Athlete Spotlight: John Kowalski

John Kowalski is a senior standout soccer player out of Fox Lane High School. During his time at Fox Lane he was a 2-time Varsity Captain and a three year starter. He was also 3-time FC Westchester Captain. He received section 1 AA all-league honors in both the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. In 2017 he and his team won the NY State Cup Championship. John’s current training is dedicated in preparation for his upcoming career as a Division 1 Soccer player. He is set to attend Holy Cross this coming fall of 2020.

From a coach’s perspective, John is the type of athlete that thrives at AW. His success in athletics are simply highlighted when witnessing him train in the weight room. “Coachable” is a term that is often thrown around, however John is not just coachable, he pursues training with an open mind mentality to always make an adjustment. This mentality is the root cause of his progression and why he will continually smash personal bests in strength and power metrics.

So here we sit down with John Kowalski to ask an array of questions related to training (and some not so related).

What initially drew you to becoming an AW Athlete? I realized that to perform at a high level during the season you have to work even harder during the off season and what better place to do that than AW.

What has been the most drastic change in performance you’ve felt since training at AW? I definitely feel more powerful when playing my sport (strength/ speed wise). But training also drastically changed my physique!

Reflect on your high school career… what would you tell your freshman self? Make the most of what’s in front of you. Play with confidence and enjoy the ride.

In the car on the way to train at AW, what are you listening to? Lil Wayne, Kanye West

What is the most questionable thing you’ve ever eaten before a training session?
A chicken parm wedge or a chipotle burrito. Both were very questionable before a training session.

Squat, Bench, or Deadlift?

Jacked arms or ripped abs?
Ripped abs.

Favorite local pizza spot?
Gianfrancos- Mount Kisco or colony grill-Stamford 

Any strange intra-workout habits?
I sometimes find myself singing while working out. It keeps me focused.

What’s your post workout recovery look like? Immediately drink a protein shake (preferably strawberry banana muscle milk) and eat a really big meal.

Pro sports or college sports on tv?
Pro sports.

Do you have any odd rituals before playing sports or working out?
I always tape my socks before a game.

Favorite part of AW?
Working out with a great group of coaches and bettering myself as an athlete and as a person!

3 Factors That Go Into In-Season Training Programs

Introduction: As the spring season is right around the corner, we’re sending off a large amount of our athletes to the arena of competition. While our population of athletes training in season has grown tremendously over the years, we tirelessly educate our athletes on how important it is in the year-round training process. While we can delve into the science behind injury prevention and performance maintenance and progress during in-season training, we must answer the question that concerns every athlete and sometimes even prevents them from beginning in season training… “what is my program going to look like?” For starters, the primary focus of our in season training is to prescribe exercises, sets, and reps in a manner that is going to mitigate the overall volume on the athlete. Overall volume is taking into account minutes played, time and intensity at practice, amount of conditioning done at practice, as well as the intensity of the training that we are going to complete at Athletes Warehouse. Think about it like this…

The Formula Overall Volume = Amount of playing time in game + Practice duration and intensity + Conditioning executed at practice + Training Volume executed at AW. 

As the strength and conditioning coach we are only one factor in this athletes overall volume. We allow our workout to be flexible, moldable, and as adaptive as possible in regard to all the other factors that are going into the overall volume of the athlete. So this is where our programming becomes very specific and individualized to that athlete. Here are some of the major implications to how an athlete’s in season training program is formed.

What does the athlete enjoy? Arguably the most important factor in terms of mitigating emotional and mental fatigue. Even though this factor is not as definitive or scientific, if an athlete feels as though they are coming into the gym and needing to grind through exercises they don’t enjoy it is going to be way more taxing from a psychological standpoint. 

What is their sport? Preseason field sports such as lacrosse or soccer are essentially track practice with the amount of running volume. Preseason baseball or softball can be thought of more of a power event. For our lacrosse, basketball, soccer, football, field hockey, and other field athletes, we will most likely avoid any form of sprinting, jumping, or high impact eccentric exercises. These programs will be designed around preventative and rehabilitative exercises, and strength work that promotes maintenance of performance. For example, they will find themselves utilizing resistance bands, sleds, and Keiser equipment alongside main strength lifts (Squatting, Pressing, Lunging, Pulling) in a manner which limit the amount of soreness the athlete experiences while maintaining strength.

When we talk about in-season training for our large baseball and softball population, we are able to prescribe more intense sprinting, jumping, and lifting. While we are still trying to mitigate soreness, the goal of these in-season programs is to continually allow them to peak throughout the season. Because of the fact that these athletes are participating in a power sport (requiring quick expression of force) with the absence of large amounts of running and jump volume, we can prescribe a good amount of sprinting, jumping, and high weight/low volume (e.i. Heavy set of 3) to these athletes. With consistent in season training, we almost always see baseball and softball athletes setting new personal records in events such as the 10 yard dash, 40 yard dash, and broad jump. These increases in power measures are indicators that these athletes are continuing to peak performance.

Sets and reps. This can often be the most structured way to describe in season training and we cannot discuss the topic without this. As stated before we prescribe volume based on sport and fatigue of the athlete, which can often be very individualized and varied. However, some consistent rep schemes and mini workouts that we will utilize are the following: that an athlete will find themselves completing are somewhat based on the Westside/Conjugate dynamic effort schemes. Sets such as 10×2, 8×3, 6×4, allow the athlete to perform squat, press, deadlift, and lunge at weights that are relatively high in load and maintain a moderate total volume (i.e. 10 sets of 2 totals 20 total reps). We will also utilize bands and chains to emphasize the concentric phase of the lift at moments where the athlete are stronger (i.e. heavier at the top of the lift). These sets are less taxing as they reduce the time under load, as these sets are not going to require the athlete to be under a load for more than 15 seconds. 

Final Thoughts: The greatest benefit to in-season training is injury prevention. At the end of this discussion of sets, reps, peaking performance, and exercise selection, regardless of what you get out of in-season training, we always find athletes stay healthy through the season. It doesn’t matter how strong, powerful, or talented you are in your sport, if you are not healthy you cannot perform.