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.

Get STRONGER Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Chase Your Dream

15 Jan

What’s your dream?

Dream BIG.

Aim high.

Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.

Aspire.

Push yourself.

Make it happen.

Improve you.

Strive to be the best version of you.

Believe in you.

Carpe Diem.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t Train a Skill to Fatigue

8 Jan

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi

Whether you’re practicing a sport-specific skill or performing speed and agility drills, fatigue will adversely affect your performance.  Adequate rest and recovery are necessary to perform at 100% effort (or close to it) and with optimal technique.

In short, optimal performance requires adequate rest.

“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” – Unknown

Success results from the ability to repeat maximum effort many times.  In order to perform with maximum effort and technically correct form and mechanics, you must allow adequate rest intervals between repetitions and/or sets.  As a general rule, there should be a correlation between the intensity level of the activity and the associated rest interval, with higher intensity exercises and drills followed by longer rest intervals.

I’ve seen drills at basketball practices where players run high-intensity sprints or shuttles followed by free-throw shooting, to simulate game conditions, when they must be able to make foul shots when fatigued late in games.  While there is merit to these drills, players must master the skill —  in this case, free-throw shooting — and develop appropriate muscle-memory before progressing to game-like situations.  Same goes for any other sport-specific skill.

Please note that this strategy does not apply to conditioning, which is another activity, altogether.  If you are performing high-intensity exercises and drills without allowing adequate rest between repetitions and sets, you are not doing skill development or speed and agility training.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, as long as conditioning is your goal.

Remember, fatigue prevents skill development.  Learn the skill. Practice the skill with technically correct form and mechanics. Develop the appropriate muscle-memory. Master the skill. Once you’ve accomplished this, then it’s time to progress to game-like simulations and situations.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Continue Learning, Continue Improving

2 Jan

“Drink deeply from good books…” – John Wooden

Recently,  I attended the Ohio State Strength Clinic, sponsored by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).  As you might expect, there were several educational and informational presentations delivered by some of the pioneers and leaders in the field of strength and conditioning. I learned a lot.

One of the presentations, Things They Don’t Teach You in School: What You Really Need to Know as a Strength Coach, included a slide about continuous learning that resonated with me.  I especially like it because it applies to everyone, regardless of the field in which one works, studies, etc.

Here are some of the key points:

  • Develop a deep and broad curiosity.  Strive to understand the “hows” and “whys,” and you’ll come away with a much greater sense of understanding.
  • Schedule time.  Don’t wait until you have time.  You need to make time for reading, studying, observing, and learning.
  • Study unrelated fields.  There are lots of parallels among and between school, sports, work, and life.  Be open-minded and you can apply some of those lessons to your situation.
  • Listen.  You can learn a lot more by listening than you can by talking.
  • Find a career coach, mentor, buddy.  Avoid the “I already know enough” trap.  Put aside your ego and learn from others with experience and expertise in your field.
  • Read, read, and read.  Enough said.
  • Put yourself in situations that force you to learn.  Enroll is a class, register for a webinar, or sign up for a workshop.  Commit to it and get it on your calendar.

“Knowledge is power,” according to Sir Francis Bacon.  Continuous learning leads to continuous improvement.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Getting Stronger is the Foundation

26 Dec

Are you an athlete who desires to improve your performance?  Are any of the items, below, part of your improvement plan?

  • Run faster
  • Jump higher
  • Better agility
  • Throw harder/farther
  • Hit harder
  • Kick harder/farther
  • More powerful
  • Generate more explosive force
  • Improve your sport-specific skill technique
  • Move more efficiently
  • Reduce the potential for injury

If you answered, “yes,” to any of the above, you’ll need to get stronger, because research says, overwhelmingly, that strength development is the common denominator — the foundation — for improvement in any and all of those areas.

Consult with a strength and conditioning professional and develop a well-designed, total body strength training program that the reflects the demands and movement patterns of your sport or activity.  Perform complex exercises that engage multiple muscles and joints — and all major muscle groups — each and every time you workout.  Challenge yourself by increasing the intensity, gradually, at regular intervals.

You’ll still need to invest the time and effort necessary to develop your sport-specific skills.  For example, if you’re a baseball player or golfer, a knowledgeable coach can help you with your swing mechanics and timing.  Strength training will help you to drive the ball.

And you don’t have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of strength training.  Getting stronger improves the body’s efficiency for performing everyday tasks like walking up stairs or carrying groceries, while reducing the incidence of aches, pains, and injuries.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

A Visit from St. Nicholas

24 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

The “Next Big Thing” is Today

18 Dec

This morning, some of my basketball buddies and I were lamenting about the fact that another year has passed, and that 2017 was a “blur.”  You know… the “time flies” conversation.  We all have kids in various stages of school (and beyond) and, somewhere along the way, one of the guys remarked about how we all sometimes wish our lives away by yearning for the “next big thing.”  I’ve been thinking about that conversation all day.

Let me explain the “next big thing.”  When people address it, they often preface it by saying, “I can’t wait for (or to)…”  For a young child, it may be starting school.  For a teenager, it may be turning 16 and getting a driver’s license.  It may be turning 18 and becoming an “adult.”  It could be graduating from high school and heading off to college.  Or, perhaps, turning 21 and reaching (legal) drinking age.  Eventually, it may be graduating from college,  landing a “real” job, and joining the work force.  Toss in few more of life’s milestones like moving out of the home in which one grew up, getting married, starting a family, and retirement.

Even as parents, we look forward with eager anticipation to our children walking, talking, starting school, getting involved in sports and other activities, and lots of the same “accomplishments” mentioned above.

As an old (and hopefully wise) guy who has experienced most of the aforementioned milestones, here’s my advice: Don’t spend too much time wishing for the “next big thing” because the “next big thing” is today.  Everything that lies ahead will get here, whether you want it to or not.  And, believe me, it’s going to get here quickly.  Invest in today and make it as good and as much as it can be — for yourself and the people around you.  If you do that, you’ll find that most of the “tomorrows” will take care of themselves.

I’m not discouraging anyone from keeping an eye on tomorrow, and planning and preparing, accordingly… just not at the expense of today.

Focus on today.  Invest in today.  Make it great.  As soon as today becomes yesterday, it’s gone… lost to you forever.

Carpe Diem!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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