News & Events

How to: Improve Your Health Through Breathing

Is your breathing helping or hurting your daily performance?

The average person will take more than 8 million breaths per year! Yet, chances are you may not be taking the proper steps for your breath to properly serve you in day-to-day activities and workouts. Today, I will go over three simple tests you can use to improve your workout, mood and manage stress levels. 

Breathing Test:

  • Start by lying on your back.
  • Place your right hand with the thumb below the ribs and the center of the palm on the abs (as if you had a tummy ache).
  • Take the left hand and place it on the chest, centered on the ribs.
  • Finally, inhale through your nose and out through your mouth.

What did you feel?

Ideally, you should feel your stomach begin to expand before your chest and shoulders move. There should have been minimal movement in your upper hand. This means your extremely strong breathing muscle, called the diaphragm, is doing its job!

The diaphragm pulls the lungs down during proper breathing, expanding the lungs in a 3-D like a pattern, top to bottom, front to back, and to the sides

Breathing is an involuntary muscular action, meaning we don’t have to think about it. Because of this, many people are not able to fill their lungs to full volume. When this occurs, it is called a “chest breath”.

A chest breath is a type of breathing when the diaphragm is not involved, and we are not using our lungs to their full capacity. This type of breathing causes the body to enter a response state called “Fight or Flight”. This type of body response is what we feel when we encounter a bear and must make the choice to defend ourselves or run. When our bodies are in this type of response, it causes a release of stress hormones to the body. These stress hormones are highly inflammatory and negative to the brain and body’s performance over a long period. 

3 Breathing Exercises:

To help eliminate the release of stress hormones throughout the day, try this exercise.

  • Inhale for 6 seconds
  • Hold that breath for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 10 seconds

If you feel groggy or tired, try this exercise. 

  • Inhale for 6 seconds
  • Hold for 2 seconds
  • Exhale forcefully

Finally, to prepare your body for a workout, try this breathing exercise. 

  • Inhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold briefly
  • Exhale forcefully

As we breathe all day without much thought, it is important we become aware of how we are breathing. Being able to control breathing will help you become more mindful and feel better throughout the day!

Try these three exercises out and see a difference in your mood and activity.

Happy breathing,

Parker Victor, MA, CSCS, USAW-1, Head Performance Coach

3 On-The-Go Vacation Exercise Circuits

No Gym, No Weights, No Problem!

As we begin setting up our summer vacation travel plans, it is also important to plan ahead for making sure we keep our strength training and exercise plan in action during our trip. Today, I will outline simple steps needed in order to plan your vacation exercise routine and I will cover a 30-minute vacation exercise circuit. 

Before you take off on your travels, be sure to let your coach or trainer know at least two weeks in advance you will be out of town. Why is this important?

Two reasons. The first is so they aren’t wondering where you are or if you are skipping out on your sessions. The second reason is so they can provide you with a training routine to complete during your vacation.

Once you have let your coach or trainer know you will be out of town, the second step is to research if there are any gyms in the area you will be traveling. Is there a gym in the hotel you are staying? If there is not, you may have to plan for implementing body weight exercises inside your hotel room.

No matter what amenities you have available, it’s all about utilizing what you have to continue toward your exercise goals. Your coach or trainer will then give you the routine with enough time in advance, in case you may have questions before leaving on vacation.

I have put together a body weight exercise plan you can complete anywhere. Remember, vacation is a time to relax.  But, with a little effort each day you can also continue working towards your exercise goals. Even if it comes down to a few 30-minute routines during a week-long trip, you will not regret the effort once you get back to your everyday routine. 

Warm-up:

  • 30 sec. Imaginary Jump Rope
  • 10 Body weight Squats
  • 10 Arm Hugs
  • 30 sec. Imaginary Jump Rope
  • 5 each Leg Split Squats
  • 20 sec. Front Plank
  • 20 sec. Each Side Plank
  • 30 sec. Imaginary Jump Rope

Body Weight Strength Training:

Circuit 1:

  • 10 Squats with three sec. isometric hold
  • 8 each High Plank Shoulder Tap
  • 20 sec. Bottom Push-up Hold
    *Repeat circuit three more times

Circuit 2: 

  • 8 each Single Leg RDL
  • 8 each Side Plank Top Leg Lifts
  • 8 each High Plank Renegade Row
    *Repeat circuit three more times

Circuit 3:

  • 5 each Split Squats with three sec. isometric hold
  • 10 Straight Leg Sit-Ups
  • 5 each Quadruped Thoracic Rotations
    *Repeat circuit three more times

Finisher: Energy System Development

This is a perfect exercise finisher if you feel like adding another element to your routine.

  • 15 each Mountain Climber
  • 15 each Seated Twist
    Rest 30-40 seconds after those exercises and complete 5 times through

Written By: Trenton Clausen – MA, CSCS, USAW-L2SP, Director of Sports Performance

5 Reasons to Prep For Football During Baseball

I got a great question from a parent the other day I wanted to share with you:
 
“What are your thoughts about strength and conditioning during baseball season to prepare my 14-year-old son for football?”  
 
I think every parent has an assumption about this topic that is either rooted from their personal experience as an athlete and what they were exposed to and/or what they have researched on the internet.   
 
What is your assumption?
 
The truth is, if your player is in a good program that is tailored to them, then strength training and conditioning can be powerful in helping their performance in-season on the field or court.  In breaking down this parent’s question as it pertained to her son, here are five reasons why I said “yes” he can and should be training.
 

football, baseball glove and baseball
5 Reasons to Train For Football During Baseball Season

 
1. Helping to maintain body weight
 
Often baseball players will lose weight over the course of a baseball season. Some of that weight will be water volume and some will be lean muscle tissue. Losing body weight via water or lean tissue loss will negatively affect performance.  A dehydrated and thinner body will not produce the same power and explosiveness as a healthy, hydrated body. This parent’s son will be transitioning right from baseball season into football. This transition time is not enough time to likely restore the body to where it was prior to baseball season.
 
2. Maintaining strength
 
Maintaining strength directly ties to the first point.  Strength training is the stimulus the body needs to continue to build lean muscle tissue and reverse the natural decline that happens when strength training is stopped.  Maintaining strength really is not the most accurate way to phrase it.  In reality, we are either gaining strength or losing strength.  For this parent’s son, to walk into a football season in the “losing strength” mode is not going to lead to the performance outcome he is looking for.
 
3. Helping the body adapt to football demands faster
 
Football and baseball are very different in their physical demands and athletes transitioning from baseball to football will have a shock to their bodies that they will have to overcome.  That shock comes from the lack of preparation of the specific physical intensity football creates.  An in-season program has the opportunity to progressively build the athlete’s body up to those more intense requirements without overtaxing them physically for their in-season sport.  This preparation will help the athlete adapt sooner, be less sore, and perform closer to top performance right away when football practice starts.
 
4. Preparing the athlete to get into “football shape”
 
The fitness demands in football easily exceed that of baseball.  In baseball, there could be upwards of a 1:20 work to rest ratio whereas in football the ratio is closer to 1:6.  In football, a 1-way player will have about 70 plays while in baseball there might be 30 balls put into play in a 9-inning game.  In football, a player will run twice as many plays with 70% less time between plays.  An in-season strength and conditioning program will help the athlete’s fitness to be gradually built up so they will be at or close to “football shape” when making the transition between sports.
 
5. In-season training should not affect your performance
 
The first goal of in-season training is to make sure the athlete can continue to perform when it matters at a high level.  An athlete cannot do that if they are sore. 
 

Soreness comes from inappropriate exercise selection, inappropriate progressions in volume and/or intensity, and an inability to recover from previous bodily stresses (which could be exercise or sports induced).   

 
In a youth baseball season the schedule can be erratic, so the in-season program has to be constructed in such a way that takes into consideration the weekly volume and intensity as well as game and practice schedules.  
 
If an athlete normally trains Monday and Wednesday and this week only has games on the weekend, then our volume and intensity could be a little more intensified as the athlete will have time to fully recover.  On the flip side, if a makeup game is scheduled for Tuesday then we know we need to have less volume and intensity Monday but on Wednesday we could amp it back up and focus on those key area needed to prep for football.  
 
In-season training is something that many parents and coaches tend to overlook the value in.  For a multi-sport athlete who goes from one in-season to the next, they inevitably will see a drop in performance.  
 
Remember, your athlete is either “gaining” or “loosing”. 
 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, Owner & Founder 

5 Common Pitching Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

I hate seeing young athletes hurt.  There may not be a worse feeling than telling a young, energetic, baseball loving athlete they need stop playing for a while so we can get them through an injury.  Now, I appreciate there are some injuries that are completely unavoidable and these injuries are the nature of playing sports. 

On the other hand, some of the injuries I see in the clinic have the potential to be avoided with a little extra knowledge and a keen eye.  

In this post I will cover some of the common mistakes to look for in your young throwers.  I will also share how these mistakes can lead to less than optimal performance and how they create the potential for injury.pitcher

Mistake #1 – Getting out of the glove late

 

This error is one that can have a detrimental effect on the rest of the throwing cycle because if the hand break is delayed it forces the thrower to have to catch up in the sequence of the throwing motion.  As the pitcher begins to come out of his balance position and his front knee begins to lower, his hands should begin to separate from the glove.  In doing so, he will not be rushed to get the arm into the proper position or slot when he starts delivering the ball.

 

Mistake #2 – Faulty arm path
 

Faulty Arm Path

We were all taught as kids when you bring the ball out of the glove the arm should follow a “C” path or “down, back, and up”.  The reason we were taught this was because it gets the arm in the right position for effective delivery. The common faulty arm path I see is the ball coming down and behind the pitcher after it exits the glove.  Now the pitcher has to hurry up to get his arm in the proper position for delivery.  If his timing is not just right, it leads to the next mistake.
 
Mistake #3 – Lagging coming through the slot

Pitcher dragging

Once a thrower starts turning his chest toward the target, the throwing arm should be in sync with the torso, or in other words, they should move together at the same time. Have you ever seen a young pitcher make a throw and it looked like his hand was still pointing at the short stop when his chest was facing the catcher?  That is lagging.  The arm is trailing behind the body’s movement toward the plate.  In my opinion, this mistake is the NUMBER #1 cause of shoulder and elbow injuries in young throwers.
 
Mistake #4 – Glove side arm flying open

Glove side openRight up there with “down, back, and up”, “tuck your front side elbow” was probably the next thing I remember all my coaches preaching – and rightfully so.  When a thrower is delivering the ball to the catcher, all his momentum should be driven forward toward the catcher.  If the front side arm is away from the body, it creates a spinning effect drifting the pitcher off to the side and not toward the catcher.  

This error has two consequences.  First, the pitcher has a harder time locating his pitches because it is hard to time a spinning motion.  Second, now the pitcher lands unbalanced and often is not ready to field a ball or protect himself if the ball is hit back toward him.

 

Mistake #5 – Breaking Lead Leg

Now this on2Breaking kneee sounds bad.  I do not mean the pitcher actually “breaks” his lead leg.  I mean the pitcher is applying the brakes through his lead leg.  When a pitcher is delivering a ball, his momentum shifts his weight from his back leg to his lead leg.  When this happens the lead leg’s knee is supposed to be athletically bent.  Breaking the lead leg is when the pitcher rapidly and often violently snaps his knee straight as he is shifting weight onto it.  This error stops all forward momentum and energy thus forcing the arm to make up the difference in order to attain to the desired velocity. This mistake is the NUMBER #2 cause of shoulder and elbow injuries I see.
 

Coaches have an incredibly tough job when it comes to developing young pitchers.  I have discovered in my time of working with young baseball players there are a lot of kids ‘throwing’ off the mound and very few ‘pitching’ off the mound.  Having a keen eye and keeping these mistakes in mind will help your young pitcher stay healthy and develop a great foundation for pitching!

 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS

 

Question: How are your young thrower’s mechanics?  Have you noticed any other common mistakes? You can leave a comment below.
 

Join Our Blog List

Enjoy this blog post? 

Get blogs delivered to your email inbox every few weeks with topics relevant to: fitness, healthy living, nutrition, youth sports, best physical therapy practices and more!

The Best 15 Minute Workout You Are NOT Doing

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Dan John, one of the most influential strength and conditioning coaches in history, speak at a conference. In addition to his first-class knowledge and experience, Dan is renowned for his ability to present the often complicated field of exercise science in a simple, easy to understand way.

He opened this particular presentation by posing a question to the audience. “If you could only workout for 15 minutes, what would you do?” The audience, full of experienced coaches, did not have an answer. Dan’s answer? Loaded carries (aka “Farmer Walks”).

What is a loaded carry?

A loaded carry is picking up a weight and walking with it for distance or time. The key is to maintain a neutral posture while walking, which means that the torso is vertical, shoulders are pulled back and core is braced. This simple, but effective movement simultaneously trains core stability and total body strength. Perfect for a quick workout!

Tip: To achieve a braced core position, exhale through your mouth like you are blowing up a balloon. You should feel your abdominal muscles engage. Maintain this feeling as you perform your loaded carries.

What You Need:

  • 2 Heavy Kettlebells
  • 2 Moderately Heavy Kettlebells
  • 2 Light Kettlebells
  • 2 Light Dumbbells

The Best 15 Minute Workout:
With Video & Reps

Choose kettlebells and dumbbells that will allow you to perform each movement with proper technique. Set a clock or timer for 15 minutes.

Perform in sequential order, completing one exercise every minute on the minute. For example, if it takes you 30 seconds to complete a 20-yard Farmer Carry, you have the rest of the minute (30 seconds) to recover. When the minute expires, you begin the next listed exercise. You will end up going through the circuit for three rounds. 

15-Minute EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)

1. Farmer Carry (20 yards) *Heavy Weight
2. Front Rack Carry (20 yards) *Moderate Weight
3. Overhead Carry (10 yards each arm) *Light Weight
4. Suitcase Carry (10 yards each arm) *Heavy/Moderate Weight
5. Bicep Curl Carry (20 yards) *Light Weight


FARMER CARRY (2 KETTLEBELLS)

Begin with two kettlebells at your side. Walk in a controlled manner while maintaining neutral posture.

FRONT RACK CARRY (2 KETTLEBELLS)

Begin with two kettlebells directly underneath your chin at shoulder height. Your palms should be facing each other and elbows away from your side. Focus on staying tall as you walk and don’t let the kettlebells pull you into a rounded posture.

SUITCASE CARRY (1 KETTLEBELL)

Begin with one kettlebell at your side. Resist the urge to side bend as you walk. 

OVERHEAD CARRY (1 OR 2 KETTLEBELLS)

Begin by pressing one kettlebell overhead. Continue to push up through your working arm as you walk to avoid any drifting of the kettlebell. The goal is to have a straight line from your shoulder to the kettlebell. Only perform this variation if you have the proper mobility. Complete the tests in this blog post to see if you have what it takes! “Lifting Weights Overhead is a Privilege not a Right.”


BICEP CURL CARRY (2 DUMBBELLS)

Begin by curling two dumbbells so you have a 90 degree bend at the elbow. This should resemble the half-way point of a traditional dumbbell curl. Maintain this position as you walk.

Written By: Mike Servais, CSCS, USAW – L1SP


Join Our Blog List

Enjoy this blog post? 

Get blogs delivered to your email inbox every few weeks with topics relevant to: fitness, healthy living, nutrition, youth sports, best physical therapy practices and more!

What Everybody Ought to Know About: Concussion Protocol Evolution

Around 2004, while the head athletic trainer at a Class A high school in Lincoln, NE, I had the good fortune of being part of a research study that was looking at the use of a computerized tool for assessing concussion. The name of the program was ANAM and it assessed things similar to what we know today as ImPact.  In watching football players take this test after sustaining a concussion and comparing it to their baseline, I started to notice something that made me sick to my stomach.

Kids were not recovering in the 7 day window which we used at the time as the standard for clearing them to play again after concussion.

Especially freshmen and sophomores.

Concussions Early 2000’s.

Dr. Lori Terryberry-Spohr, a phenomenal practitioner and researcher at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, was instrumental in helping me understand what this program was finding and why it was starting to concern me.   I was noticing athletes were still symptomatic even after returning to play.  They were struggling with quick and accurate decisions – which is something essential to playing sports effectively and safely.  I was starting to question how I was handling concussions and wondered if we needed to start doing things a little differently.  The other athletic trainers in my school district were wondering the same thing. 

I was starting to question how I was handling concussions and wondered if we needed to start doing things a little differently.  The other athletic trainers in my school district were wondering the same thing. 

 

At the same time, the national landscape was changing drastically in regards to managing concussions and in a very short amount of time we are where we are today.  No longer do we rate concussions in severity and no longer do we use a variety of grading scales that vary from liberal to conservative. You either have one or not.  Terms like bell rung, dingers, and stuns are not used any longer.

Concussions Today

All sorts of technology exists to aid athletic trainers and other sports medicine practitioners with concussion management.  There are state laws in place with the hope of protecting young athletes from continuing play after sustaining a concussion Nebraska LB 923.  Most importantly, we have much better approaches to return to play and now return to learn.

The more interesting point is all of this new information has streamed, really flooded, into mainstream media and the households of America.  Yet I still have to endure the verbal lashing from a parent when I explain why their athlete can’t finish the game and will probably be out for a minimum of 2 weeks. I still have to drum like the Energizer bunny advocating on behalf of the kid whose parents refuse to associate the decline in school with the concussion their athlete sustained months earlier.  I still have to read doctor’s notes clearing kids a day later.  

Yes, I said doctor.

I still have to drum like the Energizer bunny advocating on behalf of the kid whose parents refuse to associate the decline in school with the concussion their athlete sustained months earlier.

 

The good news is the greater majority of athletes, parents, and practitioners get it now and this has led to some really great multidisciplinary approaches to helping athletes recover from concussion.  A great example is the team of providers in Omaha that participate in Concussion Focus.  My colleague Josiah Parker leads that team.  He has immersed himself in knowledge and practice techniques to provide post-concussion physical therapy and for the small percentage of cases that don’t resolve normally he can make all the difference in the world for their recovery.

Obviously I did the best I could back then based on the information we had at hand.  I also feel extremely grateful the kids I sent back out did okay.  Today, though, I know so much more and am appreciative for all of the resources that exist for kids in relation to concussions.

Written By: Danielle Kleber, ATC Director of Marketing & Operations

Question:  Do you know which sport has the second highest incidence of concussion (next to football)?

Save

How To: Perform Your Best All Season Long – Benefits 2 & 3

The importance of off season training is no secret to athletes and sport coaches, but some don’t fully understand the importance of in season training. Training during an athletes in season provides valuable time to maintain off season gains, reduce the risk of in season injury and aid in faster recovery from practices and games. 

In our previous blog, How To: Perform Your Best All Season Long – Benefit 1 Trenton ClausenMike Servais and Gus Thiel discussed the 1st benefit of training while in season – maintaining off season gains.

Today, we will dive into the 2nd and 3rd benefits of training while in season and why it is paramount to continue to train during this time.

Athletes train hard in the off season to ensure they are at their best by the time the season rolls around, but once their season arrives they suddenly stop training as their schedules fill up with games and practices.

As the season wears on they might start to notice that their bodies become more sore with each game and their nagging aches and pains just won’t go away.

Why is it that? With all the work put in during the off season they should feel great all season, right? Unfortunately, it does not work that way. The 2nd benefit of training while in season is to aid in reducing the athlete’s chance of sustaining an injury. 

Benefit 2)

Injury prevention is another key factor that we work on in our in season training programs. We must continue maintaining our strength to prevent soft tissue injuries. We can do this through strength training and active recovery methods such as self-myofascial release (i.e. foam rolling), stretching, icing, and rest.

If we are able to maintain our strength and tissue quality during the season we will fend off injuries that can be prevented and keep us on the field of play.

“Athletes that work to maintain their strength, muscle tissue quality and joint health during the season are less susceptible to injuries because their body is more prepared to handle the stresses of the season.”

– Mike Servais

Benefit 3)

The final benefit from training in season is the ability to recover faster from games and practices. Over the course of a long season, athlete’s bodies take a beating. But fear not! A proper in-season program will not make an athlete feel worse!

In fact, getting back in the gym will allow athletes to address this issue by performing soft-tissue work (using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, etc.) to restore muscle tissue quality.

Maintaining tissue quality is vital for joint mobility (ability for a joint to move) and stability (ability to control joint position).

“Always remember that training in season doesn’t mean that your workout program should be put on the back burner. Be smart about your in season programs and your body will thank you later!” – Gus Thiel 

 

Here at Athletes’ Training Center, we want our athletes to be at their best once the season starts. However, it takes discipline and dedication to maintain peak performance throughout the year. We will make sure you feel your best come game time!

Tip: Interested in our in season programs?
Ask about our maintenance memberships or our Free Trial Sessions!

Written By Performance Coaches:

Trenton Clausen – MA, CSCS, USAW-L2SP, Director of Sports Performance
Mike Servais – CSCS, USAW-L1, Performance Coach
Gus Thiel BS, FMS-L1SP, Performance Coach 

Jump-start Your Athletic Ability: 3 Effortless Tips

I am constantly getting questions from high school athletes about which supplements they should be buying or taking to improve their performance and recovery.

Now, this may seem like a complicated question requiring an endlessly long answer full of micro and macro nutrient breakdowns, but in reality it’s a simple as asking those athletes a few questions.

Today, we will dive into 3 effortless tips athletes can do to jump-start their athletic ability.  

Tip #1 Eat a quality breakfast

This one is vital! I am constantly talking to athletes who tell me they cannot gain weight or are continuously losing weight while in season. I immediately ask them about their breakfast every morning.

Most of the time I get one of two answers.

Response #1 “I don’t have time for breakfast in the morning.”
Response #2 “I ate a pop tart, does that count?”

Response #1 leads me into my “how important sleep is” spiel. We will dive into this in a bit. With response #2 I usually respond with a giant eye roll and a large exhale. In what world is a pop tart considered a meal?

Especially a meal that will support and sustain a growing athlete through a long and stressful school day, a practice or a game. 

I don’t expect a gourmet breakfast every morning, but I do expect an athlete to get up 10 minutes earlier than they are accustomed to in order to prepare some food. Making sure your body is fueled with quality calories is the first step to high level sport performance!

Breakfast Suggestions:

  • 3-4 full eggs
  • Steamed rice or toast
  • Deli meat, ground beef or turkey
  • 1 piece of fruit

Tip #2 Sleep 7-8 hours a night

I cannot stress this point enough, high school athletes need to sleep. While asleep the body regulates hormones, repairs cells, and controls stress. The “Journal of Physiology and Behavior” published a study showing the benefits extra sleep on serving performance in tennis players, giving credibility to the fact that sleep improves performance.

Most of the time, high school athletes are very busy with school, sports and social activities. With such busy schedules, sleep is usually the first thing on the chopping block. Don’t let it be!

Suggestions:

  • Get in a pre-sleep routine
  • Keep bedtime as consistent as possible (weekdays AND weekends)
  • Sleep in the DARK (no TV, phone, tablet)

Tip #3 Hydrate

Hydration is often taken for granted when discussing athletic performance. It seems simple, right? Drink water. But, it is often neglected and can have a negative effect on practice and game performance.

The ACSM describes water as “the most essential component of the human body”. Water transports nutrients, eliminates waste products, regulates body temperature, maintains blood circulation and pressure, lubricates joints and body tissue as well as facilitate digestion.

Long bouts of exercise I.E. practices or games can result in up to a 2% loss of body weight due to fluid loss. That means it is possible for a 150 pound athlete to lose up to 3 pounds of “water weight” during a sporting event or workout.

Dehydration can cause premature muscle fatigue, coordination loss, a decrease in energy and a loss of athletic performance. They need to be drinking before, during and after their session. An easy rule of thumb for athletes to follow is to drink 20-24 ounces of water for every pound loss during activity.

Suggestions:

  • Drink a large (16-20oz) glass of water first thing in the morning
  • Carry a water bottle with you during the school day
  • Continue to drink water or Gatorade DURING your workout, practice or game

Not all sports performance enhancers come in a plastic tub or bottle! These easy tips and reminders will go a long way in ensuring your body is ready for the demands of your toughest workout or game!

Written By: Joe Servais – MA, CSCS, Performance Coach 

Sources: 

Schwartz, J., & Simon, R. D. (2015). Sleep extension improves serving accuracy: A study with college varsity tennis players. Physiology & behavior, 151, 541-544.

Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). Exercise and fluid replacement. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39, 377-390.

 

A Foolproof 5-Step-Solution To Stay on Track

Why You Are Really Missing Training Sessions

Obstacles to staying on track with a training program are numerous and how you chose to deal with them can make or break your dedication and work towards your overall goals.

Over the years I’ve heard a multitude of excuses and reasons why people can’t fit their training or rehab in for the week. What I rarely hear though, is how people plan to deal with those obstacles and get back on track. Obstacles

Developing a plan and sticking to it is really important and those that tend to do this naturally seem to be more successful at reaching their goals then those who do not problem solve when things get tough.

If you find yourself constantly missing sessions or making excuses, try this 5 step approach:

1. Identify the real obstacle.

Be honest with yourself and figure out why you’re letting yourself get off track. Dig deep and identify the true source of the problem. Just saying your busy isn’t going to cut it. Maybe the real reason is because you let yourself schedule too many things at a time because you’re afraid to tell people no, you won’t ask for help when you need it because you’re afraid to look weak. Once you get to the heart of the matter, you’ll be able to identify better solutions.

2. Brainstorm solutions.

Once you have the real problem identified, then you can begin to problem solve it. Start by thinking of all the potential solutions that might exist. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. It’s best if you write them all down so you can refer to them when needed.

3. Choose one or two of your solutions.

There are lots of ways to rank your solutions. If you don’t have a place to start, begin by deciding which solutions cost you the least amount of time, money or work and produce the best chance of being successful. Once you’ve narrowed it down, chose the best solution for the situation.

4. Put your solutions into actions.

Lots of people get stuck at this point. They have some good ideas and some viable solutions to use, but then forget to develop a game plan to put them into action. Write a quick action plan for yourself that includes a deadline. It’s always best to put it in writing, but it doesn’t have to be a formal proposal. Just get it written down! Also, make sure if you depend on another person as part of your solution you get their buy-in before you count on them to help, otherwise you may be right back at step one.

5. Evaluate the solution

Most people forget this step. Don’t be afraid to take a look at the solution you put into place and judge its effectiveness. Maybe it’s only a short-term solution and you’ll need to be working on something more permanent. Maybe you find it’s a great solution and you can share your experiences with someone else that faces the same challenges as you.

Written By: Danielle Kleber, ATC Director of Marketing & Operations

Question: Which obstacle is the hardest for you to overcome?

Shoulder Saving Tips – Part 1, Shoulder Don’ts

As we see more and more shoulder injuries in our clinic, one of the places our patients commonly hurt their shoulder is at the gym.

Unfortunately, what people do not know or realize is there are common exercises and approaches that many perform at the gym that may set people up for an injury.

In this blog, I want to address some of the common questions I get from patients as well as talk about some of the common training errors I see every day at the gym. 

This topic is far too long to try to compact into one article so lets start with talking about the DON’TS at the gym. Stay tuned for part 2!

  1. Never go behind the head with a bar
    This “don’t” applies mostly to lat pull downs and military shoulder press. Going behind the head places the shoulders in a fully externally rotated position and puts the ligaments in the front of the shoulder on a significant, potentially damaging stretch. In addition, in this position, the rotator cuff is not designed to produce force and asking it to do so could cause damage to the cuff especially if heavier loads are being lifted.


  2. Avoid dips
    Dips are a staple in all gyms, and is a great exercise to develop the chest and the triceps. However, this exercise is at the expense of the labrum in the shoulders. The labrum is a cartilaginous ring that deeps our shoulder sockets and provides a stability bumper in our shoulders. As the shoulder moves into extreme degrees of extension during the dip, the upper arm bone is shoved upward and then rotates from a backward to forward position on the rim of the socket. This shearing and rotational force can create a tear and detachment of the labrum from the socket. An injury otherwise known as a SLAP tear. Does this always happen? No, but this exercise has to be high on your high risk, low benefit filter when selecting it as an exercise.


  3. Don’t Bench Press or Push-up Incorrectly
    A lot of people do not realize that there is an incorrect way to do a bench press or a push-up. The key point is not to flare your elbows away from your side. The right position as you lower the bar or your body is to keep the upper arms at no more than a 45-degree angle to the torso. Flared elbows (closer to 90-degrees) has been shown to increase stress through the shoulder joint, the ligaments on the front part of the shoulder, and the subscapularis muscle (part of the rotator cuff).


  4. Don’t Do “Shoulder Day” at the gym
    This “don’t” makes the list because of the fatiguability of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff works directly against the larger and more powerful deltoid to keep the ball of the shoulder centered in the socket. The rotator cuff fatigues well before the deltoid does which puts excessive strain on the rotator cuff and the labrum. Having a “shoulder day” where you are doing 3-4 or more exercises for the shoulders will exhaust your rotator cuff, and if you push through the fatigue to get your reps in, you will likely develop a problem.


  5. Ditch upright rows
    I am completely perplexed that this exercise still exists and is still being taught by personal trainers, physical therapists, and strength coaches. If I said to you, “I am going to give you an exercise that pinches your rotator cuff in between 2 hard bones and have you do it repeatedly,” would you do it? That is exactly what an upright row does. In this lift, your shoulder is maximally internally rotated which positions a prominent aspect of your arm bone right under the bottom of your shoulder blade. In between these two is your rotator cuff. Trying to raise your arm in an upright row will impinge your cuff eventually leading to tendinitis or a tear.


I could go on and on with more “don’ts” but I think the above hits the major errors I see and answers a majority of the questions I get in the clinic.

I hope this was helpful and look forward to Part 2 – Shoulder Do’s very soon.

Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, President and Founder

Do you experience shoulder pain? It is time to start getting on the road of recovery! Come in for an evaluation today.

An Almost Foolproof Way to Relieve “Jumpers Knee” Pain

patellaBasketball season is upon us and with basketball comes the potential for knee aches and pains.  One of the more nagging and painful injuries basketball players can develop is patellar tendinitis, otherwise known as “jumper’s knee”.  I can always pick the players out on the floor who suffer from this injury because they all seem to wear the same brace. 

Though this brace can help certain people with the pain and keep them playing, in my experience other factors exist that continue to cause the symptoms.  In evaluating young basketball players, one of the common findings I have seen is poor flexibility in the quads, hip flexors, and IT band as well as poor mobility in the ankle.  Though other factors exist (including muscle weakness, foot posture, and poor mechanics), these problems can be easily remedied on your own with a couple of simple exercises. 

pretzel_stretchPretzel Stretch 

Step 1:  Lay on your non-injured side with your body in a perfectly straight line.   

Step 2:  Using your hand, pull your heel toward your rear end.   

Step 3:  Pull your thigh back so it is in a straight line with your torso.   

Step 4:  Put your bottom foot on the front, top aspect of your knee and push your top leg back and down toward the floor. 

*Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times 

 

wall_quad_stretchWall Quad Stretch: 

Get into a half kneeling position and place the top of the foot of the down knee against the wall.  Make sure your torso is straight and tighten the butt cheek on the down leg.    

* Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times 

 

wall_ankleWall Ankle Mobility Exercise: 

Standing with your feet staggered, place your lead foot roughly 4-6 inches from the wall.  Press the knee toward the wall, keeping your knee over your second toe.  The knee should just barely touch the wall without the heel lifting off the ground.  If your knee easily hits the wall, move your foot back and repeat.   

 *Once you have reached the optimal foot position, hold each for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. 

Good luck and remember, if your symptoms do not improve it’s possible those previously mentioned factors could be coming into play.  If that happens, consult us for a more complete evaluation.

Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS 

Deadlift may Prevent Future Back Injuries

Suffering from Back Pain?

Have any of you tweaked your lower back while picking up a heavy object? This is a common mechanism of injury, but we actually have a strength training exercise that mimics the act of lifting an object off the ground. It is called the deadlift and it is, without question, one of my favorite things to do in the gym.

Unfortunately, the deadlift often has a bad reputation for being associated with lower back injuries. There is no debating that poorly performed deadlifts will hurt your back. However, correct deadlifts are extremely beneficial! In fact, they build tremendous amounts of strength in your legs, hips, glutes, back, arms and hands. Let’s take a look at how you can safely perform the deadlift to ensure that you are reaping all of the benefits of this full-body movement.

3 Tips to Clean Up your Deadlift

 

deadlife_blog21. Perform a Proper Hip-Hinge

Getting in the proper starting position for a deadlift can be tricky. To get in the right setup, act as if you are going into a vertical jump. Boom! That’s a hip hinge. From here, reach down and grab the bar and then pull your chest up. Now you are in the proper starting position.

2. Pull Slack Out of the Bar

Now that you are properly set up, there is one more thing you must do before lifting off the floor. The last step is pulling the slack out of the bar. Doing this will tighten up your upper back and prep your body for the lift to ensure a smooth transition from the floor. If using a load that is close to your max, it is also beneficial to take a quick inhale prior to lifting. This will increase intra-abdominal pressure and will further increase the rigidity of your torso. Be sure to fully exhale once you finish the lift!

deadlift_blog3. Finish with your Hips, Not your Back

Push through your heels to lift the weight off the floor. Once the bar reaches your knees, forcefully extend your hips to finish the lift. You should be squeezing your glutes and your abs to complete the exercise. You should not extend your lower back by leaning back.

If you are new to the deadlift, I recommend starting with a kettlebell or by flipping a dumbbell upside-down. Once proficient, progress to a hex bar or straight bar. I encourage you to give these tips a try the next time you deadlift. Not only will you perform the lift safely, but you may be surprised at how much weight you can do!

Written By: Mike Servais, CSCS, USAW-L1SP, Head Performance Coach – Papillion

Question: If you have any further questions about your form or technique feel free to contact me or any other trainer here at Athletes’ Training Center!

5 Essential Elements to a Post-Workout Smoothie

One area we get questions about are ideas for post-workout nutrition, snacks and breakfast. I usually talk about eating food first, but in some cases I tell them about making smoothies.

There are some keys to making a healthy and balanced smoothie. This article will outline a 5-step process to making the ultimate smoothie. Always remember, the ingredients you add will impact the calorie content so be sure to choose according to your goals.

Step 1:

Pick your base. This could be whatever you prefer to provide liquid to your smoothie.

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Almond/Soy Milk
  • 100% Juices
  • V8 Juice

Step 2:

Add in a protein source. If you already added in enough protein with your base you can skip this step.

  • Protein powder
  • Yogurt
  • Nut Butter spreads
  • Cottage cheese

Step 3:

Add some fruit and/or vegetables. These can be either fresh or frozen.

  • Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, other berries
  • Banana
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Mangoes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Beets

Step 4:

Add extras. These items would be added for weight gain.

  • Honey
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts and Nut butter spreads
  • Jelly/Jam
  • Coffee

Step 5:

Blend until desired smoothness.

Now remember, these ultimate smoothies should match your goals based on calorie content. You can also put your ingredients together and freeze them over night to make a quick breakfast or post training smoothie. Just add your base to the other ingredients and blend. Below are a few of my favorite smoothie recipes.

Coffee:

¼ cup cold brewed coffee
¾ cup of low fat milk
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
¼ cup of low fat vanilla yogurt
Handful of ice

Chunky Monkey:

1 cup of low fat milk
1 banana
2 Tsp. of peanut butter
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
Handful of ice

High Calorie Fruit and Vegetable:

1 cup of low fat milk
½ cup of low fat yogurt
1 handful of strawberries, blueberries, and banana slices
1 Tsp. of peanut butter
1 Handful of spinach
¼ cup of walnuts
Handful of ice

Written By: Trenton Clausen, MA, CSCS, USAW-L2SP – Director of Sports Performance

Surge your Physical Performance

The Perks of Nutrient Timing

First of all, what exactly is nutrient timing and how will it affect my performance?

Nutrient timing: When you consume certain foods at specific times of the day, those acts will provide increased performance levels and improved recovery following physical activity.

Taking advantage of nutrient timing has countless benefits for athletic and physical performance.

Periods of nutrient timing that absolutely need to be taken advantage of are: pre-fueling (before a workout, practice, or game) and post-fueling (after a workout, practice, or game). Pre-fueling and post-fueling are also great times to add in extra calories needed to gain weight or maintain a healthy body weight.

PRE-FUELING – Pre-fueling should take place 1-2 hours and up to 10 minutes prior to the activity.

  • Benefits of pre-fueling are:

Reduce the risk of injury and increase nutrient delivery to muscles due to improved protein balance

Ability to play at a higher intensity and improved mental focus from increase of glycogen storages

Set nutrition stage for faster recovery following activity

Limit immune system suppression

  • Pre-fueling snacks should contain:

Protein (5-15g based on tolerability)

Carbohydrate (20-60g)

Fluids and Electrolytes

  • Pre-fueling snack ideas:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a piece of fruit, and water

Yogurt and Gatorade

POST-FUELING – Post-fueling should take place within 45 minutes following a workout, practice, or game.
  • Post-fueling benefits include:

Maximize muscle recovery/protein synthesis

Maximize restoration of glycogen stores

Restore immune suppression

Increase blood flow

  • Post-fueling snacks should consist of:

Protein (15-20g of complete proteins)

Carbohydrate

Amount dependent on training intensity and duration

High Glycemic Carbohydrates

Fluids and Electrolytes

Print

Written By, Trenton Clausen – Director of Sports Performance MA, CSCS, USAW-L2SP

Question: What is your favorite snack during your workout session?

4 Ways to Succeed During Your Workout, Where Others Fail

Benefits of a Dynamic Warm-Up

What is the most underrated part of your training session? I would say it’s the first ten minutes. This is the time when you do your soft-tissue work (foam roll, lacrosse ball) and perform a dynamic warm-up. During this time, your body is cold and probably sore from your previous workout.

Young Woman Doing Stretching Exercises before Jogging. Focus on the Face. Town Setting in the background.

While it might not be your favorite, I would argue that the first ten minutes are influential in the quality of your training session that day. Here are four reasons why the initial portion of your training session is so important to your fitness routine.

1. Improves Quality of Muscle Tissue

Our muscle tissue is enclosed by connective tissue called fascia. After pro-longed periods of inactivity or following an intense training session our fascia loses its elasticity which can limit joint range of motion, cause muscle soreness and decrease performance. The soft-tissue techniques that we use (foam rollers, lacrosse balls) address these issues to help you feel better, move better and train better.

2. Raises Core Body Temperature

Performing a dynamic warm-up, as opposed to a static stretching routine, warms and adequately prepares the body for training. This process greatly reduces the risk of injury during training.

3. Increases Blood Flow to Muscle Tissue

As our body warms, our heart not only beats faster, but more forcefully. The combination of beating faster and more forcefully results in more blood to working muscles. The increase in blood is necessary because blood delivers oxygen, which our muscles need to function properly.

4. Improves Range of Motion and Movement Preparation

Lastly, performing a dynamic warm-up is an opportunity to improve joint range of motion. It also serves as a time to prepare the body for movements that will be performed during the training session.

Now that you know the benefits, I encourage you to take 10 minutes prior to your workout to warm-up. There are plenty of ways to prepare your body for activity, so feel free to mix it up and try different things. A warm-up should be fun and help get your mind in the right place for training!

Written By: Mike Servais, CSCS, USAW-L1SP, Head Performance Coach – Papillion

Question: What is your favorite warm-up movement?

Jennie A., Collegiate Track & Field Athlete

Athletes’ Training Center has worked to specialize workouts to fit my athletic needs. The strength coaches have a one on one personal connection to fix minor details that have had a major impact on my athletic performance.