Get Strong

Increasing Chin-up Repetitions

Kinematic analysis is used to find the range of motion and muscle activity of a given mechanical movement. When comparing a chin-up with a lat-pull down exercise you find there is variability to the response of the latissimus dorsi, bicep brachii, tricep brachii, pectoralis major, rectus abdominus and erector spinae muscles during the concentric and eccentric phases of the action. Because of this variability inclusion of an exercise such as the Pendulum Lat Combo Pull as part of a chin-up program will be complementary and you will quickly find the number of chin-ups that can be done will increase rapidly. A great way to Get Strong.

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Pendulum Lat Combo Pull

Topics: Strength Training, Muscular Strength, Pendulum Combo Lat Pull

Rope Pulling

Using the rope pull on the Pendulum Lat Combo Pull strengthens the upper back, as well as the arms and hands.

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Adding the Pendulum Rope Pull immediately afterwards strengthens the athlete's will.

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Use rope pulling to Get Strong.

Topics: Pendulum Rope Pull, Strength Training, Pendulum Pulldown

Contralateral And Ipsilateral

Contralateral is defined as 'pertaining to the other side'. Ipsilateral is considered the opposite of contralateral and occurs on the same side. When you train one limb at a time there is always an effect, because of neural flow to the contralateral limb even if the limb is unenvolved in direct exercise. Coaches understanding this use specific exercise protocols to keep the contalateral limb always under muscular tension.

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Training keeping both arms extended, then lowering one limb and raising it up, then lowering the other limb causes the lifter to keep both arms under muscular tension during the entire exercise. This method of training insures an athlete does not favor an appendage when training bilaterally. This style of exercise may also be used for rehabilitative purposes or simply to augment a normal training regime.

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The Pendulum Shoulder/Iincline

Try this:

On the Pendulum Shoulder/Incline with a determined weight press up with two arms, then lower and press 4 reps with one-arm, while the contralateral limb continually holds the weight extended overhead. Upon completion of the 4th rep keep the limb extended and do 4 reps with the other arm. Once the 2nd arm has completed it's 4th rep leave it extended and begin the process over with a target of 3 reps with each arm. When both limbs have done 3 reps, then do 2 and then 1 rep with each arm.

The goal is 10 reps with each arm (4 reps, 3, 2, 1) adding 5 pounds when a total of 10 reps with the contralateral and ipsilateral arms can be achieved during the exercise. 

A great way to Get Strong.

Topics: Strength Training, Pendulum Shoulder/Incline, Pendulum Squat Pro

The Contracted Position

The storied Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey has been in operation since 1861. Doug Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Coach Scott runs a comprehensive program designed to get the most out of each participant. Doug describes a successful technique that he uses to strengthen and protect his student athletes.

describe the imageTeaching strength training to athletes is important for many reasons. The most important being developing a high level of muscular fitness is the best form of preventive medicine from athletic injuries. In the case of developing the muscles of the head, neck, and upper back it is important that every measure be taken to insure maximum stimulation of the musculature. Holding an exercise in the muscles contracted position does just that. A technique that has proven to be very successful is to have the athlete hold each exercise in the contracted position for a designated amount of time before returning back to the starting position. Here is a progressive system where the athlete tracks not only the weight and repetitions performed but also the hold in the contracted position. Every two weeks adjust all three variables to ensure overload.

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Holding a neck extension in the contracted position on the Pendulum 4 - Way

Week 1 – 2

Neck 4 ways (8 second hold in contracted position) 5-7 reps

Week 2-4 * increase weight 5-10 lbs

Neck 4 ways (6 second hold in contracted position) 7-9 reps

Week 4-6 * increase weight 5-10 lbs

Neck 4 ways (4 second hold in contracted position) 8-10 reps

Week 6-8 * increase weight 5-10 lbs

Neck 4 ways (2 second hold in contracted position) 10-12 reps

Week 8-10 * reduce weight to 10 lbs over starting weight and start system over

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Pendulum neck flexion hold to Get Strong

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, concussions, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training, Strength Training

Upper Back Routine

Start by doing a set of 10-15 repetitions with a neutral grip on the Pendulum 3-Way Row machine.

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Once the rowing exercise is completed go to the Pendulum Rope Pull positioned on the Pendulum Power Rack and pull the rope upwards at approximately an 80 degree angle. You must completely pull the rope from beginning to end. The tension on the Rope Pull should be set at the same tension it would take you to pull the rope completely through in 30 seconds when the rope pull is your first exercise of the workout.

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Once completed start at the top of the chin up bar and try to lower yourself to a straight arm position in 90 seconds. If this can be accomplished add weight the next workout. Record your time.

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When the negative chin is completed set the Pendulum Rope Pull so you are pulling the rope end to end at a 45 degree angle. The resistance remains the same as the previous rope pull. RLC6742

Upon completion set your Pendulum Adjustable Chin/Dip Bar so your body is at a 45 degree angle. With your feet always remaining on the floor and your body straight do as many pulls to the bar as possible.

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1). Pendulum 3-Way Row... 10-15 Repetitions

2). 80 degree Pendulum Rope Pull from the floor

3). 90 second Negative Chin

4). 45 degree Pendulum Rope Pull

5). 45 degree Pendulum Chin/Dip bar pull... maximum repetitions 

A great way to Get your upper back Strong.

Topics: Pendulum Chin-Up Bar, Pendulum Rope Pull, Pendulum Chin/Dip Station, Strength Training, Pendulum 3 Way Row

Muscle Tissue Middle Age

When strength training to gain muscular weight it is common knowledge you need to add calories to your diet to maintain the newly developed tissue. When you reach middle age things change. Ageing results in a gradual decrease in size and volume of lean muscle and its subsequent mass reduces each decade. Though part of the strategy for maintaining muscle mass in middle age is similar to when you were young, that is to habitually be active and strength train; to slow the gradual loss of muscle the nutritional approach necessary to maximize maintaining lean muscle is actually counterintuitive.

Researchers have found that caloric restriction attenuates age-related muscle loss. In aged muscle restricting calories leads to metabolic reprogramming of the pathways to derive energy. For the science based reader it means that there is a decreased dependency on glycolysis and an increased cellular dependency on oxydative phosphorylation. It is speculated that you should reduce the amount of calories you need by 8% when you reach midlife, which inturn allows you to maintain the highest amount of muscular tissue. It is also recommended by researchers that the protein you eat is high in leucine (leucine is the dietary amino acid that has the capacity to directly stimulate muscle protein synthesis) with foods such as cheese, soybeans, beef, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, and beans.  

The bottom line is as you age eat less to maintain more. Get Strong and Stay Strong.        

Training Middle Age    

Topics: Strength Training, Pendulum Rack System, Success

Sleep, Knees And Spine

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Over time the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones begins to wear. All joints in the body are susceptible and in athletics osteoarthritis is often seen earlier than normalespecially in the knees and spine. A population based study in the journal Spine found heavily active people getting less than 7 hours of sleep per day, have a remarkably higher prevalence of arthritis in the lower back than those who sleep longer.


When there is too much or abnormal loading risk factors for lumbar muscle strain and lumbar disc degeneration are elevated. If an athlete has a shorter sleep time the lumbar muscles and discs are under tension for a longer period. Therefore, this status may lead to further lumbar degeneration and be related to low back osteoarthritis.

Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association recently addressed the Collegiate Strength Coaches at their National Convention. He discussed the extensive issue of sleep deprivation in collegiate athletics. He explained how lack of sleep increases sports injury risk and pointed to a study whose findings indicated, "if an athlete is progressively sleep deprived over a period of 12 weeks, their neuromuscular performance will continue to diminish, even when the athlete believes that, after three days, they are back to normal."

Not only does sleep deprivation increases the risk of overuse and fatigue injuries but is often associated with signs of depression, anger, feelings of tension, anxiety and all the symptoms associated with attention deficit disorder. 

College students are among the most sleep-deprived people in the country. According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Nature Science and Sleep, 50% of college students report daytime sleepiness and 70% attain insufficient quality.  A comprehensive study at an independent college preparatory school showed increased sleep duration after a delay in school start time. When school was started at 8.30 am, 30 minutes later than usual, sleep duration was increased by 45 minutes on school days. 

Serious training requires adequate sleep. Early morning workouts must be well thought out and scheduled to ensure that athletes are getting adequate sleep and peak performance. Coaches need to consider sleep if they want to Get and keep their athletes healthy and Strong.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Muscular Strength

Barbell Squat Form

Gabe Harrington has a Masters degree from Michigan State University. Gabe has coached at MSU, the United States Military Academy and most recently was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Colgate University Patriot League Football Champions. Gabe explains, even if you are an avid barbell squatter, the Pendulum Squat Pro is still a great tool to have in your weight room.

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Teaching squatting form with a barbell requires coaching as well as skill progression. Teaching form on the Pendulum Power Squat Pro, because the yoke resting on the athletes shoulders is accommodating, only requires the lifter to grasp the work arms and squat and their form is excellent. 

I purchased a Pendulum Squat Pro for my facility and when the machine arrived my athletes began trying it. I quickly saw, without almost any instruction, athletes who usually struggled with squatting had excellent form on the Squat Pro. The floating yoke was changing the resistance in relationship to the lever system during the movement.  I was delighted with what was occurring and decided that the Power Squat Pro should become part of my squatting progression routine.

The following are my '10 Progressive Steps' that I used to teach the proper form of barbell squatting.

 PROGRESSION #1: FEEL THE CORRECT FORM

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 PROGRESSION #2: STANCE BASICS

•    Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width – toes pointed slightly out

•    “Spread the Floor” with your feet: if you were on ice, you would do the splits – this helps to keep your knees from buckling in during the movement

•    Push through the heels, falling forward can put unnecessary strain on your spine – keeping your weight back keeps your center of gravity from falling forward and helps keep your knees behind your toes (more on this later)… try lifting your big toes slightly just before performing the movement 

PROGRESSION #3: BREATHING

•    Always breath into your belly, not your chest – this helps promote internal stability around the spine

•    Breath in at the top – now hold your breath on the way down and in the bottom position for a split second (unless you have high blood pressure)

•    Once upward movement is initiated breath out as you stand up

PROGRESSION #4: WALL SQUAT (BOX)
•    This series will help you learn to sit back rather than down when you squat as well as to keep your knees behind your toes

•    Begin by setting an adjustable platform or low box near a wall – make sure it is sturdy enough to support your bodyweight!

•    Set the platform such that as you sit on it the tops of your thighs are parallel with the floor

•    From the seated position place your toes against the wall and assume your squat stance

•    Take a breath into the belly, Spread the floor, lift your big toes and stand

•    Try to sit back onto the platform without “plopping” down onto it and return to the standing position once again

•    Once you can repeat this 2-3 times in a row without “plopping” down you are ready to move onto the next progression

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PROGRESSION #5: WALL SQUAT (PARTNER)

•    This time begin standing with your toes against the wall in your squat stance

•    Breath into the belly, spread the floor, lift the big toes, push your hips back and maintain a good arch in your spine

•    You will notice that at ¾ of the way down you will have to use your hip flexor muscles to pull you down 

•    This is where it gets tough!  Your partner will have to spot you from behind and keep you from falling backwards – your partner’s job is to push you forward enough so that you can pull yourself down to parallel… you want to get used to your hip flexors working hard here!

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PROGRESSION #6: WALL SQUAT (SOLO)

•    Once you feel comfortable enough, try this without your partner

•    Note that this is the exact form you will use with the bar on your back – you must master this exercise before moving on!

•    You may pick this up right away, or you may have to practice 2 sets of 3 reps on this each day for as long as a couple of weeks to master it – either way, stay with it because it will pay you back down the road!

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PROGRESSION #7: MODIFIED FRONT SQUAT

•    Once you have mastered the wall squat place an empty barbell across your shoulders and extend your arms out straight with your thumbs up to the ceiling and at eye level
•    Now squat like you’ve been practicing against the wall: breath into the belly, spread the floor, lift the toes, push the hips back and maintain a great spinal arch
•    The purpose of the bar here is to give you some feedback as to whether you are falling forward or not – if the bar rolls off your shoulders you are falling forward – check your weight distribution and keep working on it!
•    Once you can do this for a set of 2-3 reps in a row you are ready to back squat!

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PROGRESSION #8: HOLDING THE BAR ON YOUR BACK

•    For the back squat, we want a “low bar position”

•    To achieve this, squeeze your shoulder blades together hard – this will create a natural “shelf” for the bar to sit on... The “shelf” is your trapezius and rear deltoid muscles contracting – the bar will sit here comfortably without feeling like you are rubbing your spine with the bar

•    Grip the bar firmly – experiment with the width of your hands for comfort – try to turn your wrists in… they won’t move very much, but by contracting your wrist muscles your wrists will hurt less from the awkwardness of the position

•    Keep your eyes up and push your head back into the bar (like when you try to make your neck look bigger in your team photo)

•    Note that this may feel uncomfortable at first… your wrists and upper back may not be strong enough initially to support much weight in this fashion, but STICK WITH IT, your upper back will grow thick with muscle from supporting weight in this manner – not to mention this is the most advantageous way to hold the bar (in time your spine will thank you)

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PROGRESSION #9: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

•    At this point, having mastered the previous progressions, the back squat should be a breeze

•    Perform your practice sets with no more than 2 reps at a time with light weight until you get the hang of it (have a partner watch you!) and add weight slowly – in time you will have a healthy and impressive physique from all of your hard work!   

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Remember:
Breath into the belly
Spread the floor
Lift the toes
Head back
Great arch
Drive through the heels... and.... Get Strong

PROGRESSION #10: RECHECK YOUR FORM

Gabe Harrington Squat Pro

Topics: barbell back squat, squat progression, Strength Training, Pendulum Rack System, Skill, Pendulum Squat Pro, Squat form

Reverse Glute/Ham And Hamstring Injuries

Having a wide variety of training tools allows a coach and athlete to regionally target specific areas of the anatomy.  Choosing the appropriate exercises that specifically develops the upper or the lower section of a biarticular muscle can lead to an adaptation that protects an athlete from injury. The Journal, Science Medicine and Sport recently published an article that examined the anatomic distribution of acute hamstring injuries in a large population of football players. They based their findings upon their utilization of 'Magnetic Resonance Imaging' which produced detailed pictures of the tissue post trauma.

The study looked at the MRIs and determined the location of where each athlete sustained tissue damage to their hamstring. The locations of the hamstring muscle injury was first divided into proximal (nearest to the center of the body) or distal. Injuries then were classified as a specific type such as myotendinous junction (where the tendon and muscle bisect) or a location such as the muscle belly or myofascial (fibrous tissue surrounding or invested in the muscle).

Researcher found when trauma occurred, the long head of the biceps femoris was the most often injured, which was damaged fifty seven percent of the time normally at the proximal myotendinous junction.

Long Head Hamstring 

Common exercises for the hamstrings in weight rooms are leg curls, glute-ham raises and the Romanian deadlift. These are wonderful exercises yet they target the distal end of the muscle.

To best train the proximal end of the long head of the often injured bicep femoris an athlete should use the Pendulum Reverse Glute/Ham. Repetitions emphasizing the eccentric or lowering phase of the lift and training to failure will decrease the stiffness of the myotendinous junction, which will mean a healthy strong hamstring and therefore a healthy strong athlete.

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Hamstring Training on the Reverse Glute/Ham

Getting Strong

Topics: Pendulum Reverse Glute/Ham, Strength Training

Transition - There Is No Off-season

Gabe Harrington has a Masters degree from Michigan State University. He has coached at MSU, the United States Military Academy and most recently was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Colgate University Patriot League Football Champions. Gabe explains, there really is no off-season it is about manageing transition. 

Whether you coach high school or college football this is the time of year for transition. If you are at the high school level, your athletes are going from lifting and conditioning to playing another sport such as baseball or track. Perhaps they have been playing a winter sport such as wrestling or basketball and are getting into their off season training program. If you are at the college level, you are coming off of winter conditioning and getting into spring football. As a strength coach, or the football coach in charge of strength and conditioning, you are responsible to not only prepare the athlete for the coming task; but also to meet the current demands the athlete faces. In other words, you have to manage transition. Assuming that you have done a good job in preparation, the team is healthy, as big and strong as ever and ready for spring ball… what now? The key of course, is to ride the fine line of introducing enough stress to illicit improvement without over doing it. Know which variables you can control and which ones you can’t. And when transitioning from winter to spring training remember that the transition in and of itself, is a stressor. Here are a few guidelines worth considering when transitioning from winter to spring training: 1) understand stress, 2) lower the volume of lifting, 3) lower the intensity of exercise and/or change the exercises used, 4) try to get more bang for your buck with conditioning, 5) have great communication between staff and between staff and players, and 6) continue to emphasize nutrition.

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Pendulum 3 Way Row

Before we get too deep into what to do, let’s examine how the human body responds to stress. Stress is a necessary component to living well and improving. After all, without added stress (adding weight to the bar) you can’t get stronger. And if you don’t study hard, you won’t get any smarter. However, even though stress can be good, too much is extremely detrimental and can lead to a multitude of issues ranging from poor performance to disease and death. A good way to look at this is to imagine that you (or rather, each and every one of your players) are a bathtub. Filling the bathtub are many faucets – we’re not just talking hot and cold here. We’re talking about life: lifting weights, conditioning, school, homework, football practice, meetings/film, girlfriend(s), parents, social life, transition… the list goes on and on. Like all bathtubs, we can only hold so much water before it begins to spill over the top (poor performance). When the water fills up the room the tub is in and begins flooding the floors below we are in trouble (disease and death). We tell our players all the time to eliminate distractions, because distractions are added stress – one more thing to deal with. We know this from experience. But too often we don’t take our own advice, and we as coaches create an overly stressful environment.

When it comes to lowering the volume of lifting, I think of it in terms of both time spent in the weight room as well as the number of work sets performed. Time spent in the weight room is important because most strength coaches don’t have control over what time of day the team comes in. You may have to get them after practice, you may have to get them early in the morning. Either way, you have to work around the academic schedule (which is normal), and you now have a couple more faucets filling the bathtub (practice and meetings). Shoot for 30-40 minutes from the time they walk in to the time you break them down and two days per week, for a total of 60-80 minutes in the weight room weekly. As far as the number of work sets performed, this will be dependent somewhat on your training philosophy but here’s my general thought:

Front/Back Neck: 1x8 each

Choose a Shrug variation: 2x8 (light to heavy)

Choose a Press: 2x8 or 3x5 (at a percentage or light to heavy)

Choose a Pull: 2x8 or 3x5 (light to heavy)

Choose a Hip: 2x8 or 3x5 (at a percentage or light to heavy)

Core: 1-2 sets

In this example, you’re looking at 11-21 sets. Which is correct? They are actually about the same in terms of volume3x5 equals 15 reps, 2x8 equals 16 reps. In the above example, you’re looking at 93-96 total reps. Going light to heavy, you’re looking at only 40-50 reps at the work load. If you use percentages on the press and hip (bench/squat) then you’re at 60-70 reps. The main differences are how long the lift takes (three sets takes longer than two sets due to the rest interval between sets), and the next variable - intensity.

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 Pendulum 5 Way Neck Shrugs

If you tap a stick of dynamite lightly 50 times, chances are it won’t blow up. Whack it once real hard and BOOM! This is intensity. The more intense the activity, the less of it you can do. So, using our workout template above, performing all the reps at 85% could be insane to do during spring practice. But performing the same volume of work at 60% is simply not enough to get you strong (more on this later). Using our above example, 3x5 @ 75% for full range of motion bench press and 65% for full range of motion squat are great starting points. From here you can progress slowly throughout spring practices. This allows for acclimatization to the new stress of playing football. Another option is to change the exercise selection and perhaps keep the weight a bit higher because the movement is easier, or more ergonomic:

Front/Back Neck: 1x8 each

Pendulum Seated Shrug: 2x8 (light to heavy)

Pendulum Vertical Chest Press: 2x8 (light to heavy) or Close grip 3-board Press: 3x5 @ 80-85%

Pendulum 3-way Row: 2x8 or 3x5 (light to heavy)

Pendulum Hip Press: 2x8 (light to heavy) or High box squat: 3x5 @ 70-75%

Core: 1-2 sets

In this example, your players get to handle a bit heavier weight with the barbell movements. With a machine alternative you also get to alter range of motion within a set track and ergonomic design.

As far as conditioning goes, get more bang for your buck. In other words, try to incorporate conditioning into practice. Some football coaches prefer to practice at a high tempo to accomplish this, some like to run gassers or other variations at the end of practice, still others prefer to have the strength coach come out and spend 10 minutes at the end (or even prior to team periods) to run the team. It can all work, but what doesn’t work is to try to add conditioning as another session throughout the week. Too many faucets going into the tub!

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Pendulum 5 Way Neck

This next piece is crucial. Communication. If you know what the week looks like as far as intensity on the field, you can manage intensity in the weight room. An easy week on the field can provide opportunity for a harder lift on one day. A very challenging week should be paired with a get the blood pumping and work the kinks out kind of lift (remember that 60% discussed earlier). Obviously the football staff will meet and go over a multitude of factors relating to practice, etc. If you as the strength coach have the opportunity to go to these meetings it can be very beneficial. If you don’t, then you absolutely have to make a point to get with your head coach and get a feel for what practice will look like in the coming days so that you can plan accordingly. The last thing you want is to give the players a hard lift thinking that practice is going to be a walk thru and then it’s filled with hard hitting and three periods of goal line. That is a recipe for injury. Along those lines, communicate with your athletic training staff as well. Get a feel for injury trends, and use that to re-tool your current plan or to plan ahead for the next phase of training. Most importantly, talk to your players. Specifically, talk to your guys that will give you honest feedback. Not the meat head who wants to max bench every day. Not the guy who is always trying to get out of things. Talk to the guys who consistently work hard and who have a good feel for the big picture. These guys know they should be sore and what kind of sore is a good sore; they know if they (and the team) can handle more or need rest. This relationship is absolutely vital.

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Pendulum Hip Press

The final piece and the one that goes hand in hand with stress is nutrition. Good nutrition (and rest) equals recovery. And recovery is the all important factor. Optimal performance is less a function of how much you can endure, but rather what you can recover from. At the same token, you are not what you eat. You are what you digest. Not everyone can digest pizza, pasta, potatoes, milk, etc. - keep food allergies in mind. Most of us have no idea what we are allergic to unless it just about kills us. The real issue is with things that don’t elicit a huge response right away. Dairy and gluten can fall into this category. Keep an eye on players bodyweights to make sure there are no abnormal fluctuations. Constantly address hydration. By the way, hydration does not mean downing sports drinks 24/7. Keep sports drinks where they belong – during and immediately following practice. Rather, players should drink at least 50% of their bodyweight in ounces of water every day (a 200lb player would need 100oz of water daily). This is on top of any other beverages, like sports drinks. Avoid sugar, processed foods, and bad fats. Does a player have a hard time gaining or losing weight? If so, think hydration first. If he’s hydrated and getting enough calories, think food allergies and seek help of a nutritional professional.

At the end of the day, the main theme is to maintain a balanced stress level, communicate, and eat well. Don’t be afraid to adjust your lift calendar or exercise selection to accommodate the needs of your players. Then once spring gives way to summer, you get to transition them again and ramp it back up in preparation for two-a-day camp. Always working hard, because THERE IS NO OFF SEASON.  

Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Success