The Best Hamstring Exercises

18 Jan

maxresdefault[1]Squats and deadlifts are great hip/quad exercises for developing and increasing lower-body strength and power.

But if you really want to improve your athletic performance, you’ll also need to focus on the complementary, opposing muscles of the posterior chain — lower back, glutes, and hamstrings — especially the hamstrings.

Whether your goals include the development of power, strength, size, muscle endurance, or injury prevention, hamstring exercises — when paired with hip/quad exercises — can help you reach those goals.

At our facility, we favor hamstring exercises like Glute-Ham Raises and Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) for the athletes we train.  A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that RDLs and Glute-Ham Raises produced more significant muscle activation than any other hamstring exercise.

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.

Add Backward Running to Your Training

11 Jan

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Backward Running

Want a way to improve your workout?  Next time you go for a run, spend some time running backward.

A U.K. study found that backward running exerts less stress on the knees than forward running because runners land on the forefoot — a softer motion than heel running.

There are several benefits associated with backward running:

  • Better for your posture — keeps you more upright
  • May help reduce (frontal) knee pain
  • Less ankle and knee soreness
  • May allow you to work through some injuries
  • Burns about 20% more calories
  • Adds variety to your routine
  • Balances muscle development — works opposing muscle groups
  • Makes a great warmup

Find an area (e.g., a track) free of obstacles where you can follow the lane lines to stay on course.  If possible, have a spotter run forward next to you (you can alternate forward and backward running).  Always land on your forefoot, and reach back with your heel on each stride.

Athletes performing forward weighted sled pulls/pushes can improve posterior chain development and overall lower-body strength, power, and stability by adding short (~15 yard), backward weighted sled pulls to their training regimen.

You may get a few funny looks along the way but, as long as that doesn’t bother you (and it shouldn’t), you can benefit from adding backward running to your workout.

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.

Happy New Year! (it’s resolution time)

4 Jan

Happy New Year, once again, and welcome to the end of the first few days of 2021. Although I’m not a big proponent of annual resolutions, this time of year certainly lends itself to that process for lots of people. If you’re one of them, here are some considerations in your quest for self-improvement:

  • Upgrade your pantry and fridge. Replace the high-sugar, refined, processed, and fried foods and snacks with healthier options like nuts, fruits, and veggies.
  • Schedule your workout. You’re more likely to commit to a regular workout if you schedule it as part of your day/week as you would any other appointment or obligation.
  • Train with a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable. Research shows that you’re more likely to stay on task if you workout with a partner, especially if he or she is more fit than you.
  • Try new foods.  Experiment with new recipes and try to avoid stuff that comes out of a bag, package, or box.
  • Get your sleep.  You’ll feel and perform better when you are well-rested. Aim for 7-8 hours of shuteye per night.
  • Try a new activity.  If your current routine is getting stale, move on. Finding an activity you enjoy increases the likelihood that you’ll make it a priority.
  • Take a break.  Set aside time in your daily calendar for two 15-minute breaks — one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Go for a walk, listen to music, or grab a healthy snack to improve productivity.
  • Get more color in your diet. Try to include at least three colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Colorful meals are packed with antioxidants and nutrients to help fight illness and decrease inflammation.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2021.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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.

New Year, New and Improved You

28 Dec

No matter how good you are, everyone has room for improvement. How will you improve yourself in 2021? Here are a few thoughts:

Do Something

Challenge yourself to develop a new skill. Start a new project. If it’s making you better — taking you in a positive direction — continue and improve what you did in 2020. Commit yourself to self-improvement in some area. If you’re not satisfied with a certain area of your life, do something about it. Then, keep doing it… every day. The cumulative impact will be considerable.

Get Moving

Inactivity is the enemy of productivity. Get started. Take action. Move. Nothing will change until you get going. Beginning a new endeavor can seem daunting, but Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu reminds us, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

The best and brightest individuals in every field were once beginners. No one starts as an expert. The greatest accomplishments all have the same common denominator: At some point, someone was willing to take the first step toward greatness, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. American Author Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Be Confident

Believe in yourself. You have positive attributes. You have strengths and skills. Use positive self-talk as a motivator. Surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging. Learn to view setbacks as nothing more than learning experiences — steps on the path to success. “Believe you can and youre halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Risk New Things

You know the “definition” of insanity: “Doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results.” Take a chance. Be open-minded and adventurous. Step out of your comfort zone. Go out on a limb — that’s where the fruit is. Change can be scary, but it is a necessary component of progress. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” – Ben Franklin

Stick With It

Creating a better you won’t necessarily be easy. Some days will be better than others. There will probably be some obstacles and growing pains along the way. Be persistent. Follow your plan and do something to move forward, every day, especially on the “low-motivation” days. Don’t give up, don’t give in.

Then Be Ready for Big Surprises

You’re as good as you think you are, and as good as you want to be.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

22 Dec

‘Twas the night before Christmas

When all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with  care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their  beds,

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And Mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap

Had just settled down for a long winter‘s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick;

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came.

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by  name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!

On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!

Now, dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane  fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the  sky,

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With a sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas,  too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his  foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his  pack.

His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how  merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a  cherry.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the  snow.

The stump of his pipe he held tight in his  teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a  wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of  jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of  myself.

A wink of the eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his  work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a  jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a  whistle,

And away they all flew, like a down of a  thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of  sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good  night.”

— Clement Clarke Moore, December 1823

Do Better, Do More

14 Dec

self-improvement[1]Don’t just accept where you are in life. If you want to be better, DO better. If you want to be more, DO more!

One more repetition or set in the weight room.

One more sprint or sled push on the field or track.

One more time practicing the ball-handling or shooting drill.

One more time reviewing for the upcoming quiz or test.

One more time practicing the speech or presentation.

One more kind word to another person.

One more minute of your time to improve you.

You have the ability — the power — to do more.

You can create a better version of yourself.

Strive to do more today than you did yesterday.

Strive to be better today than you were yesterday — better athlete, better student, better person.

Expect more of yourself.  Don’t be satisfied with where you were yesterday.  Push yourself.

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.

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

7 Dec

Well, it’s that time of year… the holiday “weight gain” season.  And, although there is anecdotal speculation — via media reports, surveys, etc. — that the average American gains 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, several studies now show that the average weight gain during the winter holidays is just a pound or two.  But here’s the real problem: Most people don’t ever lose the weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.  Since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, that means much of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating.

Here are some healthy eating tips to help you stay on track and get through the holidays:

  • Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Stay committed to your exercise/training program. Physical activity can help relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories.
  • Be realistic. Perhaps the holiday season is not the best time to try to lose weight. Aim to maintain your current weight instead.
  • Portion control. Keep your portion sizes small. Eat small portions of a variety of foods rather than a large portion of one food.
  • Eat breakfast. Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It jump starts your metabolism and helps to stave off hunger and cravings.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alternate cocktails with unsweetened iced tea or seltzer to reduce the quantity of alcohol consumed. Choose wine, light beer or spirits mixed with no calorie beverages.
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking water can decrease the chance of overeating by temporarily filling your stomach. Also, caffeine and alcohol can lead to dehydration which increases your need for water.
  • Snack sensibly. Choose fruits and vegetables and dip with veggies instead of chips. Limit fried foods, high-fat sauces and gravies, and cheese cubes.
  • Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied (not stuffed). Listen to your stomach! It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that you’ve had enough. Pay attention to what it feels like to be satisfied and not full.
  • Prepare for temptationNever go to a party or event hungry. Prepare yourself for distractions by eating before you go. Have a small meal or a snack which contains a combination of carbohydrate, protein, and a little healthy fat to fend off hunger, such as natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread or low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit.
  • Visualize success. Make an action plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with and what foods will be available. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you’ve already planned for it. Parties are a time to mingle with friends and loved ones. Focus on interaction instead of on the food and drinks. Food very often is center stage of any party but you can guarantee success by visualizing the enjoyment of the company and not just the food and drink.
  • Don’t deprive yourself. Don’t spend all your time obsessing over the not-so-healthy delicacy that you’re really craving. Instead, allow a small portion and savor every mouth-watering bite so that you do not feel deprived.

Eating a bit too much one day is not the end of the world! It takes consecutive days of unhealthy eating to gain weight. If you slip up, put it behind you and return to your healthy eating plan, just don’t allow it to become a habit. You are in control of your lifestyle choices so choose wisely. It’s all about lifestyle changes, not diets.

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.

This Holiday Season…

30 Nov

10559911_10202096199965891_1793992248399861668_n[1]I recently saw this Holiday “To-Do” List on a social media site, and thought it was worth sharing.  Enjoy.

  • Don’t just buy presents… BE present.
  • Don’t just wrap gifts… wrap someone in a HUG.
  • Don’t just send gifts… send PEACE.
  • Don’t just shop for food… DONATE food.
  • Don’t just make cookies… make LOVE.
  • Don’t just see the lights… BE the light.

Brighten someone’s holiday this year.  Make someone’s day.  Be the reason someone smiles.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving (Hit the Gym Friday)

23 Nov

Best wishes to you and yours for a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday from Athletic Performance Training Center!

No matter who you are or what your situation, we all have much for which to be thankful.  Sometimes, life (and the speed at which it moves) has the tendency to obscure that.

Regardless of how or what you celebrate, I hope you are able to reflect on your blessings this holiday season.

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.

Eccentric Training Improves Strength and Force Development

16 Nov

Bench%20Press%20with%20Spotter[1]Eccentric (ECC) actions, when emphasized during resistance training, may elicit greater strength adaptation, muscular hypertrophy, acute increases in subsequent concentric (CON) force capabilities, and favorable acute inflammatory response compared with traditional ECC/CON actions and CON muscle actions alone,” according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (Kelly, et.al.)

Multiple studies show that athletes can augment traditional, concentric training with eccentric training to increase force capabilities.

The eccentric phase of an exercise (also known as the negative phase) is usually when the weight is lowered in preparation for the next concentric (push) action.  For example, an eccentric bench press would consist of lowering a barbell from a fully extended elbow position to the chest in a continuous, controlled manner for 3-4 seconds.

Try adding an eccentric set to your usual training.  If you usually perform three sets of a particular exercise, make the last set an eccentric set.

Or, make one training day per week an eccentric training day.  If you train three days per week, perform all exercises and sets eccentrically on your middle day.

For more advanced, proficient athletes (in the weight room), if you have access to a spotter or two, try overload eccentric training, using 100% or more of your 1RM.  (Note — a spotter is usually a good idea for many exercises, including weighted exercises done eccentrically, even with lighter loads)

This strategy is not only for weighted exercises.  Eccentric training also works well with body-weight exercises, such as the squat, pushup, chinup, dip, etc.

When is comes to strength training — think negative, gain positive.

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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