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Like Exotic Fruit?

So I got packed a lunch again, like the twelve year old I am, by my girlfriend.  I always enjoy it because there will inevitably end up having a huge surprise.  It’s basically like Christmas every day.  Today was pretty awesome, and had all my coworkers asking, “what is that?”

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Enter Cherimoya.

Besides having it packed, I was also sent a text message with “how to” instructions as well as the health benefits.

It was really easy to eat believe it or not.  Cut it in half and take apart chunks whenever you want a new piece, it basically pulls apart into nice chunks.  Don’t eat the seeds.  Enjoy.

This banana/coconut tasting fruit is high in Vitamin C as well as a number of B vitamins.  It has a fair amount of iron, and since it is a fruit, a good amount of fiber.  It apparently has more mineral weight compared to other fruits containing copper, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

Bottom line, it is quick and easy to eat, tastes great, and is apparently pretty good for you too.  Bring a napkin and something to spit the seeds into.  I didn’t eat the skin, and didn’t see anything saying you couldn’t but since it reminded me of dragon skin I felt it was better not to.

I haven’t thought of putting a cherimoya into anything as far as recipes go.  If anyone else has insight please share.

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Two Things That Anyone Can Make Better

A common denominator for anyone and everyone walking in the door of our facility is a lack in strength or stability in particular areas of the body.  Aesthetically, people want to know if they’ll get bigger (insert body part here), but realistically, two that are tremendously important should get better.  Without further adieu, here they are:

1. Anterior Core

Almost everyone I see is tremendously weak here.  It becomes even more clear when you ask someone to perform a simple push up.  They literally just hang on the ligaments of the spine.  How have you made it this far in life without learning how to perform a proper push up???

When I say anterior core, I’m referring to the portion known anatomically as rectus abdominus.  Fancy latin.  It connects the front portion of the ribs to the pelvis and when contracting forces the hips into a posterior pelvic tilt.  Not always great to be in that position, but with proper opposition/apposition it is fairly balanced to our normal 13 degrees of anterior pelvic tilt.

When this is weak, you see a lot of extra anterior pelvic tilt.  Your body just hangs out on whatever it knows will create stability…ligaments of your hips and spine.  Is it any wonder that we have soo much low back pain!?

Strengthen the abs, it will help create stability.  It isn’t the only answer as there are a few other abdominal muscles that are needed to help create that apposition we are looking for (different topic for a different day).

2. Buttcheeks

This is something that we work on almost every day in the facility.  To create almost all athletic motion, you need the glutes.  When developed, they can also have an aesthetic side to them too.

Glutes are great players in power, stability, multi direction motion.  We all have a gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.  The hip joint (where the femur articulates with the acetabulum of the pelvis) also has a great deal of mobility, three planes actually.  Contracting here will create an external rotation element on the femur (thigh) as well as an extension moment.  It can create stability to the pelvis in a closed chain contraction taking shear off the low back.  And it gives us great power and push off in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes of motion.

The right side is usually a little weaker, again, different conversation for a different day.

This is anecdotal at best on my part.  When we screen our athletes and adults though, we see this to be consistent across the board.  Maybe it is indigenous to the Merrimack Valley, but I highly doubt it.  Let me know what you think by leaving a reply below.

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Quick Snack at Work

By total mistake, my gf picked up some tasty yumskins at the store for me.  Of course, I asked her to pick up a variety of fruits and veggies to nibble on throughout the week, and she came through on the clutch.  If left to my own devices, I tend to stick strictly to the same variety.  But, on this glorious day at snack time, I dug into a treat known as Goldenberry.  It tastes great, so it got me thinking, “how good is it really?”

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Golden Berry

Turns out, it is a good source of Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), a couple of the B vitamins, Vitamin C, as well as some other important micronutrients.  In terms of macronutrients, it is composed mostly of carbohydrates (fructose), but also has a little bit of proteins and fats.  Most importantly, for you calorie-counters out there, 3.5oz/100g is approximately 53 calories.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Outdoor Training in Cold Weather

It has been asked of me lately what my opinion is on training in the cold weather, or what precautions need to be taken to train outdoors in the winter months?  So here we go…

Aside from the nutrition and recovery side of things, there are certain things to consider when working in the cold.  First and foremost, don’t be a mouth breather.  You look ridiculous for lack of a better statement, and you’re setting yourself up for getting sick.

When you take a deep breath in through your nose, there is a particular pathway that the air must travel that is actually a longer route than straight through your mouth.  This gives the air a chance to heat up and become a little more humid, something that you’re lungs will appreciate.  Not only that, your nasal passageway has mucus and hairs that will trap particles creating a nice little filter for you.

That’s well and good when you’re just walking or standing around, but what if you start running–if you’re into that sort of thing–or moving things around or skiing/snowboarding?

Sure, you’ll have to breathe through your mouth just to keep up with the demands of the working muscles.  Of course it is always suggested to breathe in through your  nose, but let’s be realistic for a sec.  I’ve tried it, anecdotally, and can’t seem to be able to do it for a long period of time without thinking my heart is going to pop or my head explode.  Therefore, I wouldn’t expect any of my athletes to do it either.

Most people on the mountain wear ski masks.  This serves multiple purposes 1. protects your face from sub zero weather and wind 2. creates a barrier from mouth breathing.  Also why lumberjacks have beards, oddly enough, as I doubt they’re making a fashion statement.  There are also cold weather training masks you can purchase.  I myself received a fancy new ski mask that looks like a beard, 2 birds…

What else? In the past, people traditionally wore wool based clothing in the cold because it keeps you warm.  But, what about when you get really warm and start sweating? Then cool down?  The wool based material is now damp and you’re in a cold environment.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what that will lead to.  Having a material that will keep the heat in, but wick the moist out is ideal.  The military has done great research on environmental extremes.  This one is pretty solid–minus in the case of fire as the material seems to melt.  Wicking material covered by a thicker material is solid.  In some cases, they even make a coat or pants with the dry wicking material built in.  Possibly the most amazing thing ever.

Footwear? Wear boots that are pretty airtight. Duh.

Leave comments below.  I would love to hear some other perspective.

 

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Why is Water so Important?

In this day of information overload and high tech ways of getting better, little emphasis is put on the most important factors for performance.  Even on this site you have the chance to read up on supplements and how they work.  I can’t really stress enough the importance of water.  Go a day without eating, fine.  Go a day without water, things go downhill quickly.

Water is about 60 percent of your bodyweight.  SIXTY PERCENT!  Let’s boil that down further.  Muscle, the thing we try to make more explosive or resilient depending on our game, is 75 percent water.  Blood, that transporter of all things (almost), 83 percent water.  Even if we do everything right–don’t eat refined sugar sources/junk food, exercise, crush your veggies (which have water in them)–you’ll still be lacking significantly without considering your water intake.

Water is a transporter, catalyst to the reactions in our body, a lubricant, help’s with growth, etc.  And just like your car needs an oil change, your body needs water exchange.  We get rid of water via sweat, the bathroom, and from breathing (as vapor).  For each percent loss of water there are repercussions that will impact performance from an athlete point of view, but get into the 5 percent plus range and you’re going to be dealing with some large issues.  Just don’t go there.

With all that said, how do you make sure that you have enough?  Great question.  There are a number of ways that you can guesstimate how much you need, some fancy equations are used to determine this.  To all you non-mathletes out there, a good general guideline is 100-120 fluid ounces of water consumed per day.  The more active you are, the more toward the 120 fluid ounce side of the spectrum you’ll be.

Prior to exercise, drink water.  During exercise, drink water.  After exercise, drink water.  See a pattern here?  Water means water too, not iced tea.  Caffeine has been shown to not have a huge impact on overall hydration throughout the day, however, in the short term it will speed up metabolic processes causing a little dehydration.

Anecdotally, I’ve had plenty of conversations about the importance of water.  The response is usually along the lines of, I don’t like the taste. In which I respond, what taste?  To be fair, water does usually contain some micronutrients which may have an impact on taste.  Who am I to judge? Fine, you don’t like the taste, how in the world will you stay hydrated now???  You can help the process with the foods you eat.  Technically all food has water in it, to some degree.  Fruits and veggies are always a great way to introduce watahh into the system as well as fiber and some micronutrients.

Just try it.  You’ll feel much better.  When you take it away, you’ll notice it.  Have anything to add to the conversation?  Chime in.

 

 

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2017 year review

This past year has been a roller coaster for sure.  I have accomplished many life goals, changed things that I never thought I would change, and accepted life curveballs.  Here is a quick recap of 2017.

I made a couple of small life goals in 2017 that would help give me a hobby, something that was completely lacking.  Basically, I’ve spent my college and adult life to this point filling all available hours of my day with work or class.  Now that school is done and I am working a more modest schedule, hobbies will keep me sane.  First, I wanted to get to the mountains and snowboard.  2016 didn’t allow me to do that and it happens to be something serene once you get up to the mountain and check out the horizon.  Secondly, I wanted to pick up a guitar at least once per week.  This is something that is difficult to me because I feel I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I remain humbled.  That’s my personal life in a nutshell.

On a much larger scale, I passed my NPTE, the exam of all exams essentially.  This is what licenses you to actually perform your duties as a physical therapist.  Thank goodness that chapter has come to fruition.  So instead of working a modest 40 hours per week, I have decided to get a job in a clinic in addition to running a performance center.  I know, what was I thinking???

I made it a goal to get to more of my athletes games.  In 2016 I was really handcuffed with the job I had which didn’t offer much flexibility in terms of being able to see my athletes play.  Besides coaching lacrosse in the spring and seeing literally all of my teams games, I was also able to see both of the volleyball teams I work with, the girls soccer team I work with, and the ultimate highlight was being able to see Notre Dame vs. USC at Notre Dame where one of my athletes plays football.  I’m hoping that this year extends more opportunity to see the athletes in action–as well as more deep dish pizza.

Now with the new year, I would like to keep my hobbies going as well as really refine my skills in the PT arena as well as the sports performance realm.  I would like to get to do more networking this year and travel a bit more.  Kind of a rough outline for the new year, but it works.

 

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Body Mass and Performance

I was asked the other day by one of my athletes what the ideal body mass was for helping his performance.  Now, this could be answered a number of ways.

According to “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning” the text for the NSCA-CSCS, this individual should present with 11-13% body fat being a baseball player.  This will put him in the leaner than average category, but it doesn’t really define what position he plays.  This is based off normative data that a sample of baseball players who are considered to be a good representation of all baseball players present as.  I don’t think I would argue much.  However, you’re going to see a wide spectrum of body composition across the sport.

Some research looks to see how body fat% has an impact on performance.  Items like agility tests and sprint tests are the items in question.  In terms of performance markers for the sport, I think that they are a decent representation.  Assuming that the quality of the research was acceptable (few are), it almost seems like common sense that the more body fat I carry, the slower I will be.  Again, not really a good reflection of position.

Some other research was actually done to reflect positions in baseball.  That was cool to look at.  Finally something objective to the actual position with a large enough sample size to rule out error.  And…short stops are leaner than everyone (roughly 11%), pitchers are fatter (14.4%).  Now we’re getting somewhere with this.  Even if the research was exclusive to minor league baseball.

Another research article pointed to the direct relationship of body weight and velocity in pitchers.  So now we have a reason for pitchers to think big.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean to pack on the fat.

Anecdotally, if this baseball player is a pitcher and is working hard in his offseason training, he will be getting stronger which in turn will lay the foundation for him to also become more powerful.  Once January hits and he is in the cages pitching, he should see a nice improvement in his velocity.  At the end of the day that is what we are trying to accomplish with a pitcher.  Maybe his body fat% is hovering the 11-13% range, maybe it’s 20%, or maybe it’s 8% which has been reported by some as the standard.

Bottom line is, eat a diet centered around whole foods making sure to get enough food to stay in an anabolic range when recovering.  Get plenty of sleep keeping in mind that those hours of sleep before midnight are much more valuable and we should be aiming for 8 uninterrupted hours.  Put the time in the gym!  Don’t sign up for 4 days per week and make excuses as to why you make it 1-2 times.  The gym should be exciting and a grind all at the same time.

We are 3 weeks into our baseball offseason training program and it’s going great!  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.

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Guest Post: Time for a Change

This is a guest post from one of my interns from the summer and current sports performance coach.  Kathy is a very intelligent and driven individual who has donated her time around a hectic schedule to Young Performance.  She aspires to bridge the gap between PT and performance and has some really good ideas.  You can find more on her blog at blendingptandsc

             I’m a PT student who, like most people, has no solid idea of what field to practice in. After going on a few clinicals, I found out that my expectations of rehab didn’t really exist in the real world – at least not yet. Having this existential crisis, I decided to go figure it out. I began throwing myself into different jobs and internships in the health and fitness field. This summer alone, I’ve been a PT aide at 3 separate clinics, a personal trainer in training , a kickboxing instructor, and a strength coach intern – which has lead to the creation of this blog. There were two glaring problems that I kept noticing: 1. the health and fitness field is muddled with misinformation and 2. everyone is constantly trying to one-up each other.

1.  People are quick to believe what they hear or read without looking for evidence.

Carbohydrates are bad. All fats are bad. No rest during a workout is a good thing. There are so many health myths, so many “fads” backed with no scientific evidence, and, with the rise of social media, so much bad information posted by a lot of unqualified people. Not only is it dangerous, but it also creates another barrier for health providers who must spend their time re-educating and getting buy-in from their clients.

2. The health field, it’s a very “cut-throat” environment.

Everyone wants to have all of the credentials, the letters after their name in order to be the “best”. People also want to believe that their way of thinking is the right and only way. Hip vs foot, barefoot running vs orthotics – these topics cause a lot of frustration and bickering. It seems likewe’ve  all forgotten why we started in this field, forgotten that we are looking down on our peerswho are using their best judgement to get to the same goal. Just because their way looks different, doesn’t make it wrong. The first thing we learn is that everyone is different and something that might work for Joe Shmoe might not work for the next person – so why are we still stuck on trying to have one golden principle? It’s all theory at the end of the day and if it works, it works!

Long story short, everyone wihin the health and fitness field needs to come together and not only educate people but to encourage peers for their different perspectives and ways of thinking. Without that, we will not progress very far.Guest

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How to Develop Power

At Young Performance, we use a number of tactics to create greater power output for the athlete.  Power, simply, is just the ability to produce force in an instant.  So when we think of power, we think of things like jumps in a variety of fashions.

In reality, I should start off by saying that we need to start by building a strong foundation of strength before we really dial into power.  Some key differences in strength versus power would be the amount of time you’re actually moving the weight.  For power, time is a variable that is measured; and, for strength time isn’t considered necessarily (of course we have our tables that measure relative time under tension, but for the sake of simplicity).  I know this is a huge dump of physics review and believe me I’m gagging just thinking about it.

Now you have a variety of options available to you to help enhance power.  There exists a continuum from general strength to speed/power.  Of course we can start to differentiate different movements into the continuum, but again for the sake of simplicity we will just say that strength-speed, speed-strength, and speed are all products of power.

IMG_0353When I think of my hockey, football, and rugby athletes I think of performing the Olympic lifts and loading them up to fairly high intensities.  The reason for this is to help the athletes absorb force as well as produce a lot of force in an instant to get the bar moving.  I will usually use Olympic lifts with my other athletes as well–baseball excluded mostly–but to a much less degree.  I like to spend my weekend evenings sifting through peer reviewed articles and I have been able to find some interesting statistics.  Mostly that you only need roughly 40% of someones 1RM, or 1 repetition max, to help develop power.  That’s particularly nice for my non-contact athletes who don’t necessarily see the value of a heavy hang clean.

IMG_0385For those athletes who have contraindications to Olympic lifting, or are baseball players, we have a number of other options that we can use.  Most simply, I like to use jump squats with either a weighted vest or dumbbells.  My next go-to would be the kettlebell swing varieties.  It helps to teach extension of the hips and knees in an explosive manner and it does well to keep most athletes in neutral.  I have also programmed things like RFE split squat jumps (RFE=rear foot elevated), split squat jumps, single leg jumps on a box/bench, and landmine push presses.  I feel that these different options help to reinforce the triple extension/jump patterns and offer a variety to the athlete.

We also have our own little built in showcase almost every day.  Especially for our general prep guys.  In our plyometric/power section of the day we include either box jumps or hurdle hops.  We have a number of ways that we can perform them–single leg, medial/lateral, stick, mini-bounce, etc–but the point remains clear.  I am not programming these exercises to weighted, instead, I want to see improvement with the power output.  In other words, I want to see how high they can jump today.

So there you have it, my take on programming for power.  Again, develop your foundation for strength first and then you can enhance your power output.  If you are in general prep or a new athlete to the performance world, you can still jump to enhance the movement pattern.

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Guest Post: Protein Consumption

In this guest post from one of my summer interns and current sport performance coaches, Jake Schofield, he talks about protein and it’s importance.  Jake has created a niche here with the obesity epidemic and has created some strategies to attack.  If you would like to know more I encourage you to follow his blog at: jakeschofieldblog.wordpress.com.

The most asked questions I’ve heard by many of the athletes that come through the door are about protein, but one of the most common questions is when to take it. This question is up to debate in the fitness industry, since we have not perfected the time and amount for the maximum muscle gain.Protein is a macronutrient just like the carbs and fats that provide energy to our bodies as they’re consumed and broken down. Protein is essential in the production and repair of muscles. Foods that are high in protein are fish, nuts, red meats, and more. Many people tend to use shakes or powders to get the protein they need throughout the day. However, protein from animal based foods have complete proteins which contain all 48 essential amino acids. Plant based proteins are considered incomplete by missing one or more of these essential amino acids.There is protein in almost everything we eat, yet most people do not get enough protein in their diet. In general, someone needs 1.7g of protein per kg of body weight. The conversion from kilogram to pounds is 1kg = about 2.2 lbs. So now that we have an idea about protein, what it is, where it’s from, and what it does. The question really is when is the best time to take it being an athlete.

Here’s my take on this interesting topic. Protein consumption needs to be spread out throughout the day. The body can only break down so much protein at once. So, having a meal with 50g of protein some of that would go to waste. The body needs a decent amount of protein so the best way is to spread it out in portions. As many of us know the best way to eat is smaller portions more often throughout the day. Unlike, the norm for American eating as just breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To better an athlete it should be breakfast, snack, lunch, post-workout, dinner. Now these snacks shouldn’t be chips and sweets, but such foods like nuts are high in protein and a very healthy option for athletes in and out of season. Your body repairs itself constantly throughout the day, but while you sleep is where a lot of the muscle gains come from. So, having protein available throughout the day allows the body to constantly have protein to use to build and repair muscle. Then having stored protein while sleeping from a protein filled dinner will only help build and repair muscles more because the body releases the most growth hormone while in REM sleep. So, protein is very good for consumption for athletes, so do the math and see how much protein you should be taking daily.