Abs Are Built in the Kitchen, Too

6 Jul

VMO[1]Well (regarding the title), I’m not sure that’s 100% true — at least some of the work has to be done in the weight room — but I do believe You Can’t “Out-Train” a Bad Diet.

Here’s an article, titled, 7 Eating Habits That Will Uncover Your Abs, that provides some helpful advice and insight about the relationship between diet and the quest for abs.

The article focuses on 7 areas:

  • Smart snacking
  • Avoiding hunger
  • Eating for your ideal weight
  • Eating a variety of carbs
  • Eating more veggies (and fish)
  • Post-workout protein and carbs
  • Drinking more water

Remember, balance and moderation is the key.  An extreme, fanatical approach to diet and nutrition (or anything else) rarely has “staying power;” slow and steady — consistency — is the way to go.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Getting Athletes to Perform at Their Best

29 Jun

-678325aa59aad8ba[1]Twelve years ago — after a 20-year career in the pharmaceutical industry — I began pursuit of a dream.  My dream was fueled by my four children, all capable student-athletes.  I wanted to help them train for their sports, improve their performance, and reduce their risk of injury; teach them the value of working toward a goal; and help them develop a competitive edge.  I expanded my reach to their friends and teammates; interacted and learned from other trainers, coaches, and administrators; and got to work providing evidence-based Strength and Conditioning for anyone interested, willing, and committed to improving their athletic performance.  That was the beginning of what has now become my passion; working with athletes in pursuit of stronger, faster, and better.  That was the birth of Athletic Performance Training Center (APTC).

As we expand and grow, the APTC dream continues to grow.  We work (and have worked) with thousands of athletes – scholastic athletes (as young as age 5), collegiate athletes, and professional athletes.  We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many dedicated clients.

Over the past 12+ years, APTC has helped prepare athletes for the “next level” whether that is high school, college, or the pros.  We have been called upon to prepare athletes for college and professional pro days and combines.  If you are an aspiring athlete, and looking to go to the next level, here is some advice  — stuff that I’ve learned over the past dozen years in the industry.  There’s more to athletic performance than you think.

It’s More Than Just Hard Work

It’s important to work hard, but you’ve also got to work smart.  Most athletes believe if they work hard — in the weight room and on the court or field — they can be successful.  Unfortunately, this antiquated way of thinking is probably not going to get athletes to the top of their game.  Working hard in the weight room won’t get you far if your plan — including exercise selection, intensity, sets, reps, rest intervals, etc. — is not aligned with your goal.  Likewise, you can practice your ball-handling and shooting in the gym all day; but if you’re practicing with flawed form, mechanics, and technique, your improvement will be limited, at best.  And, of course, in addition to physical training, factors like nutrition, rest, and mental preparation will have a considerable effect on your performance.  This is where a knowledgeable strength and/or skills coach can be an asset by providing quality guidance and direction.

It’s More Than Just Off-Season Training

Training is not a “sometime” thing; it is an “all the time” thing — it’s year-round.  You need to train during the off-season, pre-season, and in-season (with appropriate intensity, frequency, volume, and rest along the way); and it’s important to have a periodized, progressive plan to address each stage of training.  This can become somewhat complicated when athletes play multiple sports throughout the year (and claim not to have the time), but a knowledgeable trainer can develop an effective plan to address each cycle to ensure optimal performance.  If athletes are not training, they are not improving.  And if they are not improving, they are compromising their potential.  During the season, it’s important to incorporate one or two lifting sessions per week to maintain the gains they made in the off-season.  In-season training helps athletes enhance recovery from their sport practices and games; protects against getting “worn down” over the course of the season; and helps keep muscles and joints strong to reduce the risk of injury.

It’s More Than Just the Bench Press and Biceps Curl

Don’t get me wrong, the bench press is a great upper body exercise, but your training shouldn’t revolve around your chest and arms.  Strength and power — for any sport — emanate from the core, specifically the lower core.  The hips, quadriceps, and posterior chain — lower-back, glutes, and hamstrings —  are crucial to your performance.  If you are strong throughout your core, you have the potential to be a strong, fast, and powerful athlete.  If you are not strong throughout this area, there’s nothing you can do to compensate for it.  Weakness in the muscles of your core and posterior chain also puts you at a greater risk for injury.  Squats, deadlifts, glute-ham raises, and Romanian deadlifts are excellent exercises for the core and posterior chain musculature.

Warmup is More Than Just Stretching

Prior to every strength and/or speed training session, make sure you warmup properly.  That means more than just a quick lap around the track or a few quick stretches.  The best, knowledgeable athletes, trainers, and coaches know that performing a dynamic (movement-based) warmup — before training, practices, or games — is the way to go.  Dynamic warmup involves movements that reflect and support the demands and movement patterns of your workout or sport-specific activity.  It increases temperature of and blood flow to working muscles; improves mobility and range-of-motion; and decreases the chance of injury.  Static stretching is an outdated mode of warmup that has been found to reduce strength and power production in the short-term; relax and elongate working muscles (thus not preparing them for force production); and it does not reduce the incidence of injury, nor does it help minimize post-workout soreness.  If you absolutely insist on static stretching, do it after practice and training.

Speed is More Than Just Running

Speed is a skill, and speed development starts in the weight room.  Speed requires strength and power training.  The stronger and more powerful you are throughout your core and lower extremities, the more force you can generate against the ground, which translates to speed, agility, and vertical jump ability.  Additionally, technique is a vital component of speed.  When speed training, athletes need to perform exercises and drills with perfect form and mechanics.  Head position, arm action, leg drive, stride frequency, and stride length are all factors that influence running speed.  Without an understanding of the right way to approach speed and agility training, it will be difficult to achieve your potential as an athlete.

It’s More Than Just You

Finally, if you are committed to being the best you can be, you won’t be able to do it without some help.  In addition to the support of your family and friends, you should look to find competent, qualified individuals with experience and expertise in the areas of strength and conditioning, and sport-specific skill development.  It’s important to have a plan, and equally important for your plan to be aligned with your goals.  There’s a big difference between activity and productivity; all movement is not progress.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

The Power of Positive and Possible

22 Jun

does-positive-thinking-help-you--20120811102240[1]A few months ago, I shared an article about “possibility thinking.”

I’ve also blogged about The Power of Positive Attitude and The Power of Positive Self-Talk.

There is a strong and undeniable link between POSITIVE and POSSIBLE.

Needless to say, I really believe in the power of positive thinking and a “can-do” approach to anything and everything — school, sports, work, and life.  In my business, I witness it every day.  Athletes with a strong belief in themselves have an uncanny knack for success.  They expect success.

These individuals demonstrate a willingness to work through adversity, “stay the course,” and follow their dreams.  It’s not that they don’t encounter obstacles along the way, they are simply too focused on and passionate about their goals to be sidetracked.  They believe in themselves and what they are doing.  They refuse to quit.

Positive people are much more likely to look for – and see – the success potential, in every situation.  They realize that there is good in every day, even if every day is not perfect.

Positive thinkers see the opportunity in every difficulty, and not the difficulty in every opportunity (to paraphrase Winston Churchill).

Positive thinking is a possibility creator and a door opener. It enables you to do virtually everything better than negative thinking will.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Is AM Fasted Cardio for You?

19 Jun

early-morning-workout-tips-300x200[1]I’m a fan of morning workouts.  I think they’re the best, and there’s a lot of scientific research to support the benefits of morning exercise.  AM training sets the tone for your entire day — physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Exercising in the morning just feels good.

And, for our athletes whose goals include strength, speed, and power development, I recommend never training on an empty stomach (as is supported by the scientific literature).

But what if your exercise goals involve weight/fat loss?

There is a debate among exercise science cognoscenti as to whether or not to consume carbohydrates prior to fat-burning exercise.  In other words, should you do morning training on a fasted (empty) stomach or after breakfast?

During cardiovascular exercise, a significant portion of your energy production comes from burning fat. When your diet is higher in protein and fat, your muscle adapts by more effectively utilizing fat and sparing muscle glycogen (the stored form of glucose). Additionally, cardiovascular exercise improves your muscle’s ability to use fat for energy while sparing breakdown of muscle protein. The percentage of carbs used during cardiovascular exercise increases when your diet is high in carbs.

After a night of sleep, fat is available for energy because liver glycogen stores are somewhat depleted by the overnight fast. This means there is less available glucose to burn as fuel and your muscle goes to other sources of fuel — fat or muscle. During cardiovascular exercise, fat is released from stores, resulting in more fat to be available for working muscles. If a carb-rich meal is consumed prior to the workout, glucose becomes the preferred energy source and fat-moving enzymes are shut down by the rise in the hormone insulin, which facilitates conversion of absorbed glucose into stored fat and glycogen.

It is reasonable to infer that eating glucose (carbohydrates) prior to exercise intended to burn fat (i.e., cardiovascular exercise) is counterproductive. Research supports that fat burning is greater in a fasted state vs. a fed state and that fasted cardio improves the contribution of intramuscular fats used in energy production during cardiovascular training.

In other words, research supports that fat burning is greater in the fasted state than in the fed state.

Fasted training improves the muscle’s ability to burn fat more than similar exercise done with prior carb intake. Perhaps more crucial for the low-carb dieter, fasted-state cardio prevents the drop in blood glucose seen in exercise after a carb meal. This avoids the crash that can occur when training after eating sugars or carbs.

Please keep in mind that fasted cardio is just that: It only applies to cardiovascular exercise and not to high-intensity strength and power training.  Athletes who are training to improve performance should always eat prior to a workout, and never train on an empty stomach.

If you’re an athlete who wants to get stronger, faster, and more powerful, make sure you eat appropriately prior to training.

However, if your goal is to burn fat, give fasted morning cardio a try.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Eat These Carbohydrates Before and After Your Workout

8 Jun

high-carbohydrate-foods[1]Carbohydrates are important before your workout, to provide fuel for your exercise session; and after your workout, to replenish glycogen (the stored form of glucose) stores in your working muscles.

But, what are the best types of carbohydrates to consume before and after your workout?

The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring the body’s response to food.  A high GI food will cause a rapid and high elevation in blood glucose and a commensurate rise in blood levels of insulin.  Conversely, low GI foods will lead to a slower, more sustained blood glucose concentration.

Processed foods and foods with added sugar tend to have higher GIs; while less processed foods — including whole grain, high-fiber carbohydrates — usually have lower GIs.  Foods with carbohydrates that also have protein and/or fat also tend to have lower GIs, such as milk and dark chocolate.

Although the quality of your pre-workout meal or snack may not always significantly impact performance, studies lean toward a rationale for low GI carbohydrates before a workout, especially if the workout is longer in duration.

To accelerate restoration of glycogen stores following a workout, high GI carbohydrates may be a better choice.  High GI carbs are also appropriate between games of a double-header, or at half-time of a sporting event.

Here’s an informational article about the glycemic index that describes the differences and effects of high and low GI carbohydrates.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Tips for Post-Workout Recovery

1 Jun

How%20to%20prevent%20this%20post-workout%20pain[1]Post-workout muscle soreness (pain and stiffness that peaks 24–72 hours post-workout), also known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is a mostly normal after-effect of exercise or exertion.  DOMS is less related to the intensity of a workout, and more attributable to the “newness” or variety of movement.  New and different exercises, drills, and movement patterns seem to have greater potential to induce post-exercise soreness than familiar exercises, even at higher intensity levels.

And, while experts agree that there’s nothing you can do to completely alleviate post-workout soreness, there are some strategies that may improve treatment and recovery of sore muscles — before, during, and after your workout.

Here’s a resource titled, Fuel Your Sore Muscles, that provides some insight and tips for managing post-exercise soreness.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that rest is a vital component of the muscle- and strength-building process.  Sore muscles need time to heal and recover.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

5 Ways to be More Confident

25 May

confidence[1]I saw this recently on social media, and thought it was worth sharing.

Believe in you.

Be your best.

Do your best.

Give your best.

Work hard, stay positive, and good things will happen.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

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Your Goals Won’t Achieve Themselves

20 May

Man on top of mountain.Question 1:

What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go?

Question 2:

What are you doing to make that happen?

You can’t wait and wish for something to happen.  If it’s important to you — something you really want — you’ve got to make it happen.

Don’t wait for inspiration or motivation, just get moving and take a step in the direction of your desired goal.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but action precedes motivation.

Sometimes, getting started (and staying on course) may seem a little scary, but you’ll be surprised by how much the fear and apprehension subside once you get going.  Once you take action — even the smallest step — toward your goal, you will feel empowered, energized, and motivated.

  • Focus on your dreams and goals, and don’t allow yourself to be discouraged or distracted by short-term adversity and obstacles.
  • Stay determined, even when things aren’t going as planned.
  • Take calculated risks; understand that goal achievement will require change, in some way.
  • Engage in positive self-talk, and surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.
  • Be accountable for your daily actions.

Perhaps your goal requires some assistance along the way.  There are lots of willing and qualified people who can get you started and provide guidance on your journey.  No matter what your goal, identify and acquire the resources you need — equipment, education, assistance, or apparel — to achieve it.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Here’s How Strength Training Reduces Injury Risk in Young Athletes

13 May

youth_big[1]Participation in sports can induce several beneficial effects in youth athletes, including improvements in cardiovascular risk profiles and bone health.

In contrast to the beneficial effects, participation in sports may also induce an inherent risk of injuries, especially in high-intensity sports with frequent changes in movement, velocity, and direction with high impacts and contacts between players.

Obviously, injury prevention is important, and it’s necessary to implement preventative measures to reduce the risk of injury and support the health benefits associated with playing sports.

“Strengthening muscles through resistance training will increase the forces they are capable of sustaining, making them more resistant to injury,” according to a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (Zouita, S., et.al.)

“These effects include strength enhancement of supporting connective tissues and passive joint stability, and also increased bone density and tensile strength.”

“… regular participation in an appropriately designed (and supervised) exercise program inclusive of resistance training can (strengthen muscles and connective tissues, and) enhance bone mineral density and improve skeletal health and likely reduce injury risk in young athletes.”

When incorporated with sport-specific skill training, strength training can improve physical performance and reduce injuries.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

How to Become a Mentally Tough Athlete

12 May

kevin-love[1]There are lots of different ways to describe and define mental toughness.  It can be described as the ability, willingness, and discipline to perform effectively and productively, regardless of the situation or circumstances.

Mental toughness involves positive thinking, focus, concentration, persistence, perseverance, and a strong belief in self.  It is the ability to ignore distractions, focus on what is important, and block out what is not.

Mental toughness is working through adversity, overcoming obstacles, and refusing to give up or give in.

And, although the focus of this blog post primarily relates to athletes, mental toughness does not apply only to athletes.  Since we all face obstacles and adversity, mental toughness can be an asset to students, business professionals, teachers, coaches, parents, and any other situation or life experience.

Here’s a list of 10 Characteristics of a Mentally Tough Player, excerpted from the article, Developing Mental Toughness:

  1. Doesn’t let one bad play lead into another. Short memory.
  2. Is able to take constructive criticism from a coach or teammate with the right attitude.
  3. Is still able to be a good leader even when they aren’t personally playing well.
  4. Is able to run offense and execute the correct play even when they are physically tired.
  5. Still shoots the basketball with great form and technique when they are physically fatigued.
  6. Doesn’t check out of a game that they are losing, and looks like there is no chance to win.
  7. Doesn’t complain about something being too difficult, but finds a way to get through it.
  8. Stays patient and is able to run offense even when being pressured by the defense.
  9. Stays in control of emotions and doesn’t let the size of the stage negatively effect them.
  10. Doesn’t put in the bare minimum during conditioning, but looks to try and win every sprint.

Thanks to my friend, Laurel Heilman of STUDENTathleteWorld, for sharing this information.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

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