Challenge Yourself

19 Mar

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” – Unknown

What will you do differently today?  What’s your plan of action?  Will you purposefully try to improve upon yesterday, or just go through the motions?  What will you do to make you better?

Do something differently today or, chances are, it will be the same as yesterday.

Wake up 5 minutes earlier than usual.  Extend your day.

Add a few pounds to your usual weight, for each exercise you perform.

Do an additional repetition, for each set.

Reduce your rest interval, between sets, by a few seconds.

Try a new exercise or drill.

Run one more sprint at the end of your workout.

Do one more repetition of your agility drill.

Do another minute on the treadmill or elliptical.

Shoot one more layup. Or free-throw. Or jump shot.

Do one more set of ball-handling drills with your “off” hand.

Read something that will help you take a step toward your goal(s).

Consult with someone who has experience and expertise in an area in which you want to improve.

Go online and find an informational article, blog, or webinar.

Learn something new today.

And, when you wake up tomorrow, do it all again.

Carpe Diem!


Your thoughts?


Boost Your Results With Rest-Pause Training

12 Mar

Rest-pause training is a relatively new approach that can yield better strength-training results, and significantly impact muscle size, strength, and post-workout metabolism.  Basically, you’re taking a weight you could normally lift six times and lifting it 10 to 12 times instead.

Here’s how to do it: After an appropriate warmup, choose a weight that’s about 80% of your 1-rep max, for any given exercise.  Perform as many reps as you can — probably 6 or 7.  Rest 20 seconds.  Pick up the weight and do as many reps as you can — maybe 3 or 4.  Rest another 20 seconds.  Now pick it up and do a couple more.

According to a recent Journal of Translational Medicine study, experienced lifters were burning 18% more calories the day after the rest-pause workout — including a higher percentage of fat — than they were after doing a traditional workout.

Upper-body exercises — such as bench presses, rows, and chinups or lat pulldowns — work well with the rest-pause approach.  Lower-body exercises, like squats and deadlifts, require strict attention to technique, since form tends to deteriorate as fatigue increases.

The benefit of rest-pause training is more muscle activation, more fat burned, and a more time-efficient workout.


Your thoughts?

Add Variety to Your Workout With Kettlebells

5 Mar

Kettlebells have been part of Eastern European training programs for decades.  Today, it would probably be difficult to find a gym in America without them.

And, while we haven’t gone “kettlebell crazy” at our facility, they are a user-friendly strength-training tool that provides a nice complement to traditional equipment like barbells and dumbbells.

Kettlebell training can help you build muscleget leaner, and burn fat while improving mobility and total-body strength.

Kettlebells place greater demand on your stabilizing musclescore, and coordination.  They are also a great tool for developing better grip strength.

We like kettlebells for explosive, total-body exercises like swings, and more traditional exercises like goblet squats.  The kettlebell swing is a great exercise as part of a dynamic warm-up, or as part of your workout.  It’s also useful for triple extension training.

The most common place to hold a kettlebell is its handle, especially for exercises like swings and snatches.  For exercises like goblet squats, hold the horns (the sides of the handle).

When using kettlebells, good technique is important.  Keep your wrists straight (don’t bend), weight on your heels, and shoulders pulled down and back (chin up, chest up).  Proper form increases your stability and allows you to generate more power, which improves performance.


Your thoughts?

Why Extreme Conditioning Programs Are Wrong for Athletes

26 Feb

Extreme Conditioning Programs (ECPs) like P90X, Insanity, and CrossFit have become very popular with fitness enthusiasts.  And while these programs may be appropriate for some — within reason, just about any exercise is better than none — they are clearly not the right choice for everyone.

Athletic performance training should not necessarily be a time-constrained, physical challenge.  There is no scientific rationale for the “as many as you can, as fast as you can” approach.  And since injury prevention should be an important consideration in the development of any performance training plan, programs that encourage quantity over quality should be carefully scrutinized.

Research shows that full muscular activation can be achieved well before the point of total exhaustion or fatigue.  Simply stated, when an athlete’s form begins to “break down,” during the course of any given exercise, it’s time to put the weight down.  When athletes become fatigued and technique gets sloppy, exercise range-of-motion becomes compromised and the chance of injury increases.

Scientifically speaking, the development of sport-specific strength and power — and the activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers — involves performing exercises using heavy loads, through a narrow range of repetitions, with technical correctness (full range-of-motion), and adequate time for recovery between sets.

Here’s an article from Tony Duckwall, athletic performance director for KIVA volleyball and IFHCK field hockey and co-owner and sports performance director for Louisville-based EDGE Sports Performance.  Tony discusses 5 Reasons Young Athletes Shouldn’t Use Standardized Programs Like P90X, Insanity and CrossFit.

Another article, this one from STACK Media Associate Editor, Sam DeHority, provides insight into Why Athletes Shouldn’t Just Jump into CrossFit.

Here’s the deal: If you want to try CrossFit, or some other ECP, give it a try.  But first do a little research, understand what you’re getting yourself into, and make sure that whatever you do is aligned with your strength and/or fitness goals.


Your thoughts?

Upgrade Your Workout With Drop Sets

19 Feb

Drop sets are a great way to make your time in the gym more effective and efficient.  Regardless of whether your goals include getting strongerbiggerfitter, or leaner, drop sets will provide the challenge you’re looking for and really rev your metabolism in the process.

Typically, drop sets involve performing an exercise to failure, quickly reducing the weight, doing another set of the same exercise to failure, and repeating this process.

Here’s a way to incorporate drop sets into your current workout plan:

  • On the final set of each exercise, go to failure — do as many repetitions as you can safely manage.
  • Rest a few seconds (just enough time to decrease the weight).
  • Reduce the weight by about 25% and perform as many reps as you can.

Add drop sets to your training plan by making one day a week a “drop sets” day (or, perhaps, one week per cycle).


Your thoughts?

Choosing a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer

12 Feb

Would you send your child to a physician who had never been to medical school?  How about a doctor who was never certified in his or her field?

When choosing a strength coach or personal trainer, I would encourage you to apply the same selection criteria.

Since the industry is not regulated, anyone can self-proclaim the title, personal trainer or strength coach.  Much like professionals in other industries, strength and conditioning professionals should have a working knowledge of foundational exercise science and its practical application.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a strength coach or personal trainer:

  • Educational background that includes Exercise Science or Human Performance
  • Accredited Certification (through an organization like the NSCA)
  • Personal Liability Insurance (it’s expensive, but protects both trainer and client)
  • Experience, Expertise (knowledgeable, reputable, credible — ask for references)
  • Training Philosophy

Do your homework, choose appropriately — based on your needs and goals, and inspect what you expect.


Your thoughts?

Developing Athleticism in Youth Athletes

5 Feb

Athleticism is much more than just being an athlete.  According to Rick Howard, CSCS,*D, “Athleticism refers more to the ability to execute fundamental movements, in either a specific or unpredictable movement pattern at optimum speed with precision, with applicability across sports and physical activities.”

So, how can the development of athleticism be incorporated into youth development?  Howard offers the following suggestions:

Focus on Movement Patterns

The development of movement patterns in youth athletes should be fundamental in nature, and not necessarily sport-specific.  Additionally, the development of physical capacities — balance, coordination, flexibility, agility, control, precision, strength, power, and endurance — should be incorporated into activities from a young age until the athlete reaches physical maturity, at which time the context can shift toward sport-specific physical attributes and long-term athletic development.

Provide Opportunities

All youth should be encouraged to reach the recommended daily amount of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.  Therefore, it is necessary to introduce them to a wide variety of movements in multiple settings, in a combination of structured and unstructured settings.  Encourage participation.

Recognize Achievement

Recognition is encouraging.  Explain and demonstrate appropriately, correct when necessary, and praise generously.

Coaching is the Key

Coaching awareness and education is a critical component of the process.  Coaches need to understand how specific training methodologies fit into the development of physical attributes and fundamental skills.

Create the Proper Environment

It is important to create the proper environment for youth to develop athleticism while continuing to have fun, for both physical and psychosocial well-being.  Positive youth development has been shown to lead to positive adult development.


Your thoughts?

Add Suspension Training to Your Workout

29 Jan

TRX Training

Suspension training, also known as suspended bodyweight training, has been around for many years, and continues to gain in popularity.  Products such as the TRX, which we use at our facility, have helped bring suspension training to the forefront of the sports performance and fitness industries.

Suspension training differs from traditional training techniques in that it exploits body angleslever systemsgravity (weight of the athlete), and foot or hand positioning.  With its unique design, the TRX supports neuromuscular groups working synergistically by challenging balance, stability, and proprioception.

Suspension training is a functional training tool that can help athletes improve balance, muscle size, strength, power, mobility, and flexibility.  This type of training allows for a wide variety of different exercises, including versions of well-known exercises like the chest press, inverted row, squat, and hamstring curl (the TRX video library has 194 moves from which to choose).

We especially like suspension training because of its ability to increase core muscle activation and engagement, and — depending on the exercise — “teaches” the athlete to transition effectively and efficiently from one plane to another.


Your thoughts?

Increase Protein Consumption With This Simple Strategy

22 Jan

Most of us are “under-proteined” and “over-carbohydrated” (okay… I know those aren’t real words, I made them up; stay with me).

Protein Consumption Guidelines

An active individual should aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, daily.  For example, an active, athletic 150 pound person should consume between 90-120 grams of protein per day.  Elite athletes may need as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, daily, to rebuild muscle given the physical demands of training, practices, and games.  Sounds like a lot, huh?

For most of our clients, we recommend ditching the antiquated “3 square meals per day” strategy in favor of 5-6 meals or snacks.  Ideally, each of these meals or snacks should be balanced, including lean protein — about 20 grams, healthy fats, and clean carbs.

Additionally, active individuals and athletes should always consume 20-30 grams of protein following a workout, practice, or game.

Here’s a strategy I suggested to my kids — all very physical active — to help them supplement their daily protein intake:

The first step is to get an accurate idea of your current daily protein intake (from all sources).  Next, calculate the difference between the amount of protein you should be getting and the amount you’re actually getting (my youngest daughter’s additional daily protein requirement, based on this equation, is about 35 grams).

The rest sounds simple — make yourself a protein shake.  In my daughter’s case, we mix 11 ounces of milk (11 grams protein) with one scoop chocolate whey protein powder (24 grams protein) in a blender/shaker container, the night before the day she will drink it.  The simplicity of the strategy is the method in which the protein shake is consumed.  Instead of guzzling it all at one time (which may be somewhat overwhelming and/or prohibitive for some folks, especially for larger quantity protein shakes), she takes a few sips, throughout the day.

First thing in the morning or with breakfast, have a few sips of your protein shake.  Mid-morning snack… a few more sips.  Same goes for lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack.  The goal is to finish your protein shake before you go to bed —  a few sips at a time, then make another one for the following day.


Your thoughts?

Chase Your Dream

15 Jan

What’s your dream?

Dream BIG.

Aim high.

Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.


Push yourself.

Make it happen.

Improve you.

Strive to be the best version of you.

Believe in you.

Carpe Diem.


Your thoughts?

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