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Fitness and Performance

The Importance Of Post Workout Nutrition!

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You just finished up an awesome workout and you’re trying to decide what to eat. This article is for you! You will learn what the best things are to eat post workout!

You don’t need to be a resource management specialist to know that time is the most valuable finite resource that you have. And as you well know, there’s a very limited amount of it to go around. So if you’re smart, you’ll figure out ways to get the greatest return on the investment of your time.

While this may be well recognized and applied in many aspects of modern life, it confuses me as to why people seem to ignore this when it comes to their exercise training. From what I see on a daily basis, it’s clear to me that most people in the gym are wasting their time investment. They’re spending precious hours engaged in strength or endurance training programs that yield little or no results?

Need proof? When was the last time someone in your gym made any noticeable physical progress? In fact, when was the last time that you made any significant physical progress? Exercise training has the potential to yield huge returns on any given time investment. Isn’t it a shame that most people don’t ever see this magnitude of return?

Despite this disappointing reality, I’m here to tell you that hope is not lost. In fact, there’s a very easy way to capitalize on your investment. You see, in most cases the exercise is not the problem. The problem is that people fail to invest in the other important commodity that, in combination with exercise, yields the biggest returns.

They’re buying the cart without the horse, the lemonade stand without the lemonade. They’re spending their time focused on only the exercise program while ignoring the importance of a sound nutritional program.

Now I could write a dozen articles focused on straightening out the nutritional problems of the world. But those articles are for another day. In this article today, I intend to focus on what is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of exercise nutrition – eating during the post-workout period. The knowledge of how to eat during this time will maximize your efforts in the gym and yield the biggest returns on your time investment.

REMODELING AND THE POST-WORKOUT PERIOD

Exercise, both strength and endurance training, is responsible for countless health and aesthetic benefits. However the exercise itself is a significant physiological stressor. Perceived symptoms of this “stress” are often mild and include muscle soreness, the need for extra sleep, and an increased appetite.

These symptoms let us know that the exercise has depleted the muscle’s fuel resources, caused some minor damage, and that the muscle is in need of replenishment and repair. While the words depletion and damage may sound like negative things, they’re not if they only stick around for a short period of time. You see, these changes allow the muscle to adapt by getting better at the exercise demands placed on it.

Therefore if you’re doing endurance exercise, the muscle will become depleted and damaged in the short run, but in the long run it will super compensate, building itself up to be a better aerobic machine. And if strength training is your thing, you’ll tear down you’re weaker muscle fibers in favor of building up bigger, stronger ones.

In all cases, exercise essentially tears down old, less adapted muscle in order to rebuild more functional muscle. This phenomenon is called remodeling.

While the remodeling process is much more complex than I can describe here, it’s important for me to emphasize that this remodeling only takes place if the muscle is provided the right raw materials. If I plan on remodeling my home I can hire a guy to tear down a couple of walls, a guy to clean up the mess, and a guy to come in and rebuild better walls than the ones that came down.

But if I don’t give that guy any bricks, how’s he going to get anything done? If I don’t give him the bricks, all I’ll have in the end is a much smaller, unfinished house.

The same holds true with exercise remodeling. In particular, during the exercise bout and immediately following it, exercise breaks down our muscle carbohydrate stores and our muscle protein structures. Then, the immune system comes in to clean up the mess.

And finally, signals are generated to tell the body to rebuild. However, as I hope you can now see, without the proper protein and carbohydrate raw materials, this building can’t take place. You’ll be left with muscles that never reach their potential.

So with this analogy, I hope it’s obvious that this post-exercise period is not a time to take lightly. Remember, you spent a significant amount of time in the gym breaking down the muscle for a good reason. You want it to be better adapted to future demands.

So to realize full return on your time investment, you need to give the body the raw materials it needs, namely protein and carbohydrates.

FEEDING HUNGRY MUSCLES

As I mentioned earlier, all trainees (male or female), regardless of their chosen mode of exercise, must take their post-exercise nutrition seriously in order to provide the muscle with the raw materials it needs. As all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, muscle carbohydrate depletion is inevitable. Therefore a post-workout meal high in carbohydrates is required to refill muscle carbohydrate/energy stores.

However any ol’ amount of carbohydrates will not do. You need to consume enough carbohydrates to promote a substantial insulin release. Insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle. In doing this, carbohydrate resynthesis is accelerated and protein balance becomes positive, leading to rapid repair of the muscle tissue.

Therefore, by consuming a large amount of carbohydrates, you will promote a large insulin release, increase glycogen storage, and increase protein repair. Research has shown that a carbohydrate intake of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight maximizes glycogen synthesis and accelerates protein repair. However, unless you’ve had a very long, intense workout, 1.2g/kg may be a bit excessive as excess carbohydrate can be converted to bodyfat.

Therefore I recommend 0.8g of carbohydrate per 1 kilogram of body weight for speeding up muscle carbohydrate replenishment while preventing excess fat gain (van Loon et al 2000a).

In addition, since muscle protein is degraded during exercise, the addition of a relatively large amount of protein to your post exercise meal is necessary to help rebuild the structural aspects of the muscle. After exercise, the body decreases its rate of protein synthesis and increases its rate of protein breakdown. However, the provision of protein and amino acid solutions has been shown to reverse this trend, increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown.

Researchers have used anywhere from 0.2g – 0.4g of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight to demonstrate the effectiveness of adding protein to a post-workout carbohydrate drink (van Loon et al 2000b, Roy et al 1998). As an increased consumption of the essential amino acids may lead to a more positive protein balance, 0.4g/kg may be better than 0.2g/kg.

While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

As your post workout feeding should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles, fats should be avoided during this time.

Finally, another important factor to consider is the timing of this meal. It is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. As indicated above, after exercise, the muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate. In addition, during this time, the muscles are biochemically “primed” for nutrient uptake.

This phenomenon is commonly known as the “window of opportunity”. Over the course of the recovery period, this window gradually closes and by failing to eat immediately after exercise, you diminish your chances of promoting full recovery. To illustrate how quickly this window closes, research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal immediately after working out is superior to consuming one only 1 hour later.

In addition, consuming one 1 hour later is superior to consuming one 3 hours later (Tipton et al 2001, Levenhagen et al 2001). If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.

In conclusion, when you decided to start exercising you decided to give up a specific amount of time per week in the interest of getting better, physically. However, if you haven’t spent the necessary time thinking about post-exercise nutrition, you’re missing much of the benefit that comes with exercising.

I assure you that once you start paying attention to this variable in the recovery equation, your time in the gym will be much better invested.

WHOLE FOOD VS. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION

Anchored firmly atop their calorie-counting soapbox, nutritionists have traditionally asserted that whole food always trumps supplemental nutrition. For them I have only one sentiment:

Always…it is a meaningless word. -Oscar Wilde

While I wholeheartedly believe that complete, unbleached, untreated, and unprocessed whole food should form the basis of any sound nutritional regimen, there are some instances in which supplements can actually be superior to whole food. In the case of post-exercise nutrition, I believe that liquid supplemental nutrition is far superior to whole food for the following reasons.

LIQUID MEALS ARE PALATABLE AND DIGESTIBLE

Typically, after intense exercise, most people complain that eating a big meal is difficult. This is understandable as the exercise stress creates a situation where the hunger centers are all but shut down. However, as you now know, it’s absolutely critical that you eat if you want to remodel the muscle, enlarge the muscle, or recover from the exercise.

Fortunately liquid supplemental formulas are palatable, easy to consume, and can be quite nutrient dense, providing all the nutrition you need at this time. In addition, since these formulas are structurally simple (I’ll save the biochemistry for another article), the gastrointestinal tract has no difficulty processing them. Your stomach will thank you for this.

LIQUID MEALS HAVE A FAST ABSORPTION PROFILE, WHOLE FOOD IS JUST TOO SLOW

The latest research has demonstrated that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast digesting protein (whey hydrolysates and isolates) and carbohydrates (dextrose and maltodextrin) are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals.

To put this into perspective, a liquid post-exercise formula may be fully absorbed within 30 to 60 minutes, providing much needed muscle nourishment by this time. However, a slower digesting solid food meal may take 2 to 3 hours to fully reach the muscle.

LIQUID MEALS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE “WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY”, WHOLE FOODS MAY MISS IT

The faster the protein and carbohydrates get to the muscle, the better your chances for muscle building and recovery. Current research has demonstrated that subjects receiving nutrients within one hour after exercise recover more quickly than subjects receiving nutrients three hours after exercise. Liquid nutrition is making more sense, isn’t it?

LIQUID MEALS ARE BETTER FOR NUTRIENT TARGETING

During the post exercise period, specific nutrients maximize your recovery. These include an abundance of water, high glycemic index carbohydrates, and certain amino acids (in specific ratios). It’s also best to avoid fat during this time. So the only way to ensure that these nutrients are present in the right amounts is to formulate a specific liquid blend. Whole foods may miss the mark.

POST-EXERCISE CHOICES

So your workout is over and it’s time to reach for your post workout meal. What do you reach for? Here are a few examples of good post-workout choices in order of effectiveness.

REFERENCES
  1. Levenhagen et al. (2001). Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasisAm.J.Physiol Endocrinol. Metab. 280(6): E982-993.
  2. Tipton et al. (2001). Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am.J. Physiol Endocrinol. Metab. 281(2): E197-206.
  3. Roy et al. (1998). Influence of differing macronutrient intakes on muscle glycogen resynthesis after resistance exerciseJAP. 84(3): 890-896.
  4. Van Loon et al. (2000a). Maximizing postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis: carbohydrate supplementation and the application of amino acid or protein hydrolysate mixturesAm J Clin Nutrition. 72(1): 106-111.
  5. Van Loon et al. (2000b). Ingestion of protein hydrolysate and amino acid-carbohydrate mixtures increases postexercise plasma insulin responses in menJ Nutr. 130(10): 2508-2513.

How Survival Instincts Drive Speed Development

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Written on September 25, 2017 at 6:27 pm, by Eric Cressey

 

As a kid, I was a big fan of “The Flintstones.” I loved how Fred and Barney could run so fast. I can remember when they were chased by a Sabretooth Tiger; it was amazing how they could escape so quickly. Hmm, maybe there is something to that…

Fast forward to 2017, I still love speed. But now, I actually study it. I continually ask myself the question; “Why were humans given the ability to have speed and quickness?” This question has taken me down a road not many speed coaches travel. Many of these coaches like the traditional route of current methods of training. That’s cool, and in most cases, proves to be quite successful. But…

What if coaches would investigate more down the road of our human history? What if they allowed themselves to be vulnerable to the ways of how we escaped or attacked for survival? How would they think differently about speed?

What if we asked the question, “Why were we given the ability to have speed and quickness?” What can we learn when we venture down that path?

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Survival drives us through channels not so easily understood from a Central Nervous System (CNS) standpoint. We have to bow down to the subconscious effort that makes us move quickly on instinct or reflex. This is harder to understand, so we try to ignore it as a viable option for speed training.

2. Playing competitive sports actually taps into our CNS – or should I go deeper and say our “sympathetic nervous system?” This is where our heightened awareness of our surroundings kicks in. If I am caught in a rundown in baseball – or going to be tackled in football, or being chased during soccer i- it takes us to a level of effort we don’t commonly experience in our daily lives.

3. Our body kicks into what we call fight or flight: the survival mode. This occurs all the time during sports competition. It drives us to make incredible speedy plays. It forces us to react in such a way that our feet move quicker than our conscious mind can drive them. This is where I want to concentrate on for the rest of this article. I want to share with you strategies to make you faster!

Repositioning

Repositioning is a term I use to relate to how an athlete moves his or her feet quickly into a more effective angle to either accelerate or decelerate the body. Terms I have used to describe repositioning are:

Plyo Step: The plyo step is an action that occurs when one foot is repositioned behind, to the side, or at any angle behind the body. This act quickly drives the body in a new direction of travel.

Hip Turn: This is basically the same as the plyo step except the athlete turns and accelerate back away from the direction they were facing. Repositioning occurs to find an angle to push the body in that direction.

Directional Step: Think base-stealing. The athlete will face sideways but turn and run. The front foot opens to be in a greater supportive position to push down and back during acceleration steps.

The goal is to get into acceleration posture as quickly as possible to make a play when one of these repositioning steps occur.

A great drill to work on repositioning is what I call “Ball Drops.”

a. Simply have a partner or coach stand 10-15 feet away from the athlete with a tennis ball held out at shoulder height.

b. The athlete is in an athletic parallel stance facing the coach, turned sideways, or back facing- depending on the drill.

c. The coach will drop the ball and the athlete must accelerate to catch the ball before the 2nd bounce. I encourage the coach to use the command “Go” at the exact time of the drop to help when vision is not an option.

The action you will see 99.9% of the time is a repositioning or a hip turn or plyo step (the directional step is the act of preparing the front leg for push off; it angles in the direction of travel). Perform this drill facing forwards for four reps, sideways for four reps, and backwards for four reps (2 to each side for the side-facing and back-facing). Perform this drill 2-3x per week to tap into the “fight or flight” response.

Reactive Shuffle or Crossover

In this drill, the focus is on reacting to either a partner (like a mirror drill) or the coaches signal to go right or left.

a. The athlete gets in a great defensive stance and prepares to explode to her right or left.

b. The coach will quickly point in either direction.

c. The athlete will create quick force into the ground in the opposite direction of travel. Typically, there will be a repositioning step unless the athlete starts in a wide stance where outward pressure is effective in the current stance.

d. As soon as the athlete shuffles one to two times, he will shuffle back.

e. The same drill is repeated, but now using a crossover step.

Perform 3-4 sets of ten seconds of both the shuffle and crossover drill. Allow 40-60s of recovery between bouts.

Shuffle

Partner Mirror

Crossover with Directional Step

Hip Turn to Crossover

The final skill I want to write about might be one of the most important “survival” speed skills an athlete can have. It falls under the “retreating” set of skills where the athlete moves back away from the direction they are initially facing.

The hip turn can allow an athlete to escape or attack. The critical features are:

1. The athlete must “stay in the tunnel.” Do not rise up and down; stay level.

2. By staying level, the immediate repositioning that takes place allows for a great push off angle to move the body in a new direction.

3. The athlete should attempt to create length and cover distance quickly. Short choppy steps are not effective when in “survival mode.” GET MOVING!

4. In the snapshots below, the athlete is performing a hip turn based on the coaches command or signal. The athlete will perform a hip turn and either a shuffle, crossover, or run – and then recover back to the start position as soon as possible!

Perform 3-4 sets of 7-10s of work. If quickness/speed is the goal we want to do it in short bursts of time and not long duration where speed in compromised. Recover for roughly 45 seconds and repeat.

Now, I know it sounds kind of crazy to be talking about survival, cavemen, and “fight or flight” when we are referring to speed, but we have to always look at the genesis of all things. Animals that don’t have reactive speed have other ways to protect themselves. Humans have intelligence and the ability to escape or attack using systems derived out of our CNS to help us use our speed. Our job as coaches is to tap into this ability and use it to help our athletes “naturally” move fast!

How to choose the right Sports Performance Program

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In the ever-changing world of youth athletics, it is becoming more common than ever for young athletes to participate in a sports performance program. This may be done on their own, with a team or within a school setting, but most young athletes are now engaging in some type of training to enhance athleticism. These programs can have a tremendous impact on a young athlete’s overall development, but they can also be a waste of time, or even worse, dangerous. How do you know what to look for in a quality training program? With coaches hard-selling and boasting about their 

There are five key components to look for when seeking out a great sports performance program:

  • Culture
  • Administration
  • The Coaches
  • The Program
  • Your Goals

Culture
Every coach and/or training center will have a training culture, and it’s important to find the right fit. A culture will contain many things, but young athletes thrive in an environment that encourages fun, positive attitudes, respect and builds self-confidence. This is especially true for athletes under 14 years old. At this age, it’s important to enjoy the training process so athletes look forward to a more intense environment in the future. Pushing kids too hard – both mentally & physically – at an early age usually results in athletes who dislike training and will often lead to burnout and quitting. Look for a positive atmosphere where you see plenty of high fives, smiles and coaches “building kids up.” You should see positive reinforcement from the coach and plenty of teaching/instruction.

 

Between 12-14 years old, you might see a more intense sports performance program but the underlying culture should remain the same. There should always be a positive environment with coaches who serve as role models. Athletes should feel good about what they’re doing and praised for their effort. The culture is a direct representation of the coach/owner and and the overall intent of the program.

Avoid negative attitudes, high-pressure sales, or unrealistic promises. Not everyone will be attracted to the same culture, but make sure the kids feel comfortable because they’ll be spending a lot of time there.

If there are no quality trainer centers near you, or you simply can’t afford it, find a place that accommodates your needs. This may be a home gym, school weight room or local gym/recreation center. You’ll need adequate space and equipment depending on your goals, so find a place that will suit your needs.

 

Administration
How do things work with the coach or facility? How do you schedule appointments? What is the coach: athlete ratio? How are the athletes grouped?

All participants in a sports performance program should have the opportunity to thrive in a training environment, and good administration makes sure everything is well organized. This will ensure that you’re engaged with professionals who take this important job seriously.

Have you heard other people talk about training at a facility or with a coach? What was their experience? Have other athletes had success with the program? Athletes who have gone through a program should have positive things to say about it.

Do a little research to see what kind of track record a program has. Testimonials are helpful, but talking to someone you know can give you even more insight.

When observing a class you’ll want to see participants of similar ages/abilities together and interacting appropriately. This does not mean that every athlete in a group needs to be the same age or play the same sport, but the training goals should be similar or the coach should know how to modify the program for each athlete. Cookie-cutter programs aren’t always bad, but an individualized approach is always preferred.

Look for a relatively low coach:athlete ratio. A good coach can easily handle 20+ athletes in a team environment, but there should be a much lower ratio for a more individualized program. Smaller groups ensure more individual feedback, but most athletes thrive in groups. This is especially true for young athletes so that games and group activities can be utilized. A 1-on-1 session for a 9 year old has the potential to get pretty boring for the athlete. Being in groups also gives young athletes the opportunity to develop character traits such as leadership, teamwork, giving encouragement, empathy and respect. These things are much easier to address in a group setting.
The Coaches
Quality coaches are the most important thing to look for in a sports performance program. Coaches pretty much make or break a program, so make sure you’re with a good one. Not only will a good coach get performance results, but they should also address things like motivation, mindset, respect and the value of hard work.

Make sure that your coach is certified from a well known & respected organization such as the IYCA or NSCA. He/she should also have experience coaching athletes, and a proven track-record of producing results is definitely preferred. A degree in a related field (kinesiology, exercise science, physical education, etc.) is highly recommended, but there are a lot of exceptional youth coaches who got their education after receiving a college degree in an unrelated field. The coaches should have positive energy, be strong role models, and truly enjoy helping athletes develop.

Like culture, people are drawn to certain personalities or coaching styles, and it’s important you find the right fit. Have a conversation with the coach or staff to see if you get along and more importantly if your child gets along with the coach. The coach has to earn your trust as does your child. This trust will allow for proper growth of the athlete and continual trust in the program will also allow the coach to push the athlete to their potential.

Try not to get overwhelmed by past athletic accomplishments or a coach’s physique. While certainly not negatives, these things don’t necessarily mean he/she has the educational background or coaching ability to help you. It usually helps to have a coach who has some degree of athletic experience, but this should not be their #1 qualification. Some coaches are able to really utilize their experiences to benefit young athletes, while others were simply born with talent. So, take it into consideration (because it’s important), but try not to let it cloud your judgement if nothing else feels right.

If the facility has a large staff, don’t hesitate to request a coach your child loves, or ask to NOT train with someone your child really doesn’t like. This may not always happen, but a good program will make an effort to accommodate your needs.

Disrespectful or inappropriate comments or actions are a definite red flag. Having a negative coach in a child’s life can cause tremendous stress and can hard a child’s self-esteem and enjoyment of the training process. While it is sometimes necessary to be firm or have difficult conversations, good coaches can handle tough situations professionally.

Athletes who don’t live anywhere near a training facility now have online options available that will allow you to train at home. While this option may not be as optimal as having a live coach, it’s often the only option available. It can also be much less expensive and more convenient, so there are certainly reasons an athlete may choose to train alone.

Finding a great home-based sports performance program can be tricky, because every trainer with a web-site or social media presence may tell you this is an option. Just like looking for an in-person trainer, look for credentials, experience, values, and a proven track record. Make sure you have the equipment necessary to complete an at-home program. We’ll discuss at-home programs in much greater depth in the future, but consider it a second-tier option.

 

The Program
The actual training program is critical, but usually difficult for parents to truly understand. You won’t know precisely what the program will include, which is why it’s so important to find a qualified coach.

sports performance programAt a minimum, a good sports performance program should be very safe and organized. Sure, accidents happen, but a young athlete’s health is top priority, so they should never be engaged in anything dangerous. In general, if it doesn’t look safe, it probably isn’t. Kids may get sore and tired, but they shouldn’t sustain injuries from a training program.

The program should have a basic level of individualization, or at least include the opportunity for modification when appropriate. Most young athletes have a lot of the same needs, so there will be a great deal of similarity between programs for athletes, but the program should be flexible enough to address individual needs when needed. Most programs will address strength, running mechanics, jumping, fitness, mobility, agility, and coordination. Make sure the program is meeting your individual goals and that the coaches modify their program to help achieve those goals. At the very least, you should be able to receive an explanation of how and why the program will help work toward your goals.

There should be a great deal of teaching, instruction and feedback given, and there should be a progression to everything that is done. This means that the program will gradually get more demanding. The weight lifted, the volume of overall exercise and the intensity of the drills should gradually increase. We know that progressions or progressive overload is key to not only a younger athlete but more importantly to all athletes. Progressive overload is the principal in which each week you are progressively getting stronger our advancing toward a new technique. There should not be an emphasis on how much you can lift but how much progress is being made.

There is an old saying that the program should have the athlete conform to the program but the program should conform to the athlete. You want to ask questions about the program including expected results and core values in programming.pro agility shuttle

There should always be some sort of assessment to determine needs and establish baselines. This assessment will vary, but the coach should talk to you about the results and formulate a program based on those results. An assessment like the IYCA Big 5 or FMS will help find deficiencies and areas of concern, and a performance assessment will help establish baselines and give the coach a better understanding of how the athlete moves.  It’s always great if there is a movement analysis using video of the athlete performing various movements.

While the programs will vary greatly, it helps to hear about results from other athletes and ensure that the coaches are qualified.

Again, if you are looking for an at-home program, be sure you are getting what you need. Don’t try to replicate a D1 college football program with an 11-year old kid who has never lifted weights. Find a program that is specific to your goals & experience level, has delivered results, and is created by an experienced coach or organization.

 

Goals
Goal setting is crucial for any athlete, and it should be a part of a sports performance program. Make sure that your goals align with the facility and their goals for you child. Training is an investment of time and energy, and it’s not uncommon for young athletes to spend several years training at a facility. You want to make sure they understand your long-term goals, so they are invested in your success and development.

For example, there are some facilities/programs that focus exclusively on strength development. If your goal is to run faster, this is probably not the right place for you. Typically, a sports performance training program will be able to address multiple goals – speed, strength, mobility, conditioning, etc. – but you want to make sure to ask if there is a program to specifically address your goals.

Teaching goal setting, and the process of working toward goals is a skill that will serve athletes well in all facets of life. Let them dream, let them strive for success. In a world so based on technology, having goals can help set them up for success. It’s even a great idea to include non-sports related goals such as academic or personal goals. Remember, a student-athlete is always a student first, so keep that in mind when setting goals.

Selecting a sports performance program or facility is an important choice – perhaps more important than you think – and there are many things to consider. The five components outlined here should help in your decision-making process. From the culture to the facility to the coaches themselves, you want to make sure you find a place that is comfortable, fun, engaging and creates programs that help the athlete move toward their goals. Ask questions, talk to others and hopefully, you’ll end up finding a comfortable fit for a long time.

 

About the Author:  Brad Leshinske is the founder of the Athletic Edge Sports Performance program in Chicago and an adjunct faculty member at North Park University.  He has more than 10 years of experience training athletes of all ages and at every level of competition.

Becoming a Bigger, Faster, Stronger Teenage Athlete

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We work with hundreds of teen athletes every year that want to take their game to the next level. The purpose of athletic development training is to provide young athletes with a clear and proven path to athletic success.  At K2, we break athletic development training down into three areas which teens need to become better athletes.

  1. Strength…Get Stronger: Strengthen the legs, core, and upper body. This will increase joint stability and create higher amounts of force.
  2. SpeedGet Faster: Use strength and lean muscle to create speed, power, and agility.  Jumping, sprinting, reacting, and rapidly changing direction are all skills that every athlete can improve with coaching and training.
  3. Skills…Become more skilled: Practice your sport specific movement to improve technical sport specific skills such as, throwing, twisting, dodging, etc.

These all sound very simple when broken down however; the “secret” is that each one of these categories relies on the other. For example, it’s hard for an athlete to improve speed without improving maximal and/or relative strength. It’s also hard for an athlete to become more skilled without improving speed. We can say this for all the above mentioned categories. My job as a strength and speed coach is to coach athletes to become bigger, faster, and stronger and then let their sport coaches handle the skill work. Below I’m going to outline how we increase size, speed and strength in our teenage athletes.

Most new (to training) young athletes that come into our gym for an initial evaluation are way too skinny and weak. We classify this awkward, weak athlete as a “Wet Noodles”. We are not trying to be mean however; we are trying to hammer home the point that they HAVE to get bigger to have any sort of athletic success.  Wet Noodles refer to the athlete not having any sort of lean muscle and in return they have very poor joint and core stability. These athletes are very unstable, usually run awkwardly, and tire quickly because they don’t move efficiently. These athletes are also at high risk for injury because of the instability and poor movement patterns associated with being too weak and skinny. The saying “you can’t flex bone” is always true. Every athlete needs a minimal amount of muscle tissue to maximize performance. How much muscle? That depends on the athlete and their specific sport! Below are the 4 main mistakes most teen athletes make when they are trying to put on lean muscle mass.

1- Not admitting you need to gain weight – Pretty straight forward. I meet with parents, and usually female athletes, who want to see their teen athletes get stronger and compete harder but they don’t want to see them grow and gain weight! It is perfectly healthy for a teen athlete to strength train and put on some muscle!

2- Not eating enough quality calories- Again not rocket science. You cannot expect to gain lean muscle mass and perform at your peak when you’re fueling the machine with garbage. Sugar, processed foods, and fast food are unacceptable for anybody let alone an athlete. Bottom line… if you want to pack on hard, lean muscle you need to consume quality, fresh, whole foods. We start our athletes at around 20 x bodyweight in calories and break down the percentage of proteins, carbs, and fat depending on the athletes’ goals and their specific sport.

3- Lifting like a college or pro athlete- One of the worst things that a teen athlete can do is mimic the workouts that they see high level professional and collegiate athletes performing. Teen athletes need volume. They need a lot of quality reps in basic strength movements. Many times I see young athletes trying to perform lifts and jumps that are way too advanced for their strength and skill levels. Most teenage athletes need to be on a basic hypertrophy program to elicit a growth in the muscle tissue. This usually means reps in the 8-12 range with moderate weights. Most young athletes try to lift weights that are way too heavy. This prohibits them from learning motor control and also from eliciting the hormonal response needed to grow the size of a muscle. We train all our young athletes for hypertrophy. This means we want them to do moderately hard sets of 8-12 reps rather than single heavy max out sets. Training in this manner is not only safer for them but they get much better results.

4- Not being consistent- Consistency is the key! Most young athletes don’t get in nearly enough workouts to get the volume of repetitions needed to elicit the growth that they need. 1 or 2 workouts a week just will not cut it for a teenage athlete looking to get bigger, faster and stronger. We need our athletes to get a minimum of 3 sessions per week with 4 being ideal!

Getting STRONGER!

Getting bigger and stronger go hand in hand.  Even though one of our young athletes may be on a hypertrophy program (described above) with the goal of growing bigger muscles they will be getting much stronger as well. The two are not mutually exclusive. Young teen athletes will see gains in maximal strength even though they are lifting on a higher volume program aimed at growing their muscles bigger. At this point they do not need to lift like a powerlifter with 1 rep maximal effort sets. Now once we see they have developed proper somatotype (body type/muscle size) we switch them over to a program that will emphasize increasing maximal strength. When we switch to this type of lifting at the right time… the results are amazing! This is when we start to develop the type of athletic body that everybody wants! The key here is to remember that without the proper base as discussed in the “Get Bigger” section this will not be possible.

When training to gain pure strength we like our athletes to lift as much weight as possible for 1-5 reps per set but without letting form breakdown! We use this rep range with compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and sometimes even pull ups. Ideally our athletes will train like this 2x a week leaving the other 2 training sessions for explosive training and some higher rep hypertrophy training to maintain lean muscle mass. The goal with heavy strength training is to develop the CNS (mind muscle connection) to be able to produce high amounts of force. It is the high force production that helps an athlete run, jump, swing, throw, and move quickly and efficiently in competition.

Getting FASTER!

Many parents and athletes overcomplicate getting faster. Put more force into the ground at the right angles and an athlete will run faster.

SPEED = STRIDE LENGTH X STRIDE FREQUENCY

This formula is very simple. Stride length is the distance an athlete covers with each step. Usually the least amount of strides win the race (a.k.a Usain Bolt). Stride frequency is the amount of strides taken over a given distance or period of time. This is all very simple however, many coaches and parents screw this up royally by trying to verbally cue an athlete to take longer strides and/or quicker steps and this simply results in the athlete taking away from one aspect to give to the other! We don’t want to improve stride length by just over striding and reducing frequency. We want to improve stride length by improving traits like mobility and force production.

For example, many taller young athletes have a hard time accelerating over a short distance because moving longer limbs requires more specific strength and coordination than they currently possess. In this situation, many coaches will tell the athlete to take shorter choppy steps. All this will do is the screw up his footwork and timing and it will not address the underlying issue which is lack of specific strength. This athlete needs full body general strength training and some sprint specific strength work such as hill sprints and sled sprints to improve his coordination and force production while accelerating. In short, athletes need to improve physical characteristics to see speed improvements.

There are five main components that I look to improve when training athletes for speed. Below I will briefly touch on all four and explain how I see them as they relate to TEENAGE athletes.

1- Somatotype– Athletes are all born in different shapes and sizes. Without getting to deep into the role that genetics play, it is my job to make sure we maximize an athletes potential by developing the type of body that will suit him best for his sport. Basically, we need to make sure an athlete has the right weight and the right amount of muscle in the right areas to maximize their speed. This is where all the information for the Get Big section comes into play. Most athletes we see are too skinny. Occasionally, we see teen athletes that need to drop body fat. These athletes still usually need to get stronger though.

2- Mechanics & Sprint Form– I wrote above that strength and size were not mutually exclusive. Neither is strength and speed. Strength plays a major role in sprint mechanics because an athlete must have the proper strength to have good posture and to be able to hold the “sprint position” while moving at top speed. This is why many young athletes run very awkwardly. They simply lack the strength to execute the mechanics of sprinting. Many coaches and parents can’t figure out why their athletes can’t lift their knees high enough or swing the arms properly or stay off their heels even though they constantly tell them to. It’s because they lack to strength to execute what being asked of them! When training for speed it is vitally important to pick drills for young athletes that they can properly execute and will improve from. There are endless drills to improve mechanics but not every athlete is ready to do all of them.

3- Force Production– Very simple. Sprinting is based in physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The more force and athlete can put into the ground the more force the ground pushes back with and propels the athlete in whatever direction they push off in. Again the major factor is strength. The stronger an athlete the more force they can push into the ground with and if the angles and mechanics are good they will run faster. Obviously, there is a limit or the fastest athletes in the world would be powerlifters and strongmen. That’s where the next component comes into play.

4- Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC) (#trainfast)- Basically, we are training the body to move explosively. It is important that while improving strength we are also training explosively. The SSC is referring to the cycle of stretching and contracting. The faster a muscle stretches the more explosively it will contract. Think of your body dipping down before it jumps up. The faster it descends down the less time it will spend reversing path to come up and the jump will be higher. The principle holds true for most athletic movements (throwing, batting, jumping, running, etc). We use jump training, med ball throwing, and Olympic lifting to train explosiveness.

5-Mobility– Many people get confused and interchange mobility and flexibility. While they are the similar they are not the same. Flexibility refers to the length of tissue or the length of a given muscle. Mobility refers to the range of motion (ROM) of a given joint or movement. Mobility includes movement so it encompasses flexibility of the tissue but also core stability. Somebody may have the flexibility to squat down properly but they may not have the mobility to actually do a proper squat due the ankles, hips, or core. The same can be said for sprinting. An athlete can have the flexibility needed to sprint well however, they may not have the mobility needed to get in the proper sprint position because of host of stability issues. This factor plays a major role in speed training. If we see an athlete not able to hold the sprint position we need to ask why and include programming to correct those factors.

GET FASTER NOW

Posted on

Question:  Will interval training get you faster?
Answer: NO…….and here is why:

Interval training can help you improve endurance…which you may need trying to chase down the faster athlete before he/she scores.

Speed work is defined at 2-8 seconds of maximal intensity effort / running. An athletes body needs at least 2 minutes of recovery before energy stores are replenished enough to allow the athlete to focus on proper form and deliver maximum intensity in order to get faster. If they do not recover properly from each interval, they will not be able to replicate proper mechanics with consistency and they can not improve speed.

Now…watch this video and master these drills.  Form rules and Coach Kavanaugh makes it simple to understand.

LEARN THE 5 BEST DRILLS TO INCREASE YOUR SPEED AND AGILITY

http://www.sportandspeedteam.com/blog

Click on the video in the right hand column.

 

 

 

Are You Ready For Spring Sports

Posted on Updated on

The crack of a baseball blasted over the fence; the whack of a golf ball blasted off the tee; the sound of lacrosse pads smashing against each other. These are all signs spring is in the air, and with it, spring training for many of our children.

Are you ready?  Are you physically ready for the season?    Not just ready to run sprints on the first day of practice, but strong enough to complete day-in and day-out for the next 3 months.

are-you-ready

We’re encouraging our student-athletes to follow their training guidelines, eat healthy meals and drink plenty of fluids, and most importantly, listen to their bodies. Minor aches and pains from training and activating those dormant muscles are normal, but prolonged pain that causes difficulties with your training regimen is not and may be a sign of injury.

More than 2.6 million children are treated in the emergency department each year for sports and recreation-related injuries.

Sadly, many of these injuries can be prevented through proper training, which MUST include muscle prep activities such as foam rolling and stretching.

Athletes must listen to their body as spring training gets underway and see your healthcare professional when those minor aches persist. There are so many treatment options as basic as the use of ice packs and cold compresses to myofascial release which will improve your injury recovery.

These are a couple steps to stay healthy during spring training and through the season:

  • Get a physical. Ask your primary care physician to give you a physical exam. He or she can then clear you for participation in your sport.
  • Seek support. Your school has athletic trainers, use them. They can guide your training efforts and help you safely prepare your body for your sport.
  • Protect yourself. Use the correct protective gear for your sport – helmets, knee and elbow pads, goggles, ankle braces, etc. Make sure your protective gear fits, is worn correctly and is in good condition.
  • Practice your form. This can prevent many sports-related injuries resulting from improper swings, kicks, throws and other sports mechanics.
  • Make sure you hydrate. Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of fluids, preferably water. Sports drinks are OK, too.
  • Get enough rest. Your muscles need some time off to heal and ultimately help you get stronger. Plus, resting prevents your muscles from becoming overused which can lead to injury.
  • Take care of your head. All concussions are serious. They can lead to a host of problems including, but not limited to, nausea and vomiting, headache, mood swings, altered sleep patterns and more.

Spring training brings with it renewed championship hopes and dreams. Do your part to make sure you perform your best this season without having to experience an avoidable injury.

As always, K2 is here to help you get ready for the spring season!!  You can check out our schedule  at http://www.k2strength.com/schedule.html.

If you are looking to take your game to the next level and stay strong all season long…… K2 is the place to be!

Please call me if you have any questions and / or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kevin Haag
908-803-8019 (Call or Text)

 

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life

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A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables.

There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.

This is a detailed meal plan for a low-carb diet. What to eat, what to avoid and a sample low-carb menu for one week.

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan

What foods you should eat depends on a few things, including how healthy you are, how much you exercise and how much weight you have to lose.

Consider all of this as a general guideline, not something written in stone.

The Basics

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains.

Don’t Eat: Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, “diet” and low-fat products and highly processed foods.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid these 7 foods, in order of importance:

  • Sugar:Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream and many others.
  • Gluten Grains:Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes breads and pastas.
  • Trans Fats:“Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils:Cottonseed-, soybean-, sunflower-, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils.
  • Artificial Sweeteners:Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead.
  • “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products:Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc.
  • Highly Processed Foods:If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.

You MUST read ingredients lists, even on foods labelled as “health foods.”

Low Carb Food List – Foods to Eat

You should base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.

  • Meat:Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
  • Fish:Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Eggs:Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
  • Vegetables:Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
  • Fruits:Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds:Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • High-Fat Dairy:Cheese, butter, heavy cream, yogurt.
  • Fats and Oils:Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.

If you need to lose weight, be careful with the cheese and nuts because they’re easy to overeat on. Don’t eat more than one piece of fruit per day.

Maybe Eat

If you’re healthy, active and don’t need to lose weight then you can afford to eat a bit more carbs.

  • Tubers:Potatoes, sweet potatoes and some others.
  • Non-gluten grains:Rice, oats, quinoa and many others.
  • Legumes:Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc. (If you can tolerate them).

You can have these in moderation if you want:

  • Dark Chocolate:Choose organic brands with 70% cocoa or higher.
  • Wine:Choose dry wines with no added sugar or carbs.

Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and may provide health benefits if you eat it in moderation. However, be aware that both dark chocolate and alcohol will hinder your progress if you eat/drink too much.

Drink

A Sample Low-Carb Menu for One Week

This is a sample menu for one week on a low carb diet plan.

It provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day, but as I mentioned above if you are healthy and active you can go beyond that.

proteinrules

 

Monday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with blueberries and a handful of almonds.
  • Dinner:Cheeseburger (no bun), served with vegetables and salsa sauce.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch:Leftover burgers and veggies from the night before.
  • Dinner:Salmon with butter and vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast:Eggs and vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken with vegetables.

Thursday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, berries, almonds and protein powder.
  • Dinner:Steak and veggies.

Friday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Chicken salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Pork chops with vegetables.

Saturday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various veggies.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with berries, coconut flakes and a handful of walnuts.
  • Dinner:Meatballs with vegetables.

Sunday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, a bit of heavy cream, chocolate-flavored protein powder and berries.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach (salad) on the side.

Include plenty of low-carb vegetables in your diet. If your goal is to remain under 50 grams of carbs per day, then there is room for plenty of veggies and one fruit per day.

If you want to see examples of some of my go-to meals, read this:
7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in Under 10 Minutes.

Again, if you’re healthy, lean and active, you can add some tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as some healthier grains like rice and oats.

Some Healthy, Low-Carb Snacks

There is no health reason to eat more than 3 meals per day, but if you get hungry between meals then here are some healthy, easy to prepare low-carb snacks that can fill you up:

  • A Piece of Fruit
  • Full-fat Yogurt
  • A Hard-Boiled Egg or Two
  • Baby Carrots
  • Leftovers From The Night Before
  • A Handful of Nuts
  • Some Cheese and Meat

Eating at Restaurants

At most restaurants, it is fairly easy to make your meals low carb-friendly.

  1. Order a meat- or fish-based main dish.
  2. Ask them to fry your food in real butter.
  3. Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.

A Simple Low-Carb Shopping List

A good rule is to shop at the perimeter of the store, where the whole foods are likelier to be found.

Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.

Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range.

  • Meat (Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon)
  • Fish (Fatty fish like salmon is best)
  • Eggs (Choose Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs if you can)
  • Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Lard
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese
  • Heavy Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt (full-fat, unsweetened)
  • Blueberries (can be bought frozen)
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Fresh vegetables: greens, peppers, onions, etc.
  • Frozen vegetables: broccoli, carrots, various mixes.
  • Salsa Sauce
  • Condiments: sea salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, etc.

I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, cereals and baking ingredients like wheat flour and sugar.