Vegetarian Diets and Athletic Performance

1 Jul

Vegetarian-Diet[1]There is certainly some discussion and controversy as it relates to vegetarian and vegan athletes, and whether their diets are appropriate to support their activity and benefit their performance.

Here’s an informative resource from Thomas M. Best, MD, PhD, FACSM of The Ohio State University — Vegetarian Diets For The Physically Active Individual.

Dr. Best does a nice job of describing the differences among and between (the different types of) vegetarian and vegan diets.

When discussing vegetarians, exercise, and performance, he states that “The currently available evidence supports neither a beneficial nor a detrimental effect of a vegetarian diet on physical performance capacity.”  There is simply not enough evidence to determine whether a vegetarian or vegan diet is beneficial for athletic performance.

One of the most common dietary considerations for vegetarian athletes is the adequate consumption of several key nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B12.  Since these nutrients are more commonly found in foods of animal origin, vegetarian athletes must find suitable plant-based alternatives.


Your thoughts?

Take the (Stadium) Stairs

29 Jun

running_stairs[1]Get to your local high school stadium and hit the bleachers to build a stronger, more powerful lower half.

The “stadium stairs” workout is a great way to strengthen glutes, quads, and hamstrings, and can lead to performance improvements on even ground.

When you run the stadium stairs, you have to assume a forward-leaning position and drive your feet down and back.  That’s the same technique you need to run fast on flat land, so it’s an ideal way to improve your speed and acceleration.

Sprinting stairs is also a fun and challenging way to burn calories and fat.

You can increase the challenge and intensity of your workout by adding the following variations:

  • Sprint up every other step
  • Skip
  • Hop (both feet)
  • Hop (one foot)
  • High Knees
  • Lateral shuffle
  • Lunge

Walk or jog down the stairs for a little rest and recovery between sets.


Your thoughts?

Get Started, Get Moving

26 Jun

3a058ad359aa0ac975dab8cf633c0dad[1]The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Do you have an idea?  A dream?  A goal?

Are you willing to accept the risks and sacrifices involved?

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

If so, then take the first step.  Whatever it is you want to do — get started.

Take your thoughts, and convert them to actions, one step at a time.

Once you’ve begun, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the momentum you’ve created, just by getting started.

Well begun is half done.” – Aristotle

You can’t accomplish/achieve your dreams and goals until you’re able, ready, and willing to take the all-important first step.

The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the time is “right” or circumstances are “perfect.”  Those are just excuses and stall tactics.

Stop wanting, wishing and waiting, and start doing.


Your thoughts?

Beef Up Your Diet

24 Jun

main_lean-beef[1]Lean beef can be part of a heart-healthy diet, according to a study from Penn State University.

Not only is it full of nutrients like iron and B vitamins, but when the researchers put people on four different diets aimed at lowering blood pressure, the plan that included the most lean beef (5.4 ounces a day) was the most effective.

Though the study authors aren’t sure why a beefy diet is good for your pressure readings, previous studies show that protein helps keep blood vessels €flexible. “The great news is that you can „find a place in your diet for the foods that you love,” says study author Mike Roussell, Ph.D. “Just remember to control your portion sizes.”

Beef has a low calorie-to-nutrient ratio (it’s a relatively low-calorie food when compared to the number of nutrients it contains).  A 3-ounce serving of beef makes up less than 10% of your daily calories (based on a 2,000-calorie diet), but supplies more than 10% of nine essential nutrients.

Compared with other foods, beef has a particularly high concentration of protein, which can help build strong muscles and bones while helping supply energy and oxygen to cells.


Your thoughts?

Don’t Let Lack of Effort Be the Reason You Don’t Succeed

22 Jun
Make It Happen

Make It Happen

What’s your dream?  What to you want to do?  Where do you want to go?  Who do you want to be?

Now the really important question:  What are you willing to do to accomplish/achieve your goal?

First of all, in order to be successful, you’ve got to expect success.

You’ve got to work hard, work smart, and believe in yourself.

Try and succeed.  Try and fail.  Try again.  Just don’t let lack of effort be the reason you don’t succeed.

NO regrets — NO “could’ve,” NO “should’ve,” NO “would’ve.”

Most people fail not because they lack ability, intelligence, or opportunity, but they fail because they don’t give it all they’ve got.” – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Invest your time, effort, and energy — chase your dream.  Extreme dedication almost always leads to success.

Don’t let worry, wonder, or doubt cloud your vision of success.

Don’t hold anything back.  Give it your best effort.  Whatever that looks like — on any given day — give it.

You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.


Your thoughts?

Improve Your Basketball Game, One Move at a Time

19 Jun

960x540[1]Are you a basketball player who wants to improve his or her game this summer?  If you do, focus and specificity (along with a healthy dose of work ethic) are the keys.

Here’s my point: Rather than practicing 100 things, once or twice, you’ll get a much better return on your practice “investment” if you work on one or two things, 100 times each.

I remember reading an article, several years ago, about Dirk Nowitzki and his basketball trainer, and their approach toward improvement, every off-season.  They chose one move (for example, his famous, fall-away jump shot) to work on, for the entire off-season, until Nowitzki perfected it.  That’s it… one move!  They’re goal was to add one new move to his arsenal, each year, improve his efficacy, and create a competitive advantage.

It’s also important to continue practicing the moves and shots you’ve already mastered in order to keep them sharp.

This off-season, think about the strengths and areas of opportunity in your game.  What one move would upgrade your game and give you more of a competitive advantage?

Depending on your position, developing a “go-to” move like a step-back jump shot or spin move would probably make you much more versatile and tougher to defend.

If you’re a perimeter player, an effective, well-executed cross-over dribble drive or hesitation move could make a big difference in your game.

And, no matter what position you play, EVERYONE can benefit from improving their ball-handling skills!


Your thoughts?

Here’s Why You Should Train With Supersets

17 Jun
Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bench Press

Seated Cable Row

Seated Cable Row

Supersets are a workout strategy in which you perform sets of two different exercises back-to-back with little or no rest.  They are a great time-saver, and can make your workout more efficient and effective.

Generally, supersets are used for opposing muscle groups, such as chest (e.g., bench press) and back (e.g., row), so that one muscle group can recover while you train the other one, thereby reducing the time needed to rest. These types of supersets are referred to as agonist-antagonist paired sets (or, push-pull sets), since they work opposing muscle groups.  This is an approach we favor at our facility.

Recently the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that subjects who performed leg extension and leg curl supersets also performed better.  In fact, they completed more reps on the leg extension when the leg curl was done immediately beforehand than when done alone, despite getting no rest in between lifts.  Furthermore, when the subjects did rest, even up to 30 seconds, they completed significantly fewer reps and were shown to be activating less muscle in their quads.

Here’s the rationale behind the effectiveness of supersets: Working an antagonistic muscle group increases the nervous system’s activation of the agonist.  In this case, training the hamstrings enabled the quads to work better.  Straight sets (doing a set of one exercise, resting, and repeating) probably have their place when you’re going heavy (although at our facility, we also superset heavy sets), but supersets can boost your workout effectiveness and efficiency.

This is an example of a few of our paired exercise supersets we use at Athletic Performance Training Center:

  • Squat + Glute-Ham Raise
  • Bench Press + Row
  • Shoulder Press + Lat Pulldown

If you need extra time to recover from high-intensity sets of exercises such as the squat or bench press, by all means perform those exercises by themselves.  Then perform your assistance exercises as supersets.


Your thoughts?

Core Strength and Stability is the Key

15 Jun

bosu-ball-exercise-ball-elevated-push-up_-_step_2.max.v1[1]If you’re an athlete training to improve your performance, developing a strong, stable core — shoulders through hips, and not just abs — should be a priority.

Since every athlete’s strength and power are generated from the core musculature, movement-based, multi-joint exercises — including rotational and anti-rotational exercises — are important components of a well-designed strength and conditioning plan.

Here’s an article from EXOS titled, Why a Strong Pillar is Critical for Soccer, that discussed and simplifies the benefits of a strong, stable core, including:

  • Balance and stability
  • More effective and efficient movement
  • More muscular endurance/less muscular fatigue
  • Injury risk reduction

Although the article addresses soccer, the principles apply to all athletes and sports.


Your thoughts?

Should You Do Plyometric Training on Consecutive Days?

12 Jun

plyometric_boxes[1]In most sports, the ability to produce explosive effort is an important component of performance.  Plyometric training (PT) is commonly used to increase/improve an athlete’s ability to sprint, jump, and change direction.  Additionally, PT may increase endurance performance in sports like basketball and soccer.

Given the high-intensity nature of plyometric training, most research recommends 24-48 hours of rest between PT training sessions.  At our facility, we favor twice-weekly PT training sessions, regardless of the number of weekly training days (e.g., if an athlete trains 3-4 days per week, two of those days include PT).

Occasionally, due to conflicts and other obligations and responsibilities, some of our athletes can only train twice per week and on consecutive days.

A recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study compared twice-weekly plyometric training — 140-260 jumps per session — with groups of athletes given 24-48 hours (1-2 days) of rest between sessions, and those training on consecutive days.

“Although it has been recommended that plyometric drills should not be conducted on consecutive days, the study shows that plyometric training applied twice weekly on consecutive or nonconsecutive days results in similar explosive and endurance adaptations…” (Ramirez-Campillo, et. al.)

If necessary, it appears that consecutive plyometric training days are safe and effective.


Your thoughts?

Don’t Be “A” Anything; Be “THE” Something

10 Jun

jordan-shot-ehlo[1]My Mom used to tell us, “If you’re going to do it, do it well and do it right; do it to the best of your ability.”

Her point was this:  It’s all about your effort and intentions.  Are you working to be the best you can be?  Is your goal to be the best you can be?  Or are you just going through the motions?

No one is at the “top of their game” every day, but that doesn’t mean they go out there trying to be less than the best.  Some days the shots fall, and some days they don’t.  Michael Jordan didn’t make every shot that left his hands, but I guarantee that was his intention.

Don’t settle for being “just another” anything.  Work hard (and smart) to distinguish yourself as “the” something.

If you’re an athlete, don’t settle for being “a” point guard on your basketball team; put in the work necessary to be “the” point guard on your team.

If you’re a coach (teacher, trainer, etc.), don’t just go through the motions; work hard to be the best teacher, motivator, and developer of people of which you are capable.

If you’re a student, don’t aspire to be “just another” member of your graduating class; push yourself to excel in a class or area about which you are passionate.

If you’re a business professional, don’t be satisfied being “a” salesperson, manager, or director; commit yourself to being “the” salesperson, manager, or director.

Find your passion.  Chase your dream.  Make it happen.


Your thoughts?


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