Velocity Sends Athletes To Olympics For Unbelievable 10th Time

Velocity Sends Athletes To Tokyo Olympics

While the sports and fitness industries are filled with hype, flashy social media accounts, and short-lived personalities, Velocity Sports Performance is quietly continuing 2 decades of excellence by sending athletes to another Olympic Games.

When Velocity was founded in 1999 outside Atlanta, Georgia, Olympians from 5 countries were working with legendary coach, Loren Seagrave. Seagrave was an elite track coach and the founder of Velocity Sports Performance.  In that very first Velocity facility, USA Bobsled athletes worked with Coach Seagrave to improve their speed for the 2002 Winter Games.

That tradition of working with elite Olympic athletes continued as Global High-Performance Director Ken Vick set up shop in Redondo Beach in 2005.

“Olympic sports were always a passion for me.  I was a Weightlifting coach for several international level lifters and the intensity and passion of athletes pursuing their Olympic dream is unique,” says Vick.

He’d know something about that as he coached multiple athletes going to the Games and directed the high-performance team behind many others, even whole Olympic Committees. In the last decade under his watch, Velocity has supported 54 medal winners across 13 different sports.

Measured Performance

In Vick’s view “For a performance coach, one of the unique aspects of many Olympic sports is that they are measured objectively.  We time how fast someone runs, cycles, swims, or paddles.  You measure how far they throw or jump, or how much weight they can lift.”

This means that the results of training programs are much more visible.  “You can see if what you are doing with them is working.  You can’t hide bad training behind a great team or tactics,” he adds.

This has been a major influence on Velocity’s methodology in training, sports medicine, and recovery.  “Since we have always dealt with these Olympic athletes, we put added emphasis on measuring training variables and exploring the methods that produced the greatest results.  Velocity’s methods have been based on science, proven in the field, and continually refined to stay on top.”

Today Velocity has brought many of these training technologies and methods to the average high school athlete walking through their doors.  The elite-level devices, monitoring systems, and training methods are accessible to all.

Velocity has supported National teams and Athletes at the Olympic Games in these sports

  • Athletics (Track & Field)
  • Badminton
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Diving
  • Fencing
  • Freestyle Wrestling
  • Indoor Volleyball
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Sprint Kayak
  • Sprint Canoe
  • Swimming
  • Synchronized Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Track Cycling
  • Weightlifting

Supporting Athletes Around the Globe

International Olympic sport has a history of top coaches being recruited to countries with budgets and looking to improve their performance.  Working across borders is part of the game and one of the great opportunities to have a lasting impact globally.

Aspiring athletes and pros in the US weren’t the only ones to notice what Velocity was doing.  With a steady international clientele, the word was getting out.  Countries looking for better performance noticed.

In their build-up for the 2012 Olympics, Team GB brought their developing beach volleyball program to Redondo Beach and asked Velocity to help.  It made sense since Velocity had experience training so many top AVP and international players.  Now Velocity was tasked with helping them raise their game as the London Olympics approached.

The Chinese Olympic Committee had been a top nation in the medal count, but in 2013 they started working with Velocity in a few targeted sports and several of their provincial programs.  A few years later Velocity was working alongside another performance company called EXOS preparing athletes across the entire Chinese Olympic Program.

Velocity coach Mark Williams working with the Chinese Womens Wrestling Team that included two 2016 Rio Olympic Medalists.

“The experience of deploying Integrated Support Teams on the ground in China and advising their teams was incredible.  We had challenges that we never imagined but an incredible opportunity to have an impact,” reflects Vick.  “Making sure we could coordinate the sports medicine, strength training, speed work, conditioning, and recovery was a task.  There was an outdated system there, language and cultural barriers, and we were trying to make a major shift.  That’s a tall order, but we were able to see results.”

Years of working with elite performers have driven a methodology based on integrating these different domains.  When the entire integrated support team works together to support the effort of the athlete and the plan of the sports coaches, the results speak for themselves.

Velocity Supports Olympic Teams and Athletes around the globe

Winter Olympics Too

Velocity’s expertise doesn’t stop when cold weather hits.  Athletes and National Teams from the Winter Olympic Games have relied on Velocity as well.  Olympic hockey players, speed skaters, bobsledders, skiers, and snowboarders have all been trained by Velocity.

“Many of the winter sports have incredible demands on the athletes. Take slopestyle and halfpipe events.  The forces these athletes experience on jumps and landings are enormous,” says Vick.  “We have to not only train for the event but sometimes, more importantly, to be durable and healthy.  If you cant practice and develop your skills on the snow because you’re hurt, it doesn’t matter how good you are.”

That’s why Velocity has hosted several national teams in its elite centers.  The impact was so visible that they’ve also deployed coaches and sports medicine professionals to work with teams and travel around the globe.

Elite Technology

Managing Velocity staff working with teams all around the world in different time zones presents challenges.  One of the solutions for Velocity is taking advantage of cutting-edge technology.

“Technology like our Athlete Management System brings together data from multiple sources so we can use our Integrated Support Team to assist those professionals out in the field.  Those coaches and sports medicine professionals aren’t on their own.”

One of the tools that they have used for years is a device from Australia called Gymaware.  Its measures vary biomechanical properties of athletes when they are jumping or lifting weights.  This highly scientific data can be sued to make programming decisions or day-to-day adjustments. 

“The Gymaware tool is a scientifically proven device that’s completely portable.  While I love using force plates, they are big and bulky so not great for a  team going from country to country every weekend,” laughs Vick.  “We get to use the same device to both test and train the athlete and the data feeds right into our athlete management system automatically.”

Today this same technology that was refined and proven with the world’s most elite athletes, is being used in Velocity centers for athletes of all levels.  Its also be used remotely by some athletes who follow digital training programs on their own.  This lets coaches monitor their training and make precise adjustments to the plan.

Road to Tokyo

One of Velocity’s US locations is an 11,000 sq ft facility hidden away in El Segundo, CA.  Once a site that once housed engineers helping send the mercury and Apollo astronauts to space, the spirit of innovation continues as athletes prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The sprint events in track cycling aren’t well known in the US, but they are known at Velocity.  After hosting training camps for the US team before the 2008 Bejing Olympics, they’ve now helped cyclists from 4 different countries.  One thing remains consistent for these athletes, being strong & powerful.  Track sprinters need strength to get the fixed gear bikes up to speed and power to sustain the high speeds attained on the velodrome track.

In 2012 Velocity supported the US Sprint team as well as Trinidad & Tobago athlete Njisane Phillips. Then for the Rio Olympics, they supported the entire Chinese team including the eventual Gold medalists in the Women’s Team Sprint.  They also hosted the Australian team in their Redondo Beach for a 1-month holding camp right before the Games.

Athlete Maddie Godby is a Team USA Sprint Cyclist who will compete in Tokyo. She has been training at Velocity Sports Performance with Coach Ken Vick.

Team USA athlete Maddie Godby is the latest track sprinter training with Velocity.  The 28-year-old international competitor came to Coach Vick with the goal of getting stronger and more explosive.

Training 2-3 days a week in the gym, she’s used that same Gymaware technology to monitor and prescribe highly specific training that fits her unique needs as an individual and as a sprint cyclist. 

“We are fine-tuning at this stage so there are targets and we want to hit the right zones.  Just to have that feedback is really helpful.  Sometimes that means adding more weight and other times it means less.” comments Godby.

So far, it’s working.  She performed at a high level in May in Hong Kong at the only international event in over 14 months.  She spent most of that time off the velodrome track since they were closed in the pandemic.  However, putting in time, training in the gym, has made her much stronger and explosive.  Qualities she’ll put to use in Tokyo. 

But there is more than just training according to Godby. “I’m really good at pushing myself and training hard. So in order to do that I needed to find ways to recover better. So that’s a really big part of what I’ve been doing at Velocity.”

Other Athletes in Tokyo

Like many Americans, Velocity will also be excitedly watching the Men’s Basketball competition in Tokyo. This location and its Redondo Beach predecessor have also trained USA Basketball team members Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in past off-seasons.

Swimming will also be high on the list.  Velocity was also under contract to support the Chinese Swimming Association for 2 years up to the Olympics Games.  Unfortunately, with the pandemic, that plan got cut short in early 2020 after over a year of work put in.  Still, several former Velocity staff members including Coach Zach Murray stayed behind to continue working all the way up to the Games.

The Olympic Dream

In the USA many athletes in smaller sports struggle to survive as they pursue their dreams.  Velocity has made it part of its mission to support these incredible athletes who are willing to dream.  Every year they provide sponsorships for athletes in smaller sports to help them on their journey.

According to Vick, this is something he thinks is important as a coach and as the CEO.  “The Olympics, but more so the journey and pursuit of that goal, is inspiring.  Athletes like these give us insight into the human spirit and what’s possible.  That goes far beyond sport.  That’s why we love doing what we do and want to give back to those who inspire all of us.”

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need After a Workout?

how much protein do athletes need

It’s never been easier to get a quick bite of protein after a workout.

Between shakes and bars, it seems like there is a protein snack everywhere you turn. You’ll probably find a high-protein snack in the bag or every serious athlete at the gym. In general, this can be a good thing, but just how much protein do you need after a hard lifting session or practice?

“The right post-workout nutrition gives our muscles and body what they need to recover, rebuild, and stop muscle protein breakdown,” explains nutrition coach Kris Wilkins.  “Protein is an important part of that plan.”

When you work out or practice intensely, you damage tissues on a micro-level. You also use fuel.

Ultimately, this is what makes us stronger, more fit, leaner, and more muscular. However, in the short term, it requires repair.

So, what exactly is a good post-training snack, and how much protein should be in it? Here’s what you need to know.

How much protein do you need after a workout?

“Protein is the building block of our muscles and other tissues so we need it to be there when our body starts repairing any damage from training,” says Wilkins.

As to how much protein you need, it depends on what kind of workout you were doing. If you just finished a high-intensity practice with lots of sprinting, running, or swimming, you’ll need a bit more than if you just did yoga.

In general, studies show that getting about 20-40 grams of protein after a strenuous workout is recommended.

To get more specific, research suggests that you should consume between 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight after a workout. An athlete doing more intensive training may lean toward the higher side of this recommendation.

What Protein Is Best For Athletes After A Workout?

Protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of our muscles and are necessary for energy and proper bodily function. However, not all proteins are created equal. Some foods are more complete sources of protein and others don’t contain all of the amino acids your body needs.  

Complete proteins naturally contain all the essential amino acids and varying amounts of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).  The BCAAs are important to support muscle protein synthesis.  Complete proteins include sources like animal-based products such as meat, eggs, dairy products, and plant-based products like soy.

Protein quality doesn’t only depend on the amino acid profile.  How easy it is to digest and how quickly those proteins are available to our body is important.

Some proteins are more readily digested than others, and your body can generally access all of the amino acids from animal sources, such as milk. Generally speaking, animal sources of protein are more readily digested, compared to plant sources.  Whey protein is a common choice.

Athletes Need Carbs With Their Protein!

While protein is pivotal, it doesn’t act alone. Carbs are also required post-workout because they help replenish your energy. Wilkins says, “Consuming 3-4 times as many grams of carbs compared to protein post-workout is a good rule of thumb.”

Your body needs fuel to repair those tissues and use the amino acids. It also needs to restore its stores for the next practice or training session.

Another benefit of adding carbs is that the combination of carbohydrates and amino acids after exercise stimulates growth hormone and testosterone. That helps you recover and rebuild faster.

what type pf protein do athletes need

What To Eat To Get Protein Post Workout

The main goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout. Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption.

This list contain examples of simple and easily digested proteins:

Protein

  • Animal- or plant-based protein powder 
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Protein bar
  • Tuna

Sample Post-Workout Meals

Here are a few examples of quick and easy meals to eat after your workout:

  • Recovery shake with carbs and protein
  • Protein shake and banana.
  • Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
  • Salmon with sweet potato.
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Tuna and crackers.
  • Cottage cheese and fruits.
  • Pita and hummus.
  • Whole grain toast and almond butter.
  • Greek yogurt, berries, and granola.

Athletes Need Protein After Training

Whether a recovery drink or a whole food meal, you want to eat something within 30-60 minutes after you finish training or practice.  That’s when your body needs recovery the most.

It is particularly important to eat both carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

  • Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
  • Restore glycogen stores.
  • Enhance recovery.

References

 

 

 

 

 

Are your Fitness Gains being Stolen in 2020?

Stop Having Your Fitness Gains Stolen

From pro athletes to weekend warriors, training hard is a strong part of the culture of competition.   If you want to improve, you train hard, so your body and mind can adapt.

But what if your gains are being stolen and part of that hard work is being wasted?

In a lot of cases, it is if you aren’t managing your recovery for fitness.

Stress Can Hold You Back

Among coaches in the world of elite sports, many know that a player that is too stressed won’t recover.  Physically or mentally.  This means so much of the time and energy put into practice and training end up wasted.

Just as an athlete has a training program, they also have a recovery program.  It’s based on individual profiles and coordinated with training and competition.  Its not static either and often changes through the season, month or even week to week.

Sport science backs this as well.   A 2012 study in the respected journal, Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, demonstrated that psychological stress from life reduced recovery of muscle function.

In 2014 the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research published a paper showing that the more a subject experienced stress, the worse their recovery.  In this study participants with more stress had worse recovery of muscle function, as well as how their body felt.

This is not exactly what you are going for in your training.

Measure and Manage

Today in elite sports, teams have a sport science and/or recovery staff dedicated to this. In many, systems are used to measure the player’s status on a daily or weekly basis.  One of the most advanced is called Omegawave and has a history of several decodes in settings like Olympic teams and military special forces.

Systems like this provide information tells you about your recovery through both the autonomic and central nervous systems.  It provides feedback on your level of recovery and how much “adaptation potential” your body has.

In other cases, good old fashioned self-reports provide a lot of insight.  Usually, in apps or online, players can rate how they feel and are performing in various measures. Although relatively simple, if the questions are right, they can be incredibly helpful and scientifically valid feedback.

Take Action

What can you do to get the most benefit from your training?  The first step is to recognize that recovery is an important part of the training process.  The training is the stimulus, but adaptation happens during recovery.

The next is to learn how you are adapting.  Whether it’s getting Omegawave readings or just a self report, you need to start evaluating how you recover.  Guidance from a knowledgeable performance coach or recovery specialist can guide you to the recovery methods that are best for you.

Measure your recovery, manage the process, and stop having your fitness gains stolen.

References:

J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jul;28(7):2007-17.

Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Nov;44(11):2220-7.

Psychological stress impairs short-term muscular recovery from resistance exercise.

How to get an edge: better recovery between soccer games in 2021

faster recovery between soccer games

Part of being a fit soccer player is being prepared to perform at 100 percent. Making sure you take care of recovery will ensure your hard work does not go to waste. For faster recovery between soccer games, you need a solid recovery plan. 

A recovery plan means you will be able to train harder, maintain peak performance longer and prevent injury. Don’t fall into a common trap, recovery is not only rest. Recovery is the work you do after you play to prepare yourself for your next challenge. When done right, it gives your body the edge to perform better, for longer. 

Great recovery equals optimal performance potential. That means you can be your best when you are ready to compete.  There are different types of recovery for athletes and here’s a checklist with some of the key strategies to use between games.

Soccer Recovery Checklist

  • REFUEL
  • FLUSH
  • RESET
  • MOBILIZE
  • SOAK
  • RELAX
  • SLEEP

Refuel:

Recovery begins as soon as your workout ends. Start with a recovery shake within 15-20 minutes to replenish your energy stores. A good shake will have carbohydrates and rebuild your damaged tissue with protein.

Don’t make a mistake and skip the carbs. Soccer players expend a lot of energy during a game covering the field. You need to refill your energy stores with carbs for the next game.

Flush:

If you just go and sit down on the field, or in the car on the way home you are hurting yourself. You haven’t given your muscles a chance to move fresh blood and pump out the waste products.

Spend 7 – 10 minutes with a light jog after the game or practice. By working at a low intensity you will clear metabolic waste accumulated in your muscles.  

Reset:

When you get home, spend 5-10 minutes focusing on resetting your muscle tissue. This can include foam rolling and trigger point work on target areas and massage. The front of the thighs and calf muscles, along with the bottom of your foot are good targets. 

Mobilize:

After you reset the muscle tissue, you have to mobilize it so it stays supple and recovers quickly. Techniques can include active isolated stretching, yoga or band stretching. Make sure to focus on the lower leg and hip flexors. They are areas that get stressed by the kicking and sprinting during a soccer game. 

Soak:

Sitting immersed in water can do some great things for recovery. The most common question for immersion is hot or cold? The answer depends on the timing of your next bout of training.  

If you’re not training again until the next day, go hot (hot tub, Epsom salt bath). If you’re training again within the same day, go cold (ice tub, 10-12 minutes).

Relax:

One of the most important parts of recovery is the ability to shut down. It’s easy to get fired up, but the best soccer athletes can power down just as quickly. Meditation, deep breathing and massage are all techniques to help bring you back down, and let your body do its work rebuilding.

RELATED: Meditation to optimize your life and performance 

In a tournament setting, with multiple games in a day, spending even 3-5 minutes to calm your mind can help your body recover faster.

Sleep:

Sleep is the most powerful recovery method for humans. It helps both your body and mind. Getting 8-10 hours of quality sleep improves sports performance. Make sure you turn off your phone and electronic devices early, shut out light, and get a good night’s sleep. 

RELATED: 4 Reasons You’re Not Sleeping Better

Sleep: The Most Important Strategy for Athletes

sleep is the most important strategy for athletes

Sleep is a smart play

 
Focusing attention on sleep is a smart strategy for anyone trying to perform their best.
 
Everyone faces more threats to sleeping well than ever before.  From the rigors of your busy schedules, to added stress in life and work, and from the slumber-stealing use of technology.
 
 
Physical activity puts demand on muscles and tissues. The human body repairs itself during slumber. So it not only helps your body recover, it’s also a surefire performance booster.
 

Sleep powers performance

 
Scientific research clearly has documented the performance enhancing power of quality sleep. In the world of athletics, improving any aspect of mental and physical performance is incredibly valuable.
 
When we have to improve recovery for an athlete, we start here.  It has a wide range of benefits and the cost of missing is immense. It something everyone can be proactive and take control of.
 
If you aren’t getting sleep, then other recovery methods are just a short term fix.  It’s like putting more deodorant on, when you aren’t even taking a shower.
 
It’s just not going to make a real difference!
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
– Vince Lombardi

Lack of sleep increases injuries 

 
One scientific study showed that athletes sleeping less than 6 hours per night were more likely to suffer a fatigue related injury the following day!  
 
Another study showed high school athletes who slept less than 8 hours per night has more injuries. On average, they had an injury rate of 1.7 times greater than those who slept more than 8 hours.
 
As an athlete, you can’t play if you’re on the bench with an injury.
 
For your own health and their future playing career, you need to focus on sleeping well.
 
Learn the benefits of sleep
This video highlights some of the most important ways benefits to1 athletic performance:

The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players 
Mah C, et al. (2011)

Ongoing study continues to show that extra sleep improves athletic performance
Mah C, et al. (2008)

The effect of partial sleep deprivation on weight-lifting performance
Reilly T, Piercy M. (1994)

Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes
Milewski MD, et al. (2014)

How sleep deprivation decays the mind and body
The Atlantic

Meditation to optimize your life and performance

meditation to optimize performance

Around the globe, in every religion, spiritual tradition, and culture, we find some form of meditation. Breathing practices, purposeful reflection, chanting, mantras, singing, and prayer are some of the oldest forms of improving mindset, wellness, and performance through meditation.

Whether your goal is to achieve calm, a sense of gratitude, or feeling connected to people and nature, these disciplines can help us live a more centered life. In the world of human performance, when someone is really “in the zone,” we like to call it a “flow state.” When we are there, we perceive things differently actually process information in a different way.

In order to avail yourself of the many benefits of meditation, we believe it’s important to remain intellectually and emotionally open. Open-minded, to the wide variety of meditative practices found throughout our world’s cultures, religions, and philosophies. What is important is that the methods you choose work for you.

Whether or not you consider yourself spiritual or religious, improving your meditative skills teaches you how to control your brain and mindset to reach a state of higher performance.

How does one begin?

This is a beginner’s guide to practical ways for accessing a better state of mind and will highlight some of the benefits they offer.

Your Analytical vs. Intuitive Mind

Once people become adults, they spend a lot of time walking around with their brains in an analytical mode: making choices, solving problems, working, thinking about the future, and analyzing the past.

This is an incredible gift that has helped our species thrive and discover amazing things, but it is not the entire picture of ourselves. Our mind is also capable of incredible creativity, empathy, and connection to purpose and other people. This is also a skill we need to build and use daily.

Analytical thinking blocks emotion and empathy and vice versa, according to some recent studies [1,2]. You can think of your brain as having two modes: the rational, analytical mind, and the creative, intuitive one. When we function optimally, we are able to switch back and forth between them.

Rational thinking is necessary. We accomplish a lot of things in our lives through it. However, we can lose balance when it’s the only mode we are using.

In modern society, we subject ourselves to an increasing level of information input. News, social media, texts, streaming shows, and the web provide a constant stream of input for our analytical mind to process.

Because this endless stream of stimuli is always available for our mind to analyze, it’s essential to actively practice turning off our analytical processes. Quieting your analytical mind opens you up to a performance-enhancing mindset. Here are a few ways to do that.

Reset Switch

Being able to alter your state of mind is an immensely powerful skill. As an athlete, performing artist, executive, or anyone who has to perform under pressure, you need to be able to reset occasionally.

When the stress builds, when the conditions change, or when things go wrong, being able to step back and out of the chaos is critical for good decision making. Retaining a sense of calm allows you to tap into your strengths, instincts, and training.

It’s also a valuable switch when the game is over when you’re done with work, or after practice. We all need to go into recovery mode.

Just as you don’t want the engine on your high-performance sports car revving at 5,000 rpm when you put it in the garage at night, you don’t want your brain stuck in analytical mode or your emotions on high when it’s time to relax and rest.

Meditation

Meditation may be the most well-known way to silence the mind. It doesn’t require a special place or any equipment other than your own time and mind. It doesn’t even have in any particular manner.

Meditation allows you to tap into a state of calm. Turning off (or just down) the thoughts running through your head increases creativity [3], reduces stress and anxiety, and increases one’s sense of happiness [4].

These effects are magnified with practice, and you can practice any time, anywhere, for free.

Here are two simple ways to meditate:

Breath

Sit, close your eyes, and inhale deeply into your belly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, slowly exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of four. Repeat. Focus on the sensation of your breath filling your body and then emptying out.
Observation. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, take a step back from your mind, and watch your thoughts. Don’t judge them or pursue them; simply let them come and go as you watch. There are two distinct entities here: you, the calm watcher, and your mind, the source of your thoughts.

Try these, or do whatever gives you that inner sense of calm. When you notice your mind wandering, simply return to your mind to the meditation. You might do just 2-5 minutes to start. You might build to longer stretches. Most importantly, do it consistently and you’ll strengthen your meditation muscles.

You must resist the temptation to do it the “right way.” This idea deters many beginners because they aren’t sure if they are doing it “right.” Meditation is challenging in that sense because it’s not the type of activity that provides immediate, concrete feedback. Getting guidance from a coach or in performing a specific form of the practice can help. So can some modern technologies.

Muse

If you go a traditional route to master meditation, you might spend hour after hour, month after month, year after year, sitting at a monastery meditating. You can take a long, meandering path, meditating daily for 20 to 40 years, finally becoming a Zen master. It’s a long, slow process that demands extraordinary dedication.

Whether this would be beneficial is beyond the point; it is neither feasible or desirable for most of us. Still, many people are looking for a way to incorporate meditation into their lives and want to get feedback along the way.

This is where modern technology like Muse can come in. The system measures your brainwaves while you meditate and provides feedback in real-time through the sounds you hear. This feedback teaches you to rewire your brain faster because you are learning when your brain is actually in the right state.

It also “gamifies” the process. At the end of each session, you get scores on how well you did and points for having a calm mind. You get credit for “recoveries” when your mind started to wander and think but you brought it back to calm.

It also can help you keep on track session to session. Goals, recommendations to increase time, rewards for consistency and daily streaks, and the tracking functions all can help you state motivated to practice.

Other Way To Develop Your Skills

As you try to build your skills and use meditation to improve performance, here are a few more Methods that can help.

Heart Rate Variability Training

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a method of measuring and analyzing beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate that gives us insight into the state of your autonomic nervous system. This feedback can be used when learning how to use meditation for your performance.

The autonomic nervous system is important to understand because it is one of the bridges between body and mind. It has two parts: the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches, which are essentially opposites.

The sympathetic nervous system is often described as the “fight or flight” system. It activates our body, mind, and the resources to act quickly when needed. The parasympathetic nervous system handles the opposite functions of rest, digest, and recovery: the functions that help restore and sustain our bodies.

HRV feedback teaches you to consciously synchronize your brainwaves and heartbeat, which puts you into a parasympathetic (recovery) dominant state. This is a state of calm focus. It’s the same benefit you get from meditation, but HRV training gives you real-time feedback, so you know when you’re improving.

You can train your heart rate variability and track your results with an HRV sensor like the Inner Balance or Em Wave2 from HeartMath. This feedback helps you to recognize that feeling of inner calm and achieve that state of mind more quickly than you would with normal meditation.

Sensory Deprivation

Sensory deprivation tanks also called float tanks, eliminate nearly all sensory input to your brain. Suspended in water with more than 1000 lbs. of dissolved magnesium salt, you float without any pressure on your body. You’re in a light- and sound-proof chamber. The water and air are both maintained at your body temperature.

When you lay still, you don’t see, hear, or feel anything. You lose the sense of time. Deprived of any sensory input, you are presented with an opportunity to be one with one’s mind that is difficult to find elsewhere.

A typical float session is 60 – 90 minutes long. For many people that sounds like an eternity to just lay there, floating in the dark. It typically takes three sessions to really get “good” at floating, but the results are usually enjoyed immediately the first time.

This doesn’t mean it is always easy. Often your mind wanders at first. You may have thoughts like: This is boring. This is stupid. Get out. You feel claustrophobic. But if you stick it out, eventually your mind lets go.

This lets us experience a state of calm, of relaxation. For some people, they experience a state of creativity or hover somewhere between wake and sleep. Not only will you reap the rewards after the float, but most people also find that they sleep better afterward and the state of calmness is easier to reach in the following days.

Next to time you want to accelerate your mindfulness practice, or need to reduce stress and anxiety, try a float. In most major cities you can find a float center near you.

Try something and practice it

When it comes to meditation for performance improvement; try something.

Whether you’re meditating, praying, chanting, getting feedback or floating in salt water, it’s worth it to learn how to quiet your mind. It only takes a few minutes a day and the benefits to your health, wellness, and performance are huge.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811912010646?np=yhttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030161416.htmhttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400410902858691http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754https://www.heartmath.org/research/research-library/energetics/electricity-of-touch/

4 Reasons Why You’re Not Sleeping Better

Reasons your not sleeping better

There are many factors that can affect your sleep quality and quantity. Regardless of the cause, every sleepless night takes a toll on your body and mind and can seriously throw off your game.

Here are four common reasons you might not be getting enough zzz’s and how to fix them.

1. YOUR MINDSET

stress can interfere with sleepThe Problem: Often, those of us who have trouble sleeping can chalk it up to having too much on our minds. Information overload and an endless list of seemingly urgent tasks plague many people.

Kenny Kallen is a Performance Coach at our Redondo Beach facility who specializes in working with individuals trying to optimize their performance. He says it’s all too common that when “we finally get into bed and turn out the lights, we often find they are already thinking about what we have to do tomorrow, or what we should have done differently today! To make matters worse, we stare at the clock thinking ‘even if I fall asleep now, I will only get X hours of sleep!’

The solution: The key here is to reduce your anxiety by calming your mind. This helps move your body into the parasympathetic state it requires to rest and recover. Coach Kallen suggests that “breathing can help you get into a more relaxed state. It’s very powerful because it creates both a physiological and psychological response. I recommend an exercise called ‘box breathing.’ Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold with breath exhaled for four seconds. Repeat this cycle 10 times, and take note of whether you feel more relaxed from when you started.”  

RELATED: Meditation to Optimize Your Life and Performance

2. YOUR DIET

The problem: You know caffeine is a stimulant, but you may not realize how long its effects last.

Some people also should avoid spicy foods and meals high in fat or sugar before bedtime. These can elevate heart rate or cause digestive issues that will keep you awake.

 

The solution: Check your caffeine intake. How much are you getting, and when (tea and many fitness drinks can be an unassuming culprit)?

“Try to restrict your coffee intake to the morning and drinking more water throughout the day,” says Kallen.

3. YOUR PHONE, TABLET AND COMPUTER

blue light from computers and phones interferes with sleepiness

The problem: Everywhere you look experts tell you to unplug before bed.

Why?

The blue light emitted by screens can really impact your brain: it signals the brain and impairs its ability to produce melatonin which helps induce sleep.  

The solution: Make it a point to unplug 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. If your phone or tablet has a “nighttime” setting that changes the screen tone from blue to more reddish, warm tones at night can also help. When your device doesn’t have this option, look to see if you can download an app that will do it for you.

To create a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom, replace your bulbs with ones that filter out blue light and emit a softer glow.

4. YOUR BEDROOM

Is your bedroom a problem for sleep

The problem: It’s probably not a news flash that your environment affects your sleep. Too much light, noise, and heat are all factors that can disrupt your sleep. Try to not have a clock or any lights visible that might draw your attention.

The solution: Ideally, your bedroom would be designed to be a sleep sanctuary. Make sure your curtains block out all light, and buy a quality mattress and pillow to assist your sleep.

Sound can also be a problem. While you can’t move your house or change your neighbors, you can do your best to create a place that feels restful to you that you only use for sleeping.

Take Action

If you are having problems sleeping, go on the offensive.  A lack of sleep impacts your performance in all aspects of life.

Instead of leaving it to chance, look to fix these things that may be getting in the way.  

4 Myths about Muscle Pliability You Need to Know

Trainer performing graston technique

The term “muscle pliability” has been in the news around the NFL quite a bit. Tom Brady and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, claim that making muscles pliable is the best way to sustain health and performance. How true is that claim? While it’s a great descriptive term, we are going to shed some light on what it really means and how to create muscle pliability.

Defining Words

Our performance coaches, sports medicine specialists, and tissue therapists all find it to be a useful term.  Pliable expresses some of the important qualities of muscle. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary here’s what pliable means:

Pliable

a: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking

b: yielding readily to others

c: adjustable to varying conditions

That’s a pretty good description for many of the qualities we want in the tissue of an athlete (or any human for that matter). The problem is that it’s being mixed up with a lot of inaccurate and confusing statements.

Our Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka, says that “the word pliability, in my opinion, depicts the ideal muscle tissue quality. It is similar to suppleness, elasticity, or resilience. Unfortunately, I believe some of the explanations offered by Mr. Brady and Mr. Guerrero have created some misunderstanding of what ‘muscle pliability’ really is.”

Let’s try and separate some of the myths from what is true.

Myth 1: Muscles that are “soft” are better than dense

That depends on what qualifies as “soft” muscle.  Tissue Specialist Cindy Vick has worked on hundreds of elite athletes, including NFL players and Olympians across many sports. “Soft isn’t a word I would use for an athlete. When I’m working on an elderly client, I often feel muscles that could be called soft; they’re not dense. That’s not what I feel when working on elite athletes. Athletes who are healthy and performing well have muscles that have density without being overly tense and move freely. The tissue is still smooth and supple.”

This muscle quality is affected by many factors, ranging from stress, competition, nutrition, training, and recovery. At Velocity, maintaining optimal tissue quality is a constant endeavor.  Proper self-myofascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.

MORE INFO: Mobility vs Flexibility: They are different and it matters for athletes

Myth 2: Dense muscles = stiff muscles = easily injured athletes

Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies reality and is in some ways completely wrong.

You have to start with the operative word: “dense.” Tanioka says, “Dense tissue can be elastic; elastic tissue is resilient to injury. What we have to look for is inelastic tissue.” Cindy Vick adds that “if you mean ‘dense’ to refer to a muscle with adhesions, or that doesn’t move evenly and smoothly, then yes, that’s a problem.”

Scientifically, stiffness refers to how much a muscle resists stretch under tension. It’s like thinking about the elastic qualities of a rubber band. The harder it is to pull, the stiffer it is. If a muscle can’t give and stretch when it needs to, that’s bad.

Imagine a rubber band that protects your joint. When a muscle exerts a force against the impact of an opponent or gravity, stiffness can help resist the joint and ligaments from being overloaded and consequently injured.

“I agree with Mr. Brady’s statement about the importance of a muscle’s ability to lengthen, relax and disperse high-velocity, heavy incoming force to avoid injury,” says Tanioka. “However, I think that athletes also must be able to exert maximum power whether actively generating force or passively resisting incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as lengthen. The ability of the tissue to be durable and contractile is just as important as to elongate and soften when it comes to performance and injury prevention.”

In the view of our experts, it’s not about dense, soft, stiff, or other qualitative words. Instead, they emphasize developing function through different types of strength qualities athletes need.   Athletes must prepare for the intense stress and strain their muscles will face in their sport.  They need to blend the right strength training with mobility and flexibility.

Myth 3: Strength training makes muscles short

“It’s an old wives’ tale that took hold when bodybuilding techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according to international expert and President of Velocity Sports Performance, Ken Vick, who has worked with athletes in 10 Olympic Games and helped lead the Chinese Olympic Committee’s preparation efforts for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“I’ll give you two great examples: Gymnasts are, pound-for-pound, very strong and incredibly explosive, yet they are known to be some of the most flexible athletes. Olympic weightlifters are clearly some of the strongest athletes in the world and are also generally very flexible. They spend practically every day doing strength training and their muscles aren’t ‘short’.”

RELATED: Why Athletic Strength Is More Than Just How Much Weight Is on The Barbell. 

In fact, proper lifting technique demands excellent flexibility and mobility. For example, poor hip flexor flexibility or limited ankle mobility results in an athlete who probably cannot reach the lowest point of a back squat. Our proven methods combine strength training with dynamic mobility, movement training, and state of the art recovery technology to help our athletes gain and maintain the flexibility and mobility required for strength training and optimal performance on the field of competition.

Myth 4: Plyometrics and band training are better for pliability

We hear these types of claims time and again from coaches, trainers, and others who are quoting something they’ve read without much knowledge of the actual training science. Our muscles and brain don’t care if the resistance is provided by bodyweight, bands, weights, cables, or medicine balls. They can all be effective or detrimental, depending on how they are used.

Sports science has shown that manipulating different variables influences both the physiological and neurological effects of strength training. Rate of motion, movement patterns, environment, and type of resistance all influence the results.

Truth: Muscle Pliability is a good thing

Like so many ideas, muscle pliability is a very good concept. The challenge lies in discerning and then conveying what is true and what is not. An experienced therapist can, within just a few moments of touching a person, tell whether that tissue is healthy. A good coach can tell whether an athlete has flexibility or mobility problems, or both, simply by watching them move.

In either case, it takes years of experience and understanding of the human body and training science, like that which is possessed by the performance and sports medicine staff at Velocity, to correctly apply a concept like muscle pliability to an athlete’s training program.

What you need to know about protein: a beginners guide

protein formula

“Hey, Coach, why should I eat protein?”

Athletes of all ages ask us this question all the time at Velocity. Simply put, protein is what is going to make you stronger. A body that is getting sufficient amounts of protein is able to effectively grow and repair lean muscle mass. Without enough protein, your muscles will struggle to repair themselves after your workouts.

“That sounds great! I definitely want to get stronger and recover fast, so what foods should I eat to get my protein?”

Animal sources like chicken, fish, and beef are great options.  Animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which are the actual components responsible for the growth and repair of your body’s muscles, bones, and tissues. Remember, milk and eggs come from animals, so they are also excellent options for a protein-rich diet. Try your best to choose animal protein options that are lower in fat, such as skinless chicken rather than fried chicken.

If animal proteins aren’t your thing (I’m looking at you, vegetarians and vegans), consider pairs of foods such as beans with rice, or nut butters with wheat bread. The beans or nut butters have proteins, but only when paired with the rice and bread, respectively, do they contain all nine essential amino acids.

“OK, that’s very helpful. But what if I’m a really picky eater? Are there any other ways to be sure that I’m getting enough protein?”

Many athletes include protein supplements in their daily diet. High quality whey proteins are the best option for athletes – particularly people without food allergies. Whey is a protein extracted during milk production, it belongs in the “animal proteins” category that we previously discussed. Check the labels and look for things like BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) and glutamine. If you’re lactose-intolerant, try to choose a hydrolyzed whey protein.  These have already been broken down into their simplest forms, so they won’t cause digestive issues, and they will also be absorbed into your body more quickly. Vegetarians and vegans should look for plant-based protein supplements containing hemp and pea proteins. These contain ample amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

“Thanks, Coach!  One last question before I head to the store to get my protein: How much should I be taking each day?”

Every athlete is different, but a simple beginner’s rule to follow is to get 25-30 grams of protein five times per day. More specifically, someone who wants 150 pounds of lean muscle mass (such as a very fit and lean 170-pound athlete) should be eating approximately 150 grams of protein each day. It can sometimes be difficult to get this much protein into your daily diet, so using both foods and supplements throughout the day is recommended. Also, always try to get 25-30 grams of protein shortly after every workout because this is when your body is most receptive to the benefits that proteins provide.

Discover 4 Types of Sports Recovery You Need To Know

sports recovery

Athletes from pros through weekend warriors have recognized the importance of using different types of sports recovery techniques to recover faster, feel better, and train harder. However, with all the different options to choose from, it’s hard to know which one works best.

The first thing to remember is that everything isn’t for everyone all of the time. So, when someone asks “what kind of recovery tool is best?” the answer is, it depends.

Here’s what you need to understand to get more benefit from your recovery strategies.

Recovery works by helping your body through it’s natural processes of returning to a state of internal balance. Training, competition, injury, and even life, are all stresses that add up and push your systems out of balance. Recovery means something to help bring you back into balance.

Returning the body to a state of equilibrium after stress requires you to address the specific type of stress you just endured. This is where a lot of recovery plans and techniques fall apart. If you don’t target the right type of stress or systems in the body, the recovery you try won’t make a difference. It’s like putting more insulation on a house when the real problem is a hole in the roof.

The Velocity sports recovery methodology was developed for the world’s elite athletes – to keep them at their best under enormous pressure. One of the foundations of is that there are 4 big categories of stress. We classify them as:

• Tissue
• Physiological
• Mindset
• Neuromuscular

Tissue

This is physical damage to your tendons, muscles, bones, and joints caused from contact, pressure, and tension in sports. It might be microscopic, but it takes a toll.

Repeated foot strikes while running, repetitive tendon stress on a pitcher’s elbow, or contusions and damage from collisions in rugby, football, or MMA are exactly the kinds of things that add up to potential or actual injury. Tissues need to heal properly on the microscopic level after each practice or competition.

Physiological

This is probably the area people think of most when talking about sports recovery. When you are putting in long hours of training, doing high intensity MetCons, or logging long distances, there’s a large metabolic and biochemical demand on your system. The numerous physiological elements all need to be returned to normal and metabolic wastes need to be removed.

Mindset

Whether it comes from sport or life, mental and emotional stresses have an impact on both mind and body. It can come from from emotional challenges, learning new tasks, or just intense focus for practice and competition. Our bodies’ physical recovery mechanisms are tied to our mental state.

States of mental stress and anxiety trigger particular functions of our nervous system and release stress hormones. While these can be useful during competition or training, they inhibit or even completely block natural recovery mechanisms. Therefore, in order to achieve physical recovery, the mind must be in a state of relaxation.

Neuromuscular

Often overlooked, neuromuscular fatigue doesn’t necessarily make you feel tired in the way you might think. Instead of feeling stiff, sore, or a generally fatigued, you just might lose that “snap” in your movement.

When you perform high power exercises like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting, you stress the nervous system as well as your muscles. Until you recover, you won’t be able to fire them at full speed or intensity.

Make your recovery specific

Knowing that all regeneration methods aren’t the same or equal is the first step towards getting it right. Make sure you know the specific type of sports recovery you need at different stages of training and even different days of the week to make to make your recovery process better.

At Velocity, our coaching and sports medicine staff can help you decide which combination of regen and recovery tools you need to help you stay at your best.

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