The Kinetic Chain in Overhead Sports: A Linked System

This article aims to provide valuable insights and practical knowledge to athletes and coaches involved in overhead sports. By understanding the body as a linked system, you can optimize performance and minimize the risk of injuries.

Introduction

In overhead sports, such as throwing, serving, or pitching, athletes and coaches are seeking ways to improve performance. Just as importantly, they are trying to reduce ever-present shoulder and arm injuries.

One crucial concept that holds the key to achieving these goals is understanding the body as a linked system.

Its the kinetic chain as a linked system that helps athletes develop roatational velocity in their shoulder and arm. This is critical in sports such as:

  • Baseball & Softball
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Cricket
  • Waterpolo
  • Team Handball
  • Javelin

By recognizing the interconnectedness of different parts of the body and how they work together, athletes and coaches can unlock their full potential and unleash optimal performance.

So, let’s delve into the fascinating world of the athletic body as a linked system.

The Kinetic Chain In Overhead Sports

Imagine a symphony orchestra performing a masterpiece. Each musician plays their part, contributing to the harmonious whole.

Similarly, the human body operates as a symphony of movement, with each joint and muscle group playing a specific role in generating and transferring force. This interconnected system is known as the kinetic chain.

In overhead sports, the kinetic chain is particularly crucial. Let’s take throwing a baseball as an example. It all starts with the lower body—your legs and hips generate power and initiate the movement.

The kinetic chain in overhead athletes produces high velocity through a summation of forces
In most overhead actions, the arm is only one of the last contributors to velocity. Its the lower body and torse that generate most of the power.

The energy then travels up through your core and transfers to your upper body, finally being released through your arm and hand.

Every joint, from your ankles and knees to your hips, spine, and shoulder, acts as a link in this chain, contributing to the seamless flow of energy.

To optimize performance and reduce injury risk, it’s essential to understand the specific kinetic chain in overhead sports.

By identifying the sequential activation of muscle groups and the critical role of core stability, athletes and coaches can develop targeted training strategies that maximize performance while minimizing stress on individual joints.

Myofascial Lines: The Connective Tissue Web

Beyond the joints and muscles, another essential component of the body’s linked system is the fascia—a complex web of connective tissue that envelops and supports our muscles and organs.

Myofascial lines are the pathways that create the kinetic chain in overhead athletes. They connect multiple joints and muscle groups, allowing for the transmission of forces and energy throughout the body.

Imagine a spider’s web—the tension and interconnectedness between its threads.

Similarly, myofascial lines provide tensional networks within the body, capable of storing and releasing elastic energy during overhead movements. This mechanism is crucial for generating power and optimizing movement efficiency.

The legs created rive and the myofascial lines store elastic energy

In the context of throwing, the myofascial lines act like springs, stretching and storing elastic energy as you load and cock your arm back.

The myofascial lines transfer this stored energy.. When released,it creates a whip-like effect that adds velocity and power to your throw.

The stored elastic energy in several large myofascial chains is released to create velocity

Proper utilization of the myofascial lines can also help with deceleration, reducing stress on specific joints during the follow-through phase of an overhead motion. Remember, the summation of forces starts with large muscle groups. However, the arm and shoulder only have small muscles to decelerate.

Myofascial lines in deceleration
The large eccentric forces required for decelerating the arm after release are linked through several differnt myofascial chains.

To harness the benefits of myofascial lines, athletes and coaches can incorporate specific exercises and techniques into their training routines.

Dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and mobility drills that target the myofascial lines can enhance their flexibility and elasticity, improving performance and reducing the risk of injuries.

The Joint-by-Joint Approach: Balancing Mobility and Stability

A key principle in understanding the body as a linked system is the joint-by-joint approach. This approach recognizes that different joints have varying needs for mobility and stability to perform optimally. It’s like a delicate dance between providing enough freedom of movement in some joints while ensuring stability and control in others.

Think of the joint-by-joint approach as a blueprint for optimizing movement.

Kinetic chains in overhead sports

Mobility & Stability Needs In Overhead Athletes

When we look at the kinetic chain in overhead sports certain joints have a bias towards needing mobility. The shoulders, thoracic spine, and hips, require a greater range of motion to generate power and provide mobility.

On the other hand, joints like the elbow, scapular-thoracic, and lumbar spine have a bias towards stability to prevent excessive movement and maintain proper alignment.

When any joint within the kinetic chain lacks the appropriate level of mobility or stability, it can lead to compensations and increased stress on neighboring joints.

For example, limited hip mobility may result in excessive stress on the lumbar spine during a throwing motion. Conversely, insufficient stability in the scapular muscles can lead to increased strain on the rotator cuff muscles.

By understanding the joint-by-joint approach, athletes and coaches can identify and address limitations or imbalances in specific joints. This involves a comprehensive assessment of each joint’s mobility, stability, and movement patterns. Based on the assessment findings, targeted interventions can be implemented to restore balance and optimize joint function.

For instance, if an athlete demonstrates restricted ankle mobility, exercises and stretches that improve ankle range of motion can be incorporated into their training program.

Additionally, incorporating strength and stability exercises for the shoulder joint can enhance its ability to withstand the demands of overhead movements.

The joint-by-joint approach provides a framework for designing individualized training programs that address the unique needs of each athlete. By promoting optimal mobility and stability in all relevant joints, athletes can move efficiently, generate power effectively, and minimize the risk of injuries.

Conclusion

Understanding the kinetic chain in overhead sports is paramount for optimizing performance and reducing the risk of injuries.

By recognizing the intricate interplay of the kinetic chain, myofascial lines, and the joint-by-joint approach, you can unlock your full potential and excel in your chosen sport.

Remember, the body is not just a collection of isolated parts; it operates as a dynamic and interconnected system. If you move beyond isolated strengthening, you can enhance your performance and maintain a healthy, resilient body.

To implement these concepts effectively, seek guidance from qualified professionals such as Velocity’s performance coaches and sports rehab specialists. They provide tailored training programs, assessment techniques, and interventions to help you optimize your body’s linked system for overhead sports.

So, embrace the idea of the body as a linked system, and unlock your true potential as an overhead athlete. With knowledge, training, and a holistic approach, you can soar to new heights and achieve your athletic goals while keeping injuries at bay.

Velocity’s Human Performance Program: Strength Program 23.1

Velocity’s Human Performance Program for the month of March is an accumulation block to build strength.  It is also designed to improve muscle strength, joint stability, mobility, and core strength. The program is based on a traditional Bill Starr 5×5 program and incorporates tempo training and kettlebell exercises in supersets.

Bill Starr 5×5 Program

The Bill Starr 5×5 program is a popular strength training program developed by Bill Starr, a well-known strength coach in the 1970s. The program is designed to build strength and muscle mass using a simple yet effective approach.

Brief History

Bill Starr developed the 5×5 program while coaching at Johns Hopkins University in the early 1970s. He later refined the program while coaching at the University of Hawaii and the NFL’s Baltimore Colts. The program gained popularity among strength athletes and bodybuilders due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

Key Concepts

The Bill Starr 5×5 program is based on the concept of progressive overload, which means gradually increasing the weight or resistance to continually challenge the muscles. The program involves performing five sets of five reps for three compound lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. These exercises work multiple muscle groups and are considered the cornerstone of any strength training program.

The program also emphasizes the importance of rest and recovery. Training sessions are typically performed three times per week with a day of rest in between each session. This allows the muscles to recover and grow stronger.

Tempo Training

Tempo training is a strength training technique that involves controlling the speed or tempo of each repetition during an exercise. This technique can be used to add time under tension and emphasize different portions of the lift, including the eccentric, concentric, and isometric phases.

Eccentric, Concentric, and Isometric Phases

During strength training exercises, there are three main phases of movement: the eccentric, concentric, and isometric phases. The eccentric phase occurs when the muscle is lengthening, such as when lowering a weight. The concentric phase occurs when the muscle is contracting, such as when lifting a weight. The isometric phase occurs when the muscle is holding a static position, such as when holding a plank.

Controlling the Tempo

Tempo training involves controlling the speed of each phase of movement during an exercise. For example, a common tempo for squats is 3-1-1-0, which means lowering the weight for three seconds (eccentric), pausing for one second at the bottom (isometric), lifting the weight for one second (concentric), and immediately starting the next repetition without pausing (no rest).

By controlling the tempo, individuals can add time under tension to each repetition, which can help stimulate muscle growth and improve strength. It also allows individuals to focus on different phases of the lift, such as emphasizing the eccentric phase to improve muscle strength and control.

Kettlebell Exercises in Supersets

Kettlebell exercises are a versatile and effective tool for improving joint stability, mobility, and core strength. By incorporating kettlebell exercises in supersets, individuals can improve their overall physical fitness and functional movement patterns. Supersets involve performing two exercises back-to-back with little or no rest in between. This technique can help increase intensity, improve endurance, and promote muscle growth.

Program Overview

The Velocity Human Performance Program for March is a 4-week program that involves three strength training sessions per week. Each session includes the following:

  • Warm-up: 15 minutes of dynamic stretching and mobility exercises + Kettlebell movements
  • Block A: Main lifts: 5 sets of 5 reps for squat, bench press, and hang power clean.  This is the main focus to build strength
  • Block B: 3 sets of added work on the days focus with tempo training 3 – 3 – 3
  • Block C: A tri-set with some metabolic conditioning with a 30sec ESD sprint plus a core exercise and some added work on the secondary lifts for the day.

By incorporating the Bill Starr 5×5 program, tempo training, and kettlebell exercises in supersets, the Human Performance Program for March provides a comprehensive and effective strength training program that can help individuals improve their overall physical fitness and functional movement patterns.

Unlocking Tennis Performance: The Power of Tennis-Specific Training

At Velocity Sports Performance, we understand why you may be seeking tennis-specific training. We also understand the unique challenges that tennis players face when it comes to improving their game.

One common mistake we often see is players spending so much time on the court without incorporating off-court training that can enhance overall athleticism. The allure of sport-specific training makes sense.

It’s time to find the right balance and unlock your true potential.

Tennis-Specific Training: Unleashing Your Full Potential

Let’s clear the air and define what “tennis-specific” really means. In simple terms, any training that results in improved tennis performance and helps prevent injuries is considered tennis-specific.

It goes beyond just playing tennis or mimicking on-court movements. Tennis-specific training aims to develop the specific adaptations required for the sport, while also addressing potential limitations and injury risks.

Positive Adaptations and Injury Prevention

Playing tennis leads to both positive and negative adaptations in our bodies. Positive adaptations include increased muscular development in specific areas, enhanced aerobic capacity, and improved endurance.

These adaptations directly contribute to better performance on the court.

However, there can also be negative adaptations that can increase the risk of injuries. One of the reasons is that tennis training leads to loading the same repetitive motions. It also doesn’t overload your body beyond the level of the sport.

These negative adaptations include things such as decreased range of motion in certain joints or excessive wear and tear leading to inflammation in specific tendons.

Minimizing Limitations and Maximizing Potential

To minimize negative adaptations and enhance performance, it’s crucial to incorporate different types of physical development exercises throughout your training year. By incorporating a range of exercises with different degrees of specificity we can create adaptation while also minimizing overuse.

Dynamic Correspondence in Exercise Selection

To help give some granularity, let’s delve into the concept of dynamic correspondence and its role in selecting the right exercises to elevate your tennis game.

Dynamic correspondence is all about choosing exercises that relate to the movement patterns, skills, force production, and energy systems used in tennis.

By tailoring your training to mimic the demands of the sport, you can maximize your performance potential on the court. Let’s explore the different types of exercises and their tennis-related examples.

dynamic correspondence in exercise selection

1) Competitive Exercises:

Competitive exercises are those that replicate the actual movements and skills you use during a tennis match. They aim to simulate game-like scenarios and help you develop the specific skills required for success on the court.

For example, engaging in practice matches, and participating in drills that focus on shot placement and strategy are competitive exercises. Performing agility exercises with quick direction changes and returning balls would be competitive exercises that closely mirror the challenges faced during actual gameplay.

Special developmental exercises use the specific movements of the sport. This is what most people think of as “tennis-specific training.”

2) Special Developmental Exercises:

Special developmental exercises focus on specific aspects of your tennis performance that need improvement. These exercises target particular skills, strengths, or attributes crucial for excelling in the sport.

This is what people tend to think of as tennis-specific training. Afterall it involves the specific patterns and movements of tennis. It looks like tennis!

For tennis, these exercises could involve mimicking tennis footwork with added resistance, or utilizing resistance bands to strengthen your hitting muscles for more powerful shots.

3) Specific Preparatory Exercises:

Specific preparatory exercises aim to prepare your body for the demands of tennis and on-court training. They focus on developing the physical qualities and movement patterns directly relevant to the sport. These exercises help you become more proficient in the fundamental movements and build muscle memory for better performance.

In terms of strength and power, it might be explosive lifts, plyometrics, or that reflect the duration, muscle groups, and rate of force development that you need in tennis.

Another example would be various rotation medicine ball exercises that specific prepare you for the kinetic chain linking you use in your tennis strokes.

4) General Exercises:

General exercises form the foundation of your training regimen and contribute to overall athletic development.

They focus on building strength, power, flexibility, balance, and coordination in a more general sense. They don’t directly replicate tennis-specific movements.

Examples of general exercises for tennis players include weightlifting exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups, which improve overall strength and stability. Additionally, incorporating core exercises such as planks and medicine ball twists can enhance your balance and stability on the court.

By incorporating a combination of competitive, special developmental, specific preparatory, and general exercises into your training routine, you can optimize your tennis performance.

Being tennis-specific makes sense on the surface, but remember it may actually interfere with skill development and adds to the repetitive loading of joints and tendons

The Allure of Tennis-Specific Training

Tennis-specific exercises hold a certain allure for players seeking to enhance their performance on the court.

These exercises directly target the skills, movements, and adaptations specific to tennis, making them seem highly relevant and valuable.

However, the danger lies in overutilizing tennis-specific exercises without striking a balance with other types of training. While these exercises play a crucial role in developing sport-specific attributes, neglecting general exercises that enhance overall strength, mobility, and conditioning can hinder an athlete’s progress.

Specialized Training: Elevating Your Performance

In some cases, players may face limitations in executing certain tennis drills due to a lack of first-step abilities or specific physical qualities.

This is where specialized training becomes essential. It bridges the gap between physical abilities and tennis-specific training, ensuring a well-rounded and effective training regimen.

Specialized training focuses on exercises that address underlying physical qualities needed for tennis. Rather than just general fitness or strength, it’s things like training for improving lower-body force development or increasing upper-body velocity-specific joint stability.

The Role of General Training

While specialized and tennis-specific training are both crucial, we must not overlook the importance of general training.

General training includes strength training, global mobility exercises, speed and acceleration development, and more.

Although these activities may not directly replicate on-court movements, they contribute to overall fitness, augment specialized training, and restore essential movement qualities that may diminish during intensive tennis training.

Finding the Right Balance

At Velocity Sports Performance, we believe in a comprehensive approach that incorporates all three types of training: general, specialized, and tennis-specific.

The proportion of time allocated to each type varies depending on individual factors like training age, tournament schedule, injury history, and skill level.

As players progress through their specific preparation phase, the focus shifts towards more on-court tennis-specific training, while still maintaining elements of specialized and general training.

Plan for Success

Effective planning is a vital component of optimizing tennis performance.

By having a structured training program that encompasses all three training types, players can strategically target specific qualities, prevent overtraining, and maximize long-term adaptations.

While flexibility and adaptability are key, establishing a solid foundation through a well-structured, periodized plan sets the stage for success.

Unleash Your Tennis Potential Today!

Whether you’re a professional tennis player or an aspiring athlete, embracing a holistic training approach that includes general, specialized, and tennis-specific training is crucial for reaching your peak performance.

At Velocity Sports Performance, we have the expertise and resources to guide you on your journey. Join us in unlocking your true tennis potential and taking your game to new heights!

Ice Baths: A Guide to Their Rationale and Protocols

Guest Post from: Vive Wellness Studio

Ice baths have been a popular recovery method among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It’s not only a trend on social media, they can actually offer a range of health and wellness benefits.

Whether you’re looking to recover from a high-intensity workout, improve your overall health, activate your nervous system before a workout, or boost your hypertrophy and strength gains, ice baths can be a valuable tool.

To get the most from your ice bath, you need to understand the rationale and protocols for different goals.

Recovery from High-Intensity Exercise

Ice baths can help to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after intense exercise. A good protocol for recovery involves immersing yourself in ice-cold water for 5 minutes.

The water should be around 50°F (10°C) or colder. Research shows this can be an effective way to improve recovery time and reduce muscle damage after high-intensity exercise.

your ice bath protocol should match your specific goals
To be effective, your ice bath use needs to match your goals

Long-Term Health & Wellness

Regular use of ice baths has also been linked to long-term health benefits. Cold water exposure can stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanisms. In turn, this strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.

Therefore, to see the best results, it’s recommended to take ice baths for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a week, with water at 50°F (10°C) or colder.

Pre-Workout Activation

If you’re looking to get a boost of energy and activation before a workout, a short, very cold ice bath can help.

A good protocol for pre-workout activation involves immersing yourself in ice-cold water for only 2-3 minutes, with water at 50°F (10°C) or colder. This can help to stimulate the nervous system and increase your focus and energy levels before a workout.

Hypertrophy and Strength Gains

While ice baths can be beneficial for recovery, they may not be the best option for those looking to build muscle and strength. Research has shown that cold exposure can blunt the hormonal response to strength training, reducing the potential for hypertrophy and strength gains.

It’s recommended to limit the use of ice baths if your primary goal is to build muscle and strength. Skip it until your training goals change or consider jumping in beforehand as activation.

Understand the Rationale and Choose Wisely

In conclusion, ice baths can be a valuable tool for recovery, health and wellness, pre-workout activation, and hypertrophy and strength gains.

However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different, and what works best for one person may not work for another. It’s always best to consult a healthcare professional before starting a new health and wellness regimen.

References:

Chen, T., Lin, Y., & Lee, C. (2016). The effects of whole-body cryotherapy on recovery from high-intensity exercise: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 30(3), 813-820.

Sionko, M., & Waskiewicz, Z. (2018). Health Benefits of Whole-Body Cryotherapy: A Review. Frontiers in Public Health, 6, 255.

[Pritchard, H. J., Gass, G. C., & Hopkins, W. G. (2015). Cold-water immersion and recovery from high-intensity exercise: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(17), 1161-1167.

Moore E, Fuller JT, Buckley JD, Saunders S, Halson SL, Broatch JR, Bellenger CR. Impact of Cold-Water Immersion Compared with Passive Recovery Following a Single Bout of Strenuous Exercise on Athletic Performance in Physically Active Participants: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis and Meta-regression. Sports Med. 2022 Jul;52(7):1667-1688

Human Performance 23.2 – GBC Intensification

Its time to intensify our German Body Composition program for continued results

As human performance professionals, we’re always on the lookout for effective and efficient programs to help clients achieve their fitness goals. In last month’s training block we introduced a German Body Composition training (GBC) program.

GBCT is a unique and scientifically-backed workout program designed to help you build strength, improve your cardio conditioning, and enhance your body composition.

This month we build on that by moving from an accumulation phase to a (mixed) intensification phase.  We say mixed because this is not a typical intensification phase that moves to higher speeds and/or higher percentage of percent RepMax. 

Instead, it starts to do that only in the main strength exercises, and also by adding some higher velocity explosive movements.

So if you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level, or just want to try something new and effective, the GBC program is the perfect fit.

Get ready to challenge yourself and see the results you’ve always wanted.

The Workouts

The workouts are comprised of compound strength movements, high-rep kettlebell exercises, and intense cardio intervals.

The combination of these elements creates a program that is not only challenging, but also highly effective in;

  • raising your heart rate
  • increasing lactate accumulation
  • boosting your metabolism

The program is structured to allow you to perform more total work in each session and to keep your heart rate elevated for maximum calorie burn.

Getting Stronger

During the 1st superset, this program differs from traditional high repetition schemes.  Instead, we are using heavy weights and lower reps.

One of the key elements of this program is autoregulating the weight for your main compound strength movements.

Each week, you’ll perform a rep test set to determine the correct weight for the following week. This allows you to continually increase the intensity of your workouts and to see continual improvements in your strength and fitness.

Work Density

One of this month’s goals is to increase the total amount of work done.  More work in the same time equates to more work density.  Density

In addition to the strength and cardio components, the program also includes a high-intensity cardio interval in the second superset. This helps to further raise your heart rate and lactate accumulation, leading to even greater calorie burn and fat loss.

Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or just starting out, this program is designed to be highly effective and challenging, with results you can see and feel.

The Program Structure

The program consists of three full-body strength training sessions per week, with each session lasting approximately 50-60 minutes.

Block A is structured around compound exercises including front squats, deadlifts, and bench press, with a focus on building strength.  This block utilizes autoregulated rep tests on the main compound strength movement, allowing you to continually adjust the load to maximize gains.

In Blocks B & C, you’ll increase the repetitions in compound exercises are paired with high-intensity cardio intervals, designed to increase heart rate and lactate accumulation, leading to an increase in growth hormone, a key hormone for fat loss.

The program also incorporates the use of supersets, pairing upper and lower body exercises, allowing for a higher heart rate and more total work to be done in a workout.

Nutrition for GBC – Based on Your Goals

Nutrition plays a crucial role in any fitness program, and this GBC program is no exception. The right combination of calories, carbohydrates, and macronutrients can make all the difference in helping you achieve your goals.

Protein

For everyone, adequate quality protein is a good start. A protein shake can be a useful strategy for this GBCT program, whether the goal is mass gain or fat loss. Here’s how:

Mass Gain: Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle, so consuming an adequate amount of protein is crucial for those looking to gain mass. Drinking a protein shake after a workout can provide the body with the necessary protein to fuel recovery and promote muscle growth.

Fat Loss: Consuming a protein shake before or after a workout can help increase satiety, reduce cravings, and improve overall calorie control, which can support fat loss efforts. Additionally, drinking a protein shake post-workout can help promote muscle preservation, which can help maintain a higher metabolism and support long-term fat loss.

For Your Goals

You can also alter your nutrition based on your goals.

For muscle gain:

  • Increase total calorie intake: Consuming a surplus of calories is necessary to support muscle growth. A moderate calorie surplus of 250-500 calories above maintenance level can help increase muscle mass.
  • Increase carbohydrate intake: Carbohydrates provide energy for intense exercise and support muscle growth, so increasing carbohydrate intake may be necessary to support muscle gain. Aim for a diet that is 40-60% carbohydrates, with the remainder split between protein and fat.

For fat loss:

  • Reduce total calorie intake: Consuming a calorie deficit is necessary to lose body fat. A moderate calorie deficit of 250-500 calories below maintenance level can help achieve fat loss.
  • Moderate carbohydrate intake: While carbohydrates are important for energy, reducing carbohydrate intake can help create a calorie deficit. Aim for a diet that is 30-50% carbohydrates, with the remainder split between protein and fat.

It’s important to keep in mind that individual calorie and macronutrient needs can vary, so it’s best to work with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to create a personalized plan that supports your goals.

Upgrading Your Results

We’ve already talked about the importance of proper nutrition, but there are other factors you can consider to maximize your progress. Optimizing both your recovery and supplements can boost your results.

Supplements for GBC

There are several research-backed supplements that can help improve fat loss and support your muscle growth during this program. These include caffeine, green tea extract, and creatine among others.

Caffeine & Green tea

Caffeine and green tea have been shown to have thermogenic effects, meaning they can increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

Consuming caffeine has been shown to boost metabolism, increase thermogenesis and enhance physical performance. Green tea contains a catechin called EGCG, which has been shown to increase fat oxidation, boost metabolism and decrease body weight.

So consider having that cup of green tea before your next GBC session..

Creatine

Most people think of creatine as a muscle building supplement. However, it can be used as a supplement to support a healthy weight loss. Creatine supplementation can help increase muscle mass and strength, which can increase overall metabolism and contribute to fat loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet and exercise program.

Additionally, creatine can also improve high-intensity exercise performance, allowing for more intense and effective workouts, which can lead to improved body composition and potentially, fat loss.

Lifestyle

Additionally, there are other lifestyle habits that can boost the effectiveness of this program. Getting sufficient sleep, staying hydrated, and reducing stress are helpful. Things like meditation, red light or yoga are all great examples of ways to support your training and help your body recover faster.

23.2 Summary

In conclusion, this GBC program is a comprehensive approach to getting lean that takes into account both strength training and cardio to help you reach your goals.

Whether you’re looking to lose fat, build muscle, or improve your overall fitness, incorporating this program into your routine is sure to provide you with noticeable results in a short amount of time.

With proper nutrition, supplementation, and supportive lifestyle habits, you’ll be on your way to reaching your goals in no time!

The Power of Lactate: How Accumulating Blood Lactate Can Benefit Your Body Composition

accumulating blood lactate

When athletes and coaches talk about accumulating blood lactate, they are generally focused on the work and conditioning aspects of exercise. It’s not usually thought about in terms of fat burning.

However, in this article we’ll explore a different side. How accumulating blood lactate during a workout can stimulate the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) and promote fat burning.

blood lactate test
coaches and athletes often test blood lactate during workouts

What are Lactate and HGH?

Lactate is a byproduct of exercise that forms when your muscles use glucose for energy. As you exercise harder, your muscles produce more lactate, which accumulates in the blood. HGH, on the other hand, is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It plays a crucial role in regulating growth, metabolism, and body composition.

The Benefits of Lactate and HGH

Studies have shown that accumulating blood lactate during exercise can stimulate the secretion of HGH. This is great news for those looking to improve their body composition.

That’s because HGH promotes fat burning and helps to build lean muscle mass. When you exercise at high intensity and push yourself to the limit, your body produces more HGH, which can lead to better body composition results.

How to Accumulate Lactate

You need to exercise intensely enough to accumulate blood lactate

To accumulate lactate, you need to exercise at a high intensity. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to achieve this. HIIT involves short bursts of intense activity followed by rest periods. This type of workout allows you to push your muscles to the limit, producing more lactate and stimulating the secretion of HGH.

Another way to do this without high-intensity intervals is to use supersets with higher reps.

Superset training involves performing two or more compound exercises back-to-back without any rest in between, leading to an increase in heart rate and lactate production. A German Body Composition training program is an example of using this strategy.

These training methods create a high-intensity workout, allowing you to push your muscles to the limit and stimulate the secretion of HGH, leading to improved body composition results.

Benefit from Accumulating Blood Lactate

In conclusion, accumulating blood lactate during exercise is a great way to stimulate the secretion of HGH and promote fat burning.

This can lead to better body composition results, including an increase in lean muscle mass and a decrease in body fat. So the next time you hit the gym, push yourself to the limit and take advantage of the benefits of lactate and HGH.

References:

  • Bishop, D., & Turner, P. (2016). Influence of acute lactate and hydrogen ion accumulation on growth hormone and cortisol secretion. Sports Medicine, 46(6), 825-836.
  • von Schulsenger, J., Verges, S., Vieux, N., Salleron, J., Barbier, B., Le Gallais, D., … & Sagot, J. M. (2013). The impact of high-intensity intermittent exercise on lactate and growth hormone responses. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 12(2), 314.

Athletes Guide To Improving Muscle Pliability

Guest Blog from Vive Recovery Centers

In the quest to improve movement quality & efficiency, as well as reduce the risk of injury, pliability has become a popular topic.

This guide will help you with ways to improve muscle pliability.

What Is Pliability?

Pliability describes the quality of muscle tissue. Function focuses on effective/efficient movement.  It’s not just about how much muscle, how much range of motion, or how much force.

Pliability is an underlying tissue quality that improves those things.

Sports medicine and tissue professionals use the term to describe muscle tissue.  Three components that they incorporate into the concept of pliability include;

  • Elasticity – has spring after yielding and while absorbing force
  • Smooth – layers of tissue glide freely, without adhesions
  • Supple – muscle may be dense but it is adaptable and unrestricted

Those are great descriptions of the qualities we want in the muscle of any active person or athlete. So improving muscle pliability is a worthwhile goal.

“Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” — Lao Tzu

Is Muscle Pliability the Same as Flexibility?

No. Muscle pliability is not the same as flexibility. 

Flexibility is the ability of joints and tissues to move through a full range of motion.  Its just a quantitative measure of passive motion.

Pliability, on the other hand, involves the tissue’s ability to move, and the quality it moves with. 

You might be able to move through a specific range of motion, but you can still lack pliability. Without pliability, that motion could come unevenly, with added stress, or lack of elasticity to spring back well.

So how far you can move and stretch a muscle, doesn’t entirely reflect if it is pliable.

Why Is Improving Muscle Pliability Important?

Movement and muscle contraction transmit forces through connected chains into the tissue of your body.

These forces can be dissipated effectively across tissues and joints or overload them. 

The forces can be used elastically like a new rubber band, or damage tissue like ones that are ragged and worn out.

The question of whether you can use that force effectively is answered by whether your muscles are adequately pliable.

The most important ability for an athlete is availability.  Injuries are the greatest setback for anyone who wants to be fit, active, and do the things they love.

 Pliability is key to your body remaining resilient when you go out and push it hard playing, training, and living.

Is Pliability Only a Muscle Quality?

No.  In humans, you can’t anatomically or functionally separate the muscle from connective tissue completely.

Muscle is surrounded by layers of fascia and connects to bones through tendons.  Fascia also is a tensional network transmitting forces through the body (Schleip ed. 2012).  It’s interwoven with-in your muscles like a web helping to give it structure and affecting its elasticity.

So while people commonly refer to “muscle” pliability, in fact, its “tissue” pliability that includes muscles, tendons, and fascia.

Is Muscle Pliability Based on Science?

Muscle pliability is more than just a term used by professionals, its a valid physiological construct (Science Direct) although there can be some confusion in popular media. The elements making up pliability are measurable and based in science.

First of all, the elasticity (Uffmann 2004) and compliance (Simons 1998 ) of myofascial tissue can be measured.

Secondly, muscle tone (Gubler-Hanna 2007) and stiffness (Prune 2016) can be measured in several different ways.

Furthermore, MSK ultrasound imaging visually shows how much fascial layers are sliding and it can be measured (Soares 2021).

So, pliability is not be universally defined or used appropriately in some social media posts. However, these are real, measurable qualities of muscle, tendinous, and fascial tissue.

How Do You Improve Muscle Pliability?

Pliability is key for movement, and it has scientifically measurable qualities. Therefore, improving muscle pliability is important. So, what can you do to make it better?

Move

Movement is key to tissue pliability.  “Motion is lotion” is a saying that emphasizes a scientific fact.

The contraction, relaxation, and stretching/sliding of muscles, tendons and fascia does in fact lubricate the joints and tissues.  Forceful contractions positively influence the hydration and chemical composition of muscles.

Lack of movement causes both functional (Campbell 2019 ) and physiological (Williams 1984) changes to tissues.  Furthermore, pliability gets worse when you don’t move enough (Cowman 2015).

Moving through a full range of motion helps prevent adhesions from developing in the fascia.  Additionally, it helps to prevent the densification of tissues.

Here are few things to consider to move well;

  • Train with full motion:  Training in multiple planes of motion (up/down, side/side, rotate, front/back) is a great step.  Too many athletes start using the same motions again and again.  That is to say, it’s also important to work through a full joint range of motion.
  • Different speeds of movement:  Grinding out slow heavy lifts or steady hikes are great.  However, sometimes you need to be moving faster, and bouncier.  Muscles need to move in different ways to stay pliable.
  • Active mobility work:  Mobility (both flexibility and stability) needs to be trained with specific intention, not just left to chance.

Hands-on Tissue Work

If you want to improve muscle pliability you can take a page from elite athletes and teams and focus on professional tissue work. 

IASTM muscle recovery
“Tooling” is one of several Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization techniques used for improving muscle pliability.

We aren’t talking about a relaxing Swedish massage (although they can be great!)

The changes in tissue compliance and elasticity before and after tissue work (Jędrzejewski 2020, Costello 2016) are measurable.

Trained therapists use the skill of their hands along with specialized tools to get the results you need. These approaches can be highly targeted to specific tissues, structures, and myofascial chains. 

Tissue work targets both physiological structures and nervous system function.

In short, for improving muscle pliability, skilled hands-on tissue work is the gold standard.

Hydration

Hydration is a crucial factor in muscle pliability. Muscles that aren’t hydrated begin to look and feel like beef jerky instead of Grade-A steak. Consequently, they can’t absorb the forces thrown their way.

Proper hydration is critical for just about every biological process, including performance, recovery, and overall health. 

Did you know that muscles are ~75% water?!

Water is needed for lubricating the tissue of fascia and muscle as they slide freely.

Therefore, if you aren’t sufficiently hydrated, your muscles won’t perform, respond, or recover optimally.

a Mediterranean diet is one startegy to reduce inflammation which helps when improving muscle pliability
A Mediterranean diet is one strategy to reduce inflammation which helps when improving muscle pliability

Reduce Inflammation

Nutrition is also a crucial factor after hydration in ensuring muscle pliability. What we put inside of our bodies has a direct impact on our muscles and in particular, our bodies’ inflammatory responses to certain foods.

A good diet is important for improving muscle pliability because ongoing inflammation in your tissues can lead to the degeneration of those tissues (Howard 2020).

As a result, if you do this long enough, your tissues will lose elasticity. Firstly, this occurs by changing the extracellular matrix composition and fiber alignment.

Secondly, instead of aligned and sliding collagen fibers in your connective tissue, chronic inflammation can stimulate crosslinks that restrict motion

Stretching is Not Enough to Improve Muscle Pliability

Stretching is a piece of the puzzle to gain or maintain your muscle pliability, but it’s not enough on its own.  Movement through a full range is more effective because it stretches the muscles along with contracting them which has a greater effect.

For one thing, stretching helps more with the neurological control of muscle tension, not the actual physical muscle pliability (Ylinen, 2009).

Additionally, stretching doesn’t create the same stimulus for changes to the extra-cellar matrix in your connective tissue that influence pliability.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling has become one of the go to practices in the fitness world as a way to “release” muscle adhesions. However, in recent years its taken some criticism as the pressures applied aren’t enough to actually deform fascial tissue or adhesions.

foam rolling for muscle pliability
Foam rolling is something everyone can do to help maintain tissue pliability

While true, this criticism may be missing the bigger picture.  Foam rolling can aid in an individual’s awareness of muscle pliability. It increases their neurological input to the brain.  Accessing the nervous system can help “release” muscle tension and trigger points neurologically, not structurally.

So along with moving, and between tissue work sessions, use that foam roller to help maintain your tissue quality!

Start Improving Your Muscle Pliability Today

Muscle pliability is a term that describes optimal muscle qualities. Pliable tissue is elastic and yielding. Furthermore, it is unrestricted, smooth, and supple. 

Pliability is about more than muscle. It includes complete myofascial chains of muscles, tendons, and fascia.

If you want to move better, stay healthy, and enjoy the things you love more, then focus on improving your pliability with these basic strategies.

Human Performance 23.1

To kick-off 2023 the Strength program is based on German Body Composition Training methods to burn fat and build lean tissue

German Body Composition (GBC) training is a style of training that focuses on building muscle mass and increasing strength through the use of compound exercises.

The German Body Composition method has a background in the former Eastern Bloc Sports System. 

According to the story, a defecting sports scientist brought it to Germany in the 1980s.  It was popularized by Charles Poliquin and has become a mainstay of Hollywood trainers preparing starts for roles where they want to look good naked.

GBC Program Methods

Here are some of the main methods used in this month’s GBC program.

  1. Super-setting compound exercises of the lower and upper body – this generates significant work but limits fatigue.
  2. Short rests of :30-:60 sec – helps to build lactate and stimulate hormonal responses
  3. Mid to high volume (20-24reps total per exercise) and total time under tension – to stimulate lactate build-up, and increase caloric burn
  4. Bonus high-intensity cardio exercise – increases lactate production and calorie burn

Changing Body Composition

Body composition refers to the percentage of fat, bone, and muscle in your body. It is important to fitness because it can affect your overall health, athletic performance, and appearance.

Having a healthy body composition is important because excess fat, especially abdominal fat, can increase the risk of a number of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. On the other hand, having a high amount of muscle mass can improve metabolism, increase strength and power, and improve athletic performance.

In terms of appearance, having a healthy body composition can help you to achieve a lean and toned physique. This can improve self-esteem and confidence, and contribute to a positive body image.

There are two main strategies to improve body composition in GBC. Burning fat and increasing metabolically active muscle.

Burning Fat

One way in which German Body Composition training may help to shred fat is by increasing metabolically active muscle mass.

As muscle is metabolically active tissue, having more muscle mass can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories, even at rest. This can contribute to fat loss over time.

Another way in which German body composition training may help to shred fat is by increasing the density of your workouts.

There are a few different ways that total exercise density can be increased in a German body composition program:

  1. Short rest periods: By limiting rest periods between sets and exercises, you can increase the density of your workouts and increase the overall workload.
  2. Supersets: Supersets involve performing two exercises back to back without rest in between. This can increase the density of your workouts and allow you to accomplish more work in a shorter period of time.

It is worth noting that in order to maximize fat loss, it is important to combine German body composition training with a healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercise. This will help to create a calorie deficit, which is necessary for fat loss to occur.

Building Lean Muscle

Exercise density and time under tension are two factors that can influence muscle growth and contribute to the development of lean muscle mass.

Exercise density refers to the amount of work that is accomplished in a given period of time, typically measured in seconds or minutes. By increasing the density of your workouts, you can increase the overall workload and intensity of your exercises, which can stimulate muscle growth.

Time under tension refers to the amount of time that a muscle is subjected to tension or resistance during an exercise. By increasing the time under tension during an exercise, you can increase the stress placed on the muscle and stimulate muscle growth.

Together both of these are used in our 23.1 GBC program to increase the total workload.

The greater overall workload leads to a better hormonal response post-workout, specifically through anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.

Testosterone is a hormone that plays a key role in muscle growth and development. It helps to stimulate protein synthesis, the process by which the body builds new muscle tissue. Higher levels of testosterone can promote muscle growth and increase strength.

Growth hormone (GH) is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that plays a role in growth, metabolism, and the breakdown of fats. GH can stimulate muscle growth and increase fat loss, especially in combination with exercise.

By increasing the density of your workouts, you can stimulate the release of testosterone and GH, which can help to promote muscle growth and improve body composition.

Human Growth Hormone

Boosting your natural human growth hormone (HGH) production helps with both increasing lean muscle and reducing fat.

HGH is released in pulses throughout the day, with the highest levels occurring during sleep. Some studies have suggested that HGH may help to increase fat loss, especially in combination with exercise.

One way in which HGH may help to burn fat is by increasing the breakdown of fat cells, particularly in the abdominal area. HGH may also stimulate the liver to produce insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which can help to increase the utilization of fat for energy. In addition, HGH may help to increase muscle mass, which can boost metabolism and contribute to fat loss.

One way in which HGH may help to build lean muscle is by stimulating protein synthesis, the process by which the body builds new muscle tissue. HGH may also help to increase muscle mass by stimulating the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which can help to promote muscle growth and repair.

It is worth noting that HGH from GBC training is not a magic bullet for weight loss or muscle building and to see the best results, nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle need to be dialed in.

Supporting the GBC Program

If you want to maximize your gains during the 4 weeks of 23.1, you should support it with lifestyle strategies.

Sleep

Sleep is an important factor in overall health and wellness, and can support fat burning and the release of human growth hormone (HGH).

One way in which sleep supports fat burning is by regulating the hormones that control hunger and appetite. When you are sleep deprived, your body may produce higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which can increase hunger and cravings for calorie-dense, high-fat foods. On the other hand, getting enough sleep may help to increase levels of the hormone leptin, which can help to suppress appetite and promote fat loss.

In addition to regulating hunger hormones, sleep can also support fat burning by helping to maintain a healthy metabolism. Poor sleep quality has been linked to a slower metabolism, which can make it more difficult to lose weight and maintain a healthy body composition.

Sleep is also important for the release of HGH, a hormone that plays a role in growth, metabolism, and the breakdown of fats. HGH is released in pulses throughout the day, with the highest levels occurring during sleep. Some studies have suggested that HGH may help to increase fat loss, especially in combination with exercise.

It is important to prioritize sleep and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night in order to support fat burning and HGH release.

Nutrition

Here are a few simple recommendations for nutrition to use with German body composition training:

  1. Adequate protein intake: Consuming adequate amounts of protein is important for building and maintaining muscle mass. Aim for 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Good sources of protein include chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu.
  2. Plenty of vegetables: Vegetables are an important source of nutrients and can help to support muscle growth and recovery. Aim to consume a variety of vegetables, including leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and colorful vegetables such as bell peppers and tomatoes.
  3. Carbohydrates for energy: If trying to gain significant muscle mass you need to give yourself enough energy. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for muscle building. Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, and consume them around your workouts to fuel your muscles and support recovery.
  4. Recovery nutrition: Consuming a quality protein shake within an hour after your workouts can help to support muscle recovery and growth. Good options include a protein shake with fruit, Greek yogurt with berries, or a turkey and avocado sandwich on whole-grain bread.

It is important to note that everyone’s nutritional needs are different and it is best to work with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional to develop a nutrition plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

YOUR TOURNAMENT NUTRITION PLAN TO FUEL PERFORMANCE

Tournaments are a big part of sports for athletes young and old.  For younger athletes, they are important scouting opportunities for college, national teams, and juniors programs. For older athletes, these recreational tournaments may be the big event annually, so they want to play their best.

Athletes looking to gain a competitive edge for their next travel tournament should take a closer look at how they’re eating.

When athletes travel, they lose out on many of the advantages of playing at home, including meals.  Meals have to be eaten while traveling by car, bus, or plane to and from tournaments. 

Then they have to eat meals in hotels, restaurants, and on-site.

All in all, this is a major change from their normal routine at home. Add in team demands of group meals and a lot of athletes’ control over their nutrition is affected.

Making a nutrition plan before hitting the road will help athletes make better choices.  

Better food choices can lead to more fuel for the games, better recovery, lower injury risk, and a better chance to play their best.

Remember, eating choices is one place a player can exert a lot of control, but its going to take some planning.

2-3 DAYS BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT

Most athletes aren’t really starting to prep in the days before leaving for a tournament. Properly tapering training volume and getting extra sleep is a start.   

But starting your tournament nutrition plan a few days early is a bonus. The addition of eating high-quality foods and hydrating fully is also a good strategy to get an advantage over others.

Fill your water bottle several times per day and eat a balanced diet the week before. This will help you to show up to a tournament weekend fully fueled, hydrated, and ready to play.

What your plate should look like during tournament week:

  • 1/3 carbs: pasta, potatoes, whole grain breads, rice, oatmeal, whole grain cereal, corn, peas, beans, tortillas)
  • 1/3 protein and healthy fats (fish, turkey, chicken, beef, eggs, Greek yogurt, Tofu, tempeh, nuts, fish, etc.)
  • 1/3 vegetables/fresh fruit.
Eating well consistently is the foundation for game-day performance.

TRAVEL FOOD TIPS

One of the most dangerous times for healthy eating is during travel.  Whether it’s the stops at fast food while driving, or limited airport options, travel is challenging. So your tournament nutrition plan needs to adapt for you travel.

Packing some non-perishable snacks is a good way to save money and avoid buying unhealthy foods on the road. Fill your bag with items that are a good choice, instead of being stuck with only bad choices.  Some of the foods you could select for travel include:

  • A large water bottle
  • Bagels or bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Trail mix/mixed nuts, dried fruit
  • Apples/oranges/bananas
  • Granola bars
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Tuna packets, and
  • whey protein & a shaker bottle

You can also find some healthy snacks and meals on the go, but it’s always good to have good choices on hand.

EATING THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR TOURNAMENT

Top off your fuel stores by eating a high-quality carb-rich meal the night before your first game.

Remember – carbs are your body’s main source of fuel during high-intensity exercise such as team sports.  That means you’ll want to eat a healthy and balanced meal with several servings of starches and a serving of healthy proteins. 

Basically, it should look like your pre-game meal.

When eating out on the road, there are some things to avoid;

  • Unfamiliar or extra spicy foods might be great to expand your tastes but be careful trying new foods before a competition.
  • It is also a good idea to avoid high fat/fried foods that can add a lot of calories and leave you feeling heavy.
  • Many fast-food choices will contain high amounts of sodium.  This can leave you retaining extra-cellular water and feeling bloated.

Search the menu for options like these:

  • Simple pasta dishes with red sauce.  A side of chicken breast and a side salad
  • Grilled chicken or beef with sweet potato and vegetables
  • Burrito / bowl with grilled chicken/steak, rice, grilled vegetables, and avocado – skip the cheese and sour cream
  • Deli turkey sandwich or sub with lettuce, spinach, and tomato – Go light on cheese or mayo
  • Grilled chicken sandwiches with an apple and yogurt
  • Rice and grilled white fish or salmon

PRE-GAME MEAL

This is the part many people focus on in their tournament nutrition plan. They have to figure out where the meals are going to be while on the go.

Your pre-game meal is going to provide the major source of fuel for your effort in the game, so make it good.

If you have an early morning game, you have the choice to get up and eat early (3-4 hours before game time) or rely on the meal the night before and top it off with morning carb & protein snacks. 

This varies a lot based on individuals, so you should try to experiment ahead on some early practice days if possible.

You can usually find healthy carb options at the hotel breakfast such as toast, oatmeal, cereal, whole fruit, and juice. Pairing carbs with protein, such as eggs, yogurt, milk, and peanut butter/nuts will help hold you over throughout your first game. Eating this healthy breakfast is vital to topping off energy stores as you prepare for a long day of games.

If you have a late morning or early afternoon game, breakfast will be your pre-game meal.  If not, then it will probably be lunch. Food options are generally a bit broader later in the day.

The starchy carbs are your source of fuel so you should search for:

  • Pasta dishes without cheeses or cream sauces
  • Rice or noodle dishes
  • Baked white potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • Whole grain breads

There are also some things to avoid pre-game.  They are foods that take too long to digest or can upset your stomach.

  • New foods
  • High fat / fried foods
  • Dairy
  • Spicy foods
  • Large amounts of raw vegetables that are harder to digest

The most important thing is to pay attention to what works for you.  Experimenting at home before practices is a good way to learn what foods fuel you best without gastric distress.

PREGAME SNACKS

Depending on your per-game mealtime, or time between matches, you can take advantage of snacking smart.

The intake of a little bit of protein and carbs keeps your fuel tanks topped off going into game time.  You want simple foods that aren’t hard to digest. Some ideas can include;

  • Apple and some almonds or cashews
  • Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Small Greek yogurt & banana
  • Hard-boiled egg and an apple
  • Small instant oatmeal and blueberries

Don’t ingest a bunch of simple sugars that could spike your glucose. That will then lead to an insulin spike and post sugar crash right before game time.  Simple sugars to be careful of pre-game include;

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Processed/packaged foods
  • Many granola bars

DURING THE GAME

You want to make sure you stay hydrated and fueled during the game if you want to perform your best and reduce the risk of injury.

When you are more fatigued from low energy stores or dehydrated, your risk of injury can increase.

Not to mention there can be a cumulative effect.  That means depleting your carbohydrates stores completely during one game, can make it harder to refuel for the next ones.

Experiment at practice ahead of time to find some fast digesting carb that can help you maintain energy levels.  

In depends on the length and setting of your sport, but some of the foods you might try at half-time, or between periods/rounds include:

  • Sports drink with electrolytes/carbs
  • A few slices of orange or watermelon
  • Dried fruit or Fruit snacks
  • Energy gel or applesauce packets
  • Fig bars
  • Granola/energy bars
  • A handful of gummy bears

Don’t overdo it!  A small amount can go a long way and too much can upset your stomach. Consuming these during breaks will help keep your energy levels high.

POST-GAME

One of the exciting things about tournaments is getting to play a lot. However, that also puts more demands on your recovery. Thats why your tournament nutrition plan needs to consider what happens after games.

After competing, your energy stores are depleted.  This is primarily the glycogen in your muscle cells.  To refuel you’ll need to get carbohydrates into your body to refill your tank.  But you’ll need more than that.

You’ve also used up various molecules in your body and caused microscopic damage to tissues.  You’re going to need quality protein so your body can rebuild the tissue and restock its biochemistry.

And then there is the most important post-game nutrition need; hydration.  You’ve probably heard that your body is mostly water.  Well, that’s true. 

However, just as important is the fact that the majority of your biological process requires water to operate optimally.  Playing hard dehydrates and even more so in the heat.

So you need to rehydrate.

The 3 Rs approach to post-game recovery is a proven strategy.

  • Refuel with fast-acting carbohydrates
  • Repair (protein)
  • Rehydrate (water/sports drinks)

When To Refuel Post Game

In a lot of circles, the immediate period after exercise or competition is considered the refuel power hour.

Many athletes have been known to focus on their 3Rs within the 20-minute window of finishing play.

The problem is that often you have to cool-down, change, travel back to a hotel, and then go to a restaurant.  The time can add up. 

And if you have another tournament game in less than a few hours, this becomes more important.

If you have more than 4 hours until the next game, you can probably go have that meal.

But often you need to stay onsite, or there just isn’t much time.

Post Game Strategy

So one of the key strategies is to have some quickly available calories right in the locker room, car, or bus. 

Some of the ways to accomplish your three Rs include;

  • Consume 8-20oz of water or electrolyte sports drink
  • Consume a carbohydrate-containing sports drink and a whey protein shakes
  • Chocolate milk is a popular choice for both its quick carbs and protein (plus it tastes good to many)

Then, if you aren’t playing again, go eat a balanced meal you know will sit well with your stomach.

With more than four hours between games you are back to the pre-game meal routine.  Over the course of the tournament, just rinse and repeat.

GAME DAY NUTRITION PLAN

Now you can see that game-day nutrition is more than just the pre-game meal.  A complete tournament nutrition plan starts well before the tournament.

It takes planning to be fueled for your best performance and that’s increased with multiple games at a tournament and travel.

Your plan should be based on your own personal tastes and the experimentation you tried on practice days.

By having a tournament nutrition plan, your chances of success are much higher.

Hamstring Hero: Regaining Your Athletic Potential After a Hamstring Injury

Hamstring Injuries

Are you a hardcore athlete yearning to hit the field, track, or court again after a pesky hamstring injury? We’ve got your back (and hamstrings)!

It’s time to turn your setback into a heroic comeback. With the right game plan and determination, you’ll be sprinting toward victory in no time.

In this guide, we’ll equip you with a toolkit for returning to sport after a hamstring injury. So, lace up your sneakers and let’s embark on this exciting journey!

The Road to Recovery: Preparing for the Comeback

The road to glory starts with healing the hamstring. Before diving into action, ensure you have the green light from a sports physician or physical therapist. With the injury phase behind you, it’s time to focus on reclaiming your athletic skills.

And this means a lot more than just resting until it heals and going back to sport.  Inadequate and incomplete rehabilitation is considered a major risk factor and why previous hamstring strain is the largest risk factor for future strains (Tokutake 2018).

Rebuilding Tissue and Restoring Length: Flexible and Strong

One of the most critical aspects of returning to sport after a hamstring injury is ensuring the hamstring muscles are both flexible and strong.

Rebuilding damaged tissue and restoring optimal length are essential for regaining full function and preventing future injuries.

Here’s why focusing on these aspects is vital for your triumphant comeback:

Rebuilding Tissue: Healing for Resilience

When a hamstring injury occurs, it often results in damage to the muscle fibers and surrounding connective tissues.

These tissues need time to heal properly and regain their resilience. Engaging in controlled and progressive exercises is key to promoting healing while minimizing the risk of re-injury.

Rebuilding strength after hamstring injury
Rebuilding the muscle tissue means building strength so the healing fibers align properly.

Example Exercises:

  • Isometric Contractions: Perform isometric hamstring contractions by placing your foot on a stable surface and gently pushing down against it for a few seconds. Isometric exercises stimulate the healing process without putting excessive strain on the muscles.
  • Eccentric Hamstring Curls: Lower the leg slowly during a hamstring curl, focusing on the lengthening phase. Eccentric exercises help rebuild tissue strength while reducing the risk of excessive tension on the muscles.

Restoring Length: Flexibility for Optimal Function

Following a hamstring injury, scar tissue may form, leading to decreased muscle flexibility.

Restoring optimal muscle length is crucial for improving overall function, preventing compensatory movements, and reducing the risk of future injuries.

Example Exercises:

  • Active Stretching: Engage in active hamstring stretching by lying on your back, raising one leg, and gently pulling it towards your chest. Active stretches help lengthen the muscles while promoting blood flow to the area.
  • Dynamic Lunges: Incorporate dynamic lunges, emphasizing a deep stretch in the hamstrings, as part of your warm-up routine. Dynamic stretching prepares the muscles for more intense movements while gradually increasing their flexibility.
Restore the full range of motion after hamstring injury
Stretching, self-myofascial release, and professional soft tissue work are all part of restoring your full range of motion after a hamstring injury.

Strengthening the Posterior Chain and Core: Powerhouse Players

Unlocking your full athletic potential after a hamstring injury requires tapping into the strength of your posterior chain and core.

These powerhouse players play a vital role in sprinting, jumping, and overall sports performance. Here’s why focusing on these muscle groups is crucial for your triumphant return:

Strengthening the Posterior Chain: Engine of Power

The posterior chain, consists of the facia and msucles of the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. They are responsible for generating power during explosive movements like sprinting and jumping.

By strengthening these muscles, you’ll enhance your ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction effectively. 

You’ll also make sure your every part of the chain is contributing and not forcing to much load on just the hamstrings.

Example Exercises:

  • Romanian Deadlifts: This classic exercise targets the hamstrings and glutes, promoting strength and stability in the posterior chain. Keep your back straight, and hinge at the hips while lowering the weights down your shins.
  • Kettlebell Swings: A dynamic exercise that engages the hamstrings and glutes through explosive hip extension. Hinge at the hips and use the force generated by your hips to swing the kettlebell forward.
  • Back Extensions: Targeting the lower back muscles, back extensions strengthen the erector spinae, promoting stability and preventing lower back injuries.

Core and Pelvic Stability: The Epicenter of Performance

A strong and stable core is the epicenter of athletic performance. It provides a solid foundation for efficient movement and transfers power from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa.

Moreover, a stable pelvis is crucial for optimal biomechanics during dynamic movements. If your pelvis is shifting out of control in sprinting and sports movements, excessive stress can be placed on your hamstrings.

Example Exercises:

  • Planks Variations: Planks are a classic core exercise that targets the entire core, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis. Try plank variations like side planks and plank with leg lifts for a more challenging workout.
  • Glute Bridges with Marching: By lifting one foot off the ground during a glute bridge, you challenge pelvic stability while activating the hip abductors. This exercise helps address any imbalances and ensures proper alignment during movement.
  • Russian Twists: This rotational core exercise engages the obliques and transverse abdominis. Use a medicine ball or weight to increase the intensity.

Remember, consistency and proper form are key. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts, and don’t forget to allow for adequate rest and recovery. By focusing on strengthening the posterior chain and core, you’ll lay a strong foundation for your triumphant return to sport and a future filled with athletic excellence.

Sprint training is important after hamstring injury

Incorporating Speed and Agility: The Need for Speed

Speed and agility are the bread and butter of athletic performance, and mastering these skills is essential for a triumphant return to sport after a hamstring injury.

By incorporating speed-specific drills and plyometric exercises into your training, you’ll elevate your game and leave your competitors in the dust.

The Demands of Full-Speed Sprinting on Hamstring Muscles

Sprinting at full speed places some of the highest demands on the muscles of the body, particularly the hamstrings. (Learn more about the science of speed mechanics here)These powerful muscles are crucial for propelling the body forward during explosive movements, such as sprinting.

However, it’s important to understand that while various exercises and drills can help prepare the hamstrings, nothing fully replicates the intensity and stress that sprinting at top speed places on these muscles.

During a full-speed sprint, the hamstrings undergo rapid and forceful contractions to propel the body forward with maximum velocity.

They are responsible for extending the hip and flexing the knee, generating the necessary power to cover ground rapidly.

Additionally, the hamstrings play a vital role in deceleration, eccentrically controlling the leg’s forward motion during the swing phase to prepare for the next stride.

Without specific exposure to full-speed sprints, the hamstrings may not be fully prepared for the explosive power and high-intensity efforts required during competition.

Incorporating full-speed sprinting into your training regimen, under the guidance of a skilled coach or physical therapist, can help bridge the gap between strength training and on-field performance.

Mastering Speed: Ignite Your Explosive Power

In sports, speed is often the difference between victory and defeat.

Speed drills help you maximize your acceleration, top-end speed, and agility, ensuring you’re always one step ahead of the game.

Example Sprint Drills:

  • A-Skips: This drill focuses on proper knee drive and foot dorsiflexion, training your body to maintain an upright posture and develop powerful strides.
  • Dribbles: Quick, short strides performed at high frequency, mimicking the fast turnover needed for rapid acceleration.
  • Fast Leg Drills: Rapidly alternating high knee lifts with each step, enhancing hip flexor strength and improving stride frequency.

Posterior Focused Speed Drills: Restoring Hamstring Function For Sprinting

When it comes to speed, your posterior chain muscles play a starring role and the hamstrings need to be ready. 

Strengthening and activating these muscles in specific drills will not only optimize your sprinting performance but also reduce the risk of future hamstring injuries.

Example Posterior Speed Drills:

  • Straight Leg Gallops: Pull forward with exaggerated strides, focusing on extending the hip backward with each step. This drill targets the hamstrings and glutes for the high speed contractions in sprinting mechanics.
  • Straight Leg Shuffles: Maintain a straight leg during forward shuffles, engaging the glutes and hamstrings to pull back at the ground explosively.
  • Straight Leg Sprints and Bounds: Emphasize hip flexion and pulling backwards during sprints and bounds, engaging the posterior chain for maximum power output. For runs you focus on speed and for bounds you focus on getting long strides with more air time.
  • Proper Butt Kick/Thigh Pop Exercises: Execute a “butt kick” action, emphasizing pulling the heel under the glute, while focusing on bringing the thigh parallel to the ground. These drills reinforce the importance of proper hip extension in sprinting.

Gradual Progression to Full-Speed Sprinting: Patience Pays Off

As you approach the pinnacle of your return-to-sport journey, gradual progression becomes the key to unlocking your full potential.

While you may be eager to unleash your full speed, it’s essential to approach it with patience and a well-structured plan.

Why Gradual Progression Matters After Hamstring Injury

Gradual progression allows your body to adapt and build resilience to the demands of full-speed sprinting.

By respecting the healing process and respecting the guidelines set by your physical therapist, you’ll mitigate the risk of re-injury and lay a solid foundation for long-term success.

Studies have shown that a progressive return-to-sport program leads to better outcomes, reducing the risk of re-injury and promoting a smoother transition back to full competition (Ishøi et al., 2018).

Step-by-Step Outline for Gradual Progression

1: Foundation Building
  • Start with low-impact exercises, such as stationary cycling or pool workouts, to maintain cardiovascular fitness without excessive stress on the hamstring.
  • Engage in gentle static and dynamic stretching to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.
2: Low-Speed Drills
  • Introduce low-speed drills like jogging, skipping, and ankle dribbles to ease your body back into dynamic movements.
  • Continue to focus on core stability and posterior chain activation during these drills.
3: Controlled Acceleration
  • Gradually increase your pace with controlled acceleration drills, such as build-up sprints or gradual accelerations over short distances.
  • Emphasize proper sprint mechanics and form during these drills.
  • During this phase progressively use the posterior chain speed drills to prepare the hamstrings.
4: Sub-Maximal Sprints
  • Gradually build to fast calf and knee dribbles.
  • Execute sub-maximal sprints at around 60-70% of your maximum effort.
  • Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or fatigue and adjust your intensity accordingly.
5: Full-Speed Exposure
  • Incorporate full-speed sprints in a controlled environment, such as on a track or field, under the guidance of your physical therapist or coach.
  • Begin with shorter distances, such as 20-30 meters, and gradually progress to longer sprints.
  • Continue the posterior chain speed drills as part of your warm-up.

Full Speed Sprints in Practice: Prevent Hamstring Strains Through Exposure

Research suggests that incorporating some exposure to full-speed sprints during practice can help prevent hamstring injuries. By gradually integrating high-speed movements into your training regimen, your hamstring muscles adapt and become better equipped to handle the demands of sports competition.

A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that athletes who performed short, maximal sprints during practice had a lower risk of hamstring injuries compared to those who only trained at sub-maximal intensities (van der Horst et al., 2015).

With a gradual progression plan, you’ll develop the strength, flexibility, and confidence needed to sprint at full speed without fear. Trust the process, believe in your body’s ability to recover, and remember that your journey to greatness is defined by resilience, determination, and patience.

Conclusion: The Epic Triumph

Congratulations, Hamstring Hero! You’ve come a long way on your journey to reclaiming your speed. With determination, dedication, and a strategic plan, you’ve transformed setbacks into stepping stones, turning your hamstring injury into a triumphant comeback story.

As you prepare to step back onto the field, track, or court, remember these key takeaways that have paved the way for your epic triumph:

TL;DR – Your Key Takeaways

  • Rebuilding tissue and restoring hamstring length is essential for healing and regaining flexibility.
  • Strengthening the posterior chain and core provides a solid foundation for explosive performance and stability.
  • Speed drills prepare your hamstrings for the high demands of top-end speed,.
  • Gradual progression is crucial for building resilience and minimizing the risk of re-injury.
  • Full-speed exposure during practice helps prevent hamstring injuries and prepares you for competition.

Your return to sport after a hamstring injury is not just a mere comeback; it’s a testament to the hero within you.

You’ve navigated the path of resilience, endured the challenges of recovery, and emerged stronger than ever before.

As you sprint towards your goals, remember to cherish each milestone and celebrate your victories along the way. There will likely be frustrations and small setbacks, but that’s part of the stroy.

So, Hamstring Hero, the field awaits you with open arms. Embrace the epic triumph that awaits, and unleash your full potential on your quest for athletic excellence. It’s time to claim your rightful place as a true champion!

Unleash Your Athletic Potential and Rediscover Your Inner Champion!

Ishøi L, Hölmich P, Aagaard P, Thorborg K, Bandholm T, Serner A. Effects of the Nordic Hamstring exercise on sprint capacity in male football players: a randomized controlled trial. J Sports Sci. 2018 Jul;36(14):1663-1672.

Tokutake G, Kuramochi R, Murata Y, Enoki S, Koto Y, Shimizu T. The Risk Factors of Hamstring Strain Injury Induced by High-Speed Running. J Sports Sci Med. 2018 Nov 20;17(4):650-655.