Posts Tagged ‘strength’

The following list is by no means all-encompassing but provides some insight into some of the most glaring points that have jumped out at me through the last 40 years of my own training as well as those that I have trained. By no means was I a gifted athlete but years ago at the age of 36 I ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and vertical jumped 36 inches. I also managed to dunk a basketball at a height of 5′ 10″. This was not by accident or due to a gift but because I have learned and observed training outcomes for a very long time. Please take a few minutes and look over my list.

1)Put more empahasis on strength, power, explosion and speed than muscular and aerobic endurance.

In other words more strength, fitness and speed and less crossfit and long slow distance running.

The most common question we get is, “Did he or she work hard?”. Did they sweat? Did they breathe heavy? Most of these questions are related to conditioning. Athletes have plenty of time for conditioning. What most lack is explosion. Who cares if you can finish the soccer or basketball or football game without being tired? Did you move explosively during it enough to have an impact on the game? It’s great to be able to get through the game, but were you quick enough during it?

Conditioning and speed, agility quickness training are mutually exclusive events.

When baseball players prep for the season, many teams run distance only.  3 miles per day, 3 times per week. What about speed in the field or on the bases? It would take 2 seasons to run what some teams condition with in a week. THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Especially when you lose 3 close games due to a ball dropping in or getting thrown out at second when stealing or not beating out an infield hit.

Puking during a conditioning workout is one thing. Puking during a speed workout is impossible. Here’s why. When you condition, your body produces a boat load of metabolic acid especially when video gamers start conditioning for the first time. Metabolic acid in copious amounts completely inhibits the firing of any fast twitch fiber that one is trying to tap for SPEED TRAINING. Puking=lack of conditioning, conditioning, eating bad food, virus, nerves. Not explosive training. Not anywhere remotely close.

All you have to do is look at what happens to vertical leap, 10 yard dash, broad jump and 40 yard dash after a 6 week bout of high rep band squats for time. Or what happens after a division I soccer player trains like a marathoner.

Decreases of 4-6 inches in the vert and worsening dash times of .2-.3 seconds are not uncommon.

You can do all of the plyometric and speed drills in the world but if you don’t have  a strong, stable base you will reap very little benefit.

2)Work your brakes!

Athletes work linear speed like crazy but the problem is unless you are a track athlete you will have to be able to stop and restart. Stay off of the leg press machine and spend more time in the squat rack. While you are in the squat rack, don’t bounce out of the bottom position, use your hamstrings and glutes down there.

Make sure your ground mechanics are appropriate when you are training. Knees over toes, dorsiflexed ankle on contact. Don’t  feel  for the ground with a pointed toe. Get your hips down! Avoid excessive vertical movement when you are moving laterally.

3)Rely more and more on “open” drills.

Ready….
Set……
Go…..
only gets you so far.
You need to perform drills that involve you reacting to a variety of stimuli including contact, visual and auditory. There needs to be a reactive component to your training. You can prove it to yourself by first reacting to a “go” command without false stepping. Next try doing it reacting to a clap or thrown ball. See what I mean?

Your ability to stop and start unpredictably is at the root of agility.

If you do not add the element of surprise(open drills) to your agility repertoire, you become good at a skill like you get good at a golf swing or dancing or a ladder or cone drill.

Multiple studies bear this out.

Once the foundation of good mechanics is laid, unpredictability must follow unless you just want to be a combine or showcase star only.

4)Spend more time actually developing your athleticism.

There comes a point in time when being in 2 leagues, for 3 teams and running around reaches a point of diminishing returns.

Your swing is flawless….but has no pop. Will playing for 3 teams make it better?

Your soccer foot skills are great…….but you run like a dump truck. Will playing rec, travel and cup all in the same season fix this?

You are running track to get faster…….will running the mile or throwing the discus make this better?

There comes a point in time when an athlete needs to focus on his or her athleticism. You can’t do this by demonstrating the skills that you have. You must overload with some strength, speed, and agility training and allow time to RECOVER. Try playing for one team, one sport at a time during season.

5)Continue training In season! A recent research study entitled, “DETRAINING AND TAPERING ADAPTATION ON STRENGTH AND POWER PERFORMANCE” was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Aug. 2007 and provides definitive scientific data that addresses your question of whether it is worth maintaining some level of training frequency versus stopping altogether and participating in a sport.  In the study, speed and strength training was conducted for 16 weeks prior to the experimental detraining (DTR) or maintenance (MT) work.  Following the training period, DTR stopped additional exercise; the other group, MT, performed low volume, high intensity work periodically.  Both groups continued to participate in their given sport.  Following 4 weeks of this modification, DTR lost some strength but had over a 15% decrease in muscle power (slower running speed and lower vertical jump), while  MT (the group that continued with their performance training) showed a small increase in strength and maintained power (maintenance of performance gains)

About the Author

Ed Wietholder is the founder and owner of Strength Fitness and Speed, Inc. Ed has trained many athletes and non athletes as well from the Pittsburgh area. In addition, many have benefited from his routine design and consultation across the United States.

Ed has authored many articles that have appeared in national and international magazines.

Ed has trained and consulted for many High School, Collegiate and Professional teams.

What others are saying about Ed Wietholder

Big thanks to Ed Wietholder of Strength Fitness & Speed for the workout and always taking care of me when I’m back in Pittsburgh! Great dude!
Thanks Ed for all the help getting here! If anyone sees this and is in the south hills of Pittsburgh, they should check out Ed Wietholder‘s work!

Chase Winovich
University Of Michigan Football #15
Cleveland Browns # 69

It is easy for our young athletes to find a place to “workout”. There are many places popping up from former athletes who know what worked for them and who may be “certified” by unofficial, substandard organizations.

But then there is SFAS…owned and led by Ed Wietholder and his team of critically certified training professionals who understand the biomechanics and physical responses of performance-based training. This understanding results in the human body’s best opportunity for building and maintaining progress throughout their sports careers. Yes, there is science behind exercise and training and this team knows it inside out and upside down. They do this through balancing growth with agility and strength improvements while reducing the risk of injury both during and between seasons of these hard pushing athletes. Many of the SFAS athletes play more than one sport or more than one role in the same sport. The SFAS team evaluates, prescribes, re-evaluates and adjusts for each sport, each season and most importantly, each athlete – not a cookie cutter service. SFAS trainers communicate as a team to deliver the best unique situational plan for each athlete.  And add to this, they push your limits with intensity but in a fun atmosphere. The banter with the training staff and other local athletes creates a motivating family-like atmosphere. In two words, THEY CARE. Beyond the technical aspects, the respect the SFAS team shows to coaches and programs to complement their directives and to push the athlete both mentally and physically is obvious and reflects their knowledge of sport-athlete roles and the game. The well-rounded approach has resulted in many, many successful high school, college and professional level athletes. Personally, I have a tri-sport female athlete who has to work on her current sport while coming off the previous season’s sport (always simultaneous) and with the mindset and plans of getting ready for the third sport season year after year. Her high school is blessed with many great athletes, especially in her graduating class, so the competition is real and the seasons are long. The strength and agility needs of one sport can be very different from another.  I would not trust her training to anyone else. The SFAS team has built her both mentally and physically and she carries it out. Her performance has improved consistently in each sport throughout her growth years (with some inherent growth issues and process of her own).  The mental and confidence growth support from her SFAS team is beyond words.  Recently, as her basketball team heads to states for another year, she was unable to schedule her SFAS sessions due to her commitments.  She finally, after 4 weeks, was able to go back to her routine.  She came home from her session and said (with a bounce in her step), “I really missed my SFAS training and my SFAS family.  I feel great and it makes me happy to go there.  I feel like they always know exactly what I need.”  They do. From dealing with the process of severe osgood-schlatter disease to school challenges to transitioning between sports while playing a completely different sport…they do it all!  Thank you Ed and your SFAS team for helping Lydia succeed as an athlete and as a person. It takes a village and you are definitely a big part of ours. 

Lydia Shaw           Thomas Jefferson High School, XC/Basketball/Track

Jefferson University, XC and Track, NCAA Division II, CACC

Major: Architecture and Design

By: Lisa Steiner Shaw, PhD, Industrial Engineering, Human Movement Studies

Training is having an organized specific plan to achieve a very specific result.

Working from the endpoint backwards 12-16 weeks is a great place to start.

Any team that I have ever trained has always been asked the question: When does your season begin and what do you want to accomplish?

Working Out is going to the gym and saying today I feel like hitting chest and not having a clue as to what weight or scheme or goals you have going on. Working out is going to 3 different coaches for 3 different things(or even better 3 for the same thing) and having no scheme as to how these things should operate together. Cluster bomb results especially for advanced athletes.

Training is an organized approach to things. You can’t do a high rep high endurance crossfit session 3 times per week while trying to improve your 40 time or vertical leap for your season or a camp. Yes you can make progress but specific gains that involve explosion are being compromised.

High nervous system component work like acquiring a skill or refining a movement should take priority in your sequence of training in any given day. If this work is to be fit into a day here is an example. Working on pitching or throwing a javelin technique first, plyometric and CNS work next, strength to follow and any base conditioning or GPP work last.

Plyometric work at the end of any training day makes no sense. If explosion is your goal then on and off box hops for high reps and high volume makes absolutely no sense. Depth jumps off of a box with 100 % effort for bouts of 3-5 makes plenty of sense done fresh early in training. You can’t improve power when NS fatigue or high lactic acid levels already exist.

Train. Be smart. Organize.

Pictured(Team PA(Sroka) going at it last Winter)

What is it exactly that we work on with our Softball athletes?

We have lots of experience in this area as we have trained teams from Nitro, Team PA, Outlaws, Predators, Renegades, Riot and multiple high school teams.

Things we work on:

1)Action: Dynamic warm Up, Stretch

Benefit: Proprioception development, Increased Core Temperature for better training performance

2)Action: Mechanical adjustments, sprint techniques evolving to very specific basepath and positional speed.

Benefit: Beating out infield hits, stretching singles into doubles, better reaction and getting to infield hits and fly balls. Better mechanics means more EFFICIENT movement.

3) Action: Overloading the athletic movements with resistance and assistance.

Benefit: Contrast training provides better neuromuscular recruitment and power in movements. Example: pre training athletes exhibit much less muscle recruitment than trained athletes. Contrast training and complexing a plyo and a resisted movement enhances recruitment leading to much improved getting out of the box and exploding to a space.

4)Action: Progressing movements from closed(predictable) to open(random).

Benefit: Better transference to the field. There is very little ready –set- go in sports and softball. Movement must be reactive, not on your own cue.

5) Power development in the body, including lower core education and activation and development of explosive rotational core power using med balls and plyometric drills

Benefit: All movement originates in the low core. The low core is your anchor. A stronger educated lower abdomen provides an anchor from which an athlete can turn powerfully on a pitch or launch a fast pitch. All movement originates in the lower abdomen. Rotational core power provides greater velocity off of the bat, a stronger throwing arm and a more efficient consistent swing.

6)Leg strength and stability and ground contact work

Benefit: Reduced chances of cruciate ligament knee injuries

7)Upper Body strength and power transfer

Benefit: Increased bat speed and better power transfer from legs to hands

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Posted: September 23, 2020 in Uncategorized
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PSU Football’s Mason Stahl working up to 500×3

Going back about 12 years I caught hell from a head football coach whose team we had been contracted to train for strength and speed 3 days per week. His assistant coaches had spread the word that these infidels(my coaches and I) didn’t have the team hitting each muscle group. Coach called me to his office and was insane and yelled, “They are only doing 4 exercises each workout! No curls, no skull crushers, no leg press, no side laterals, no strip set forced rep banded madness!! “How can one gain from just 4 exercises Ed?!! This is ridiculous I can’t believe we hired you guys!” I calmly said, “Coach back in 2003 I worked up to deadlifting 415×20, Squatting 495×5, Chinning 5 reps with 115 pounds on my waist and Benching 315×5 with 5 exercises on Monday, 3 on Wednesday and 3 on Friday. No chemical assistance Coach. I was 37 years old Coach and weighed about 190 pounds. ” “Oh”, he calmly said. Well maybe we will try this out………… The KISS principle: Keep it Simple Stupid.

The same principle applies to an everyday tasking environment. Multitasking feels great but leads to stress and inefficiency no matter how good you are at it. Keeping it simple and staying in the moment of each task is most efficient and the best way to lead to your own effective longevity.

Disclaimer: These should not be used during a lower body strength or power cycle. These should not be used when you anticipate a sprint or lower body power test like vertical jump, etc. They are meant for an off season bump to your training.

You could use them on leg day maybe at the end of day. Or you could use them solo.

Here is the key. You must pick a weight that you can do for 10 failing at around 10. Then with 2-3 breaths between reps do 10 more reps with the same weight after that. 20 should be impossible but get it anyway. You should tease the body about survival a bit.

Why do these work? Read On. It gets thick. Read it anyway.

GROWTH HORMONE

 Growth hormone(GH) is a peptide hormone that is produced in the anterior segment of the pituitary gland. GH has a role in the growth and development of bone, connective, visceral, adipose, and muscle tissue. GH may act either indirectly or directly. Directly speaking, GH may bind directly to a GH receptor on a muscle cell where it then exerts its anabolic effect. On the other hand, some studies show that GH exerts its effects indirectly by stimulating the release of somatomedins from the liver. Somatomedins bind to the plasma membrane of the muscle cell, where it carries out growth promoting effects. Regardless of how GH works its magic, it promotes the hypertrophic response by stimulating amino acid transport into the muscle cell and translating these amino acids into protein. GH output is obviously something we want to maximize, so what is the best way to do it?

In most studies it appears that GH release is related to intensity of exercise, volume of work performed, and shorter rest periods. In one particular study, a comparison between 2 different exercise protocols on evoked GH responses during and after weight training exercise was carefully observed.(10) One protocol consisted of 5 sets of 5 repetitions with a variety of basic exercises using a weight that was 80-95% of each movement’s 1 repetition maximum. A second protocol consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions with the same exercises using a weight that was 70-85% of each movement’s 1 repetition maximum. Rest periods for the first protocol were 3 minutes. Rest periods for the second protocol were 1 minute. Growth hormone levels during and after exercise were significantly higher using the second exercise protocol. Lactate levels increased during the second exercise protocol and not in the first, leading the researchers to believe that lactate may be the stimulus for GH increases. Other studies bear out the same contention.(11)

Diet also has important ramifications concerning GH release. During the first 1-2 hours of sleep, a significant pulse of GH is released into the bloodstream. The presence of glucose in the bloodstream, and therefore usually insulin,  has been shown to inhibit GH secretion. Therefore, theoretically it seems to make sense to avoid a high carbohydrate meal close to bedtime. A better option would be a high protein shake or snack coupled with some low glycemic index carbohydrates so as to minimize a large increase in insulin.

                                                              TESTOSTERONE

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that has an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle tissue. Anyone who has seen an athlete that supplements with anabolic steroids can see what modified testosterone can do.

Anyhow, under normal physiologic conditions a region of the brain called the hypothalamus secretes GnRH which stimulates the anterior segment of the pituitary gland to release LH(luteinizing hormone) into the bloodstream. LH then stimulates the Leydig cells of the testes to create and release testosterone into the circulation. At rest, 97% to 99% of this hormone is bound to SHBG(sex hormone binding globulin) or albumin. The rest is active and free to exert its effects.(2) Anabolic effects are due to the fact that testosterone increases protein synthesis and decreases protein catabolism within the muscle fiber. To delve a little further yet, testosterone binds with receptors in the cytosol of the cell which causes an increase in the transcription of the genes located on nuclear DNA that code for the synthesis of muscle proteins. The messenger RNA that results from this returns to the cell cytosol where actual protein synthesis occurs.(3) This is great but how do you get your testes to make more of this stuff? Several studies demonstrate that weight training induces elevated testosterone levels during and after exercise. It seems as if the most important factors in eliciting an elevated testosterone response are the amount of muscle mass used in a movement as well as the total work performed.(4,5) This tells us that for the most efficient testosterone release we want to be sure to include the squat, deadlift, and bench press in our routines. Doing higher rep sets of 10 and even 12 so as to increase total work performed may be advantageous in maximizing testosterone output. Sets of 5 repetitions still have their place in any routine, but they are not as efficient in eliciting testosterone secretion.

How about those old time 20 rep squat routines that were touted as being able to pack on lots of muscle mass and add to your vitality. Both criteria for maximizing testosterone secretion are overwhelmingly met. Maybe those old timers were onto something. Myself and many of my clients achieved personal best lifts in UPPER BODY lifts while on a 20 rep squat cycle. This implies that one must look not just at the effects of a specific exercise on a target movement or bodypart, but systemic effects of various schemes as well.

Enough said.

The Gap

Posted: September 14, 2020 in Uncategorized
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One of the best books that I have ever read is the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Steven Covey about 25 years ago before I started my entrepreneurial venture. There are 2 parts of this book that really resonated with me.

The first was the notion of the gap between a stimulus that you receive and your response to it. First and foremost a theme that ties many of the principles together is self awareness. You are not your thoughts, your background, what life had dealt you, or how people treat you. What you are is your response to those things. In many ways this is mindfulness and “Zen” like.  It sounds very simple but just so powerful. It is applicable on so many levels. At the root of it is your ability to feel secure with your own principles and not giving “you” away to the pressure you receive from an event or another person. Think and pause before you react.

The second was a comment he made to not “get caught up in the THICK of THIN things. Things that matter the most such as your principles and family should not be at the mercy of self imposed deadlines, the opinions others have of you, or a junk filled email list. This certainly involves saying “NO” to requests others have of you. If they are a friend or a truly supportive family member they will understand. If you are too worried what they think of you because you told them NO then you have some interior work to do. If you say YES to a very thin thing you may have said NO to something more important without literally doing so. 

The book is a fantastic read and even better as a guide and reminder.

We train teams, small groups and individuals.

We also have a batting cage and turf available for skills practices.

We will focus on the field specific aspects of speed such as lateral quickness for middle infielders, out of the box speed, breaking on the ball speed, and first step quickness. 60 yard dash work can be addressed.
Regarding the throwing arm, exercises that target the rotator cuff, such as a variety of internal and external rotation movements will be utilized. Scapular strength and stability will also be addressed. Since the bicep also plays a role in stabilizing this joint, it too will be strengthened.
Core stability and rotational power, when combined with the above work, leads to a more powerful throwing arm that is less apt to become injured.
A special concern to pitchers includes the maintenance and strengthening of the rotator cuff. Large amounts of energy are absorbed by the body as the hand releases the pitch. This stress should be transferred to the stronger scapular stabilizers rather than the rotator cuff. Training this area together with certain plyometric moves, direct cuff work, and closed chain movements reduces the incidence of injury and strengthens the throwing arm.

“I thought the Strength, Fitness And Speed program really helped me learn how to train like a pro athlete”
-Tom Shirley

I first came across Strength, Speed and Fitness when I was the head baseball coach at Kiski Area.  At that time I was astounded at the progress the players that trained with them made in the short period of time they had worked with them.  As each of the players became faster, stronger and more agile, their level of play and their self-confidence greatly improved.I am presently the head baseball coach at Belle Vernon Area.  Once again I am seeing the benefits of their program in the 12 players that are regularly working under them.  Their improvement has been so significant that other players on our teams (middle school up) are taking notice.  In fact, no less than seven players and their parents have approached me to get information on their program to make arrangements to begin working with them at the conclusion of our current season.

As a former professional baseball scout and a former college coach, I highly recommend their program for any players wanting to increase their chances of playing at the next level.

Daryl Hixenbaugh

Past Head Baseball Coach Belle Vernon Area High School

GOING VERTICAL

Posted: May 20, 2020 in Uncategorized
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If you know me you kind of know that I am a big fan of basketball. I watch it, I play it, I coach it. I have been intrigued for years to learn how to jump higher. If you think of many of the major sports, leaping can be a big aid in performance.
Let me take you through an empirical process by which my own vertical leap actually improved before my knowledge of plyometrics and modern training methods. As a sixth grader(1977!!), I rationalized that strong legs are legs that will let you jump higher. So with my cement filled plastic Ted Williams weights from Sears, I started squatting. I wedged my body under my bench press uprights for lifting off(I don’t recommend this!) and the strength building began.
I also rationalized that you needed to overcome your bodyweight to get airborne and thought that jumping out of trees, landing and jumping up again would help this. Pretty safe for a strong adult but a really bad idea for a sixth grader. Anyways we went up to frighteningly high heights and for safety’s sake I figured I better just land and stick when we got in the really high branches.
By seventh grade I was hitting the big loops of the basketball net, still squatting and still jumping out of tress like an idiot.
By 9th grade I had worked up to some pretty respectable poundages in the squat but was becoming pretty darn tight. I took up martial arts and with all of the flexibility work(dynamic and static) I was able to express more power(using strength in a hurry, more on this later). Kicking, flying and jumping is somewhat plyometric in nature and this helped as well. I was also developing some elasticity. Soon I was grabbing the rim.
Fast forward to college, with more squatting strength and some early knowledge of plyometrics that did not involve falling out of tees. One night at Grandview courts in Mount Washington, I went up and lo and behold, the ball went down for my first dunk.
If only I knew then what I know now! At the age of 36(we are up to 2002 now!), using an early version of our SFAS protocol my vertical leap peaked out at 36 inches. Let’s look at some key factors in developing some hops.
Power is the ability to exert strength in a given time frame. A good example is a vertical jump. It takes about .2 seconds for most athletes to go from flexion to extension at the knee before leaping. Why do some athletes that weigh the same amount and extend their knees in the same time frame jump higher than others? They can express more force via strength and motor recruitment in this time frame. Since strength is at the the root of power(CAN YOU SAY 2 AND 1 LEG SQUAT?), it is very important unless you are a very fast twitch dominant athlete with naturally dominant ability to recruit.
A program utilizing methods to minimize power loss through the torso should be used in conjunction with plyometrics. The key is stabilizing the pelvis, hip abductors, adductors, and external rotators. We also need to analyze your jump for proper knee tracking and to prevent what former Chicago Bulls strength coach Al Vermeil calls back jumping. The low back is comprised predominantly of slow twitch fibers and will not get you vertical fast enough. Glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps should be used to provide power for jumping.
Take advantage of what we have learned ! There is no time like now to become a better athlete! Get it done!

6 things my staff and I notice with soccer athletes over the last 21 years:

1) Everyone could use some more strength. All else aside, more strength makes you flat out more athletic. Power is your ability to recruit strength in a hurry and is a requirement during sprinting. Power also helps during cutting, jumping and kicking. Strength and stability keeps you from getting knocked off of the ball.

2) The athletes could use some more oblique and abdominal strength, stability and power. Your lower abdomen provides the anchor from which all movement can occur. This helps when you are kicking, jumping or sprinting. Have you ever watched a player run fast without the ball and look like he or she is speed skating? This tends to happen a lot with soccer. Sometimes it is motor and is a result of elbows that are flailing to the outside but more often it is the hips that are rotating. Force generated by the hip flexors and powerful arm action can’t be controlled by the body’s secondary rotational stabilizer, the obliques.  This produces a roll in the hips, a zigzag foot strike pattern and arm action that belongs on the ice, not on the soccer field.

3) Many of the players use a crossover step to move laterally without the ball instead of an open step. Takes longer and is inefficient in moving short distances.

4) Many athletes do not dorsiflex(pull the toes up) at the ankle during planting and during the recovery phase of sprinting. This is sometimes not a natural occurrence, particularly with soccer players who must point their toes to kick! As the shin swings forward right before ground contact, a nice dorsiflexed ankle provides a shorter lever at the knee(easier to turn over) as well a more efficient ground contact in line with the hips, not in front of the hips. Dorsiflexed ankles also send a warning to the knee joint and hip joint that they need to be ready to fire in advance.

5)Many players have a false step that wastes time and is inefficient.

6)Many players overstride as witnessed by a late recovery  evidenced by the foot finishing “high” when observed from the rear. This is “braking” actually.

Contact us to fix these issues.

Ed,

“I wanted to thank you for the work you and the other trainers have done with my children.  They both play soccer and this training was perfect for them.  When my son first came to you he was fast, but he ran out of control.  You not only improved his speed, but greatly increased the control he runs under.  His lateral movement and change of direction have improved tremendously.  This has enabled him to play his position with the speed and agility needed.  My daughter has also increased her speed and has become a stronger player.  She played her first game since last fall last weekend and other parents were commenting on how much faster she is now.  It is that noticeable.  They will be continuing with the program.  I am so pleased with their progress that I am having my youngest daughter begin the training.”

Again, thanks for your efforts.

Sincerely,

Patrick Maloney

 

www.strengthfitnessandspeed.com

Prologue: In eighth grade, my basketball crew and I were weekly regulars at Strength, Fitness, and Speed under Mr. Wieth. We would go to work on our vertical leaps, speed, agility, quickness, and strength. During one of our training sessions, I noticed one of my teammates slacking. He was just there going through the motions, and even laid down on a bench in the middle of a workout to rest! Being the (physically larger) leader that I was, I walked up to him, sat on him, and told him he better get his butt in gear. Immediately after, Mr. Wieth (jokingly) said, “Chris, if you ever need a job, you know where to find me!” Just five years later, finishing my freshman year of college, I showed back up at Strength, Fitness, and Speed and took him up on that offer.

 

As a sophomore in high school, I experienced physical therapy firsthand. I spent several months in and out of physical therapy for different ailments – shoulder pain, multiple bouts of low back pain, and chronic neck and upper extremity pain. This experience left me with a desire to pursue a career in the PT field.

Because of these ailments, I eventually stopped participating in high school sports. Instead I focused on the physiology and coaching aspect of sports and performance, which soon became my passion. To this day, many of my high school friends still comment on “that huge book” I would carry around from class to class. That book was my first personal trainer’s certification book. I often studied this material when I likely should have been studying for my actual classes!

Since high school, I’ve worked constantly to increase my knowledge of the human body and sport performance. I have since graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, received a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist title, and am currently enrolled in Pitt’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Having this advanced knowledge has increased my abilities to improve our athletes’ success in many aspects at Strength, Fitness, and Speed.

A good example of how my education has helped a developing athlete comes from one of the hardest workers at the gym. He is currently a senior football player, though has now become enthralled with the sport of powerlifting. While I would mainly train him and his team for football, we always found ourselves talking about how to better set-up for the bench press, his current personal record lifts, or tips and cues for the deadlift. I was able to help coach him through his first powerlifting meet in Summer of 2018 where he broke the PA state teen record for the bench press. He is currently in-season for football, though will continue to compete in the off-season and push his limits of powerlifting, hopefully breaking more records along the way.

Another example involves a current Division II football lineman that I have worked with for many years. His first few sessions in high school, we realized we had a lot of work to do on footwork, quickness, and coordination. After many seasons of him working with the team at SFAS, he was able to land a starting lineman job at his high school, and soon begin to get offers from different colleges to play there.

While intensely training for his time in college, this athlete began to suffer from low back pain. He began to see a physical therapist, while continuing his training with us. The physical therapist had him performing rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and coordinate his core and proximal musculature.

Meanwhile, we continued his return-to-sport training and strengthening. With my education on his limitations and impairments, we spent time all the way up until he had to leave for camp working on getting back into playing shape. He is currently a freshman at a Division II school and is redshirting this year to continue his rehab, get a good jump on his education, and prepare for the rest of his football career.

While I could never take credit for any of the hard work that these athletes put in, I like to think some of my knowledge, coaching, and motivation has guided them toward the amazing success that they have had.

About the Author:

Chris Serrao
Sports Performance Coach
SPT, CSCS, Sport Performance
Coach Chris is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist that is currently enrolled in The University of Pittsburgh’s Number 1 ranked Doctor of Physical Therapy program. He received his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Pitt in 2018. Throughout his life, Chris played basketball, volleyball, and football, though eventually found his niche in the weightroom, now competing in powerlifting competitions across the country. He boasts lifts of a 555 pound back squat, 355 pound bench press, and 615 pound deadlift and uses his strength and athletic background to better train athletes of all ages and skill levels.