Tag: performance

Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

The sunshine is here! Most individuals prefer exercising outdoors once that sunshine comes out and it is a great idea, especially during the summer. There are a few things you should keep in mind when doing so. Below are some tips for you when you decide to head outside for a run on an 80 degree summer day. I have also included some examples for you to refer too.

Clothing: wearing lighter colors will help reflect the heat from your clothing and skin. Looser and lighter clothing will help with the evaporation of sweat and make your workout more comfortable. (Example: NIKE Dri-Fit)

Stay hydrated: drink water before, during, and after exercise to keep your body hydrated when out in the heat. If you do not have enough fluid in your system, it could result in fatigue, nausea, and even heat exhaustion. (Example: ZICO coconut water)

Sunscreen: check the weather before leaving and if it is sunny or even overcast outside, wear sunscreen so you do not risk getting burnt. (Example: NEUTROGENA spf 30 sunscreen)

Time of day: the hottest part of the day is normally between 11am and 4pm, so if you have a chance to workout before 11 or after 4 if it is going to be outdoors, I recommend doing so. (Example: At 9am after eating 2 scrambled eggs and peanut butter toast)

Acclimation: if your body is not used to exercising in warmer climates, it takes about 10-14 days for your body to get used to it. Your workouts should be short and slow paced at first so that you get used to the climate before adding intensity. (Example: Monday-15 minutes at low intensity; Tuesday- 25 minutes at low/medium intensity; Wednesday -35 minutes at medium intensity; and so on)

Performance: don’t be surprised if you do not get your best times or maximum amount of reps when working out in the heat. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your working muscles and therefore you might not perform as well as if you were indoors or in cooler weather. (Example: Indoors- 15 box jumps in 10 seconds; outdoors/heat- 15 box jumps in 16 seconds)

Listen to your body: You know your body best, so listen to it. If you start to feel dizzy, confused or light headed during your outdoor workout, I would recommend stopping. (Example: I am running and start to feel a headache coming on, therefore I am going to head to the shade and drink some water before starting again)

Stay close to the water: some of the best summer activities are on the water where you can be cooled very easily if in the heat. (Examples: Paddle boarding, Kayaking, Swimming, Rowing, Pool volleyball, etc.)


If you have any further questions about exercising in the heat or exercise in general, please contact any of our fitness staff.

Who doesn’t want to run faster, jump higher, feel stronger?

Speed and strength are vital components of fitness found in variable degrees within nearly all athletic and everyday movements. Whether you are a squash player, marathon runner, basketball player or golfer …simply said, the combination of speed and strength equal power. Over the years coaches and athletes have looked to improve power in order to enhance performance and prevent injury through plyometrics. Jumping, bounding, throwing and hopping exercises have been used in various ways to enhance athletic performance dating back to ancient Olympic times and is even more prevalent in training programs today. So you wonder, what are all these jump squats and lateral bounds I’m doing? Plyometrics!

What exactly is plyometric training and how can it benefit you as a fit person?
Plyometrics aka “plyos” is a type of training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, as well as improve the functions of the nervous system, elevate metabolism but more specifically for the purpose of preventing injury and improving performance in sports. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is stretched and then contracted in rapid sequence, uses the strength, elasticity and stimulation of the muscle and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on whatever your desired training goal might be. This type of training has been shown across the board to be incredibly beneficial to a wide span of athletes.

So, who can do plyos?
Well, anyone can see progress toward their goals by strategically adding them into a typical training routine, I often use them for a wide variety of clientele ranging from weight loss to athletic performance and low-intensity variations of plyometrics are often utilized in various stages of injury rehabilitation, demonstrating that the use of proper technique and appropriate safety precautions can make plyometrics safe and effective for most people. However, before you go jumping off boxes, it is necessary to make sure you have acquired an adequate strength and core foundation as this will guarantee that you get the best response.

So, if you are looking to push yourself that much further in your workouts or performance contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Christine Moore about incorporating some plyos into your program and feel the power!

Is your warm-up really warming you up?

Have you had to miss a workout due to an injury? Are you one of those people that don’t really warm-up before training or competition? Your warm-up or lack there of, could be the root of the problem.

Warming up is usually the first to go when an athlete or client is short on workout time and when I do hear of a warm-up it usually consists of sitting on an upright bike followed by static stretching. Most individual and team sports have updated their workout routines but many have continued to keep the outdated warm-up method of a linear jog combined with some static stretching on the field followed by a few drills before competition or practice. This “typical” warm-up does not adequately prepare athletes for the demands placed upon them in the session. Most injuries that occur at the beginning of a competition or training session are largely due to inadequate preparation for the activity. It is time for you to switch to a full body dynamic warm-up. A solid dynamic warm-up will help your muscles prepare for a workout, reduce your risk of injury, and increase your heart rate. The dynamic warm-up coordinates all of your moving parts- muscles, ligaments, and joints by challenging your flexibility, mobility, strength and stability all at once. Static stretching alone will not prepare the muscle and connective tissue for the active contraction and relaxation process that will occur during a dynamic sport or training session.

The Goals of a Dynamic Warm-up:

  • Increase core temperature.
  • Increase heart rate and blood flow to skeletal tissue which improves the efficiency of oxygen uptake and transport, as well as waist removal.
  • Increase activation of the central nervous system, which increases co-ordination, skill accuracy and reaction time.
  • Increase the elasticity of muscles and connective tissue, which results in fewer injuries.
  • Open up and lubricate your joints such as in the hips and spine.
  • Reinforce great posture.

This injury prevention warm-up can be used by athletes before they compete in any dynamic sport or even be used as a warm-up for your clients before they start a training session. The “typical” jog or spin on the bike is replaced with a more dynamic series of running drills or exercises that include multiple planes of movement to ensure a complete warm-up is achieved. Static stretching can improve joint range of motion and muscular relaxation and will help with recovery by assisting in waist removal. However, I personally choose to apply it during the cool down or after competition is finished. I believe the warm-up should have the athlete physically and mentally prepared to perform the dynamic actions of the activity at maximal intensity if required.

Examples of Dynamic Exercises:

  • Running Forward
  • Running Backwards
  • High Knee drills
  • Butt Kickers
  • Side Shuffle
  • Crossovers
  • Skips
  • Lunges with rotation

This active warm-up can take between 5 to 10 minutes. The key is to make the dynamic portion of the warm-up progressive and ensure the body is taken through the same ranges of motion that will be required in their training or game situation. Contact any of the personal trainers at the Seattle Athletic club to put together a warm-up routine that will help keep you injury free this year. For more information on developing your workouts to include a proper warm-up, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Jason Anderson.

Training the Hips

In every one of my clients that I evaluate, the hips are always lacking in strength. Either they are tight and weak or lose and weak. Both equal a serious set of problems. When the hips aren’t doing their job your quads, hamstrings and low back have to pick up the slack. Performance, posture and power output become seriously hampered. In addition this results in chronic soreness in the above areas and can lead to injury. Long story short, tight hips sink ships.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The head of the thigh bone sits it on the socket of the hip. Ideally this rotates in all directions as well as flexes and extends. Lower body exercises (lunges, squats, etc) barely cover the myriad of ranges that hip is capable of. These also emphasize the quads and hamstrings which are already over trained. In addition the more commonly used hip exercises (hip machines, band monster walks) put the body in very stiff, robotic patterns and also do not involve the feet (don’t get me started on foot strength). Trying to strengthen the hip in unnatural movements doesn’t teach the hips how they should move outside the walls of a weight room.

Correcting this limitation does take time, precision and patience. One of my favorite recipes for combating hip weakness is the cable machine. The cables offer unrestricted movement. You aren’t confined to an apparatus or under a load. You can move the body fluidly, utilizing everything from your toe to your finger tip. Involving the hip in these full body natural patterns can create impressive gains in flexibility, strength, speed and power.

A few simple rules apply. Stay with low weight. Speed strength is the goal, not slow strength. Initiate from the core then activate the hips. Think of the body like a whip. Let the power flow through your body and don’t muscle through movements. If any ranges hurt, make the movement smaller. Feel for smooth efficient movements. We’re not trying to fatigue the muscles, just activate them. Most importantly, remember that true functional strength is a skill that takes dedication, repetition and drive.

2 sets of 10 per movement

  • Lateral Sweeps
  • Michael Jacksons
  • Kick Backs
  • Roundhouse Kicks

For more information about how you can optimize your training feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer, Curt Ligot.

Athletic Shoulders: Training the Shoulder Girdle for Sports Performance

Over the years I have worked with a wide variety of athletes. Soccer players, runners, squash players and martial artists. In all of my athletes I have found limited range of motion and overall weakness. Though the athletes on the tight side do have strength in certain ranges, these ranges are usually limited (straight forward, straight up). In the rare cases of hypermobility the athletes lack strength and the ability to protect the joints involved.

Regardless of their sport the regimen for training the shoulders is usually comprised of linear, robotic movements. Push ups, pull ups, shoulder press, lateral raises and maybe the occasional rotator cuff exercise are usually the movements of choice. Though these may make sense in a fitness routine, they hardly cover the vast ranges of movement and velocity the shoulder has to utilize in performance. In addition they create a hyperactive upper body that activates too early in the kinetic chain and often too aggressively.

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. It flexes, it extends, it rotates, and moves across and away from the body. The scapula (shoulder blades) protract, retract, rotate (up and down), abduct (separate), adduct (squeeze together), elevate and depress. Ideally this happens in a smooth and graceful manner. This is rarely the case. Typical methods of training the shoulder (see above) compress the head of the humerus in the glenoid fossa of the scapula (aka the socket). In addition the scapula is often in a fixed position. This is ideal under external load but hardly ever in athletic movements. This limits its ability to move freely and severely hinders throwing ability, racquet and running speed. This starts off as tightness, then chronic soreness and in some cases this can progress to injury.

To truly train the shoulder as it was meant to move you have to change your way of looking at exercise. Forget what muscle or muscle groups you are trying to train. Try and focus on two things: 1) What ranges are you tight and/or weak in? 2) What motions do your shoulders have to perform in your sport?

Once you have identified these two things it’s time to get things moving. When training for athletic performance we need light weight and flowing (and ideally fast) full body motions. Small handled medicine balls, cables, bands and wrist weights are ideal. When selecting a weight pick one that doesn’t hinder your speed, power or quality of movement. Don’t think about fatiguing any one muscle. Focus more on enhancing your movements.

When selecting movements try throwing and swinging versus pushing and pulling. The power should generate from the feet and surge through the body in a seamless manner. If this is done in a competent manner, by the time the force reaches the shoulder it can loosen up those tight areas (#1). This teaches the overused and tight muscle to wait its turn to activate in correct order and in a more appropriate manner. Ideally it should activate and let the power flow through it instead of tensing up and taking the brunt of the movement. When addressing tightness make sure not to move through pain or extreme tightness. Stop just short of these sensations. Trying to power through will shut down your speed mechanisms and can cause injury.

Over time and with precision and care you can make vast improvements in tight overused areas. Once this is accomplished you can now move onto sports specific movement. Once again use light weights and fast and flowing full body movements. Strive for graceful power in your movement with seamless transitions from one muscle to the next. Once that grace or power dissipates end the movement. Pushing or muscling through these movements for the sake of volume ultimately sets back your progress for athletic speed and power. Make sure and rest long enough not only to catch your breath but allow enough time for you to regain the ability to move with force and grace.

This isn’t by any means an easy process. Avoiding and improving on tight and injured areas while improving sports performance is a whole different creature than fitness. It takes time, dedication, precision and most of all patience. Keep your eye on the long term goals of longevity and quality of movement and feel your body heal and watch your athleticism reach heights.

Electrolytes – What They Are & Why You Need Them

You know it’s important to drink lots of water before, during, and after a workout, but you might be forgetting something! During exercise, your body also loses electrolytes, and you need to replenish them for proper organ and cellular function. Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium chloride, and bicarbonate.

Sodium
Sodium regulates the total amount of water in the body and the transmission of sodium into and out of individual cells also plays a role in critical body functions. Many processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles, require electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium is critical in generation of these electrical signals.

Potassium
The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. Among the many functions of potassium in the body are regulation of the heartbeat and the function of the muscles.

Chloride
Chloride is the major anion (negatively charged ion) found in the fluid outside of cells and in the blood. Chloride also plays a role in helping the body maintain a normal balance of fluids.

Bicarbonate
The bicarbonate ion acts as a buffer to maintain the normal levels of acidity (pH) in blood and other fluids in the body. Bicarbonate levels are measured to monitor the acidity of the blood and body fluids. The acidity is affected by foods or medications that we ingest and the function of the kidneys and lungs.

It is especially important to replenish electrolytes after exercise, because many electrolytes are lost in sweat. You can replenish your electrolytes by consuming sports drinks, juice, milk, and many fruits and vegetables. Perhaps the most common and efficient way to replenish electrolytes is through sport drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde. These drinks offer a good source and adequate amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes to replenish your body. So remember, next time you plan your workout, don’t forget to include a way to properly recover and nourish your body!