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Blog posts of '2015' 'July'

5 Of The Best Exercises To Improve Overall Performance

 

In order to improve strength, speed, power, and overal sports performance, you need to be spending 3-5 days per week strength training in the weight room. And when you're in there, not a single exercise should be wasted. Everything you do should serve a purpose for success on the field or on the court. 

 

With so many exercises to choose from, which exercises are the most effective to improve your performance as an athlete? We have them listed below. Be sure to revolve your strength training regiment around these five different exercises. Each exercise should be performed on a seperate day:

 

1) Squat - This exercise is arguably the king of all lower body strrength training movements... and it should be. The squat is an exercise that focuses on speed, power, and strength. Every muscle group from the lower body is being worked upon each rep, starting from the muscles in your calves all the way up, through your hips. 

 

Have you ever seen that running back in the backfield whose legs are too big for most guys to wrap their arms around? That guy does not skip a single squat session in the gym. Ever wonder why he is so fast and takes three or four tacklers to bring him down? You guessed it... squats. This power movement is the ultimate lower body exercise to improve sports performance and make you a force on the field.

 

2) Deadlift - The deadlift would be considered as the all-around, full body exercise. When pulling a plate-loaded bar off of the floor your body is activating every muscle fiber from the calves, through the quads, to the lower back and all the way up through the upper traps. Talk about covering nearly every muscle group. This exercise is an all around strength builder. It's short range of motion allows you to move massive amounts of weight and develop mighty amounts of strength.

 

3) Hang Clean - Do you want to build speed? This movement is going to require a deadlift motion (to start) and lead into a small jump and catch of the bar with your hands, just above the top of the chest. Not only will this movement build speed but will also improve your vertical leap. This movement is great for defensive backs, wide recievers, basketball players, and other positions that require jumping on game day.

 

4) Push Press - If you are wanting to increase shoulder, tricep, and core strength then this exercise is for you. Your shoulders play an important role in the power of your baseball swing and the power of you volleyball spikes. To perfect this movement you will start with the bar resting on your chest from an upright standing position and press the bar over your head. You will quickly feel the tightness in your core as you stabilize the bar overhead.

 

5) Bench Press - Your chest controls the movement of your arms across and in front of your body. Football players will find tremendous value in this movement, epecially offensive and defensive lineman who are pushing their opponent away from them on every play. You want to be strong and control your opponents, don't let them control you. Your strength on bench press will be an important factor in your ability to shed blocks or defend your quarterback on the field.

 

Be sure to add these five power and speed building exercises so you can perform on the field with confidence and dominance!

3 Tips To Go From Benchwarmer to Starter

So you want to get some more playing this season?

 

If you're reading this, chances are you are one of the few looking for more ways to become a better athlete, get as much playing time on the field as possible this year, and dominate your competition (both for the starting spot and for in-game play).

 

You've come to the right place. These three tips will seperate you from other competitors fighting for the same starting spot as you. Take these tips to practice and stand out amongst your teamates. 

 

Tip #1: Volunteer for absolutely everything

 

Whether it's a drill, 7 on 7, or full scrimmage, if the coach need bodies out on the field, you be the first one running out there. Show that you are willing to put in the work and seize every opportunity that comes your way. Coaches are looking for great athletes, yes. But they are also looking for high quality athletes who are teachable, and action takers. Is that you? Be sure to take every opportunity to participate in a drill and make your presence known. The more your coaches see your ability on the field, the more likely they are to remember you and give you more playing time.

 

Tip #2: Boost of self confidence

 

Confidence develops after hours and hours of practice, training, and reps (as in tip #1). You need to put in the work to build confidence in your abilities. Let me give you an example. Say you are about to perform a set of bench press. You have never lifted weights before yet your friend wants you to try and lift 135 pounds right from the beginning.

 

Not only do you have a poor friend... but chances are, you will not have much confidence when getting under the bar with some big plates attached to it... 

 

So you give it a try... the bar doesn't come an inch off of your chest.

 

Compare this story to someone who has been training for several months, has maxed out at ten repetitions with 95 pounds and 120 pounds for four repetitions... do you think this guy has a bit more confidence getting under the bar of 135 pounds and pressing up a one rep max? I think so...

 

What is the difference of the two? Confidence that comes from practice and training. Don't expect to have confodence on the field, if you are not willing to put in the effort outside of practice.

 

Tip #3: Build Up Your Teammates

 

Do you want to play a significant role on your team this season? Be this guy. The one who is always pulling out good qualitites and skills from his teammates. Be an encouragement and someone who spreads confidence to the rest of your team. Not only will you be your teammates go-to when they need that mental boost, but your coaches will see you as valuable component to the values of the team which will give you more opportunites to prove your talent.

 

Too often, good athletes don't become great because of the lack of chances they take to stand out on the practice field and take ownership of their position on game day. Don't be that guy. Take every opportunity to showcase your talent, boost your self-confidence, and build up your teammates... these three tips will set you up to be the starter and game changer on your team this year. 

3 Hacks to Better Performance in the Heat

It's mid Summer...

 

Temperatures are only rising and the sun isn't setting any earlier. What are 3 simple hacks you can implement today to perform better in the Summer heat?

 

Hack #1

 

Choose sports drinks over water. Leading up to practice, workouts, and games, be sure to hydrate with water. Consume roughly half a gallon of water leading up to your athletic activity. During physical activity, especially in the heat, be sure to replensh and quench your thirst with some type of sports drink. Sports drinks will do more than just hydrate your body; they will also fill you with a fresh amount of energy produced from the sugary carbohydrates in the  drink. No need to drink the zero calorie sports drinks during these hot events or practices. You want to replenish your energy through simple, fast acting carbohydrates. 

 

Another significant benefit of choosing a sports drink over water during game day is this... electrolyes. Electrolytes will assist in replenishing your muscles, assisting in brain control, and also help you maintain a proper whatever balance when performing under extremely hot conditions. Ten times out of ten, chose a sports drink for in game or in practice nutrition.

 

Hack #2

 

Train outdoors. Especially in the heat, training outdoors is never the first choice. Instead, most athletes choose to run routes and practice plays in an indoor facility. To prepare yourself for the heat, be sure to safely practice outdoors while properly protecting yourself from the sun and hydrating (as mentioned above in hack #1). You may even choose to run sprints or perform outdoor circuit training on days off from your regular practice schedule.

 

Hack #3

Choose the right apparel. Athletic apparel can make or break your performance in practice and on game days. Obviously, heavy cotton shirts will not do in temperatures like this... but what about traditional moisture management apparel? Here's a hint; if you are soaking with sweat underneath your apparel, chances are your body is not cooling off as optimally as it could be... therefore, your performance will be affected. 

 

You will want performance apparel that will remove sweat from your skin and displace the sweat to the top layer of your apparel where it can easily be evaporated. This moisture management technology causes a cooling effect for the athlete and doesn't slow the athlete down with soaked fabric. This technology is only found in Hammer Strength® Apparel - the world's best moisture management technology in the world. 

 

Be sure to follow these three hacks to better performance in the heat. Hydrate properly, train outdoors, and equip youself with the best apparel for athetes and be expectant of great performances this Summer in practice and in games.

Finding The Right Trainer for Young Athletes

 

In one of our previous blog posts, we talked about the right age for young athletes to begin a strength training regiment. You can view that blog HERE for any reference you may need to the topic.

 

In the blog post, how young is too young to begin strength training, we discuss the importance of a young athlete having a trainer to educate and provide practical feedback that is relateable and helpful for the youth to become strong, and more athletically fit. We are going to expand on the importance of a trainer and how to sift through the "okay" ones to find the perfect trainer for your young athlete.

 

When first beginning a strength training regiment, it is important to always have a trainer.

 

A trainer for an athlete is parallel to a guitar instructor. When a student wants to learn how to play guitar they find an instructor to teach the student fundamentals of the instrument, give expert level coaching and oversight when performing exercises, and connect with the student, relating to them in a way he or she will understand.

 

Finding a trainer for your athlete's strength training is the same concept. No athlete needs to figure out the right way to perform exercises on their own. And in most all cases, students should not be trained by their parents or older brothers or sisters. A trainer who is highly experienced in his/her field of training should be the one teaching your athlete, especially at a young age.

 

So what are the qualities every parent should look for when seeking out a trainer for their child? Take a look below:

 

1. Trainer must be certified and continuing education

 

Education is a must. Personal trainers should be certified by a credible certification organization and have experience under their belt working with other individuals.  Having a trainer who has worked with other young athletes before is a bonus. Without quality education, your student athlete will not be given credible information. 

 

Here are some good questions to ask a trainer to discover more about their certification history:

 

1) Ask to see their certification I.D. card. Every trainer will have one of these upon completion and passing of their exam.

2) What kind of formal education background do you have in regard to health, wellness, personal training, and working with youth?

3) Are you currently CPR certified? If they are not, then their certification is expired or on hold.

 

2. Trainer must look the part

 

There is a reason for this. A trainer who looks the part are most likely to have experience in the weight room. These trainers are more knowledgeable in regard to how the machines in your gym work and feel. Because of this, the trainer will better be able to design a proper program for your athlete. Remember, they must have the education to match the muscle.

 

Some great questions to ask these trainers include:

 

1) Do you train on the equipment here at the gym?

2) How comfortable are you training others on the equipment in the gym?

3) Do you think the equipment in the gym is suitable for my young athlete?

 

3. Trainer must have trust with parent and great interaction with the student.

 

This is vitally important for confidence for the parent and enjoyment for the athlete. The primary goal of enrolling your young athlete into a strength training program is to develop them athletically and physically all while the student is having fun and being educated. Some questions to ask the trainer before signing your athlete up for a program are:

 

1) Do you offer one free sample session? I would like to see how you and my athlete interact in your session.

2) Have you trained young athletes before and if so how was your experience training them?

3) Have you done any coaching, after school programs, or volunteer work with kids?

 

All of the above is great criteria for finding the right trainer for your young ahtlete. We want your athlete to come away with a great experience, feel the difference in their performance, and ultimately, continue to cultivate a passion for sports and good health. 

 

If you have any additional questions on how to find the right trainer for your young athlete, please leave a comment below.

The Hammer Strength® Apparel Difference

 

Hammer Strength® Apparel... "The World's Best Moisture Management Technology... And We Can Prove It!" 

 

But what does the world's best moisture management technology actually do?

 

We're glad you asked. Hammer Strength® Apparel does more than simply look the part of a moisture management tee. In fact, there is plenty that it won't do for you and plenty that it will.

 

It won't leave you with a thin layer of fabric, heavy, soaked with sweat and escaping body odor. In fact, performance apparel which leaves you soaked and heavy feeling is only slowing you down and limiting your body's ability to cool.

 

What does Hammer Strength® Apparel do differently? 

 

The TRANSPOR® "DRY LAYER" Technology used by Hammer Strength® Apparel has been scientifically proven to keep you drier than the competition.

 

 

How? 

 

The unique "TRANSPOR® DRY LAYER" feature allows vapor to move througn and stay away from your skin, keeping you drier, and more comfortable all the time. 

 

You see, sweat accumulates underneath the fabric of your tee, soaking up and spread out moisture across your apparel like a soaked sponge. With the TRANSPOR® DRY LAYER feature, your sweat is actually transfered from your skin to the top layer of the fabric (not soaked into the fabric), allowing air to reach the outer layer of your shirt and evaporate the sweat right from the top layer of the fabric. 

 

Why is evaporation so important? Because evaporation causes a cooling sensation, enabling athletes to cool off faster than their competition, and continue to perform in dry apparel as opposed to heavy, wet apparel.

 

When it comes to performance, every second, every inch, and every rep counts. Hammer Strength® Apparel had the athletes who are willing to go that extra inch, in mind. Apparel matters to these athletes.

 

Want to watch Hammer Strength® Apparel work? CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

Post Workout Nutrition, Is It Important?

Post workout nutrition is the most vital component to building muscle and recovering from intense workouts, practices, and games. It must be done effectively to yield the best results. But few know the right time frame to consume a post workout meal and what foods should be eaten.

 

Let's first talk about why post workout nutrition is vital to the athletes success and performance. Whether adding stress on your body through an intense workout, tough practice, or physical game, the body needs to be supplied with nutrients to repair, refuel, and refresh for the next day. 

 

Muscle growth actually happens, post-workout. Muscle growth does not happen during a workout, in fact, it is the opposite. When muscle tissue is undergoing a heavy load (for example, weight training), the fibers of the tissue are actually tearing, no growing. The only way to repair these torn muscles is through adequate rest and proper protein and carbohydrate intake within a small window of time following exercise.

 

If you've been wondering why your hard work in the gym has not shown much success or has plateued, the following is a nutrition strategy you will want to follow:

 

Nutrient timing

 

Following your workout you will want to comsume a high lean protein and high carbohydrate meal within 45 minutes. This does not mean stop off at the nearest fast food joint and pic up a chicken sandwhich or burger with fries. You will want your meal to be low fat (will provide examples below) and fit within the 45 minute time frame.

 

High protein, high carbohydrate, low fat meal

 

The types of foods you eat within the 45 minute window post-workout are crucial. Your meals should be high in protein (recommended 30-45g protein), high carbohydrate (recommended 60-100g carbs), and low in fat (recommended less than 5g of fat). The protein and the carbohydrates play an effective duo in muscle gowth and repair. The high carbs spike insulin and allow nutrients (and amino acids from the protein) to travel to the fatigued and broken down muscles faster, enhancing muscle growth and repair. 

 

This may make sense so far, but you might be thinking, "why the low fat?" Here is the reason. When fat enters the body it takes your body much more effort to break down the fat within your digestive track. Therefore, the blood that is carrying nutrients to your sore muscles will also have to split time with your gut to assist in the breaking down of these high fatty foods (hence the above comment about refraining from a fast food meal post workout). We want all of the nutrients you are consuming post workout to aid in muscle growth and repair; not digestion in the gut.

 

What do some of these high carb and protein meals look like with little fat? Here are some examples below:

 

  • Whey protein shake with 2 raisin english muffins and 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Whey protein shake with 1 white bagel and 4 Tbsp. strawberry jelly
  • 8 oz. chicken breast with 2 cups of white rice
  • 6-8 egg whites scrampled with white potato and 8 oz. juice
  • 8 oz. ground turkey with 1/2 cup jelly beans and 8 oz. sports drink

 

Above are perfect examples of what you want to consume following a workout for optimal muscle growth and repair. Nutrition plays a large role in the success and development of young athletes. Start implementing strategies such as this, today.

 

Are You Training to be Mentally Tough?

One of the great characteristics which seperates a good athlete from an elite athlete is mental tougness. Without it, you will not be able to bridge the gap into greatness. Many athletes and coaches believe mental toughness is one of those "unteachable" qualities that you eith have or you don't have.

 

Good news is... you can traing to be mentally tough. Just as you train in the weight room to become stronger and routinely run through agility drills at practice to improve your foot coordination and speed, so you can traing to be a mental powerhouse. 

 

Let's talk about visualization. Visualization is a powerful tool you can use to compliment your training regimen and gameday performace. Imagine this... two athletes are in the weight room during a max bench press session. One of the athletes is visualizing his success. He has trained for the past several months to conquer a one rep max of 315. In fact, he has been writing the number 315 down on his note pad for weeks leading up to this day. 

 

The other athlete has been training, but lacks confidence that he can finally have a one rep max of 315 on bench press. He visualizes hmself failing, just short of lockout, instead of himself completing the entire movement. Who do you think has a better shot at success to rep 315 on bench press? Athlete number 1. 

 

I will give you an example from one of my own experiences. A buddy of mine challenged me to a 225 lb. repetition contest. Whoever had achieved the most amount of full repetitions of 225 on falt bench, won the contest. I had a number in my head that I visualized me achieving. So much so, that I wrote the number "23" on the inside of my notebook. For one week I looked at this notebook, visualized how I would perform each repetition, and even thought about how I would feel after I accomplished this goal.

 

When the day came, I was ready. Carrying my gym back up the steps to the gym, I made my way directly to the bench press and began warming up, with one number in mind... 23, and nothing less.

 

A group of friends gathered around me as I told them that 23 repetitions were about to happen on this bench press. Had a lot of doubters, a few believers, but it didn't matter. I knew I was going to accomplish the task at hand. And that is exactly what had happened.

 

I bench pressed exactly 23 repetitions of 225 lbs. No more, no less, no failed lockout at the end... just a mission accomplished! Visualize setting PR's in the gym. Visualize game changing plays, last second three-pointers, running through the tape of a 26.2 mile course. 

 

This mental toughness training tip will help you walk up to a challenge with confidence. You trained for this moment, visualized for this moment, now go on and win the moment!

 

 

 

How Young Is Too Young To Begin Strength Training?

 

This is a common question among parents. What age can my young athlete begin a strength training regimen? 

 

Strength training movements such as push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, and calisthenics are acceptable movements to begin at a young age. The question is, strength training with resistance such as dumbbells, barbells, and machines... when is the appropriate age for parents to enroll their young athletes into a resistance training type program?

 

Although 13 is known as the acceptable age for a young athlete to begin a strength training regiment, credited certification programs state that ages even younger than 13 are acceptable.

 

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), prepubescent children can safely participate in a resistance training regimen following the guidelines below (summarized):

  

  • Children should be sufficiently mature that they can respond to coaching advice, follow proper instruction from a trainer, and show respect to trainer.

     

  • Chid's exercise regimen should not consist of only resistance training. Outdoor play, stretching, and sports activities should be included as well.

     

  • Children should avoid maximal or near-maximal lifts. Children should not select a resistance that only allows them to perform less than 8 repetitions. Focus on higher rep ranges such as 12-15 repetitions.

     

  • Children should be supervised at all times during their weight-training sessions.

     

  • Properly program strength training regimen so that overuse injuries may not occur. Do not put too much stress on a day to day basis on one specific muscle group.

     

  • Proper form and technique must be maintained in all lifts. Never lose form for the sake of additional repetitions or resistance increase.

 

As long as young athletes are performing the exercises with proper form and with caution of overuse injuries, children will see results from their hard work and effort in a strength training program.

 

What are some of the benefits young athletes will experience from a strength training regimen, even at a young age?

 

Increased muscle strength and endurance, improved sports performance, improved cardiovascular function, and strong bones are some of the added benefits, just to name a few.

 

There is also the mental benefits for young athletes that will be vital for their performance on the field, and valuable for life lessons as well. Confidence will increase, an interest in health, nutrition, and exercise will grow, and children will also experience the reward of goal setting and accomplishing set tasks.

 

With proper safety strategies in place, a certified trainer, and efficient recovery plan to bypass any overuse injury, you can begin strength training with your young athlete to improve their sports performance sooner than you may think. But before beginning any strength training regimen, please consult your athlete's primary physician.