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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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Identifying Common Wrestling Injuries and Training Ideas to Reduce Those Risks

Identifying Common Wrestling Injuries and Training Ideas to Reduce Those Risks

by Coach Alex Nigro

Wrestling is known as one of the oldest sports in human history. Why has it stood the test of time? Because there is nothing more instinctive than 2 opponents trying to best the other. While the sport has come a long way with softer mats instead of sand, head gear, and officials overseeing the match, the risk for injury is still there. Wresting is both a full contact and collision sport. Besides the mats there is little room for absorbing those contacts. Wrestling matches are 5-10 minutes of continuous action with maximal power, strength, agility, and stamina all being pushed to the limit. With these conditions, injuries are bound to happen. It is up to the strength and conditioning coach to identify what the athlete’s weaknesses are and how best to reduce their injury risk. This article will address how structured weight training and plyometric training help reduce these risks.

According to recent NCAA data wrestling injuries are 2nd behind football. Statistics from 2003-04 found that 5.7 injuries occur during practice and 25.8 occur during a competitive outing per every 1,000 “wrestling exposures.” High school injury rates were similar. Most of these injuries happened during the “neutral” position of a wrestling match that is when both wrestlers are in a standing position. Common types of injuries are sprains, strains, cartilage issues, and bruises. Being a full contact sport there is also great risk for spinal, cervical, and brain injury. It is up to the sports coaches and strength coaches to develop strategies that make wrestlers more resilient to the common injuries, and control the environment so to minimize the risk of the severe injuries. Less than 25% of measured wrestling injuries occurred in the 1st period, leading me to believe that fatigue and stamina play a role as a match or practice progresses.

So as a strength coach what I look to influence is getting the athletes strong in extremes of the joints/muscles end ranges, working on increasing the athlete’s explosiveness and ability to handle Ground Reaction Forces with the use of plyometric training, proprioceptive/kinetic awareness aka balance, lastly increasing their conditioning and work capacity so to delay fatigue and along with that injury.

Strength training is used to build more lean tissue, strength, as well as integrity and stability in the joints. The strength coach must emphasize proper technique and taking each exercise through a full range of motion. The coach must also look for movement and muscular imbalances as they will lead to inefficient movement quality.

Plyometric training such as jumps, hops, bounds, and other fast explosive movements should be used to not only improve the wrestler’s athletic capabilities but also reduce injury risk. Plyos also train the athlete to handle ground reaction forces. In physics the ground reaction force is the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. So when a wrestler lands on a limb, foot or another part of the body, he must be able to absorb these forces in a short period of time then express that energy as he continues in a match. These forces are how ankle sprains, stress fractures, and chronic knee pain occur. A strength coach will include plyometric training in the wrestler’s program so that the athlete can learn to express their strength form the weights in an explosive, athletic manner.

Strength and conditioning programs should not just be looked at as increasing athletic performance, which is certainly a main goal but also preventing the sport’s common injuries and building resiliency in the athlete. Especially for such a demanding sport such as wrestling.

 

 

References: Grindstaff, T., D. Potach. Prevention of common wrestling injuries. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 28(4), 20-28. April 2006.

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Molly Metroff’s Testimonial

My name is Molly Metroff and I’ve been a PIT member for over two years now. What motivated me to start working out in The PIT was my conversations with Coach Jesse Hawkins in trying to find goals for myself to regain strength and mobility in my right side and battle lupus. I have suffered three strokes with my Lupus which has made me weaker on my right side. Through starting The PIT I have regained strength on my right side which improved my walking and mobility.

The atmosphere and community in The Pit is great, too! It’s a very tight and inviting place for the community to go. The PIT coaches make you feel very comfortable, and the friendships you grow between other members in The PIT have really meant a lot to me.

The PIT has impacted my daily life by giving me more strength but its also helped me relieve stress and become happier with myself. My favorite exercise in The PIT are pull-ups and my least favorite is bear crawls. The PIT keeps me coming back because of the personal challenges I am able to overcome while working out in The PIT, and the relationships I’ve formed in The PIT. to people wanting to try The PIT, I encourage you to do so! It seems intimidating at first but the more you come the more you’ll start to overcome challenges you have. Coach Jesse is super motivating, too, and I wouldn’t have overcome my challenges without him or the community in The PIT. – Molly Metroff, PIT member since 2014, Lupus & Stroke Survivor

View Molly’s testimonial video here

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Know Your Why

Know the Why 

by Coach Aaron Patterson

How many times have you been asked, “What’s your ‘Why?’” It’s a question tossed around in gyms and by motivational speakers, and it is a great one. Why are you at the gym? What motivates you to keep going even when you don’t feel the greatest or feel like giving up? When it comes to training, there is another question that likely isn’t asked often enough. You are in the gym, you are motivated, you know your ‘Why,’ but now ask yourself a different question. What is THE why?

Your time is valuable, and if your schedule is like most, you want to make the most of that time. When you are performing an exercise or drill, are you doing it because you saw someone else doing it? Does it look cool, and you want to be seen doing it? Ask yourself, “What is the why?” What is the purpose as it relates to your fitness training or sports performance?

For the general population, most movements and exercises are going to enhance your overall fitness in some way. But, if you are training for a specific sport, or if you have very specific and well-defined fitness goals, how is each exercise or drill you do going to help you take that next step? Every training session should have purpose, and every movement within that session should play a role in helping you reach your goals.

You know YOUR why, now begin focusing on THE why, and you will not only find a quicker path to your goals, but you will enter every training session with new energy and purpose.

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What’s Your Why?

Tell us why you choose The PIT as your place to work out, gain strength and conditioning, join a community and most of all be a better you! Tag us on social media @ThePITBlono or @ThePITStrengthAndConditioning with the #WhatsYourWhy and be entered to win a free month in The PIT. Only one will win. Contest ends January 31, 2017.

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Central Catholic Tennis Athlete Credits her Success to The PIT

Just like any other Monday afternoon, Madison Tattini entered The PIT Strength and Conditioning center for her private training session. The music had not yet been turned on, and the room was empty. She was early for her session, but that didn’t matter to this Bloomington Central Catholic junior high school student.

She quietly walked into a changing room to exchange her school clothes for training attire, placed her hair in a ponytail, and grabbed a foam roller, ready to get to work.

It was the same routine she had repeated countless times, for much of her two years training in The PIT. But the previous weekend was anything but ordinary.

After consecutive sectional titles and trips to the IHSA girls’ state tennis tournament during her freshman and sophomore seasons, Tattini captured the ultimate prize on October 22, winning the 2016 Class A state title over rival and second ranked, Alessandra Bianco.

“When I saw the ball drop for match point, my first thought was, ‘Holy crap. I can’t believe I just made that drop shot!’ I chose a really risky shot to hit, and I honestly was not expecting it to go over,” Tattini said.

“Once I realized that I not only won the match but also won state, I saw all of my family and friends jumping up and down and I couldn’t wait to go join them celebrating.”

Tattini seemingly breezed through the state tournament winning every match in straight sets, including the championship.

She credits her success both at the high school level and on the USTA national circuit to an intense schedule training twice a week in The PIT, and working five days a week with private tennis coaches on technique and skill. On weekends, she frequently travels across the country competing in USTA tournaments.

“I have really seen an improvement in my speed and my agility on the tennis court since I started working out at The PIT,” she said. “The PIT has really allowed me to grow and better my game, and I am very thankful for their help!”

Tattini’s desire to compete at the highest level not only means staying on top of her game, but also keeping up in the classroom.

In addition to a packed tennis and training schedule, Tattini maintains a full load of AP classes, and is holding steady amongst the best in her class. The total package has drawn the attention of major Division I schools, including many in the Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences.

“Knowing that other people are practicing just as much, if not more than me, propels me to continue working hard,” she said. “Keeping my dreams in my mind and knowing that I won’t be able to go to a D-I college if I stop competing makes me work even harder.”

It will be tough to top what she has accomplished this year, but in her final high school season she hopes to defend her title, and help her team improve on its third place finish. Until then, she will continue to compete during the offseason, working her way up in the USTA national rankings.

Despite the busy schedule, Tattini does take time on occasion to relax and be a normal teen. In fact, immediately after receiving her state championship medal, Tattini and her dad made their way from Buffalo Grove High School to Wrigley Field where they witnessed the Chicago Cubs defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers to clinch their first pennant in 71 years.

“I can definitely say that the week of state finals was one of the best weeks of my life,” she said. “(Even after winning state) getting to see the Cubs clinch the NLCS and go to the World Series brought my excitement to another level. To add to my amazing day, once the game was over, Kris Bryant came over to our section and gave my dad and I a high five, looked us in the eye, and told us thank you for coming.

“I was in shock! I like to believe that Kris Bryant was actually giving me a high five for having such an amazing day.”

If Bryant knew, perhaps he would have congratulated her on winning state. And if her work ethic and drive are any indication of future success, she will likely have many more exciting days, similar to her experience on October 22.

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