Resistance Training for Acceleration

Sprinting has been described as consisting of a series of phases: an acceleration phase (typically the first 10 metres), a transition phase, and a maximum velocity phase.  For sports such as soccer, rugby, football and basketball, maximum velocity is not always attained, and repeated short sprints are more common.  Taking this into consideration, the ability to develop speed in as short a time as possible (acceleration) may be of high importance to many athletes.  It has been proposed that acceleration and maximum velocity are relatively separate and specific qualities.

An athlete’s ability to accelerate his or her body during sprinting is dependent on several factors.  These factors include technique and the force production capability of the body, in particular the leg muscles.  It has been shown that the technical aspects may have less importance for the acceleration phase of performance than for a typical sprinting event.  For example, in many sports the athletes have to accelerate from a lying or crouching position, from landing on 1 leg and pivoting, from catching a ball, and so on.  Therefore, the force capability of the muscle may be more important in improving acceleration of the athlete.  This point was supported by R. Mann in his publication titled “The Elite Athletes Project: Sprints and Hurdles.” which stated that the ability to perform well in sprints over short distances is dependent on the ability to produce large amounts of force at crucial times.

A variety of methods are used to enhance force output.  These methods include resistance training, plyometric training, and assisted and resisted sprinting techniques.  For this article we will focus on resisted sprinting which involves athletes sprinting with added load.  This load can come in different forms: weighted vests, sled-sprints, uphill sprinting and limb loading.  More specifically, this article will focus on the towing of weighted devices such as sleds which is the most common method of providing towing resistance for the enhancement of sprinting.

It has been shown that the use of towing as a form of resistance may increase the load on the athlete’s torso and therefore require more stabilization.  This training stimulus may increase pelvic stabilization, leading to a positive effect on sprint performance.  Increased torso loads also cause an increased upper-body lean and increased thigh angle at both the beginning and the end of the stance phase.  This increased thigh angle reflects the increased need for force production during the prolonged stance phase.

It is important to note that sprinting speed should not be decreased by more than 10% when adding resistance; adding too much resistance may alter running kinematics in ways that are not desirable.  It is also maintained that sled-sprinting should not be employed when the desired training effect is neural (i.e. maximal velocity).  Sled-sprinting is an effective method for a metabolic training effect (i.e. acceleration).  Due to evidence that only the first 10 metres of a sprint have been designated as the acceleration phase, it is suggested that sled-sprints should be performed for distances no longer than 10 metres.

S.S.T. holds that a well implemented speed program should include a variety of methods to achieve desirable results (i.e. resisted sprints, assisted sprints, unassisted sprints and resistance training).  Also, methods such as resisted and assisted sprints should be used sparingly, such as in the final or next-to-final block of an athlete’s periodized program.

To find out more information regarding SST’s upcoming Lightning camp please visit our website at www.sstcanada.com

 

SST Q&A- Short Hockey Stride

Question:  My 14 year old son is a good hockey player, but as he is getting older, his skating strides are becoming short.  Why would this be? And how can he improve his stride?

Answer: This is a good question.  I have been around the rinks for about 20 years now, and that is something I notice a lot of in young hockey players. A short skating stride can come from a number of things.

First thing, take notes:  What is the position of his upper body? Which way does he shoot?  What does he do for warm up?

For Example:

If his upper body is bent over = tight hip flexors

If he shoots left = Tight right Hip (must be balanced) (and vice versa for a right shooter)

Warm up is Crucial for effective stride length so make sure you are including an effective dynamic warm-up before you get on the ice.

 

If you are still having issues with stride length look to tackle to following through myofacial release,  proper stretching, and off-ice training:

  • Tight Hip Flexors– Comes from too much skating, riding the bicycle (amazes me how many pros I see still riding the bike after games!), not enough stretching, computers and TV etc. Look for warm-up exercises that extends the hip and lengthens the leg.

 

  • Tight Hamstrings: same as above.

 

  • Weak Glute Muscles: Glute Med, Glute Max, Piriformis  muscles which extend and abduct the hip.  These muscles are neglected off the ice.  If these muscles are not strong, power can not be generated to get a full stride. Weak glutes often cause the common hockey groin injury as a direct result of the groin being overworked.

 

  • Tight IT Band – Abducts the hip. Tightness in the IT band causes knee tracking problems causing Patella Femoral syndrome. Use myofacial release to help reduce tightness.

 

  • Tight/Weak Adductors: Commonly neglected.  Athletes tend to stretch this muscle a lot, however neglect to strengthen them.  This affects the recovery phase of the skating stride. Due to the imbalances of the Glutes the groin is an overworked muscle.

 

  • Upper Body Posture: Tight anterior muscles can affect the stride length as well. When a player strides, the opposite arm cocks back as well.  Being tight can cause the leg not to extend to its full potential.  Most hockey players are tight in the Anterior Upper Body (chest region).

 

  • Weak Core Muscles: Especially Back Extensors.  Weak low back causes a hunched position which decreases stride length.  SST has found that strengthening the Lower Back will increase stride length.

 

These weak areas can be improved by:

  1. Stretching the hip flexors and hamstrings, strengthening the glute muscles, strengthening the adductor muscles.
  2. A mixture of dynamic stretching, static stretching, foam roll self myofacial release.
  3. A proper warm up before training, practice and games is also very important.

 

EXERCISES PERFORMED AT SST

Split Squats, Lunges, Walking Lunges and other forms of Lunges, Glute Ham Raise, Reverse Hyper Extension, Deadlifts and all variations,  Resisted Hip Adduction, Y,T,W,L Shoulder Circuit, Back Extension and a variety of speed, agility, quickness and power exercises.

A player with a long fluent skating stride will be more effective and efficient during a game.  He/she will not use as much energy, will be stronger on his/her feet, and will be less likely to become injured.

To recap:  Stretch hip flexors, IT band and chest muscles.  Strengthen glutes, adductors, back extensors and upper back.  SST recommends doing this 3 x a week and watching the difference in your stride and your game.

 

For more great articles and videos please visit www.sstcanada.com

 

 

Did You Waste Your Time With Your New Years Resolution – Part 2

If you missed our first 5 tips to keeping your New Years Resolution, click here to check them out

6. Keep Track of Your Progress

One of the easiest way to keep you motivated on your way to your goals is to track your progress. Track your workouts and weights you used, track your weight and body composition, track your nutrition. When you’re in the thick of it you do not always see the progress you’re making, however, if you keep track of what you are doing day to day and look back in a couple months you will be surprised at how much has changed!

Tracking your progress will also allow you to see things such as a tendency to eat too much at dinner, missing more workouts as the week goes on, you haven’t increased the weights you are using at the gym. Seeing what you are doing on paper (or an app) will allow you to make adjustments to your plan and give you a better chance of sticking to your resolution

7. Celebrate your Progress

A great way to keep yourself motivated towards your goals is to celebrate the smaller victories along the way. Lost 5lbs?! Treat yourself to a new workout outfit! Added 10lbs to your squat, go for a massage (your sore muscles will thank you!). When you celebrate the steeping stones you will be more likely to want to keep pushing for the next one, making your ultimate resolution easy to maintain.

8. Reward Yourself with Non-Food Items

When you celebrate your progress, make sure to avoid doing so with food! Using food to reward your fitness or dietary progress is undermining your ultimate goals and may reinforce an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead celebrate with self-care (massage, pedicure, a bath), treating yourself to something you normally would not (a new outfit, a new book), or a trip or activity you have wanted to do.

9. Make Adjustments

As you progress, you should check back on the goals you wrote down from time to time. This will allow you to tweak your goals if needed. For example, if your goal was to lose 10lbs by the end of March and on February 5th you have already lost 8lbs, you should try making your goal more difficult! You can also look to add more detail to your goal, instead of just squatting 135lbs, how many reps do you want to do? In order to make your resolutions sustained behavioral changes you must be able to self-reflect and be flexible.

10. Know that Set Backs are Normal

You are human, you are going to make mistakes and the world will not end! Going to a birthday party and eating some cake or missing a few days in a row at the gym should not be enough to derail all your hard work. DO NOT GIVE UP THAT EASILY!

Allow yourself some freedoms and guilty pleasures now and then, not only will this allow yourself some sanity but it will also make big setback less likely to occur. For example, if you LOVE chocolate do not deny yourself chocolate altogether, switch to dark chocolate and allow yourself a couple pieces on Sunday evenings as you prepare for your week. Allowing yourself this small treat once a week will make you less likely to gorge yourself on the plethora of chocolates around on Valentine’s Day.

With the help of these tips you will be well on your way to your goals for 2018! Let make this year your best year yet.

If you need some extra help sticking to your resolution, enlist the help of our SST coaches and our incredible Adult fitness programs. We have a program for every fitness level and every goal!

Check out our incredible 2 for 1 deal we have going on in February!

Did You Waste Your Time With Your New Years Resolution?! Part 1

So the first month of 2018 has come and gone; how are those New Year Resolutions treating you?

If you’re like the majority of people, when the New Year comes along you start making resolutions. Promises to save more money, keep in touch with friends and one of the most popular, get in better shape! Well, the resolution part is easy but sticking to your goal, that is the hard part!

According to some research, upwards of 92% of New Year resolutions do not succeed!! With the odds stacked against us, the easy thing would be to join the masses and just give up, but my resolution was to make sure YOU stick to your resulution. So, I put together my top 10 tips to help you stick to those resolutions and be a part of that illustrious 8%! IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

1.Make sure your Resolutions are Realistic

Haven’t been to the gym in a couple years? That’s okay, but your resolution probably shouldn’t be to start going to the gym 7 days a week. Not only is that a really daunting task (even for someone who goes to the gym regularly!) but it sets you up for failure. What happens when you miss one day? It makes it easier to talk yourself out of the next, and the next, and next thing you know your resolution is down the drain!

Rather, aim for something that is more realistic and maintainable. Start with aiming to go 2 or 3 days a week (if it’s been a while you will be sore and you will be happy to give your body some extra rest!). Once you get into the swing of things add an extra day, a couple weeks later add another. Before you know it, it will become second nature to get to the gym on a regular basis and you will avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the gym

2. Be Specific

Vagueness is the enemy when it comes to goal setting. If you don’t know exactly what you’re working towards how will you know when you’ve attained it?

Instead of saying you want to lose weight or get stronger make specific, measureable, time-bound goals for yourself. For example:

– I want to lose 10lbs and 7% body fat by March 31st, 2018

– I want to back squat 135lbs by May 1st, 2018 (I’m well on my way!!)

Are making statements like this scary? Yes.

Is there a chance you may not meet this goal? Yes.

However, giving yourself something specific to work towards will make it more likely for you to stick to your goals.

3. Go Public

Making a silent promise to yourself will not cut it, tell the world! Tell your partner, your friends, make a statement on social media; making your goal public gives you accountability. Yes, telling people about your goals may make you feel vulnerable but it will also push you to stick to your goals.

 

4. Enlist a Friend

Having a gym buddy will make you, and your friend, more likely to stick to your plan. If you know you are meeting someone at the gym you are less likely to skip going and if you want to cancel you have someone asking you why. Accountability is key!

Can’t find someone who wants to go to the gym with you or your friend lives far away? Have a friend check in with you and ask how things are going periodically. Having someone to answer to increases the likelihood that you will stick with it.

5. Plan Ahead

In order to stick to your resolution you need a plan. If you have no idea what you are going to do to achieve your goal then how are you going to get there?! Take some time each week to plan out your upcoming week. Pick the days and times you are going to go to the gym, plan your meals for the week, make a shopping list, prep your meals, put together healthy on-the-go snacks.

It may sound like a lot, but taking an hour or two once a week will make it SO much easier to stick to your goals as your busy week gets rolling. You are less likely to make a quick stop at the drive-thru when you know you have dinner prepped in the fridge or you have healthy snacks stored in your car. Having a shopping list at the grocery store will make you less likely to throw the unhealthy foods in the cart. If your gym time is in your schedule, you are more likely to go! Planning gives you direction!

 

If you liked our first 5 tips, check back soon for Part 2!

If your resolution need an extra helping hand, check out SST’s incredible Adult Fitness Programs!

With supportive coaches, encouraging training partners and an energetic environment; the results you want are not out of reach!

Check out our incredible 2 for 1 deal we have going on in February!

 

Are you Slow? It Could be Your Nutrition! Read Larry’s Tip!!

Running (Speed) and jumping (Power) are skills necessary for successful performance in sports, and must therefore be prioritized during training. We have previously covered how to increase your speed and vertical jump through training. However, much like the way you look, nutrition will also impact your ability to run faster and jump higher.

 

 

An article published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research studied the effects of a 4 week energy restricted diet on sprint & jump performance, body composition, and hormone profiles in elite male track athletes… the results were amazing!

A caloric restriction of 750 calories per day (carbs & fats reduced, protein held at 2g/kg/day) combined with regular training resulted in:

  1. Significant reduction in body mass and fat mass. Athletes lost about 1lb a week.
  2. Maintenance of lean muscle mass.
  3. Improved 20m sprint and countermovement jump.
  4. Unaltered testosterone levels.

How can this be explained?

Increased power-to-weight ratio. Reducing body weight while preserving muscle allows you to still produce the same amount of force but now you have less weight to move around, resulting in faster, more explosive movements!

Taken together, this research further supports what we focus on at SST: getting athletes leaner and stronger to improve their speed and power.

Are you in need of some speed training, or getting ready for your season and feel like you need that extra help….For a limited time SST is offering a first time offer:

 

8 PRIVATE ONE ON ONE SESSIONS – NORMAL VALUE $899.99

For the month of February only- ONLY 399.99! 60% off!

Quite a few of you have taken advantage of this savings!

Thus we only have 7 packages left due to our limited capacity

If you truly want to get better this is the time

Please contact Larry ASAP and state “I am in Big Dawg!”

 

How to improve your 40 yard dash- Part 1

If you want to go places in football, then you had better work on your 40 yard dash. While the forty yard dash is probably the most overrated test, it’s also the test that most coaches rely on when scouting a player. Given the emphasis that is placed on this one test, I am surprised at how many athletes come to combines and camps unprepared. I see athletes wearing the wrong shoes or the wrong clothes and I can tell that many of them don’t know the proper starting technique or running mechanics. Furthermore, it’s obvious that most players haven’t done any effective speed or strength training leading up to the big day. I tell my athletes that they have to consider the forty yard dash as a job interview that could land them a scholarship or millions of dollars when their stock goes up in the draft. Remember that first impressions mean everything, so plan ahead and be prepared to run like a professional. Don’t get me wrong, running a great 40 yard dash doesn’t mean that you’re automatically a great football player, but it will turn heads and give you the chance needed to show universities or professional teams what you can do on the field.

When training for the 40 yard dash, players tend to forget how important it is to be STRONG! I have yet to see a weak player run a great forty yard dash. As a Sports Performance Coach I know through personal experience that players who speed and strength train on a continuous basis will experience dramatic gains over those who only focus on speed training. One athlete who followed SST’s 12-week speed and strength training program went from a 5.05 to a 4.62 at the National football combines this year.

There are three main factors that SST considers when designing a strength training program for football players who want to decrease their forty yard dash time. First, we assess the player’s experience and abilities. Factors such as age, previous training experience, fitness level and amount of time available for training are considered. Next, we evaluate the player’s 40 yard dash to determine weaknesses. Do we need to improve his start, decrease his ground contact time or work on reaching maximum speed? Lastly, we focus on strengthening the player’s weakest muscles. As a general rule SST has found that football players tend to have weak lower back, hamstring and VMO muscle (VMO, or vastus medialis, is the teardrop muscle found on the inside of the quadriceps), therefore for the purpose of this article we will highlight , what we believe to be, the top six exercises designed to strengthen these muscles.

In Part I of this two part article, I will explain the first three exercises: snatch grip dead-lifts, tire flipping and Olympic lifts and their derivatives. These exercises strengthen lower back and hamstring muscles which are key components for achieving maximum speed.

Exercise #1 – Snatch Grip Dead-lifts

If I had to choose only one strength training exercise to improve a player’s 40 yard dash time, I would pick snatch grip deadlifts because they work the entire posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings). Snatch grip dead-lifts are a bit different than your traditional deadlift in that they recruit more of the hamstrings due to the angle of the trunk and a wider grip.

Results: improve start, increase maximum speed

Description: Starting position- feet are shoulder width apart. Grip is wider than your traditional grip. Elbows are turned out. Shoulder blades are retracted. Knees over the bar. Chest and shoulders over the bar. Lower back is arched. Initiate lift with hamstrings and lower back. Maintain lower back arch throughout. Keep bar path straight.

Variations: snatch grip dead-lifts off a podium, snatch grip dead-lifts with chains and traditional dead-lifts.

Exercise #2 – Tire Flipping

Tire flipping is not your traditional weight room exercise but it’s a functional way to develop the posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings). This is a grueling exercise that has lot of return for its effort.

Results: improve grip strength, decrease 40 time (after 12 weeks SST athletes decreased their 40 time by up to 3 tenths)

Description: Start in a deadlift position and grab the tire from underneath (fingers under the tire). Lift the tire using your legs and pop your hips forward. Flip your hands around (palms on the tire) and push the tire away from you in an explosive manner. You must keep your back arched throughout the entire movement to prevent lower back injuries.

Exercise #3 – Olympic Lifts and Derivatives

Olympic Lifts consist of power cleans, hang cleans and snatches. These exercises must be done explosively which means as fast as possible. The amount of weight doesn’t matter as much as the speed of the bar. Of all the Olympic lifts the snatch uses the most muscles in the body. People tend to shy away from this exercise but I have found it to be the most effective and easier to teach than cleans. In order to achieve maximum results and avoid injury it’s important to employ proper technique and use the right weight when performing Olympic lifts. If you are not familiar with Olympic lifting and their derivatives call your local weightlifting club or email me at sst@sstcanada.com

Results: faster starts and less ground contact time

Description: An explanation of hang snatch from thigh will be provided because it is the most applicable. Starting position – feet are shoulder width apart. Grasp bar with hook grip. To determine the distance between hand placements measure your elbow to elbow distance with arms straight out to sides. From this point move the bar explosively from thighs by extending the hip, knee and ankle joints in a jumping action. This is also known as “triple extension” of the joints. Keep the bar close to the body. This is a very important element and should be perfected. At maximum plantar flexion (up on the balls of the feet), shrug the shoulders, flex and pull with the arms. Pull the bar as high as possible. As the bar reaches maximum height, flex and then rotate elbows around and under the bar. Then fully extend the elbows and lock the bar overhead. Catch the bar with knees and hips flexed and squat down slowly and under control. The hang snatch is a complicated exercise that should only be performed in the presence of a qualified coach.

In Part II, I will explain the remaining three exercises that focus on increasing VMO strength: squats with chains, wobble board split squats and sled dragging. Strengthening the VMO muscle will help decrease ground contact time which is vital in order to increase speed. The less time a player spends on the ground, the faster he’ll be!

Larry Jusdanis is the owner of Sports Specific Training Inc. SST has trained thousands of athletes from a variety of sports. SST’s no nonsense approach to training has been used by thousands of athletes’ from a variety of sports all over the nation!

Larry Jusdanis

Owner, Sports Specific Training

Sstcanada.com

Director of the National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE)

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Top 10 Gifts Ideas for Athletes & Fitness Fanatics (+ 1 Extra!)

There is SO much to love about the Holidays: delicious food, the much-needed break from work or school, and time with family and friend. With the Holidays may come the pressure to get the perfect gifts for your friends and loved ones.

While we may not be able to force you to hit the gym over the winter break or keep your hands off the cookies, we can ease the stress of finding a gift for your fitness-fanatic girlfriend, beer-loving brother, CrossFit-obsessed buddy, and new-to-it-all parent!

Check out our Holiday Gift Guide to help make your loved one’s workouts awesome this year!

1. Foam Roller 

Foam rollers are great for EVERYONE on your fitness gift wish list. Self-myofascial release (the technical name for ‘rolling’). Is a safe, inexpensive and VERY effective technique that involves applying sustained pressure into the body’s connective tissue to help improve flexibility, recovery, and athletic performance.

Foam rollers, roller strips, rumble rollers, roller balls, peanuts are all inexpensive and make GREAT stocking stuffer!

2. Bands

Strength bands, minibands, bands with handles, ALL THE BANDS!!Bands are inexpensive a great addition to any athlete’s gym bag.

Bands are a great way to take your dynamic warm-ups to the next level. Bands allow you to warm-up sport specific muscles groups and movements like pitching arms before you throw, glutes before you hit the ice, hip flexors before you hit the track. They are light-weight, inexpensive, portable and great in a Christmas morning stocking!

3. Better Nutrition

Athletes are no different from anyone else—eating properly is tough. It’s a never-ending battle to keep ourselves fueled up and eating well, while also doing our best to fight off temptation.

Better nutrition impacts athletes in a number of ways—improved energy levels, a stronger immune system, faster recovery, and of course, better performance.

While nutrition fads come and go, the basics of good, solid nutrition remain. Investing in nutrition counselling, meal prep supplies, recipe books, and even cooking classes is a great way to help your athlete performance their best!

4. Supplements

Supplements are essential to any athlete or individual looking to get the most out of their workouts and bodies. Protein, weight gainer protein (for those who need it), BCAA’s,

electrolytes, creatine and omega-3 fish oils are the supplements that will give you the best results, have the  scientific backing and will aid in performance and recovery.

Come into SST Mississauga to check out our AWESOME Holiday Supplement bundles and deals! (Sorry, shameless plug!)

5. Shaker Bottle

Shaker bottles do not just have to be for the gym , I use mine every day, everywhere I go! They are great for supplements and your daily water intake at work, gym, or on the go!

Some great feature to look for are separate compartments to store supplements, blender lids, and clips that make it easy to attach to your gym or work bag.

6. Lifting Straps

Lifting straps are a great addition to any athlete’s gym bag. As an athlete gets stronger they may begin to find that the strength of their legs or arms starts to surpass the strength or endurance of their grip. Straps are used to support grip and allows an athlete to hold more weight than their grip can handle or can assist when grip has been exhausted in previous working sets.

Personally, I prefer a Lasso style strap made of a strong cotton or nylon. Leather, figure 8, single loops, and hook straps are also options available.

7. Bluetooth Headphones

If you have EVER done a workout in silence you know how awful and unmotivating it can be. Music is a way to shut the world out and get you focused on what needs to get done…LIFT!

Bluetooth headphone are a great innovation for any gym goer as it keeps the pesky cord out of your way while you are trying to lift, run, stretch and even bust the odd move!

8. Music Streaming Subscription

A great addition to those awesome headphone your already have wrapped and under the tree is a music streaming subscription. Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play are all great options to bring some excitement and motivation to your loved ones workout AND everyday life!

9. Fitness/Workout Journal 

A workout journal is a great way to help your loved one set goals, keep them accountable, track their progression, and help them reach their goals. A workout journal does not need to be complicated, a lined notebook can work great.

 

But if you’re looking to get them something a little more detailed there are great athlete and fitness specific journals on the market. They help track sleep quality, nutrition, workouts and more.

10. Gym Bag

Now that you have outfitted the athlete on your list with the great gear above they are going to need something to store and carry it to the gym in! A gym bag is essential to hold an athletes workout gear, recovery tools, supplements and water, pre/post-workout food, extra socks, headphone, training journal, etc.

Some features to look for are easy to use zippers, external pockets to for easy access and storage options, over the shoulder strap, light weight and durable material, and size big enough to hold everything they need!

Plus one Extra AWESOME gift for those on your list

An SST Gift Card

Shameless plug alert!! If your loved one looking for an advantage to their athletic performance or is new to the whole workout thing, an SST gift certificate is a great way to get them started or push them to their potential.

We have programs for every age and every fitness level. Gift certificates can be used for SST memberships, supplements, assessments, nutrition consultations, Butts and Guts, FAST Camp, and even personal training sessions.

Get yours before December 25th and get a FREE one-on-one personal session with one of our incredible SST Coaches; that’s a $120 value!

Check out our Facebook & Instagram pages for the latest SST news and more great Holiday & New Year deals!

Courtney Plewes BSc. Kin, CSCS

Director of Sport Performance /

Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach 

Sports Specific Training Mississauga 

1081 Brevik Place

Mississauga, ON L4W 3R7

P: (905) 624-6240

 

Quarterback Vs. Pitcher Vs. Bench Press

We had a great question come in regarding our Blog last week; why we exclude bench press in our Baseball players’ strength programs (if you missed it, check out that Blog here)

The question was: Was having a similar conversation today about QBs and bench press. What do you think?

Here is my response:

While quarterbacks have similar stresses on their shoulders as pitchers, those stresses are a lot less than that of a pitcher. The record velocity for a quarterback throw is ~60mph whereas the highest recorded MLB pitch is ~105mph; they are in completely different ballparks (pardon the pun!). Because of this, throwing injuries are also a lot less common in quarterbacks. If we look at a study by Dodson, C.C; ET. Al  there are only 10 reported cases of UCL tears in NFL quarterbacks between 1994-2008 vs. 36 UCL tears in MLB pitchers in the 2015 & 2016 seasons alone! The majority of injuries NFL quarterbacks sustain occur through direct contact, ~82.3% (according to a study by Kelly, B.T.; ET. Al.) while overuse injuries account for less than 15% of injuries.

Another thing we have to consider is that most quarterbacks take long breaks from throwing in the off-season while pitchers (especially younger ones) have a tendency to jump the gun on their throwing programs and (in my opinion) on average do not let their shoulders recover long enough in the off-season.

What this tells me is that the durability of a quarterback’s shoulder is much higher than that of a pitcher’s and can more than likely sustain higher stresses off the field in the gym. While it may be a good idea to avoid bench press for similar reasons as our baseball players do (exacerbates negative adaptations from throwing, too far away from throwing motion on force-velocity curve, and failure on a heavy rep puts the shoulder in a vulnerable position), having bench press in a quarterback’s program is probably less likely to causes negative performance outcomes on the field. Which is, arguably, the most important thing to look for when choosing exercises for your athletes.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our Bench Press vs. Baseball Blog where we will show you pressing exercises much more suited to overhead throwing athletes, quarterbacks included!

If you have any questions or comments about this or any of our other blogs let us know in our comments section or send our author an email directly (cplewes@sstcanada.com)!

 

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3 Reasons Why Bench Press and Baseball Don’t Mix

Bench Press and Baseball are like Oil and Water; they do not mix.

Working with mainly male, High School and College age, Baseball players, I get a lot of grief about not including Bench Press in programs. Especially, when they see the Football and Hockey players doing it.

When I ask them why they want to bench press so badly I get answers such as; “it’s fun”, “I like lifting heavy” and my personal favourite, “it looks cool”.

It is widely accepted in the baseball world that the reward of getting strong on Bench Press is outweighed by the risk the exercise poses to the shoulders and elbows. My exclusion of Bench Press is not because I want to keep you from ‘looking cool’ at the gym. There are specific and scientifically proven and accepted reasons as to why overhead athletes should avoid this exercise.

Hopefully, this blog will also reach some of the NCAA college programs down south. It BOGGLES my mind when Baseball players in Division 1 Baseball programs come back with Bench Press in their strength programs! No, I am not kidding. It happens…all the time…

Here are 3 reasons Baseball athletes should avoid Bench Press:

  1. It Exacerbates Negative Adaptations Acquired from Throwing

When you throw thousands of baseballs every year there are a few things that typically happen to the body:

  • Increased glenohumeral (shoulder) external rotation
  • Decreased glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation
  • Decreased elbow extension
  • Decreased scapular (shoulder blade) upward rotation
  • Decline in the quality of the tissues surrounding the shoulder girdle
  • Abnormal spinal curvature (usually in the thoracic and lumbar areas)
  • Decreased hip mobility

In laymen’s terms:

  • Your shoulder gets loose in the front
  • Tight in the back
  • Elbow doesn’t straighten all the way
  • Your shoulder blade doesn’t move well
  • The tissue around your shoulder is gritty
  • Your spine it hyperextended
  • And your hips don’t move

Not a pretty picture. And how does Bench Press help this situation…

IT DOESN’T!

Bench Press actually causes stresses to the body that are extremely similar to those found during a throwing motion:

  • Spinal extension
  • Scap retraction and depression
  • Humeral (upper arm) movement without scaps
  • Heavy loads placed on the shoulder girdle

In any sport we use the off-season to re-establish proper movement patterns and mobility, give our arm/shoulder time to rest and correct instabilities and dysfunctions. So why would we want to perform an exercise that does not allow this to occur and can actually exacerbate these dysfunctions?!

Much of exercise selection for athletes comes down to a risk vs. reward. Is the reward (strength gains) worth the risk the exercise places on my athletes? When it comes to Baseball players and Bench Press the risk FAR outweighs the benefits.

  1. There is Little Direct Transfer to Playing Baseball

Another factor in exercise selection is specificity to the sport. Does this exercise mimic anything the athlete is doing while they are playing? To decide this we need to look two things:

  1. The plane of movement of the exercise
  2. Where the movement falls on the force-velocity curve.

Research shows us that power development is highly plane-specific. Meaning that many traditional sagittal plane power movements (vertical movements such as; jumps, sprints, cleans, snatches) have little transfer into throwing. Frontal and transverse plane movements (lateral and rotational) have much more correlation (skaters, medball throws and banded rotations). So, while Bench Press may be a great exercises for an athlete in shot put or kayaking it has little use for a Baseball athlete.

Thanks to our hunting ancestors, humans have mastered the throwing motion. And it has been widely recognized that pitching is the fastest articulated motion a human can produce! This puts throwing a ball at the velocity end of the force-velocity curve. It is a very light load moved incredibly fast. Whereas the Bench Press movement is at the other end; a heavy load moved slowly. The movement is too removed from any movement that occurs in Baseball and therefore, will have little impact on performance.

 

  1. The “Meat Head” Factor

Let’s go back to the reason’s my Baseball athletes give for wanting to Bench Press:

  • It’s fun
  • I like to lift heavy
  • It looks cool

People (especially young, hormone driven males) have a tendency to overestimate their strength capabilities while Bench Pressing. I have done it myself and I have seen countless others do it as well.

 

If my number one goal as a Strength Coach is to keep my athletes healthy and second goal is to improve their performance then I need to choose exercises that are going to keep their inner meat head at bay!

Bench Press done with heavy loads and poor technique can put their most prized possession, their shoulder, in a very vulnerable position. Yes, people will argue that any exercise done with high load carries risk. However, a failed rep in a Push-up has less risk than Bench Press. Risk vs. reward!

“So, watch your athletes and make sure they use proper technique”.

Okay, valid point. However, have you ever tried to coach multiple athletes at one time? Even on my best day it is impossible to see EVERYTHING on the gym floor. And any coach that tells you different is lying.

As a coach I have to pick exercises that are self-limiting, safe and effective, whether I am watching them every second or not. This can mean different things for different sports, positions and individuals. Hence, why I may program Bench Press for a Football athlete versus a Baseball athlete. Have I mentioned risk vs. reward yet?!

The exclusion of the bench press in our baseball programs goes beyond “it’s dangerous for your shoulders.” Even if coached and performed perfectly, our athletes won’t get as much transfer from it as they would from other pressing exercises.

Check back for Part 2 of this Blog where I discuss pressing exercises that are much better suited to baseball players and other overhead athletes!

If you have any questions about this blog series or any of our other series contact Courtney (cplewes@sstcanada.com) at SST Mississauga [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

10 Foods Staples to Throw Out From Your Kitchen NOW!! – Part 4

Every household needs pantry staples; they are essential for easy meals and an on-the-go lifestyle! But there are some staples that are not worth their convenience. Here is our final installment of our #pantryoverhaul! If you missed our first three installments check them out here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 .

9. Microwave POPCORN

microwave-popcorn

Microwave popcorn is one of the worst snacks to be keeping in your pantry. The chemicals used in the artificial butter flavoring – diacetyl- has been linked to sever respiratory disease or ‘popcorn lung’. Diacetyl is thought to be harmless when consumed, but when heated to high temperatures, diacetyl vaporizes and becomes toxic. While ‘popcorn’ lung is usually only seen in those who work in packaging factories do you really want to be consuming and inhaling this chemical in any amount?!

Maybe even more concerning are the chemicals sprayed on the inside of your microwavable bag. perfluoroalkyls, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate are all used to prevent the grease and oil from soaking through the bag, when heated these chemicals fuse onto the popcorn. These chemicals have been found to interrupt the endocrine system, causes thyroid issues, and may be linked bladder cancer.

If all that wasn’t enough to turn you away from this toxic snack a typical bag can contain upwards of 25 grams of fat, 500+ mg of sodium and 600 calories!

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Whole Kernel Popping Corn

Do not fret popcorn lovers! Popcorn can be a relatively healthy snack as long you prepare it the right way. Air-popping is the best way to ensure that you are getting the most out of your popcorn, avoid all the toxic additives, and you can add your own flavours! A small amount of melted coconut oil, fresh dill and a little bit of salt is my favourite!

BONUS! What staple to throw out of your fridge…

10. MARGARINE

The main ingredient in margarine is usually a vegetable oil. The problem with vegetable oils is that they are liquids at room temperature so they must go thorough hydrogenation in order to harden the oils. To do this the oil is subjected to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst (typically nickel) this forces the oils to become saturated with the hydrogen and in-turn firming it up. However, the final product is a lumpy grey mess that needs to be processed even further. Emulsifiers are added to remove the lumps, bleach is added to move the grey colour, the mixture is then steamed in order to remove the chemical smell, and finally synthetic vitamins, artificial flavour and colouring is added.

The process of hydrogenation also produces trans-fat, which raise bad cholesterol levels, decrease insulin responses, and are associated with heart disease.

 

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Organic Grass-fed Butter

benefits_of_grass_fed_cows

Butter has had a bad-rep for many years because it contains large amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. However, recent research has shown that saturated fats actually can help improve lipid (Cholesterol) profiles. Eating small amounts of saturated fats actually raises your good cholesterol (HDL) and helps reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels.

The health effects and nutrient levels of our food depend largely on what the animal ate. Cows who eat grass produce much more nutritious by-products which contain more vitamin K, Omega-3’s and other heart healthy vitamins.

Thanks for tuning into this blog series! Be sure to share with a friend and help spread the #pantryoverhaul

If you have any questions about this blog series or any of our other series contact Courtney (cplewes@sstcanada.com) at SST Mississauga