To keep and improve flexibility.
When we are born, we have excessive joint mobility and flexibility. As we grow up, we lose the mobility we don’t use and retain some based on the activities we do and sports we play. This plays a role in the compensations we develop. For example: As a baseball player, you partake in thousands of reps of swinging and throwing using one side of your body prior to high school -- this is what we would label “functional compensations” -- as the excessive range of motion a pitcher gets in the shoulder is a big contributor in how well they can throw a baseball. On the flip-side, it is likely to cause certain issues when performing other activities that require more symmetry. Lifting weights and learning how to perform your basic movement patterns properly will help to improve and maintain joint mobility while building stability and strength.
Mobility without stability is just as much an injury risk as an overly stiff body that lacks mobility.
By creating stability in a given range of motion, you are more likely to retain that joint mobility. Think of resistance training as pressing the save button. If you only quarter squat, you will likely lose the ability to achieve full hip flexion compared to someone that squats with load through a full range of motion. By training from a young age, we develop the functional mobility and strength that sets the athlete up for greater improvements down the road, along with a decreased risk of injury.
Gravity is resistance
I had a parent ask me recently, after seeing one of our youth athletes doing cleans, when the time was right to start resistance training. I explained to him that everyone does resistance training in life as soon as they are born. Let me explain. How does a baby stand up for the first time? Well, after trying over and over and failing to overcome their own bodyweight and gravity, they eventually build up enough strength and coordination to stand up and walk without falling. Fast forward a few years and those kids are running, jumping, and exploring the world through movement. Each ground contact during running is upwards of three times your bodyweight. Even some of the strongest NFL players will never lift anything that heavy in the weight room. Ever seen a young child jump off the monkey bars or from the swing and land on the ground from high up in the air? Did you worry about them and the health of their body? These are joint forces that are much more extreme than anything they could do in a controlled weight training session with a knowledgeable trainer. By participating in resistance training, a good coach can teach proper mechanics and help build a more resilient body, thereby reducing the risk of injury in sport.
Where are all the farm boys with stunted growth?
It doesn’t matter if we are lifting barbells or a bail of hay, resistance is resistance. Most people have heard that lifting weights at an early age will stunt the growth of a growing child. If this were the case, why aren’t children who grew up on farms (or other scenarios where physical labor was unavoidable) deformed and broken? Bails of hay, buckets of water, and wheelbarrows full of dirt all add up and are relatively heavy just like barbells and dumbbells. We have yet to see an epidemic where these children grow up to be hindered by it. Most of them reap the benefits of a strong mind and body as well as a robust general capacity to do physical work.
The bird dog is a rotary stability movement that resists movement of the spine, moving from four points of contact with the ground to two points of contact. Start with both knees and both hands on the ground. Alternate between raising the opposite arm and leg off the ground and reach as far as you can in opposite directions. Make sure to keep the core tight, limiting the amount of body movement from the original position.
The alternate leg lower is a core stability movement. The goal is to help maintain a neutral spine and resist against extension in the lumbar spine (lower back). Start with the back flat against the ground, the lower back pressed into the ground and the core tight, both legs straight in the air at a 90 degree angle from the ground. Keeping one leg straight in the air (knees locked), slowly lower the opposite leg until just above the ground. Raise the same leg back to the starting position and repeat with the other.
Both movements improve core strength and stability to help prevent injuries as well as help address other minor issues, including reducing energy leaks during athletic performance or exercise. Incorporating these exercises into a workout regimen can decrease chance of injury, as well as improve the body's ability to function through exercises involving the core.
I was recently asked the question, "How has the journey been so far?"
Well, it’s the beginning of April, so it’s been about three months since I started my journey here at DST.
I had no clue what I wanted to do with my degree after graduating from UTSA last December. A mutual friend introduced me to Dennis "DK" Koenck who told me that his company was looking for a business intern, so I applied and got an interview with Josh Graber, the Director of Business Operations. I showed up dressed as a business professional because this was my first big interview right out of college. I remember meeting Poppe (Kevin Poppe, Director of DST North) that day and him telling me "nice tie." Turns out, I was a little overdressed for the interview!
Beginning the new year, I was your stereotypical “new guy” at the company: a little shy, timid, and uncertain of myself. Eventually, I opened up and started to fit in nicely with the staff here. Since I played baseball in high school and club ball in college, I knew I should be working out, but I could never find the motivation to do so consistently. When I started working at DST, I knew that I should take advantage of what was in front of me: a top-class weight room, helpful trainers, and great motivation from the entire DST staff.
I started out using a generic program designed to get me moving and sweating. Then one day as Josh, Rachel (another business intern), and I were brainstorming during a meeting, we decided to challenge each other to a health and fitness competition utilizing the trainers we have on staff. Josh teamed up with Sammy, Rachel teamed up with Stephen, and I teamed up with Garrett. And thus, the DST Three Month Challenge was created. We would be competing against each other for three months to promote DST and our trainers. We were each assessed, took a BMI test, and all took before photos to compare when we’re done.
We decided we needed more than just pride on the line, though. The losing team has to bear the shame of singing karaoke in front of our summer camp -- Oh, and the other teams get to decide the song! If this wasn't going to motivate me, I don’t think anything would have!
So Garrett and I got to work. He built me a personalized training program along with a nutrition plan. He couldn’t stress enough to me that I needed to commit to the diet in order to thin down and get strong. So I did.
The first day I weighed in at 203 lbs, which is considered overweight for my height. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. The first day was honestly the toughest because I was extremely out of shape and I hadn’t trained hard in over five years! I was able to tough it out and finish the first week without actually dying. I can't even express to you how sore I was. When I got home that first night, I couldn’t get up from my chair without immediately falling back down. Day one was so bad my legs had given out on me!
Another surprise to me was just how hard it is to stay to a good diet! It’s tough to cook and eat as healthy as Garrett wants me to! My first time meal-prepping for the week took me over five hours to shop, chop, and cook all of my food. 5 weeks in, I’ve cut that down to 3 hours, which is a big difference.
Typical Day :
Breakfast Shake: 1 scoop of protein, a cup of strawberries, half a cup of blueberries, two cups of milk, and 5 macadamia nuts.
My first snack is an ounce of deer sausage, half an orange, and 15 cashews.
Lunch is a bag of frozen veggies (broccoli, water chestnuts, and carrots steamed), usually 5 ounces of chicken, a handful of grapes, a handful of carrots and a cup of strawberries.
My second snack of the day is the same as my first snack, 1 oz of deer meat, the other half of orange and 15 cashews.
Dinner is 5 ounces of meat, a cup of onions that I steam with 12 spears of asparagus, and a half cup of green peppers. A cup of strawberries or half a cup of watermelon and a handful of grapes with 25 peanuts or 15 almonds.
I’ve never had what you’d call a “healthy diet” so this was all very new to me, but it’s been a huge success so far.
So here we are, halfway through our challenge, and I feel great! My weight is down to 191, I've lost a little bit of my belly, my arms are toned again, and I haven't felt better since my senior year of high school. I’m motivated to stay active and competing against some pretty awesome people is motivation as well. With Josh already in good shape and Rachel just coming back from Iceland after playing professional soccer there, I knew this competition was going to be challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I need Garrett to push me hard, but I also know I have to bust my butt to get on their level. You have to be resilient and relentless if you want to be successful, and this challenge has definitely tested me on that.
Physical Principle: Tempo
By Sammy Knox
When discussing tempo in training, we are referring to the speed at which we execute the exercise. Training with different tempos is important because it will provide the athlete with a different stress, therefore causing a specific adaptation to that stress. There are three different tempos we utilize in our training because there are three different types of muscular contractions.
Isometric – a muscle that does not change in length while contracting
Concentric - a muscle that is shortening in length while contracting
- The better you are at eccentric strength (a slow descent in the squat), the better you will be at absorbing force. This is important for both preventing injury and increasing performance. When sprinting, we want to spend very little time on the ground while still being able to apply enough force to be fast. The stronger the athlete is eccentrically, the better they will be able to achieve this.
- Isometric strength (holding the bottom of the squat) is beneficial to being a well-rounded athlete, as you are required to hold static postures under high forces and velocities while sprinting. Our core muscles must be strong isometrically during sprinting and other athletic feats to transfer force in the most efficient and effective way.
- Concentric strength (standing up from the bottom of a squat) is all about force production and can also be referred to as “starting strength.” This is very important in the acceleration phase of sprinting, which is the first 10-20 yards. This is the case since we are not able to utilize the stretch reflex as effectively to propel us in the direction we want to go; therefore, we must use more concentric strength to get us going.
As you can see, all three tempos are important and useful for athletes to develop maximum strength.