Velocity based training – What we need to know by Nemanja Marković

[Nemanja Markovic earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Montenegro, where he also works as a personal trainer and S&C coach. He is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab] I was almost finished writing this article, but then I saw Mike Young’s quote on Science for sport's Instagram profile, “Applying insane forces, in the correct direction, over ridiculously short periods of time, is a trademark of the fastest people”. Behind the following text is a coach with insane intention to put ridiculously useful information in the correct direction, with the belief that athletes with great performances are the trademark of the smartest coaches. Before you shoot the messenger I hope that you saw the humor in the last sentence. I also believe my respected fellow coaches when we decide to enter the field of strength and conditioning, that the biggest bang for our buck is enhanced performance and injury prevention. We can agree that there appears to be, among other things, the true need to get through planning and programming until we achieve precise individualization of training. Having this in mind, the autoregulatory training method is the right choice for coaches. As we know power is the product of force and velocity. In the last decade, thanks to numerous research findings, the role of velocity as an important parameter for estimating and monitoring the optimum intensity during strength and power training has emerged on the surface. Regardless of the increasing popularity, velocity based training (VBT) is for sure a useful method bringing a lot of benefits of improving the performance of athletes. Making a long story short, as I still continue down the path of learning about VBT, the purpose of [...]

By | 2017-08-11T18:16:26+00:00 August 11th, 2017|News, Training Info|0 Comments

The Effects of Alcohol on Sports Performance and Recovery by Vincent Ragland

[Vincent Ragland is in his last semester as a student-athlete at East Carolina University, pursuing a Health Fitness Specialist Degree. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at the Athletic Lab] Does drinking really affect an athlete’s performance the way that you may think? Should athletes avoid drinking altogether, drink in moderation, or does it even really matter? Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the world by college students and all athletes, ranging from high school to professional level. Studies even show that in the last 12 months, nearly 80 percent of athletes reported using alcohol (Wadler). In some years, this number has been as high as 88 percent. In actuality, this number could even be higher because of the inaccuracy associated with self-reported data. In some team settings, the intake of alcohol is even encouraged, as part of a team bonding experience. When teams win championships, it is not uncommon to see videos of nearly the entire team drinking and partying. When teams lose, it is also not uncommon for them to drink, as some athletes see it as a stress reliever and a way to get the mind off of the sorrows associated with losing a major competition. Of course, in extremely excessive amounts, alcohol can be very dangerous to anyone, sometimes fatal. When related to sports performance, there are several factors that have to be taken into account when trying to gauge the dangers associated with it, such as the age and gender of the individual, how much an athlete drinks in a particular setting, how often an athlete drinks over the course of time, how quickly they consume their drinks, the individual’s body size and composition, and their tolerance [...]

By | 2017-07-17T19:57:35+00:00 July 17th, 2017|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments

Using a flywheel device for cost effective assessment by Gilson Sampaio Pereira

[Gilson Sampaio Pereira is a master's student at University of Stuttgart, Germany, and Sport Performance Coach. He is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab]  In this blog post I will present a simple and cost effective method of assessing concentric and eccentric strength/power during hip extension. Lower limb asymmetries can also be assessed in the same test. The test is a hip extension exercise, with a flywheel device (FD) to generate an eccentric overload. The FD is gaining popularity on the S&C and athletic development scene because it exposes athletes to high loads with minimum equipment. Additionally, there might be superior gains in strength, power and hypertrophy with flywheel training due to an eccentric overload, when compared to traditional resistance training (Maroto-Izquierdo et al., 2017). First, a little background Let´s begin by stepping into the literature to better understand why testing hip extension strength could be of value to athletes and coaches.  Hip extension is a basic functional movement. The major hip extensors are the spinal erectors, gluteus maximus, biceps femoris (long head), semitendinosus, semimembranosus and adductor magnus. First, compared to knee extension, hip extension is more important in running speed (Schache et al., 2011), jump height (Lees et al. 2004) and back squat (Bryanton et al. 2011). Therefore, the role of hip extension becomes more significant when athletic movements are executed with a high intent. As a logical consequence, a sound S&C coach should favor the development of the hip extensors in their preparation and maintenance phases throughout the year. This was backed up by a study from Contreras et al. (2016) that showed a greater effect of horizontally than vertically loaded hip extension training on sprint acceleration (e.g. hip thrusters). [...]

By | 2017-07-15T10:02:39+00:00 July 17th, 2017|News, Training Info|0 Comments

Static Stretching and Explosive Activity by Vincent Ragland

[Vincent Ragland is in his last semester as a student-athlete at East Carolina University, pursuing a Health Fitness Specialist Degree. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at the Athletic Lab] For many years, athletes across the world were taught the importance of static stretching before explosive exercises, such as sprinting, jumping, and throwing. The thought process behind it was that static stretching was a good way to loosen the muscles before exercise and help prevent injuries. Static stretching is, in essence, holding a stationary position and stretching a particular muscle further than its resting length. Some of the more common static stretches include the butterfly stretch, which stretches the inner thighs and hips, and the seated hamstring stretch. Muscles are usually stretched to a point where discomfort is reached, and are usually about 20 – 30 seconds in length. As time went on, researchers ultimately began to discover that static stretching had no noticeable benefits in terms of power output. Instead of better preparing an athlete for athletic activity, static stretching simply elongates and relaxes the muscles, it doesn't get them ready to generate force (Lebo et. Al 2014). In fact, having a small amount of tension and tightness in the muscles helps them to contract and produce more power. By doing static stretches before power based movements, athletes are stretching some of the desired power out of their muscles. I'm sure a lot of you all reading this blog have heard the phrase "a longer muscle is a stronger muscle". Coaches and athletes should be sure not to take this statement out of context. Static stretching does, in fact, lengthen the muscle. As previously stated, muscles need some tension and tightness in them [...]

By | 2017-07-01T12:49:10+00:00 July 3rd, 2017|Training Info|0 Comments

YouthFit at Athletic Lab

Welcome to beautiful North Carolina in 2017. We have miles of sandy beaches, beautiful mountains, quaint towns, and the 23rd highest overweight and obesity rates among children aged 10 to 17 in the nation. More specifically, about one in three (32.3%) North Carolina high school students are either overweight or obese (Eat Smart, Move More NC). One in three! In other words, if your high schooler has two best friends, it is likely that one of the three of them is overweight or obese. Our nation is currently experiencing an obesity epidemic. The definition of an epidemic is “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.” The startling point is that obesity is a disease within our control. Although I am just one person in our world of more than seven billion, I am making it my mission to do what I can to tackle the childhood obesity issue and put a dent in this epidemic. The obesity epidemic has numerous effects on our nation, from our health to our wallets. The chronic disease costs the United States approximately $190 billion in health-related bills each year (Understanding the American Obesity Epidemic). Our ever-growing bodies are developing Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, respiratory problems, in addition to social and psychological problems, to name just a few. But you knew that. Everyone knows the risks, yet we keep letting ourselves and our children eat more, exercise less, and, all the while, grow bigger and bigger. In the table below, you can clearly see this trend of rising percentages of obesity prevalence in American adolescents over the past three decades (The Psychiatric clinics of North America). The current generation [...]

By | 2017-05-20T09:44:19+00:00 May 20th, 2017|News, Training Info|2 Comments

Frontal Plane Knee Motion and ACL Tears by Chris Graham

[Chris Graham is currently a graduate student at The University of Texas at Tyler where he is studying Kinesiology. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the NSCA and is currently a coaching intern at Athletic Lab.] Over the last decade or so, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears have skyrocketed even with increased training programs. A reason for this is that a disproportional amount of ACL tears occur in female athletes, who have increased participation in sport since the passing of Title IX. But why do so many ACL tears occur to female athletes? There has been research for many variables including looking at Q angles, hormonal differences, whether the athlete is menstruating, and also muscular imbalances. In this article, I’m going to explore the role of frontal plane motion at the knee in preventing ACL injuries. When it comes to ACL tears there, has been a significant correlation between excessive dynamic valgus forces and tears in elite female athletes (Hewett, 2005). This excessive abduction of the knee is considered to be a neuromuscular inefficiency as when they compared trained female and male athletes they found that there were different landing patterns between the genders. Joseph et al. found was that during a drop jump followed by an immediate vertical jump, the timing and organization of ankle eversion, knee valgus, and hip adduction varied significantly between the two groups. In the women’s group, they found that they went through first knee valgus, then ankle eversion, and finally hip adduction whereas the men went through ankle eversion, knee valgus, and then hip adduction. This pattern, shown by the male group, is more optimal since we touch the ground with our feet first and the [...]

By | 2017-05-14T16:23:50+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Training Info|0 Comments

High Intensity Interval Training by Matty Golden

[Matty Golden is in his third year as a sports strength and conditioning student in Setanta College, Ireland and is due to graduate in May 2018. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at the Athletic Lab.] High intensity interval training is a method used to supplement maximal efforts in training. This is a method of training that involves repeated bouts of high intensity efforts that range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes followed by recovery periods of varying length of time. It is quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by rest periods. HIIT trains the body at high heart rates which aids the burning of fat in shorter periods of time. As quoted in a study done by Martin, J Gbala, “High Intensity Interval Training is a little pain for a lot of gain”. Billat (2001) points out that as early as 1912 that Olympic long distance runner, Hannes Kolehmainen, was employing interval training in his workouts. Often times high intensity interval training is emphasised as “less is more”. Meaning a fast paced 30 minute workout is more beneficial to fat loss then something of a slower pace with a longer duration. In a paper done by Micah Zuhl and Len Kravitz they explain how HIIT can not only provide performance benefits but it can also improve the health of recreational exercisers. They go on to state that it is also very suitable for endurance training or continuous aerobic exercise.  HIIT is a method of training I have used in Ireland both with sport teams and individuals. With highly trained athletes and individuals, increasing volume of the training does not appear to further enhance their endurance performance or peak their oxygen uptake. I am [...]

By | 2017-04-19T09:47:11+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Training Info|0 Comments

Why the Deadlift is for You: A Mechanical Analysis by Zach Chokr

[Zachary Chokr is a senior at North Carolina State University majoring in Psychology, minoring in Sports Science, and a Certified Personal Trainer under the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] The deadlift is one of the truest measures of total body strength as it recruits muscles from all regions of the body from the ground up. On the surface, the goal of the deadlift is essentially to pick up some weight off the ground to an erect, standing position. “While bending over and hoisting a weight off the floor may seem simple, form and technique can be different for each individual” (DuVall, 2017). However, the complexity of this lift can be easily overlooked. Some of the most important factors of the deadlift, and any exercise for that matter, is not just strength but form and technique. In my last blog post, I talked about the high bar and low bar squat. Now I am going to introduce two basic forms of the deadlift, and how you can benefit the most dependent on a variety of factors including your goals. The conventional deadlift is performed with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, with your hands outside of them; whereas the sumo deadlift typically requires a wider stance, and hands placed on the bar between the feet. This difference in positioning places varying demands on the muscles. Escamilla et al. (2000) found that the primary lower extremity muscles involved during the conventional deadlifts are the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius, and soleus, compared to the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, and tibialis anterior during the sumo deadlift using electromyography (EMG). The conventional deadlift requires greater spinal flexion, about 5-10%; whereas [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:26:38+00:00 April 4th, 2017|Training Info|0 Comments

Weight Training for Preadolescents by Brandon Gremillion

[Brandon Gremillion is a student at the University of Mount Olive majoring in Exercise Science. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] You may not think to use resistance training with weights in preadolescents, but there are many benefits to implementing it into a workout regime. A preadolescent is someone who usually falls between the ages of nine and twelve years of age. Utilizing weights during training for these individuals has not always been supported “because of the concerns for injury and the questionable efficacy of this type of training to improve strength” (Sibte, 2003). However, it has been shown that the combination of resistance training and cardio in regards to preadolescents can have long term health benefits (Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness [CSMF], 2001).  This belief has further been backed up with research that has shown that, “strength training, when properly structured with regard to frequency, mode (type of lifting), intensity, and duration of program can increase strength in preadolescents” (Sibte, 2003).   Resistance training with weights increases the risk of muscle strain and compression, but that risk is not as significant as the risk of injury associated with sports and recreational activity. In regards to preadolescents and resistance training the most common injuries seen are muscle strains, low back injury, and growth plate injuries (CSMF, 2001).  Tendonitis can occur when a child is tasked with the high demands of competition and training without proper rest and recovery. Another issue that can arise is a diminished flexibility and muscle-tendon strength mismatches which in turn could cause injury (Sibte, 2003).  The good thing is that “most of these injuries are uncommon and are largely preventable by avoiding maximal lifts, improper technique, and [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:26:57+00:00 March 15th, 2017|Training Info|0 Comments

Exercise Prescription for Young Athletes: Combating the Prevalence of Childhood Obesity by Carlyn Waffa

[Carlyn Waffa is a senior at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is majoring in Exercise and Sport Science, and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] In the United States, childhood obesity affects roughly 12.7 million children and adolescents between the ages of two and nineteen years old, with the rate of obesity positively correlated with age (Ogden, 2015). Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled (MDH, 2013). Recent research suggests that a child’s body composition by the time that they are just five years old is telling of what their body composition will be for the rest of their life. In one study, almost half of the children who were overweight in kindergarten grew into obese adolescents, and so on (Cunningham, 2014). An alarming pattern of inactivity has consumed the nation – with daily participation in physical education classes declining across America (CDC, 2011). The negative effects of physical inactivity are numerous and include an increased chance of developing hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, colon and breast cancer, type II diabetes and obesity.  What has become evident is that children need to be engaging in more physical activity in order to dodge the looming consequences of physical inactivity later in life. In the 1970’s and 1980’s resistance training for adolescents was stigmatized because of a presumed high risk of injury. In 2017, this notion is erroneously cited, despite being obsolete. Typically, resistance training injuries occur due to poor training, excessive loading, poorly designed equipment, or free access to equipment. Nevertheless, these injury factors do not have any correlation with an athlete’s age, [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:27:18+00:00 February 24th, 2017|Training Info|4 Comments