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Strength Training For Athletes

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Strength Training For Athletes

Strength training for athletes is not primarily used for improved strength and power, however for injury prevention. What they don’t realise is that you can not build strength and power without a body that is balanced left to right and trying to add heavy loads to an already faulty structure can lead to injuries. If an athlete is injured they can not train in the gym and even more importantly they can not train at their particular sport. If an athlete is not assessed after each season, their chances of injury get higher each season.

Cam Bolton’s - Germany World Cup Win - February 2019.

Cam Bolton’s - Germany World Cup Win - February 2019.

One thing that needs to be understood from the start, is that all sports have certain patterns that cause imbalances. Take basketball for instance, most basketballers will tend to jump from one leg and land on the other leg. This means that their jumping leg is always working very powerfully and their opposing leg is absorbing the landing, causing it to take a huge load and stress. Over the corse of even one season, this is always going to result in an imbalance between the jumping leg and landing leg. If we multiply that by many seasons, the imbalance becomes even more pronounced.

Firstly, the role of a strength coach is to ensure the athlete can perform training and games in an injury free state. If they get injured at any point of the pre season or season this is time away from their sport training, which will decrease their ability. It is very hard to be a value if you have to miss training each week, just in order to play each week. If an athlete is in a balanced state their likelihood for injury is much less. You only have to use professional sports as an easy example, the teams with the least amount of injuries are usually the ones in the finals and take out the ultimate prize. Any athlete that has played injured will understand that they can not perform to their full ability when they are injured.

Matt Targett & Hayden Stoeckel - 2012 Olympic Medalists

Matt Targett & Hayden Stoeckel - 2012 Olympic Medalists

At Energie4 we train athletes from junior levels all the way to the Olympic podium. All of these athletes do at least one if not two phases of structural balance work in a competition year. This is why we have had so much success at all levels of competitive sport. Energie4 athletes are educated and understand the importance of having are balanced body and notice it’s value to their strength, power and performance throughout the season of their sport.

To move into more detail about strength training for athletes, we first have to look at having a solid base/foundation from where we can build on. Athletes at Energie4 always start with unilateral work, meaning using single leg/arm exercises, like a split squat and dumbbells like a dumbbell bench press before they are progressed to barbell work like a barbell squat or barbell bench press. Any time you create balance between the legs or the arms and go back to a squat or bench press, the athlete has not got weaker, in fact they get stronger, even without doing the exercise the coach was concerned that they would lose strength.

The second major point when you consider the balance between left and right, is that power can’t be developed without first having strength. For example, any athlete who has had an ankle injury that has not been rehabilitated properly, they will have trouble pushing off the ground, effecting running, changing direction and jumping. As the body is extremely clever, it will look to other muscles to try and generate the strength and power it needs in order to perform at the level the athlete is use to. The result however, is that this compensation, causes the exact imbalances that we have been discussing, which can directly relate to an injury in another part of the body. This only frustrates the athlete, as they only want to train and play their sport. Athletes are generally very impatient, as is their competitive nature, so they need to be educated on the value of what you are trying to achieve, in addition to encouraging their patience, so they can be a bigger, stronger, faster athlete.

Thus, strength training for athletes is ALL about injury prevention. If the body is balanced, there is less chance of an injury to the athlete. If they strength train and build a solid, balanced base, they are able to train in the gym and also fully train for their sport. This already gives them a huge advantage over their team mates and competition. Finally, the more base and foundation they have the less time they have to work on structural balance and the more time they can use strength training to increase strength and power.


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Knees Over Your Toes, Please!

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Knees Over Your Toes, Please!

Should your knees go over your toes when you do any leg exercises like a squat or lunge? YES

Have you ever tried to walk up or down stairs keeping your shin vertical?

What about Olympic lifting competitors, who put their knees well over their toes, with maximum amount of weight on the barbell.

Knees all the way over the toes, very hard to be an effective lifter with straight shins.

Knees all the way over the toes, very hard to be an effective lifter with straight shins.

The knee is designed to go over your toes, full stop! The forces on the knee are actually less when it is flexed because of the co contraction of the hamstrings and quadriceps. This co contraction actually helps to counteract the force on the knee cap (patella). Studies have shown that Olympic lifters actually have the lowest rate of knee injuries.

This year alone we have had several clients come in and say, oh you want my knee over my toes? One client who had knee pain, was told by another allied health professional, who I should add doesn’t have any qualifications to design exercise programs. For some reason everyone has this perception they know better then someone who has spent their life learning about exercise and the correct techniques.

There are plenty of sporting situations apart from Olympic lifting, where the knees are over the toes, such as start for track sprints, swimmers, cyclist have their knees over their toes, one last example is a sport such as fencing, where they spend the entire event lunging forward at their opponent.

Tom & Laura showing two different versions of the split squat, both with their knees over their toes.

Tom & Laura showing two different versions of the split squat, both with their knees over their toes.

If you have knee pain, then you have to have it diagnosed by the correct healthcare practitioner. If you do have pain under or around the knee cap, there generally will be some sort of imbalance that needs to be corrected. The most common imbalance is the Vastus Medalis Oblique (VMO) is weak in comparison to the Vastus Lateralis. To strengthen the VMO there are certain exercises, the VMO is activated the most at the top 15% of knee flexion and bottom 15% of knee flexion.

Therefore, if you want to strength the VMO we often give clients exercises that use the top range, like a Poliquin Step Up or a more challenging one is the split squat with a quarter rep at the bottom, in addition to a full repetition.

So please when you squat, split squat, lunge, step up have your knees over your toes, this will not only help with your knee pain, but will strength the VMO and hamstrings at the same time. You will be surprised with the benefits of doing proper training of your legs.

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Attitude Is Everything!

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Attitude Is Everything!

With the 2019 Australian Open finishing last night, there were contrasting performance in both the women’s and men’s finals. When you coach you want to see your athlete have the right positive attitude, especially as you know the work they have put in to reach the pinnacle of their particular sport.

As we all witnessed last night, talent and hard work will only take you so far, if your head isn’t in it then you won’t win at the elite level. Now Nadal is no first timer to a Grand Slam Final, as he has 17 Grand Slam Titles. However, he never looked like he wanted to be their last night, as his performance was well below his best and the way he had played for the 2 weeks.

Attitude - Nadal just doesn’t look positive before the match even started.

Attitude - Nadal just doesn’t look positive before the match even started.

In his post match acceptance speech, Nadal actually confirmed that he was having some personal issues and that indeed his head wasn’t in. This was evident from the very first game and eventually going down 0-3 games to Djokovic in the first set. Being off his game to a player who has won 6 Australian Opens is a place that you don’t get over. Djokovic could sense the blood in the water and didn’t stop the onslaught until he won his record seventh Australian Open.

In the womens final both players had moments when they were positive and negative. In the Women’s Final Osaka had 3 Championship points, which she lost them all and it went into a third set. If you look at it at a basic level, she only had to win one point out of three. If you told her that at the start of the game, she would back herself to only have to win 33% of her chance to win the 2019 Australian Grand Slam Title. After that she lost the plot, screaming, hitting her racquet into the court, walking with her head down and was looking like throwing the match. However, to her credit she found her positive attitude in time, to come back and win the 2019 Australian Open.

I am not a fan of the huge congratulations players make of themselves when they win a point. If it is the set or a tough game yes, and of course the match. Now I get they are trying to fire themselves up, but I feel they are using too much energy and also losing focus on what they are there to achieve.

Women’s finalists - Osaka & Kvitova - firing themselves up!

Women’s finalists - Osaka & Kvitova - firing themselves up!

Attitude is everything when it comes to sport, as there can only be one winner. This whole notion of trying your best and winning doesn’t matter, which is what our kids are being taught these days. I really don’t understand this mediocre approach of so many people. Ask Kvitova or Nadal, are they happy putting in days, months and years of training, 2 weeks of competition to get to their dream game, only to lose.

The takeaway of these matches are if your head isn’t in for a moment, your opposition will take you down and swiftly at this level. It is all relative and the principles apply over all sports and even life. It is very hard to be successful at anything if you don’t have the right positive attitude. Everyone is going to have a bad or negative things happen at some stage, but it is the time it takes you to turn that into a positive. Keep your head up and look positive, it will do as much for you as it will to distract your opposition and make them doubt themselves, because they don’t know why you won’t lay down and just lose.

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Gut Health

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Gut Health

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When it comes to overall wellness, maintaining your gut health is just as important as maintaining your heart health, bone health, and the health of the rest of your body. Although digestive symptoms like heartburn, gas constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, and abdominal pain are common with an unbalanced gut. An unhealthy gut can also present as food intolerances, skin rashes, arthritis, headaches, and chronic fatigue.

Your gut is its own complex ecosystem and as crazy as it sounds it is home to 100 trillion micro -organisms. The gut has a crucial role not only in digestion but your metabolism and your immunity, in saying this, it is responsible for 75% of your immune system. Most of you might not know that you only need to have the tiniest amount of food (a pinky nail size in fact) to cause an inflammatory response that can take up to 90 days for it to leave your system.

Below are some common food allergy symptoms:-

Tingling or itching in the mouth
Hives
Itchiness
Swelling of the lips, face, tongue or throat
Swelling of other areas of the body
Wheezing or trouble breathing
Nasal congestion
Abdominal pain or diarrhoea
Nausea or vomiting
Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

I am sure you have all felt those “butterfly” feelings in the stomach when your nervous or your stomach drops when you get scared, this nervous feeling comes from your stomach and reacts allthe way up to the brain. Hence the gut is now being called the “second brain”. How you feel in mood can be a derivative of what is going on in your gut.

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What you also need to know is when you have permeability in your small intestinal tract also known as having a “leaky gut” this is when the tight junctions in your small intestinal tract has become blunted due to bad eating habits and stress which allows toxins and undigested material to enter into the bloodstream which will send alarm bells to the first responder and that is our –LIVER! The liver is responsible for filtering out potential or hazardous materials, when he is inundated with undigested food and waste he calls on the immune system to help him out and  starts attacking back and the outcome reaction can be susceptibility to food sensitivities,  intolerances and allergies causing inflammation throughout the body a stress the body doesn’t  need.

So let’s talk about what symptoms, signs of unhealthy gut (leaky gut) are…

Multiple food sensitives
Digestive issues like gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea
Seasonal allergies or respiratory problems like asthma
Autoimmune diseases including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, or lupus
Nutritional deficiencies
Skin rashes
Recurring sickness or infection
Hormonal imbalances
Diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
Mood and behavioural issues like anxiety, depression or ADHD
Headaches, brain fog, and memory loss

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So you are all probably saying well I might have one of these issues or more how do I fix it!

Well, it isn’t that easy especially if you have more than one of these issues my advice would be to seek professional advice from a natural health practitioner or a functional medicine practitioner.

People will be advised to say take some probiotics or prebiotics which is all well and good but  you need to understand that the gut has a combination of “good” and “bad” per se, what  becomes problematic are the “numbers” of which bacteria has an imbalance of the amount of thegood to bad bacteria. Having a healthy gut flora aids in digestion, absorption of nutrients and the formation of your stool. So next time don’t be shy have a look before you say good bye! I know  it’s not the most common conversational point but checking out the formation of your stool and  its consistency does give you an idea on what is going on in the gut. Surprising to most having  the right gut flora does help your body use insulin effectively reducing your risk of metabolic  disease, ie. diabetes.

So first time users of probiotics don’t go for the biggest number like 1 billion to 100 billion or evenmore, you need to understand the type of strains there is in that capsule of a billion bacteria and how you might react to it, if it is severe as in a “die off” reaction may cause fever, chills,  headaches etc.

IF, you do want to start with one go for one that contains a few of the strains such as L.  acidophilius or B. bifidum as well as some others see how you feel with that. Be aware of storage too, so ask the practitioner how to store them as the type of probiotic you buy will either need  special storage conditions or not.

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For those that think eating yoghurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi is enough– it isn’t!! Especially if you have ticked a few from the symptoms above.

If you are not doing it already DRINK LOADS OF WATER!! If you are drinking water already that isgreat but be weary of the source of which you are drinking. Water is in every nook and cranny of your body and travels to your brain and it makes up the bulk of your blood as well as lubricating  your intestinal tract. As easy as it is to reach for the tap water consider this when you fill up your glass do you want to drink water that contains…toxic heavy metals like lead or cadmium and with the remnants of prescription medications that  people flush down their toilets when they go for a pee. Tap water is also treated with fluoride andchlorine, which can create a whole host of problems. It might be cheaper and accessible and theysay it is clean it isn’t always the best option for your gut or health.

No surprise to all of you…the next piece of advice to support healthy gut is REGULAR EXERCISE!!

Not only does training make you stronger, look and feel good as well as a whole host of long termhealth benefits but it supports the balance of microorganisms in your gut and keeps your  digestive system moving! 

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Jump Jump Jump!

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Jump Jump Jump!

Michael Jordan when asked admitted that he could fly even if it was briefly!

Michael Jordan when asked admitted that he could fly even if it was briefly!

Most athletes will benefit from having a better vertical jump for their particular sport.  To see some jump, is often awe inspiring and magnificent, no matter the sport.  Some sports it is more important then others, like basketball, volleyball and snowboarding.  However, AFL, soccer and even swimmers can have a benefit from jumping higher.  So is your vertical leap something you are born with or can you work on it.  Of course genetics helps massively, but with the right training anyone can increase their vertical jump.  Every athlete wants to jump higher.  

There are many ways to improve your vertical jump, but nothing works better then jumping.

Jump, jump, jump!

Jump all the time, whenever you can. Train your body to jump consistently, the more you jump, the more your body will learn this is normal and your vertical jump will improve more then anything else you can do.  

There are different types of jumping and each sport has it’s own jumping characteristics.  Any strength coach or athletic trainer should know what it is for the sport they are coaching.  For years I was training swimmers to improve their vertical jump by strength training their legs.  No one else was doing it, but I understood the necessity especially for sprinters that the start was a vital part of the race, especially in the 50m freestyle.  If you were half a body length off in the first 15 meters it was very hard to win already.

There are also different types of jumpers, some have the ability to jump off two feet, where most will prefer a running start and jump off one foot.  Other athletes can jump well once, however, the more elastic jumpers can jump once, but then land and jump straight up again and repetitively, with very similar vertical leaps, a lot of volleyballer's and basketballer's posses this ability.

There are several different ways to test for vertical leap.  For instance in 2011, at an Australian Swimming Relay Camp, I tested for a standing static vertical and counter movement vertical jump.  This tested the relay athletes ability to start the relay off or were they better suited with their jumping ability to go in the second, third or last leg.  The results were quite outstanding and surprising to say the least.

Jumping Exercise

If I had to choose one strength training exercise that you can do in the gym, it would have to be a Squat push press.  It is the single best strength exercise, one because unlike Olympic lifting almost anyone can do it and it is a much easier progression then attempting a power snatch.

You always as an athlete, need to look at the return of an exercise to the risk of injury.  It is my belief to always be on the side of caution, hence training an inexperience athlete in the gym to do Olympic lifting can often be detrimental to their sporting performance, as well as the risk of injury.

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The easiest way to test your vertical jump, is to put a tape measure on a wall.  From here reach up and take down your reach, as this will be your start point.  With a little bit of chalk on your fingers, you are now ready to test your vertical jump.  There are two common ways of testing.  One is a static vertical jump, where you go into a squat position and then jump, recording the highest mark your chalked fingers make.  An alternative way is a counter movement vertical jump, where you can step into your vertical jump, again recording the highest mark from your chalked fingers.  Obviously your counter movement jump should be your best one, but I have seen it the other way around, which I can't explain to you, apart from their were swimmers.  That said push them in the water and they turn into fish, it's just that some are literally fish out of water, when it comes to athleticism on the ground.

So what are you waiting for start jumping today and you will notice your vertical leap not only increases, but the ease you can jump higher will both surprise you and others!  Enjoy your new vertical leap, for more information on athletic conditioning please don't hesitate to contact us.  From the wanna be athletes playing a Dad's football game to aspiring Olympians, an increase vertical jump will benefit all athletes.

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Excellence

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Excellence

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When it comes to excellence, what areas in our life do we seek it out?

Career?  Family?  Sport?

What defines excellence?

Education?  Results?  Drive?

So why when it comes to ourselves, so many of us don't strive for excellence?  Why do we neglect the lifestyle habits that can make us function at a much higher level?  Nutrition, exercise and sleep all make a huge difference on our daily life.  Yet, time and time again, I hear people say I know what to do, but if only I was given a dollar for every time, I had someone tell me that.  

Trainers often only train for themselves, people choose trainers because they look the part or because of their personality.  The reality is that most personal training courses are short courses, which therefore limited with how much information they can teach.  The other major reality is that the average life span of a trainer is 18 months.  On my observations over the past 25 years is that the standard of trainers has greatly decreased.  With Registered Training Organisations (RTO) more focused on getting people through the courses, rather then education, is why a lot of them have been deregistered in the past year of so. 

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People always want to hire the best person for the job, especially those who are directors or in senior management positions.  Therefore, what is your interview, vetting process for finding a personal trainer?  Is it education, results, how they look, their personality?  What do you look for when you engage a personal trainer to take care of your most vital asset, your body?

So many people want the best but when it comes to training and nutrition they are well below average.  This isn't because of you but often it's because there is so much fake information out their with the internet and social media now, it is hard to distinguish what is excellent vs mediocrity.

People who have prestige cars like a Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, use the best fuel in their cars. Have them serviced when they are due.  So why are people so bad with their own bodies.  Take a moment to think, if your body is being treated like a prestige car or an old rust bucket.

You don't sacrifice when it comes to your business career, so don't sacrifice your training, nutrition, wellbeing, which is what will make you better at work as well.  You body is vital to your life, work, sport and your general wellbeing, get this right and your life will improve drastically.

www.meisterathlete.com.au/meister-team

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