The Bread-and-Butter of Flexibility Training by Greg Gustin

[This is a guest blog by Greg Gustin. Greg holds a Master's degree in Health and Fitness from the University of Pittsburgh and is CSCS certified through the NSCA. Greg is participating in the coaching mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] Recently, I attended a camp called “Movement X” led by the Ido Portal team. If you’re unfamiliar, Ido really is a student and teacher of the human body and everything it is capable of doing. I was participating as someone interested in any and all movement, and in gaining new perspective to take back to collegiate strength and conditioning. Toward the end of the second day, I asked how their students are able to achieve such impressive and useful flexibility. The answer was simple. “Loaded progressive stretching is our bread and butter.” Much of what we had done that weekend fell under this category, but I didn’t realize it until far later. In fact, I took that bit of information with me and thought it over for quite some time before really understanding what it meant. It sounded like some advanced technique when their practitioner said it, but the concept is quite simple – achieve a stretched position under load, progress, and repeat. How it Works The general idea behind loaded progressive stretching is to put tissues into an elongated position under load. The load is meant to further the stretch slightly beyond what might be possible in a passive manner and act as a stimulus to the myofascial elements that are under tension. From a muscular prospective, loading an elongated tissue hopes to develop some level of strength at given ranges of motion, specifically those approaching end range. From a neurological perspective, the muscular [...]

By | July 29th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

A Pokestep in the Right Direction by Riley Rogers

[This is a guest blog from Riley Rogers. Riley is a Exercise and Sport Science major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] More than one in three adults in the United States are reported to be obese (2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). We’ve all heard this statistic or something very similar. It’s intended to startle us. At this point, however, we’re all so desensitized to the facts that we don’t even think twice about it. Obesity refers to a Body Mass Index greater than 30. If we don’t know our BMI, we assume these statistics aren’t talking about us. We picture obese people to be like those featured in “My 600-lb. Life,” who need assistance carrying out the simplest of daily tasks, such as using the bathroom and washing themselves. One woman featured on the show had a BMI of 85.7, putting her in the category labeled “extreme obesity” (BMI above 40). As you can see, the subjects of “My 600-lb. Life” are not what we should picture when thinking of those statistics. Realistically, we should be picturing our family, our friends, and maybe even ourselves. The truth of the matter is: our country is obese and we’re only getting fatter. Gotta Catch ‘Em All In the past week or so, our news feeds have been filled with headlines that read “Teen Playing Pokémon Go Walks Onto Highway And Gets Hit By A Car,” “While searching for Pokemon Wyoming woman finds man's body,” and “Pokémon Go: man quits job to become full-time Pokémon hunter”. If you’ve resisted the urge to click on these enticing headlines, I’ll fill you in. Pokémon Go [...]

By | July 28th, 2016|News, Training Info|0 Comments

Are Kettlebells All You Need? by Brandon Hooks

[This is a guest blog from Brandon Hooks. Brandon is a senior at Ferrum College pursuing his degree in Health and Human Performance. Brandon is participating in the coaching mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] Kettlebells are one of the workout tools for helping promote strength and many other bodily benefits. In recent years it has been on the rise and used in many exercise plans. Kettlebell swings are an exercise many personal fitness trainers look towards using in their workouts. Are kettlebell swings effective in a full body workout? There are many speculations out there saying that yes kettlebell swings or exercises help and work, but is there evidence to back up this claim? In a 2012 research study at the Exercise Physiology Laboratory and Center at California State University Fullerton, the effects of kettlebell training on vertical jump, strength and body composition versus that of weightlifting.  The study found that both kettlebell training and short term weight lifting were beneficial to increasing power and strength and there was no significant difference in the benefits of one over the other for increasing vertical jump or body composition. The study did find that weightlifting was more beneficial to gaining strength over a 6 week training period. According to Jeffery S. Harrison, who wrote the article "Applications f kettlebells in Exercise program Design", says kettlebells maybe beneficial for improving cardio respiratory fitness. The research to back this claim are found in a study by Farrer et al. (2) which it was determined that the heart rate response and oxygen cost of performing the kettlebell swing had a greater impact to the cardio respiratory system than have been shown with the traditional circuit weight training. The majority of kettlebell exercises focus on dynamic, total body [...]

By | July 19th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Athletic Lab Sport Performance Podcast: Episode #1 – Mladen Jovanovic

The Athletic Lab Sport Performance Podcast delivers information in the sport science, coaching, and athletic development fields from some of the best minds in the industry. Find us on iTunes. Mladen Jovanovic is a Strength & Conditioning Coach and Sport Scientist for Port Adelaide FC of the Australian Football League (AFL). You can check out his website Complementary Training for free content on sport science, training, and coaching.

By | July 15th, 2016|Podcast, Training Info|0 Comments

Can the brain CAUSE injury? by Eddie Arvelo

[This is a guest blog by Eddie Arvelo. Eddie has a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science from UNC Charlotte and is also a certified personal trainer. He is currently full time Athletic Development intern at Athletic Lab.] The human brain is an incredibly powerful tool that rarely receives the attention it deserves.  First, we should discuss some basic nomenclature of the brain.  A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses that all communicate with each other.  Brain information moves anywhere from 1 mph to 268 mph.  Our brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity which can power a low wattage LED light.  Recent research also shows that an athlete’s brains can focus more on a task than others.  In a 2015 study named The Athlete’s Brain: Cross Sectional Evidence for Neural Efficiency during Cycling Exercise, it was shown that cyclists with high levels of aerobic fitness who completed cycling of submaximal exercise had lower brain activity compared to their peers.  It showed individuals with higher aerobic power had better neural efficiency.  Another study in 2012, named Individual Differences in Expert Motor Coordination associated with White Matter Microstructure in the Cerebellum, showed karate experts had greater white matter changes in their brains than novice karate athletes.  This is likely because of complex synchronization of movements of the upper limbs and trunk. White matter is associated with how the brain learns and functions. What does this all mean? It is the combination of physical and mental readiness that separates the greatest athlete in the world from the rest of us.  Generally speaking, coaches, fitness professionals, physicians, physical therapist, and athletic trainers focus on physical development [...]

By | July 13th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Why Your Athletes Need to Play by Greg Gustin

[This is a guest blog from Greg Gustin. Greg holds a Master’s degree in Health and Fitness from the University of Pittsburgh and is CSCS certified through the NSCA. Greg is participating in the coaching mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] Let your athletes play – make them play – but not just in the way you’re likely accustomed to. When I speak of ‘play’ within a training plan for athletes, I would assume a large majority of people are thinking about competitive team building drills, strongman-like activities, or actually playing a game of a particular sport as a training stimulus. That is all great and relevant and I advocate all of it in the right scenario, but it is not what I mean by play. Play is what you did when you were a child, keeping yourself amused for hours in the backyard by yourself. You created, moved in ways that were completely foreign at the time, and acted in an unplanned manner. Children play all the time, so we tend to think of it as a childish activity or behavior, but for our adult purposes here, let’s think of it as experimenting, tinkering, or discovering. We can define experimental play as activity that is fun, voluntary, and improvisational with no specific purpose (1). It is characterized by a learn-as-you-go, embrace-your-mistakes mentality. This behavior is often somewhat random and may appear unnatural or uncoordinated at times. Competitive games, in contrast, are more work-like in that there is generally an end goal, a set of constraints or rules, and a win or a loss. Competition can certainly be fun and voluntary as well, but performance is the emphasized concern. Both of these behaviors are playful in [...]

By | July 9th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Overtraining in Youth Athletes: How Much is too Much? by Laurel Zimmermann

[This is a guest blog by Laurel Zimmermann. Laurel is an Exercise Science major with minors in both Business and Biology at The College at Brockport. She is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab. ] Children playing soccer As a child, I played a variety of sports, but I never joined any travel teams or “specialized” in one sport. I just did whatever I wanted and whatever seemed fun. Parents these days are taught that their child needs to pick one sport when they are five years old and devote all of their time to it. If they do this, someday, they will get a scholarship to a Division I college, or even better, become a professional athlete. As great as this sounds, it is unrealistic for most and incredibly damaging to young athletes. If a child is forced to participate in one sport early on, they may become burned out and sports will become a chore instead of something they enjoy. Youth sports should definitely be encouraged, however, it needs to be done in the right context. The medical dictionary defines overtraining as a “general term for any practice of or training for a particular sport which is in excess of that necessary to effectively participate in the sport.” In essence, more is not always better. Although there is not a vast amount of research regarding adolescent overtraining, the research suggests that the signs and symptoms reported in young athletes are similar to those found in adult populations (Winsley, R., & Matos, N, 2010). This similarity implies that overtraining in youth populations should be on every coach’s radar and should be addressed early in training. If a child attends soccer [...]

By | July 8th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Youth Physical Development Guidelines by Riley Rogers

[This is a guest blog by Riley Rogers. Riley is an Exercise and Sport Science major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] I strongly believe if I had started training for sports earlier in life, I would have been much more successful. Growing up, I dabbled in soccer, gymnastics, track and field, and basketball. By the time I got to high school, I decided to take on volleyball without any prior knowledge of the sport. Half of my high school volleyball career was spent mastering the fundamentals: bumping, setting, spiking, and footwork. I spent my junior year figuring out what position I was best at and, finally, I got to truly play competitively during my senior year. My point is, if I had started learning the fundamentals before high school, I would have had the opportunity to truly compete for four solid years...at least! The Lab Rats program at Athletic Lab gives kids aged 7-11 a head-start for future success by developing "fundamental skills that can be used in multiple sports and in everyday life"1. The participants spend an hour each class learning motor skills and correct exercise form, developing basic physical competencies, fostering relationships with other like-minded children, and having some good ol' fun. In a study done by Joseph Baker, he notes the significance of the “10-year rule”. This rule stipulates that a 10-year commitment to high levels of training is the minimum requirement to reach the expert level (2). He also references the "power law of practice", which states that "the more time an individual devotes to practice, the greater their level of achievement" (2). In simpler terms, more practice equals higher achievement and the earlier you start, the better. Based on these findings, [...]

By | July 6th, 2016|News, Training Info|0 Comments

Sleep Recovery / Sleep Debt by Richard Bowie

[This is a guest blog by Richard (Lee) Bowie. Lee is an coach participating in our Coaches Mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] As an elite athlete, weekend warrior or just someone who wants to be the best version of themselves, we all want to perform at our highest level. Whether it is a championship game, an obstacle race with friends or just the daily workout at the gym - we want all aspects of our training, to culminate for that performance. There are many facets that make up our training including our training regimen / periodization, nutrition, mental readiness and sleep/recovery to name a few. Many of these facets have been well known and studied for years, but sleep has been the neglected aspect of training until recently. Sleep is one of the essential elements of life as a human. Why should that be any different for your “athletic life”? We now know that sleep is an active physiological state, during which critical metabolic, immunologic, and cognitive/memory processes occur (Samuels).  Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that sleep is imperative for proper recovery but it also affects physical performance. Physical performance, in this case, is how one performs in training, in a game or match and even in day to day life. These performance factors can range from reaction time, learning, memory tasks and sport specific elements to cognitive function, mood, and daytime sleepiness. The National Institute of Health recommends 7-8 hours of sleep per night for adults while the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours per night. A Gallup Poll conducted in 2013 found that the average adult slept for 6.8 hours per night. Sleep, just like everything in life, is different for [...]

By | July 5th, 2016|Training Info|0 Comments

Exercise and Epigenetics: Setting Your and (Maybe?) Your Children’s State of Health by Jenna Burnett

[This is a guest blog by Jenna Burnett. Jenna has a Bachelors degree in physics and mathematics from Purdue University and is working on her Masters in kinesiology at Iowa State University. She is currently working as a Sports Science Research Intern at Athletic Lab.] Epigenetics is an area of genetic research that is becoming increasingly popular in science circles. But what exactly is it? If we break the word down to its roots, ‘epi’ means ‘above’ or ‘in addition to,’ while ‘genetic’ is ‘of or referring to origin.’ Putting these together, we get the basic definition of epigenetics, something that is above or in addition to the origin. The origin in this case refers to the DNA sequence that is the basis of all the things we are. As every biology teacher can tell you, your genetics determine your basic abilities and define what you look like and what you can do. So your epigenetics, at a general understanding, are structural changes to your DNA sequences that cause increased or decreased gene expression. This means that certain genes will be more expressed, leading to increased protein and cell components or it also means they could be decreased, leading to decreased proteins and cell components. Whether the expression is increased or decreased is determined by the different environments your body is put into and the structural changes that result. This means anything that changes your body’s homeostasis may also change your epigenetics and gene expression, including stress, nutrition, chemical exposure and a host of other factors. While a lot of environments will cause detrimental changes, there are also choices you can make that will cause “healthy” changes to your gene expression. One such example of [...]

By | July 4th, 2016|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments