), South America (Brazil) and Japanese participants.   Everyone came from different backgrounds of training experience but all of us had the same goal, to learn the same training systems that the top athletes are using.   

Nicole Rodriquez shows us how to run on the Woodway Curve

With such a diverse group of people there was lots of unique ideas shared each day and many questions.  It's always interesting to discuss a topic and have it dissected many ways.  It sometimes helps to better understand the topic being discussed.  

Athletes' Performance will be having their Mentorship Phase 2 program this coming week and a few from Phase 1 will be attending that also.   Personally, I can't imagine trying to comprehend another consecutive week of that much information.  Although it would be nice to put the "how" with the "why"; that being the primary difference between Phases 1 and 2.  

It was a great week of learning and meeting some great colleagues.   

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An update on the week at Athletes' Performance

After several days of the Mentorship Program at Athletes Performance, I can honestly say that my mind is pretty fried.  Each day we get shuttled from the hotel to the AP facility at 7:30am for our 8:00am start time. The staff at AP are extremely professional and respect everyone's time, so they are very prompt on the start times each day and during each of their presentations.  

entrance to their parking lot

Each day is comprised of class presentations as well as hands-on (applied) sessions.  Nothing better than sitting in class learning the system and then going out on the turf or to the strength area and putting it to use. All of the presenters, Nicole Rodriquez, Tristian Rice, and Michelle Ricardi have been great and all are very knowledgeable in their respective areas of expertise.  Nicole leads all of the hands-on sessions and her demonstrations are amazing.   

strength area - pretty impressive 

turf area - lots of space

All of Pillar Prep, Movement Prep, and Acceleration drills have taken place out on their turf fields.  With the temps hovering around the 90's, things get hot pretty quick.  We're doing the drills about 75% effort with several breaks for explanations and although we're not getting the HR elevated too high, it still feels like a workout.  I can already tell that my hips, back and toes will be sore.

We did some acceleration drills against their brick wall that were great for simulating movements such as lateral shuffling and lateral crossovers.  I've learned some great ideas for getting an athlete prepared for their sport-specific movements. 

haven't touched the bag or sleds yet

There is definitely no shortage of equipment at Athletes' Performance.  Everything is state-of-the-art and veryorganized in a way that there is always plenty of space, no matter the size of group/s training.  In addition to all of the strength equipment, they have an on-site pool, hot tub, and polar bath.  A couple of us took advantage of all three today and did some contrast therapy; moving from cold to hot and back to cold.  The polar bath is set at 50 degrees making for an unpleasant but effective experience for the first 2-3 minutes. We'll probably be doing this again tomorrow; it's is a great recovery tool to help with sore muscles.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Learning from the best!

I am currently down in Phoenix, AZ to attend the Athletes' Performance Phase 1 Mentorship program. Athletes' Performance, which trains many professional athletes in various sports, provides education courses each year to fitness professionals like myself to better understand the principles behind athletes' success.

Their training methodologies have helped top athletes around the world succeed at the highest level...year after year.

I have been wanting to attend their mentorship program for a few years now, so I am extremely excited to learn from the best and apply everything with my athletes and clients.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Basketball Conditioning Workout

Basketball requires a great deal of conditioning, along with many different planes of movement.  To be honest, in my opinion I think elite basketball players are the most conditioned athletes.  Why you ask?  Think about the amount of running (forward, backward, lateral), twisting (side to side, low to high and high to low), jumping (off 1 foot and off 2 feet), catching and throwing (passing) and all (or most of the time) while controlling a ball.  Their hand-eye coordination is tremendous.  These are just a few reasons why I feel that basketball players are the most conditioned.  

Sure there are athletes in different sports that are fitter, stronger, more powerful, and even faster, but the overall percentage of athletes in basketball vs. any other sport I feel is greater when discussing the term "conditioning".  Also keep in mind this is only MY opinion.

Here is a  sample of a full-body conditioning workout, by Josh Staph, that the University of North Carolina uses.  They use medicine balls during their warm-up which are great for training the body in 3 dimensional movements (forward and back, side to side, and rotating/twisting, and for training the small muscles along the spine.  

MedBall Circuit - 10 exercises, 20 reps each using as 8-12lb ball.  The Tar Heels repeat this circuit 4 times, I would recommend starting with 2 rounds and then increase as your fitness improves.

-Circles - begin by holding med ball above head.  move arms in a circle and do both directions.

-Wood Chopper - hold med ball in front of chest, then rotate towards one side and bring ball to outside of hips, then immediately swing the ball in a diagonal motion up toward the opposite shoulder.

-Side to Side Throw - Stand facing perpendicular to a wall.  Holding med ball at outside hip with arms extended, forcefully throw ball against wall.  Repeat on other side for same # of reps.

-Overhead Throw - Holding ball above head, throw ball against wall in a chopping motion.  Keep abs engaged.

-Russian Twists - Lean back at a 45 degree angle.  Holding ball in front of chest, rotate side to side keeping arms extended.

-Chest Pass - Face a wall holding ball in front of chest.  Keeping legs slightly bent, throw ball from chest against wall, catch and repeat.

-Sit up Throw - Lying on the ground with knees bent and feet flat, sit up and throw against wall.  Catch and repeat.

-Toe Touch - Lying on ground on back, hold med ball above head with arms extended.  Sit up and try to touch toes with ball.

After the warm up/med ball series, athletes would then go through a strength workout.  Depending on fitness level and strength training experience, athletes would do either a bodyweight circuit, or for the more advanced, a barbell complex circuit.   I would recommend starting with the bodyweight circuit and once you can complete 3-4 rounds, move to the more advanced barbell circuit.

 Bodyweight Circuit - complete all exercises with minimal rest and then rest 60-90 sec between rounds.  Each exercises has a specified number of reps, but you can always adjust based on time or fitness level.

-Push ups  x10
-Sit ups  x20
-Squats  x20
-Pull ups  x as many as possible
-Walking Lunges  x10ea leg
-Chin ups  x as many as possible
-Walking Lunge with Twist  x10
-Crunches  x20
-Back Extension  x10
-Close-Grip Push ups  x10

In an effort to keep the HR elevated during the workout and improve "work capacity" (the ability to work, tolerate the work, and recover) the Tar Heels do the barbell complex.  Complexes can make for a great "finisher" at the end of a workout boosting your Excess-Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) leading to more calories being burned for several hours after a workout.

Barbell Complex - For theses exercises, select a weight that is roughly 40-50% of your bodyweight and repeat each exercise for 6 reps without putting the bar down.

-Upright Row
-Good Morning - Stand with bar resting on back of shoulders, bend forward at the hips keeping back straight and weight on heels.  Stand back up.
-Squat + Press - Standing with bar resting on back of shoulders, squat down keeping wright on heels and then drive bar back up overhead
-Bent-Over Row

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Weekend Workout #28

Now that we are approaching winter, snow sports (skiing, snowshoeing) as well as indoor court sports (basketball, volleyball)  become the norm.   I thought I would share this workout with you that involves several lateral and cutting movements to help prepare your muscle and joints for the stress they will endure in these activities.  In the workout I combine (superset) a strength exercise with an agility/plyometric drill.  So you'll do one immediately after the other and then rest 30-60 sec before repeating the next set.

As always, make sure you get in a good warm up that includes at least 5-10 min. of some sort of cardiovascular exercise (row machine, stair climber, jogging on treadmill, etc.).  Then move to doing some dynamic moves that will help prepare your muscles for the actual workout.  Some example if these include, bodyweight squats, alternating forward lunge with torso rotation (twist towards front knee), lateral lunges, pushups, planks (on ground, or on a Swiss ball), jumping jacks, kariokes, etc.

Perform specified number of reps per exercises resting 30-60 sec. between sets of each pairing and rest 2-3 minutes before starting each new pair of exercises.  Aim to complete 2-3 sets per pairing.

1A.  Walking Lunges x10ea.
1B.  Explosive Med Ball Tosses x8
2A.  Lateral Bounding (jump side to side off one foot as far as possible landing in controlled manner) x4ea.
2B.  Seated Rows x12-15
3A.  Jump Rope (with side to side hopping; think mogul skiing action) x30 sec.
3B.  Dumbbell Overhead Press x12-15
4A.  Pro Agility Shuttle Drill (place cones 25 yards apart, sprinting to each cone down and back 6 times for total of 300 yards) x1
4B. Explosive Med Ball Rotational Slams x 6ea.

This workouts should help prepare you for your upcoming winter sports activities, or can be an addition to your workouts that you are already doing.  You can perform this workout 2 times a week with at least 1 day of active rest in between.  Select weights that are challenging so that the last 2-3 reps are difficult but you can still manage with good form.

Cool down with some static stretching and foam rolling.  Examples of stretches include hip flexor stretch, chair squat (crossing one foot over other knee and sit into a squat while holding onto something for balance), calf stretch, and butterfly stretch, etc.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lower body strength exercise

So if you are looking to build strength in your lower body (glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps), there are several options you can choose from.  Depending on your specific goal (or sport specific movements), you may narrow it down to even fewer.  But to build overall strength in the legs in a functional movement, there is none better than the deadlift.  Some will argue that squats are the best movement for overall lower body strength.  And they may be right, but how ,many times are you stacking weight on your shoulders and standing up?  Sure if you are competing in the Worlds Strongest Man Competition, then you will definitely need to emphasize this move.  But more often than not, we bend down and lift things from the ground; essentially performing a "deadlift" exercise.

In this article, I am going to breakdown the movements of the deadlift and include a short video so that you too can begin deadlifting (if your not already doing so).

Before beginning to practice the deadlift, I would recommend that you practice with a broomstick or light bar so that you master the mechanics before beginning to add weight.

When beginning the deadlift you can choose between 2 hand grips, both hands pronated (overhand grip), or 1 pronated and 1 supinated (or alternated grip).  This will be a personal choice, but I prefer 1 of each because I feel that I can hold on to the bar easier; especially when lifting heavier weights.

I would recommend that you use a mirror when starting to perform a deadlift, this will help give reinforcement to your mechanics.  Sometime we think we are doing the exercise correctly, but then see ourselves in the mirror doing it wrong.  You can always have someone video you performing the movement too so that you can look back and compare and see the improvements.

Starting position:
*Stand with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly open (rotated outward); this will help the knees track directly over the feet.
*Squat down keeping hips below the shoulders, knees behind the toes, and back straight to slightly arched.
*Grab the bar with either grip (pronated or alternated) with hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
*Arms should be outside the knees and fully extended.
*The bar should be about 1cm in front of your shins and directly above the balls of your feet.
*Keep the head in line with the spine, eyes focused straight ahead, and heels in contact with the floor

The Lift Movement:
* Push through the heels keeping arms fully extended and back flat or slightly arched.
*Extend the knees and hips under control keeping the bar as close tot he shins as possible
*As soon as the bar gets to knee level, begin to shift your weight to the balls of your feet
*Maintain a slightly arched back keeping elbows fully extended
*Extend and lock the hips first and then the quads and knees as you stand all the way up.

The Lower Movement:
*Slowly lower the bar to the ground in a controlled manner
*Keep the bar close to the thighs and shins
*Maintain your flat to slightly arched back
*Keep elbows fully extended
*Keep your eyes focused straight ahead
*As soon as the bar touches the ground, begin to lift up for another rep

After I viewed this video, I realized that my knees were too far forward and should have remained behind the bar during the Lift movement.  This is why I earlier recommended having someone video you, so you can easily correct the error and prevent injury.