Friday, November 8, 2013

Postural Restoration at Soar Fitness

For years I have been searching for the solution to the problem of crooked squatting that I see with a lot of my athletes.  After watching kids squat for years, it seems like a lot of them have the tendency to lean to the right.   I knew it was wrong and I knew that there had to be a way to fix it, but how?   The answer ended up being the Postural Restoration Institute.  After months of deliberating, I finally decided to enroll in the PRI Myokinematic Restoration Home Study course.   After two weeks of intense video watching and studying, I can honestly say that it was by far the best continuing education course I have ever taken.  The course I took involved a ton of in depth information about the body, so I will do my best to give you the major points of it in the simplest way possible. 

Below are the major points that I took from the course. 

1.  The Left Anterior Chain  (AIC) is the pattern that this course addresses.   A person in Left AIC, will have a forwardly rotated left pelvis, left foot pointed out and most of their body weight on the right leg.   How many people do you see that stand like this?

2.  The goal of the program is to get some muscles working that are "shut off" and more importantly inhibiting some muscles that are overworking.

3. After a series of tests, the protocol to reverse the AIC pattern is to first reposition the pelvis.  Once that is accomplished, a series of exercises are used to strengthen the Left Adductor group, the Left Glute Medius and the Right Glute Max.  After a certain level of strength is achieved, exercises that integrate all of the above muscles are introduced.

So how is this really going to help my clients?

1.  At lot of athletes experience general back pain because of poor posture.   By introducing these exercises, we can get some muscles working and other muscles to calm down.  Feel better, play better!

2. Internal rotation of the hip is crucial for speed and power and lot of athletes lack that range of motion  - especially on the left side.   The PRI course addresses this issue with a simple progression of exercises.

3.  This seems to be the solution to a lot of the ugly squatting patterns that I have seen over the years.  Fixing that will help with #1 and 2 as well.

So far, I have used the PRI methods with a few advanced and beginner level clients with great success.   One of my pro football prospects has already taken a tenth of his 10 yard sprint time with just 2 weeks of PRI exercises!  As time goes on, my goal is to find the easiest way to implement these exercises into our weekly group training sessions.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Importance of Grip Strength

Why do our athletes perform weighted carry variations on a weekly basis? Why do we preach strong grip on every exercise? Watch the video to find out.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hip Mobility

This weeks video blog focuses on the importance of hip mobility. Whether you are a sprinting, squatting or jumping, if your hip mobility stinks, your performance will suffer.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Importance of Ankle Moblity

There is a reason why we start every session at Soar with ankle mobility drills - the ankle is the last link in the chain between the body and the ground. If you lack ankle mobility, you lack the ability to put force into the ground. Watch the video to listen to me discuss this topic further.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Look at this Summer's Training

Its been a busy summer as usual at Soar Fitness. Lots of college athletes preparing to go back to school, high school athletes preparing for college camps and junior high athletes working their asses off to get better. More clients means less blogs and newsletters from me - so here are some short videos of what we have been doing this summer. For 3 weeks, we focused on horizontal power with a mix of broad jumps, sled pushes and sprints.

Of course, we are always working on lateral acceleration and deceleration. In this video, we are mixing it up with a tennis ball drill in one of our general strength and conditioning classes.

The 4th of July holiday week always throws a wrench in our college training schedule, so it always a great time to bust out a circuit of non - traditional exercises. In this video, you will see a pro lax player, a variety of college football and lax players and a high school football player getting after it.

Prior to the circuit, we mixed in some acceleration and deceleration work with quick feet plyometrics.

And last but certainly not least - we are always working on power!

Monday, May 6, 2013

5 Things the Average Athlete Program is Lacking

5 Things The Average Athlete Program is Lacking

I have seen hundreds of high school and college lifting programs over the last 10 years.   90 % seem to consist of the usual blend of speed, strength and power exercises.  The same 90% of programs also seem to lack some concepts that I feel are very necessary for the team sport athlete.  Below are 5 things the average athlete  program is lacking.

  1. Ankle Mobility

If you lack mobility in the ankle joint, then you are leaving yourself open  to non – contact  knee injuries.  This is exactly why I am not a big fan of the healthy athlete bracing and taping their ankles.  In addition, improving your ankle mobility will make you a better squatter and dead lifter.  At Soar, we start every warm – up with ankle mobilizations over the middle toe, big toe and little toe.   Keep your heel on the ground and push your knee towards the wall.  It is so simple, but very few athletes do it.

  1. Lateral Plyometrics

If you play any team sport, you are going to  move in all directions  - not just straight forward.   But, the average high school lifting program consists of only vertical and horizontal power exercises such as broad jumps, box jumps and power cleans.   These are all great exercises, but what about creating power in the frontal plane?   Aside from the benefits to your speed and power on the field, lateral plyometrics will help keep the ankles, knees and hips healthy.  

Here are a few examples of 2 and 1 leg Lateral plyometrics we use at Soar:
-          Lateral quick feet plyos in an agility ladder
-          Lateral bounds
-          Lateral hurdle jump and hops
-          Lateral broad jumps
  1. Bent Leg Hip Extension Exercises

The glute is the king muscle when it comes to speed, but very few programs utilize exercises that specifically target it.   Glute ham raises and RDL variations are great for the hamstrings, but do not recruit the glutes in the same manner that a lot of bent leg hip extension exercises do.   The best thing about them is all you need is a bench or box to do them.  

Here are a few examples of Bent Leg Hip Extension exercises we use at Soar:

-  Back on Bench  (BOB)  1  and 2 leg hip extensions.     We weight single leg ones with chains and 2 leg ones with a barbell.
-  Forward sled marches
- Half get ups with hip lift
-BOB glute bridges

In addition to the speed benefits you will get from adding these to your program, they will go a long way towards preventing nagging hamstring injuries, back pain and knee pain.   The average high school kid that has knee pain or “glute amnesia” will benefit greatly from a few sets per week of these exercises.   Consult the Bret Contreras, aka “The Glute Guy” for an in depth look at glute training.

  1. Weighted carries

A strong athlete has a strong grip  - and weighted carries are some of the best ways to improve your grip strength. Don’t have farmers walking handles?   KB’s DB’s or anything heavy will work.   The key is to mix up the kind of carries that you have your athletes do.  At Soar, we have a “Weighted Carry of the Week”.   We rotate through a variety of carries with heavy handles or KBs.  Here is a list of carries we rotate through:

-Heavy carry  - same weight in each arem
- Offset carry   - load is heavier in one arm
- Suitcase carry  - weight is only in one arm
- Heartbeat carry  - hold KB at chest height and press is out as you walk   - Thanks Dan John!
- Bottoms up carry  - Hold the KB upside down and keep elbow bent at 90.
-Suicide walks  - any of the above carries but changing directions  - like a basketball suicide.
  1. Rotational Training

The term “functional training” has become a fire starter for many arguments in online forums.   Some trainers have taken it way too far by having their clients do everything with a wobble board.  Then there is the coach who thinks that anything that doesn’t involve a bar is for pussies.   I would say I fall somewhere in between.   This is where diagonal chops come in.  A lot of sports are played in the transverse plane and this is why rotational training is ‘functional” for most team sport athletes.  The problem is that most coaches fail to understand that rotational training is NOT explosive twisting of the lumbar spine.   It is learning how to rotate the hips and upper back while the center of the body stays relatively stable.

A sound rotational training progression begins with learning how to resist rotation.   We start all our athletes with chops in Half Kneeling position where the goal is to brace the core and resist the forces that the cable is putting on them.  We then progress to rotational MB throws and standing chops where the hips and upper back produce the power.   Two sets of 10 reps in each direction 1 – 2 times per week serves as sufficient rotational training in my experience.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Linear Speed Training from 4/15

Early in the training week, most of our movement training is geared towards linear speed development. We use a progression of jumps, technique drills, resisted sprints and unresisted sprints to help our athletes maximize their ability to run faster. We always focus on one, maybe two cues during each session. Last week it was "body angle" and "knee punch". The wall drill we used allowed the athletes to support themselves in the body angle that we are always trying to coach. While they held the position, they "punched" their knees forward and then back into the ground in a piston like motion. That was the goal anyways! As you will see in the video, some do it better than others.


After a couple wall drills, it was time to get the kids moving at full speed. I decided to go with a complex of sled pushes and unresisted sprints. The sled push allowed the athlete to perform the same exact motion as the wall drill, but move forward. About 15 seconds later, the goal is to recreate the exact same body angle in a true sprint.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Basketball Training Has Started

I am very excited to say that I have had more basketball players  (especially females) get started in my program this spring then in the last 6 years.   As I have stated over and over, if you want to jump higher and improve your speed and quickness, you MUST do more than attend open gyms and play AAU.   The body needs trained, and in a manner in which the right dose of exercises are being applied.

At this point in the season, the vast majority of my basketball clients are attending open gyms or practicing AAU 2 - 3 times per week.  On top of that, they could be playing anywhere from 3 - 6 games per weekend.   I would be doing these clients a major disservice if I ran them through countless ladder and cone drills for the sake of saying  - "We do speed and agility".   I prefer to say that we do some necessary movement training  after our 15 - 20 minute flexibility and mobility routine.   Our movement training focuses on improving acceleration and deceleration mechanics in all planes of movement as well as small doses of vertical and lateral jumping exericses.   The focus is always quality of movement, not quantity of work.   On top of that, if some of the athletes are experiencing knee pain or some other form of pain from overuse, the movement training is the first thing that we take out of the workout.   The lifting portion is then tailored to improve strength in areas that will help alleviate the pain eventually.

The main bulk of spring training for basketball players is the strength portion.   This is where we are improving weaknesses, building lean mass, increasing power and strengthening the foundation.   It is amazing how quickly my female athletes go from not being able to do a good body weight squat to squatting with a 44lb KB.   All it takes is a properly designed program and a tremendous amount of attention to detail.  The athletes that are here now are the ones who are going to be ready for very intense training come late summer and early fall.  This is because they took the time to build their foundation in the spring.

So basketball players, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Looking to Play College Football?

If you are a high school football player that has hopes of playing at the college level, then this is a critical time of year for you.  Unless you are a 5 star, blue chip recruit who has lots of offers already on the table, you are going to have to prove yourself at a variety of college camps and combines this summer.   Even if you do not possess Division 1 size and speed, there are a ton of opportunities for solid football players to earn scholarship money at the Division 2 and 3 level  - especially if you have have great grades and high test scores.

Many of these camps involve combine type tests (40, vertical jump, shuttle, ect)  along with position drills.   The key to performing well at these tests is very simple........prepare specifically for the tests!   All of the lifting and stuff that goes on in the high school weight room is fine, but if you are not practicing your 40 yard start on a weekly basis, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.  Along with specifically practicing the tests, there are a number of exercises that we do with sleds, medicine balls and bands that will also enhance your ability to perform your best.

I have been conducting combines for 7 years and have been preparing athletes for combines for 8 years.   I have seen numerous players earn scholarships based on a tremendous performance in a few drills and tests.  I know of one of my linemen who received multiple Division 1 offers as a result of great short shuttle times.  In a sport where a tenth of a second means everything, paying specific attention to detail could be the difference between a scholarship and a walk - on offer.

In addition to our test preparation, we also can help the player with some position specific drills.   Through my experience with the NFL, I have been lucky enough to stand next to pro scouts while position drills are going on.  I have seen the mistakes that players have made that immediately gets them disregarded.   I have also seen the specific techniques that makes the scouts eyes light up.  Which player do you want to be this summer?

Contact Mike Kozak at 614-306-9364 to set up a consultation and begin the preparation process.   The time you spend in our facility now can pay major dividends this summer when you get in front of college coaches.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

SOAR Fitness - February Update

February has been a HUGE month at SOAR Fitness for myself and a number of my clients.   Here are just a few of the highlights of what has been happening.

1.  Olentangy Boys Lacrosse has been going very strong since the 1st of the year.  Next week will be their last week of preparation and I wish them luck with their upcoming season.   Also, if you need some mulch for spring yard work, I hear they are the people to see!

2. Last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to attend National Signing Day at Olentangy High School.   My long time client, Andrew Horstman, signed to play football with the Air Force Academy.   In addition to that, Austin Schmidt signed to play football with Illinois and two of my female basketball clients, Gina Miccinilli and Katie Heath signed with Heidleberg and Otterbein.

3.   On Tuesday, I attended the National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Awards Ceremony for the Columbus Chapter.  My long time client, Jay Grote, was recognized as one of the finalists.  It was great to be in the same room with many former and current Buckeye legends as well as numerous scholar athletes.  Jay is a kid who has worked his ass off for 5 years and he deserves every bit of recognition he has received.

4.  My longest standing trainer Ricky Crawford will be attending the NFL Regional Combine at Cleveland Browns facility this coming Sunday.  Good luck to him!  This also signals the beginning of my combine season so my blogging will be few and far between for the next month.

5.  I just got word that SOAR Fitness will be featured on the local Channel 6 show  - Out N About Columbus.  I will have more information on that next week.  Time for some of my clients and myself to get TV ready.

6. The end of training for most spring sports athletes will be February 24th.   As always, I encourage all athletes to get their in - season lifting in to maintain the strength and power they built over the winter.  More importantly, keeping up with strength and mobility work will go a long way towards keeping you healthy during the season.   As for my wrestlers and basketball players, its time time to start building strength in the spring.  Don't wait until the fall to start preparing for next season!  

Combine prep for high school football players will also begin in March.  Call 614-306-9364 for more information.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Acceleration Program

The week of January 7th started a new jump and acceleration program for all of my athletes that play a spring a sport. I felt that it was time to shake things up from our normal flow of plyometric and speed and agility training. This new system of plyometric and speed training is modified version of the Xtreme Jumpsole program that myself and my business partner used religiously in the early years of my business.   I credit that program for getting me the fastest I have ever been in all directions during my years of semi - pro football.  However, years of research brought me to the realization that the original program had a few flaws:

1.  It had an extreme amount of volume and would take too long in my current training schedule
2. It did not have progressions that were appropriate for beginner and intermediate level athletes.
3. There was not enough rest between sets of very intense jumping exercises.
4.  Jumpsoles really were not necessary.

After a few weeks of tinkering and testing the program on myself, I was confident that I had a program that would address some of the concepts that most of my athletes really needed to work on.  Here are some highlights of what the program entails:

1.  3 levels, 2 different workouts  - Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.   This allows us to prescribe the right plyometric progressions for the right levels of athletes.   There is also 1 day dedicated to linear plyometrics and acceleration and 1 day dedicated to lateral plyometrics and acceleration.

2.  Our Intermediate and Advanced clients would be introduced to transitional plyometrics.   These are a combination of very quick hops and explosive tuck jumps.   I felt that a lot of our plyometric exercises had gone stale and this was a great way to shake things up.  Plus I noticed that a lot of my athletes were not very explosive when asked to jump after some kind of athletic movement.

 3.  Acceleration  -After watching my athletes sprint and push sleds for the last few weeks, I knew that we needed some specific technique work on sprinting and accelerating out of different positions.  A lot of my athletes were making one or more of the following errors when sprinting: not picking feet up high enough, poor arm mechanics, not putting enough force into the ground and accelerating at a bad angle.  After the plyometric training, the main focus become acceleration drills.   On the linear day, the athletes perform drills such as high knees and butt kicks for 5 yards then accelerate into a 10 yard sprint.  On the later day, athletes transition from shuffles and crossovers into sprints.

Week 1 flowed very well.  The progressions of plyometrics in all 3 levels timed up well so that all athletes were ready for the acceleration portion at the same time.  However, there was one aspect of the training that I was not satisfied with at the end of the week.  Even though the majority of athletes were doing a great job on the high knees and other form drills, they were not changing their angle of force production when it came time to accelerate.   Basically, they were staying in high knees (vertical shin) instead of punching their knees forward and driving back into the ground (shin angled).

Here is a drill that I came up to help my athletes learn the angle of force production that I am looking for when they accelerate.  At the start, it might look like something out of a Jane Fonda video, but oh well, it grooves a good pattern if they do it right.
As always, our athletes hit the weights after the speed and plyo portion of the workout.

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