For the safety of our members and staff, we will be cancelling today’s (1/25) afternoon Performance Fitness/CF and Scholastic classes due to inclement weather. We will have an Open Gym from 12pm - 3pm for any Performance Fitness / CF members that would like to come in for a workout. We sincerely apologize for the late notice and hope everyone stays safe on the roads. If there are any questions about the schedule, please call us at 919.617.1472
Have you ever wondered how your speed, power, and athleticism stacks up to the competition? Then do like the pros, and put your skills to the test. Athletic Lab will be holding a FREE testing combine for Scholastic athletes on Saturday, February 2nd. Bring your teammates and see how well you compare. REGISTER
5m Square Agility Test
Pro Agility Test
Please allow 15 minutes prior to start time for athlete waiver and questionnaire.
For the safety of our members and staff, we will be cancelling classes tomorrow morning (January 18th 6am and 7am) due to inclement weather. We sincerely apologize for the late notice and hope everyone stays safe on the roads. If there are any questions about the schedule, please call us at 919.617.1472
Athletic Lab takes pride in the amazing people who are part of our community. From the elite professional athlete to the incredibly fit mom who squeezes in training sessions before their kids wake up, the Athletic Lab community runs the gamut.
One of those amazing people is Sunny Lee. Sunny is the photographer / videographer / creative mind behind the Athletic Lab promo video along with several other projects at Athletic Lab. She’s also a wife. A mom. And a weightlifter.
Here’s an excerpt from one of Sunny’s recent blogs:
studies indicate that women who weightlift become substantially sexier and wonderful in 6-8 weeks. for maximum awesomeness, where said awesomeness gingerly dews from pores and blotting papers are required, continuous training is recommended.
like many women, i believed weightlifting would beef me up like a sumo with pigtails. as someone whose genetic inclination is to build muscle rapidly, i was hesitant. however, as a mother of two boys who was in dire need of the energy derived from a regimented training program, i drank the kool-aid.
for five months, i weight trained in tandem with a friend whose job is to train. my ass grew an ass. the obliques previously hidden under high thread count sheets of fat appeared. and quads magically revealed themselves from behind a curtain of cellulite.
following the five months, for a month, i swallowed the acidic fear that pooled in my throat and attempted olympic weightlifting. just the sound of it, olympic weightlifting, radiates the smell of insanity and cheap spandex. under the guidance of one of the top sports scientists in the universe (love calling him that), that leap of faith proved unquestionably the best thing i’ve tried since melted cookie butter over yogurt. (see: trader joe’s)
ladies, the ability to throw weight over ones head is the most underestimated feeling in the world. that holy shit man did i just do that!? feeling is pretty phenomenal. really.
[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS - Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
Power, simply, is force times velocity. I’ve heard things like maximum power occurs at 30% and 70% of an individual’s 1RM. Unfortunately, following those training percentages may not always give you the outcome you are looking for. In a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, they tested collegiate athletes on their power clean to decipher at what percentage peak power was produced. The participants started at 30% and increased to 80% in increments of 10%. They found peak power was produced at 60% of the individual’s 1RM. Can you take this outcome and apply it to every athlete and train all athletes at the 60% range to maximize their power potential? That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
My mentor, Mike Young, once said to me, “The expression of a physical quality does not always mean that it is the best way to train that physical quality. You have to take into account what is trying to be accomplished on that particular training day.” Training methods will differ from coach to coach. What does a particular day’s training looks like. On a top end speed day, do you train on the track, on grass, dirt? In sneakers? Spikes? If it’s a weight room day, do you train at 60-70% focusing on power or do you Olympic Lift at 80%+ weight focusing on maximal strength. Decide the best way to maximize your training and what will fit in your long term planning.
Bret Contreras has pointed out that “individual peak power production can vary considerably from one person to the next, so it’s unwise to generalize and assume that an individual falls in the norm when their anthropometry, physiology, anatomy, etc., could cause them to stray from the norm.” There is no magic number or percentage that will work for every athlete. We have guidelines but they are not absolute. That’s why we recommend training across the entire force-velocity continuum.
Comfort, Paul; Fletcher, Caroline; McMahon, John J. Determination of Optimal Loading During the Power Clean, in Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 26(11):2970-2974, November 2012.
Contreras, Bret. The Glute Guy. Should We Train at 30% of 1RM to Maximize Power Production? http://www.bretcontreras.com. September 22, 2010
As the most well equipped Sports Performance Training Center with the most qualified staff in the Triangle, Athletic Lab is a frequent stop by professional athletes passing through the area and looking to get in a good workout. We’ve had teams ranging from Virginia Tech’s baseball team to the US Women’s Soccer National Team in at Athletic Lab. So it’s not surprising that the Superstars of WWE chose Athletic Lab to get in a good session. Here are some of the highlights.
[This post is written by Chris Hoina, CSCS - Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
The back squat is a staple at Athletic Lab. You’ll find it or one of its variations employed in almost every one of our training sessions. Many people, on first arrival at our facility, are shocked that we teach the deep squat and that our staff are pleased with nothing less than ‘parallel’. It is no surprise that our clients are apprehensive when performing the back squat. It is a difficult exercise, and is not as simple as putting weight on one’s back and moving the weight up and down in succession.
The aim of this article is not to teach the back squat, but rather to discuss two main points of the back squat: technique and safety. Most of you know that we have a highly accredited and knowledgeable staff, but sometimes this is not enough. We certainly understand that, and this is why we constantly provide you with articles designed to pique your interest and challenge your strength and conditioning paradigm.
The squat, or back squat as we so eloquently refer to it, is one of our primary, “go to” exercises. Many of you are probably wondering why we teach it. The answer is simple, we use this exercise to enhance performance. Chiu (2009) reminds us that during acceleration, the glutes and the quadriceps supply the majority of force during triple extension and that this triple extension could be significant for an athlete exploding out of a 3-point stance or from blocks, or those in a ‘defensive position’ (p. 25). As part of a comprehensive program, a highly functional movement such as the squat proves to be an excellent exercise for the athlete or the Crossfit participant. It is the basis, the foundation, for all other movements: Clean, Power Clean, Snatch, Power Snatch, Jerk, Push Press, Kettlebell Swing, the list is endless.
Despite the obvious need for integration of the back squat, many are still skeptical. Many still believe that the risks are far too great. To officially put this argument to rest, let us focus on our areas of interest.
In training sessions you will hear common cues from all of our coaches. Our rhetoric may be different but it’s really all semantics, “chest up, back tight, weight in the heels, eyes forward, knees out, tight core, etc.”. But for some, this still might not make sense. For some, it’s important to understand the ‘how’s and the why’s’ of a movement. Chiu (2009) discusses that sitting back into the squat, also known as the hip hinge, should be used to initiate the eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift as sitting back allows the gluteus maximus to immediately become a part of the lift, particularly increasing activation in a deeper squat (p. 25). When the coaches are providing you with feedback, we’re essentially ‘guiding; you in to the correct movement pattern and body position during the squat. Since the squat is an overloaded version of a jump or a powerful extension of the lower body, it only makes sense to train with a movement pattern that mostly closely resembles that of what we are attempting to train for.
Well what about me knees, won’t the deep squat hurt my knees? The short answer to this question is no, provided you trust your coaches and trust that they won’t let you hurt yourself. One study by Comfort and Kasim (2007) found that a deeper squat tends to lead to anterior (towards the front) displacement of the knees and may increase strain on the ACL and meniscus, however research demonstrates that restricting anterior movement so that the knees do not pass beyond the toes results in decreased knee torque (p. 11). What is interesting however is that knee torque in the squat is actually less than you might think. Comfort and Kasim (2007) found that the squat produces less anterior knee displacement when compared to the leg extension, thus reducing ACL strain (p. 10). Additionally, researchers found that similar peak posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) forces have been found, with forces greater than 4.5 times body mass during the leg extension, compared with 3.5 times body mass during the squat (p. 10). This is an interesting finding, considering the common misconception is such that the ‘machines’ are a safer alternative to such ‘unorthodox’ and ‘dangerous’ exercises as the squat.
So the next time you hear one of our sports performance coaches yelling at you because you’re not performing the squat (or any other exercise) correctly its mostly because we want you to experience the best training possible, and because we want you to perform these movements in the safest manner possible. The take home message here is 1. trust that we know what we’re doing and 2. squat like your life depends on it, because it does!
Chiu, L. Z. F. (2009). Sitting back in the squat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(6), 25-27.
Comfort, P., Kasim, P. (2007). Optimizing squat technique. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(6), 10-13.
We currently have a Friends and Family promotion running through January 31st. The promotion will allow your friends and family to join for a free month in our CF/Performance Fitness classes. The purpose is to introduce new members to our CF/Performance Fitness classes and our community of fitness and sport performance excellence. Our current members still have the opportunity to profit from this promotion. Members who refer friends and family that join after the initial free month, will receive the applicable referral credit. Please, have your referral call or drop-in to Athletic Lab to set up their free month.
[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS - Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
The front squat, like the traditional back squat is a great exercise to use to build lower body strength. However, the biomechanics of a front squat differ from a back squat due to bar placement. As compared to the back squat, you undoubtedly will be limited in the amount of weight lifted when training the front squat. This apparent limitation is actually a nice characteristic of the front squat because it can allow you to lower the total load, as compared to your back squat, on squatting while still putting forth a maximum effort, thereby allowing a maximal training stimulus. To maximally load a front squat, a proper rack position is of utmost importance. The proper rack position is described as having the barbell rest on the deltoid (shoulder), fingertips resting on the barbell, and elbows pointing straight ahead.
The front squat rack also doubles as the proper power clean and squat clean receiving position, so understanding proper bar placement is important. Some who are new to the exercise may have a difficult time with the proper rack position. Even if you have the proper flexibility, most issues arise from an improper setup. First we will address how to set up a better rack position; then look at some flexibility/mobility issues.
To set up the front squat rack position correctly, you first must set the thoracic spine in an extended position: puffing the chest out can help accomplish this. Place the tips of the fingers on the barbell; then place the feet directly under the barbell and rotate the elbows underneath and ahead of the bar. You should now have the barbell in the deltoid notch, with the finger tips lightly on the bar. The bar may be in contact with the throat at this point; that’s normal. A common error is to grip the bar as you set up. Gripping the bar will place more strain on the wrist and will contract the musculature of the wrist and arm and make it more difficult to obtain a comfortable position with the elbows high.
If the above rack position is not possible for you there may be some flexibility issues that need to be addressed. Inflexibility of the upper back, shoulder(s), and chest regions are the most common problem areas for the rack position. Consider this: many of our athletes come from desk jobs straight to the gym. The hunched forward position most of us find ourselves in for 8 hours a day puts the shoulders and back at a significant postural disadvantage. The easiest way to address these issues is to take time before or after (preferably before) your workout to work on the mobility for all three areas. There are a few stretches we use that generally fix these issues overtime.
Figure 1 is an external rotator stretch that will help loosen up the muscles of the shoulders. A band should be situated on a fixed point (a squat rack works well). The wrist should be fixed in the band and in close proximity to the lower back. Make sure to puff the chest out here to get a proper stretch. Hunching forward at the shoulder or rotating the torso during the stretch negates the ability to stretch the targeted area.
Figure 2 stretches the lats. The lats are the fan-like muscles that run from your spine to your shoulders. This is the muscle that covers most of your back. The palms should be facing each other on a physioball, elbows extended, and knees firmly on the ground. The hips should be right over the knees or slightly in advance of the knees to properly stretch the area. Try to get the point where your ears are in line with your biceps
The New Year is here and it brings new beginnings, new thoughts, and hopes of an even better year. Along with these things also come so many New Year’s resolutions. Everyone has something that they swear off or make the choice to begin, but how long does it last?
Being a sport performance coach at Athletic Lab I see/hear the same resolutions. They are all along the lines of more consistent workouts, changing their diet, or just making a healthier lifestyle change. These all sound like great choices to me, I mean getting healthier and stronger could never be a bad thing. The problem isn’t the choices we make as New Year’s resolutions, it’s how we commit and plan for the change.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”. People assume that they can just jump into a huge lifestyle change and it isn’t going to be that hard. Small steps need to be taken towards the overall goal. Often people envision the end of the journey and never think of the steps in between. If the ultimate goal is to lose 40 pounds, don’t think of it as 40 pounds. The end goal in the beginning looks insurmountable as a whole. Plan on losing 2.5 pounds a week for 16 weeks, sound a little easier? Everyone makes the same mistake with their new year’s resolution by jumping in full force when they may not be ready for such a drastic change. My opinion of a New Year’s resolution is something that we can sustain throughout the New Year. This can only be done, if handled correctly.
Here are some other tips to sustaining your 2013 New Year resolution:
Make team resolutions- Get a workout partner that has the same goal as you or have co-workers get on the bandwagon to lose weight with you. This also adds accountability to you and makes it harder for you to quit.
Ask help from professionals- We can help with recovery plans, training plans, or any questions that will help you achieve your goal and also motivation.
Keep up with progress- This could be as easy as just writing down what you did towards your goal or making sure you know how far you have come.
Just do it- Many people say they will start tomorrow, but it’s always better to just start day 1 as soon as possible, once you have your plan and mindset ready.
New Year’s resolutions are often people’s time to say they are going to make a change, why not make this be the year that you actually do it. “There are seven days in a week and someday isn’t one of them”.