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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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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.

Volleyball Vertical Leap.jpg

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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