Posts Tagged ‘strength’

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.

SFAS BOOT CAMP

Posted: October 9, 2017 in Uncategorized
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This will be a great experience for all involved. We hope to help our camp realize higher levels of fitness and improved body composition!

bootcamp october

6 things my staff and I notice with soccer athletes over the last 15 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.

www.strengthfitnessandspeed.com