2012 Spring Schedule begins March 5th with TONS of changes
You asked for it and we’ve listened. We’re proud to announce our revamped Spring training schedule which will go into affect March 5th, 2012. There are many new changes to the schedule with the addition of 5 brand new classes as well as the addition of a new / additional time slot for existing classes. Here’s a run down of the changes:
- We have added an “Open Gym” time slot for our CrossFit / Performance Fitness members every day of the week at 3:45-5pm. This time slot will allow members to make up a workout on their own or work on whatever skills or exercises they would like. For liability reasons, interested members must pay a 1 time fee to test in to this time slot.
- We have added a “Women’s Only” CrossFit / Performance Fitness class on Tuesday and Thursday at 11am.
- We have added an advanced class called Athletic Lab Advanced Team for those members who are looking to compete in CrossFit or Sparta Challenge style competitions. We will work on advanced skills and perform more challenging workouts. This class will take place on Sundays at 12:30pm and is by invite only. Please inquire if you are interested.
- We have added a CrossFit Endurance class on Thursdays at 6:30pm. This class will perform a running or endurance-based workout followed by a bodyweight strength WOD.
- We have added a Scholastic Junior Select program on Tuesday and Thursday at 5pm. This program will have similar attendance requirements as our Scholastic Select program (renamed to “Varsity Select”) but will be aimed at members under 14 years of age.
Changed Class Times / Structure:
- We have moved the Tuesday 5pm Scholastic Conditioning and Thursday 5pm Scholastic Strength classes to 3:45pm.
- We have increased our maximum capacity for CrossFit / Performance Fitness classes to 16 from 15 and have ensured that additional staff are present to assist.
- We will be splitting our traditional Scholastic classes in to 2 groups by age and ability when necessary to ensure that we can provide the highest possible level of service to our broad range of clientele.
- We will be splitting our Scholastic Select program in to 2 groups by age and ability. Athletes enrolled in the Scholastic Select program who are 14 and older are suggested to attend the 5pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes. Athletes enrolled in the program who are younger than 14 are suggested to attend the 5pm Tuesday and Thursday sessions.
Additional Class Times for Existing Classes:
- We have added a second CrossFit / Performance Fitness class on Saturdays at 10am.
Hamstring Strains: How it happens and how you may be able to prevent them by Drake Webster
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Drake Webster, an Exercise Science student from ECU]
Many times injuries are freak accidents that can’t be avoided, but a lot of the hamstring strains are not this. Hamstrings strains are involved with sports that include sprinting, jumping, kicking, and also highly skilled movements. Most if not all sports involve these movements, so that’s why hamstrings have become one of the most prevalent injuries. In an article that was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning a study was done about hamstring strain prevalence in the national football league. The study results show that hamstring strains were the second most injury seen, behind only knee sprains. The reason for the high occurrence of hamstring strains is because of the mechanism of injury during sprinting. Sprinting is the most common time you will see an athlete have an injury to the hamstrings.
Mechanism of injury- The reason for the high occurrence of hamstring strains is because of the mechanism of injury during sprinting. Sprinting is the most common time you will see an athlete have an injury to the hamstrings. This is because when sprinting, hamstrings receive a lot of force at extreme lengths. An Eccentric contraction is a type of muscle activation that increases tension on a muscle as it lengthens. This eccentric contraction happens to the hamstrings on the front leg during sprinting right before foot contact. Once the foot hits the ground the force that comes with sprinting is now absorbed by the hamstrings. A lot of times your hamstrings are not able to handle this force at that length at the time the foot contacts the ground; this is when hamstrings strain occur.
Biceps Femoris- There are three hamstrings which are all located on posterior part of the thigh and attach at the pelvis and back of the knee. The main one that is injured is the biceps femoris. The reason for this is because of the amount of change in length occurring in the biceps femoris during that eccentric contraction and also the amount of force that is absorbed by the biceps femoris during the same eccentric contraction. These are the two reasons for the high occurrence of injury of the biceps femoris.
The mechanism of injury shows that hamstring strains are not freak accidents but preventable injuries that with training can be avoided. The same article that was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed types of training that can be beneficial for preventing hamstring strains. The three things that can be the most beneficial are dynamic warm-ups, eccentric training, and also trunk stabilization training.
Dynamic Warm-ups- These should be longer in length if you know you will be sprinting, jumping, or kicking. They should included things that mimic the activity you will be doing. The warm-ups should have sprinting drills, mechanics and also hamstring functions involved. A 5 to 10 minutes is the usual protocol for warm-ups but for activities that involve such force such as sprinting, warm-ups should be longer in length if possible.
Eccentric training- This type of training will help ready the body for this type of contraction that you will be putting your hamstrings through. This type of training also increases the number of sarcomeres, the basic unit of a muscle, which will distribute the force and also allow more stretch in the hamstrings. The hamstrings are going through eccentric contractions when sprinting whether you train them or not, so why not train them to be ready when they are called upon.
Trunk Stabilization Training- This type of training deals with the hips and pelvis. There is a connection to hip extension to hamstring stretch. The key of this training is to try to limit anterior pelvic tilt. This will cause the hamstring to be less tight which will benefit in hamstring strains. Another muscle that is important to train is the iliopsoas or hip flexor. A tight hip flexor will pull on the pelvis and keep it in an anterior pelvic tilt.
Hamstring strains happen all the time in sports, but why? There is research out there with solutions on how to prevent them and how to keep them from happening again. Instead of having a retroactive look at hamstring strains, take a proactive look and try and stop the problem before it happens.
Enhancing Speed for Sport by Matt Jessee
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Matthew Jessee, an Exercise Science student from Appalachian State University]
Why is speed so important? Speed is a vital aspect to virtually all sports beyond track and field. When faced with equally talented and skilled opposition it becomes the faster person who breaks away for the touchdown, or gets to the loose ball first. This is why we train athletes to become faster. There are various methods used to enhance sprint speed such as assisted sprinting, resisted sprinting, strength training, and plyometrics.
You want to make sure your athlete is running correctly because proper sprint mechanics will make them more efficient at producing forces in the proper direction. This will ensure that their energy is being utilized to its fullest potential with minimal loss.
Assisted sprints are generally aimed at forcing the athlete to move faster in order to increase frequency. The theory behind this is that the athlete will have to take faster steps to keep up, and over time the nervous system will adapt to this new pattern. Some examples of assisted sprinting would include assisted towing, high speed treadmill sprinting, and downhill sprinting. The main goal of resisted sprinting is to indirectly increase stride length through training the muscles involved in hip extension. This would allow the athlete to efficiently push off with more force during each foot contact, in turn creating a longer flight phase and stride length. Some examples of this training would include resisted sprinting, and uphill running. Some things to consider if implementing assisted or resisted training are make sure your athlete is maintaining proper mechanics, and will the skills learned transfer well to the playing surface?
Strength/ power training is the next method. This is your work done in the weight room. The goal is to train your athlete to take advantage of all the adaptations that take place in your body following resistance training, as well as become stronger. You want to make sure your program will be transferrable to the sprinting (biceps curls won’t make you faster).This is known as the principle of specificity. The muscles most important to running are those involved in hip flexion/ extension, knee flexion/ extension, and ankle flexion/ extension with the musculature of the hip being most important. So exercises which reflect these mechanics are best, such as squats or their derivatives. Although squats don’t mirror the velocity of sprinting they can still be beneficial mainly for starting/acceleration. The best way to mirror the velocity of full speed sprinting is to incorporate explosive exercises such as the Olympic lifts. The Olympic lifts are highly dependent upon the same muscles that are used for sprinting.
Lastly plyometrics should be incorporated as well. Plyometrics are beneficial because they train the body’s stretch shortening cycle or SSC. The SSC is useful because it is a reflex which helps to produce greater muscle contractions (force) than a normal voluntary contraction alone. Sprinting is highly dependent upon the SSC, therefore training it can be highly beneficial. Like resistance training plyometrics should be specific in nature. You want them to look mechanically similar to running.
When training an athlete it is best to use a variety of methods for the most improvement. On any given day, those who come in to the Athletic Lab with the goal of improving their speed and performance can be seen using these methods to be at the top of their respective sports.
Testing Results; Tracking Your Athletes Progress by Stephanie Shaw
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Stephanie Shaw, an Exercise Science student from ECU]
Results. This is what athletes expect from a training protocol. Sure, there are temporary benefits from training such as stress relief and enjoyment, but ultimately athletes and coaches want results.
The best way to determine if an athlete is progressing is by testing them. Seems simple right? Well, there are a few things to take into consideration before testing an athlete. First, it is important to determine what needs to be tested. Some sports may have different biomechanical and physiological requirements than others. For example, a long distance runner does not need to necessarily be tested on their agility, while with a football player or soccer player this would be extremely important to incorporate. In an article from the, “Strength and Conditioning Journal”, they found that acceleration and max speed is very important to add to a testing battery for soccer players because it relates to the game. A soccer player sprints about every 90 seconds in a game, which in a 90 minute game this would be extremely important.
After determining what needs to be assessed it is then important to determine what test works best. There are many different tests out that can assess the same thing. To test strength, you can do the bench press or back squat. To test aerobic capacity, there is the 2-mile run for time, the beep test, the Yo-Yo Intermittent recovery test, and many more. To determine what test works best you have to again look at the sport and skill level of the athlete. You would not want someone who has never performed a back squat to do a 1RM back squat to test their strength. It would be better suited for them to do a squat jump test instead. The same goes for upper body. If there is an athlete who has never bench pressed before, you would not want them do a 1RM bench press to determine strength. Instead, a two minute pushup test would be recommended. Going back to the article from the “Strength and Conditioning Journal”, they found that for soccer players, the best way to assess speed is to have the athletes perform the 30 meter sprint test. This works best for soccer because 96% of sprints are 30 meters or less. It would then be unnecessary to have them perform a 40 meter test. This is why, here at Athletic Lab, the 30 meter sprint test is the number one method used to test max speed.
Once you have decided what needs to be tested and what test to use, it is then important to determine when the testing should be implemented. Testing should not fall within 2 days before or after competition due to fatigue affecting the match or the testing results. Lastly, make sure testing is assessed the same way each time. For example, when using the 1RM back squat there is a depth requirement. If for the first test you do not make sure they go at least parallel, but then the next time you test them more strictly then this could skew the accuracy of the results. It is important to make sure each test is implemented the same. After this has all been taken into consideration it is time for testing!!
Understanding Carbs by Sarah Gilmore
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Sarah Gilmore, an Exercise Science student from UNC]
When the term “carb” is mentioned what are the first things that come to mind? Pasta? Bread? Potatoes? These are all indeed sources of carbohydrates in the average diet but they are not the only sources nor are they necessarily the best ones. The media has trained consumers to acknowledge whole wheat and whole grain as the best choice of carbohydrates. These options are better than white bread for the average meal but instead of solely focusing on looking for these whole grain/wheat foods in their diet, consumers need to be retrained to look at carbohydrates as either simple or complex.
Scientifically, a carbohydrate is identified as an organic compound that consists of only carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Carbohydrates are then generally classified into two groups: simple carbs and complex carbs based on their composition. What difference does this make to an athlete/exerciser? Simple carbohydrates are smaller strings of atoms that are readily available as an energy source to the body. While this may sound like an ideal thing to have right before exercising that is actually not the case. Because simple carbohydrates are so readily available, they are used up quickly giving athletes that instant high followed by a crash when the supplies have been depleted. Instead simple carbs are best after a workout when the muscles are damaged and benefit from the quick energy supply to immediately repair the muscle and replenish the glycogen supply that has been depleted. Complex carbs are the types of carbs best to eat before exercising as well as throughout the day. The reason for this is that complex carbs are more difficult to break down into an energy supply so they provide energy for longer. A good analogy for this relationship is that of fire fuel. Newspaper and dry leaves burn and are used up very quickly. When cooking with logs on the other hand, it takes a lot longer to get the fire going but once started it will continually burn for a long period of time. It’s the same with the simple and complex carb energy supply. Simple carbs immediately use up all the energy, which can be good if you need an immediate energy supply such as for a diabetic needing sugar or after exercising and complex carbs provide a smaller, continual source of energy, which is better when partaking in a long sporting event or carrying on daily life between meals. Simple carbs include foods such as sugar, milk, fruit, candy and soda. Complex carbs include vegetables, whole wheat/grain products, and beans/lentils.
As always, there are exceptions to the rule and some foods classified as simple carbs based on their composition actually burn energy longer than some foods classified as complex carbs. So while simple/complex is a better way of looking at food than just whole-wheat vs. not, the best way of looking at food is based on its glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is established based on research evaluating how quickly certain foods affect the level of sugar in the blood stream. Higher glycemic foods enter the blood steam more quickly but as described before are depleted more quickly and may led to the crash. Since the average consumer will not memorize or know the GI for every food the differentiation between simple and complex carbs will suffice but a quick chart of some GI values is included below.
Learning to Squat by John Grace
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, John Grace]
I recently read an article by Loren Chiu and Eric Burkhardt on squatting technique and a proper progression to optimize technique, “A Teaching Progression for Squatting Exercises”. It was a great read and I’d like to share the main points to the article.
Squatting is one of the most fundamental, most used, exercises among strength and conditioning programs. One reason is because your lower body is the powerhouse. The lower body has more potential to produce a much greater power output in comparison to the upper body. Secondly, there are numerous variations of squatting to incorporate into one’s program that can target slightly different muscle groups. We will take a look into one less common squat, the plate squat, which is aimed at perfecting form and technique, and should precede the overhead squat, the front squat, and the back squat.
The plate squat is performed by taking a 10kg bumper plate, placing one end on the middle of the trainees head and the other end grasped by their hands, keeping the humorous parallel to the ground. While descending into the squat, you want to maintain the parallelism between the humorous and ground at all times. You may place a volleyball or other lightweight ball on the bumper plate to indicate if the plate has dropped forward or below parallel. If the plate does drop below parallel, “it is indicative of excessive forward trunk inclination and/or spinal flexion” At the bottom portion, the trainee should have the weight distributed between the heel and the forefoot, the torso upright, the back flat, and knees should end slightly ahead of the toes.
Having the correct equipment is a must with any squat attempt. Bumper plates offer safety benefits that iron plates found in traditional gyms can’t give you. With bumper plates you have a major advantage training with heavy loads because you can simply “dump” the weight if you cannot perform another rep without damaging equipment, the facility, or putting spotters in danger. Getting rid of some major tonnage from overhead or on your back might be intimidating to some, but if performed correctly, can save you from some major injuries. With the overhead squat, you can simply dump the weight in front or behind you. The front squat will allow you to push the weight out in front of you while jumping your body back to avoid injury. While the back squat can be the most difficult, you also can thrust the weight overhead and dump it in front while jumping back or can push the weight off the back while jumping forward.
The article then went into discussion on the overhead squat, the front squat, and back squat, in that particular order. The authors thought this progression would be the most efficient way of teaching a trainee how to squat. From what I gathered, they used this format to progress from light weight to heavy weight. Theoretically, one would be able to lift a heavier load with a back squat than a front squat, more on a front squat than an overhead squat, and more on an overhead squat than the plate squat. The article stated the authors have primarily worked with athletes (who are more than likely to be more flexible and stronger than the general public). In my opinion the plate squat can be an excellent teaching tool to use within the general population, but progressing right into an overhead squat can be a little too technical for some to comprehend, therefore I would most likely start with a light back squat and progress into more technical squatting later on.
I am curious to hear your opinion, as a trainer or strength and conditioning coach, as to what squatting exercise you would prescribe first to someone from the general population, and why?
Also, for the trainee, what do you feel was the most difficult of the three squats (overhead, front, and back squats) to master, and why do you feel it was difficult for you?
Olympic Lifting for Sports by Drake Webster
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Drake Webster, an Exercise Science student from ECU]
What can I do to be a better player? What should I do to get me to the next level? These questions are often asked by athletes who are wondering why they are not getting to the next level or playing to their full potential. Many different answers fly around when only one question should be asked right back to them, are you doing Olympic lifts in your program? Many times the answer to this question will be no and this is the answer to the first two questions an athlete often asks.
Olympic lifts are good for sport preparation because of their explosive/powerful nature and also the triple extension that is used in all of these lifts.
Explosiveness or power- These lifts are done with high force in short burst. Every athlete wants to be more powerful than their competition. If you want to increase your power output, incorporating Olympic lifts into the program can get you that power. A research study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning compared peak force, peak velocity, and peak power output of power lifters, Olympic weight lifters, sprinters, and a control group. The study showed that Olympic weight lifters had the highest peak force and velocity which means they had the highest peak power of all the groups. The study also goes on to say that these lifts can be very specific for sports and may be required to reach peak power needed for some sports.
Triple extension- Most if not all sports have triple extension during the sport. Triple extension is when the ankle, knee and hips are all extended. This is often achieved when doing a jump or sprinting. So even though you may not think about doing triple extension, it is happening all the time in sports. When you are consistently doing triple extension in your training through the Olympic lifts hen when you are on the field the triple extension movement will be a lot more natural and also more powerful.
Olympic lifts are a very important part of many strength and conditioning programs but also some programs lack the Olympic lifts. If the goal is for you to be the most powerful athlete and able to jump and sprint faster than Olympic lifts should be involved.
Athletic Lab: Trusted by Professionals
The fitness, health and physical capacity of a professional athlete’s body is of tantamount importance to both their livelihoods and their performance. That’s why so many elite and professional athletes come to Athletic Lab tro train. And unlike other facilities that SAY they are training elite and professional athletes, we actually ARE training them. You can see them around Athletic Lab on a daily basis. At the present time, we have professional and elite athletes from MMA, baseball, soccer, skeleton, and track and field training at Athletic Lab. In fact, over a quarter of our clientele are elite or professional athletes! Why is this relevant to those not looking to win an Olympic medal or earn a contract extension in their sport? Because you know if these athletes choose Athletic Lab to meet their goals that we can definitely meet your needs. Whether, you’re an aspiring high school athlete, wanna-be pro, or a fitness enthusiast, Athletic Lab has the facility, experience, and expertise to provide everything you need to achieve your goals.
Sleep Will Make You a Better Athlete by Stephanie Shaw
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Stephanie Shaw, an Exercise Science student from ECU]
Train, train, and train some more. This seems to be the motto these days for many elite athletes. It is easy to become consumed by your sport and think you have to train hard all day everyday, but when does your body have time to recover? Not enough people think about how important sleeping is for their body to be able to heal and perform at peak performance.
Having the optimal amount of sleep is very beneficial for performance, because your body naturally releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) when in a deep sleep. HGH helps with not only metabolizing fat, but also with recovery and healing of the body. If you train all day every day without sufficient amounts of sleep, then your body will not recover and heal. If your body does not have enough time to heal, then training will not be nearly as beneficial, and you could also run the risk of hurting yourself and overtraining.
A study performed on 11 healthy athletes from the men’s basketball team at Stanford University showed that after increasing the amount of sleep of each athlete by around 110.9 minutes a night, their overall ratings of physical and mental well-being improved. Their speed during 282-foot sprints also improved from 16.2 seconds to 15.5 seconds and their shooting accuracy by 9% on free throws and three-point field goals.
Here are a few tips on how to help improve your sleep:
- Have the room completely dark (or as dark as possible) when going to bed.
- Try and have a regular sleeping schedule.
- Clear your head before going to bed. Write down any thoughts or things you have to do the next day.
- Avoid drinking any caffeinated beverages or alcohol before going to bed.
Supplements to Boost Your Performance: Beta Alanine by John Grace
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, John Grace]
Beta alanine, unlike creatine, is a lesser known supplement in the fitness world, but becoming more popular. Beta alanine is on the verge of becoming as well known as creatine for its performance benefits. While creatine boasts its ability to create a higher power output in subjects, beta alanine not only helps with strength and power, but also increases muscular endurance.
Beta alanine has been getting praise for its ability to stabilize pH levels and act as a lactic acid buffer, but it is really carnosine that makes beta alanine look like a star. So what is carnosine? During exercise, hydrogen ions (H+) are released, causing performance to plummet. When our body accumulates a large amount of H+ ions, our muscles pH levels drop, or becomes more acidic (the burning sensation in muscles). Carnosine helps stabilize muscle pH by soaking up these H+ ions that are released at an accelerated rate during exercise.
I know the next question that you may be asking. Why not just take carnosine instead of beta alanine? Carnosine actually gets broken down in the GI tract into beta alanine, while some is also escaping. Beta alanine then has to get converted back into carnosine. In this conversion process, you lose a substantial amount of the initial carnosine you have just ingested. From a financial standpoint, it is much more effective to purchase beta alanine.
Like creatine, beta alanine has very generalized dosing across all products and manufactures. In a study done by “Nutrition Research” in 2008, 4.5 grams per day of beta alanine supplementation proved “higher training volumes and lower subjective feelings of fatigue”.
Ingesting beta alanine may cause a prickly feeling on the skin. Don’t worry, this is normal. It is caused by the beta alanine binding with nerve receptors, activating them and causing them to fire. Beta alanine, by no means replaces creatine, but it is the ultimate 1-2 punch to be taken with creatine to benefit strength and power, as well as, muscular endurance.