Tag Archives: strength training

10 Rules of Life and Lifting

23 Jan

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WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Strength Training Benefits Connective Tissue

24 Oct

Male-ConnectiveTissue-ref06[1]Want to improve the structure and function of your connective tissues?  Lift (heavy) weights.

In addition to its musculoskeletal benefits, high-intensity strength training also results in a net growth of the involved connective tissues.

Exercise of low- to moderate-intensity does not significantly change the collagen content of connective tissue.  Collagen is the main structural protein found in all connective tissues in the musculoskeletal system.

The 3 types of connective tissue are:

  • Tendon – a flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone
  • Ligament – a short band of tough, flexible, fibrous connective tissue that connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint
  • Cartilage – a firm tissue, softer and much more flexible than bone; it is found in many areas of the body including joints between bones (e.g. the elbows, knees, and ankles); the “cushion” between bones

Connective tissues adapt to high-intensity musculoskeletal stimulation by growing and strengthening.

Weight-bearing exercise, with movement through a complete range-of-motion, seems to be vital to maintaining connective tissue development.

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WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Strength Training Safety and Specificity

10 Oct

adv_benchpress_03[1]One of the goals of strength training is to reduce the likelihood of injury during training.  Compared with other sports and fitness activities, strength training is actually quite safe — if and when athletes adhere to basic safety principles.

Specificity should also be an important consideration when designing an exercise program to improve performance in a particular sport activity.  Exercise selection should be determined in accordance with the demands and movement patterns of the sport.  A strength training program designed around sport-specific exercise movements can improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury.

SAFETY

  • Always perform a dynamic (movement-based) warm-up activity — or warm-up sets — with relatively light weight in order to stimulate blood flow to the muscles and improve connective tissue (ligaments, tendons) function.  Avoid static stretching as a warm-up.
  • Perform exercises through a full range-of-motion.
  • When performing a new exercise, or when training after an extended layoff (multiple weeks), use relatively light weight and gradually increase as proficiency allows.
  • Don’t “work through” pain, especially joint pain.  Working through some muscle fatigue or post-exercise muscle soreness is usually okay, but severe and persistent pain may be a warning sign to have the injury examined and treated medically.
  • Never attempt maximal lifts without appropriate preparation, (technique) instruction, and supervision.
  • Avoid “bouncing” at the bottom of the squat exercise, as this type of movement can cause muscle injury.  Observe proper squat mechanics — keep the knee in a vertical plane through the foot and hip.
  • Athletes should build adequate lower-body strength before beginning a lower-body plyometric program.
  • Perform several varieties of an exercise to improve muscle development and joint stability.

SPECIFICITY

  • Exercise selection should reflect the qualitative and quantitative demands and movement patterns of the sport.
  • Joint ranges-of-motion should be at least as great as those in the target activity.
  • Utilize visual observation and video as tools to facilitate exercise selection and determine movements important to that sport.
  • Exercise selection should include the three major planes — frontal, sagittal, and transverse, in order to strengthen movements between the planes.
  • Training should be movement-based, and not muscle-based.

Your thoughts?

WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Aerobic/Anaerobic Combination Training Implications

19 Sep

Tire%20flipping[1]When aerobic training is added to the training of anaerobic athletes (those who participate in sports whose demands are primarily anaerobic), the resulting process can be termed combination training.

And, although lots of athletes who participate in strength and power sports also engage in some type of aerobic training, they may want to reconsider (please refer to, Why Are You Still Jogging?).

Certainly, some sports have more of an aerobic component than others, but virtually all sports integrate alternating intervals — short bursts — of high-intensity and (relatively) lower-intensity activity.  Characteristics of anaerobic training include:

  • Absence of oxygen
  • High intensity
  • Short duration
  • Develops force
  • Burns calories even when the body is at rest

Aerobic training may reduce anaerobic performance capabilities, particularly high-strength, high-power performance (Hickson, R.C. Interference of strength development by simultaneously training for strength and endurance. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 215:255-263. 1980).  High-strength, high-power performance incorporates explosive, “all-or-nothing” movements, including sprinting, jumping, hitting, throwing, kicking, blocking, and tackling.

Not only has aerobic training been shown to reduce anaerobic energy production capabilities; combined anaerobic and aerobic training can reduce the gain in muscle girth, maximum strength, and especially speed- and power-related performance (Dudley, G.A., and R. Djamil. Incompatibility of endurance- and strength-training modes of exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 59(5); 1446-1451. 1985).

Apparently, it does not appear that the opposite holds true; several studies and reviews suggest that anaerobic training (strength training) can improve low-intensity exercise endurance (Hickson, R.C., et.al. Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance. J. Appl. Physiol. 65(5):2285-2290. 1988. Strength training effects on aerobic power and short-term endurance. Med.Sci. Sports. Exerc. 12:336-339, 1980. Stone, M.H., et.al. Health and performance related adaptations to resistive training. Sports Med. 11(4):210-231. 1991).  In other words, endurance athletes can benefit from and improve performance by strength training.

As strength and conditioning professionals, we should be careful about prescribing aerobic training for anaerobic athletes/sports.  An athlete’s training should be designed to reflect the demands and movement patterns of his or her sport.  Aerobic training may be counterproductive in most strength and power sports.

Your thoughts?

WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Strengthen Your Weaknesses

14 Mar

athletes-collage[1]We train hundreds of athletes, and one of the things they all have in common is that they come to us with strengths and areas for improvement (I like that term better than “weaknesses”).  And, certainly, even their strengths can be improved.

The first step is identifying and understanding the athlete’s area for improvement and developing a plan to strengthen it.  A baseline assessment is a good starting point, and it’s also helpful to watch the athlete play his/her sport of choice.

Typically, we all gravitate toward our own comfort zones, and athletes are no different as it relates to their training.  The average athlete will avoid certain exercises when that should be his/her focus.  We don’t ignore or neglect areas of strength, but we focus on exercises in which athletes are the weakest (exercises they typically avoid).

Some athletes may need more attention to improvements in balance and stability; others may benefit from core strengthening.  They all have areas they can improve.

Regardless of the athlete’s area for improvement, our focus is on training movements, and not just muscles.  Some of the athletes we train are already pretty strong.  We want to help them better leverage and apply their strength in a way that’s relevant to the sport they play.

Our goal is to try and make them faster; more explosive; more balanced and stable; and more mobile and flexible.  And this isn’t limited to just running and jumping.  We want to make all their muscle movements faster and more powerful.

Although we use a lot of “traditional” weight training exercises (sometimes, they’re still the best), we also favor stuff like suspension training, anti-rotational training, and body-weight exercises.

The key is to emphasize speed, agility, quickness, acceleration, power, and metabolic conditioning along with strength and flexibility.  All of these aspects combine to create a better athlete.

Your thoughts?

WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Build More Strength With These Strategies

7 Mar

superman[1]Here’s a nice article from Men’s Health titled, 5 New Rules of Super Strength.  The five training “secrets” discussed in the article echo our training philosophy at Athletic Performance Training Center.

Getting stronger means not only working hard, but also working smart.  These five strategies can help any athlete take his or her training — and results — to the next level.

  1. Fuel your body with fat.  High-quality fats are a more efficient source of energy than carbs.  (please see, Fat is not the Enemy)
  2. Quality trumps quantity.  A longer workout is not necessarily a better workout.  Keep your intensity level high by minimizing rest intervals and using supersets (we favor agonist-antagonist paired sets).
  3. Learn to react faster.  The ability to react and respond quickly can be a game-changer, and can be developed and improved with practice.
  4. Add contrast training.  As stated above, high intensity workouts are best.  Follow a strength exercise with a biomechanically similar explosive movement (e.g., perform a set of squats, immediately followed by a set of squat jumps) to recruit more motor neurons and trigger a surge of muscle-building hormones.
  5. Finish fast.  You won’t build fast muscle-memory by moving slowly.  Finish your workout with speed work.

Your thoughts?

WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

It’s (almost) All About Speed

28 Feb

STFSpeed is a (insert cliché) difference maker/game changer/game breaker in virtually every sport.  It can be the difference between starting and sitting; winning and losing.

And agility, or “quickness” (which is basically the speed at which an athlete is able to accelerate, decelerate, change direction, and react), may be even more important than “straight-line” speed (and certainly more relevant in most sports).

I hear a lot of people talk about sport aptitude/IQ and sport-specific skills (e.g., ball-handling and shooting, in basketball), and both are important.

But, as you ascend through higher levels of sport participation — middle school, high school JV, varsity, college, one thing is certain: If your opponent can outrun you, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.  Conversely, if you can outrun your opponent, the advantage becomes yours.

Not everyone has the potential to be fast, but everyone has the potential to be faster.

If you’re serious about improving and developing your speed, you’ll need to incorporate these three components into your training plan:

  1. Strength training
  2. Plyometrics
  3. Technical training (running form, mechanics)

It’s also a smart idea to consult with an experienced, qualified strength and conditioning professional, to ensure that your plan is well-designed and -supervised.

Your thoughts?

WE BUILD STRONGER ATHLETES!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Speed Development 101

7 Feb

t1_darius[1]Here’s a nice article from STACK expert, John M. Cissick, titled, Get Faster With 3 Essential Speed Training Strategies.  John’s article echoes the same advice and guidance we’ve shared with our clients and readers.

STRENGTH

Strength training provides the foundation so, first and foremost, get in the weight room.  As stated in a previous blog post, Speed Development Starts in the Weight Room.  You’ve got to get stronger in order to improve your ground reaction force and, ultimately, your speed.  Lower extremity strength exercises that focus on the hips, quadriceps, and hamstrings should be a part of each and every workout.

POWER

Plyometrics are exercises that “teach” your muscles to generate force quickly.  They are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  It’s important for young athletes to build a strong foundation, first, before proceeding to plyometric exercises.

SPEED

Speed training is an important part of the process, because you have to learn how to use the strength and power you’ve developed.  Quality repetitions, technical correctness, and adequate rest intervals should be factored into your training plan.

For more information, please refer to Speed Training and Development (get faster!), Key Elements of Speed Training, and Maximize Your Speed Workouts.

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.

Improve Leg Strength with Plyometric Training

28 Sep

box-jump[1]

Box Jump

Want to improve your leg strength?  Add some hopping, skipping, jumping, and bounding to your workouts.

Just six weeks of plyometric (jump) training resulted in a 10% increase in leg strength, according to research from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Squat jumps, broad jumps, box jumps, depth jumps, and hurdle hops can be easily incorporated into a workout.

Plyometric training is typically high-intensity, especially as compared to traditional, ground-based strength training.  Factors that influence the intensity of lower-body plyometric drills include points of contact (and commensurate stress on muscles, connective tissues, and joints); speed; height of the drill; and the participant’s weight.

Plyometric training sessions should generally be limited to two (2) per week, even if you are strength training with greater frequency.  A day (or more) of rest between jump training sessions is recommended.

Here are the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) guidelines for appropriate plyometric training volume based on experience:

  • Beginner (no experience) = 80-100 “touches” (every time your feet land on the ground or other surface, it’s counted as one touch)
  • Intermediate (some experience) = 100-120 touches
  • Advanced (considerable experience) = 120-140 touches

Always make sure you warm up properly, wear appropriate footwear, and choose a safe, shock-absorbing landing surface (grass field, suspended floor, rubber mat, etc.) to prevent injuries.

Then get up off your feet and get some air.

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.

Flexibility Training May Reduce Strength Development

21 Sep

429_2[1]Be careful about how much flexibility training you do, especially if you play a power sport.

Research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research corroborates volumes of previous data, showing that flexibility training may reduce strength development.

In the study, Thalita, et.al., concluded that “combining strength and flexibility training is not detrimental to flexibility development; however, combined training may reduce strength development.”

Scores of previous studies have demonstrated that flexibility training elongates and relaxes muscles, diminishing their ability to generate strength and power, especially in the short-term.

Avoid pre- and post-workout stretching; opt instead for dynamic warmup, foam rolling, and movement-based cool down to enhance blood flow to tissues, and increase mobility and range-of-motion.

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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