Archive for Performance Training

The Work Isn’t Over When You Leave the Gym

It’s a great feeling walking out of the gym after a hard workout. You feel tired but also a sense of accomplishment and pride. But if the hard work ends as you exit, you’re not maximizing your fitness plan. The work on the field or in the gym is important, but recovering from that work is equally as important.

The prime time to start recovering is within 30 minutes of your workout. Your muscles are strained and tired, so refueling them right away is important. Focus on food and drinks that have high protein and plenty of carbohydrates to replace the glycogen stores (fancy word for energy) that you lost. These types of recovery snacks help you replace energy levels, repair muscle damage and rebuild muscles, making them stronger for the next time.

There are plenty of tasty options that accomplish this. A protein shake after your workout is a great way to get lots of protein into your system quickly. Chocolate milk is another excellent option for quick recovery. String cheese with pretzels offer good sodium as well, which helps prevent cramping. Apples or bananas with peanut butter also have a good protein/carb balance. Your first meal post-workout should also have plenty of healthy proteins and carbs. Avoid fast or junk food after a workout, as they offer little recovery benefits.

The work doesn’t stop after you’ve finished your last mile or cranked out your last rep. Plan ahead, have your recovery snack ready and reap the benefits of your hard work.

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On The Road With USA Football Pt. 2

After arriving at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada last Thursday, this past week has been a whirlwind.  The first step was to unload all of our supplies and get the new “training room” set up.  This in itself is no small feat, as football requires much more athletic training supplies than nearly any other sport.  While a dorm room doesn’t make an ideal training room, Sarah and I have been able to transform it into a functional space to tape and treat, and have done a lot of both!

When it was announced that this tournament was going to be held in Canada, I thought we wouldn’t have to deal with any heat issues.  The average high for Langley this time of year is 71 degrees.  Of course, we experienced a heat wave of record highs, and temperatures on game day soared to around 90 degrees.  Thankfully, the ladies did a great job of hydrating and taking our advice leading up to the game and we were able to come away without any issues.  After a bit of a slow start, we were able to get things clicking and came out with a 29-0 victory over a very athletic Mexico team.

After two busy days of practice, treatments and recovery time, team Finland was next.  Thankfully, the heat wave broke and temperatures were back to normal.  With the nervousness of the first game behind them, the ladies came out and played well, securing a 48-0 win.  The victory puts us in the Gold Medal Game against our biggest rival and Tournament host, Canada.

Already you can feel a new tension in the air as we prepare for the championship game.  Team Canada has played well in their wins over Australia and Great Britain.  Sarah and I are doing our best to keep the training room light and relaxed, giving the players a refuge from the tension of meetings and practice.  Thankfully, injuries have been minimal.  Only one player was held from practice today.  Treatments have consisted mainly of massage, stretching, cupping, and everyone’s favorite, the ice tubs.  Our little courtyard at the dorm has a fire pit, which has made a nice addition to evening ice baths, and made for some good team bonding time.  It’s funny how each of these trips take on their own personality.

Friday evening we will have the opportunity to accomplish our goal of bringing home the Gold.  The coaches will put together a great game plan, Sarah and I will continue to do everything we can to help the ladies compete at their highest level, and I’m sure they will leave everything they have out on the field.  Hopefully it will be enough.

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SVSP Back on the Road With USA Football

Each summer one of USA Football’s national teams participates in the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championships and each year St. Vincent Sports Performance is right there providing premier medical support along the way.  Last year, Chad Gabbard and I traveled to Harbin, China, with the U19 national team. This year, it’s the women’s national team on their quest for gold.

Sarah Luken and myself have spent the past week at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, working with the team through training camp.  As it is every year, it’s been amazing to watch how quickly individuals from all over the country come together as a team in such a short time.  In my opinion, football is the ultimate team sport, and with the bond this team has forged so quickly, the U.S. is well on their way to another solid performance.

This squad of 45 women represent 15 different states, and ranges in age from 21 to 47 years old.  One thing that makes working with the women’s national team a bit more challenging is the fact that nearly all of the players have just finished up their regular season back home or are in the middle of their playoffs.  In fact, about half of the team reported to camp the day after they just played a game.  This adds to an already delicate balance of getting in the practice time we need, along with making sure they have time to rest and recover before we head to Canada and play three games in eight days.

Needless to say, the training room has been a popular place.  When not on the field, in meetings, or at meals, chances are you’ll find Luken and I in there doing everything we can to help these ladies stay healthy and able to perform their best.

Today is our last day of camp.  We’ll finish with an “ice tub party,” get all our supplies packed back up, and get ready to head north of the border tomorrow morning.  Saturday afternoon we open up against Mexico.

Stay tuned.

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2017 Summer Training Schedule

Register today for any of these programs and make 2017 the best summer ever with SVSP!

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How do I Stop a Plateau?

It is one of the most frustrating things in the world to feel as if you are stuck at a certain point in athletics; when you can’t improve upon a race time, your vertical jump height doesn’t increase, or you’re not able to add more weight to your back squat.  This phenomenon is commonly referred to as a plateau, and a suggestion that has frequently surfaced to remedy the situation is a “never-do-the-same-workout-twice” strategy.  This strategy, often called “muscle confusion,” involves doing many different types of training to keep your body guessing and “confuse” your muscles into continued growth.  What people who follow this type of training often fail to realize is that our muscles receive orders from the brain and are not independent structures that become bored and stop producing results after a few weeks.  We have to be smart with our training, the stressors on our body, and the stimuli that we send to our muscles.  If we are constantly switching things up in a weight training program, our bodies will not have time to adapt and improve.  So, how do we prevent a decline in performance?  How long should we actually be performing exercises before we switch things up?  If you have ever wondered about plateaus, here are a few ways to make sure that you are maximizing your training and seeing results consistently over time.

Work with a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach

One of the biggest benefits of a proper strength & conditioning facility is that you have a coach who programs based on your individual needs.  This should involve periodized strength & conditioning programming that involves a build without plateau, peaks for when you need them, and monitoring/adjustment of programming as needed.  Knowing which exercises to perform, how many sets and reps you should do, and how often these variables should change is extremely important in training.  Because of the importance and complexity involved in strength & conditioning programming, having a qualified professional to guide you is imperative to long-term athletic success.

Become great at the basics

You do not need as much variety in training as you think.  If you consider how you train in sport, it involves repeating the important skills over and over again in practice to perfect your technique.   To a certain extent, this same concept needs to be applied in strength training.  Your body must learn to efficiently and safely move through basic movement patterns: squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, and rotate.  There are many different variations of exercises that fall into these basic categories, but it is important to master the basics and allow adaptations to occur before progressing to a more complex version of an exercise.  You need a solid foundation for sport, and your exercises in the weight room should be selected based on function and usefulness to you as an individual, and not on the complexity or attractiveness of the movement.

Protect your body from injury

Training should be pain-free and should include movements that help protect against future injury.   This includes: performing a warm-up that will prepare you for movement and is specific to your movement deficiencies, including soft-tissue work into your daily routine, ensuring that areas of the body that are supposed to be mobile are, ensuring that areas of the body that are supposed to be stabile are, etc.  Your Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach will help you identify where the “leaks” in your system are and prescribe movement patterns that will increase your efficiency as an athlete and prepare you for the demands of life and sport.  Preparedness is the key to injury prevention!

Train as an individual

Not everyone should be doing the same warm-up or strength training exercises, just like not every athlete will need to work on the same sport skill for the same amount of time as everyone else on the team.  Your body is unique, your training needs are different, and what works for someone else will not necessarily work for you.  For these reasons, it is important to listen to your body, perform the exercises that work for your anatomy and training needs, and learn what works to make YOU better.  The movements you perform do not need to rigidly follow a universal model of training or even be “sport-specific.”  They must be specific to you and need to be intentionally placed within your programming.  Within the confines of energy, time, etc., it is important to be intentional with training to optimize opportunity for improvement.

Rest, eat properly, and hydrate

Maximizing your athletic potential involves making smart decisions both on and off the field/court/etc.  You need to make sure that you’re drinking enough water, fueling your body with the proper nutrition, and sleeping/resting enough.  While some may struggle with consistency and drive, others find themselves losing momentum because they are doing too much.  Non-stop training, or training that isn’t done well, will eventually wear on you regardless of how accomplished you feel.  Not only will you feel the physical effects of overtraining, but the mental effects as well.  It is important to establish healthy habits early to set yourself up for success.  The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to reap the benefits.

In conclusion, “muscle confusion,” is not the answer to avoiding plateau.  It is possible for your improvement to waver, but it is NOT possible to confuse your muscles into avoiding the drop.  Your body will need to slow down or stop during your athletic career, but there are steps you can take to manage your health and prevent a decline in performance.  Focus on the things that you can control and reach out to qualified professionals for the answers that you don’t have.  Have you experienced a plateau before?  Are you wondering what you can do to try to prevent one?  Contact us and let us know how we can help!

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Travel Blog: USA Football in Florida; Part 2

Thursday January 26th

Taping and treatments started at 7am. Our last padded practice was this morning. The coaches and athletes are getting so excited for this game. Practice ends and we head back to the hotel for lunch and some down time before treatments starts. Our second practice is a helmet only practice to allow the boys to focus on attention to detail. The day ends at 9pm.

Friday January 27th

Last practice before the big game with Canada. The motto all week has been “Let’s go 1-0.”  Taping and treatments start at 7am. We are really healthy right now and the boys have really listened to what I have told them to do and have followed my instructions very well. We have a great group of kids and coaches. Our last practice of the day gives the boys an opportunity to hear from a four star general about football. It’s amazing how much patriotism you have when you have the USA logo on the front of your chest. The day ends and we do some final treatments and get the boys to bed for some rest.

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Saturday January 28th

Game day!!! The guys get a chance to sleep in today. We meet as a team at 9am to have breakfast and talk about the day. My day is filled with last minute treatments before we start taping at 2pm for our game. We head to the field for our game at 5:30pm. Final stretching and taping and the boys are ready to go. What a game for Team USA! We score in the first 10 seconds and that sets the tone for the game. The defense plays unbelievably and keep Canada from scoring. This is the first time the U18 USA team has beaten Canada. As we end the game, it’s a time to thank everyone and make sure everyone is safe for the trip home. What another great week with SVSP and USA Football!

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NFL Combine Training: Week One

As SVSP strength and conditioning coach Greg Moore would say, “you can’t rush the process”. The journey for our NFL hopefuls is now a week old, and the process has just begun.

Week one was filled with introductions, assessments, meetings and of course, workouts.

Grand Park offers space to do movement and football workouts

Grand Park offers space to do movement and football workouts

 

First item on the agenda: movement screens

First item on the agenda: movement screens

 

Our athletes will never be dehydrated

Our athletes will never be dehydrated

 

Recovery provided by Rockin Refuel!

Recovery provided by Rockin Refuel!

 

Running into week two like...

Running into week two like…

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How Much Protein Do You Need?

Walk down almost any isle in the grocery store and you’ll see bold or italic letters on products with a common word: protein. Products want you to know that their stuff has more of it now, whether it’s 10 grams, 12 grams, or 20 grams per serving. So, how much do you actually need? Before that question is answered, let’s talk about the benefits of protein.

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Why You Need It

Protein not only produces energy, but it builds and maintains muscle mass as well. Getting adequate protein on a daily basis is a must if you’re trying to build muscle or actively trying to burn fat. Protein also reduces the excess carbohydrates that we take in with processed foods. Protein packs a punch, so make sure you’re getting enough.

How Much You Need

As great as protein is, your body can only absorb a certain amount for proper use. The maximum amount of protein you can consume daily is around one gram per pound of body weight. If you weigh 160 pounds, that’s 160 grams per day.

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The best way to consume protein is in smaller, more frequent ways throughout your day. Getting 20-40 grams five or six times during your day is better than gorging yourself for dinner. In fact, breakfast and bedtime are crucial times to get protein in your system. Whether it’s a shake or snack, lean protein in the morning and before bed go a long way in building and maintaining muscle mass.

 

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The AGE Old Question

At what age can athletes begin strength training? The answer is slightly more complex than just assigning a number. Every person is different when it comes to development, and every person is different when it comes to strength.

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What is strength training?

Strength training boils down to moving your body. Lifting weights is strength training, but the foundation of every athlete is sound movement. That being said, athletes can start developing good movement habits as young as 4th or 5th grade without ever touching weights. Learning how to properly move the body in space is far more important than lifting weights at any age.

Weight and resistance training

Once the athlete establishes good movement patterns, they can begin weight and resistance training as they physically mature. For an athlete starting out, lighter is always better and the focus should be on the quality of the movement rather than the quantity of weight. You will build more strength doing a squat properly with no weight than poorly with 200 pounds. Injuries can occur easily with heavy weight so understanding that quality is more important than quantity is crucial.

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Most high school athletes are expected to know how to use weight training on some level. In order to gain strength, understanding that movement is the foundation will go a long way to ensuring safety and growth for your young athlete.

 

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Make Your Push-Ups Count

Turns out, push-ups are great for more than just building a strong chest. But to completely utilize push-ups in your workout routine, there are five areas to focus on:

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Elbows

Instead of flaring your elbows out to make a ‘T’ shape, keep your elbows in line with your wrists. This will form an arrow shape with the rest of your body.

Backside and Back

Flexing both your core and your backside goes a long way in stabilizing your back. You want your back to be straight as you lower and raise your body from the push-up position.

Hips

Don’t let your hips lead the way to the floor. Your upper body should initiate the movement and be the first thing to reach your downward destination. Having a straight back automatically makes this easier!

Hands

If your fingers aren’t pointing straight ahead, stop! Your hands need to be facing forward at all times to avoid stress on your shoulders.

Shoulder Blades

Your shoulder blades shouldn’t stay in one place. They need to protract and retract (fancy words for scrunch together and move apart) as you go down and come back up.

 

If you’re more of a visual learner, this video outlines everything in this blog. Push-ups are easy and effective, so don’t waste time by doing them wrong!

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