Bone Growth-Youth Development

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Here might be the most commonly asked question a strength & conditioning professional must answer to youth athlete parents.

Question:

“Will my 13 year old child (or younger or teenager) have a stunted growth from lifting weights?”

Answer:

It depends.  It depends if the athlete is exercising biomechanically correct or not.  Stunted bone growth may occur when the open growth plates located at the ends of bones become damaged.  Damaged open growth plates can happen for various reasons, which include an injury from sport or poor exercising technique.  For example, if a 12 yo athlete playing soccer sustains a trauma to the knee in a soccer game, he/she could incur growth plate damage around the knee.  Another way an athlete can sustain growth plate damage in the knee would be biomechanically incorrect weight-bearing exercises.  Say a 10 yo athlete is front squatting and during every repetition their right knee caves in with a valgus moment.  If an expert S&C coach is not there coaching the athlete out of these poor mechanics, overtime knee growth plate damage might occur before the plate close.  However, most youth athletes will not experience growth plate damage from training or in sport as long as qualified professionals are monitoring exercises.

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ADD SOME VARIETY TO YOUR TRAINING!

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We’ve been approached by countless people over the years with the same standard questions about fitness, training, and overall health. These questions get asked by everyone: people who train themselves but are advanced and experienced, beginners looking to get started, even high level athletes.

1. What is the best way to lose weight?

2. What is the best way to get toned?

3. What is the quickest way to get “in shape” for just general, overall good health?

There is countless ways to answer those questions. However, one specific answer that will relate to all of the above “common questions” – Power Endurance and Variety within the Power Endurance cycles.

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“Abs of Steel”

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Whether your goals are to strengthen your abs to be “ripped”, or not, having “abs of steel” will benefit any athlete or any person.  Having strong abdominal muscles along with a strong posterior chain will improve performance.  Performance could mean in sport or just general physical well-being.  Most of our abdominal work at BPS is performed with a slower tempo (232 or 323) since we want our abs under a lot of constant tension to stimulate growth and strength.

Below are 3 trunk & spine exercises that are a must for abs of steel.

  1. Stability – Side Hip Bridge (or Side Plank)
  • We can really target the lateral abdominal muscle to help further sculpt your abs and stabilize your trunk and spine.
  • First, assume the side hip bridge position.  Either with knees bent and on the ground (for beginners) or legs straight and on the lateral edges of your feet.
  • Place the elbow directly under your shoulder with your palm firmly face down on the floor.
  • Maintain a “big” chest and keep your head and toes pointing forward
  • Simply isometrically pause for a progressive amount of time
    • HINT: close your eyes and visualize your abs contracting.
    1. Strength – Reverse Crunch
    • This is an advanced exercise that will ensure “abs of steel”, if you can safely reach this level.  We recommend increasing volume with the previously mentioned exercises before exploring the reverse crunch.  However, this exercise may be progressed as well.
    • Lay in a supine position with the top of your head about 4 inches from a sturdy fixed object like a support beam or heavy bench. You will use the bench or pole to grasp with your hands for support during the exercise.
    • Next, bend your legs at the hips so the bottoms of your feet are facing the sky.
    • Now, push the small of your back into the ground so your abs contract and move the bottoms of your feet directly straight up towards the sky without letting your legs drift toward your head.
    • Again, this motion should be slow with a pause at the top and move slowly back down to the starting position.
      • Progress this movement from going straight up to slightly away from the head and up.  The farther you push your feet away from your head the more intense the contraction will be.  Once you can push your feet almost directly away from your head so your feet are only 10-12 inches above the ground you may progress further.  Now you may be ready to start by pushing your feet straight towards the sky then without returning to the start position lower your legs and feet until they are 10-12 inches from the ground and return to the position where your legs are reaching for the sky.
      1. Integrated Strength – Lateral Landmine Rotation
      • With this exercise you will be able to train your abs to contract through the entire range of motion while the trunk and spine undergoes rotation.
      • Here’s how: Place a standard Olympic bar into a “Landmine” or a crease so the bar doesn’t slide on the ground, yet the top end of the bar can move.  Place the bar in your hands so it is in front of your hips (the barbell be coming from your left side in this position).  Keep your left palm facing up and your right palm facing down as your grabbing the bar.  From here, keep your arms straight as you rotate the bar up and your left.  Once you slowly reach your end range of motion slowly return to the starting position.
        • HINT: never release your abdominal contraction during the rotation, not even at the bottom starting position. 
        • Progress repetitions, sets, and resistance

        **For full video demonstrations of these abdominal exercises plus many more, sign up for our BPSU online university.  There you can listen to and watch coaching cues videos as well as have access to our entire database to build programs and get the best out of any athlete. 

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Row Dissection: Progressions and Tools

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Part 1: Restraint and Effects On Force Output

Keith Shimon MATcs

“What is the best way to row?”  “What is the best row machine?” “Are machines evil or bad, and should I only use barbells, dumbbells, bands, or body weight?”  

As professionals you hear a gamut of questions and exercise mythology.  Is there really a “best row?”   Maybe a “best row” exercise for a specific individual.  It all comes back to the question of “who is it for,” and “what is the goal of this exercise” (Purvis, 2013, Exercise mechanics lecture).   Through the years we have all been introduced to the standard ideology of what a rowing motion looks like.  I imagine that we also have a framework in our head of the basic rules we were told in order to get the most out of any rowing motion, and the specific muscles that the exercise may challenge.  In addition, we have favored machines, dumbbells, kettle bells, cables, bands, or body weight because we were told that it was the best way to row.

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6-WEEK MASS HYPERTROPHY UNDULATING

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6-WEEK MASS HYPERTROPHY UNDULATING

10-6-15
Pete Bommarito, MS, CSCS, USAW, MATCS
Owner/President, Bommarito Performance Systems
Owner/President, Bommarito University

Maximizing muscle growth is obviously an extremely important concept for all different types of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. There is tons of data and research that shows different types of programs, and the hormonal response associated with each. The key is to implement the research into application – but with programs that can be safely and intelligently performed that gets the desired results without running the risk of overuse injuries. Separating a person’s goals into 2 main categories is important – the general population and athletes. The benefit of this undulating program is it can be performed and be extremely beneficial to all types of general population and all athletes at various levels.

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FOREARM AND GRIP WORK – STRENGTH, POWER, AND ENDURANCE – THE UNDERRATED ASPECT OF THE OVERALL PROGRAM

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Maximizing various aspects of strength in the forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers is one of the most underrated aspects of many Sports Performance programs.  Even though these muscles involved are smaller muscles (and in many cases, stabilizing muscles), he various aspects of strength of the traditional bigger/stronger muscle groups of the body is similar.  Absolute strength, high-speed eccentric loading, isometric strength, reversal strength, speed strength, and various forms of strength/power endurance are usually the primary categories that need to be considered with any forms of resistance training.  Implementation of absolute strength and isometric strength are a standard in most programs.  However, the other strength components definitely need to be planned for – especially combat style sports like wrestling, football, hockey, grappling, and many aspects of martial arts.  It’s also extremely important with any sports that involve grip on an external surface – baseball bat, tennis racket, lacrosse stick, hockey stick, etc.

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BASE OF STREGNTH FOR THE TRUNK AND SPINE REGION

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This is obviously a highly controversial and well-discussed topic in the Medical and Sports Performance industry.  Many people refer to it as “core training” or “abdominal training.”  It is probably more appropriate to refer to strengthening muscles in the trunk simply as “trunk strengthening.”  With the trunk simply being defined the region between the pelvis and the rib cage; which can encompass some of the muscles that attach to the pelvis, rib cage and/or spinal columns in that region.  Now there are exceptions – obviously muscles that attach higher than the rib cage that will cause motion in this defined “trunk” region.  For simplicity purposes, this aforementioned definition of trunk can be used as a standard.  There are so many variations of what “core” can actually mean, that many times it’s not as specific as strengthening the motions in the trunk.  For example, many muscles will attach to the pelvis, but not the rib cage or spine.  These play an important role in stabilizing the pelvis during trunk motion; but not be active trunk movers.  Those muscles could be considered into what is commonly referred to as core training.  So for definition purposes, core training is more global, while trunk development is more specific to strengthening the motions of the specific region.  The motions of the trunk can be simply categorized as flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion (or side bending).

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Row Isometric Wave

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There are a vast amount of row exercises and many variations for each. A staple in our BPS system is the isometric wave row. Typically, we utilize the seated row or incline prone row apparatus. The tempo for these row exercises begins at 6-1. This means the athlete concentrically rows, and then isometrically holds at the controllable end range of motion for 6 seconds. Once the hold time is complete the athlete will perform two controlled 101 tempo reps and isometrically hold again on the second rep. This time the hold decreases to only 5 seconds. Repeat this process until the last one-second hold is complete followed by the last two reps that will finish the set.
Once a foundation of rowing strength is set this tempo can be progressed by increasing the time under tension with longer isometric holds. For example, we would keep our athletes on the same weight as used for the 6-1 tempo but increase the tempo to 8-1, 10-1 or even 12-1. This progression will quickly increase the isometric strength of the back and posterior chain. The posterior chain in this case may include the trapezius, rear deltoids, erector spinae, rhomboids, etc. Any given athlete can progress up in tempo by two seconds about every three weeks. On upper body days, keep the wave tempo to about 4 sets of rows depending on the athletes needs.
All athletes require a strong posterior chain for many reasons including sprinting arm action speed, proper posture, shoulder health and reversal strength involved in all pressing motions. To obtain row strength through the use of the wave tempo in all planes of rowing motions, you’ll need to utilize multiple variations of rowing exercises. For instance, you can apply the 6-1 wave tempo to the
 DB incline row (narrow or wide grip)
 Inverted row (varying the grip)
 DB or band shoulder (rear, front, side)
 Pull-ups (varying the grip)

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PULLUPS – START ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO EFFECTIVENESS, APPROPRIATENESS, AND LOADING PATTERNS

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There’s no question that the Pullups is the one of the most effective upper body “posterior chain” or pulling exercises. It puts a great deal of emphasis on the latissimus dorsi (lats), essentially working very large muscle groups. It’s also extremely effective because of the unique pulling range requires so many muscles to be active. So it’s commonly referred to as an exercise that “gives a lot of bang for the buck”. It’s always good practice to implement exercises that accomplishes so much in a given set volume for the day. In addition, with the load being so significant, the high stress on the CNS in terms of recruitment is a huge benefit.

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MAXIMIZING YOUR WORKOUTS ON THE ROAD OR AT HOME WITH LIMITED TIME/EQUIPMENT – THE VARIABLE LOADING AND BODY WEIGHT SYSTEM

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In order to really maximize your training for yourself and/or your clients, having the structure is always the key.  The optimal structure can be centered around a number of aspects:

  • Medical disciplines to treat and evaluate pre/post
  • Facilities and equipment the can maximally facilitate individualized goals
  • High level trainers/coaches and/or training partners
  • Optimal time for preparation, rest periods, and post recovery
  • Nutrient Timing
  • Proper sleep, recovery, hydration, and stress-free personal environment

It is clear that one or more of the aforementioned aspects are just common parts of most people’s everyday lives and they will always compromise “optimal development.”  This is especially true for those that travel frequently, or just simply for those clients that have so many personal responsibilities with family and/or young kids that it might be logistically impossible to get to a facility with the necessary amenities and equipment. Planning for these logistical factors is always a good idea; as some development (even if it is “sub-optimal”) can be better then no development at all.  As long as trainers/coaches and the clients have a full understanding that this can’t be setup as a standard for people that are just too lazy to commit to what is optimal at least part time.  It is simply great sample general plans that can keep the development going during these types of tough situations.

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Three Key Aspects For Training Elite HS Baseball Athletes

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Ø  The first and maybe most important aspect to training baseball athletes is identifying individual bilateral imbalances and developing a plan to “correct” the system.  Evaluations such as the MAT evaluation or the FMS are great tools to utilize when evaluating an athlete.  Together, these methods can efficiently help identify what the imbalances exist and why they exist.  Implementing many single arm exercises and single leg exercises may not further worsen an imbalance.  However, these single limb exercises will work to ‘correct” an imbalance because the limb is acting independently on a resistance rather than in tandem.  For example, if leg imbalances exist, a Bulgarian squat exercises will force each limb to work equally rather than if the athlete back squats and the strong contributes more to the completion of the exercise than the weak leg.

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Strength Endurance / Power Endurance Continuum

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When you think of training for strength or training for power, the general periodization progression shifts from strength into power.  This transitions occurs after a basic hypertrophy phase and joint realignment phase has been established.  Once the strength phase is successfully completed based on the required goals, the training can shift to a strength power phase.  Then, the training shifts to a power phase before entering the strength endurance and power endurance continuum.  Keep in mind, when utilizing this continuum, there will always be a strength endurance and power endurance component to each exercise. The difference is the ratio for each component.

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SPEED BOX SQUAT – VARIABLE LOADING

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There four primary variables of strength:  absolute strength, speed strength, reversal strength, and dynamic eccentric.  Speed Box Squat, especially with variable loading, will have heavy emphasis on 3 of the 4 primary variables.  This is why this exercise is a staple of the BPS strength program – there is so much that can be accomplished in a single exercise.

Double leg squat versus single leg squat

One important aspect to understand is the concept of the double leg squat.  Single leg versus the double leg squat could honestly be one of the most controversial subjects in the industry today.  When reviewing both sides of this “argument”, keep in mind one thing:  all of the properties of the muscle contraction. The dynamic eccentric load of a muscle is a trainable effect and extremely important factor to potentiate power. The reversal strength (deceleration mechanics) against the external load, plus gravity (plus the body in some regards) is a trainable effect and extremely important factor to potentiate power. Isometric strengthening under load at high thresholds after a dynamic eccentric load and reversal deceleration is a trainable effect and extremely important factor to potentiate power. Concentric power off of an isometric pause under load (with the added potentiation of the dynamic eccentric and reversal) is a trainable effect and extremely important factor in overall speed strength and power.

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RUNNING BACK SPECIFICS: BALL CONROL AND LOW CHANGE OF DIRECTION

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Any Running Back needs to be able to easily and fluently switch the ball from one arm to the next with ease.  They also need to be able to stay low on change directions, and change directions on a dime.

This drill first and foremost focuses on ball control.  Note how our NFL RB clients Malcolm Agnew, Nick Hill, and Aaron Ripkowski moves throughout the drill.  The ability to change hands is a trainable effect, and note how this drill forces the player to change arms efficiently.

The next focal point is staying low on changes of direction.  Note with the cones as a target just focuses on bending at the knees with an upright torso position.  This is a pure endurance drill that will train the muscles of the hips and legs in deep bending positions.

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POWER ENDURANCE / GRIP ENDURANCE

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BPS NFL clients Darnell Dockett and Kendall Langford on battle rope training.  This is a great for all football lineman, as well as fighters, grapplers, wrestlers, and other combat sports.  This is great conditioning for the upper body, also strengthens the grip and works on endurance in the muscles of the hands, wrists, and forearms.

As lineman, the need for muscular endurance in the trunk/spine, and all upper body is just as important as standard cardiovascular conditioning.  Combat athletes (and lineman are considered versions of combat athletes) don’t move that far, but they need to be well conditioned when they engage their opponent.  This is a standard for many forms of conditioning for these athletes.

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ELITE HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PROGRAM

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The attached off-season weight room program is a workout that was customized for an elite high school baseball team.  Every logistical factor was taken into consideration:  equipment, space, time commitments, competency and level of athletes, volume and competency of coaching staff to implement and oversee, etc.  The start of each microcycle is exemplified in the program – essentially week one of each microcycle.  Each microcycle can be between 2 and 4 weeks long, with changes of volume and intensity throughout with keeping the exercises constant.  There was also periodic downloads and unloads within the overall program that was setup to coincide with various off-season events such as tournaments and testing.

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ELITE/PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL OFF-SEASON MOVEMENT, SPEED, AGILITY, FOOTWORK, METABOLIC CONDITIONING (TRAINING CAMP PREPARATION PHASE)

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NOTE: VIEW TRAINING SCRIPT ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ARTICLE IN THE RESOURCES TAB

Typically for football players, the off-season is set around 4 primary phases/macrocycles:
• General Preparatory / Re-Alignment / Regeneration – immediately after the season that focuses on low volume and full recovery from the season
• Intensification – Preparation for spring activities centered around on-the-field football work
• Spring ball, OTA’s, and/or Mini-camps – low volume of maintenance work as the focus shifts to football
• Training Camp / Season Preparation – secondary intensification that increases volume again, gets into more sport-specificity, and peaking of maximum power

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Combat Strength/ Endurance

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At BPS combat athletes can be defined as any athlete that has to compete against another athlete with intense physical contact.  For example, wrestlers, boxing, all forms of martial arts, NFL lineman, and military/law enforcement personnel.  There are many facets of training that apply to these combat athletes.  It’s important that their training focuses on dynamic strength, power endurance, grip endurance, and reactive neuromuscular training (RNT).  The example program script is strength endurance, which starts with slower controlled variably loaded work with a strength focus. Then, we increasingly shift the focus to high volume endurance work with more advanced power endurance, grip endurance, and RNT.  Keep in mind, prior to this strength/endurance phase the athlete would have completed a general preparatory phase, intensification phase, and a dynamic strength/power phase.  The end goal is to have an athlete, from top to bottom, which is capable of great range of motion mobility, superior strength and power, and the capability to maintain all motions they perform for an extended amount of time.

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College Football Movement

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When periodizing movement training or “speed work,” BPS found its best to plan a 4-week mesocycle.  We take into consideration active recovery days, “off days,” neurological specific days, linear speed days, position specific days, and aerobic conditioning days.  Typically our high neurological days are on Mondays due to the fact that most athletes will be “off” Saturday and Sunday and it is important to stimulate the athletes neurological system into a heightened state.  We do this first thing in the week so we can enhance performance on our aggressive linear speed day and position day that will follow the “neuro-Monday”.  Wednesday is typically our active recovery day to allow the body to adapt from the training in first half of the week.  This will help our athletes get the most out of our position work on Thursday and conditioning work on Friday.  Each week progresses in volume and difficulty of exercises as well as intensity and specificity.

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FOOTBALL COMBINE PREPARATION

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Given our success with the NFL Draft Preparation, one of our most common requests is preparation for football combines.  Obviously speed is a premium for any type of testing – as the 40yd dash has become the ultimate standard of speed in this country, specifically for football players.

The BPS philosophy has always been very simple – build a solid foundation of general strength and power, transfer it to more specific forms of dynamic strength and power and rate of force development.  This in itself is the best form of “speed training” there is.  In a sense, we’ve always had success in “training muscles, not motions.”  Build a foundation of muscle strength and power, transfer it, and then utilize it.

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Pain Management & Isometrics

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  • From Ankle to Knee
    • 1st and foremost; Many ankle dysfunctions can lead to knee, low back, and shoulder pain/discomfort due to compensation patterns.
    • Many times we can correct ankle dysfunction building stability, which will allow the knee, back, and shoulders to return to “normal” function without the body needing to compensate.
    • Our support system prep exercise, specifically the back dorsiflexion series is great for increasing ankle dorsiflexion, strength, and mobility. When the exercise is progressed with more speed and more force put through the ankle join, the ankle adapts stronger. When the ankle is isometrically held in dorsiflexion the knee also flexes while the musculature surrounding the knee isometrically contracts during ground contact.  This important isometric contraction at the end, controllable, range of motion at the ankle joint, is the fastest method to gain strength. Decreased pain and discomfort for the ankle, knee, low back, and shoulder/neck area can be achieved when this base of support for the body becomes strong and less dysfunctional.

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LOW BACK PAIN?

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One of the most common ailments of people of all ages (athletes or the general population) is low back pain.  It is so common and causes so many issues that there is an entire specialty (Chiropractic) that is dedicated to this condition.  The reasons is because of the severity of what could happen if low back pain continues without treatment – pinched nerves, degenerative discs, arthritis, ruptured discs, etc.

Many of the most common treatments are – spinal adjustments, modalities, increasing flexibility/mobility of the hips, strengthening, etc.  Some of these can be very expensive – in addition to the degree of uncertainty that may arise when trying to choose a specialist that fits your situation.

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3 Coaching Cues For First Step Acceleration

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As with any human motion, an athlete first needs to accelerate whether he/she is walking, running, or sprinting.  This starts from the bottom (ground contact) making the foot and ankle (support systems) a prime factor for first step acceleration.  Keep in mind; the strength and mobility of the foot will determine the level of speed and efficiency for which the first step occurs.  Most of the time we are asked how to apply these coaching cues to a sprint so we will address this topic.

  1. The Ankle Stretch Reflex
  • Minimize the total time of stretch reflex between the ground contact phase and toe off phase of movement and you will maximize the power of the first step. Take the back foot in a 40 yard dash start for example: If you can cue (back ankle in the “locked” position) and train an athlete to have great ankle mobility while having a “stiff” strong ankle, you can decrease the athletes’ stretch reflex time and thus initiate a faster first step into the acceleration phase of a sprint.
  1. Arm Action
  • To initiate the first stride into a sprint or run you must simultaneously initiate an arm action. This mean the right arm must move forward very fast to quickly force the left leg into a forward motion acceleration stride.  Once the arm and leg reach the controllable end range of motion, the right arm will rapidly fire backwards (stretch reflex), thus making the left leg fire rapidly downward (stretch reflex) and behind the athletes’ center of gravity.  Therefore, cueing a powerful arm action stretch reflex will greatly increase the power of the first step acceleration stride.
  1. “JUMP OUT”
  • Saying this very loudly to an athlete prior to a sprint will stimulate his fight or flight response within the body. This response may increase adrenaline, a powerful chemical that will increase heart rate and deliver more nutrients to the muscles faster.  This will allow for muscles, especially the gluteal muscles, to more powerfully contract and directly increase the speed of the first step in acceleration.

**For complete instructional videos on exercises that can enhance the acceleration stride and more sign up for our BPSU online university and attend our Level 1 or Level 2 Workshops @ http://www.bommaritoperformance.com/workshops/bps-university/

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