Tag Archives: athletic performance improvement

Why You Shouldn’t Treat the Off-Season Like a Vacation

21 Jul

Athletes usually consider the off-season as a period of rest, but this is the time to get strength and conditioning work done! During “downtime,” sport-specific activity like practices and games are at their lowest level, so your training activity should increase.

Once an athlete has completed his or her sport season, a rest/recovery period of about one week is suggested. Since the demands of the sport season have decreased, strength and conditioning should be a priority. An athlete can now train with maximum frequency (number of days per week), intensity (amount of weight, loads) and volume (number of sets and repetitions).

Think of your off-season in phases. This promotes long-term training and performance improvements. Keep in mind, the key word here is performance; it doesn’t benefit an athlete to improve in the weight room unless those improvements can be applied to his or her sport(s) of choice.

Hypertrophy/Endurance Phase

Very low to moderate intensity and very high to moderate volume; the goals for this phase are to increase lean body mass and develop muscular endurance in preparation for more intense training in later phases.

Exercises ideal for this phase are:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Bench Press

Basic Strength Phase

High intensity and moderate volume; this phase progresses to more complex, specialized, and sport-specific training.

In addition to previous exercises, add:

  • Lunge
  • Step-Up
  • Push Press
  • Lat Pulldown

Strength/Power Phase

High intensity and low volume; this phase involves increased strength training intensity and power/explosive exercises.

In this phase add exercises like:

  • Hang Clean
  • Push Press
  • Medicine Ball Throws
  • Plyometrics

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Boost Your Performance with Contrast Training

19 Apr

There are various differences in the physical demands of sports, based on factors such as the sport, itself, and positional differences among and between athletes.  Different sports require athletes to move through unique movement patterns which, for training purposes, can be categorized into vertical, linear, and lateral.  Exercises that focus on strength and power development, in these three areas, should be at the forefront of every athlete’s training program.

One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase the athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time.  Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Variety is the Spice of… Fitness

25 Jan

Kettlebells[1]If you want to see consistent improvement in the weight room (and — more importantly — on the court or field), you need to change things up once in a while.  Doing the same exercises, the same way, can eventually make your workout “stale” and lead to performance plateaus.

Whether your goals are athletic performance improvement, strength and conditioning, or fitness, occasional variations in your workout can help you reach your goals.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Swap free weights for machines
  • Change your grip (wide vs. narrow, overhand vs. underhand, etc.)
  • Try dumbbells instead of barbells
  • Add kettlebells and medicine balls to your workout
  • Jump rope instead of running
  • Run on stadium stairs or hills instead of flat terrain

Please also refer to related articles:

Training Variety Stimulates Strength Development

Add Variety to Your Workout With Kettlebells

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

1 Apr

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Performance With Contrast Sets

21 Jan

hex-bar-girl[1]One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time. Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed (acceleration) and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Here’s an example of a simple contrast model for athletes to build explosive power:

  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-4 sets

Incorporate this superset into your workout for speed development:

  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-4 sets

And finally, a superset using two explosive/plyometric exercises:

  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 1-3 sets

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Best Body-Weight Exercises

15 Oct

0903_ExercisePullupTwo_200x200[1]

Pullup

Strength training is an important component of athletic performance improvement, along with sport-specific skill development; nutrition; rest and recovery; and mental preparation.  And, while traditional weight lifting exercises should be part of every athlete’s strength and conditioning program, don’t ignore or underestimate the impact that body-weight exercises can have on your development.

Here are 3 of our favorite body-weight exercises:

  • Pullups work the entire upper body and — performed correctly — lead to improvements in strength.  If you can’t (yet) do a pullup, use a TRX, band, or spotter to assist.  Beginners can also start with the lat pulldown exercise.
  • Pushups are another great upper-body exercise, because they engage the chest, shoulders, back, and arms.  Master the basics first, then modify the exercise by placing medicine balls under your hands, use the TRX, elevate your feet, experiment with different hand positions, wear a weighted vest, or try them inverted (the inverted row is another of our favorite body-weight exercises, performed with a bar or TRX).
  • Lunges target the entire lower body, working the big muscles like the glutes and quads.  This versatile exercise can be varied by doing it stationary; walking forward, backward, or laterally; angled; and cross-over or cross-behind.

If you’re not already doing them, add these exercises to your regimen.  They can be performed virtually anywhere.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Getting Stronger is the Foundation

21 May

SDX25[1]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?

Improve Performance with Visualization

14 Mar

head_games_l-e1350662318335[1]Athletes spend months preparing for the season, yet there are typically only a few moments during competition when they experience complete control. On the field, athletes have little or no influence over the weather, the fans, their opponents’ skill level or other factors affecting performance.

The trick to becoming familiar and comfortable within uncertain environments is visualization. When they visualize, athletes are totally in control, and they have a great opportunity to experience success by realizing their mental images. The more an athlete can visualize successful performance, the greater his or her potential to achieve it. The correlation is direct between mentally rehearsing an action or movement—using the senses of sight, sound, touch and even smell—and making it real.

Here are some tips for creating effective mental images:

  • Start simply by visualizing a single, static object, for example a basketball
  • Aim for clarity; with practice, the vividness and detail of your images should become clearer
  • Visualize in the first person by imagining yourself, or in the third person by imagining another person with the object
  • View it from a different perspective; if you are imagining a basketball, attempt to mentally bounce it and “feel” the seams of the ball with your fingertips, enhancing the complexity of your visualization by adding another sense
  • Practice. Mentally rehearsing successful skill execution, such as dribbling a basketball during imagined competitive conditions, can provide your subconscious mind with positive memories, increase confidence and enhance preparedness

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Why You Shouldn’t Treat the Off-Season Like a Vacation

7 Mar

dtp_5079-1-e1349190374687[1]Athletes usually consider the off-season as a period of rest, but this is the time to get strength and conditioning work done! During “downtime,” sport-specific activity like practices and games are at their lowest level, so your training activity should increase.

Once an athlete has completed his or her sport season, a rest/recovery period of about one week is suggested. Since the demands of the sport season have decreased, strength and conditioning should be a priority. An athlete can now train with maximum frequency (number of days per week), intensity (amount of weight, loads) and volume (number of sets and repetitions).

Think of your off-season in phases. This promotes long-term training and performance improvements. Keep in mind, the key word here is performance; it doesn’t benefit an athlete to improve in the weight room unless those improvements can be applied to his or her sport(s) of choice.

Hypertrophy/Endurance Phase

Very low to moderate intensity and very high to moderate volume; the goals for this phase are to increase lean body mass and develop muscular endurance in preparation for more intense training in later phases.

Exercises ideal for this phase are:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Bench Press

Basic Strength Phase

High intensity and moderate volume; this phase progresses to more complex, specialized, and sport-specific training.

In addition to previous exercises, add:

  • Lunge
  • Step-Up
  • Push Press
  • Lat Pulldown

Strength/Power Phase

High intensity and low volume; this phase involves increased strength training intensity and power/explosive exercises.

In this phase add exercises like:

  • Hang Clean
  • Push Press
  • Medicine Ball Throws
  • Plyometrics

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Boost Your Performance with Contrast Training

13 Dec

Lead%20Photo-1[1]There are various differences in the physical demands of sports, based on factors such as the sport, itself, and positional differences among and between athletes.  Different sports require athletes to move through unique movement patterns which, for training purposes, can be categorized into vertical, linear, and lateral.  Exercises that focus on strength and power development, in these three areas, should be at the forefront of every athlete’s training program.

One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase the athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time.  Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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