Most parents know that strength training is an essential component of maximizing their child’s athletic potential but many don’t know when to start said training. When asked this question I like to refer to the ACSM research article that states, “Generally speaking, if children are ready for participation in organized sports or activities — such as Little League baseball, soccer, or gymnastics — then they are ready for some type of strength training.” If you feel your child has the emotional maturity to take part in an organized sport then they are perfectly capable of taking up strength training with a qualified professional.
One concern many have is that strength training will negatively affect bone growth in youth athletes. This is a myth that is taking much too long to go away. There hasn’t been documentation of this actually occurring while there is in fact ample evidence to the contrary. Strength training has been shown to actually increase bone density, peak bone mass and bone strength.
Strength is the only physical attribute that has a direct impact on all other areas of athletic performance and has the highest potential for growth when compared to other qualities such as power and speed. In an article from the Mayo Clinic the author states that when done properly, strength training can:
Increase your child’s muscle strength and endurance
Help protect your child’s muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
Improve your child’s performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating to football and soccer
Develop proper techniques that your child can continue to use as he or she grows older
Strengthen your child’s bones
A properly designed program for a youth athlete must be created and executed by a qualified coach and of course I am partial to myself because of my education, credentials, and experience. Currently my youngest client is a 12 year old basketball/football player whose performance has skyrocketed since he started strength training. I have also worked with the Skyline High School Girls Basketball team, the Bellevue High School Track team, and many individual youth athletes from around the area competing in lacrosse, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and even cheerleading.
I have seen over and over again what strength training can do for a young athlete and have come up with some guidelines that can serve any coach or parent working with young athletes.
General Guidelines for Strength Training Youth Athletes:
1. Master the basics while focusing on proper movement patterns. With young athletes it is best to first master general movement patterns and body weight exercises before moving on to more advanced strength training modalities. Great exercises include: jumping/landing, med-ball throwing, body weight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and sled pushing/pulling.
2. Use proper loading parameters. Strength training doesn’t always mean loading up a squat bar and going as heavy as possible. As a general rule with young athletes it’s best to stick with body weight exercises or exercises with loads that allow the athlete to complete 8 to 20 repetitions each set. As the athlete advances the intensity of exercises can advance as well.
3. Teach proper force absorption. Learning how to properly land and decelerate will be invaluable in preventing future sports injuries for any athlete. Deceleration is also a crucial factor in agility performance.
4. Don’t specialize too early. Young athletes should build as broad an athletic base as possible in order to maximize athletic potential. Performing only exercises that seem “sport specific” is not an effective way to build an athletic base. While this might make for a good basketball or soccer player now, it will actually do them a disservice for their athletic future. Specializing early is also a great way to burn a kid out on a sport.
5. Make it fun! Strength training should be something that the kids look forward to and enjoy. This is an opportunity to set them up to not only maximize their athletic potential but also create life-long healthy habits. If your kid does not enjoy training they won’t reap maximum benefits and will likely discontinue training at the first opportunity they get.
I started seriously strength training for sports at 15 years old and I only wish I would have started sooner. At that time I started working with a strength coach named Mike Seilo, and I am not exaggerating when I say he changed trajectory of my athletic and eventually my professional career. Strength training with a qualified coach dramatically increased my athletic performance and without Mike I don’t think I would have gone on to compete in track and field at the collegiate level. Outside of improving my sport performance Mike influenced me to become strength coach and work with young athletes. Mike’s influence on me went way beyond sport performance and I can only hope to have the same influence on kids during my career.
Under the right supervision strength training can be a huge benefit to any young athlete. Not only will they improve athletically, they may learn some valuable lessons that serve them inside and outside of the gym as well as develop life-long personal relationships. If you have a child involved in athletics I highly recommend you find a qualified coach and get their strength training career underway.
If you have any questions regarding youth strength training please contact PFT Tom Sheriff CSCS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
206-443-1111 ext. 292.
By Fitness Intern Quinton Augusto, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.
One of the most common misconceptions among gym goers is the proper number of sets and reps to do during a workout. The answer is very dependent on your individual goals. Before venturing into the gym and aimlessly meandering around until you find a machine that looks cool, take some time to reflect upon what you want to get out of your precious time spent in the gym. Ten minutes spent thinking about your fitness goals prior to starting a program will allow you to have purpose in your training.
As far as training goals are concerned, there are 4 options; first is strength (you want to lift heavy things), second is power (you want to be as explosive as possible), third is hypertrophy (you want to look like Arnold), and lastly it endurance (you want to run a marathon). For each one of these training goals there is a guideline set by the National Strength and Conditioning Association for how many sets and reps to do and what they say may actually surprise you.
If you are someone who wants to increase your overall strength and be able to bench press your mini van while changing the oil, then you need to be doing between 2-6 sets of a given exercise for no more than 6 repetitions with heavy weight at about 85% of your 1 rep max. Make sure you get a full 2-5 min rest between sets to allow your body to recover enough to finish out the lift. Someone with a 1 rep max of 225 on bench press should lift 2-6 sets of 5 reps at approximately 190 lbs if the goal is strength
If you are someone who wants to jump out of the gym or throw a car engine a quarter mile, then you need to incorporate explosive lifting into your program. This would be done by doing 3-5 sets of 1-5 repetitions at 75-90% of your 1 rep max; moving the weight as efficiently and fast as possible while maintaining control. Rest is very important for these movements because of how explosive and taxing they are so get a full 2-5 min rest between sets. Someone with a 200 pound power clean one rep max should do 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps at approximately 150-180 lbs if their goal is power.
If you want to turn your nice dress shirt into a cut off simply by flexing then you have to increase your total volume of work (Sets x Reps x Weight= Total Volume). Hypertrophy programs have a much higher amount of weight lifted in total and therefore expose your muscles to more adversity which promotes an increase in the cross sectional area of the muscle (size). You will need to do 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps with anywhere from 67-85% of your 1 rep max with a considerable shorter rest time of 30 sec-1.5min. You basically want to spend as much time under the weight as possible and by your last set you should be struggling to get your last few reps. Someone with a 315lbs max squat should do 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps at approximately 210-265lbs if hypertrophy is their goal.
If you want to be an honorary Kenyon and run hundreds of miles a week then your lifting program is going to be shaped a bit differently. First of all you are only doing 2-3 sets of greater than 12 repetitions at less than 67% of your 1 rep max. The kicker here is your rest time between sets is no longer than 30 seconds. As an endurance athlete you are doing very repetitive movements for long durations of time with very little rest. You want your resistance training to be the same. A squatting exercise for an endurance athlete with a 200lbs squat max would be 3 sets of 15 at approximately 130 lbs.
Overall, I hope these guidelines will help shed a bit of light to the people out there who are confused or looking for some clarity on what to do in the gym. Before starting a new lifting program take the time to think about what results you truly want, then implement these sets and rep ranges to reflect your goals. Your training should mimic the movements of the goal. Whether you want to lift heavy things, jump out of the gym, look like Mr. Olympia, or run a marathon, cater you workout to echo your goals.
As the snow starts to melt and the flowers start poking their heads through the frozen ground, hikers across the Puget Sound area are dusting off their boots and trekking poles as they prepare to resume their exploration of the vast Pacific Northwest! Will you be one of those hikers this year? Better yet, will you be PREPARED to be one of those hikers this year?? Below is a simple series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles used while hiking. Most people tend to focus solely on quadriceps strength in regards to hiking. While the quads are very important (especially for the decent), the glutes and core muscles help prevent injuries to your ankles, knees, hips and back.
These can be incorporated into a regular, normal routine or at the completion of a cardio session!!
Hip Bridges – 10 reps
Knee Drops – 10 each side
Walking lunges – 1 lap (feel a stretch in the hip flexor, keeping the stomach strong!)
T walks/Birdfeeders – 1 lap (no weights. Take 3 steps in between each 1 to bring you to the next leg)
Curtsey Squats – 10 each side
Step Ups – 10 each leg (Stay on the same leg for all 10, then switch. Bring opposite knee up to add a balance component.)
Walking lunges with 15lbs dumbbells – 2 laps
Lateral quick steps over the BOSU – 10 each side (start at the side, move sideways over the BOSU staying as low as you can. Be sure to bring each foot down to the ground before you change directions.
Standing squats with 15lbs dumbbells – 20 reps
Band side steps – 1 lap
Plank Mountain Climbers (knee to opposite elbow) – 10 each side
Endurance- swimming longer and longer each time you get into the pool will build your endurance greatly. Swimming is usually able to be done for longer periods of time then running is which as a result a swimmer can train for longer time periods and burn more calories.
Core- swimming use’s all of the body’s muscles together, but is stabilized and predominately balanced by your core strength. You are holding that long floating position in the water while being able to hold your body up and rotate your hips. The rotation process is in the hips, but takes a strong core to be able to do it well; therefore swimming will increase core strength.
Flexibility- swimming relaxes your muscles (if the pool is heated or once you are warmed up), which increases the flexibility of your muscles. Lengthening your stroke and glide stretches the muscles and can increase your flexibility, the longer you swim.
If you would like to learn more about swimming please contact Personal Fitness Trainer/Swim Instructor Amber Gruger.
Are you looking for a great addition to your workout? Consider the rowing machine, also known as an Erg. It’s a fantastic tool to work on your both aerobic and anaerobic endurance, muscle strength throughout your body, plus developing coordination and timing though your muscle chains.
When using the rowing machine, set the computer to meters, and /500m splits. (It will not give you an accurate caloric expenditure, and the watts option is also inaccurate so don’t use those options.) The best way to judge your progress is to compare your 500 meter splits with your time and distance covered. Another way to monitor progress is to see how fast you can complete a given distance (say 2,000 meters) at a given stroke rate. So if your stroke rate is 24/minute and your first 2k test is 15 minutes then use that as a baseline. In a few weeks test again and see if you can bring that time down to 12:30 at the same 24/minute stroke rate. That is fantastic improvement! Keep up the great work.
Looking for a good Rowing Machine workout to keep that metabolism high while being tempted with all those holiday goodies?
9x500m w/2:00 rest between each.
Do it in a stroke rate (strokes/minute) pyramid: 18; 20; 22; 24; 26; 24; 22; 20; 18. You’ll find the S/R on the display screen.
Goal is to improve your 500m split time as you climb the pyramid and maintain those same spits as your descend the pyramid. That will mean you are rowing with greater power and efficiency by using fewer strokes.
Get on the Erg (aka Rowing Machine) and turn on the monitor to Main Menu
Go to Just Row
On the bottom three buttons press the Change Units button
Select /500m (Calories and Watts are completely inaccurate and useless options don’t waste your time with them!)
Go back to Main Menu
Go to More Options
Go to Display Drag Factor
Set Damper to 5 and start rowing
Adjust the Damper until your Drag Factor is between a 115 and 120
Return to Main Menu
Go to Select Workout
Go to Intervals Distance
Use the scrolling arrows to so set your workout:
On the distance option use the arrow and +/- buttons to select 500m
Have you considered participating in your first Triathlon in 2012? Or are you the type of athlete who always seems to forget something on race day? Here’s a quick list of essential items that should be in every triathletes bag for their next event.
Timing Chip Strap
Change of Clothes
Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is proud to have USAT Level II Triathlon Coach, Teresa Nelson along with her team of supporting coaches leading our multi-sport program. For more information on training for multi-sport events, please contact Teresa at email@example.com.
High intensity interval training, or HIIT; a term you may have heard buzzing around lately. Perhaps you’ve wondered what it is or if it’s something that could benefit you…or maybe not…but now you have! High intensity interval training is not a new concept, like many fitness trends, but this type of training has recently started to gain in popularity for many different types of training from weight loss and cardio training to sports training. While it is very demanding and not recommended for beginners, it can bring about a lot of benefits and make a good boost to your traditional cardio training.
HIIT is a specialized type of cardiovascular training that has many different variations. It consists of a circuit of high intensity exercise for a short time, followed by rest or low intensity exercise. The programs can vary in time, number of sessions and different levels of intensity during the low intensity interval. The key to HIIT is to reach max effort during the high intensity interval which is about 90% of your maximum heart rate (max HR). The time of the high intensity interval can also vary, anywhere from 6 seconds to 4 minutes, or sometimes longer. A few examples are 10 seconds max effort and 10 seconds rest or 1 minute max effort and 2 minutes rest, there is really no end to the time variations you can make. The session lengths typically last from only a couple of minutes and up to around 20 minutes, depending on your time ratios. The ratios generally used for the high intensity interval and low intensity interval are 1:3, 1:2, 1:1 or 2:1. You can also vary the type of exercise; sprints, rowing, cycling and swimming are just a few of your options.
This type of training is thought to have many benefits which include metabolic adaptations, an increase in caloric burn during and after your workout, improvements to endurance and a limit to muscle loss in comparison to traditional cardiovascular training of longer time periods. It also has the added benefit of shorter workout durations. However, there are several drawbacks as well; HIIT is not for beginners, there is a higher risk for injury, more recovery time between sessions is needed plus it is very demanding and is much easier to over-train. A warm-up and cool-down is especially important. When starting this type of program you will need to build up gradually so you do not injure yourself or overdo it. You also need to be able to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your max HR without exhausting yourself. If your heart rate does not drop back down to about 70% during the recovery phase, it is suggested that you may need to shorten the high intensity interval portion or lengthen your recovery interval.
Many studies done on HIIT have found that it awards you similar changes to your body that traditional endurance training offers. Studies have shown it to improve both the anaerobic and aerobic systems while traditional cardio training only improves the aerobic energy system. Ok, you may be wondering, why would I want to improve my anaerobic system…wait, what the heck is this anaerobic system? …Well, an explanation of this can get a bit complicated but basically you have two energy systems in your body, aerobic and anaerobic. Very simply put, aerobic exercise means your muscles use oxygen for fuel while, for anaerobic exercise, they do not. Your anaerobic energy system has a duration of about 2 minutes while the aerobic system is primarily used during activities that are greater than approximately 2 minutes. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise is needed for balanced and healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercise is great because it strengthens your cardiovascular system and brings with it many benefits, such as lower blood pressure and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Anaerobic exercise also has benefits of its own. It helps you become stronger, leaner and more powerful; weight lifting is a form of anaerobic exercise. HIIT is typically linked to sports that depend on the anaerobic energy systems and is thought to be less effective on the aerobic system, but recent studies have shown that high intensity interval training can help increase your VO2max more than traditional cardio training (VO2max is how we gauge a person’s cardiorespiratory endurance).
In inactive and recreationally active people, HIIT has been known to improve endurance performance more than traditional low to moderate cardio training alone and has shown to be beneficial improving endurance performance in athletes as well. Two or three sessions a week is enough to improve performance without causing too much stress on your body. Combining traditional low to moderate intensity training with careful use of this training seems to be best for developing endurance performance.
I see many claims that it can burn more calories than regular training but studies have shown differing results on EPOC (“excess post exercise oxygen consumption” or simply how many calories you burn after an exercise session). The research has shown that your caloric burn from HIIT training seems to equal that of traditional cardio training meaning that either type will benefit weight loss.
High intensity interval training can be a great change to your exercise routine and a good complement to your regular cardio training. Remember though, that when starting a HIIT program, just as any other, it’s important to start slow and build gradually. Try it for your next cardio session; just be warned, to say it’s just demanding is an understatement. If you have any questions about HIIT training please feel free to contact Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.
Endurance training works one of two physiological energy production systems in our body; the aerobic cardio respiratory system, while resistance or strength training works our anaerobic energy system. Energy is used primarily in the muscle fibers, often referred to as the slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. The aerobic system trains our type I muscle fibers, which are more densely packed with mitochondria which utilize oxygen to make ATP. Meanwhile, the type II resistance fibers create ATP in the absence of oxygen by splitting molecules. Since many sports and other events rely more heavily on one type of fiber more than the other, athletes and the general public often train for that specificity. Most the population is composed of each fiber type by a 50:50 split, but specificity in training can shift the ratio of fibers either way slightly.
What happens when an endurance runner trains not just for their endurance abilities but also for strength simultaneously?
There have been multiple studies on this topic, with some studies suggesting that training simultaneously with both strength and endurance takes away from the optimal performance of one to improve the other, meaning you can be highly trained for endurance or just moderately trained for both strength and endurance, or vice versa. However, in opposition to many of those studies, others have tweaked the study method in finding how both can be trained for the benefit of improving upon an already trained ability. That is to say, if a runner was to train aerobically and then perform strength exercises used in running, would they improve? In the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, one of many studies was conducted on well trained endurance runners on how the addition of strength training to endurance training would affect stride ability. Groups were assigned to a periodized sport specific strength conditioning program with endurance (strength exercises changed each week), a consistent sport specific strength conditioning program with endurance (same workout), and an endurance only group. They found that the combination of periodized strength conditioning program with endurance training greatly resisted fatigue in overall strides than both the other groups. The exercises were sport specific to running, including squats, calf raises, hamstrings, and others. Many studies done on cyclists, soccer players, and rowers suggest the same findings.
There are several things to note on how this training would optimize performance. Strength was done at sub maximal weights and moderate repetitions – never to fatigue. This type of training will train the muscles for more endurance prolonged use, while enhancing strength. In the case of the runners the addition of strength increases the threshold of fatigue that the muscles endure by improving power. More muscular strength in the leg muscles contribute to greater power in each stride the runner takes. With that said, the studies in which competitors improved both modes of exercise were all trained with sport specific muscle groups. For instance a competing runner would not want to bulk their upper body like a rower might; it would only take away from their running ability. Studies among the general population show that those who want to improve health should train both modes for better overall conditioning. Strength and endurance training does not seem to negate one or the other for improving health and rehabilitation, but for those with an athletic specific goal, remaining sport specific is key.
Are you one of those people who keep doing the same exact workout that you have always done and wonder why you’re not seeing the results you want to see? Well, you’re not alone. I find that most people will stay with the same workout week after week, month after month and even year after year. It’s great that they have such a commitment to their workouts, and they are staying healthier than if they didn’t workout at all, but they could be reaching much better results if they integrated change to their workouts.
To find better results, you need to first ask yourself “what are my goals?” If you don’t have any workout goals you will be lost in the gym – idling at your current level of fitness. Keep your goals simple and SMART. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. Example: “I want to lose 15 lbs. in 3 months.” The example fits all of the SMART criteria.
Now that you have a goal, write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see everyday or set a daily reminder on your computer or phone. This way you’ll be reminded of your goal each day and not lose site of where you are heading. From this point, the burden of making your goal a reality is upon your shoulders. If you really want to reach a goal then don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way. Be accountable for your goals.
Second, you need to ask yourself “am I working hard enough to reach my goals or am I just doing what I need to do to get 30 minutes done on the treadmill?” I find most people are doing the latter. If you only put in the same amount of effort every time you workout, you will only find the results to be mediocre at best. If you’re trying to lose 15 lbs. in 3 months, the same mediocre workout isn’t going to work for you. You need to change it up and get serious about elevating your fitness level.
Instead of getting on the EFX at a resistance of 6 and zoning out for the next 20-30 minutes try the rower, or consider the track and the stairs or an interval workout on the EFX. Whatever you choose, the workout should be challenging and out of your comfort zone; but it shouldn’t kill you either – so be aware of the level of intensity you are aiming for. The change is just what your body needs when you have hit a plateau. When you first start working out it’s tough on your body, but in a short time you start to feel better and you start to see results from your hard work. The workout is something new to your body and it’s reacting well. But after a few weeks of the same routine your body is used to the workout and isn’t challenged anymore and the gains you saw earlier are dwindling (except that you are still in good health). Now you need to increase the amount of work you do during your workout – change it up. You can increase the amount of time you spend on the treadmill and/or increase the resistance or speed of the machine you use. It’s time to put a little more effort into your workout.
Interval training is great for getting you outside of your comfort zone. Basically, you have a work interval (30 sec. – 5 min.) followed by a rest interval. The rest interval can be 1-2 minute break to get some water and to catch your breath before you do your next work interval (passive recovery) or just slowing the treadmill down to a walk or slow jog for a 1 – 5 (active recovery). This will be exactly the change your body needs.
The same thing goes in the weight room. Try different lifts (especially if you haven’t done anything new in years), change the number of sets you do, change the number of repetitions you do and/or increase the amount of weight you lift. Your muscles won’t get any stronger if you don’t overload the muscle and challenge them. I know a lot of you are nervous about “getting too big.” Being stronger has nothing to do with getting bigger and it takes a lot of hard work and a high calorie diet for one to really “get big” from weight lifting. Rule of thumb: muscle hypertrophy = 3-8 reps, strength/power = 8-12 reps, and muscular endurance = >12 reps.
Third, if you need some assistance with changing up your workout, try a session with a personal fitness trainer at the club. If you need your car worked on you take it to a mechanic. The same should pattern applies to working on your fitness; trainers have the knowledge and the skills to put you on the right track to reach your goals. Having a trainer set up a workout will make your time in the gym time well spent and get you results quicker and safer.
Again, the changes to your workout will help your body get past your exercise plateau. In order to get stronger and become fit your body needs to be challenged and keep your muscles guessing. If you start to change up your workouts every 4 – 8 weeks you should never reach a plateau and you will reach your goals.
Now that you have the tools you need to overcome your exercise plateau, go out there and get it done. Set your goals. Change up your workout. Put in some hard work and have fun! If you have any question please don’t hesitate to contact me, or any of the other personal fitness trainers, at the club.