Tag Archives: strength

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?

Advertisements

Dynamic Warmup is the Most Effective Pre-Activity Strategy

5 Apr

You can add another study to the overwhelming and growing mountain of research supporting dynamic (movement-based) warm-up — and not static stretching — before engaging in competitive power sports.

This study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, sought to compare and quantify the effects of static stretching and dynamic warm-up on jump performance in NCAA DI female college volleyball players.

As expected, dynamic warm-up was found to result in a significantly higher level of jump performance than static stretching, especially when performed closer to the time of competition.  Athletes’ subsequent jump performance was better when the dynamic warm-up was done within 5-10 minutes preceding competition compared to 25-30 minutes prior to competition.

Hundreds of studies corroborate dynamic warm-up’s similar impact on strength, power, speed, and agility performance.  Athletes, coaches, trainers… get with the program.  Improve performance by eliminating pre-activity static stretching and implementing a dynamic warm-up that reflects the demands and movement patterns of the activity – before workouts, practices, and games.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Mental Preparation is the Key

8 Feb

joey-votto-smi2[1]Every athlete knows that physical tools are important.  Strength, speed, agility, and athleticismand the commitment to the development of each — are integral to success in virtually every sport.  Factor in sport-specific skill development (for example, basketball ball-handling and shooting), and you’re on your way to building a strong foundation.

Equally important is your mind, and its ability to drive your body.  Mental preparation, focus, and confidence are all implicated in your success and attainment of your goals.  Generally, your limits will be those you set for yourself.  Here are some tips to improve performance and push through those self-imposed limitations through mental preparation.

Have a plan

I’m always surprised by athletes, especially at the higher levels, who “just play.”  That is, they don’t really have a game plan.  Situational preparation leads to successful execution.  A baseball player should go to the plate with a plan, depending on the score, inning, opposing tendencies and trends, number of outs, baserunners, pitch type and location, etc.  Having a plan — and working your plan — will help build your confidence, which fuels a positive mindset.

Stay positive

A negative attitude and focus won’t help you or your team.  When I train athletes, we don’t talk about the negative.  Sure, there will be times when you face less-than-desirable circumstances and conditions (inclement weather, an injured teammate, etc.)  Your attitude is contagious and it will impact the people around you.  Do your best to maintain positive words and body language.  Expect to win.

Be adaptable

There’s a lot you can control, but not everything.  You have to practice being adaptable, and believe you can do anything.  Train yourself to overcome obstacles, and not concede to them.  For example, a basketball point guard should anticipate the defense taking away his/her strong hand, and should practice and develop capable ball-handling skills with his/her “off” hand.

Focus on small goals

Rather than focusing on winning the game, direct your focus on each individual at-bat or offensive possession.  Your goal should be to win each inning, quarter, or period.  Successful attainment of each small goal will lead you, ultimately, to your larger goal.  Looking too far ahead to the outcome can dilute your focus.  Do your best to impact the present and the future will take care of itself.

Talk to yourself

Positive self-talk is a strong motivator.  External motivation is great, but it’s also inconsistent — you can’t always count on others to motivate you.  Find quotes, sayings, or slogans that motivate you.  Visualize yourself succeeding (and celebrating).  Learn to communicate with yourself in a way that is positive and motivating.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Train for Performance

6 Jan

performance-training-squat1For most young guys, “fitness” is about being as big as possible.  As we mature, we realize that fitness has little to do with the size of our biceps and more to do with how we function and perform.

Performance training involves determining what your body needs on a given day (based on your activities), setting performance goals, and creating – and executing – a plan of action that’s aligned with your goals.

Performance training is movement-based training, not muscle-based.

Performance training is about getting stronger, not bigger.  It’s about becoming more powerful, faster, and improving your endurance, mobility, and joint stability.

Trust me, you’ll get the aesthetics you’re looking for from training for performance.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

It’s Not About How Much

7 Nov

HansFranz[1]How do you gauge success in the gym?  Lots of men and women focus solely on the amount of weight they can lose or lift.  And while these may be steps on your path to success, perhaps they shouldn’t be the ultimate goals.

Working out can increase your strength and improve your fitness, health, and wellness.  And, while the physical benefits are obvious, research shows that the benefits of working out may carry over into your mental, emotional, and even spiritual well-being.  Regular exercise has also been linked to productivity at work, satisfaction in relationships, and less stress.

Have fun working out by making exercise more like play.  Try new moves, learn new skills, and take on new challenges.  Variety in your routine can be motivating.

Keep track of how happy, confident, and energized you feel, as a result of your workout.  Improvements in fitness and increases in the amount of weight you push or pull will be valuable by-products.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Squat vs. Leg Press: Impact on Strength and Speed

25 May

squats-strength-training[1]mKv16aCWBRPf7Ne2uLJQUaA[1]Many sports require athletes to execute powerful movements – those that require strength and speed.

Speed-strength performance can be defined as the execution of a movement that requires the development of large forces and high movement speeds.

Obviously, strength training has a positive impact on strength and speed.  Recently, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research took a look at two exercises – the back squat and leg press – and compared their relative effects on sprint and jump performance.

“Both exercises train nearly the same muscles of the lower extremities, but in some aspects, they are different.  The leg press has less requirements concerning balancing the weight, and therefore, less muscle activity contributes toward stabilization compared with the squat.” (Wirth, K, et.al.)

“Despite the maximal force production through many of the same muscles, squat and leg-press exercises are distinctly different and produce different specific neuromuscular adaptations because of diverse movement patterns.”

“Compared with the squat,… the hip extensors are not trained within the extension range” of the leg press exercise.

In this study, the authors found that the back squat exercise improved sprint and jump performance more effectively than the leg press, because of the better transfer effects.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Confuse Motion and Progress

11 Apr

tumblr_m1bwfq9uOV1qi2f8bo1_500[1]“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” – Alfred A. Montapert

“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden

Some players — and coaches — are enamored with “hustle” — bodies flying all over the court or field with reckless abandon.  To some, it looks like a lot of effort is being expended.  Unfortunately, as I observe scholastic sports, much of this activity lacks purpose… there’s no rhyme or reason to it.  Some of it is nothing more than a lot of frenetic energy that, ultimately, doesn’t accomplish much.

Whether you’re practicing, playing, or training… have a goal.  Understand what it is you want (need) to accomplish and what is required of you to achieve the desired result.  Think situationally about the “why,” “what,” and “how.”  Your practice, game-play, and training should be purposeful.

For example, when you practice ball-handling and shooting, don’t just randomly dribble and throw the ball at the basket.  Work on your “off” hand, and practice moves that help you create your own shot (hesitation, step-back, etc.).

When you take batting practice, don’t just swing the bat to make contact.  Practice bunting, hitting behind the runner, hitting to the opposite field, and hitting the ball in the air (sac fly).

When you train, don’t just do random exercises.  Perform exercises and drills that are aligned with your goals, and reflect the demands and movement patterns of your sport(s) — whether they be strength, speed, power, agility, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Case for Single-Leg Squats

14 Mar

DSCN1897 DSCN1898At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like to incorporate single-leg exercises to complement bilateral exercises like the squat.

Exercises like the step-up, Bulgarian (rear leg elevated) split squat, and single-leg squat are routinely integrated into our athletes’ training.

Research tells us that the (back) squat is well-established to improve strength and power; as well as sprinting, jumping, and change-of-direction performance.

But movements like sprinting, jumping, and changing direction are performed either unilaterally, or with weight transferred to one leg at a time.

Therefore, it would be logical to expect that some aspects of athletic performance could be improved with unilateral exercises, which offer more specificity and may be more similar to athletic movements.

Unilateral exercises can also improve balance and stability, decrease lateral strength disparities, and maximize transfer between training and competitive performance.

In a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, Speirs and colleagues found that “bilateral and unilateral training interventions may be equally efficacious in improving measures of lower-body strength, speed, and change of direction…”

In the study, the unilateral group squatted exclusively with the Bulgarian split squat, whereas the bilateral group trained only with the back squat.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

3 Tips to Increase Strength

5 Feb

3-Tips-to-Increase-Strength_46d1f626-d679-4457-ae40-360b6e724ece_1024x1024[1]If you want to increase — and continue to increase — your strength, you have to lift fast, lift heavy, and lift more (over time).  Our friends at ASD Performance provide a simple algorithm for building strength:

Lift Explosively

Speed lifts (e.g., box squats, speed deads & speed bench) are essential to increasing strength, acceleration and power. Loads around 60% 1RM should be used and moved as fast as possible. Accommodating resistance (e.g., bands and chains) can be applied to further challenge your ability to accelerate the load. Obvious explosive exercises that should come to mind are the Olympic lifts (e.g., clean & jerk and the snatch) however, medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings also fit into this category as well.

Lift heavy

If you want to get strong you have to lift heavy. Sure, using light weights for high rep sets may give you some tone but doing so will never make you strong.

Lifting heavy requires a large amount of tension. You will be forced to recruit muscle fibers in places not normally directly activated by the lift. Tension is strength. The greater the weight the greater the amount of tension required.

Progressive Overload

This means systematically increasing your work load. This is a very important concept as doing the same thing over and over for extended periods of time will eventually yield no additional benefit. Without progressive overload you will be spinning your wheels and moving nowhere fast!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The 30-Minute Stepup Workout

3 Feb

step-ups-leg-superset-cardio-workout-1[1]Here’s a workout from Men’s Health Fitness Director, B.J. Gaddour, that can help you boost lower-body speed, strength, and stamina—with one exercise.

The 30-Minute Stepup Workout incorporates three 10-minute segments. Each section features a new stepup variation to improve your speed (minutes 1 to 10), strength (minutes 11 to 20), or stamina (minutes 21 to 30).

Check it out and give it a try!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: