Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good video on complexes

One of my mentors, Coach Robert Dos Remedios, recently created this video of his soccer players. In it, the athletes are demonstrating "complexes," where a traditional strength movement is followed by a power movement involving a similar muscle group/movement pattern. A couple examples of complex training could include the following:
  • Push-ups followed by Linear Med. Ball throws
  • Squats followed by Squat Jumps
  • Chin-ups followed by Med Ball Slams
Complexes are both challenging and fun. Give them a try.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Tabata Method- Perfected

Great article by Dan John:


A Formula for Happiness

Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others.

Check out the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/opinion/sunday/a-formula-for-happiness.html

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Eating for Injury Recovery

Eating For Injury Recovery John M Berardi, PhD, CSCS Ryan Andrews, RD, MA, MS www.precisionnutrition.com
To most sport and exercise professionals, the idea that nutrition can play a powerful role in injury recovery makes perfect sense. However, when injury strikes, very few individuals know just how to put nutrition to work for their clients and athletes. So, in today’s article we’ll review the best practices for using nutrition to dramatically speed up the injury recovery process.
Injury Recovery Step By Step
Although injuries can feel disorganized and chaotic, the body’s road to recovery represents a highly organized and well-coordinated physiological process. And, by understanding the steps in the recovery process, nutritional targets can more easily be identified.
Step 1 Inflammation [lasts up to 4 days post-injury]
Immediately after injury strikes, the earliest response is inflammation. Damage has occurred. Injured tissues are deprived of their normal flow of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. And cell death is initiated. Of course, during this phase, pain, swelling, redness and heat are common.
Step 2 Proliferation [lasts from 4 days to 21 days post-injury]
Once inflammation is dampened down, the damaged tissues are removed and new vasculature is developed. Further, scar tissue is laid down to support the site of injury.
Step 3 Remodeling [lasts from 21 days to 2 years post-injury]
The scar tissue that formed several days after the injury is degraded and replaced with stronger connective tissue. With appropriate therapeutic and nutritional intervention, this area can be as strong as the original, un-injured tissue or even stronger.
Dietary Fat and Inflammation
As the first step in the recovery process is the inflammatory stage, let’s begin with a discussion of the nutritional management of inflammation.
It’s well known that trans-fats, omega 6 fats, and saturated fats promote inflammation in the body, while monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fats inhibits inflammation. This means that during injury recovery, it’s important to achieve a better balance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. By eating fewer omega 6s and more omega 3s, excessive inflammation is dialed down and collagen production is better supported. An ideal ratio is about two or three omega 6 fats to every omega 3 fat consumed. Unfortunately, the typically North American gets about ten to fifteen omega 6 fats to every omega 3 fat consumed.
Rather than getting out your calculator to determine the ideal fatty acid balance, it’s actually best to focus on specific food choices. To this end, it’s important to increase the intake of: olive oil, mixed nuts, avocados, flax oil, ground flax, and other seeds. It’s also important to supplement
with 3-9 grams of fish oil per day. Finally, it’s a great idea to decrease the intake of corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and other oils high in omega 6 fats.
Dietary Herbs, Spices & Flavonoids for Inflammation
Herbs can also be valuable in the management of inflammation, especially during the first stage of recovery, reducing dependence on anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals like NSAIDs. The following are useful anti-inflammatory agents for the first few weeks post-injury.
Curry powder/turmeric this member of the ginger family has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and for wound healing. The active ingredient, curcumin, is likely responsible for the effects. Adding curry in the diet is good, but a turmeric supplement might be more effective since the dose is concentrated. Aim for 7tsp per day of the powder or 400-600mg per day of the supplemental form.
Garlic has been shown to inhibit inflammatory enzymes and increase the function of macrophages. Adding it to the diet is helpful, but a supplement might be even better. Aim for 2-4 garlic cloves each day or 600 to 1,200 mg of aged garlic extract.
Pineapple contains bromelain, another anti-inflammatory plant extract that’s great for digestion and for inflammation/pain relief. Aim for 2 cups of pineapple per day or 500- 1,000 mg in supplemental form.
Cocoa, tea and berries these help manage inflammation through antioxidant activity and influence cell growth/new capillary development during tissue regeneration. While eating more flavonoid rich foods would likely be of benefit during times of acute injury, nutritional supplements containing blueberry or grape extracts, green tea extracts, citrus extracts (hesperedin, naringin, etc), and bioflavonoid supplements containing quercetin/dihydroquercetin and rutin may lead to more marked anti-inflammatory effects.
With all of these supplements, it’s important to remember that we don’t necessarily want a full suppression of inflammation. Indeed, an appropriate inflammatory response guarantees a better recovery response. However, sometimes the response can get too aggressive, damaging surrounding tissues. And that’s why we’re looking for inflammatory control instead of suppression.
Energy, Macronutrients and Remodeling
Let’s now move onto the next stage of injury recovery – proliferation and remodeling. Whenever tissue remodeling and repair are taking place, there is an extra demand on the body.
During injury repair, metabolic rate can increase anywhere from 15-50%. While this sounds high, calorie demands will actually be lower than required during sport training. Here is an example of the energy demands of an 24 year old male who’s 5’9” and 180 pounds
Basal Metabolic Rate:
1,826 kcal/day
Energy needs when sedentary:
2,191 kcal/day
Energy needs with daily training:
3,104 kcal/day
Energy needs post-injury:
2,629 kcal/day
Eating too few calories during the recovery period can prevent full and adequate healing. And, unfortunately, the drastic reduction in physical activity during injury periods can lead to a natural reduction in appetite and food intake. So it’s important to make your athletes aware of sound eating habits and patterns in order to provide enough total energy for proper repair.
When it comes to the macronutrients, generally, during injury recovery, protein intake should be maintained in the 1g/lb range. About 1/3 of one’s dietary fat should come from each type of fat (i.e. 1/3 from saturated fat, 1/3 from monounsaturated fat, and 1/3 from polyunsaturated fat). And, although there’s no requirement for carbohydrate during recovery, it’s important to include enough carbohydrate to support brain function and provide adequate micronutrient intake.
Micronutrients and Remodeling
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required by the body in small amounts for a host of metabolic reactions. And since the injury recovery process relies on many metabolic reactions to proceed, vitamins and minerals can play a key role. The main players in proliferation and remodeling are:
Vitamin A - enhances and supports early inflammation during injury, reverses post- injury immune suppression, and assists in collagen formation. Supplementation with 10,000IU daily for the first 2-4 weeks post-injury is likely a safe approach, although beyond that, the supplement should be removed to avoid toxicity.
Vitamin C - enhances neutrophil and lymphocyte activity during phase 1 of acute injury. Plays an important role in collagen synthesis. Supplementing 1g-2g/day during the first 2-4 weeks post injury is recommended.
Copper - assists in the formation of red blood cells and acts in concert with vitamin C to form elastin and to strengthen connective tissue. Supplementing 2-4mg/day during the first 2-4 weeks post injury is recommended.
Zinc - plays a critical role in tissue regeneration and a deficiency has been associated with poor wound healing. Supplementing 15-30mg/day during the first 2-4 weeks post injury is recommended.
Super-Recovery Nutrients
Keeping with the theme of supporting proliferation and remodeling, there are a host of recovery nutrients that have been shown to have excellent restorative effects during injury recovery. They are:
Arginine - this may stimulate insulin release and growth factors which assist in protein synthesis and connective tissue deposition. Its role in stimulating nitric oxide production may increase blood flow to the injured area and activate macrophages for tissue clean-up. Arginine may also promote the conversion of ornithine to proline. Human doses range from 15-30g per day.
Ornithine - this can improve protein metabolism, shorten healing time, increase healing strength, and increase nitrogen retention. Also, ornithine can be converted to proline, which is essential in collagen deposition. Dosing has been in the 20-30g per day range (10g 2-3x per day).
Glutamine - this is essential for the metabolism of cells that have rapid turnover, such as lymphocytes and enterocytes. During times of stress glutamine needs increase. It's been speculated that glutamine may help speed up wound healing.
HMB - this metabolite of leucine has been shown to inhibit muscle protein breakdown and increase protein balance, leading to potential increases in muscle. HMB may also increase collagen deposition and improve nitrogen balance.
14g arginine, 3g HMB, and 14g glutamine in two divided doses (two doses of 7g arginine, 1.5g HMB, 7g glutamine per day) has been shown to improve recovery time and we recommending including these three nutrients during injury recover.
Of course, all supplements should be purchased from companies that regularly screen for contamination with banned substances. Products that have been screened using NSF (USA) and HFL (UK) technologies have the highest likelihood of being free of banned substances.
Nutrition During Injury Best Practices
Of course, it’s always better to focus our nutrition advice on practical habits vs. impossible to follow mathematical calculations. To this end, and as a summary, here’s a list of best practices for your injured clients and athletes.
  1. Eating frequency - During injury recovery, it’s best to eat every three hours or so.
  2. Protein foods - Each meal should contain protein foods, including lean meats, beans, eggs, soy, and/or a protein supplement. For men, the amount would be two protein portions and for women the amount would be one protein portion. In general, a protein portion is about the size of your palm.
  3. Vegetables & fruit - Each meal should contain one to two servings of vegetables and/or fruit. In general, a veggie/fruit serving is between 1⁄2 - 1 cup of fruit or vegetable.

  1. Whole grains - Minimally processed sources like whole oats, whole grain rice, sprouted grain breads and quinoa are best during injury recovery. Generally, we recommend more carbohydrates while training and fewer while not training.
  2. Nuts/seeds/oils - To achieve a better fat balance, every day, include olive oil, mixed nuts, avocados, flax oil, ground flax, and other seeds. Supplemental fish oil should also be included at a dose of 3-9g per day. It’s also best to cut back on corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil.
  3. Herbs and Phytochemicals For the first 2-4 weeks post-injury, the inclusion of turmeric, garlic, bromelain, and flavanoids from cocoa, tea, and blueberries can help manage inflammation.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals For the first 2-4 weeks post-injury, the inclusion of vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and zinc can assist in the proliferation and remodeling stages of recovery.
  5. Super-Nutrients The inclusion of arginine, HMB, and glutamine can also help during the proliferation and remodeling stages. Just be careful with nutritional supplements, using products that are guaranteed free of banned substances.
By putting these nutritional strategies to work for you and your athletes, not only will you see speedier returns to function, you’ll also see more complete healing and less frequent injury recurrence.
About The Authors
John Berardi and Ryan Andrews are part of the world-renowned Precision Nutrition team. And their work is responsible for bringing elite-level nutrition advice to both high-level athletes and recreational exercisers around the globe. For more great nutrition from Dr Berardi and Ryan Andrews, visit www.precisionnutrition.com.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Pareto Principle

I've come across several versions and explanations of the Pareto Principle, but I like how strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove explained it best on his blog recently:

"The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule and the 'law of the vital few') states that in many things, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist is credited with it's discovery. He observed that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population. After Pareto made his observation and created his formula, many others observed similar phenomena in their own areas of expertise. Quality Management pioneer, Dr. Joseph Juran, working in the US recognized a universal principle he called the "vital few and trivial many" and reduced it to writing. These two studies have generally been combined and become nown as the Pareto Principle.
Over the years, many others observed this rule in action in very different areas - yet the 80-20 rule appeared to hold true.
The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many(80 percent) are trivial. You can apply the 80/20 Rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world.
Some examples:
Relationships: Twenty percent of the people you know (friends, colleagues, family) provide you with 80 percent of nurturing support and satisfaction.
Productivity: Twenty percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your success.
Business: Twenty percent of customers will account for 80 percent of profit (and 20% of your customers will also cause 80% of your problems!
Gardening: Eighty percent of garden peas are produced by 20 percent of the peapods.How can we use the Pareto Principle?
The Pareto principle is great to increase focus. Don't try to do more. Just do more of the right things.
For example, out of all of your negative behaviors, twenty percent of them will contribute to 80 percent of all of your hardship and misery. So working on just these 20 percent can greatly contribute to our personal growth.
Time management is another area where the rule can be very effective. If you have a lot of work to do, break it down to specific activities and figure out what twenty percent of the tasks listed contributes to eighty percent of the results you seek. Second, give your maximum concentration to those 20 percent tasks.
Also recognize that the numbers don’t have to be “20%” and “80%” exactly. The key point is that most things in life (effort, reward, output) are not distributed evenly - some contribute more than others. In fact most things are not 1:1, where each unit of “input” (effort, time) contributes exactly the same amount of output. But what about fitness training? How can we use the Pareto Principle?
Understand that training methods and exercise selection fall under the same rules - 20% of your activities are responsible for 80% of your results.In other words - if you did ten sets of deadlifts - it's likely that you would get 80% of that benefit with only two sets - the law of diminishing returns.
Big, compound exercises recruit more muscle, allow you to use more load and burn more calories than isolation exercises - build your program around them. Identify the effective 20%. For example - Rep for rep - a deadlift or a squat out-performs most other exercises - make sure they are in your program first.
A 30 minute full-body workout performed three times per week - that includes squats, deadlifts, presses and rows will easily be 80% as effective as any other routine that you can think of.
If you keep rest periods short during resistance training- the body doesn't really know that you're not doing cardio. 60s rest periods with full body workouts can reduce the need for direct cardio work.
If you do want to add cardio -minute for minute - interval training burns more calories, increases masimum oxygen uptake and increases EPOC more than steady state work- build your cardio program around interval work.
Lastly however, don’t think the Pareto Principle means only do 20% of the work needed and be happy with 80% of the result.
It may be true that 80% of a bridge is built in the first 20% of the time, but you still need the rest of the bridge in order for it to work--The Pareto Principle is an observation of effectiveness, not a law.
When you are seeking top quality, you need all 100%. When you are trying to optimize your bang for the buck however, focusing on the critical 20% is an excellent tool. See what activities generate the most results and give them your appropriate attention. With a little effort, and the application of the 80-20 rule, we can save a lot of our emotional and physical energy and concentrate on stuff that really matters."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Healthy Sample Meal Plan

Structuring a healthy meal plan around the holidays can be stressful event for many people.  While it’s certainly OK to indulge in moderation at special gatherings with family, friends, and co-workers, designing a healthy daily meal plan will ensure you ingest appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrate (adjust portions accordingly):

Breakfast- Scrambled eggs, Ezekial toast, blueberries, and green tea.

Snack- Cottage Cheese/Greek Yogurt with raspberries

Lunch- Lentil and Barley soup with a side salad of baby spinach, onions, and cucumbers.

Snack- Hummus and raw veggies.

Dinner- Grilled salmon with asparagus, and Quinoa.

*For more information, check out Paul Connolly’s blog at the following: http://pcconditioning.blogspot.com*

What Do You Call It?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

4 Nutrition Facts

·      What you eat and how you eat it can really make or break the effectiveness of your program, regardless of how good it is
·       If you drop your calories too low, you will drastically slow down your metabolism and your body will start to feed off of muscle tissue. Not good!
·       A negative calorie food is a food that requires more energy to digest than it provides...a few examples of negative calorie foods are celery, spinach and lettuce.
·       The glycemic index only applies when the food is consumed by itself.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monday, September 02, 2013

10 Ways to Spot a Bad Trainer

1. They Don't Do Any Assessments
The best trainers perform thorough and complete assessments when working with a new client, before doing anything else.
That means the trainers will do a movement screening and even basic performance tests. And on the nutrition front, that means looking at the client's current food intake and assessing a host of lifestyle variables, including: schedule, primary complaints/discomforts, current level of social support, willingness to change, and more.
But many trainers perform no assessments whatsoever! And if any are performed at all, they're usually done during a free consultation that comes with your gym membership. Often this is a tactic used to pressure a client into purchasing personal training.
That's a huge mistake. Good assessments are the only way to gain real knowledge of a client and make the critical coaching decisions -- without which you have about a snowball's chance of seeing real results. If you're not put through a thorough battery of assessments in your first session, get a new trainer.

2. They Can't Demonstrate Past Successes
Personal training and nutritional consultation isn't cheap. So, you better make sure that you are getting your money's worth. The best trainers keep detailed statistics of their clients. They track client adherence. They log how their clients' bodies are changing and over what time period.
They record performance and lifestyle changes. They keep photo albums with "before" and "after" photos. And they can point to compelling testimonials from previous clients about their services. They can probably even introduce you to a few, so you can talk to them directly about the experience.
The worst trainers don't have any tracked data. If your trainer can't show you compelling evidence that they've helped people like you get the results you want, assume that it's because they've never actually done it before.
If a trainer can't demonstrate his or her previous successes, move on.

3. They Don't Keep up with Health Trends
Most personal trainers in the world today have nothing more than a high school diploma and a personal training certificate they got at a weekend personal training seminar. This is fine if you find a dedicated and knowledgeable trainer. However, a bad trainer with little experience or proper training can be a waste of time and money.
I would recommend looking for someone with multiple certifications who has clearly made it a priority to keep up with new trends. Someone who's gone out and sought a diverse array of knowledge, learning about training methodologies, body composition, nutrition, supplementation and more.
The best trainers go out and do this. They're life-long learners.

4 They aren't Healthy or Fit
Just like realtors who've never owned a home or financial planners who are broke, out-of-shape trainers raise a red flag.
Now, let me clarify. You don't have to look like a fitness model to be fit and healthy. So that's not the standard here. However, if a trainer doesn't have more muscle, less fat, and a better health profile than the average person, why would I listen to any advice on building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthier from them?
It's a no brainer. If a trainer isn't healthy and fit -- and doesn't practice the behaviors necessary to remain that way -- they can't be my coach.

5. They Don't Set Proper Goals"I need to lose 10 lbs;" that's an outcome goal. "I need to exercise 5 times per week;" that's a behavior goal. If your trainer doesn't know the difference between the two, you should look for a new trainer.
Focusing on outcomes is the job of the trainer. Their program needs to be built in such a way that the outcome is an inevitable consequence.
However, focusing on behaviors is the client's job. Therefore any trainer worth your hard-earned dollars, should knows that to achieve success, their clients must be rewarded for successful behaviors, not for specific outcomes.
For example, if you followed this week's habits 90 percent of the time and didn't miss any workouts, that's worthy of a reward -- regardless of the outcome -- because it's this pattern of behavior that'll eventually lead to success.

6: They Don't Plan Ahead 
Before day 1, session 1, after all the assessments are complete, the best trainers will already have, in hand, at least a 3-month plan based on their client's level, needs and goals.
Sure, the plan can be flexible. But there has to be some forethought here.
Bad trainers don't have a plan or a big picture goal. They make stuff up as they go. If your trainer can't show you their 3-month outline on day 1, session 1, after all the assessments are complete, walk away. Fast.

7. They Don't Keep Track
Clients want to achieve something measurable. So, what happens when your trainer or nutritionist measures nothing at all?
The best trainers and nutritionists measure everything. They monitor and record performance variables such as sets, reps, and rest intervals. They monitor nutrition habits and behavior compliance. They monitor workout attendance. They monitor body composition. They take pictures. Need I go on?
The point here is that you miss what you don't measure and record. Also, without metrics, no one knows if progress is actually being made.

8. They Can't Help Every Client 
There are basically three types of coaches. First, there are the ones who are not good trainers, who can't get great results with any of their clients. Next, there are the ones who are great trainers, and can get great results with all of their clients no matter who they are or where they're coming from.
And finally, there are the in-between ones, those who seem to get great results with some clients but can only help a small percentage of those that actually come to see them.
The goal of every trainer should be to learn the techniques and strategies necessary to help every type of client that comes to see them. That's the hallmark of the great ones.

9: They Don't Integrate Training and Nutrition
In order to change your body, there is something you need to know. And you will likely never learn it at a commercial gym.
Exercise, alone, doesn't work. Time and time again, the research has demonstrated that without dietary intervention, even performing 5-6 hours of well-designed exercise programming each week leads to surprisingly little body composition change.
So you can bet that the best trainers offer an integrated nutrition solution as part of their programming. They schedule private nutrition sessions. They assess your nutritional intake and compliance regularly. They show you around the grocery store. And more.
The worst trainers? They either leave you to figure it out on your own. Or they offer useless nutritional sound bytes in between workout sets.

10. They Just Don't Care
Let's be honest here. If your trainer doesn't do most of the activities I've listed above, regardless of whether or not they say they care, they simply don't.
They don't care about being good at their job. They don't care about helping you achieve your goals.

-courtesy of LIVE STRONG: Dr. John Berardi

The Truth About Saturated Fats

With the possible exception of cholesterol, there has never been a more misunderstood facet of nutrition than saturated fat.

Check out the full article here: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_truth_about_saturated_fat

Alternatives to Crunches

Check out the above video, along with 4 other "Crunch alternatives" here:  http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/fitness/getmovingblog/2013/08/five_alternatives_to_crunches.html?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed2

Growing Younger....for FREE!

The best things in life for growing younger are free.

Getting 8 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep every night is tops on my list. So many age-related and fat-burning hormones become optimized when you sleep well.

Exercise daily. Find something that you enjoy and that challenges you. Even a brisk 30-minute walk will do wonders for your health and your mood.

Seek joy and see the world through an inquisitive child's perspective. Happiness lowers your stress hormone cortisol and boosts endorphins.

Now it's your turn: what would YOU add to this list that's free and contributes to vitality and growing younger?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

What Are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise With Depression?

Check out the full article here: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression

Should Kids Strength Train?

One question I've been asked countless times over the years is the following: "Does strength training stunt growth in kids?"  My answer is- and will always be- absolutely not, assuming the individual is performing exercises with proper technique and under the supervision of a qualified instructor.  

I was so incredibly fortunate enough to study under one of the world's top experts on youth strength & conditioning, Dr. Avery Faigenbaum (http://hes.pages.tcnj.edu/faculty-profiles/avery-faigenbaum-2/).  He taught all of his students one major rule when it comes to children and strength training: there is no set chronological age at which a child can begin strength training.  It's the age when a child is emotionally ready to accept and follow direction.....simple as that.  For some kids, this may be age 8, and for others, age 15.  It's all relative.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Excellent Vitamin D video

What's the BEST Nutrition Advice???

One of my favorite nutritionists, Dr. Chris Mohr, said it best......

There's no one diet that's "best" for all. There's no one training program that's "best" for all. Tailored programs are what's "best."

Basketball Power article

Optimizing Basketball-Specific Power

-Paul J. Connolly, NSCA-CPT
Wav Oaks Athletic Club Pers. Training Director

As a basketball enthusiast who both plays the game and trains others who do, I’m constantly seeking out the best methods to enhance and optimize the performance of my clients.  If there’s a way to jump higher, enhance agility, or simply improve overall conditioning levels to avoid getting winded, I want to know about it.  Admittedly, you’ll often find me scouring the Exercise Physiology journals and attending seminars featuring the industry’s top strength and conditioning specialists to not only discover what works, but more importantly, what works the best.  The purpose of this article is to review some basic principles of what an overall basketball strength and conditioning program should possess.  My focus in this article will be power-specific training and will not include conditioning-specific workouts (i.e. cycling and treadmill interval workouts).  I’ll include two specific exercises to incorporate into your training that you should be selecting over others that have little direct transfer onto the court.  

Movement Patterns & Exercise Selection
Think about the sport of basketball for a minute.  Consider the movements your body is engaged in throughout the course of a practice or game.  Your thought process should include actions such as accelerating (sprinting on a fast break), decelerating (leading a break and stopping on a dime for a jump shot), and arguably most importantly, power/vertical jumping ability (leaping as high as possible for a rebound).  These three aforementioned movement patterns constitute a large portion of what your body will go through during a practice or game.  The next step is, of course, to consider what exactly you should be doing in the weight room so that the benefits of your resistance training workouts carry over onto the basketball court.  

Suggestion number one would be to eliminate over-isolation type movements.  These are exercises that typically target only one joint and one muscle group during an exercise.  Leg extensions are my favorite example to use for only the knee joint is involved and the muscles being worked (quadriceps) are done so in isolation.  When in basketball do we isolate the front of the thigh?  If you said “never,” you’re exactly right!  A great lower body exercise that incorporates power (to improve vertical jump) is the “Jump Squat.”  This exercise is a type of lower-body plyometric (jump training) activity.  Go from a standing position into a mini squat and then jump straight up as high as possible, extending the hips and squeezing the glutes while simultaneously reaching as high as possible to stretch the lats.  Performing this movement rather than leg extensions 3 times/week for 3 sets of 6 repetitions should help improve your vertical jump, allowing you to elevate higher for a rebound or even throw one down, a la Kevin Durant.

A second exercise that doesn’t make sense from a basketball standpoint is the classic machine seated chest press.  While the exercise can be beneficial for upper-body strength, it does not improve one’s power.  To improve a basketball player’s horizontal pushing power (think a quick outlet pass to start a fast break), he/she must practice releasing the resistance.  On a chest press machine, the upper back muscles fire/activate at the end of the pushing phase, subsequently slowing down/decelerating the movement.  We never want to slow down an outlet pass.  Sure, we may want to decelerate our momentum as we pull up on a break for a jumper (see page 1, paragraph 2), but never a pass.  

The medicine ball chest pass can be done with a partner (see middle figure below) or against a wall (make sure you are using an appropriate medicine ball that is made for bouncing and a sturdy wall).  Starting from a knees bent position, (I prefer the body position of the figure to the far right below as it portrays a more accurate/safer landing phase after skying for a rebound) throw a chest pass to your partner (or against the wall).  Make sure to throw as hard as you can, extending your arms straight forcing all the upper body muscles involved in pushing and extending your arms to engage (primarily the pectorals, triceps, and anterior deltoids.).  This exercise is considered an upper body plyometric movement.  Like the jump squat, it can also be performed 3 times/week for 3 sets of 6 repetitions.  It can also be used as part of a warm-up (as can the jump squats) prior to the start of a game or practice.  

My hope is that you will consider adopting the aforementioned exercises as part of your basketball strength and conditioning program.  They’ve each been proven to be far more effective than their respective counterparts to improve power- a major variable when it comes to basketball.  As I mentioned, leg extensions and chest presses can improve strength, but certainly not athletic power.  Jeff Green, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard are not spending time on leg extensions to improve their power (as an important and often overlooked side note- genetics plays a large part in determining one’s ability to develop jumping ability via the type of muscle fibers one possesses).  Lebron James and Kevin Durant are not practicing machine seated chest presses to improve their explosiveness either.  Rather, they are engaging in powerful movements like medicine ball chest passes to enhance their outlet passes to their respective point guards, initiating the fast break.  I think you should be doing the same!

About the Author
Certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Paul Connolly has been involved in the fitness industry since 2003, splitting his time between personal training, lecturing, and running group exercise programs.  He maintains an online wellness blog (www.pcconditioning.blogspot.com), and officiates basketball year-round.  Paul can be reached via email at paulconnolly123@gmail.com. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

4 Nutrition Facts

-I recently posted this at the facility I train clients at.  Some of my favorite foods....and super tasty!


Ø  Bananas have less potassium than Kiwi, Apricots, and Avocado

Ø  Greek Yogurt is high in protein, which helps promote fullness. A typical 6-ounce serving contains 15 to 20 grams, the amount in 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat.

Ø  Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. They rank only second to strawberries in popularity of berries in the United States.

Ø  Sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been found to lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels.  They are named after Sardinia, the Italian island where large schools of these fish were once found.