Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Off - Season Football Training - Anaylzing the Individual

I have written before that football is in a class by itself when it comes to off - season training. Click here to take a look back.

For the kid who does not play any other competitive sports, his off - season is going to be 6 - 7 months long. Pre - season begins in June and consists of team conditioning, 7 on 7 tournaments and camps. Full practices begin in the first week of August. Today is November 30, so we are actually closer to the beginning of last season then we are to the beginning of next season.

This is the time of year most of my high school clients begin to call and tell me they are ready to come back into the gym. Each kid has there own needs, their own schedule and their own injury history. I always begin with some form of GPP (General Physical Preparedness) with each kid. Now, in the year round scheme of training, anything that is done outside of the football field is GPP. Lifting, sprinting, stretching and cone agility are all forms of GPP for football. Going to a QB coach, a receiver camp or working on DB drills is Sport Specific Training. What I have kids do at Soar in the first few weeks of off - season training is essentially preparing the body for more rigorous forms of GPP. I hope that makes sense.

Here is what our GPP workouts consist of:

Mobility circuits - basically our warm up
Isometric holds (push up position, split squats, chin up holds)
Bodyweight exercises
Lots of single leg exercises
KB swings and get ups
Sled walks and drags
Shoulder and hip rehab/prehab

FYI - most of this stuff is part of the year round program as well

This is what you will not see most of my football athletes doing in December:

Sprints and agility
Plyometrics (jumps)
Anything that involves them being under a heavy bar (squats, bench)
Position drills

How long does the GPP process take? It depends on the kid and a few other factors. Here are some examples of different football players that will walk through my doors in the next few weeks.

1. Senior - going on to play in college. Since they will be training with me into the summer, we will spend at least 1 month of GPP and then slowly progress into more intense workouts. The exception is the few kids who will report early to their college team. In this instance, I have to speed up the process to ensure they are ready for rigorous winter workouts.

2. Multi - sport athlete. Some of my football guys will go right into basketball or wrestling. In this case, we just continue with our in - season model of lifting. I have to limit volume with them to ensure that they are fresh for their winter sports. I also have some kids who play spring sports like lacrosse. Since these kids will go right into pre-season conditioning in January, I need to progress them faster. We usually spend 2 weeks with GPP and then begin to progress into more intense workouts.

3. Underclassman - football only. There are a ton of different ways I can take the training for this kind of kid. If it is a kid who starts or even plays both ways, we will spend 1 month with the GPP process before we start any kind of intense training. We will also take time to rehab any type of injury that I am comfortable working with. Unfortunately, some of these guys will go right back to lifting heavy at school within weeks of the end of the season. In this case, I still focus on GPP and spend a little time making sure their lifting technique is solid.

But, what if the kid sits the bench? If you don't play much or at all, your body is more than likely healthy. Also, if you sit the bench, you more than likely need to get bigger, faster and stronger. This is the one instance in which I will progress a football only kid faster into off - season training. These kids usually have to lift at school at some point, so my window to work with them exclusively will close quickly. We will spend a lot of time working on the "money" lifts like squats, dead lifts and bench so they will have the technique down when they begin doing it out of my supervision.

It all comes down to doing the right thing for each individual kid. Trying to fit square pegs into round holes is a recipe for injury and poor performance.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fat Burning Favorites

Although the majority of training at Soar is dedicated to athletic performance, there are a number of adults (general fitness clients) that come to me to lose weight, burn fat and just stay in shape. For those who are just getting started and have been sedentary for months or years, I would be crazy to start them with fat burning circuits. These clients, just like my beginner athletes, need to develop a foundation of strength before we even begin to consider high intensity training. Simple strength training combined with low impact cardio will bring about some results for the adult who has never participated in a comprehensive program.

How do I know the client is ready to move on to more intense training? It is pretty simple - I just watch them workout. In the first week of training, the warm up and a few sets of DB presses and bodyweight step ups will have a new client in a full sweat. When I notice in week 3 that the client has doubled their weight in presses (going from 10s to 20s) and is doing weighted step ups, I know it is time to amp it up a bit.

So what are my favorite methods for burning fat? Phew, that is a good question. Search the Internet and you will find Crossfit training, metabolic conditioning, circuits and the dreaded P90X just to name a few.

Here is a list of various exercises and methods I use with my more advanced adult clientele.

1. Bodyweight, KB and MB circuits. A number of different movements with little rest. Pretty simple.

2. Mixing in heavier lifting days in the 4 - 8 rep range. Bench press, squats, deadlifts and heavier rows all fit in to these workouts. Remember, nobody gets stronger pressing 10lb DBs everyday. We always pair up exercises to keep up the pace. EDT training (Escalating Density Training) can also fit into this category. Google it if you are in good shape, have limited time in the gym and are looking for a new way to train.

3.Sled pushes. Pushing a heavy sled is hard work. Hard work burns fat. Period.

4.Farmers walks and other carries. Have you ever walked through the mall with heavy shopping bags in each hand? Sucks doesn't it? Well, if it sucks, it probably burns fat too. Plus, farmers walks are great for the core and the shoulder.

5. Running 50, 100 and 300 yard shuttles. This is for those who can handle the impact of sprinting. Although I don't discourage my long distance enthusiasts from doing what they love, I do highly encourage some sprint intervals. Again, sprinting is hard work and hard work burns fat.

As always, quality movement trumps quantity every day at Soar. If you struggle to do an exercise right in a rested state, then trying to do it in a fatigued state is a terrible idea. Build your foundation, slowly up the intensity, then start to get nuts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Building the Athlete - Step 2

In Step 1, I talked about building the foundation and the various concepts that are part of that process. I also said that younger kids will spend months, even years in the foundational phase but kids in the 14- 15 year old range will be progressed faster.

So what happens once a 15 year old begins to master our foundational techniques? Do we introduce new, more challenging exercises? Do we keep doing the same exercises for more reps?

I feel that taking the beginner 15 year old from the foundational stage to the intermediate stage is a process that is crucial and often botched by trainers and coaches. I have seen trainers continue to have high school softball players press 5 lb DBs and do swings with a 10 lb KB for weeks on end. Nobody is getting stronger doing that! I have also seen athletes continue to do 3 sets of 10 reps for months and months hoping to get stronger. Sorry, not going to happen!

Let’s look at an example of an average 15 year old girl with a ZERO training age. I said in Step 1 that I can usually get them to a good barbell front squat with 35 – 45 lbs in 8 – 12 sessions. Let’s say that she can do 45 lbs to a good depth for 10 reps. Now what? Adding 5 lbs to the bar would be an increase in over 10% in resistance and she would probably not get it for 10 quality reps. Do we stay at 45 and go for higher reps? We could, but I have learned that high rep squats are usually not the answer for younger lifters. I would much rather see 4 sets of 6 quality reps with an appropriate load than 3 sets of 12 mediocre reps with a lighter load.

This is when Stage 2 begins for the 15 year old girl. We must begin to lift heavier weight but by paying particular attention to our sets and reps. We would start with 4 sets of 6 reps and the first set would be with 45lbs. She gets it easy with good form, so the next set we would hit 50 for 6 reps which I know she can get. If form looks good, we can go in three directions.

1. I didn’t see anything close to strain and technique was still very good so we go to 55 for the next two sets.
2. I see some strain and technique was good but not great so we stay at 50. Since we are only doing 6 reps per set, I have no worry that she will break down and injury will occur. Basically, we are doing 3x6 at her 8 rep max.
3. If the girl is still squatting to a height above parallel, try to move her an inch lower and stay at the 45 – 50 lbs. I always try to go lower before I go a lot heavier.

The next week I will usually go with 4 -5 sets of 5 reps. Again we start with 45, then go 50 and then assess as we did the week before for the final sets. If we did 55 for 6 last week, our goal is to do 60 for at least one set of 5 reps. If we ended with 50 last week for 6, then we try to get to 55 for 5. This is the same process I use for other core lifts such as the bench press.

Keep your eyes open for the day the light comes on. The day that she masters breathing and driving through her heels. It will happen. It is the day that she shatters 60lbs, then 65lbs and works all the way up to 75. It might even be to a lower box then we have ever used.

This wouldn’t have happened if we kept trying to do 45 lbs for 12 – 15 reps. This girl is now stronger then she could ever believe. Usually on a day like this, the girl can jump up and do a chin up on her own for the first time. The beast has been unleashed.

Many of the high school girls that I have trained that receive All – District and All – State honors have had a day like this at Soar. Believe it, girls can be strong as long as you take the proper steps to do it. You almost have to trick them into believing that they are strong.

I used a female athlete as an example because it seems that many coaches have a fear of making girls stronger. But, the same method applies to the 14 – 16 year old boys that I train. Within the course of the week, we are still doing exercises such as push up variations, DB lifts, 1 leg squats and pull ups in the 8 – 15 rep range. Many different variations of sled drags and pushes are also introduced.

Here are the keys to Step 2.

• Continuing with our foundational exercises but starting to increase resistance by keeping reps in the 4 – 8 rep range. For the record, this does not mean we are going to a 4 rep max on every set.
• Still keeping a stern eye on technique. From time to time, a kid might have a bad day so a step backwards could happen.
• Moving to more advanced exercises in our plyometric progression.
• Getting the athlete to understand intensity. Going 80% does not get you stronger or faster.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Building the Athlete - Step 1

If you have read this blog before or researched any knowledgeable strength coach, you will find that establishing a foundational level of fitness is an absolute necessity for the beginner. Before we talk about what the foundation consists of, we first must understand what a beginner is.

Within the walls of Soar, a beginner is someone whose training age is ZERO. This means that they have never been exposed to a comprehensive, fully instructional lifting program. Sorry, doing P 90 X at home, going with mom to Pilates or going a few times to a “SAQ” camp does not raise your training age. Additionally, scoring 20 points per game in 6th grade basketball or hitting .500 in travel baseball does not raise your training age either. In the same light, I have kids who come to me with what I have deemed a “Negative Training Age.” This means that they have lifted weights before, but so terribly that they would have been better off not lifting at all. For these kids, I have a lot of work to do with them before we even reset to ZERO.

On to the foundation……What is it? Here is a basic checklist

• Mastering warm up techniques - jump rope, skips, shuffles, mobility drills, ect.
• Improving footwork patterns…..Yes, yes I know the agility ladder does not do anything for pure speed. But, for the uncoordinated 12 year old, it is a good place to start because it is an easy way to build confidence.
• Learning how to accelerate AND decelerate in all directions
• Proper jumping AND more importantly landing.
• Mastering our basic lift techniques - squat, push up/DB presses, pulling, hip extension. This is accomplished with body weight exercises, light DB lifts and isometrics
• Basic core strength - bridging
• Flexibility - stretching

Keep in mind that the foundational process will be much longer for a 10 year old then it will be for a 15 year old with a ZERO training age. For instance, I have had many 14 - 16 year old girls who could hardly do a good bodyweight squat to an 18 inch box on their first session. Within 8 – 12 sessions, I usually have them front squatting with a 35 -45 lb bar to a box height of 14 – 16 inches. The progression for a 10 – 12 year old would be much slower than that.

In a nutshell, if your training age is ZERO or lower, foundational techniques must be established. Older athletes (14 – 16) will progress faster and as a result, move onto Step 2 - Intermediate Strength. Younger kids, 10 -12 will be part of a more patient process, especially with being introduced to traditional barbell lifts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is SOAR Team Strength

Soar Team Strength launched this past week with great success. Does your team need more strength? Is it lacking that explosive capability that leads to big plays? Are your players constantly dealing with injury?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for Wrestling

Acceleration Kills

Every good team has the kids that can just get to the ball faster than everyone else. Look at a youth soccer game and you will probably see the game being dominated by just a few kids who are a step faster than the rest. Watch a junior high football game and there is usually one kid that just sticks out because when he gets the ball....he is gone!

Is this speed? Is it agility? Well.....kind of.

What is it really? Acceleration!

Acceleration is the ability to go from 0 to 60 in the fastest time possible. Think about being at a red light in the left lane and you know you got to get to the right lane in less than 50 yards to make a turn onto your street. You know you have to step on the gas and fly past the person next to you in the right lane. Hopefully they are not driving a Corvette!

Team sports involve bursts of high speed. The kid who can get a rebound, land and immediately start pushing the ball up the floor past the defenders is a tremendous weapon for his or her basketball team. That is acceleration at its finest.

The problem with a lot of speed and agility programs is that they focus on track style drills that focus on top end speed. Top end speed is great if you run the 100 meter dash, but very rarely will a team sport athlete reach top end speed at any time in their game. It has been found that most track sprinters reach top end speed at 60 meters. How many times in a game does an athlete sprint straight ahead for 60 meters?

Below are two videos of acceleration drills that I use with high school and college athletes. I like to put them in awkward positions and tell them to get to their feet and accelerate as fast as possible. In a team sport, an athlete is always going to be in chaotic body positions. Why not train like that?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In Season Lift #2

I have failed to get In - Season lifts out to you as I should. The good news is I am seeing way more athletes in the gym for maintenance lifting then I have in past years.

Here is a simple lift that can be done at school after practice.

Warm up / activation

Hop squat x 10
SCAP jack - some call is a seal jack - x 20
Spiderman - 5 each
Inchworm x 5

Lateral X band walk x 5 yds each way
T I Y - x 10 each

Squat 3 x 5 3 3 - last two sets should be moderately heavy and immediately followed by 3 box jumps

DB incline press 3 x 6
Seated Row 3 x 8
Back on bench - bent leg hip extension 3x 8 each leg

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pushing the Limits of Human Tailgating Performance - In the Bathroom Line

I am sure everyone who reads this blog has found themselves in a long bathroom line - whether it is at a football tailgate or rock concert. There is nothing worse than holding it in for a few hours and then arriving at the porta - john to find 18 people waiting in front of you.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a die hard Cleveland Browns fan and you can find me at just about any home game in the Muni Lot before the games. Last year, I began the experiment of timing how long it took people to finish their business in the bathroom. After a couple of tailgates, I established that a male COULD be done in an average of 45 seconds and a female COULD be done in an average of 60 seconds. Yesterday, I launched the experiment full scale and the results were astounding!

It was around 11 am (the height of everyone's drinking) when I arrived at my usual porta - john line. There were 15 people in front of me in line.

I began timing from my digital wrist watch and creating a little buzz at the back of the line. The first two people finished in over 90 seconds - far from the average. Come on people this is not acceptable!

I began to talk up the average times from the back of line. Although a number of people looked at me like I was crazy, I could tell that people were ready to beat the clock. The next female finished in 63 seconds. The next male in 55 seconds. People were beginning to prep themselves to save time once they got in the porta - john. The next female was done in 59 seconds. People were cheering for the new record holders. The next male 45 seconds. The next female 49 seconds! Not one of the last 12 people in front of me took over 60 seconds!

What is the point of this rather goofy blog post?

I have timed people running shuttles and other conditioning drills for years. On the first set, people usually run within their comfort zone. As soon as I challenge them to beat their time, they immediately push harder and destroy their first time.

Can this carry over into real life situations like bathroom efficiency ? I think the results say a resounding yes!

Most people do not know what they are capable of accomplishing until they are prompted and pushed to do so. Even in a setting like a bathroom line -everyone has to pee, but nobody is doing anything to speed up the process. They just accept the fact that the wait is going to be long.

Not me my friends! Accepting mediocrity is a major pet peeve of mine.

By adding a little competition and motivation to a traditionally long and boring process reduced wait time by 6 minutes for 10 people. Who doesn't want hold their pee in for 6 minutes less?

Go hard and compete at life people! Everyone will benefit from it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Season Lift #1

Week 1 of the High School Football Season is over and now it is time to put some thought into your in - season lifting schedule. Most high school football teams play on Fridays, so lifting on Sunday and Tuesday is a pretty good set up. Ideally, I would like to see kids lift twice per week during the season, but one day is better than none. This is also a sufficient workout for other athletes such as volleyball players and soccer players.

For those of you that are banged up or injured, you know what you can and cannot do. Basically, if it hurts, don't do it. Ex - If you hurt your shoulder, stay off the bench press but you should be able to do some pulling and legs.

Here is In - Season Lift #1

Full Warm - up - Soar clients use Warm up A or B

DB squat jump 3x4
Prone bridge or Rollout variation

DB chest press 3x6
1 leg squat to box - 3x 6 each leg

Seated row 3x8
1 leg RDL (straight leg dead lift) 3x6 each

If you feel good, you could throw in a couple sets of biceps, triceps or shoulder work. Also, do whatever prehab /rehab exercises your trainer has you doing.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Looking Back at What Worked This Summer

Summer training for my college football clients began in early June. For those who were already training with me in the spring, their regimen consisted of my basic 4 day per week set up that focused on getting really strong and fast. Once June came around, we went to a 5 day per week set up focused on getting "field ready".

Mon: High Intensity Leg - plyos, short sprints, heavy leg

Tues: Heavy Upper body

Wed: Lateral plyometrics, various forms of conditioning based on the rest clock of a football game.

Thurs: rest

Friday: Specific Strength and Conditioning - various forms of jumps and sled work

Saturday: higher rep upper body

Sunday: rest

In the winter and spring months, I avoided going back to back days of max effort upper body and lower body lifts to maximize results (squats, dead lifts, heavy bench ect). In the summer, the best set up involved going back to back on Mon/Tues. with our heavy leg/upper days. This meant that some days we just didn't go to complete max effort to avoid burning out the CNS. This set up allowed for a full day of rest between all leg/running days.

Looking back, I think it was a highly successful summer of training. One of my clients reported as the fastest player on the team in all a freshman. He even ran the fastest mile time- which we spent no time training for. My other clients passed their conditioning tests easily and are competing for starting jobs. Most importantly, all are injury free thus far.

Here are a few things that I thought really worked well this summer:

1. Keeping Mondays low volume/high intensity. This allowed us to run fast, and lift heavy. Pairing up plyos like box blasts with sprints and heavy squats with jumps allowed a number of my guys to set personal bests in 10yd sprints and vertical jumps. This also gave us the rest of the week to focus on conditioning.

2. Using sled sprints, pushes, shuffles and crossovers on Specific Strength and Conditioning Day. Some days, we would pair a weighted jump with a sled push or sprint. An example would be doing a set of 3 DB squat jumps, resting 30 seconds and then performing a 10 yd heavy sled push. We would do 6 - 8 sets and this would serve as our "1st quarter" of training for the day. Each exercise took about 5 seconds per set - about the average time of a football play.

Sleds are great because you can move them in all directions - you can't resist a shuffle with a barbell. Heavy sled work is also hard work! The key was timing the duration of the drill and setting up the rest in a manner that was similar to how a football game flowed.

Here is an example of a sled circuit I used one Friday.

3. Using 10 - 15 yard hill sprints instead of running 40s or gassers. I was lucky to find a hill very close to the gym that was at a perfect angle. On Wednesdays, we would hit the hill for sprints, shuffles and crossovers with varying bouts of rest. Yes, running gassers can be hard, but there is just something about sprinting up a hill that forces you to pick the knees up and push hard. I see too many guys run gassers with terrible technique that will get you killed on the field.

4. Using shuttle variations for conditioning. I have said it a million is a multi - directional sport. You can run 110s all you want, but nobody runs 110s in a football game. One of the hardest things to do when you are fatigued it to stop momentum going one way and get the body going another. I used 40 yard shuttles (10 and back, 10 and back), 45 yard shuttles (5 and back, 10 and back, 15 yd sprint) and true 5 -10 -5 shuttles. Sometimes the guys touched the lines with the hand, sometimes they just planted the feet without the hand touch. The 40 yd shuttle could be done in around 9 seconds for my skill guys and 10 seconds for my lineman. I usually gave them between 35 and 45 seconds rest between sets and we would do 8 -1 0 of them on either Wed or Fri. All guys unanimously said that the shuttles at the end of workouts were by far the hardest part of the weekly training.

5. Varying up exercise selection. I love squats, deadlifts, bench, ect. Some weeks we squatted with chains, some weeks we deadlifted and some weeks we didn't do any of them. This kept the workouts fresh and my athletes interested in each week of training. Remember, you are training football players, not power lifters.

6. Never neglecting the little things. Hip and Thoracic mobility, lateral plyos, bridging, MB throws and rotational chops were performed on a weekly basis. These are the extra things that help make a well rounded, healthy athlete.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Examining the Caloric Needs of the Youth Athlete Part 2

Last week we took a look at a mock diet of a 5 foot, 8 inch, 120lb 15 year old basketball player. It was easy to see that the boy was not consuming enough calories during the day. I didn't even talk about the fact that a good portion of the calories were not quality calories. Pizza, ice cream and soda are examples of what are called empty calories. Yes, skinny kids can eat those foods and not get fat. But, a diet that consists of mostly empty calories will leave you sluggish, malnourished and unfocused. Continue to make those food choices as you get older and you will be the dreaded SKINNY FAT GUY. Nobody wants to be the skinny fat guy!

With school going back in session next week, I figured this would be a good time to give you some ways to increase QUALITY caloric intake.

1. Eat a bigger breakfast. If you have a mom that makes you an omlet every morning, then you are very lucky. We need to find some quick options because most kids eat breakfast on the go. Look back to the mock diet and we saw that the kid ate a bowl of cereal. Not bad, especially if it is oatmeal or some kind of organic cereal. Let's try to add some more too this. Adding a protein shake or bar will add about 150 - 200 calories and about 25 grams of protein. Ideally, I would like to see a glass of OJ or some fruit added to the cereal.

2. Bigger snacks. This is where high calorie shakes are great. We have sold Universal Nutrition Real Gains for 8 years with great success. It tastes great and you can make serving sizes ranging from 200 - 600 calories - all of them from good carbs, protein and fat. Just scoop the powder out of the tub, throw it in a shaker cup with milk or water and pound it! Consume this as a snack instead of a granola bar or hoho and you just tripled your quality calories in one snack.

3. A fruit or vegetable should be part of every snack and meal. Find the ones you like and eat the heck out of them. I recommend eating at least 3 servings of fruits and 5 servings of vegetables a day. Again, skinny guys can get away with eating french fries every now and then, but let's make sure that is not your only vegetable for the day.

4. Avoid the school lunch blow up! If you go to a public school these days, there is a good chance that you have a lot of options such as subs, salads and wraps. However, there is no shame in packing your lunch, or at least part of it. If you are going to go the pizza or hot dog route, let's try to offset the bad calories by packing a bag full of healthy sides. All kinds of fruit, whole grain crackers, almonds, and greek yogurt are easily packable side items. The key is not to make your lunch a fat and bad carb bomb - i. e. pizza and fries.

5. Dinner should be lean meat, veggies and some sort of grain. Stir fry or kabob skewers with meat and veggies are a simple way to kill two birds with one stone. If you are on the run all day and eating out is the only option, separate true fast food from healthier alternatives like Panera Bread. Jason's Deli just opened in the Lewis Center area and I highly recommend it for healthy family eating.

6. Before bed calories. This is where the shake comes in handy. Avoid the ice cream and cookies and turn to something that finishes off your day the right way. It is also the last chance to meet your fruit and vegetable goals.

Next blog we will look at a revised mock diet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Examining the Caloric Needs of the Youth Athlete

Since I work primarily in the youth athlete population, the majority of my nutrition related conversation revolves around getting kids to eat enough calories. In my experience, I have found that the average 14- 18 year old boy simply does not consume enough calories to break even, let alone gain weight. We have to take into account that the average teen athlete is active at least 5 days per week, usually in high intensity sport such as basketball or lacrosse. Add in pick up games, training and just daily activity and you have yourself a pretty deep caloric hole to dig out of.

Now lets look at a mock diet for the average 15 year old basketball player during the school year. Although I know that all 15 year olds do not eat like this, I have found that this is a pretty average day for a kid who needs to put on some weight. I have listed the calories and grams of protein per meal. Calories can vary slightly depending on the brand, exact serving size and method of cooking.

Breakfast: bowl of cereal with milk - 220 calories, 12g protein (if they eat breakfast at all)

Lunch: piece of pizza, fruit cup, chocolate milk - 375 cals, 15 g protein

Snack: granola bar - 130 calories, 3 g protein

Dinner: piece of chicken, rice, green beans - 360 cals 35 g protein

Snack: Ice cream -125 cals, 3 g protein

Add a few gatorades or drinks throughout the day and that will add about 300 calories.

Total for day: 1510 calories, 68 grams of protein

I found the website below to be a great resource for calculating caloric needs. I entered in a 15 year old that is 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighs 120lbs. I entered his activity level as 5 day per week of intense activity - which is accurate for a basketball player in season.

This is what I found.

Calories per day to maintain body weight - 2410

Protein: 150 - 180 grams per day!

I highly recommend checking out the link I provided and entering your kids' information into it. In order to gain 1 lb of muscle per week, a kid needs to consume 500 calories per day more than they are expending. So the 120 lb kid I am talking about actually needs to be eating approximately 2900 calories per day to gain 1 lb per week. I want to reiterate that the kid we are talking about his highly active on a daily basis in a sport like basketball, lacrosse or soccer.

In the next few weeks, we will look at some strategies to easily increase caloric intake.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Biggest Mistake an Athlete Can Make

What's the biggest mistake an athlete can make?

In my opinion, it is neglecting In - Season Strength Training.

In order to maintain strength that was built in the off - season and reduce the risk of nagging injury, a properly designed lifting regimen should be a staple in an athlete's year round training program. It does not mean that we have to lift with an off- season volume and intensity. It does mean that at least 1x per week, ideally 2x per week, we continue to focus on our basic strength concepts.

All it takes is one month of no strength training for the body to start DE-training......GETTING WEAKER. Let's take a baseball player for instance. My consistent clients will train with me in the fall and winter and then I don't see them until the next fall. That means the months of April thru August have gone by with no strength training at all.

What happens in July.....the most important tournaments? Uh, who doesn't want to be strong when playoffs roll around? Why spend all off- season getting stronger then abandon it completely when the most important games of the year begin?

All.... and I mean ALL athletes should be lifting weights all year round. I don't care if your baseball coach gives you some BS excuse about how it will ruin your swing or if your basketball coach tells you it will change your shot. Watch a Major League Baseball game and tell me those guys are not lifting some weights during the season. Has anyone looked at Dwight Howard or LeBron James...pretty sure those guys are lifting some weights!

An In - season lifting day can be as simple as this

Warm up

Jump exercise 3x5
Core exercise

DB chest press 3 x6
Lunge or single leg squat 3 x 6

Seated row 3 x 8
Posterior chain 3 x 8

That is all takes. 45 minutes - 1 - 2 days per week to maintain all the strength you built in the off -season. A professional like myself will be able to look at your practice and game schedule and suggest the best days to lift during the season.

Make the year round commitment to being an athlete!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tips for the Multi Sport Athlete

This summer I have been dealing with more kids with nagging injuries then ever before. After analyzing each kids' summer regimen, I found that all the kids who were experiencing these nagging injuries have been participating in summer football conditioning AND either summer lacrosse camps and leagues or summer basketball leagues. As you know, I am a huge proponent of kids playing more than one sport. However, some sports just can't be played and conditioned for simultaneously, especially if you are already prone to injury.

A good high school athlete can certainly lift for football in winter and spring months and still play lacrosse or baseball. But once June rolls around, the gridiron has to become the main focus if you want to be in peak condition when August two - a - days start. If your team participates in lots of 7 on 7 tournaments and you are attending college camps, that adds even more to your plate.

Going to football conditioning in the morning and then playing 2 - 4 games of basketball in the evening is essentially like two - a - days. A young body will be able to handle it for a few weeks, but what about an entire summer? Instead of having time for the body to recover from football training, more time is spent on the basketball court. Over the course of 6 weeks, it becomes too much for the young growing body to handle and this is where hamstring pulls, back strains and foot blisters happen . There is a reason why there are so many guidelines and parameters for football coaches to follow for summer practices.

A while back, I wrote a blog entitled "5 Musts for the Multi - Sport Athlete". I felt that this was a good time to bring it back out.

5 MUSTS for the Mult - Sport Athlete
This time of year at SOAR, I have a ton of athletes who are participating in winter lifting at school for football, conditioning and practicing for lacrosse or baseball, and trying to train with me. . Below are 5 MUSTS for any athlete who is training for or competing in two sports simultaneously. For the purpose of this article, I am focusing on those who play football and baseball/lacrosse. But, the information can be used for any athlete during any season.

1. Analyze your schedule. Put it on paper, preferably in a calender. This is the important information that someone like myself would need to see. What days do you lift at school? What days are lower body oriented? What days do you have lacrosse conditioning or skill practice? This information will help a good strength and conditioning coach put a weekly plan together for you. Once I see a kid's weekly training schedule, I suggest the best days for higher intensity training at SOAR. I also know what days should be recovery and flexibility oriented. Also, if you work out on your own, keep a log of your workouts.

2.Proper nutrition. Eat a good breakfast with whole grains, fruit and protein. Try to eat the healthiest lunch possible. If you are trying to gain weight, have some easy snacks in your locker such as protein bars or peanut butter crackers. If you are going from training right to another practice, then make sure you have a good small meal option (not fast food). Some athletes do well with a protein shake. Some can not handle the dairy during training. Know your budget and what you can eat. But absolutely do not try to train for 4 hours without eating since lunchtime. . Also, take a good multi- vitamin and STAY HYDRATED!

3. Warm - up properly - ALWAYS! If you are doing any form of high intensity practice, training or lifting, you MUST warm up. The warm up should elevate heart rate and body temperature, move all joints in dynamic range of motion, and prepare the central nervous system for full speed movement. Jogging does not accomplish this, neither does sitting down and stretching. If you are not sure how to do a dynamic warm-up, consult a professional such as myself.

4. SLEEP! At least 7 hours a night. Sleeping at study hall doesn't count.

5. Find time for yourself, family and friends. Sounds simple, but it is necessary to avoid burnout.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Football Training

Here is a few videos from our summer football training.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking to Improve Vertical Leap?

Vertical Leap and Quickness Clinic at Soar Fitness on Wednesday Aug. 3 at 630 PM. Check out the video to learn about the importance of this clinic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Speed Training Made Easy

Too busy with work and other commitments to train with us at Soar?

Do you have to design speed and agility workouts for a youth team but not sure where to start?

Here is a simple guide you can use at anytime.

First of all, let's go over Speed Training 101.

1. True speed drills are 2 - 8 seconds in length with at least a 5:1 rest to work ratio. If the drill is 5 seconds long, your rest should be at least 25 seconds long....probably a little longer.

2. All drills must be performed at the highest intensity possible. Sprinting at 80% speed will get you 80% as fast as you are capable of getting. Train fast to be fast!

3. At least one full day of rest is necessary between speed training sessions. Nobody gets faster training every day.

4.KISS.....KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Don't try to work on linear speed, lateral speed, reaction and conditioning at the same time. Focus on one aspect, maybe two per workout if you are on your own.

Now that we addressed that, lets set up the workout.

1. Full Dynamic Warmup. See my previous blogs for the Soar Warm Up. Just stretching and going for a jog will not cut it.

2. Perform some type of plyometric. Plyometrics excite the body's Central Nervous System and should have you prepared to run at high speeds. Box jump variations, box blasts and skips are a good place to start for any level of athlete. If you are training beginners, consult a proper plyometric progression. FYI - plyometric rules are different for big guys such as lineman.

3.High Speed Work. I usually alternate between linear speed days and lateral (change of direction) speed days. A good volume would be 2 - 4 sets of 3 - 6 reps.

Here is very simple linear workout.

10 yard sprints - 5 reps with 20 - 25 seconds rest between reps. Rest 2 minutes and repeat 1 - 3 more times. Maybe the following week, increase distance to 15yards in the last 2 sets.

Here is a very simple change of direction workout.

Shuffle 3 yards and back, 5 yards and back, then turn and sprint 10 yards up the line.

3 reps facing each way with 45seconds seconds rest between. After 6, rest 2 minutes. Repeat 1 - 2 more times. This drill can also be used to condition a group of athletes by keeping the rest periods to 20 - 30 seconds.

After the high speed work, you can add conditioning if it is necessary for you. This is where you might increase distance and decrease rest to a 2-3:1 ratio. If your drill takes 8 seconds long, keep the rest around 20 -25 seconds. Remember, if you play a multi-directional sport, you should condition in that manner with shuttles or other starting and stopping drills.

Speed training can go terribly wrong by just performing various drills around cones without any regard to rest, volume or intensity. Just because you did 30 sets of different cone drills does not mean you accomplished anything. I have said it many many times, LESS IS MORE and QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. This specifically applies to speed and agility training.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Football Speed Training 6/8

This week began our 5 day per week training model for football players who do all their training at Soar. The plan was to go out to the field and perform some position drills and then head to the hill for some conditioning. However, it was a scorching 97 degrees outside in Columbus yesterday so I decided to keep the guys inside and adapt the plans.

In the group was a RB, WR, Offensive Lineman and Defensive Lineman.

The workout started with full dynamic warm up followed by foot quickness drills on the agility ladder. After that, I had them perform some quick feet plyometrics in 5 second intervals.

The first agility drill we did was a lateral reaction drill over hurdles. It is a general speed drill that serves the needs of all football players. It involves foot quickness, lateral acceleration and deceleration and linear acceleration. Since I had a group of multiple positions, this was a good drill to start with. You can easily see what happens when you do not decelerate well - either out of poor body position or fatigue.

The next portion of the workout we focused on position specific drills. The RB and WR performed cutting drills with reaction. The O lineman pulled and the D lineman did some quick reaction drills. Although these drills might not be ideal, they provided an opportunity for the guys to condition with drills pretty specific to their position. The video you will see is the last 4 reps - 4 reps were performed earlier. We tried to keep rest to 30 seconds for each guy.

The session concluded with some shuttle intervals.

With the exception of it being too hot to train outside, I was very happy with the session. All work was multi - directional and we reached our goal of keeping rest periods to 30 seconds during the position agilities. All the guys had a chance to watch themselves in slow motion which is always effective feedback. Since movements like the offensive lineman pull are taught differently from coach to coach, I just have the athlete perform it the way their football coach teaches them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Football Training Intro

Since its the first day of June, I thought I would give everyone a taste of what some of our football conditioning looks like. In the coming weeks, I will be posting footage of our various training days. For today, I am discussing our training philosophy and our training model. You will have to deal with watching me do the exercises. Sorry, I am a little past my prime!

If you didn't hear me say it in the video, having a stop watch is critical. Conditioning properly has everything to do with the duration of the exercise,intensity of the exericise and the duration of the rest period.

Behold the slosh pipe

After reading Dan John's book, "Never Let Go", I felt like I had to make a slosh pipe. It is a 10 foot piece of PVC pipe half filled with water.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shifting Football Training Focus

Its getting very close to that time of year where I need to shift the focus of our football training from Off - season mode to Pre - season mode. For the next two months, high school and college players will be a Soar with one goal in mind - becoming the strongest, fastest and most conditioned player on the field.

What does it take to be in peak condition for football camp? Is it as simple as running more? Should you just decrease rest periods when you lift? Only do explosive lifts and abandon heavy lifting? Strongman training? HMMMMM. There is a lot to consider.

Below is a list of considerations that I feel MUST be made when designing a Pre - Season Football training program. All of these concepts are equally important and are listed in no particular order.

1. Continue to train heavy two days per week - 1 upper body and 1 lower body. Avoid lifting to extreme strain as that will heavily tax your CNS and will affect your workouts the rest of the week. Basically we are looking to maintain what we built in the winter and spring.

2. You MUST condition multi - directionally at high speeds. Gassers are hard but that last time I watched a football game players were not making cuts every 53 yards. At Soar we take care of this with position drills set to the rest clock of a football game (20 - 35 sec. rest between sets.).

3. Recover. Foam rolling, mobility and other methods are used to keep the body fresh. We train 5 days per week and rest 2 days per week. Rest means rest, not going out for a run. The Soar model uses Thursdays and Sundays as rest days.

4. Part of recovery involves proper nutrition. Hydrate before, during and after training. Post workout meals or shakes are crucial. At night, eat healthy meals with lean meats, veggies and grains. It is inevitable that you will lose some weight during camp, but don't be the guy who loses 15 lbs before camp. Increased caloric expenditure means increased caloric intake is necessary to maintain your weight.

5. Include variety in your program, especially in your conditioning. Running ladders, gassers or repeated 40s is BORING! Although I agree they need to be done, there are way more effective means of improving conditioning levels while maintaining power that has been built in the off - season. Fridays are specific strength and conditioning days at Soar. What that means is that we perform strength exercises very similar to athletic movements on the field. One Friday we might perform DB squat jumps paired with sled pushes and then a lateral plyometric with a lateral sled drag. The next week we might perform sled starts with shortened rest periods. Some strongman exercises will fall into this day as well.

Remember the magic equation......FORCE = MASS x ACCELERATION.

Stay tuned to the site. In the next few weeks, I will be posting videos and sample programs that we will be using at Soar. Of course, I can't give everything away and there is no substitute for training with us in our facility.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Secrets to Improving Speed

Anyone who knows anything about training athletes knows that improving sprint technique and getting stronger are the keys to improving speed. Bring me a beginner athlete with terrible arm mechanics and no knee drive and I can make them faster instantly. Bring me a kid who squats with their heels off the ground and has never done plyometrics before and in one month I will dramatically make them faster.

But its not always that easy. How about my college football clients who are already really strong and run with pretty good technique? How about the kids who have been in my program for 2 years and have mastered all of our foundational concepts?

One of the key components to my program in the last few years has been exercises that focus on hip HYPEREXTENSION. Squats, deadlifts, box jumps, KB swings and RDL's are all exercises that are important and involve hip EXTENSION. Performing those exercises are extremely important and will get you stronger and faster. But none of those exercises are specific to the motion of sprinting and none of them involve hip hyperextension.

Watch how a great sprinter applies force into the ground - behind their center of mass. Look at the left leg of the sprinter below - that is hip hyperextension. Force is delivered into the ground behind the center of mass.

This first video clip is one of our basic plyometrics - a box blast. This exercise is not a true hip hyperextension exercise. However, it is very specific to how I want my athletes to apply force into the ground. My stronger athletes will perform this exercise with hip hyperextension. The goal is to finish each jump with leg action similar to the sprinter above - just in a vertical plane.

The next clip is a forward sled march. This sled exercise is very specific to the motion of sprinting and involves hip hyperextension when performed correctly.

The final clip is a bent leg, hip dominant exercise that I call a BOB hip extension (BOB standing for Back on Bench). It is also referred to as a hip thrust and does involve hip hyperextenion. It doesn't matter what you call it, the bottom line is that this kind of exercise needs to be in every athlete's strength program. We perform bent leg hip extensions in every warm up and we do them weighted to some degree at least once per week. In article for T - nation, Bret Contreras (The Glute Guy) states that bent leg hip extension exercises such as the one you are about to watch involve twice the glute activation then conventional deadlifts and squats. Read the rest of the article here......

And the video clip of BOB hip extension

If you have the need for more speed........and who doesn't? Take a look at your strength training program. Does it include exercises like the ones I have showed you today? If not, it might be time to make some additions to your program.

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