It was just this morning. I was in my usual morning daze, coffee in hand. Focused on making my way to the break room, I overheard a conversation that immediately provoked me from my coma-like state. “I can barely walk because my legs hurt so bad,” they said. It was not that I wanted to eavesdrop on the conversation, but it was my client participating in a group class. In that moment, I certainly hoped I was not the cause of the alleged leg pain as it had been at least three days since we last trained. Naturally, I tuned into the remainder of the conversation. Long story short, the culprit was a ridiculously high volume of back squats the day before. OUCH! The inadvertent eavesdrop session left only one question: why?
Throughout an individuals’ life, and regardless of professional athlete, exerciser, or straight-up gym enthusiast, everyone has a goal. A reason they do what they do. Maybe it’s dominating Boise’s 13-mile uphill race, Robie Creek, a little faster this year. Perhaps that next powerlifting or weightlifting competition has your name on it. Or maybe, you just want to feel and move better.
Nevertheless, a goal has been established and you have given yourself a reason, a why. One thing I want to make clear: goals are not without challenge. Goals are not without pain. Having said this, how can you not only reach your goals but continue past them without injury? Have a plan and STAY IN YOUR LANE.
Personally, I love competition. Training for something specific not only gives me a goal but drives me to better myself. It challenges me to make specific sacrifices. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind. Stay the Course! Specifically, train like your favorite athlete would.
Something I believe most individuals miss is that even pro athletes must take rest days. Even Elite Level Crossfitters must follow a periodized (rest time included) training regime. How else did they get that strong? That fast? That conditioned to stop failure in its tracks?
Train hard so that you can rest hard. And before completely destroying yourself, have a reason. Give yourself a why!
Jack City Fitness Fitness Coach
As parents, we want what is best for our kids, right? If your son or daughter’s dream is to play college sports, professional sports, or to be the best they can in their specific sport, their training needs to match that goal. They need training that is smart and safe in order to become elite athletes.
More and more I see kids playing a sport multiple times a day, every day of the week, with no real offseason. On top of that, they are also incorporating strength training as well as speed and agility. This idea that more training and playing year-round is going to help them become better athletes is not always true.
What is Smart Training?
We need to shift our thinking to smarter, more efficient training and recovery for young athletes. This is going to be the key to your child’s success. It’s time to let go of the idea that destroying them anytime they walk into a gym or onto the field is going to improve their performance. This also means letting go of the idea of early specialization. Early specialization is when your child is intensely training year round for one sport. Contrary to most beliefs, delaying this will reduce injury and lead to further success.
Take a Look at the Pros
Some of the best professional athletes were playing multiple sports growing up. They weren’t focused on just one sport. What does that tell us? It means that early specialization isn’t the recipe for success, and it won’t take that kind of approach for your child to become an elite athlete.
Cons of Early Specialization
Early specialization in a sport will most likely lead to injuries due to overuse, which will setback your child’s athletic career. This can cause psychological stress that leads to burnout and possibly even quitting the sport they loved.
Overuse injuries occur from doing repetitive movements and participating in too much activity too quickly. Overuse injuries unique to young athletes include apophyseal injuries (inflammation at the site of a major tendinous insertion onto a growing bony prominence) and physical (growth plate) stress injuries.
According to a study done in 2017 on the association of sports specialization and training volume with injury history in youth (where over 2 thousand kids ages 12-18 were questioned) recommends playing in a specific sport less than eight months out of the year and limiting participation to fewer hours per week than the child’s age.
So What’s Best for Young Athletes?
Having your child play in a variety of sports is recommended in order to develop the diverse skills they need. We need to educate parents and coaches about the risks of overuse injuries. Training needs to be foundational. Young kids working on sport specific training such as speed and agility work, ladder drills, etc. does not lead to better performance.
Youth athletes working on speed and agility will eventually plateau and not improve without first building a foundation of strength. You must be able to generate high amounts of force against an external load to be fast. The stronger you are, the more force that will be applied. This will improve their acceleration, speed, and agility.
Here’s the Key
Becoming stronger is the key factor in building a foundation and improving your power, speed, and agility. However, adding weight too quickly while neglecting form and technique will lead to plateaus and even worse, injury. Youth athletes should be developing proper movement patterns and motor control. Remember, the quality of training is highly favored over quantity. A well-supervised program will lead youth athletes to success.
Also, making sure that your child is getting adequate time between practices and training, quality sleep, and sufficient hydration are all equally important. Dehydration leads to poorer cognitive function and motor skills that lead to poor training and sports performance.
Physical, cognitive, and social maturity, as well as proprioception, play key roles to determine when it is a good time to start strength training.
What’s the Ultimate Goal?
The goal is to train your child for the longevity of their athletic career and their life. The chances of your child playing professionally, unfortunately, are slim. To put this into perspective, there are 8 million kids playing youth sports while less than 500 thousand are going to play for college. There is only a little over one percent that play professionally in basketball, football, and soccer. Nine percent end up making it in baseball, and six point four percent make it in hockey. So let’s not hurt them in pursuit of a dream that may or may not come true. We should be more focused on long-term health and development.
Jack City Fitness
Determine Your Tomorrow
I think the famous quote by Jerry Rice goes something like, “do today what others won’t so that tomorrow you can do what others can’t”. In a town nobody cares to remember, with a population of next-to-nothing, Matt Paradis grew up playing 8-man football. Those facts alone, I would say he started at a bit of a disadvantage.
In 2008, Matt graduated high school with aspirations to continue his athletic career at Boise State University. But as one might assume coming from such a tiny team, Matt did not receive any scholarships or even an invite to check out the Boise State Football facility. Apparently he was all but laughed away when he attempted to walk on with the team.
It was certainly not because Boise State could not use him. The problem was that enough time simply did not exist for Matt to learn 11-man football at a level enabling him to play at the collegiate level. Every attempt was made to get Matt to quit, to walk away. The word “grit” may be the only way to define how Matt Paradis stuck out this situation. Grit is defined as courage, resolve or strength of character. It is a relentless pursuit and will to be the best.
Two years as a Red-Shirt and three seasons as Boise State’s Starting Center, Matt received several prestigious awards before the end of the 2014 season. With several injuries that would undeniably retire anyone from football, Matt’s dreams proved much larger.
Invited to participate in the 2014 NFL Combine as well as Boise State’s pro day, Matt finished in the middle of the pack. Again, something that would make everyone else question their own ability. Then in the 6thround of the NFL Draft, Matt was picked up by the Denver Broncos. The fact that Matt never quit still blows my mind to this day.
However, after a short training camp, Matt was dropped to Training Squad then again to Reserve. It would not be until the following year that Matt would get another shot at earning his place on the roster. In 2015, Matt started as the Center for the Denver Broncos. That year, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl. Matt was ranked as the Best Center in the NFL and earned the largest performance-based bonus of any player in the NFL for 2015. Matt is still the Starting Center for the Denver Broncos to this day.
Breaking it Down…
It’s true none of us are competing for a spot on the football roster, although, stories about struggle and sacrifice always seem to hit home. Especially when the story is true. The question is, why does one goal have to outweigh another?
It is said that making it to the gym is the hardest part. But if that were true, you should have just stayed in bed. Sleep is much more important than a mediocre attempt at reaching for your goals. What if it means more than just simply exercising? Reaching for your goals means you, and only you, must make the decision to train.
Training means showing up, even when you don’t want to. It means showing up, even when the programmed training session is the last thing you want to do.
I often wonder how Matt made it through all those grueling practices and training sessions knowing that he probably wouldn’t get to play any time soon. Was it that he loved the game or was it because he fell in love with the process? (The process that made him the Most Valuable Center in the NFL.)
In the end, he found that the result was worth the process. Unfortunately, many of us fail to value the result enough to fall in love with the process. Many of us avoid the process because it means hitting the time cap after you chose to work through full range of motion rather than just getting through it. It means slowing down to do it right and possibly getting last place because of it. It means listening to the person you hired to get you the result, your coach. J.P. Auclair said, “If the process is what you love most, every expedition is successful whether you get to the top or not”.
What you do today, determines your result tomorrow.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY
I watched a video yesterday about Professional triathlete Jan Frodeno, the reigning Ironman World Champion. It was a video outlining “a day in the life” of an elite triathlete’s training regimen. In my own pursuit of professional status in triathlons, I figured it would be a good indicator of where I need to end up. The volume of work he put out in a single day was extremely impressive, and I couldn’t help but be a little humbled as to my own physical limits and the long journey that awaits me to get there. This got me thinking about a very important aspect to any athlete and their ability to get to the next level of training… their work capacity!
Work capacity is the determining factor of what someone can and cannot do. The difference between the amateur and the professional athlete is often shown by the amount of effort they can do and the time they are able to sustain a certain intensity during training or a competition. The greater an athlete’s capacity to do work, the greater their potential to improve. Work capacity can be manifested in a variety of forms: lifting a heavier load, maintaining a certain intensity over time, repetitions of maximal effort in a certain amount of time, etc. Developing a greater work capacity is a key component to improving athletic performance across any discipline. The more someone can do in training or in competition safely, the better.
Being able to do more work comes at a certain cost. When trying to develop higher work capacity, you are pushing the body’s limits; because of this, peak performance will tend to suffer from the greater need of recovery and breakdown being experienced during periods of training to improve this aspect of athleticism. Training to develop work capacity is difficult to do. Pushing the envelope of physical capacity requires digging deep and doing more than what you have done before, mentally and physically. Needless to say, it is a strenuous process that if not balanced correctly can do as much harm as it’s potential for good. There is a fine line between training to improve work capacity and causing harm to the body. Without proper recovery and nutrition during these periods of training, the body will only breakdown and get injured rather than experience positive adaptations that will result in greater work capacity.
Increasing the total volume of work you can handle is key in continuing to see progress and elicit physical adaptations. If you only do a specific amount of work day in and day out, your body eventually will regulate itself and its recovery rate in order to not waste excess energy. This is when the body has adapted itself to make it more efficient at performing certain amounts of work and creates a threshold. If this threshold is never tested, the body will not continue to build and improve, performance will suffer, and strengths gains will stagnate. The body builds muscle and adapts to greater physical capabilities not to be able to lift more weight or run faster, rather, these adaptations are a result of the body trying to more easily support the daily stresses placed upon it. When given the chance, it will adapt extremely well, and the body will do everything it can to use as little energy as possible to function at it’s minimal capacity necessary to live. The way to increase work capacity comes in the form of remembering the principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands; in other words, your body will adapt specifically to the resistances and workouts you put it through. Increasing work capacity comes in changing the imposed demand to a greater amount than previously experienced.
One big problem with athletes trying to improve their work capacity is that they do too much too soon and get injured as a result, losing a few weeks of training. It’s important to remember that the closer you reach to your current threshold, the smaller the amounts of improvement are going to be. This is why a new lifter is perhaps able to improve their lifts by 10’s or 20’s of pounds every month, or a runner is able to shave off minutes from their race times each race, where the professional athlete is happy to improve a single pound on their total lifts, or run 0.1 second faster than last year. When you reach towards that limit of intensity you are currently at, you can’t approach the improvements and weekly progressions the same way. With that in mind, training at your threshold to force the body to push beyond that limit requires careful tracking, increased time of recovery work, specific nutritional practices, and slow, measured, and controlled increases to the load. Remembering that the amount of weight on the bar is not the only way to show improvements is important in order to develop a proper training program to improve work capacity. Doing more sets, more reps, less rest in between sets, and any combination of this can also be indications and tools to be used to improve.
A general scheme to increasing work capacity comes in a progressive manner slowly introducing higher intensities, resistances, and durations of work.
Week 1: Establish a beginning intensity, 70% of the maximal effort (1RM, Pace Per Mile, etc).
Weeks 2-6: Increase training zone at start of week 2 (75%) and slightly increase every week through week 6 to 95%. Remember to include increases in sets, reps, or decreases in rest during training. Volume is just as effective as anything else to improve.
Week 7: Taper and recovery week, return to beginning training zone (Week 1).
Weeks 8-11: Slightly increase training zone from week 6 and slightly increase every week through week 11, Work to 105%.
Week 12: Taper and recover (just above beginning training zone).
(Re-test maximal effort numbers and reset the training loads to start the 12 weeks over again.)
I recommend not doing more than two 12-week-cycles training work capacity to avoid any injuries and also prevent any stagnation in your progress. Even when training at threshold, the body will find a way to adapt and minimize the energy demands to grow and improve. It’s always good to change things up after a program has done its job.
Every Day… A Little Stronger
By: Sam Winston, M.S. Human Performance Coach
There’s a number of qualities required to be able to reach the ever-so-sought-after “next level.” We all recognize them in our role models and in ourselves when we exhibit them. These characteristics are useful because their application induces a lifestyle conducive to the desire to become stronger every day. To name a few, we have Determination, Motivation, Confidence, Perseverance, Strong-Will, Proactivity, Hard Work, etc etc. Just mentioning these things creates a need to go accomplish something before the day gets started. Each of these qualities brings something important to the application of athletic routines and reaching the goals you have for yourself.
Out of all the qualities that one SHOULD possess to pursue athletic goals, there is one that is immensely under-appreciated. After having the opportunity to work with and witness some of the greatest athletes in the world, they all seem to exhibit this particular ability more than anyone else around them…
It may seem like a small and insignificant skill, or even one that is just assumed to exist. The unfortunate truth is that we as athletes and people going after greater goals apply this important characteristic far too little. Focus is not a given. Just because you go to the gym and get your routine done doesn’t mean you are focused. Focus is not small and insignificant; this is how you ensure each step taken is taken in the right direction. Focus is not easy even though it may seem so. Proper focus takes time and effort to develop and apply, and when you are truly focused, the process of achievement produces greater gains (intellectually and physically).
Focus is an application of complete concentration of the task at hand. None of the following occurs: distractions, interruptions, deviations, variations, or change. When proper focus is performed, things take a state of consistency and remain that way until the task is accomplished.
All of the greatest athletes in the world know how to focus. They understand the need to be able to shut out the world and envelope themselves in their training, dedicating their efforts to a complete execution of the skills being performed. They understand that without this skill, they cannot apply the proper intensity, mindset, or adjustments needed to make themselves better. How can someone possibly expect to maintain a high level of performance when their minds are not directed to a singular purpose? How can they even imagine understanding the fine details of their training if they have the rest of their worries and lives intermixed in their thoughts while they practice? Focus is a very important cognitive skill that athletes need to dedicate more time towards mastering. Guaranteed, if you learn how to properly focus in your workouts, you will train better and improve more. Here are some very useful tips on how to practice and develop better focusing skills.
1) Keep a journal about your training sessions, update, and study them every night. This will encourage your mind to focus on analyzing the skills you practiced and how you performed on a more cognitive level because you will be describing them through writing. Do this every night and you will create a daily habit of focusing solely on your training.
2) Create a playlist that inspires you to train, and listen to it every time you are about to workout. And DO NOT CHANGE IT. This will create an association with your mind that when you hear this music, you are getting ready to change; your body will begin to unconsciously prepare itself mentally and physiologically, creating a base for good focusing.
3) Meditate and visualize your training environment. Picture your facilities, the area, the smells, the feelings, the sounds. Be very detailed and visualize a training session, step by step. Visualize yourself from various angles, visualize your movements, and make the image as vivid as possible, concentrating on the different senses. The more you do this, the easier it will become to concentrate on these qualities of your training sessions when they are happening in real life.
These are just a few tricks to help you develop greater focusing skills. Apply them and reap the benefits!
Every Day… A Little Stronger
As an athlete training for certain goals, one of the things that I am constantly monitoring and gaging are the numbers that I am producing during sessions. Measurements are an important part of tracking progress and checking your training’s efficiency. Every level of fitness or sport has a need to take measurements. However, the kinds of measurements and how often they are taken provide a great deal of influence on the approach and goal setting for your routine. It is important to understand the pros and cons of measurements as well as the benefits and problems they bring to a training program.
There are various ways to measure a person in regards to fitness or sport. Weight, circumference, skin folds, one-repetition maximums, VO2 max, lactate threshold, ten-repetition max, biomechanical analysis, bioimpedence, hydrostatic weighing, flexibility tests, reaction time, resting heart rate, maximum heart rate…etc. In general, there are lots of ways to measure two different things: body composition and physical performance.
Body composition brings a lot of benefits to program planning. The majority of people who go to a gym or begin exercising do so because they want to lose weight, look better, or something along the lines of aesthetics. Body composition is directly related to the way the body looks. The benefits of measuring body composition come in the form of visual progress. Because it’s a clear number that is written down and tracked, there’s little room for interpretation and it’s a good indicator of nutritional and physical efficiency. The cons of body composition are numerous. Principally in that body composition only indicates progress in a single sense; weight is weight and weight is not body fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, or any other item. It can also be a poor indicator of good health as most guidelines for body composition measurements are based on a very general population and often neglect to address outlying issues such as genetics, chronic disease, age groups, and previous health history.
Performance measurements are a method of determining the body’s capacity for specific types of work: cardio, strength, speed, agility, flexibility, etc. Performance measurements are taken for a different aspect of fitness programming, which ignores body aesthetics and focuses on what the body is able to accomplish with movement. The benefits of measuring for performance tell more than just a single aspect of your fitness. For example, if you have increased your one-repetition max for a lift, you have increased mental confidence, muscular strength, muscular efficiency, proprioception, and other factors. Performance measurements also compliment other facets of your training; as performance increases, the body naturally changes to become more efficient at performing various activities. The disadvantages of performance measurements are that it is very easy to create excuses to justify a lack of progress. There’s a lot of interpretation and factors involved with performance and completion of fitness activities. It is not straight forward, making it easy to take less seriously.
The aspects of your fitness that you wish to measure depend greatly on what you are hoping to accomplish. A good piece of advice is to not completely depend on performance or composition measurements independently. Each has their benefits and their disadvantages, making them strong compliments to one another. With proper guidance on how to interpret any of these numbers and figures involved in your fitness journey, the efficiency of your training and success of your program will rise to new levels and produce even greater results in your performance and composition.
Every Day… A Little Stronger
By Sam Winston, Strength and Performance Coach
I have to admit that I have been writing a lot lately about the benefits of intervals, heavy lifting and generally higher intensity style training. It would almost appear as if I am against cardiovascular training. But if I’m a triathlete, how can I be against cardio? Sufficient to say, I am in no way against cardio endurance training and full heartedly embrace it’s benefits and place in the training world.
Cardiovascular endurance training is an extremely important part of any training regimen as it provides a series of benefits to help promote overall strength gains and health improvement.
First and foremost, there is no better way to strengthen your heart (considering it is a muscle) than to spend long continuous bouts with an elevated heart rate. Much like any other muscle, the more you use your heart and the more you place resistance and intensity on it, the more efficiently it will perform. This will be gained in the way of a lower heart rate, better stroke volume, even strokes, and higher capacity for work.
Secondly, keeping the body under the stress of continuous cardio stress helps improve your hormonal profile by forcing adaptations to take place by releasing endorphins and other necessary hormones to regulate your body’s ability to sustain the effort. As your body uses it’s hormones to accomplish the task, it adapts and figures out ways to be more efficient at using it’s resources to be more efficient.
Thirdly, cardiovascular endurance is a handy attribute to have, it makes living easier, it opens up the possibilities to perform a variety of activities to support your well being. Increasing your capacity to work can translate to many other areas of your life. Having the endurance to participate in all day activities and being able to do your full days work without being overly exhausted only makes life better!
There are many other benefits to adding some good cardio to your strength training routine. But listing the benefits does nothing if you don’t do cardio training properly. A couple of pointers to keep in mind when doing cardio is to properly warm up prior to performing the desired work. Most forms of cardio training puts a lot of pressure and constant stress on the joints and muscles, so avoid getting injured by doing a good warm up. Cardio training doesn’t need to last hours and hours to receive all the benefits. 30-45min of good constant training can do a world of good towards increasing your cardiovascular endurance. Always eat something within 30min of completeing a cardio session lasting more than 20 minutes, preferably something with some carbs and protein.
Performing cardio endurance training is a huge benefit to any strength routine. The amount you should do highly depends on your goals and level of fitness, however under the direction of a qualified coach or personal trainer, you can reap some serious benefits to improving your body.
10mile fartlek run
Box hops 5×10
Bench Press 5×5
-Superset with pull-up 5×5,6,7,8,10
Row machine 2x3min