Thursday, September 10, 2009

Want Speed??




Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Cure for Weak Shoulders!

Shoulders & hips is what I spend 90% of my time working on with regards to the athlete training I do. The reason for this is because science has shown that most shoulder injuries stem from a deficiency somewhere in the hip cuff & vise-versa. Because of the dynamic nature of most field, court, mat & ice sports, athletes are encouraged to spend more time strengthening & stabilizing their shoulders & hips. Injuries come because the athletes either have tight hips (psoas, groin, spinal erectors & glutes) or tight or weak shoulders (rotators, rear delts, upper lats, rhomboids, traps & pecks). Now its important for one to know that deficiency in one area can lead to improper muscle activation (inter-musculature coordination), improper muscle timing or firing patterns (intra-musculature coordination), and ultimately overall movement dysfunction, leading to everyone's worst fear which is injury. Because of this I have tried to do my part in assuring our athletes that their hips &  shoulders would be strong & mobile enough to handle the most demanding movements at the most demanding speeds.

I have here what I like to call the "OPENERS". This a 3 part series of exercises sure to alleviate shoulder weakness, stiffness & pain.

Allow me to use a football analogy here. Popular football coaching these days shows a commonality with regards to how football teams begin their games. Most coaches will use a script of plays that are set in stone based on the game plan for the specific team they are playing that week. These coaches factor in the other teams tendencies and come up with a script of anywhere from 10 - 15 plays they will run in succession with no variation. We in like manner have adopted a similar approach for our athletes regarding shoulders & hips. In this post we will simply discuss the shoulders. These openers are a scripted grouping of exercises that the athletes will follow each workout to combat the opposing team, which in this case happens to be injury.

This is to be completed after a basic general warm-up usually involving a 3-5 minute jog or bike/elliptical.

1) Plank Trio:

  • Regular plank (holding good posture with no dip or bend in the hips. elbows should be comfortably located directly under the shoulders).
  • Strait arm plank (same as above just done with full extension of the arms)
  • Isometric plank hold (done same as above with the exception that the athlete will lower his/her body holding a 1/2 push position for anywhere from 3-5 seconds)
The entire sequence is to be done with no rest for anywhere up to 2 minutes based on strength of athlete.

2) YTWL:

  • Done lying prone on an incline bench or over a physio-ball for the more advanced athlete.

  • I usually do these without weight. You will see why in a minute.
Then for your first exercise of the day do this:

3) Dumbbell Medley- with light DB's perform 1 round of this medley:

db upright row x 8-10
db curl w/ press x 8-10
db bent over row x 8-10
db squat w/ press x 8-10

db lateral raise x 8-10

*Adding weight to the YTWL'S can be a beginner substitute for this.

* After 1 round of this proceed with the remainder of your workout.

 **Try this pre-workout sequence prior to each upper body workout and then "Medley" only as a finisher on your lower body days.

Quick Notes:

This is intended to help assist in the health of the shoulder. If you are performing highly intensive shoulder work already such as barbell push-press, snatches, clean & jerk or any other form of strenuous work, be cautious about over training the shoulders.

Range of motion for these exercises should be FULL.  However, this can be a goal of yours that you work towards with each workout. So take your time and exercise as much caution as necessary.

Stretching & performing mobility drills for the shoulders is very important. Please make sure you are adding in pre & post workout mobility exercises such as (band dislocations, band lat traction, rear delt stretches as well as stretches for the pecks, bi's & tri's.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I recently submitted a question to my good friend Bob who works for Elite Fitness Systems. The question is in regard to in-season training regarding Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program (which Key2 Sports reccommends highly for both athletes and anyone else looking to get in shape).

Here was the exchange:


I should probably be asking Jim Wendler this question but because of the fact that you are coaching football players i'm submitting it to you.

Do you recommend a modified 5/3/1 for in-season athletes? The reason i'm asking is because this program already has set percentages that are lower than the lifter's maximum weights. I actually see it as a perfect fit but my hang up comes in the deadlift & military press category. I personally know how damaging pulling is to my CNS, so I personally would take them out for our athletes and focus on free squats & box squat mini-cycles. Thoughts? The other hang up is with the military press. IMO we have the same issue here with the added pressure of risking overuse on the shoulders. My thoughts here were to mix in incline presses as a substitute, so the mini-cycles would involve flat bench & incline bench. Lastly, the percentages for each cycle begin at 65% according to Jim's plan. What is your starting suggestion for percentages? My personal thoughts were 55% - 75% or 80% depending on the day. BTW this is concerning kids WHO PLAY, for the kids who don't we're not changing the original program.

Even more specifically, we're using a mix between 1) I'm not doing Jack
2) the Triumvirate &
3) body weight

This is for all players whether they play or not. Thoughts?

I know you like articulation so I believe I have given you a platform to express your expertise in this area my friend. Thanks for your input. -Cornell


What's up, my man? I'll address this first by directing you to a post I saw from Jim on the subject:

Now, since Jim recommends something you have a bit of a hang-up with, I'll tell you what I've told you several times now. And remember, I'm not telling you this to be obnoxious or to tell you anything you don't already know. The purpose of this is to help other coaches who have the exact same question this time of year.

Cornell, you, especially, were a damned good football player. Use your experience here. When I did this, I found that things work better when we keep it to benching and squatting - with no overhead work done during the season. Now, where this confuses me is in the individualization of things, because, like some people, I've found that the more overhead work I do, the better my shoulders feel. I've heard Jim say the same thing.

Then again, I'm no longer playing football (except when I'm drunk in Vegas and rambling on and on about it), so the same level of collateral damage no longer exists.

What I've found to work is squatting and benching to about 70-75%, doing maintenance work for assistance stuff, then getting the hell out. Seriously? If I were still playing, my lower body workout would look like this:

1. Warm-up including foam roller and LIGHT sled dragging

2. Box Squats (possibly even above parallel): MAYBE work up to 75% x 3

3. GHR or 45-degree back: 3x10

4. Ab circuit

5. Stretch

This whole thing should take a half hour or less. Same goes for the upper body:

1. Warm-up including foam roller and LIGHT sled dragging.

2. Bench Press: MAYBE work up to 75-80% x 3

3. Banded Pushdowns: maybe 30-40 total reps

4. Pull-ups

5. Some quick neck and shoulder work, including shrugs, followed by some shoulder horn-type stuff, and that's it.

I would end up waving the percentages, but this is about the only work I've personally found to not f--k up our practices.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why is everone AGAINST running??

This one will be brief.

Fitness professionals over the last 8 years been increasingly moving their clients away from distance running because of all of the ill effects it can have on the body (ankle, knees & hips). They have been telling their clients to use interval training as a healthy alternative. While this is true, the simple fact that telling someone that running is bad just baffles my mind. Similar to static stretching, running has become the enemy of many. Well it's nonsense! I don't know about you but nothing feels worse than to go out for an occasional run, (of which I don't do much because of other factors), and feel like crap! Running for distance is a GOD made form of exercising that if used properly and in accordance with that persons personal make up and ability, can be a GREAT thing.

If you are able to run and do it effectively, then run. If you have issues as a result of running too much, then by all means find another way of getting in shape or staying in shape. I believe that we fitness folks prescribe a blanket approach far too many times when we should be advocating that people go out and run MORE. Running has never killed anyone last time I checked. If your a person who will only do long distance running and no other form of exercise, then you are misinformed and as a result will probably fall into the category of individual who will need to cease and desist. But if you, like to go for a nice long distance run as a means of adding it to all the other methods of training I do, then feel free to run until your hearts content. This goes for squatting, lunging, overhead pressing, doing abdominal exercises, using treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, and anything else fitness pros have told you are "bad" for you. Everything in moderation and with education.

Thank you!

Whats your Motivation??

Motivation is a key element in determining ones goals and future aspirations. Motivation can be a driving force behind some of the biggest breakthrough's in a person's life. For our clients at KEY 2 Sports & Fitness Training we ask you today what is your Motivation?? What drives you to become better than those around you? What separates you from being normal in your environment?

As a young boy I was motivated to be the best athlete I could be. I loved basketball and football. Every day of my life I spent countless hours doing the things I believed it took to prepare myself for greatness in those areas. As a result I was awarded with an opportunity to play college sports!

Very early on I was not very motivated by weight lifting and things of that sort. I wasn't the kid sitting around thinking of all my favorite body builders and strongmen. I was more of a active kid really participating in all types of sports (not insinuating that other kids are not active). I was playing everything because competition drove me to winning & winning was everything for me. Athletically I got into basketball & football because that's what my father was in to. He would always be watching or talking about the game, so I found myself picking up on it as well. The friends I had played those sports as well so it fell right in-line for me. I was, at that time, motivated to be a good player & a winner.

Well as I got older the motivation I had to excel in those sports grew. As my body began to develop, it was clear that I needed to do something to keep my athletic edge. So, around my 8th grade year I began to invest in my body by lifting weights. I can remember my friends and I meeting up with this "old-head" who would show us how to lift properly. This guy was a very short but a very muscular individual who saw something in us and decided to help us out. And since he was spending say...3 to 4 hours a day in the weight room anyway, helping a few kids in the process was no big deal. I can remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I got underneath 135lbs on the bench press. I felt like I was benching the world! It was awesome. I was hooked, but the motivation to continue was solely based on the fact that it would help improve my level of athleticism for the sports football & basketball.

I carried that motivation all through out college. Admittedly so, I never lifted weights because I liked it (back then). I lifted to get better and ultimately to be a better winner. As a result I played Division 1-AA football at a very high level and excelled in ways I never thought I could.

But, something strange happened. After I graduated from college I no longer had the same motivation to succeed on the playing field anymore. My playing days were over. I was changing on the inside as a result of the changes that had been made on the outside. I had to redefine my goals and reestablish a new motivation so that I would continue to move forward being fit as well as strong. So I got involved with coaching and helping other kids get to levels I hadn't gotten to myself. My motivation was to help others and by doing do thrive off the fulfillment. I wanted to still be a winner, but I want to win through building character & integrety in others and not simply through my own personal involvement in it.

I knew the kids I was coaching would think I was a fraud if I wasn't practicing what I was preaching. Being better then them at all times was a standard I set for myself. It was about having integrity so that my message in words and in deeds would come across smoothly. As my coaching career came to an end I decided that helping people was where I wanted to be. So I began to look into personal training and training athletes. I transferred my on the field/in the office experience to in the gym (the true office). I have to be able to meet people from all walks of life, people who've dealt with various circumstances and trials. This drives drives me to get more knowledge. If drives me to maintain my strength and fitness so that others may look to be like me. It motivates me to continue when I feel like giving in.

So that leads me to where I am today. Owner of a business, a brand & a style of life that people, real people can relate with and utilize. I try not to preach to the people I come into contact with. I simply allow them to see their own potential, set their own higher standards & reevaluate their motivation for why they are doing what they do.

Oh yeah, and as for working out. It motivates me to live what I preach and keep on pressing. Step outside the "comfort zone" and achieve things you never thought imaginable.

I hope you can answer that question for yourself with satisfaction. If you are serious about being great, being a winner and someone to look up to ask yourself, whats my motivation? Whats driving me. There is no right or wrong answer, just results.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Medicine Ball Marithon - Pre-Season Training that prepares & produces!!

Medicine ball training is nothing new. People have been using medicine balls for a variety of different training styles for hundreds of years. We make it our business here at KEY2 Sports Training to use the medicine balls during our almost all of our workouts. We like the availability of the medicine ball with regards to is having less limitation than a standard dumbbell/barbell. We also like the different speeds & planes of motion it allows us to assume.

The reason for this post is simple. I have put together a "pre-season" med-ball routine for our athletes that delivers incredible results for producing overall power, muscle endurance and raw strength. This workout is called the "Med-Ball Marathon". We call it this because for the time span of approximately 65-75 minutes we will use nothing more than a standard d-ball (dead ball). We tend to favor the d-ball style medicine ball because of the simple fact that it doesn't bounce. This requires our athletes to have to generate more force with each movement and makes retrieving the ball much simpler.

The workout:

We have used this primarily with our football athletes headed into pre-season camp. The reason we do this workout for approximately 1-3 sessions headed into camp is because it takes much of the stress off the bones & muscle tissue. It also allows us to perform sport specific dynamic movements at sport specific speeds. It also allows us to make the workout time shorter without reducing the overall volume & quality of work. Lastly it allows us to condition while working out as opposed to doing it only at the end of the workout.

Most of our medicine balls are between 6-12lbs. I recommend keeping the medicine ball light but challenging knowing that the athlete will use this same implement the entire workout. For bigger athletes we use the 12lb ball and smaller athletes use the 6-8lb ball.

The sequence:

We break the format up into sections sorta like football coaches do at camp. If anyone has ever been to a football practice you'd observe that they are very structured and time sensitive. There is most likely someone keeping track of time and format so that when the whistle or horn is blown, the athletes know exactly where to go next.

Well, this workout works a lot like that. We start the athletes off on our padded wall. The athletes will begin with the "long response" portion of the exercise. Long response exercises are simply concentric in nature with NO eccentric loading. Speed of movement is very high for all these movements.

The sequence followed is this:

Phase 1
  • backward overhead toss (granny toss) x 10 @ wall - goal = height on wall
  • vertical squat press w/ jump x 10 @ wall - goal = height on wall
  • standing chest pass @ wall x 10
  • standing overhead throw @ wall x 10
  • standing rotational throw (only done with advanced athletes) @ wall x 8 each
* On each rep the ball is to hit the ground without being caught. Remember we want a long response out of the muscle so each rep happens at approx. a 3-4 second pace. We also want full range of motion on all throws. We do this for 2-3 sets.

Phase 2

This phase we want a "short response" with an eccentric load added. During this portion we simply partner the athletes up (by size or training maturity). After partnering up the athletes, we follow the sequence of actions where the partner must catch the ball and then return the ball with the same action. Velocity used here is moderate-high. We want the athletes to load efficiently and perform quality movements without making it look like a circus because of all the dropped/poorly thrown balls. We do this sequence for 2-3 sets.

The sequence followed is this:

  • horizontal squat jump w/ press x 10 @ partner goal= full-body power and efficency
  • standing perpendicular rotational throw x 10 @ partner (partner facing opposite direction)
  • standing chest pass x 10 @ partner
  • standing parallel rotational throw x 10 @ partner (partner facing each other)

Phase 3

No we want to crank up the intensity a bit. We head our athletes back to the wall where they will now use a "rapid response" style training with the d-ball. In this portion of the training we simply get within one arm's length from the wall and have the athletes perform explosive all out bouts of exercise for either time or reps. By this point in the session we are getting fairly tired because of the intensity of the previous work (which is another reason why the intensity was taken down in phase two). Now we want to perform short bouts of highly intense work with moderate rest periods in between. This would be the equivalent of a group period or 1 on 1 period where intensity is very high for your rep but is followed by a full rest (or close to it). We usually do anywhere from 3-7 cycles of this sequence & it can be done kneeling or standing based on the experience and ability of the athlete.

The sequence followed is this:

  • RR chest pass x :6-10 sec @ wall
  • RR overhead throw x :6-10 sec @ wall
  • RR Perpendicular rotational throw x :6-10 sec @ wall
  • RR Parallel rotational throw x :6-10 sec @ wall
  • RR Jack Hammers x :6-10 sec @ wall
*RR = rapid response

Phase 4

Strength work. Listen before you criticize me for adding in strength work here after the athletes are almost gassed, remember their practices will resemble this & this portion of the exercise serves more as an active rest than a true strength workout. We will give them a good 3-5 minutes rest after phase 3 before proceeding with this work here. Also, reps are not set in stone. We are simply bringing their heart rates back down a bit and giving them a chance to get a small pump so that all bases are covered. We usually do about 2-3 sets of this sequence.

MB push-up (hands on ball) x 15-25sec depending on the group
MB over head lunges x 8-12 reps each leg
MB over head sit up with throw (we basically throw the ball while doing sit ups) x 8-12 reps each
MB superman's w/ ball held over head x 15-25 reps (face down on ground holding ball off ground and activating lower back for res)

Phase 5

Conditioning! At this point we're ready for team period. We are ready to do a full team drill where we all must pull together to accomplish this goal both individually and as a group. Our exercise of choice is none other than the granny toss circuit. In this circuit we must do a full granny toss (back overhead throw) for as much possible distance as we can. After the throw we go into an all out sprint to go retrieve the ball and will send the ball back to the start point in the same fashion. We do this drill in many ways. 1 way is to ladder the circuits. We'll do 10 followed by 8 followed by 6 each with a shorter rest interval. We'll also do eliminations where the last person in each group has to remove himself to the scout team bracket where he must perform the same drill during the other teams rest. There are many ways to break this drill up for fun and effectiveness. We will usually spend anywhere from 10-20 minutes doing this and then cool down & stretch.

FINISHER- I almost forgot our finisher!! This is ends the whole deal. To explain this exercise i'll add a video here.

This one is called:

Lying press to explosive stand & catch x3-5 each - we do this for more fun than anything but it's a great full-body finisher. Check it out!

I hope some of you trainers out there find this workout both challenging and fun. The athletes I have used this with have loved it while finding it more challenging than your normal pre-camp routines. Give a try and let me know how it works for you!