What Performance Training Can Do For You Part 1

Joe Grillo September 2011

Above is a picture of Momentum PT Athlete Joseph Grillo. Joe came to Momentum with a long list of injury history. In September Joe was on a downward spiral when it came to athletic performance and success due to a nagging knee injury, low back pain and a severe ankle injury that kept him from participating in his soccer season for his Junior year…not a good thing since Joe is stud in the game of “football,” and is looking to play at the next level.

After discussing with Joe the plan of attack on how we would help him address his injuries and simultaneously increase his athletic performance, Joe started on his own personalized program; something that every athlete gets at Momentum PT whether injured or completely healthy. It is this individualized attention and specialized programming that sets Momentum PT apart from other facilities and allows athletes (general population, middle school, high school, collegiate, professional) to maintain or achieve pain free living, enhanced performance (stronger, faster, more agile, etc) and overall athletic improvement.

10 weeks of proper programming and dedication with Momentum Performance Training

After 10 weeks of proper performance programming, implementation and coaching, Joe was able to return to play…PAIN FREE! And O Ya, he was much stronger, faster and more agile…not too bad considering just 8 weeks prior he could not play sports at all.

All it took for Joe was some dedication and hard work on his end, and with the motivation and guidance of the Momentum PT Team, Joe was able to transform his body, enhance his performance and increase his overall athletic potential.

Hard Work, Dedication and A Quality Performance Training Program

Stay tuned for part II where I go into some detail on just how Joe was able to feel, look and perform better in 10 short weeks! Also, keep an eye out for a special gift that will provide you, your friends and family with the opportunity to achieve the same great results as Joe. Taking action is the first step, and at Momentum PT you will find everything you need and more to take that first step and turn it into a sprint.

Confused?

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

“I need to confuse my muscles.” “My body knows what is coming, so I need to switch up the exercises.” “I am not seeing any more progress with my training…time for some new exercises.” Have you ever heard one of these statements before? Or maybe you have even said these things yourself. It is all over the infomercials on television, in our favorite “meathead” magazines and, unfortunately, this idea of constantly switching up your training program has become mainstay in many gyms and training facilities.

Muscle Confusion or Just Confusion?

I am not saying that progressing a program is not conducive to training success, but I am arguing that too many coaches, trainers or self-programmers feel that they can never perform the same training day twice within a week…or even worse, a month! And what is the first thing to change within the program? Yep, the exercise selection. Consistently switching the exercises will not provide the body with the repetition needed to become more efficient and therefor more athletic. And worst of all, if you can never become proficient in a movement due to lack of repetition, you are more likely to move incorrectly and increase your chances of injury.

Lack of Practice…

“But if we don’t switch the exercise, how can we ever progress?” A valid question, and one that needs to be addressed. The exercise is the last variable within a training program that has to change in order to achieve a progressive stimulus. You can manipulate the amount of sets performed, reps performed, rest incorporated, speed with which the exercise is executed, intensity / resistance used, order in which the exercise is performed, position in which the exercise is performed (1/2 kneeling vs split stance) and more. As you can see, the exercise can be manipulated and progressed in many different ways before the movement pattern is exhausted and therefor perfected. And perfecting the movement should be the primary goal for the fact that the better the movement, the better the results. Enhanced movement is the first step to enhanced strength, power, agility and most importantly, reduced risk of injury.

Repetition Provokes Efficiency

So next time someone tells you that you have to switch up the exercises in order to “confuse” your body into results, know that there are a number of various factors you can (and should) manipulate before tossing out an exercise. You need to allow your body time to adapt, grow more efficient, grow bigger, become faster and get stronger within a certain movement/exercise to achieve the greatest results. And when exactly is it time to switch things up? If you begin to lose motivation due to boredom or if your training has not increased for a few weeks (more weight, more reps, faster times, etc) then it is time to switch things up a bit (I prefer refering to “switch” as “progress/vary”). This could simply mean switching grips, stances, speed of execution, etc. Don’t feel that you have to change the exercise completely to experience continued progress.

Consistent Practice Makes Perfect

The old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” I would like to leave you with a bit more and state that it, “repetitive, consistent and smart practice makes perfect.” And with that said, don’t think about “switching” your training program as much as “varying” your program.

What are your favorite ways to progress/vary your training program. Leave your thoughts below.

A Quick Hitter

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

As a follow up to the Turkey Day Tips I just wanted to provide everyone with a quick training session you can perform on the morning of the ultimate holiday. What follows is a body weight circuit you can perform going from each exercise as quickly as possible keeping good form. Once you make it through the circuit, rest 1 minute and repeat for a total of 3-5 circuits. And if you are really ambitious you can finish off with the little extra at the end.

Happy Thanksgiving…

 

 

Perform Full Dynamic Warm Up

High Knee Jog, Lateral Shuffles, Back Pedals, Skips, Jumping Jacks (get the heart rate up a bit)

Circuit

Split Squat x8/side, Push Up x10, Lateral Squat x10/side, Side Plank x 30s/side, Squat x20 or Squat Jumps x12, *Push Up Walkout x6

*start with your hands in front of your feet and walk your hands out to a push up position and then back to your feet; make sure to control the hips from swiveling and dipping = stay tight in your core!

 

A Thanksgiving Training Session Leaves You Feeling Like A Champ...

 

If you finish and feel like you have a bit more left in the tank, and you are still moving well enough try to finish off with some sprint work…either on a bike, treadmill, or outside, try to sprint for 15 seconds, take a 15 second break and repeat for 8-12 rounds (or until fatigue causes you to begin to lose form).

So there it is, a quick hitting training session designed to manipulate your greatest training tool…your body! Get at it, enjoy your feast and have a great time with the friends and family.

Turkey Day Tips

 

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to share some easy tips to help you stay on the path to enhanced performance and health. Now, this will not be a post telling you “not to eat this” and “stay away from that,” but instead I will share with you a few things you can do to maximize performance and health during the absolutely best day known to man. I mean come on, giving thanks, spending time with family and loved ones, eating massive amounts of delicious food and watching football all day long…is there anything better?

Thursday can't come quick enough

Although Thanksgiving is the Holy Grail of all holidays, many times the activities and nutrition involved are far from conducive to performance, aesthetic and health enhancement. Loading up on turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie and all Aunty Anne’s baked goodies is not only something you should look forward to, but is something you should be able to take pleasure in and know that it will not destroy your training efforts. And just how can we do this? By following these few simple tips, your Turkey Day extravaganza will not wreak havoc on your training and performance goals.

1)      Train!

What a surprise…training will help you better maintain your goal of performance and aesthetic enhancement. Whether it is a holiday or not, training is the most important component of a healthy and productive life. Not only will training create adaptive changes within the body that help to reduce disease and increase performance parameters (efficient movement, strength, power, agility, endurance, etc), but training will allow you to directly and indirectly expend more calorie to better help you offset your Thanksgiving feast. Performing a proper and intense training session (even if it is only 30 minutes) will help deplete energy stores and make room for some of your holiday spread to be stored as substrates other than fat.

2)      Eat breakfast and quality snacks before the feast

Too often individuals figure that since they will be eating a large meal during the day, they don’t (or shouldn’t) eat additional meals. Not eating breakfast and snacks before the holiday meal will only slow your metabolism and leave you ravished…therefore you will be more likely to splurge on the low quality (high sugar/processed) foods. Try having a veggie omelette or a protein shake for breakfast and a small protein packed snack before chow time.

A great start to the day

 

3)      Drink water and other non-calorie beverages

Other than the fact that our body requires adequate hydration for training (which you should be performing), sticking with water/tea/coffee will help to reduce unnecessary calories (from juices, sodas, etc) as well as keep us feeling fuller throughout the day and during the meal. Not to mention better stabilizing blood sugar and other important factors when it comes to overall health.

4)      Eat slowly

Eating slowly allows your body to release and respond to certain hormones that signal satiety. If you attack your holiday plate like a wild animal, you will undoubtedly go back for more before your body has the chance to realize it is full. Before long, you will be sitting on the couch with your pants unbuttoned wishing you would have called it quits after the first plate full.

5)      Load up on the meat and veggies

Try to make the largest portions on your plate the turkey and veggie dish. I am not suggesting not to have potatoes and stuffing (because I am not a hypocrite and you can bet your arse that I will), but try to make these servings smaller. Stick mainly with the meat and veggies.

 

 

Dr. John Berardi's version of "My Plate"...stick to it for better results (90% of the time)

6)      Go for a walk

A little extra physical activity will help to utilize a some extra calorie as well as keep you from falling into bad posture all day long. Sitting in the car to the family gathering, sitting at the dinner table for the extended feast and sitting on the couch for the football games…that’s a lot of sitting. Try to break it up with a brisk and peaceful walk or two (or if you are really dedicated to your training, try performing some bodyweight movements such as squats, lunges, push-ups, etc….friends and family will understand, hopefully).

So enjoy, and I mean ENJOY your Thanksgiving. Make sure you express your thanks to those who you are truly thankful for. Laugh, love and eat some delicious food. Watch football, catch up with friends and family and know that Thanksgiving is a time to relax a bit and have some fun. Employ a few of these tips and your journey through the greatest day known to mankind will not be all that bad for your health, aesthetics and performance.  And even if you don’t, you will be able to jump back on the health and performance wagon the very next day.

 

 

Any other tips to survive the holiday chow downs? Leave a comment below to help everyone out.

 

 

Great Strength or No Weakness?

 

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

As a follow up to my last post Getting Stronger Without “Strength” Training, I wanted to talk a bit more about strength, what most people think about when talking about strength, and what true strength really is. So let’s dive in…

Strength is the base for every athletic movement.  Strength is the limiting factor when it comes to progressing performance both as an athlete and average Joe alike. Actually to be more accurate, it is relative strength (your strength vs your body mass) that separates the elite athlete from the average athlete.  When all else is held constant, the stronger, and in most cases, the more powerful the athlete, the more likely that athlete is to be successful and come out on top. Unless…the strength and power gained in the weight room is not being translated to sport. And this happens more often than most performances coaches would like to admit. Strength and conditioning / performance training are crucial to enhancing overall athletic success, but there is a critical problem when we get so caught up focusing on only increasing our strength, or more specifically, the classic definition of strength.

 

Too many of us are focused on how much weight we can move. I mean hell, isn’t that definition of strength? Strength, is a quality of being strong, and to be strong is to be able to produce or resist force (move heavy stuff or stop it from moving). Until recently I would have to agree, but as I become smahta in this game I have realized that strength is not the ability to move weight, and most importantly, it is not the ability to become stronger at something we are already strong with. Rather, the definition, and defining factor when considering true strength is…

WEAKNESS. Yep, that’s right. The defining factor when considering true strength is weakness! “Whoa, whoa, whoa, did this dude just say that strength is weakness?”  I can hear it now…”What the HELL are you talking about?” Well, I did not state that strength is weakness. What I am saying is that you are only as strong as your greatest weakness.

 

You're Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link

 

Therefore, the true definition of strength is one’s ability to limit weakness. By eliminating weakness you inherently gain strength. The athletes who are the most efficient and who have the fewest weaknesses will be the strongest, most successful athletes. Not only will these athletes dominate competition through enhanced athletic performance (as addressed in the previous post), but because they have fewer weaknesses (especially concerning proper movement) they are less likely to sustain injury. And best of all…because these athletes are more efficient and utilize a higher percentage of the strength they already possess, their bodies don’t have to expend as much energy to complete athletic tasks: in turn they outlast the competition in the later stages of the game.

So just how do we train to limit our weaknesses? First you have to identify your weaknesses. Start with the greatest one first. Many times weakness occurs with lack of stability in the core (front, back and sides…not just the six pack muscles), hips (your BUTT) and scapula (shoulder blades). Of course this is not the same for everyone, so identifying individual weakness is vital to success. From there, addressing these weaknesses with proper movement and manipulation of your greatest training tool (your very own body weight), you can limit weakness and subsequently, dramatically enhance strength. The last step (which too many still implement as the first step) is to add extra resistance to the perfected movement, and eventually, let me state that again, EVENTUALLY, move heavy stuff (I’m all for moving heavy stuff as long as the movement is pure and correct). But sticking with bodyweight, bands, medicine balls, etc to first correct weakness will provide you with the greatest return on your training investment.

 

Tell me this dude isn't strong...

 

Stronger, quicker, more powerful, more work capacity (endurance) and less likely to get injured…that sounds pretty promising. All you have to do is work on limiting your weaknesses (movement flaws, stability, etc) rather than focusing on just moving heavy weight. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be the individual with no weakness than the individual with great “strengths.” A play on words? Maybe. But even the strongest individual will fail when their weakness is exposed. But what happens when there is no weakness? Just think about it, and voice your opinion with a comment below.

Getting Stronger Without “Strength Training”

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

What if I told you that gaining strength is not always about “strength” training? What if I told you that you can gain a sufficient amount of strength without ever touching a weight? Crazy right. Well, since I am a math and science guy, let’s look at it as some simple math…

Let’s say your one repetition maximum (the amount of weight you can use to complete for one rep of a given exercise) is 150 lbs. Now let’s say that you are only utilizing 75% of your true strength to move the weight. This is due to the fact that you are losing strength as a product of flawed movements (also known as energy leaks). You are moving through unstable joints and improper neuromuscular activation (the timing and quality of the nervous system and muscular system working together). But, if you were to clean up the movement and use more of the strength you already possess, say 90% instead of 75%, your 1 rep max would magically increase from 150 lbs to 180 lbs…and you can do this without lifting heavy stuff!  Ok, so you are probably wondering just what the hell I am talking about.

Think of body and movement  as a network of power lines, like the ones running alongside the road. At one end you have a power generating plant and at the other end you have your home. The electricity (or energy) must make it from the power plant to your home, and in a great enough quantity in order to turn on the lights as well as other appliances. Now, what happens when a crazy, once in a lifetime storm (or at least we hope once in a lifetime) hits and sends trees toppling onto the power lines?

If your lucky, the power lines don’t snap but instead the lights flicker, the TV and computer crash and you have to restart the microwave to finish heating your leftovers. If your not so lucky, as many of us in the Northeast can attest,  you lose power for an insane amount of time and life quickly becomes much more difficult or at least much more inconvenient (I mean what the hell do you do when you don’t have Facebook or the Biggest Loser to keep you occupied?!).

NO FACEBOOK!!!

And how does this relate to training and strength gain? Let’s say you are a lucky one. When the power lines (your ability to transfer energy through your body/joints) become disturbed by a large branch (a movement flaw / unstable joints / improper neuromuscular activation) all of the electricity (strength/power) can not make it to your home and the lights dim or go out for a brief moment (strength is lost). So what is the quickest way to gain strength? Use more of the strength you already possess!

This is accomplished by making sure your joints are stable and your muscles are working together and in the correct order. Focusing on the quality of the movement, instead of just adding weight (especially to an improper movement) will not only increase your strength at a greater rate, but it will keep you free from injury. Utilizing bodyweight, bands, medicine balls, suspension systems, kettlebells, etc to establish fundamental and efficient movements allows us to increase strength, power, agility, etc at greater and safer pace. Once proper movement is established and no strength is lost, then, and only then, are heavy movements warranted to further increase strength. I love moving heavy stuff, but only if you are prepared to move heavy stuff. Otherwise, an inefficient movement not only becomes a limiting factor to increasing performance (strength, power, agility, etc) but as previously mentioned, injury risk quickly increases…and there is no greater limiting factor than injury!

Heavy weight is great but not when it looks like this…can anyone say disk herniation?

A video I recently came across on a really smart dudes blog…this is just ridiculous!

So, focus on keeping your wires free from fallen trees by dedicating your training to proper movement. You may have to sacrifice the sexy and traditional exercises for a brief period of time, but once you have established more efficient movement your strength, power and agility will increase quicker than ever before (and more importantly you will ward off injury). Then, as Justin Timberlake tells us go ahead and, “Bring Sexy Back.” Whether you are a beginner or a high level athlete, if energy/strength is being lost, you will never reach your true performance potential, especially if you are sidelined by injury.

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