Get Some Sleep, Improve Performance

22 Sep

I came across an interesting article in Sports Illustrated magazine, discussing the relationship between sleep and performance, and the importance of maintaining an appropriate sleep schedule, especially for athletes.

Our country, as a whole, suffers from a “staggering amount of sleep deficiency,” according to Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.  And athletes are especially affected, due to their exhaustive schedule of workouts, practices, and games.

According to Dr. Czeisler, the impact of inadequate sleep includes:

  • Slower reaction time
  • Decreased precision
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Missed signals in your visual field
  • Increased irritability
  • Greater propensity to getting sick
  • More inflammation; slower healing from injuries
  • Duller memory
  • Burnout, exhaustion, and depression

The doctor, who has worked as a consultant to the NBA (as well as NASA and the Secret Service), says athletes should sleep at least 8.2 to 8.4 hours per day.  Here are some of his sleep tips:

  • Establish a routine.  Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day.
  • Unplug at night.  Get rid of distractions in the bedroom — especially electronics.
  • Aim for 9 hours.  Athletes may need even more sleep than the average person.
  • Nap in the afternoon.  If you sleep only five to six hours per night, an afternoon snooze can help (it works for LeBron and Kobe).
  • Don’t overextend yourself.  You can’t compensate for lost sleep by one long night of sleep.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

Strength Training Isn’t Just for Athletes

20 Sep

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we specialize in helping athletes improve athletic performance through the development of strengthspeedagility, and athleticism.  But the benefits of strength training are not limited to athletes (or even active individuals, for that matter).  Everyone can benefit from a well-designed strength training program.  Strength training can benefit your heart, improve your balance, strengthen your bones, help you lose weight, and make you look and feel better.

Benefits of strength training include:

  • Protects bone and muscle mass.  After puberty, you begin to lose about 1% of your bone and muscle strength every year.  One of the best ways to stop, prevent, and even reverse bone and muscle loss is to add strength training to your exercise regimen.
  • Increases strength, improves fitness.  Not just for sports.  Strength training can enhance performance of everyday tasks like lifting, carrying, and walking up stairs.
  • Better body mechanics and posture.  Improved coordination and balance.
  • Improves flexibility.  Exercise muscles through a full range of motion and improve overall body flexibility.  Increased flexibility reduces the risk of muscle pulls and back pain.
  • Decreases likelihood of injury.  Strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments are less likely to give way under stress and are less likely to be injured.  Increased bone density and strength reduces back and knee pain by building muscle around these areas.
  • Aids in disease prevention.  Risk reduction and prevention of arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stress and anxiety, cold and flu… and the list goes on and on.
  • Boosts energy levels, improves mood.  Strength training will elevate your level of endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain), which will make you feel great.  It has also been shown to be a great antidepressant, improve sleep quality, and improve overall quality of life.
  • Helps burn more calories.  You burn calories during and after strength training.  Strength training can boost your metabolism by 15% — that can really jumpstart a weight loss plan.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Make a Difference

18 Sep

Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What can you do today to make a difference — a positive impact — in someone else’s life?  Perhaps it’s as simple as a kind word or a thoughtful gesture.  Maybe it’s as easy as saying, “thank you,” or just being kind in the face of adversity.  What can you do to lift someone else’s spirits and improve their day?

What can you do today to make a difference — an improvement — in your own life?  I’m not talking about quantum change.  I am encouraging you to take one step toward a dream or goal.  What can you do to improve your physical, psychological, or emotional well-being?  What can you do to better yourself academically, athletically, or professionally?

So, I guess the question is, what will you do today to lift someone else and become a better you?  It all starts with that first step.

Make a difference.  Carpe Diem.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Build a Healthier Sandwich at Subway

15 Sep

Subway restaurants have become enormously popular.  And, why not?  Compared to other fast-food alternatives, their food is tasty, convenient, and (for the most part) they use fresh, healthy ingredients.  But there’s also a potential downside.  The average foot-long Subway sandwich can be a calorie bomb!  Most of us, including athletes, don’t need that many calories at one sitting.  There’s a smarter, healthier way to eat at Subway.

Tips for Building a Healthier Subway Sandwich:

  • Use lean meats.  Go with turkey or chicken breast, or even ham or roast beef.  Avoid bologna, salami, and pepperoni.
  • Double the meat.  Boost protein and cut carbs.  Instead of a foot-long, opt for a 6-inch with double meat.
  • Load up on the veggies.  An easy way to add lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Avoid the fat-laden dressings.  Try mustard, a little salt and pepper, or oil and vinegar.
  • Be smart with your carbs.  Choose a whole grain roll, or a wrap.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The “Get Back in Shape Fast” Workout

13 Sep

When it comes to exercise, there aren’t a whole lot of shortcuts — you have to put in the time and do the work.  But there are some strategies that can accelerate the process, and interval training — short bursts of high-intensity activity that build strength and endurance more effectively than moderate activity — is the way to go.

Don’t have time to go for a long run?  Can’t get to the weight room?  No problem.  There are plenty of “no-equipment required” exercises that can be performed anywhere.

Here’s the simple but effective strategy (adapted from Johnson and Johnson’s 7-Minute Workout): Alternate among exercises that work your total bodyupper bodylower body, and core.  Perform each exercise, working as hard as you can, for 30 seconds.  Allow a 15-second rest interval between exercises.

To start, try these four exercises:

  • Pushup
  • Plank
  • Jumping Jack
  • Squat

Perform each exercise, as described above (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off), as a circuit.  Do as many circuits as you are able.  As you progress, add more circuits or more exercises (in groups of four).

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

These Basic Exercises are Still the Best

8 Sep

Do you want to get stronger and more powerful?  Build more lean muscle mass?  Improve your muscular endurance?  Achieve a better level of overall fitness?

Regardless of your goal, strength training is the way to go, and some of the best exercises are the tried-and-true, old standards, like the SquatDeadliftRomanian DeadliftBench PressRowShoulder Press, and Pullup.

There are lots of exercise fads, gadgets, and gimmicks on the market, and a seemingly endless array of commercials and infomercials touting them as the “next best thing.”  And, while there is probably some merit to anything that gets people moving, you can’t do better than weight-bearing exercises that engage multiple joints and muscle groups using complex movements.

Squat

You can perform this exercise with dumbbells or a barbell, or using only your own body weight.  Single-leg squats are also an excellent, change-of-pace, variation.

Deadlift

Although this exercise is frequently performed with a barbell, we favor the trap bar.  It allows for safer execution, through better ergonomics, while not sacrificing any of the strength and muscle-building benefit.

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

One of the best exercise for the muscles of your posterior chain — lower back, glutes, and hamstrings (We also really like the glute-ham raise).  Also try the single-leg RDL.

Bench Press

Perhaps the best upper-body strength and muscle-building exercise.  We also like the dumbbell bench press — done simultaneously, alternating, or iso (single-arm).

Row

The bent-over row, using dumbbells or a barbell, is a great “agonist-antagonist” (opposing muscle group) complement to the bench press.

Shoulder Press

The vertical version of the bench press, this exercise will also engage your core.  All the same variations apply.

Pullup

Wide grip, narrow grip, overhand, or underhand — this exercise will challenge you.  The lat pulldown exercise is a suitable variation if you’re not yet able to perform the pullup.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can Do Better

6 Sep

If you think you can do better, then do better. Don’t compete with anyone; just yourself.” – Bob Fosse

You can do better.  You can, I can, we all can.

I’m reminded of this every day, at my Strength & Conditioning facility, working with athletes and active individuals.

But it’s not limited to Strength training.  As a matter of fact, it’s WAY BIGGER than Strength & Conditioning.

Personally, professionally, athletically… you can do better.  But first you have to be honest with yourself – is this the best you can do?

Then you have to want to do better.  Even if it’s just one small change… one small improvement.

You can do better in your daily interaction with family and friends.

You can do better in your daily correspondence with colleagues and coworkers.

You can do better in your daily collaboration with teammates and coaches.

You can do better in the weight room, at the gym, on the field, or wherever you prepare or practice.

You can improve your attitude and level of effort, every day.

You can be more patient, more tolerant, and less judgmental.

You can extend more kindness and hospitality – and express more gratitude – to everyone around you.

You can be a better example, and a better role model, to others.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Exercise is Good Medicine

1 Sep

Want to improve your overall health and wellness?  Workout every day.

Research shows that exercise can rehabilitate existing problems, and help prevent new ones.  If you want to feel better, have more energy, and perhaps even live longer, you need look no further than exercise.  The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are indisputable.  And you can realize the benefits of exercise regardless of your age, gender, or physical ability.  Here are some ways exercise can improve your life:

  • Weight Management: Regular exercise helps to accelerate metabolism, burn calories, and maintain an ideal weight.
  • Health and Wellness: Regular exercise can help prevent heart diseasehigh blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including strokemetabolic syndrometype 2 diabetesdepressioncertain types of cancerarthritis, and falls, according to experts from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Improve Mood: Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost confidence and improve self-esteem.
  • More Energy: Regular exercise can improve muscle strength, boost endurance, and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
  • Better Sleep: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.
  • Ease of Movement: Weight-bearing exercise strengthens muscles and joints, improves range-of-motion, and improves the efficiency with which you move.

Don’t worry about how much you lift or how strong you are, just find activities you enjoy and keep moving.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t “Out-Train” a Bad Diet

30 Aug

Some of the athletes with whom I work are under the impression that, because they are active and workout regularly, they can eat whatever they want.  The truth is, the quantity, quality, and timing of your diet can make a difference in your training results and your performance, over time.  Your nutrition has a bigger impact on your body than you may realize.

Eating the right foods, in the appropriate quantities, at the right times, can complement your strength and conditioning efforts, and improve your body’s effectiveness and efficiency — as well as your overall health and wellness.  Here are some diet and nutrition tips that go “hand-in-hand” with your training:

  • Eat more frequently — 4-6 small meals and snacks per day — to stay satisfied and avoid hunger-induced binging
  • Snack on foods like fruits and veggies, Greek yogurt, and nuts and seeds
  • Reduce portion size to about the size of your fist
  • Choose lean proteins – tuna, salmon, egg whites, lean beef, turkey breast, ground turkey
  • Increase your daily protein consumption to about 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight
  • Avoid sugary beverages and drink more water
  • Opt for healthy (unsaturated) fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts and nut butters, and salmon
  • Eat whole-grain, high-fiber carbs
  • Know your ideal, daily caloric intake and manage it, accordingly
  • Track your daily calories; you may be surprised

Eat healthy — don’t let your diet sabotage your training efforts and performance results.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Work with a Trainer for Better Results

28 Aug

Have you ever wondered if working with a strength coach or personal trainer is right for you or your children, or worth the money?  Well, according to research from UCLA, a personal trainer can help make you much stronger than exercising on your own.

In the study, individuals who worked with a strength/fitness coach gained more muscle and 10% more endurance than those who chose to follow their own program.  They also gained six times more leg power than the “do it yourself” group.

The reason for the difference?  A qualified, experienced strength and conditioning professional can provide an expert-guided plan, helping you to stick to your workout and do it right.  Most individuals lack the experience and expertise to develop a personalized plan that incorporates appropriate exercise selectionintensity levelrepetitionssets, and rest intervals.  Additionally, a coach can motivate you to train harder and help keep you accountable.

Even if working with a trainer is not in your long-term plans, it can be a good idea to start there.  A trainer can better point you in the right direction, providing instruction, demonstration, and making your workouts more focused and effective when you do them on your own.

And, for you parents of student-athletes, be wary of the teacher or coach acting as your child’s trainer, or your school’s weight room attendant.  Typically, these folks are no more qualified than you are when it comes to developing well-designed and -supervised, safe, and effective strength and conditioning programs.

When looking for a strength coach/trainer, do your homework.  Since basically anyone can “hang a shingle” and call him/herself a trainer, it’s important to find one with a certification such as CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) or CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) through a nationally/internationally accredited organization like the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association).  If you’re in or around the greater Cleveland (OH) area, check us out at AthleticPerformanceTC.com.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: