Summary Of My January 2015 Workshop: Strength Training For Prep-Athletes…

Summary of my upcoming Workshop.  January 24th, 2015 11:00am.  Nederland Community Center.

“The car with most, and the hardest miles on it will likely go to the junkyard first” Jhciacb

Pet Peeves…

Throughout this workshop I will site multiple instances of how sports conditioning for prep athletes is too often in the hands of people who teach without thinking, teach without knowing, and teach without caring. It is my intent to incorporate a new aspect into strength and conditioning at the prep level; mindfulness.

Analogous to blind leadership and blind following in religion, the culture of strength and conditioning for teenage athletes is a telephone game of a monkey-see monkey-do culture with little room for scientific thought, logic, or individuality. Both ego and ignorance are often at the root of bad strength and conditioning practices by prep sports leadership.

Though good science and practices exist at the highest levels of sport, its trickledown to student athletes at the prep level is almost non-existent. Much of what middle and high school athletes are taught and asked to do by their coaches is based on what those coaches were taught by their coaches, and by what they see other coaches doing with their athletes. To some degree, this also exists at the college level.

I cringe when I attend a prep basketball practice and see a coach take his players through a series of conditioning exercises. Knowing how to set a legal pick is one thing. Knowing proper hand and back placement for a pushup is another. Too often athletes and their parents assume that because a coach has lead a team to compete for a state title, they possess an inherent knowledge of exercise physiology. This is rarely the case.

Pursuit Of Better Performance vs. Injury Prevention…

Injuries as the result of strength and conditioning work by prep athletes in support of their given sport should never happen. Should. Never. Happen. Being sidelined by an unnecessary training injury may not only cost an athlete the chance to play, it might minimize his or her chances of playing at a higher level later in life. Notwithstanding, it may hinder them in some way physically, well into their adult life.

When teenage bodies are loaded, overloaded, and pushed to extreme levels of stress in pursuit of an increased physical capacity to support their sport, the opportunity to become injured in the course of the workout is greater. Unnecessary workout injuries take place every day across the country at the middle school and high school level.

I am of the perspective that strength and conditioning for prep athletes should take place primarily as a means of minimizing injury on the playing field, not in support of enhancing their given sport. This is a broad line, and is a controversial position within the strength and conditioning community. It is though, one I believe has a logical foundation.

For years the emphasis has been on creating bigger, stronger, and faster athletes. With the injury rate in all major prep sports being at an all-time high, one has to question more closely whether the practices used to create these athletes are in the athlete’s best interest.

Intentions Of The Weight Room…

Can the weight room help an underdeveloped upper body gain more power to enhance a hockey player’s slap shot…? Yes.

Should time in the weight room put that athlete at risk…? Never.

Too often though, it does. Coaches often use strength training movements based on excessive weights and an excessive volume of training with the belief that these are the exclusive means to increased power and strength.

I believe that for a player to shoot a better slap shot, he needs to practice his slap shot – with the highest level of concentration, consistently, and under the supervision of a skilled coach. Any support by way of the weight room should be reasonable, and not put the player at risk of injury.

In engineering, form follows function.  In strength training, function follows form... In strength training, function follows form...

In engineering, form follows function. In strength training, function follows form…

In engineering, form follows function.  In strength training, function follows form…

Is it possible to enhance athletic performance in the weight room without going to extreme measures…? Yes. Two of the more common traits coaches and parents wish to see developed in athletes are strength and power, both of which can be enhanced with almost no risk of injury. Power and strength can be trained for with exercises that use no momentum, thus minimizing the opportunity to become injured during the course of these exercises.

In the weight room or on the playing field, momentum is one aspect of nearly every injury. Other aspects of athletic injury include physical structure, leverage, and force. On the playing field, momentum, force, and leverage cannot be eliminated. In the weight room they can be managed. Prepare the physical structure (body) to be intact, eliminate momentum, use leverage intelligently, apply force with concentration, and a weight room injury is less likely.

Love Me Tendon…

Strength training done properly can enhance muscular strength. What goes largely unrecognized with strength training and unappreciated is, that strength training can also promote tendon strength. Tendons are where muscles taper, become increasingly dense, and fuse muscles to bone – just above and just below our joints.

Having stronger tendons offers our joints greater support both on and off the playing field. Strength training movements practiced through a complete range of motion, and are executed slowly during the transition phase of any strength movement, strengthens tendons – thus supporting joints.

Strength training movements, when performed with a minimal amount of concentration or emphasis on form, carry an inherent risk. The example I most often site is that of a lunge. The protocol for a lunge to be done properly is complex. I often refer to movements such as lunges as a thinking person’s exercise. A good deal of thought and concentration are required to perform lunges safely and properly.

Another example I site is that of high repetition compound movements such as power cleans, deadlifts, and overhead presses. These movements emphasize the body’s power zones, but also draw from smaller supporting muscles. These supporting muscles are often not able to keep up with the larger profile musculature – they fatigue and give way sooner during higher repetitions. By give way I mean one of two outcomes: The most likely, that the athlete will stop the lift. Or less desired, that the smaller muscles will cramp and fail to function properly. In a worst case scenario, they can tear.

Consistency…

One trait that many student athletes possess is inconsistency in training. As surprising as this may sound, I often suggest to prep athletes that they not to include strength training as part of their conditioning if they can’t be reasonably consistent. Young muscles drifting back and forth between hypertrophy and atrophy are good targets for injury. Better they never enter the weight room than to go once or twice per month. This is especially true with younger athletes when bone density and musculature are not yet fully developed.

Flexibility Training…

Rather than having younger athletes move in rapid succession between sets of an exercise, and throughout a workout to enhance conditioning, I suggest a technique I call stresting in the weight room. This is simply stretching in-between sets – long enough to stretch the muscles involved. Rest long enough to stretch – stretch long enough to rest. Typically I suggest these stretches be held from 20-30 seconds.

With regard to stretching before or after a workout, there is no empirical data to suggest one is more favorable than the other. There is some interesting recent data though, which suggests stretching before exercise may have more negative consequences than stretching after a workout. In either case, strength training through a complete range of motion is the act of stretching. It is stretching with weights in one’s hands or at the ends of their legs.

I find that stretching in-between sets maximizes flexibility, and also helps the athlete stay focused on the workout.

Basic Feeding…

In the case of prep athletes I recommend minimal supplementation, and minimal dietary enhancements or restrictions – unless they are in the category of gifted or exceptional athlete.  Nutritional supplements such as protein powders, creatine, vitamins, minerals, and other micro and macronutrients should not be emphasized. Basics should be emphasized.

A little green.  A little brown.  A little red.  A little white. Balanced colors are usually balanced meals...

A little green. A little brown. A little red. A little white.
Balanced colors are usually balanced meals…

I’ll suggest the emphasis on nutrition be aimed at eating frequency, balanced meals, healthy snacks in-between meals, and minimizing sugars. If a student athlete were eating consistently with the food pyramid taught in elementary school (in any era), he or she will be eating substantially better than many of their athletic contemporaries.

I also suggest that young athletes avoid nutritional trends such has high protein eating, Paleo eating, low-carb, and force feeding. Yes, force feeding. I once knew a high school football coach who required all of his players to eat a loaf of bread per day – this was mandatory.

Athletes and parents should make the distinction of between eating to gain muscle, and eating to gain weight. Certain line positions in football notwithstanding, eating to gain weight will rarely have a positive effect on athletic performance, and can have a negative effect on future dietary habits.

Look What I Can Do…

I recently had dinner with some multi-sport teenage athletes. The conversation eventually turned to the weight room. After they were done discussing the various strength exercises they most hated, the conversation was naturally reduced to maxing out on the bench press and the squat.  As it unfolded, I wanted to hang myself.

There is no physiological or rational foundation for a student athlete to max-out on any strength exercise – nor is there any valid reason other than to placate the athlete’s ego, or for the coach to measure the student’s ability against that of another student. This measurement though, is not an indication of athletic performance on the field.

The SRM (single rep maximum) has little impact on building strength, helping an athlete generate increased power, or in the development of muscle mass. The SRM is simply statement of comparative strength in the weight room, and its pursuit carries more risk than benefit. The only injury I have ever incurred in the weight room was an unnecessary SRM on the bench press at the age of 19.

I have few memories of conversations among or between student athletes and/or coaches when the discussion was centered on proper exercise technique, safety, or injury prevention. My highest hope for this workshop is that you as the student athlete or as the parent, leave with an increased awareness of safety, and the utility of proper strength training as it applies to supporting the student athlete.

Worth repeating: Strength training should make an athlete’s life better, not worse. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from the late Gary Moore.  Enjoy!

Simple Twists Of Fate…

Little twists of fate are infinite and all around us. We swim through them all day, every day, rarely acknowledging them, and often we never know they are there.

Every action we take we take, every word we express, and pair of eyes we meet has the potential for infinite outcomes and subsequent repercussions. What we remain aware of though, is usually just the tangible result. Three years ago this week, I closed up my fitness studio for the day, and prepared to ride my bike roughly 6 miles home on a December afternoon in Fallbrook, California.

Locking the front door of my studio in my end of day scurry, and as I placed the key in the lock hurrying to get on my bicycle, I missed the keyhole, and they keys fell to the sidewalk below. I bent down and retrieved them, this time placing the key squarely into the lock, and I closed up shop for the day. This mishap of dropping my keys lasted maybe… 5 seconds.

Once on my bike I enjoyed every minute of my ride home. The aesthetic of Fallbrook on a sunny December afternoon is a gift to the eyes. Riding my bike down Green Canyon Road, I felt like I was riding across a painting of Hawaii. Between the tall palm trees, bright bougainvillea hedges, and the scent of citrus wafting through the air, my ride home from work was the cherry on top of each day.

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Green Canyon Rd, Fallbrook, CA. Heaven…

Green Canyon is a curvy rural road barely traveled. For my trips home after work it was always downhill. I usually rode the yellow line in the middle, and regularly reached speeds in the 40s. If a car approached me from behind, I would hear it well in advance, and move to the right-hand shoulder of the road.

On this particular afternoon, while in full glide and all alone on the road, I heard a loud engine behind me. I could tell it was a large pickup truck. As I veered to the road’s edge the truck passed me at an excessive speed – maybe 50 or 60 miles per hour, but the driver waived to acknowledge my lending the right of way.

Roughly 80-100 yards after the truck passed me, the driver failed to properly navigate a tight curve. The truck crossed the right shoulder of the road and slammed head-on into an embankment supporting several large eucalyptus trees on an acre or so of well-groomed property.

In less than 5 seconds my bike and I caught up with the truck. I stopped. The engine was steaming, but the driver and passenger, both day laborers, were okay. It was obvious that I was more shaken than they were. They called a friend to help them, and I returned to my bicycle commute – trembling as I rode.

Just 5 seconds ahead of me they experienced a violent collision – just 5 seconds, on the heels of me fumbling and dropping my keys at the door for about as long prior to my ride.

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Little twists of fate are infinite and all around us. We swim through them all day, every day, and rarely are we aware of them, let alone acknowledge them. I acknowledged this one, and reflect on it regularly.

The universe lines up much more in probabilities than certainties. There is no way of knowing what would have happened had I not dropped my keys. Those possibilities are infinite. I only know that I have that memory – to possess always as a reminder that twists of fate are in every moment. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this wonderful cover from Concrete Blonde. Enjoy!

An Open Letter To All My Friends…

Dear Friend,

You came into my life at an extraordinary time. In this age, the internet and social media are truly miraculous. I have become friends with people all over the world, and am able to connect with them from just about any place I stand, nearly any time of day. I’m also better able to stay connected with friends from the past who had become estranged in the pre-internet era.

Though we may not have met yet face-to-face, if I have accepted you into my life as a friend, this means you touched me on some level either superficially, viscerally, or both. I have one rule above all other with my friends; if you are a friend of mine, you are a friend for life.

Now that’s a bold statement that can be easily challenged by an outsider. If I call you a friend and you deliberately do harm of any kind to a loved one of mine, to another friend, or to myself, it would stand to reason that our friendship would falter. Beyond that harm though, the reason I allowed you into my life has not changed. Certainly the dynamic of our friendship might change, but you are still my friend.

Friends don't let friends stay mad -- for too long...

Friends don’t let friends stay mad — for too long…

Agree To Disagree…

My friend, in this age of increasing complexity and constant connectivity, it can seem as chaotic socially as it appears to be politically. I’ll suggest our relationships – our friendships are more challenging to maintain than ever before. I also believe they are more disposable for many.

If we don’t like or agree with somebody’s opinion about something, we often just end the friendship. It’s easy. We just click a tab and they’re gone. If we’re talking about analog friends, we just let their phone calls go to voicemail, never to be returned. I think this though, that friendships in this age matter more than ever.

The more unfriending we do, the more we corrode the possibilities of our society. A part of increasing complexity, in nonzero terms, is that the world might come together with an increased global strength, an increased global respect, an increased global love, and increased global intelligence for the common good.

Old friends, and new...

Old friends, and new…

Let’s Be Real…

I have both analog and virtual friends I often feel I could do without. Those whose political or religious stances can be so aggressive and so asinine, I often feel like slamming my head into a wall when discourse goes bad. Or worse yet, the moment discourse begins. But maybe that’s my point; I never feel like slamming their heads into walls – I would rather take the hit than to give it.

I still respect my friends when we disagree, and as soon as that disagreement becomes evident, I always take a moment to remember why I let them in to begin with – because I found value in some aspect of their persona. It’s selfish, friendship, if you think about it. I identify some trait of another, I see value in it, and allow them into my life so I can continue to experience that trait. Selfish indeed.

Friends that keep me from killing Subway store managers...

Friends that keep me from killing Subway store managers…

In truth I have unfriended a few of my virtual and analog friends. I have done so, usually as the result of some drastic change in my life which alters my perception of those friendships. I have reached out to some to reestablish those connections. I have succeed with some, and failed with a few others. I will continue to reach out.

Not More Than I Can Handle…

I enjoy staying connected with, and supporting my friends as much as I am able. It seems though, that I am less able these days, and I often feel guilty about this. Between new virtual friends, reconnecting virtually with analog friends from the past, and my in-person social relationships, there is less of me to go around these days as there are more you.

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Friends who don’t like to be seen above the knees…

I want you to know this, and to believe it, please: If you don’t hear from me – if I don’t like a status, comment, if I don’t return a text, a call, or an email immediately, it doesn’t mean I love you any less. It means there are more of you to love, and that is the greatest of blessings.

I want to end this by simply saying, thank you very much, for knowing me and liking me anyway.

Sincerely,

roy

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Sam Smith.  Enjoy…

Eating As It Relates To Exercise & Fitness: Outline For My December 9 Workshop…

This is the outline for my December 9 workshop on Eating As It Relates To Fitness & Exercise, to take place at the Nederland Community Center.

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Sustainability

Regardless of what methods a person chooses to lose weight, add muscle, or better condition themselves as athletes, unless that person chooses a path of sustainability, any progress made will be temporary. This workshop has several agenda points:

  • To share thoughts on eating as it relates to exercise, which are sustainable.
  • To help avoid choosing extreme means.
  • To help avoid trend hopping.
  • To provide practical advice which is relevant, and has been proven to work.

The Math Of Calories

Per Hour: Calories burned per hour are dependent on several variables; level of daily activity, relative muscle mass, BMR (basil metabolic rate) An average woman in her late 40s burns roughly 1700 calories per day, or roughly 70 calories per hour.

While Asleep: While sleeping, the same woman will burn calories at a slightly lower rate – approximately 10% fewer. So in an 8 hour sleep, she will still be using 500 calories worth of energy.

Don’t Eat After 6pm (wrong answer): So if a person does not eat after 6pm, and has breakfast at 8am or later the following day, that person is going more than 50% of the day without ingesting necessary fuel, though a majority of her overall calorie burning will take place between dinner and breakfast. That math does not add up. Not only is it okay to eat a snack later in the evening or prior to bed, it is recommended.

Skipping Meals

Skipping meals is among the most common methods people use to lose weight. This may work for some in the short-term, but rarely is this a sustainable option.

Hibernation theory in a nutshell: It’s simple; if you are not bringing calories into your body on a regular basis, your brain sends a signal your body to slow down the metabolic process. It senses fewer opportunities to take in fuel, thus it conserves what it’s given, and also slows down the use of stored fuel (body fat) as an energy source. When the body gets fuel on a more regular basis, the metabolic process is heightened, maximized, and more efficient with using stored ingested fuel as a form of energy, rather than storing it as body fat.

Quick Eating Ideas

Meatloaf: In the past I have relied on meatloaf to get me through some of the busier times in my life. Meatloaf is a vague term, and isn’t always associated with healthy eating. However, when the right ingredients are used, not only can meatloaf be healthy and support an exercise lifestyle, it can be convenient and also support a busy lifestyle. In busier times, I will make two bison or turkey meatloaves on a weekend afternoon. After they cool, I cut each one into 7 slices, wrap them in cellophane, and put them in the freezer. I then have 14 meals available for the taking. Paired up with a small premade salad and/or a piece of fruit, a slice of meatloaf can be filling, nutritionally fulfilling, and balanced.

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Coffee Creamer Protein Powder: I am not a huge fan of drinking meals vs. eating them. There is much data to suggest that drinking meals regularly has a negative impact on the metabolic process. There is as much data though, that suggests skipping meals is worse. I will acknowledge that in today’s busier than ever lifestyle, there are times when drinking calories and nutrients may be a person’s best option. For those busy on-the-go mornings, and for those who don’t like to eat breakfast, a reasonable alternative is a scoop of protein powder in your morning coffee in place of creamer.

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I won’t suggest here what types of protein powders are better – please message me privately if I can help. I only offer that a scoop of protein powder stirred into your morning coffee rather than creamer, can add flavor and provide needed calories after your overnight fast. Accompanied by a piece of fruit, this might not be ideal compared to a prepared meal. However, for active people this will serve you much better than skipping breakfast or grabbing a muffin on the go.

Cold Oatmeal Stored In Containers: Like the meatloaf, pre-making large amounts of oatmeal and storing it in plastic containers in the refrigerator carries a level of convenience. Cold oatmeal may not sound appetizing, but it actually has the consistency of bread pudding, and isn’t messy if you eat it while driving.

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Frozen Meals: Chemical additives notwithstanding, for their convenience, taste, nutritional balance, and expense, frozen meals such as Lean Cuisines, can be a useful tool in calorie management. The arguments against these, relative to the person’s goals, rarely hold up with me. Additives, GMOs, blah blah blah. If the goal is calorie management, its’ hard to go wrong with a balanced frozen meal, and a piece of fruit for lunch or dinner.

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Exercise Recovery

Eating for workout recovery is often misunderstood. I’ll start by suggesting that post workout eating should be relative to the workout itself. What to eat for recovery matters much more for hardcore athletes than for those chasing weight loss or general fitness. Protein is perpetually touted as the best nutrient for workout recovery.

To an extent this is true, but there is no need for immediacy here. Since rebuilding blood sugar and glycogen stores post-workout matter most, taking in simple sugars in small amounts after a workout can have a positive effect. I know many seasoned athletes, myself included, who go straight to the Gummy Bears after a session. Just a few will do the trick though.

Later, I will have a meal which will include an equal portion of protein and carbohydrate to further aid in exercise recovery. The carbohydrate is necessary in the utilization of the protein.

Protocols

There is no shortage of eating protocols being thrown about these days as being supreme. If any one protocol were truly supreme, no other would likely get results. Clearly this is not the case. Paleo, Low-fat, Mediterranean, Eating Right For Your Type, Low-carb, and High-protein diets among many others all have one thing in common; they are centered around calorie management.

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With the truth being in the middle, calorie management and portion control, not the specific protocol, matter more.

I know of no eating scheme that provides for unlimited quantities of any food group, with the exception of green vegetables. When it comes to eating protocols, what matters most is picking one and sticking with it. My own suggested eating protocol for fitness and wellness can be referred to as – The Balanced Diet.

I don’t think it’s farfetched to suggest that including modest amounts of protein, carbohydrates, right fats, and simple sugars into one’s daily eating scheme would doing anything other than to promote health and fitness. To eliminate any of these suggests that nature is ignorant and we are superior.

In fact, a balanced diet based on portion control and calorie management is often overlooked by people as they jump from trend to trend, subscribing to any or all of them for the short-term, and none for the long-term.

In fitness, as in life, the answers are often right before our eyes. We miss so much when we look beyond simplicity in search of magic. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from the John Fairhurst Band.  Enjoy…