Recovery Routine

What can I be doing to aid in my recovery?

Recovery is as critical to performance as training itself. The idea of training is to provide the body with a stimulus or stressor. As the coach, the greatest training program is to provide an optimal amount of stress to the human system; meaning it is enough stimulus to push a strength/speed/power adaptation, however, it is not a stressor that is too large for the athlete to adequately recover from.

As a former athlete, and currently as an avid weightlifter, here are 3 tips I have found to aid in my own recovery:

    1. Sleep. Sleep is by far the most important thing to aid in my recovery. Find a routine. As an athlete, you crave structure whether you know it or not. I challenge all the readers to ONE thing and see if it improves sleep quality. Associate the bed with only sleep, that means only get into bed when you are ready to sleep. If you read, watch TV, do homework, find somewhere else to do it. This is trick that a psychology professor from my undergrad taught me and it has gone a long way. FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
    1. Nutrition. I am not a nutritionist, but here is what I found works for me. When I eat the same thing each night before bed it primes my body for my routine. It also is what I have found works FOR ME, to aid in my recovery. Since my freshman year of college, each night I have a whey protein shake in about 10oz of water, and a bunch of spoons of peanut butter. Again, FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
  1. My pre-bed Mobility total 10 minutes (all found in the athletes warehouse youtube library): 1 minute of couch stretch each side, 1 min of pigeon stretch each side, 2 minutes of frog stretch, 1 minute of t-spine foam roll, 1 min of QL foam roll, 1 minute of scorpion stretch. For the last time, FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.

There are my three tips. Give it a go! As always, stay strong.

-Jack G.

How PEP Bands Changed Our Training

WHY WE USE PEP BANDS / HIP CIRCLES

PEP Bands and Hip Circles are two pieces of equipment that get some heavy use here at AW and for good reason!  The PEP Bands were invented and sold by Shea Pierre of Pierre’s Elite Performance in Canada and according to Shea were designed to activate and challenge athletes to use their lower body to help increase their fast twitch muscle fibers through speed and strength.  The Hip Circle was invented by Mark Bell [a professional powerlifter] and according to Mark, the Hip Circle can be used to for hip and glute activation/strength as well as a dynamic warm-up.  Both of these pieces of equipment have become vital to Team AW’s approach towards training pretty much any athlete that walks in our building.

The PEP Bands are an interesting tool that connects very securely to some portion of the upper thigh of the athlete.  The resistance for the PEP Bands is just that an elastic band, which means that the tension with this equipment is going to be varied based on the intensity and range of motion [ROM] with which the athlete applies force.  What is interesting about this equipment is that it can provide both a resisted concentrically and assisted eccentric load on the hip and leg complexes if utilized during any gate pattern.  Due to this not only do we value the potential for strength development through a deeper ROM but we also are very cognizant of the eccentric power development and transversely the injury preventative aid this can also provide the athlete.  Due to the dual serving nature of this device we are often utilizing it with many of our ACL patients trying to return to play at a faster and safer place. The PEP Bands have become an integral part of our Pre-hab/ warm-up routine for several of our athletes and essential in the teaching proper running mechanics to several of our younger athletes.  

The Hip Circle has quite possibly been the greatest minimum effective dose in our facility [thanks Tim Ferris for that one]. Why do I say this?  The Hip Circle literally cost $25 and is about the easiest thing to put on an off an athlete, yet, has one of the largest ROI’s in the facility. We use the Hip Circle both in a Pre-hab/ Warm-up capacity and from a strength development perspective.  The primary role for the hip circle is to provide a resisted concentric load to lateral abduction at the hip [meaning it makes it difficult to do lateral side shuffles…especially when done slow].  This resisted load causes an elevated activation in the musculature of the hip that is responsible for the lateral abduction.  Why is this important? Well, it just so happens that same musculature is also involved in stabilizing the hip, knee, and ankle during almost any sagittal, frontal or transverse plane movement [they’re really important].  Again, another tool that we heavily utilize with our athletes coming off a hip/leg injury [i.e. ACL surgery] and with several of our athletes to help strengthen these immensely important muscular zones.

To close these two pieces of equipment we view as vital to our approaches for working with youth and elite athletes and next to a sled, barbell, and kettlebell are probably the most influential pieces of hardware any coach or person interested in getting stronger should invest in.  

WHY AM I SORE?

Why am I so sore after my workout?  What is soreness? 

Soreness means that you exposed your muscle to something it wasn’t familiar with. Essentially, we have to break your muscle down in order to build it up. Our team of coaches has thoughtfully and systematically planned out a way to do this with each athlete. Still, it is important to communicate your soreness levels with your coach.

Why is my soreness getting worse?

You’re experiencing something called, ‘DOMS’ known as ‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.’ This typically happens when a muscle is stressed eccentrically or while it is lengthened. (Think: As you descend to the bottom of the squat or as you lower yourself in a push up).  With this type of training, the discomfort you feel from soreness may not occur until 24-48 hours after the workout is completed. In fact, sometimes the soreness begins to get worse after that 24-hour mark. You may be thinking, why are we doing this to you? Eccentric strength will lead to a greater increase in muscle mass and integrity of the muscle. And it’s not just your muscle that benefits too; your connective tissue that surrounds your joints will be strengthened by stressing your body eccentrically. Whenever you’re experiencing soreness and wondering why you’re putting your body through this, just remember that these are the types of movements that are going to protect you from injury and lead to greater overall strength and athletic gains in the future. 

Should I expect to feel this sore after each workout?

If you are experiencing extreme soreness after each workout that means the body is not adapting to the stimulus. There can be several reasons for lack of adaptation but our most comment culprit we see is infrequency in training (ie. One training session every two weeks or missing three weeks at a time). Trust us, we get how busy a young athlete can be with the various sports games and practices. However, it is important that if you begin training, you make a commitment to consistency. If consistency is not the issue and extreme soreness is still being experienced then there should be a further conversation with our coach about how you are feeling. From there, we can work out a plan to adjust so that your body can better adapt to the stress from training.

What about in-season? I don’t want to be sore or tired for my games.

Completely understandable! We don’t want your body sore for the games either. The off-season is when eccentric training will play the highest role in the workout program. Once the program advances, concentric effort and power become our main focus. Once an athlete is in their main season, we won’t be involving much eccentric strength work in order to avoid that particular muscle damage that causes soreness.

What do I do if I’m experiencing soreness?

The best thing to do with soreness, and I know it may seem counter-intuitive, is to get moving. Do not sit around all day. Go walk your dog, take a light jog, swim, bike, or jump rope. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just do something to get blood flow to your muscles. This increase in blood flow throughout your body will circulate nutrients to your muscles and help speed up the repair process. More times than not, after breaking a sweat and doing something active, your muscles will be less sore than they were before. 

-Cassie Reilly-Boccia

Why Are We Still Showcasing?

WHY ARE WE STILL SHOWCASING?

Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to train some really incredible talents, mediocre talents, and athletes who have a love for a sport but just don’t quite express the talent necessary to play beyond the high school level in that sport.  The problem I see with this scenario is not the disparity in talent [because frankly that just makes me a better coach] it is the fact that all three of these athlete types are partaking in the same recruiting process.  On the surface, it is easy to see how this happens as the high-level talented athletes are likely getting recruited by the showcase company [as we need to remember these services are for-profit companies] to come to the event so they can draw the scouts [and will likely go for free]. The less talented athletes’ simply think the best course of action is to follow in the strides of the more talented, in an effort to achieve the same results.   Unfortunately, the wallets of the less talented athletes’ are where the profit lies for the showcase company, as they will likely pay full-boat for the event, and get about as much exposure as if they were playing in their backyard.

We need to flip the recruiting process on its head, but before we do so we need to provide a little disclaimer first!  If you have recruitable attributes, an above average arm [85+], speed [<4.8 – 40y], size [>6’3”], or above average power output [which means you probably have one of these other attributes, as well] than by all means the recruiting process is for you, showcase away!  If you do not…STOP GOING TO SHOWCASES! Parents the greatest lesson we can provide our young athletes is to ask them to be honest about their talents and make conscious decisions about either working on them or maximizing their current talent level.  Trying to protect them by insulating them from honesty only sets them up for inevitable let- downs and likely less intrinsically driven effort toward improvement.

If you are an athlete who does not possess these higher level attributes than you should be the one doing the recruiting, not the other way around.  Almost every college now offers a ‘skills development camp’, also known as a recruiting camp. These are great opportunities for the athletes who may be ‘smart players’, ‘gamers’, ‘students of the game’, to showcase their underlying attributes that may never get exposed in a round of batting practice or 5 ground balls taken at shortstop.  This creates a dynamic where the athlete can choose the colleges he wants exposure to and showcase more than just physical attributes [game knowledge, coachability, character, etc.].  The truest test for each athlete when deciding on a school is to have them ask themselves, ‘would I still want to be at this school if I wasn’t able to play my sport?’  If the athlete can answer this question with a yes then your recruiting process was a success…remember one way or another your paying for it!

-Nick Serio