Friday, August 29, 2014

The 5 Worst Football workout exercise habits you need to break today

For many football players, doing the right or wrong exercises in the gym can make or break your season. Worse yet shorten your career.

Your body is an investment and you think, "Where do I focus my efforts? Do I do speed, agility, and quickness drills? Should I lift weights explosively? Are plyometrics the way to go?" You fumble around the gym, pretending to know what you are doing and hopefully not get hurt in the process. And soon football is something you used to play. Career over!

It really doesn't have to be that way if you know what to focus on. First, erase everything you've learned about exercise and working out for football. Keep it simple, get good at the basics and start by avoiding these 5 bad habits!

1. Combining skill training and strength training

The research on skill transfer is very clear...skills don't transfer from one task to the other.  Skills are classified as "open" or "closed".  Exercises like power cleans and flipping truck tires are examples of a closed skill, even tho you can't make a sports drink commercial without someone doing them, they have no transfer the "open" skill set the game of football requires.

The right approach is to build strength in safest and most productive way in the gym by doing proper weight training, then go out to the football field and practice your skill for your sport and position.  This means that if you're a quarterback working on throwing mechanics and footwork, do so in helmet and pads on the football field and not on a beach in the sand with a bungee cord strapped to your waist.

2. Avoiding Exercise Machines

Are machines better than free weights?  It's an age old question and everyone has their opinion.  The facts are, your body is a rotational animal and free weights have resistance from one direction, physics tell us that there's only a very small part of any free weight exercise where there's direct resistance on the muscle. 

If you're using the best machines available (which few teams do), machines are far more productive than free weights because they give the proper resistance throughout the range of motion.  In understanding the limitations of free weights you can adjust your strength and conditioning program accordingly to the most productive exercises.

3. Taking a Fast & Furious Approach

There are more injuries in sports now more than there ever was.  I see so many athletes doing their weight training completely wrong. Fast reps, not complete reps, etc. Exercises like power cleans, plyometrics, and explosive exercises are the single most cause of injury either directly or indirectly today.  They put your body under a tremendous amount of force that can set an athlete up for a disastrous injury.

During weight training, take 4 seconds to lift and 4 seconds to lower the weight and pausing in the contracted position. When you're lifting the weight slow and controlled your muscles actually do all the work, not momentum which not only builds strength faster but is much safer as well. 

4. Plyometrics

Jumping up on plyo boxes and various plyometric hops may look impressive but at what cost?  The joints and connective tissue take an absolute beating during plyometrics.  Explosive power is almost entirely dictated by your genetics, some people have advantages and some don't.

With 4 preseason games, 16 regular season games, playoffs, not to mention all the camps and practices you get more than enough explosive work in. Nothing prepares you for the explosive moves on the football field better than just playing the game of football.  You barely have enough time to recover from normal football life let alone additional wear and tear of explosive plyometrics.

5. Using Speed Gadgets

Parachutes, bungee cords, speed ladders, and special speed shoes are among the many gadgets that do not increase your football speed.  None of these gadgets will help you be faster covering a running back coming out of the backfield or keeping up with a receiver running his route.

Changes in stance, footwork, hand placement, and eliminating unnecessary movement is by far the productive way to increase your speed and quickness.  Also take time on a regular basis to practice running technique and running fast.  Yes, I said practice running fast! I know it makes too much sense doesn't it?

I apologize for not keeping up on my's been an extremely busy off season...too many people to help and so little time....I'll be writing in depth articles on each of these topics in the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dispelling Diet Myths: How to break those bad diet habits today!

There isn't a more confusing time for starting a healthy eating plan than now. You probably have tried most of the fad diets out there. including a few new ones, and I'm here to say that it really comes down to these 3 things. Diets do not work long-term. It's all about a healthy eating plan and a little bit of knowledge.

1. Whether you eat 10 times or 2 times a day, your total calorie intake over 24hrs determines weight your loss/gain. Start keeping a record of the food you eat for the first week, along with the caloric intake, and I am willing to bet you'd be surprised at what you find!

2. Be realistic with the diet plan as it relates to your food preferences. If you love bread and the new diet that says absolutely no to bread, it will never work long-term! Don't set yourself up for failure before you even start.

3. Unless you're an alien, every human being on planet earth works on a calories in/calories out to gain or lose weight. Try and make the calories you eat as healthy as you can with the right amount of calories for your goal. Stick to your caloric goal daily. It is as simple as that.

I've personally tried all the diets out there and all of them at best work short term. The important thing is to find what works for you and don't be afraid to change the plan if it's not working.  

Comment below on any diet or nutrition questions that may be standing in the way of you getting to your health and fitness goals

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

How to regain your strength after a Neck Injury: Hatcher back in the game

Jason Hatcher, a beast defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, and I trained while he was in L.A. over the team's bye week. He's having a standout year but was sidelined by a Stinger in a week 9 win over the Vikings and lost much of the strength in his left arm.  

Since his injury, the Cowboys were beaten bad by the Saints while giving up record yards. For Jason, it was important as ever to get back on the field to help his team ASAP, that's why I was brought in. I knew I had to develop a serious program to get him back to pass the Cowboys strength test and get back in the next game against the Giants.

You've heard of Stingers but for those that don't know, a Stinger is a spinal cord injury usually in the neck that affects the nerves of one of your arms.  Numbness and/or weakness can last for hours or days depending on the severity.  

First, I had him do specific movement assessments just to see what's working and not working. Then I can develop a plan of action to make him as strong as possible in the shortest amount of time.

2 1/2 lb weights never felt so heavy!
You can see that something is going on with the left arm.
As it turns out his left arm may have been at best, 15% of its normal strength. We had alot of work to do and not alot of time.  I started him with activation techniques along with exercises to integrate the muscle group back in with the rest of the system so that it works well from the central nervous system standpoint.  

If you're trying to be the best athlete performing at the highest level or just feel better, it's important to have a balanced foundation that's not compensating. So I also did a full body assessment because everything is connected to everything, if one muscle isn't working right it literally affects the whole body. Jason really takes care of his physique inside and out but he still had a few postural deviations and muscle imbalances that could also contribute to other injuries. His issues probably had to do with the fact that he gets into the equivalent of 70-80 car accidents during a football game each week! 

We finished up our session on the flexibility work he needed to take care of some of the compensations. Stretching can be good but only if its done the right way on muscles that actually need it! 

The next appointment was for the strength workout. I used techniques that I'd say less than 10 people in the country know what they are and how to do them properly....

BTW he made the starting line up for the game against the Giants...stay tuned!

Any questions about what exercises we did tweet @FitLike51.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

RGIII Knee rehab could've taken some notes from Butkus' Knee rehab

In 1973, Butkus knee was so bad it stuck out 20 something degrees away from where it should. He went down to visit Arthur Jones, the inventor of Nautilus Sports Industries, to see about strengthening the knee without surgery in order to get back on the field next season. Jones took one and said "If you can withstand the pain" so Butkus went through the most agonizing, painfully grueling workouts that would make any current player throw up in the corner. Imagine bone against bone and doing all out workouts on it. 

It was very clear to me in watching RGIII's recent national ESPN documentary, "Will to Win" on his knee injury, surgery, and subsequent rehab that showed a flawed rehab process. 

Without going through each of the 20 different exercises shown during program which ranged from various lunges with rubber bands around his waist (does nothing but looks cool), squat jumps on a machine (extremely stressful to joints and probably was counter productive), kneeling medicine ball chops (Thought to have increased core power but it's not really how the body works), and 1 leg explosive hops (thought to increase neural output and joint stability, what it really does is put an extreme amount of stress on the joints). Not only are the exercises probably some of the least productive for muscle strength but they're dangerous as well.  This reflects on how RGIII is moving on the field, you can see that he's just not moving right.  When a joint isn't a strong as possible, the body naturally compensates and there's nothing you can do about it except for strengthen the muscles that support it.

Properly done workouts on a proper machine is the only way to put the right torque on the joint to activate the muscles in the most functionally correct way, it can't be done with a rubber band or a medicine ball!!  We're talking knee extensions, leg curls, and leg presses or squats till your head explodes.  All done in a slow controlled pace with the intent to move the weight fast although the actual speed will be slow. No explosive movements that just violently jerks and puts stress and damage on the joints.   This is by far the most productive way to make the muscles that support the joint stronger.

It would be a challenge for any of the participants to see the flaws and it's almost impossible for someone to realize what they've been doing for the last 8 months has been wrong.  

I wasn't surprised at what exercises they had him doing because the industry often does what looks cool and not what works good.  All exercises work, the ones they chose just aren't as good as others.  
Bottom line if 8 months ago, RGIII would've done the right kind of exercises...he'd be dominating the current RGIII in every way....NO doubt about it. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

You're Doing it Wrong: Arm training

Who wants strong, toned, and defined arms? Everyone! Could you be choosing better exercises? Most likely. Are you doing it wrong? Probably. To be clear, whether its barbell curls, dumbell tricep extensions, or machine curls...everything works! 

What I want to focus on is the things that I have seen over the years that people are doing wrong.  Then you can make the choice on which exercises you'll use but at least you'll know what they do and don't do.

Features of what you're doing wrong:
  1. While doing bicep curls or tricep extensions  your elbows are moving either forward, backward, or away from your sides.
  2. Shoulders are rounded forward.
  3. Using your lower back to lean backward to help lift the weight.
Benefits of doing it right:
  1. Keeping your elbows in the center line of your body and tight to your sides works the bicep muscle much harder which gives you faster results. 
  2. When your shoulders are back and posture is good, everything is aligned and you have less injuries.
  3. Not leaning back or forward takes the pressure off your lower back which is a big source of lower back pain and injuries.
Again everything works, doing it wrong works and you have a given result...doing it right works and you have a different result.  Bottom line...when you do an exercise the right way, you'll get better results much faster and with less chance of injuries.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

You're doing it wrong: Back Training

Its important to realize that the back muscles are the second-largest muscle group in the body. Training it hard is beneficial not only for your overall health but it also burns a lot of calories if you're looking to lose weight. Weather it be pulldowns, pullovers, or all works! Could you be focusing on exercises like pull ups that are harder and work better? Probably. Are you doing the back exercises with the right form? Not from what I've seen.

Features of doing back exercises wrong:

  1. Gripping the handles palms down.
  2. Using a wide grip exercises such as pulldowns and pull ups.
Benefits of putting your hands in the right position during back exercises:

  1. Palms up allows your bicep to be in the strongest position with more potential to work your back muscles harder. 
  2. Using a palms up close grip or parallel grip also allows you to have a greater range of motion, gain more flexibility, and more muscle stimulation.
You want to have your bicep muscles as strong as possible. As even when they are are in the strongest position, they still will never be able to keep up with the strength of the back muscles. With these tips, you can still do the back exercises with your palms facing away with a wide grip.  Now you'll just know what that does and what it doesn't do.