Are Your Ankles Mobile… and Stiff?!?!

The ankle joint and surrounding structures is one of the most important joints in the human body for athletic performance. Many athletic activities in sport require tremendous amounts of force being applied and re-directed through this joint including sprinting, jumping, cutting and the changing of direction.

While stiffness in the ankle joint is generally regarded as a negative, there is something to be said for having the right amount of stiffness in the ankle joint. The term stiffness generalized to a lack of mobility in the ankle, however in this sense when we are talking about stiffness, we mean the ability to absorb and re-apply force. You can think of this as jumping as high as you can and then asking the body to jump again with eh same effect. This requires a tremendous amount of stiffness in the ankle joint to absorb and re-apply force to create another maximal jump. Stiffness in the ankle joint allows for less energy to be lost and the ability to still produce a large jump.

However, a general amount of ankle mobility is required to produce maximal force and to achieve athletic angles and positions in sport. Additionally, in the weight room ankle mobility can be a major impediment to individuals being able to reach a desired range of motion exercises such as the squat (along with other exercises), which can cause issues in terms of technique and form breakdown. The inability to exercise in full ranges of motion with certain exercises can impede the improvements in athleticism we see with training.

Want To Know How Your Ankle Mobility Stacks Up? Try This.

  1. Get into a half kneeling position with your shoes off.
  2. Place your toes 3-5 inches away from a wall.
  3. Drive your knee over your 2nd toe and see if you can touch your knee against the wall without lifting your heel off of the ground.

Come in to SST to check out the different strategies we use with our athletes to help improve ankle mobility and increase stiffness to help make our athletes stronger and faster!

Three Tips To In-Season Training – Football

In season training is a must for ALL sports! One of my biggest pet peeves is when athletes train SO HARD during the off-season but then they do nothing to maintain their hard work during the season! You are wasting all the hard work you’ve put in! Listen I get it…. lifting during the season is a very tough task both mentally and physically but it needs to be done so you can maintain your strength and speed that was developed during the course of the past off season. Most people do not understand how to properly train during the season, here at SST we can help guide you through the course of the off-season and your in season maintenance!

Here are my three biggest inseason traning tips that will definitley help your performance!!!

Lift The Heavy Barbell

Don’t be afraid to lift heavy during your athlete work week. This will keep you strong! Ever notice why muscle pulls and joint tweaks happen in the later parts of your season??? Its because most athletes are not keep their bodies strong! In the football season most high school and university players are playing on Friday or Saturday. There is no reason why early in the week, Monday and Tuesday you cannot be lifting in the 80% max load range.

Active Recovery Day –  Post Game

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!! If you play your game on Friday night, there is no doubt that you are going to wake up Saturday sore as heck. The worst thing you can do is just sit around on the couch feeling sorry for your body. My suggestion is you do something active to get the lactic acid out of your body. What I like to do with my football guys is the day after the game we get out on the field and run 10 fifty yard tempos at half speed, just enough to get the blood moving. After that is complete I make them walk for 15 minutes. This works perfect, and you wake up Sunday feeling 10 times better.

Streching – Hip Flexors and Glutes

Football is played in a low crouched position a lot of the time. The first thing that usually goes on Football athletes are their backs from the constant collisions and the positions they are always in. I highly suggest that you take 15 minutes out of your day, every day to give your Hip Flexors and Glutes some love. There are 1000’s of different stretches that can be performed depending on your flexibility.

Give these three tips a try when thinking about your in season training, they will definitely help you. All athletes out there that feel they need a little more direction in their training swing by SST Burlington and let us help you. We have been in this business for 20 year and have help 1000’s of athletes!

Why Female Athletes Need To Strength Train – Part 1

The girls I see coming into the facility always out train the boys; gone are the days where we will accept the phrase “—-like a girl” to mean something inherently wrong, especially when it comes to sports! Female Athletes need to be taken just as seriously as their male counterparts, that goes for every aspect of their chosen sport and will benefit from strength and conditioning programs. With the trend towards early sport specialization becoming more common in young athletes, it is important to ensure that female athletes are competent in a broad spectrum of movements from a young age so that they are well rounded and able to perform their sports activities in the safest manner possible. The following four points (Points 1 &2 in part one and Points 3&4 in part two) highlight how strength and conditioning can be useful for your female athlete.

1.       Preparation for the Future                                                                              

In the past 10 years, long term athletic development (LTAD) and youth physical development (YPD) have been the cornerstone models for development of young athletes. These two distinct approaches use a holistic view to training so that age, growth, maturity and training level are all taken into consideration when a program is designed for an individual. Strength and conditioning training has a significant role in ensuring that young athletes become more coordinated, stable and strong as they advance through their athletic careers. It is important that young athletes are proficient in movement basics so that their platform for growth and development continues along an upward trend.

2.       Reduced Injury Risk                                                                                       

Despite concerns in the past that strength training is harmful for young athletes, it has been revealed that strength and conditioning can make a developing athlete “more resistant to injury” (NSCA, 2008). A higher level of motor control and a better understanding of how their body moves in space, allows an athlete to take more control over their injury prevention. Strategies of how to correctly stabilize the core, distribute bodyweight and resist force are all areas which can lower the risk of injury.

A properly designed strength and conditioning program guards against over development of a specific set muscle group from playing a sport year round (specializing), by incorporating exercises to balance and provide joint stability for sport specific movement. The most balanced, strong and coordinate athletes are the athletes who are least likely to be injured.

If you are interested in learning more about your preparation and reducing injury risk please email us at bskinner@sstcanada.com

Look out for Part @ of this blog!

Has your bench press hit a plateau?

There is a small but mighty trick to break through, switch to a DB chest press and get the most bang for your buck. The strongest, smartest lifters don’t bench-press with their upper arms 90 degrees from their sides; they tuck their elbows in on the descent to get more power and reduce the risk of shoulder injury. To get fluid and comfortable doing this, performing the neutral to pronated grip bench press for eight to 12 weeks. Switch back to the traditional barbell while keeping in mind the cues of tucking your elbows. Watch your bench number skyrocket.

HOW TO DO IT

1. Grab dumbbells and lie back on a bench. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and arch your lower back. Position the weights at the sides of your chest with palms facing each other.

2. Press the weights straight overhead, while rotating your grip to the pronated position and vice versa on the way down.

WHY IT WORKS

Pressing with the palms facing each other, rather than pointed toward your feet, will naturally cause you to keep your elbows close. This takes excess pressure off your shoulder joints and increases your mechanical advantage, allowing you to lift significantly more weight. Your chest is also responsible for internal rotation and therefor you will get better activation of that muscle group.

Come in for a FREE demo with our MaxFit class!

To book please email us at sst@sstcanada.com and we’ll get you scheduled for your demo.

6 Reasons Why Strength Training for Figure Skaters is Important

I have had the good fortune of working with a number of figure skaters. Occasionally, parents of children who I do not coach will ask me about the benefits of strength training for figure skaters. Below are the 6 reasons I cite for getting figure skaters involved in strength training.

1) Strength training will eliminate imbalances and correct tracking issues which will decrease injury – for example, a weak vastus medialis will cause the patella to track laterally due to a muscular imbalance with another primary knee extensor, the vastus lateralis.  The issue is that the lateralis is usually tight due to daily active living and can cause the patella to track improperly without a strong vastus medialis to act as a stabilizer in opposition.  This can cause an imbalance and resultant tracking problem which can, in turn,  lead to pain and possibly injury due to poor biomechanics from an improperly functioning knee joint. 

Sandring, S. (2005).   Grey’s Anatomy.  Spain: Elsevier Churchill Livingston.

2) Strength training will aid the body in injury prevention.  It can prevent misalignments of muscles and reinforce correct muscle patterning in biomechanics.  Strong hamstrings aid in structural balance of the posterior aspect of the knee.  Due to the hamstrings actions on the knee, the biceps femoris performs a lateral rotation of the tibia when the knee is semi flexed and the semitendinosis performs a medial rotation of the tibia when the knee is semi flexed, improving strength within the hamstrings will reduce the possibility of shearing or twisting injuries of the knee joint. Strong glutes are essential to help reinforce any movement the hamstrings make and in addition help steady the femur on the tibia which aids in landing, for figure skating in particular.

Kendal, F.P.,  McCreary, E.K., Provance, P.G., Rodgers, M.M., Romani, W.A. (2005).  Muscles Testing and

Function with Posture and Pain.  Baltimore:  Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.  

3) Strength training improves neurological control which can improve both gross motor movements – jumping – and fine motor movements – the subtle footwork that the judges are looking for. This control becomes more and more important as a skater advances through the senior and elite levels given the complexity of the tasks and skills they need to perform. Improved proprioceptive awareness will also accompany these increases in neurological abilities allowing a skater to develop their “ice sense”.

4) Strength training makes tasks that are difficult today easier in the long run. By increasing strength and skill an athlete will be able to progress to more difficult jumps because they are able to jump higher, rotate faster and stick landings with more ease. If we take the 1 arm brace press as an example (a standing 1 arm DB shoulder press where the free arm is extended to the side and bracing the body) there are a number of ways this strength movement can improve figure skating performance. For example, it will improve core stability as there is an isometric contraction of the oblique muscles to hold the body stable. It improves shoulder strength which has been shown to improve vertical jumping and improve forward arm drive that is needed to build momentum for starting rotations. While these things will improve through skating alone, the rate of improvement will be increased though progressive strength training.

5) Completing difficult endurance or strength sets will improve mental toughness and can make skating feel easier. Anything that makes a tough task seem easier will boost an athlete’s confidence which will improve their on-ice performance and make skating more enjoyable. Knowing that they have a strong, well balanced body will eliminate doubts of this nature from the mind of a skater … and believing that they can is the first step in doing something.

6) Being stronger will improve soccer, sprinting, athletics (track and field), volleyball, etc…. performance. It will also make everyday activities easier. The reason for this if very simple – strong muscles produce more force when they contract so you will need to recruit fewer fibers to produce the same force. This will translate into faster running, higher jumping, and easier lifting.

For further details about our strength training program please email me at bskinner@sstcanada.com

For more information and access to great articles and videos please visit www.sst.training

Tilapia, Watercress & Mango Salad

Tilapia, Watercress & Mango Salad

25 min prep time. Serves 4 people.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 People

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1 table spoon chili flakes or to taste
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups watercress with thick stems removed
  • 1 mango diced
  • ½ medium red onion thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tilapia with a pinch of salt, pepper and chili flakes and cook for 1-2 mins each side or until opaque.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey, ginger, red pepper, ¼ cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour the dressing over the leaves and gently toss in the mango, onion and place cooked tilapia fillets on top.

Squat Depth: How low should I go?

The squat is one of the most well known, if not the most well-known exercise for developing lower body strength. One of the age-old questions in the athletic community and strength and conditioning world is how low should I go? This post aims to delve into this topic and provide insight into how low one should go when squatting.

            Early research into the squat suggested that with increased knee bend there was increased stress on the knee joint and while this is partially true (as tibiofemoral and patellofemoral compression increases with increasing knee angle), the maximal mean peak shear forces reported are much lower than the patellar and quadriceps tendons can withstand, and therefore while these forces increase with squat depth, they are within ranges that would tend not to significantly damage these tissues in an healthy individual. Furthermore, peak anterior shear forces occur from 0 – 60 degrees of knee flexion, making the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) most susceptible at this range, and these forces decrease with increased squat depth. Posterior shear force begins at 30 degrees flexion, with peak forces reported at 90 degrees of knee flexion and decreasing below 90 degrees of flexion. Therefore, while it is true higher forces exist at greater knee flexion, deep squats decrease stress on the ACL and PCL compared to partial squats of 90 degrees knee flexion or less.

            While the knee joint is the most commonly addressed joint when talking about squat depth, the loading mechanics of the spine also come into question. It has been shown that with increased forward lean, forces on the lumbar spine are increased. Furthermore, in lumbar flexion or excessive lumbar extension we also see these forces increase with the squat. In terms of the effect of squat depth on the spine, if a neutral lumbar spine and forward gaze can be maintained this is more important than squat depth itself. Furthermore, it appears front squats and low bar back squats provide less stress on the spine than high bar back squats.

            When we look at muscle activation, deep squats tend to activate hip musculature more than partial squats, so if we are trying to maximize the strength of our hip musculature (including our most powerful hip extensor gluteus maximus) deep squats with a wider stance and feet slightly turned out (anatomical position) are preferred, as partial squats up to 90 degrees maximize quadricep activation.

Overall there are many benefits to deep squats, but this is only if we can perform deep squats with proper form and technique. Likewise, there may be some scenarios where deep squats are contraindicated such as those with previous PCL injuries or patellofemoral disorders. Furthermore, squat depth should be consistent with individual goals and proper technique and execution needs to be maintained. Individuals should seek advice of an exercise professional on squat technique and should have an assessment done to find what is right for them in their exercise program. However, if you can squat to depth below 90 degrees it seems to be beneficial to athletic development and may even be less stressful on supporting structures.

Note – Information in this article is based off the brief review titled “Squat Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance” Brad J. Schoenfeld published in 2013 the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Access this article here: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2010/12000/Squatting_Kinematics_and_Kinetics_and_Their.40.asp

Maxfit 44 program

If you’re a man over the age of 40, your body is issuing you an ultimatum:

Get lean and fit or face accelerated aging, weight gain, diminished sex drive, declining energy, chronic diseases like osteoarthritis, chronic low back pain, diabetes, and other problems.

Ever notice that most elite athletes retire from competitive sports in their late 30s? There’s a reason for this, the male body starts to age more quickly. But you can reverse the aging process with nutrition and strength training.

Part of the reason for this accelerated process is the diminished production of our hormones Testosterone and Growth hormone. Testosterone is the hormone that makes us men. It gives us our strength, our drive, and our character.

However testosterone production declines with age in men. This results in decreased serum levels of total and bioavailable testosterone, leading to a decrease in energy, muscle mass, and bone mass. This also leads to an increase in body fat levels, depression, and a variety of disease. Growth Hormone is the hormone that stimulates growth and cell division. The average bodily decline in growth hormone production is 1.25% per year, or 14% per decade for a man of normal body weight. If we add in the elevated body fat levels the growth hormone production is further compounded because body fat itself tends to decrease HGH secretion.

However it does not have to be this way, with a properly designed strength and nutrition program we can halt or even reverse this process, to become the strong virile man we used to be.

MaxFit 44 offers you an opportunity to answer the ultimatum your body is issuing.

We provide a customized nutrition plan and strength training program that will allow you to meet your fitness goals. Based on cutting edge scientific research and accurate assessment of your body composition we will design a program for weight loss, improved vitality, and enhanced sports performance (other goals?).

This is not your normal group exercise program. There are no dance moves to learn, no irritating music and no endless boring cardio exercises.

We offer low instructor, client ratios and select only exercises that will make you stronger and more powerful.

Why would you choose a group exercise program vs. individualized training or working out in isolation? Cost and results. Working out in a group setting is less expensive than working out with a trainer in a one on one basis but with the shared benefits of group accountability. Studies indicate that people work harder when they believe that others are watching them. This increase of intensity when paired with proper exercise selection and movement form will yield results that are up to 80% better in half the time.

When you factor in the nutritional program, you have an unbeatable approach that is going to make you look and feel better than you ever have in your life. Better yet is that by learning WHAT and HOW to eat, you will be able to stay lean and keep your muscular appearance while the rest of your friends continue their age related decline. Discover the benefits of MY BLUEPRINT NUTRITION

You can’t stop your body from aging but you can control how it looks as it ages. Get back in the drivers seat and recapture the vitality of your youth.

MaxFit 44 will change the way you look, feel and think about your health for the rest of your life. You deserve to be the best you can be.

ACT NOW!

JOIN OUR NEXT 12 WEEK PROGRAM!

Come in for a free demo class.

Why Increase Your Omega 3 Intake?

I keep hearing about good fats and why I should be taking them. If I took good fats wouldn’t I just become fatter and what are the true benefits? Also, what are Omega 3 fats?

Grant N.

 

Hey Grant, that’s a great question and one that I hear regularly. First let’s get an understanding of fats. Fatty acids can be broken down into two main categories- Saturated and Unsaturated. These two can be broken down into sub-categories as well, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Fatty acids are made up of the number of carbon atoms and hydrogen molecules they can hold. All fats have a combination of these with one being predominant.

Fat is necessary for good health. Deficiencies of the so called “Good Fats” can cause health consequences. Good Fats can be described as Omega 6 or Omega 3. Omega 6 fats are highly consumed in our diet relative to Omega 3. The ratio is up to 20:1 whereas it should be more of a 1:1 ratio. Here at SST, we like to put our athletes on higher dosages of Omega 3 fats. There are 3 types of Omega 3- ALA (found in flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil and walnuts) Docosahaexaenoic (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) which are found in fish and fish oils. ALA is essential but does not convert well so I like to recommend fish oils to our athletes. Our brains are made up of 60% fat. DHA is one of the most important fats for the brain and it is sometimes called “brain food”. All omega 3 fats also help with the anti-inflammatory process of the body as well. As well, a higher intake of Omega 3 leads to fat loss. This is usually the first supplement I add to our athletes’ diets when they come into the SST Centre.

Fish Oil can have benefits for the body with the following medical problems:

Cancer

Arthritis

Stroke

Colitis

Chronic fatigue syndrome

As mentioned I prefer a high dose of fish oils for my athletes depending upon their body fat levels – from 9-15 grams per day! I like to use reputable companies that use higher grade fish oil such as Metagenics, Genestra, Organika, Life Extension and my good friend Charles Poliquin’s in-house brand. I instruct my athletes to take their fish oils with every meal. A good trick to help avoid burping up fish a taste is to keep them in your freezer.

Grant I hope this helps you understand Omega 3 oils a bit better!

Good luck with your training and nutrition! If you want more info regarding all Women’s Fit and Lean Program or Men’s Maxfit please contact your community SST