Combined Plyometric Training Improves Performance

7 Oct
Single-Leg Box Jump

Single-Leg Box Jump

Single-Leg Hurdle Hop

Single-Leg Hurdle Hop

Most plyometric training focuses on bilateral, vertical exercises (nothing necessarily wrong with that).  We hop and jump with two feet, in a mostly vertical plane (straight up).

Adding unilateralhorizontal, and lateral plyometric exercises is a great way to accelerate the development of explosive power, balance, and muscular endurance, according to multiple studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

It’s pretty simple to incorporate unilateral (single-leg), horizontal (forward), and lateral (side-to-side) plyometric exercises into your training, once you’ve become comfortable and proficient with more traditional plyometric exercises.

When performing unilateral plyometric exercises, it’s important to start with a low intensity level and degree of difficulty.

If you’re already doing bilateral, vertical hops and jumps as part of your training, try adding single-leg vertical, lateral, and forward hops and jumps to your routine, on flat ground.  As your strength and balance improves, add low hurdles and plyo boxes to the mix.


Your thoughts?

Don’t Quit — Timing is Everything

5 Oct

“Perfect” Timing?

Has the timing of your plans been delayed?

Are you discouraged because you’re not achieving your goals and objectives as soon as you expected?

Dealing with delays — waiting for the moment — is one of the most challenging problems you’ll encounter, but don’t quit.

Don’t walk away.  Don’t throw in the towel.  Hang in there.

Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

If you quit, you’ll be giving up on the foundation you’ve built and all the progress you’ve made.

Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.” – Rick Warren

Just because you haven’t accomplished your goal yet doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t.

Stay the course, keep working hard, remain focused on your goal, and be patient.

After all, in any given situation, there’s rarely such a thing as perfect timing.


Your thoughts?

Debunking 7 Muscle Myths

2 Oct

7-truths-8[1]Some of the stuff — strength and conditioning “facts” — I hear in (and out of) my facility is comical.  There are lots of anecdotal “experts;” from coaches to parents to the athletes themselves.

Here’s a nice resource from Men’s Health titled, The Truth Behind 7 Muscle Myths.

The article dispels some common misconceptions about workout duration; protein consumption; squat depth; muscle soreness; stretching and injury prevention; Swiss ball exercises; and free weights vs. machines.


Your thoughts?

Balance Training is for Everyone

30 Sep

airex_balance_beam_square[1]At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like balance training for all of our athletes.

Balance training improves neuromuscular communication and coordination; increases musculoskeletal strength and stability, especially around the joints; enhances strength and stability of connective tissue (ligaments and tendons); improves core strength and stability; and helps to reduce injury by “teaching” the body to adapt to instability.

And, although balance training is a valuable training strategy for athletes, everyone can benefit from balance training.

There are several tools — such as balance pads (pictured), discs, and BOSU balls — that allow for a variety of exercises performed with different degrees of instability.

Add balance training to your current training routine, allow for progression of difficulty over time, and improve your performance and overall physical functioning.


Your thoughts?

Walk Your Way to More Muscle, Strength

28 Sep

Farmer’s Walk

Waiter's Walk

Waiter’s Walk

Suitcase Carry

Suitcase Carry

The farmer’s walk, suitcase carry, and waiter’s walk exercises are great ways to build and develop core strength and stability, leg strength, calf strength and the strength of the entire posterior chain (lower back, glutes, and hamstrings).

Here’s how to do the farmer’s walk:

  • Guys, grab two dumbbells or kettlebells, each weighing about half your body weight.  Ladies, your dumbbells/kettlebells should each weigh about one-third your body weight.
  • Walk with short, quick steps, breathing normally, holding dumbbells/kettlebells at your sides.  Walk 15-30 yards, as fast as possible.
  • Focus on good posture with back straight, shoulders back, head and chest up, and core tight.

The suitcase carry is a variation of the farmer’s walk, carrying a dumbbell/kettlebell on one side of the body only.

The waiter’s walk is performed carrying a dumbbell/kettlebell, overhead.

For more variations of weighted-walk exercises, please refer to 12 Loaded Carries with Kettlebells.

Loaded/weighted carry exercises are beneficial for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • They are functional (movement-oriented)
  • They build muscle mass and size
  • They improve grip strength
  • They build and develop work capacity
  • They improve core strength, improve coordination, and athleticism
  • They improve shoulder function
  • They create/improve trunk stability

Now go carry some heavy stuff.


Your thoughts?

Is Sushi Healthy?

25 Sep

4a23850637d5e6cf2c228dc96842357d[1]I love sushi.  I first had it when I was in my early- to mid-twenties (about 100 years ago), and I was hooked (pardon the pun).

Generally, sushi is pretty healthy if it uses lots of vegetables.  It may not be as healthy if it has mayo/sauce, is fried, or contains fattening meat.  You can, however, order your sushi with veggies and fish without having to worry about it being unhealthy.

The healthiest proteins to order in sushi are salmon and tuna. These fish are both low in calories — 40 calories and 42 calories per ounce, respectively — and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain. If you’re choosing a sushi roll, stick to just one order of six pieces to avoid going overboard on calories. Another healthy option is picking sashimi, which is just the fish without the rice.

You may also want to consider a vegetarian roll.  At just 170 calories and 5 grams of fat per roll, veggie rolls are filled with fresh cucumbers, avocados and other vegetables. To make it even healthier, you can swap the white rice for brown — it packs extra fiber.

Here’s an article from Registered Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, Bonnie Giller:  Is Sushi Healthy? The Facts behind the Food.  In her article, Bonnie discusses sushi’s nutrition, safety, and composition.

In her article, 10 Tips for Ordering Healthy Sushi, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Keri Gans offers insight into what to choose and what to refuse — smart choices and poor choices — when ordering sushi.


Your thoughts?

How Will You Know If You Never Try?

23 Sep

Man on top of mountain.If you never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.” – John Barrow

I asked you these questions a few months ago:

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

How will you do it, see it, or be it, if you don’t try?

In order to accomplish anything, you’ve got to expect success.

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

But the most important step is TRYING.

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.

Give it a shot.

Take a chance

Push yourself.

Challenge yourself.

Step outside your comfort zone.

You’ll never know if you don’t try.


Your thoughts?

Build Strength, Stability with the Band Squat

21 Sep

bweightsquatknesspress-b-male1-250x300[1]Improve your muscle activation for squats by performing a warmup set with a miniband around and below your knees, as pictured.

The band squat, done properly, helps to ensure that your glutes “fire” properly, and also provides stability — “down the chain” — to the knees; and “up the chain,” to the hips and shoulders.

The band squat is also a great way to improve squat technique and correct mechanical problems.

Use the band squat exercise as a warmup when you do heavy squats.  Descend, pause, rise.  Do 15 repetitions.


Your thoughts?

Always Have New Goals

18 Sep

wpid-aim-high[1]The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

Goal-setting is a continuous process — a never-ending activity.

When you reach your goals and fail to set new goals, you stop growing.

And, when you stop growing, you are merely existing — not living.

When you achieve a goal, expand upon it or set another goal.

Make your goals large enough or expandable enough so you will not be limited when you reach them.

Not having a goal is more to be feared than not reaching a goal.” – Robert Schuller

Aspire.  Aim high.  Reach.  Dream big.

Never stop dreaming.  Never stop growing.  Never stop pushing yourself.

Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.” – Unknown


Your thoughts?

Plyometric Training Improves Joint Stability

16 Sep

Plyos[1]Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are common in basketball athletes, with a reported incidence as high as 1.6 per 1,000 player hours.

An efficient plyometric training program within basketball practice can improve lower-extremity postural control and stability, according to a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.

In the study, plyometric (jump) training was associated with a decrease in ACL injuries by enhancing “joint awareness” — postural control and/or balance.

Improvements in balance, stability, and postural control with training has positive effects on lower-extremity injury reduction.

Obviously, ACL injuries are not limited to basketball players, as athletes who participate in sports that involve contact, and require jumping, quick starts and stops, and change of direction, are also at risk.

A well-designed and -supervised plyometric training program — one that incorporates appropriate intensity and volume; and teaches and emphasizes the importance of proper jump and landing mechanics — can help athletes improve performance while reducing the risk of injury.


Your thoughts?


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