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To be quicker, we must train for strength and power

Watching pro tennis athletes (and some elite amateurs) can be mindblowing. They make it look so easy. Sometimes, they even appear to be graceful. That isn’t a word often used to describe an athlete whose sport is so heavily dependent on speed and power. Much of the reason is because through their training and preparation, they become powerful and learn how to be efficient in their movements.

We all want to emulate the best. But how, exactly, do the top athletes do it? In tennis, huge advantages can be gained through strength, power, and body control. Each play into the other, and that is why strength training for tennis athletes is so important. Being quicker on the first step to the ball could be the difference between winning and losing a point. To be quicker, we must train for strength and power in quick bursts.

Take Roger Federer, for example. Federer has won an all-time best 20 grand slam titles, and is still one of the top men on the pro circuit. At any given point in the year, he can be found at the top of the ATP rankings.
Dr. Mark Kovacs is a performance physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach, USPTA coach, and founder of both the iTPA and Kovacs Institute. He points to specific reasons Federer has had so much success as a pro.
“He’s a great prototype text book way of moving efficiently,” Kovacs said. “He never takes an extra step that he doesn’t need to, he’s always balanced, even when he is out of position, and most other pros don’t move like him. That’s the thing. He does it so well and so efficiently that he is sort of the envy of most of the other pros.” Federer’s efficiency is largely a credit to his core and lower body strength, and his ability to generate power. While most pros train for strength and speed four to five days per week in addition to practice, amateurs can still benefit greatly from two or three similar sessions per week. “(Federer) is able to have a very wide base, he’s able to take less steps per distance than every other player, and when he gets to the ball, his head, his torso, are always balanced, which many players aren’t,” Kovacs said. “Many players are leaning over. They are unable to hold themselves up because they are moving so fast they lose control. (Pros are) stronger. They’re more stable. That’s why they can move faster.”

Essentially, the more force an athlete can produce against the ground or court, the quicker they will be. Training for strength and power, more powerful steps can be taken by the athlete, ultimately helping him or her get to the ball faster.
Consider the scenario of a long distance runner and a sprinter competing against one another. The runner who trains for distance will surely be able to last longer in an extended race. However, the more powerful sprinter is trained to produce more force for short distances, and would be able to reach a drop shot much more quickly than the trained distance runner. “You can have the best forehand in the world, but if you can’t get to the ball, if you don’t have good acceleration, if you don’t have good change of direction, no one is going to know how good you are if you don’t know how to get to the ball to hit it,” said Montreal-based pro strength coach Dean Hollingworth, CSCS, CTPS. “By working in the gym, we get stronger, and with strength comes more power, and through plyometrics, we start developing that power.”

PIT Coach,

Aaron Patterson, NSCA-CPT, CTPS, CSAC

Certified Personal Trainer, 

Certified Tennis Performance Specialist, 

Certified Speed and Agility Coach

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Take control of your health

Your silverware drawer is your key to getting results, your junk drawer isn’t!

Let’s have a mental exercise to start…

You’re in your kitchen, in one hand you’re holding a fork. It’s a nice fork, one of those fancy 3-pronged forks that looks like the type of fork Cruella Deville would use… I digress. In your other hand you have scotch tape. General use. You need to put these things away because Price is Right is about to come on. You head over to the silverware drawer, you place your fancy fork right on top of the other fancy forks in its specified compartment in the organizer. You head over to the junk drawer and promptly jam the tape, furiously shifting angles because otherwise the drawer won’t shut…or even worse, it’ll jam up when you try to open it…the fury that overcomes a human during that travesty is unparalleled.

What’s the point of this seeming mundane sequence of events?

You take the time to prepare and to purposefully set yourself up for success with your silverware drawer. While you are hoping that the disorganized junk drawer will somehow not cause you any more anguish even though you’re not about to take the time to clean it out and reset.

Silverware Drawer:

Obtaining an organizer for your drawer =  Having a plan, both fitness and nutrition

Compartments for different utensils = Having a nutritionally sound approach to meals, having a complete fitness program

Not overfilling any individual compartment = Not overeating in any one nutrient category, Doing the appropriate amount of strength and conditioning dependent on your goals

Taking the time to put each utensil where it goes = Spending time to prep and create healthy meals, Putting in the work at the gym

Junk Drawer:

Hoping things will get better = Hoping things will get better

Moral of the story:

  • Take control of your health like your silverware drawer.
  • Take the time to set up for success. Preparation will defeat opportunistic failures.
  • Set goals and organize accordingly to achieve them. What do you want? Look better? Feel better? Run faster? Jump higher? I don’t care, it’s your life, but make sure you know what you want.
  • Put in the time to keep on track. Being healthy takes effort. And it doesn’t stop. If you have high goals, you better expect higher effort. Being fit takes less effort than looking like a marble statue on the beach. But the journey starts on the same path!

As always, come see us in The PIT  if you want help in achieving your goals. No matter if they are athletic performance goals, aesthetic goals, strength goals, or general fitness. It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in now, or how far you think you have to go. Every race is ran one step at a time, no matter the distance. – PIT Manager & PIT Coach, Jesse Hawkins

             

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What gets measured, gets managed?

We all have heard the key to achieving your fitness goals is to stay consistent. Stick to a workout routine, stick to a healthy diet, ect.. But what’s next? What should you focus on after those consistent habits are formed? Might I suggest tracking and measuring. Collecting data on the habits you just built in order to look back and make an educated decision on what next to do.
 
Workouts – find ways to track what you do in the gym and your physical activity. Wearable fitness trackers can be an inexpensive way to constantly monitor your activity. Heck, many smartphones can even track steps these days. Once you or your trainer sets up a workout program be sure to stick to it. Measure the weights used, the reps performed and the number of sets done. We sell MyZone belts at the front desk and house the MyZone app on the Four Seasons Health Club mobile app just for these reasons! Click here to learn more about Myzone.
 
Nutrition – We know that we shouldn’t fixate on counting calories. But the energy in, energy out equation can not be ignored. In order to lose weight, there must be a negative energy balance created by increasing physical activity and ingesting less calories. That does not mean the same as eating less food. A diet full of whole foods with a limit on processed foods is a great way to start being consistent with nutrition. Some measuring techniques could be to use an app such as MyFitnessPal. The app allows the user to keep track of calories, grams of protein, carbs, and fats. And it builds a community for support and recipe ideas.
 
Once the measuring is consistent, next you want to manage the variables. Talk with your PIT Coach on how to manipulate these healthy habits to better serve your fitness goals.
-Coach Alex Nigro
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Don’t Skip Weight Day

Walk into a “Bro Gym” and one of the first things you might notice is a group of guys who seem to get lazy on their designated leg day.

That’s the joke, anyway. T-shirts and bumper stickers have even been designed to read: “Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.”

The same could be said for runners and some athletes, but in more specific terms. In extreme cases: “Coaches don’t let athletes skip weight day.”

A frequent misconception is that strength training will immediately create more muscle mass, and that mass will slow down the athlete. Another is the idea that strength training simply isn’t necessary to get faster – all you need to do is run.

When it comes to speed, and particularly acceleration, power equals quickness. And without strength, there will be no power.

Take the top sprinters in the world, for example. What do they all have in common? They are big, powerful athletes that are able to produce so much force, they seemingly breeze past their opponents. They have perfected the art of what speed coach Lee Taft harps: “Get your mass moving!”

True, not all athletes want to be world-class sprinters, but all successful athletes want to be faster.

Quickness is not so much about fast feet or fast legs as it is the ability for the athlete to control his or her body, and ultimately maximize the amount of force the athlete is able to create against the ground.

Hang around a speed agility session in The PIT for even a few minutes, and you are likely to hear coaches cue the athletes to, “Push the floor down and away.”

What the coach is getting the athlete to do is generate more power by driving down and back, effectively propelling the athlete forward. The more powerful an athlete becomes, the more force he or she will be able to generate, and in turn become quicker on the field or court.

Whether using bands or weights, strength training is essential in becoming a faster and more powerful athlete. Skipping out on strength training means missing out on the opportunity to become faster and more successful against your competition.

Come check us out to make sure that you get the opportunity to get more powerful and stronger so that you can get silly fast!

Aaron Patterson, NSCA-CPT, CTPS, CSAC

PIT Coach; Certified Personal Trainer

 

 

 

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Unlimited PIT Strength & Conditioning Training for $5 a day!

Get unlimited training for $5 a day with Four Seasons Health Club’s NEW Total Training Membership! Choose Unlimited Small Group Training package or Unlimited PIT Strength & Conditioning package. With both package you’ll get access to both Four Seasons locations with a gym membership for you and your family included, no enrollment fee, and free childcare! These unlimited training packages will help you stay accountable and motivated in a fun team atmosphere.

Considering Unlimited PIT Strength & Conditioning Total Training Membership as an option? Then you already know that choosing to be healthy and active needs to be a priority in your life, which means you that much closer to reaching your goals.

So why should you sign up today for Unlimited PIT Strength & Conditioning Total Training Membership? Here’s a few words for you: Fun community, Team Environment, Athlete Training, and Expert Coaching. If you chose the Unlimited PIT Strength & Conditioning Package you’ll become part of the Thrive Fitness Program, which uses the same elements that professional athletes do. Our expert coaches focus on technique and fundamental training in a team environment. You will experience anything from pushing a sled, sprinting or kettle bell swings to make sure you are as athletic as possible. Our goal is to help you move like you were designed to move. All so you can train safely and effectively. We have several classes that will fit your schedule.

Need one more reason to sign up for Unlimited PIT Strength & Conditioning Training Membership? VALUE. Gyms charge as much as $60-100 dollars for one session. Our individualized training program with the Total Training Membership is only $5 a day! How often do you spend $5 a day on things you don’t need or make a difference in your life? Like your daily Starbucks coffee, lunch out, a snack at the gas station, or drinks out with friends. None of these will help you achieve your goals. Signing up for our Total Training Membership will. Visit either location today and get signed up!

Fun fact: Save approximately $2,500/year in medical expenses if you exercise regularly https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/well/move/whats-the-value-of-exercise-2500.htm

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Why You Don’t Need Olympic Lifts to Develop Power 

Why You Don’t Need Olympic Lifts to Develop Power 

by Coach Matthew Welker

Let me start by saying I am not against Olympic lifts. I think they have great training benefits when it comes to power development. And for those who can perform them properly stick with it. Now my problem with Olympic lifting comes from the risk versus reward involved. While they are considered the king of power development, when performed incorrectly it’s a recipe for disaster. Since Olympic Lifts are themselves a sport, when working with athletes of other sports I feel that for the time it takes to teach them properly isn’t worth the training effect. So what’s the alternative to develop serious power? 

When working with my athletes I prefer to go with ballistic movements. Now unlike most traditional training modalities “ballistics” represent exercises where the object is actually released. In this from of training you don’t focus on the deceleration. Ballistic movements – like throwing a medicine ball- allow you to accelerate through the entire movement. Which actually comes closer to replicating gameplay. 

For example, when a lineman explodes off the line and engages a defender what movement is that similar to? A power clean or a medicine ball chest pass? There are other numerous examples that can be used. And one of the biggest aspects of what makes olympic lifts great is the triple extension of the hip. Which is a huge part of jumping mechanics. When the lifts aren’t done correctly you will miss the training effect all together. Instead, by using a medball you simplify the process which makes mastering them quicker. The motor learning capabilities of ballistics are much easier and less time consuming then standard olympic lifts.  

Since ballistic movements are highly CNS intensive, they can be performed at different stages of the workout. I usually have them performed in the warm-up or as a power portion of the workout. Such as medball throws before a bench press to fire up the CNS and to prime the pecs for the workout. They can also be used at the end of a session to offer metabolic benefits. Since the movements are typicaly explosive, the speed will determine the volume you perform in the workout.  

To wrap it up it all comes down to what you are training for. If olympic lifts are something you enjoy and you can do them correctly, then by all means keep them up. For those who are looking for a similar training adaptation maybe try ballistic training as a subsitution. When it comes to training everyone is different so you need to do what’s best for you. As long as you can stay injury free and keep benefitting from training that’s what truly matters.  

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Breaking Through the Wall

Breaking Through the Wall 

by Coach Cory O’Connor

Know when you go all out but hit a wall during a workout? You think “I’m not going to be able to finish this” but then you keep pressing. You find a way to finish strong and feel like you’ve accomplish something great. A couple minutes after the workout you even think “that wasn’t so bad.” Well, that is what I want to talk about in this blog: mental toughness and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable just means pushing through when you’re fatigued. When you do this you will be surprised at what your body is capable of. However, if you go in with a mindset of “I got 7 more rounds of this, there’s no way” then you’ve already defeated yourself. To get better at “breaking through the wall”, break things up into little pieces. Focus on the task right in front of you. For example, “Okay, I just need to do 5 more kettlebell swings”. Get through those reps and then make another small goal. Not only is this an efficient way to tackle workouts, but you will also learn how to pace yourself on longer workouts. Once you get good at that, you’ll start to see your training sky rocket and you’ll gain mental toughness. You will notice that your work capacity will go higher and your volume of training will increase as well.

Not only can this be applied to training, but also to everyday life. If you can have mental toughness during workouts, then you can get through problems with your job, family and other daily issues you may have. My Drill Sergeant always said “Everyday I wake up the first thing I do is make my bed because if I didn’t accomplish anything that day, at least I made my bed.”

 

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Playing the Long Con

“Long term consistency trumps short term intensity.” With summer officially here and the mad scramble for that elusive beach body well under way, it’s important to remember that success is built over the long term. This mantra applies to pretty much all aspects of fitness. Just like a 10 day juice cleanse isn’t going to really help you lose 20 pounds, 1-2 weeks of countless sit-ups or piling on the mileage isn’t going to suddenly reveal Michelangelo’s David. These kinds of over-the-top programs are neither sustainable nor beneficial. Therefore we must look to continue to build a strong foundation in routine. Motivation will always inevitably dwindle, but by making fitness a habit, you set yourself up for long term success. Lose yourself in the routine. Embrace the grind. Enjoy the process of making yourself better every day, rep by rep, and set by set.  

Those of you who have been with us for a while now are inevitably seeing the fruits of your labor. You are stronger, you move better, you recover faster. Look through your old training logs and take a second to appreciate how far you’ve come, and then look to the future and realize there is still so much room to grow and improve. Relish in that challenge.

Those of you who are new to us, I envy you. Starting your fitness journey is an exciting time. PR’s come on a weekly basis, the movements are new, the challenges fresh. Training may seem like a daunting task sometimes, but make it a point to just show up. Build that routine and soon the extraordinary will become ordinary.

No matter where you fall along this spectrum, I’m excited to continue helping you in getting stronger every day! Just remember that strength is never a liability and always a long term pursuit.

Author: Coach Dylan Ray

Oscar Figueroa finally winning gold in his 4th Olympics and retiring.

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Not All Athletes Train the Same

Not All Athletes Train The Same

by Coach Chad Letterle

In my career as a trainer/coach I have trained athletes of all ages, all levels and most sports. In spite of the obvious differences one thing remains the same…motivation. In my experience, I have found that taking the time to find out what motivates your athlete will help you better serve their needs.

My best example is an 8 year old male athlete that played baseball, football and basketball. He was a great kid, full of energy but got bored easily. I found a few drills that he liked and randomly through them in during our session to keep him on track.

On the other end of the spectrum was my 23 year old pro rugby player that was training for a huge try-out. He wanted his program to push him to the breaking point so he could “push through”to become the best he could be.

Not all athletes train the same or work the same. Take the time to find out what motivates them and you will be a more successful coach.

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Yoga: Fluff or Substance?

Yoga: Fluff or Substance?

by Coach Jessica Schauls

Yoga. Your first thought is probably a nice and easy stretching routine with lots of incense, feel good feelings, and designer workout apparel with “let it be” plastered all over the front of it. And yoga can be that if you want.

Yoga can also be anything else you want it to be.

Yoga can be your go-to on an active recovery day. Yoga can help improve imbalances and mobility for better lifting form and functional movement (you don’t have to put your leg over your head). Yoga can be a challenging, sweat and pain-inducing workout if you want it be. And yoga can be fluff. Super relaxing, de-stressing, good-for-you fluff.

Personally, I’ve used yoga for all the above and more. At different stages of my life yoga has been a multi-purpose tool. I’ve practiced yoga for anything from a low-impact exercise to help recover from injuries to a high-intensity workout that combines cardio, strength, stretching and mobility work. The benefits of yoga, or “fluff” that yoga has become known for, are just icing on the cake.

 

All you have to decide is what you want your yoga to be.

Click here for a 15-minute yoga routine to get you started. Enjoy!

 

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