Focus on the Process, not the Outcome

16 Oct

I recently read an interesting article about the Boston Red Sox organizational philosophy.  Hitting Coach (and former big-leaguer), Chili Davis, stressed the importance of his hitters’ approach for each and every at bat.

“What we try to do is have a good approach at the plate.  We are process-oriented. As long as you go up there with a good game plan and execute that plan the best you can, we’re good.”

I really like that because, when you think about it, that philosophy applies well to just about everything.

It’s not that outcomes – goals and results – are not important because, of course, they are.  But goal achievement is rarely possible without consistent and diligent attention to the process.

No one improves their strength without putting in the appropriate work, over time, in the weight room.

Success – excellence – in sports is the result of days, weeks, months, and years of practice and preparation.

Good grades in school are a product of attendance, homework, and studying.

Rewards – promotions and raises – at work are a by-product of long-term effort.

Coach John Wooden was a big proponent of focusing on the process, and not the outcome.  Coach Wooden didn’t focus on winning.  He focused on the character of his team, key fundamentals, daily improvement, effort, potential, and selfless teamwork.  As a result he won… a lot.

Take care of the process – practice, prepare, and work hard – and the results will inevitably follow.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Think Like an Athlete

9 Oct

Being an athlete is about more than just strengthspeedagility, and athleticism (although the development of those characteristics is certainly important).  It even goes beyond the genetics and “natural” ability with which you have been blessed.

Being an athlete is also about how you think; how you practice; how you talk (especially self-talk); how you act; and how you dream.

Being an athlete is about setting challenging goals — and working hard toward the achievement of those goals, every day.

Being an athlete is about realizing your long-term objectives and having the discipline to stick to your plan.

Being an athlete means being aware that there will be obstacles along the way, and having the mental toughness to overcome adversity.

Being an athlete involves visualizing yourself succeeding, and positive, encouraging self-talk, along the way.

Being an athlete requires a commitment to constantly improve upon your performance.

Being an athlete means focusing on improving you, and not comparing yourself with others — being better today than you were yesterday.

Here’s a great read from Huffington Post titled, 8 Ways to Think Like an Athlete.  The article does a nice job of expanding upon some of the thoughts discussed above.  If you are — or aspire to be — an athlete, it’s a “must-read.”  And it doesn’t just apply to athletics.  The same principles can be applied to school, work, and life.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Performance With Single-Leg Exercises

6 Oct

Bulgarian Split Squat (down)

Bulgarian Split Squat (up)

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we know it’s important to incorporate single-leg exercises into an athlete’s training regimen.  We alternate, weekly, between bilateral and unilateral exercises, to improve strength, power, mobility, and balance/stability.

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that all athletes might need to do more single-leg exercises.  In the study, researchers discovered that both jumpers’ (e.g., basketball, volleyball) and nonjumpers’ legs were not equally strong.  The natural tendency is for athletes to shift their weight, to some degree, to their dominant leg.  According to the study, that contributes to a strength imbalance that can hurt performance and lead to injuries.

Try different single-leg exercises, like lunges (stationary or walking; forward, backward, or lateral).

At APTC, we favor the single-leg squatsingle-leg pressstep-up, and Bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated).  Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a weight that is challenging but reasonable.

As you might imagine, the same principle applies to upper-body strength training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How Protein Becomes Muscle

29 Sep

Protein consumption, following a workout, is an important component of the muscle and strength building process.  But how, exactly, does the process work?

Here’s a terrific resource from Men’s Health titled, How Protein Becomes Muscle.  This animated video explains the process from ingestion through each subsequent stage — transportresponserepair and growth; and construction.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Key Elements of Speed Training

25 Sep

It would be inaccurate to suggest that everyone has the capacity to become a sprint champion, but every athlete does have the ability to improve his/her speed.

Running speed is an important component of athletic performance.  Equally important is gamespeed — the application of speed in a sport-specific context, which maximizes sport performance (Ian Jeffreys; Developing Speed).

Since speed relies on both motor skill development and the development of physical capacities to produce effective ground-reaction forces, a speed development program should include three key elements:

Development of Physical Capacities

An effective speed development program must develop an athlete’s muscular strength and power.  As I’ve stated before, speed development starts in the weight room.  An athlete’s running speed will be determined largely by his/her ability to generate force, effectively and efficiently, against the ground.

Technical Development

Proper running technique — including stride lengthstride frequencyarm action, and leg action — helps ensure that athletes can use their physical capacities to enhance their speed.

Application of Speed

The development of physical capacities and running technique are only beneficial if they enhance running speed in the sport-specific context.  A speed improvement program must address all the elements that affect Performance in a particular sport, including initial accelerationtransition acceleration, and maximum speed.

In order to achieve optimal results, these three elements should be incorporated into a speed development program.  The training should also be adapted to the individual athlete’s characteristics.  The focus of training is different for each athlete, and should address differences in physical capacities and technical proficiency.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Get Some Sleep, Improve Performance

22 Sep

I came across an interesting article in Sports Illustrated magazine, discussing the relationship between sleep and performance, and the importance of maintaining an appropriate sleep schedule, especially for athletes.

Our country, as a whole, suffers from a “staggering amount of sleep deficiency,” according to Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.  And athletes are especially affected, due to their exhaustive schedule of workouts, practices, and games.

According to Dr. Czeisler, the impact of inadequate sleep includes:

  • Slower reaction time
  • Decreased precision
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Missed signals in your visual field
  • Increased irritability
  • Greater propensity to getting sick
  • More inflammation; slower healing from injuries
  • Duller memory
  • Burnout, exhaustion, and depression

The doctor, who has worked as a consultant to the NBA (as well as NASA and the Secret Service), says athletes should sleep at least 8.2 to 8.4 hours per day.  Here are some of his sleep tips:

  • Establish a routine.  Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day.
  • Unplug at night.  Get rid of distractions in the bedroom — especially electronics.
  • Aim for 9 hours.  Athletes may need even more sleep than the average person.
  • Nap in the afternoon.  If you sleep only five to six hours per night, an afternoon snooze can help (it works for LeBron and Kobe).
  • Don’t overextend yourself.  You can’t compensate for lost sleep by one long night of sleep.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Strength Training Isn’t Just for Athletes

20 Sep

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we specialize in helping athletes improve athletic performance through the development of strengthspeedagility, and athleticism.  But the benefits of strength training are not limited to athletes (or even active individuals, for that matter).  Everyone can benefit from a well-designed strength training program.  Strength training can benefit your heart, improve your balance, strengthen your bones, help you lose weight, and make you look and feel better.

Benefits of strength training include:

  • Protects bone and muscle mass.  After puberty, you begin to lose about 1% of your bone and muscle strength every year.  One of the best ways to stop, prevent, and even reverse bone and muscle loss is to add strength training to your exercise regimen.
  • Increases strength, improves fitness.  Not just for sports.  Strength training can enhance performance of everyday tasks like lifting, carrying, and walking up stairs.
  • Better body mechanics and posture.  Improved coordination and balance.
  • Improves flexibility.  Exercise muscles through a full range of motion and improve overall body flexibility.  Increased flexibility reduces the risk of muscle pulls and back pain.
  • Decreases likelihood of injury.  Strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments are less likely to give way under stress and are less likely to be injured.  Increased bone density and strength reduces back and knee pain by building muscle around these areas.
  • Aids in disease prevention.  Risk reduction and prevention of arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stress and anxiety, cold and flu… and the list goes on and on.
  • Boosts energy levels, improves mood.  Strength training will elevate your level of endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain), which will make you feel great.  It has also been shown to be a great antidepressant, improve sleep quality, and improve overall quality of life.
  • Helps burn more calories.  You burn calories during and after strength training.  Strength training can boost your metabolism by 15% — that can really jumpstart a weight loss plan.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Make a Difference

18 Sep

Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What can you do today to make a difference — a positive impact — in someone else’s life?  Perhaps it’s as simple as a kind word or a thoughtful gesture.  Maybe it’s as easy as saying, “thank you,” or just being kind in the face of adversity.  What can you do to lift someone else’s spirits and improve their day?

What can you do today to make a difference — an improvement — in your own life?  I’m not talking about quantum change.  I am encouraging you to take one step toward a dream or goal.  What can you do to improve your physical, psychological, or emotional well-being?  What can you do to better yourself academically, athletically, or professionally?

So, I guess the question is, what will you do today to lift someone else and become a better you?  It all starts with that first step.

Make a difference.  Carpe Diem.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Build a Healthier Sandwich at Subway

15 Sep

Subway restaurants have become enormously popular.  And, why not?  Compared to other fast-food alternatives, their food is tasty, convenient, and (for the most part) they use fresh, healthy ingredients.  But there’s also a potential downside.  The average foot-long Subway sandwich can be a calorie bomb!  Most of us, including athletes, don’t need that many calories at one sitting.  There’s a smarter, healthier way to eat at Subway.

Tips for Building a Healthier Subway Sandwich:

  • Use lean meats.  Go with turkey or chicken breast, or even ham or roast beef.  Avoid bologna, salami, and pepperoni.
  • Double the meat.  Boost protein and cut carbs.  Instead of a foot-long, opt for a 6-inch with double meat.
  • Load up on the veggies.  An easy way to add lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Avoid the fat-laden dressings.  Try mustard, a little salt and pepper, or oil and vinegar.
  • Be smart with your carbs.  Choose a whole grain roll, or a wrap.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The “Get Back in Shape Fast” Workout

13 Sep

When it comes to exercise, there aren’t a whole lot of shortcuts — you have to put in the time and do the work.  But there are some strategies that can accelerate the process, and interval training — short bursts of high-intensity activity that build strength and endurance more effectively than moderate activity — is the way to go.

Don’t have time to go for a long run?  Can’t get to the weight room?  No problem.  There are plenty of “no-equipment required” exercises that can be performed anywhere.

Here’s the simple but effective strategy (adapted from Johnson and Johnson’s 7-Minute Workout): Alternate among exercises that work your total bodyupper bodylower body, and core.  Perform each exercise, working as hard as you can, for 30 seconds.  Allow a 15-second rest interval between exercises.

To start, try these four exercises:

  • Pushup
  • Plank
  • Jumping Jack
  • Squat

Perform each exercise, as described above (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off), as a circuit.  Do as many circuits as you are able.  As you progress, add more circuits or more exercises (in groups of four).

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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