Tag Archives: stability

Improve Performance With Single-Leg Exercises

6 Oct

Bulgarian Split Squat (down)

Bulgarian Split Squat (up)

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we know it’s important to incorporate single-leg exercises into an athlete’s training regimen.  We alternate, weekly, between bilateral and unilateral exercises, to improve strength, power, mobility, and balance/stability.

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that all athletes might need to do more single-leg exercises.  In the study, researchers discovered that both jumpers’ (e.g., basketball, volleyball) and nonjumpers’ legs were not equally strong.  The natural tendency is for athletes to shift their weight, to some degree, to their dominant leg.  According to the study, that contributes to a strength imbalance that can hurt performance and lead to injuries.

Try different single-leg exercises, like lunges (stationary or walking; forward, backward, or lateral).

At APTC, we favor the single-leg squatsingle-leg pressstep-up, and Bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated).  Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a weight that is challenging but reasonable.

As you might imagine, the same principle applies to upper-body strength training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Improve Strength, Stability with Unstable Loads

18 Nov

synrings6[1]The next time you perform the barbell squat exercise, try it with an unstable load — weights suspended from the bar by elastic bands or SYN Rings — instead of loading plates directly on the bar.

This exercise is more challenging than you think — you’ll want to cut your usual squat weight by about 50%, to start.

Squatting with an unstable load will increase activation of the stabilizing (core and lower body) musculature, and produce significant ground reaction force (GRF) — important for tasks such as sprinting and jumping.

You can perform other exercises with an unstable load, most notably the barbell bench press, which will engage the stabilizing muscles of your torso, in addition to your upper core.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Core Strength and Stability is the Key

15 Jun

bosu-ball-exercise-ball-elevated-push-up_-_step_2.max.v1[1]If you’re an athlete training to improve your performance, developing a strong, stable core — shoulders through hips, and not just abs — should be a priority.

Since every athlete’s strength and power are generated from the core musculature, movement-based, multi-joint exercises — including rotational and anti-rotational exercises — are important components of a well-designed strength and conditioning plan.

Here’s an article from EXOS titled, Why a Strong Pillar is Critical for Soccer, that discussed and simplifies the benefits of a strong, stable core, including:

  • Balance and stability
  • More effective and efficient movement
  • More muscular endurance/less muscular fatigue
  • Injury risk reduction

Although the article addresses soccer, the principles apply to all athletes and sports.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Is Flexibility Overrated?

24 Nov

USA Basketball Senior National Team Training Day 1Is there a relationship between flexibility and athletic performance?  And, if there is a relationship, is more necessarily better?

Flexibility and Performance

There’s a difference between movement quantity and movement quality.  Speed, strength, power, balance, and stability are qualitative aspects of movement.  For functional movements, i.e., sports performance, quality of movement is more important than quantity.

Most elite athletes have extraordinary levels of strength, power, endurance, or balance.  And, while there are elite athletes with exceptional flexibility, there are others with only average flexibility.  Ultimately, it’s less about the extent of your range of motion (ROM) and more about how you use (what you do with) what you have.

The average person probably has the necessary range of motion to execute most sports movements.  Their deficiencies usually have little to do with range of motion.  The issue is typically attributable to strength, power, mobility, or coordination, not flexibility.

Iashvili (1983) found that active (dynamic, movement-based) ROM and not passive (static) ROM was more highly correlated with sports performance.  Arguably, any further passive static ROM developed through passive static stretching will not provide any extra benefit.

There is a considerable body of research that discourages pre-activity static stretching — due to its potential to reduce strength and power output — in favor of dynamic warmup.  Studies show that flexibility in the muscles of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings) is related to slower running and diminished running economy.  Interestingly, it has been shown that stiffer leg muscles in endurance athletes may make them more economical in terms of oxygen consumption at sub-max speeds.

Flexibility and Injury Prevention

The relationship between flexibility and injury prevention is mixed, at best.  Two studies involving soccer and hockey players revealed that players with more flexible groins do not suffer fewer groin injuries, while players with stronger adductors had less strains.  There is actually more evidence to support that lateral imbalances in strength and stability are a better predictor of injury than lack of flexibility.

There are some studies suggesting that musculoskeletal tightness may be associated with an increased likelihood of muscle strain injury.  Other studies, including Knapik, J.J. et al. 1992, found that subjects in the least flexible and most flexible quintiles were equally likely to get injured — 2.2-2.5 times more than subjects in the middle quintile (average flexibility).

The reality is that sports injuries are produced by a lot of different factors, and flexibility (or lack thereof) is only one of them.  It would be inappropriate to assign a level to the importance of flexibility as it relates to injury prevention.

For most athletes in most sports, there is probably little to be gained by increasing flexibility or range of motion.  Athletes are better off developing additional strength and stability within a particular range of motion.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Performance With Single-Leg Exercises

2 May
DSCN1897

Bulgarian split squat (up)

DSCN1898

Bulgarian split squat (down)

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we know it’s important to incorporate single-leg exercises into an athlete’s training regimen.  We alternate, weekly, between bilateral and unilateral exercises, to improve strength, power, mobility, and balance/stability.

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that all athletes might need to do more single-leg exercises.  In the study, researchers discovered that both jumpers’ (e.g., basketball, volleyball) and nonjumpers’ legs were not equally strong.  The natural tendency is for athletes to shift their weight, to some degree, to their dominant leg.  According to the study, that contributes to a strength imbalance that can hurt performance and lead to injuries.

Try different single-leg exercises, like lunges (stationary or walking; forward, backward, or lateral).

At APTC, we favor the single-leg squat, single-leg press, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated).  Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a weight that is challenging but reasonable.

As you might imagine, the same principle applies to upper-body strength training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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