The rate of athletes suffering knee pain and serious injury is rapidly on the rise. There are many debates on specific training methods being the blame but, we don’t want to get into an intense debate on what may be the contributing factor to the growing problem. The solution is not to ignore or work through the pain by any means, nor is it to skip or cut quad dominant exercises, like the back squat from your training to try and alleviate discomfort. There are technique tweaks as well as several exercises that will work the quad and cut down on the strain on the knee joint.
Knee pain is terrible and limits your ability as an athlete to run, jump, cut, and launch. You have to mix in exercises into your routine that will stabilize the knee and limit tension on the joint. First off, a key problem is form when perform squats and other quad dominant leg exercises. Focus on keeping your tibia or shin vertical and perpendicular with the ground. The movement laterally, forward or backward during exercises puts tremendous torque and strain on ligaments and tendons, especially with heavy weight bearing exercises. Try replacing squats with reverse lunges one day a week in you workout. A reverse lunge will help you to keep that shin vertical and knee stable, while stepping back in the lunge will give you greater range of motion with your hips allowing you to recruitment more quad work coming out of the lunge. Real strong in the squat and basic reverse lunge not enough? Try using Valslide reverse lunges, this can be performed with the Valslide training aid which is simply a plastic disc that is placed under the toe of the leg lungeing rearwards. The slide will make your core work more to keep your chest up and weight centered while performing the lunge. The slide will also help you to get your back leg further stretched out behind you increasing hip flexor flexibility and stretching it at the same time. Lastly, Rear Leg elevated Bulgarian Split Squats are a great replacement to squats. Place your rear leg on a box 9-12 inches high with the laces of the shoe resting on the box not your toe. Stretch your front leg out into a lunge in front of you and perform the exercise by dropping you hips down and drive weight through your front heel and extend up. Again, keep that front knee stable and DON’T allow the knee to come forward over the toe, use core, quad, and gluteal muscles to keep weight centered and steady.
Reverse Lunge Demo
Lastly, world re-knowned Canadian Strength Coach Charles Poliquin has had success in alleviating knee pain and minor injury through training the Vastus Medialis Oblique or VMO. That is the teardrop portion of the quad and prominently featured on all top-level athletes. The Muscle comes down and wraps around the knee making it a vital piece to knee stabilization. Not going to in-depth he worked with the Canadian Women’s National Volleyball Team for two months, all 23 members had knee tendonitis or jumper’s knee. He put all the women on a workouts to help build the VMO and in two months all but, one no longer had symptoms of knee tendonitis.
It is important to note, as athletes we have always been asked “Are you hurt or are you injured?” when we experience pain or discomfort. This advice is not meant to correct or change structural damage of the knee. If you are experiencing extreme discomfort or extreme loss of stabilization or strength in the range of motion of the knee, please seek medical attention!
Here is a quick 30-40 minute workout to raise metabolic rate and work muscle groups in unison. We have covered the importance of raising metabolism to burn fat and the benefits of interval training versus endurance training for fat loss. This workout seems easy at first but, rest assured your heart will be thumping and legs quivering when you finish up.
*5 minute warm-up jog to get lose on treadmill
5 minute 30seconds on/30seconds off sprint intervals on treadmill
10 - Goblet Squats
10 - Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts
10- Box Jumps
20 - Dumbbell Push-ups
Rest 3 minutes and Repeat circuit 4 times.
Pace is key, rest only 10 seconds between exercises or just enough to adjust equipment. Remember to immediately get a balance of protein and carbs in your body at the completion of the workout to repair and rebuild muscle. Post Fuel is your perfect solution with pure Whey Protein Isolate and a 2:1 protein carbs ratio.
As athletes we strive to have a lean, explosive, and strong frame. For years we have been told in order to achieve a lower body fat percentage we must spend hours on the treadmill. In any gym in America you can find the cardio area packed with members logging countless miles. Many of these individuals we see week after week, month after month don’t change in physical appearance. More and more studies are proving that running 30 minutes-1hour numerous times per week is not the answer. The results of lower body fat and more explosive strength can be found in performing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
In a study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, they performed test on two groups. One group of athletes performed 30 second high intensity intervals, while the other group of athletes would endurance train for 30 - 60 minutes. They performed the study over 6 weeks progressing each week increasing sprints for group one and overall time for group two. The results are staggering. The HIIT group lost 12.4% body fat and an average of 5.5 lbs. The endurance group on average lost 1.1 lbs. Both groups experienced the same overall improvement in 2000 m speed increasing speed by 5%. Total time spent by two groups over 6 weeks of training HIIT Group=45 minutes Endurance Group=13.5 hours
This study and countless others shows you the benefits of HIIT not only from a body fat standpoint but, shows that HIIT will reap the same benefits at a cardiovascular level as endurance training. Running sprint intervals will cause the muscle the explosively fire, improving strength in legs and require the heart to adapt to added burst and strengthen as well. Another added benefit is the rise in your metabolic rate for 48 hours after HIIT. The energy expelled running sprint intervals will require the body to use more nutrients and calories to repair and rebuild muscle fibers.
If you are looking for that “Adonis” like pro athlete build skip the long runs. To have a lean build with visible muscle definition you must lower body fat percentage and increase muscle hypertrophy (growth). One must balance caloric intake and focus on proteins to build muscle size and strength. Fueling the muscles and their ability to function will give you that desired look. The higher ability your body has to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers through explosive lifts or HIIT, the more visible and defined your body will become.
Add Extra Workouts for Extra Fat Loss
by: Kurt Hester BS CSCS USAW SAC
Most individuals who have a weekly training regime are always looking to bolster their existing workout and/or lose some unwanted body fat. Adding an extra workout or workouts might be the answer. Let me explain, by training more frequently you will raise your metabolism, add muscle, and burn more calories. High Frequency Training is nothing new to the training field but, rarely does anyone utilize them unless you are serving time in prison! Inmates serving time in prison train every day whether in the prison yard or their jail cell. Most of the utilizing only body weight exercises and most of these guys are lean and jacked. Their bodies adapt to the daily stress relatively easy because body weight does not tax the central nervous system as with traditional weight lifting exercises. These high frequency workouts will be done in excess of your normal training sessions.
This high frequency workout is very simple. You will perform four body weight exercises in succession: door pull-ups, reverse lunge, push-up, and squats. You will start with 1 set and 10 reps on each exercise every single day. The catch is that you will add 1 rep per exercise each day and you will do this for 60 straight days. When you get into higher reps you will have to do multiple sets to get all your reps in. You can either do it in one session or you can do multiple mini workouts throughout the day.
By the end of the 60 days you will have performed 2370 reps of each exercise and you will be leaner and definitely fitter. Give this a try even if it is just for the sake of a 60-day challenge.
Athletes and workout enthusiast alike, all think we know all there is to know about training. That attitude and mindset is very dangerous though, yes you want to be confident and think you are the greatest thing to walk in the gym door, but don’t let it stop you from getting a little assistance along the way. Gyms, Performance Centers, and CrossFit facilities are popping up everywhere and we all want to be as athletic and ripped as Reggie Bush, but not educating yourself on form and technique will only hurt you physically in the long run and create much lower plateaus in your lifting. Almost everyone can use a little help with lifting or with expanding a routine. Most top level professional athletes have trainers, have help, and have always had people they turn to to boost athletic performance. Finding a qualified personal trainer or lifting coach at your local gym or performance center is vital to continue to grow physically as an athlete.
How can a Trainer help me?
If you are like me, you constantly look for lifting programs ad exercises to help boost physical performance. Now a days there are tons of resources online to give us new exercises and routines, but some of these lifts are very risky when proper form isn’t being applied. A Certified Personal Trainer or Olympic Lifting Coach can help to train you the athlete on proper technique and proper load development. Who doesn’t want to Snatch 225 lbs but without proper form and proper steps to establish that technique it will never happen or worse yet won’t happen without a trip to the ER. Not only can a trainer help you with technique, they can help find physical deficiencies or areas of concern, add perspective, and finely add variety to your routine.
What’s that? I don’t have any deficiencies, I am top level athlete! Wrong, we all have muscles or muscle groups that don’t fire or work properly in certain lifts or range of motion. We just don’t like to admit it, thats all. Working with a qualified trainer can help you identify these weak spots and carefully and properly correct them for you. Let’s face it, if its a weakness, we probably are avoiding and work around to fool ourselves into thinking we are perfect.
Having a well trained eye watch your routine and technique can add to the wealth of knowledge you already have. You yourself or your teammates aren’t going to be quick to say, “Your doing the same thing, or your hip action in that Power Clean isn’t correct.” A trainers third party perspective will help find these issues as well as bring other knowledge to the table. If you are brought up playing football and lift like a powerlifting offensive lineman, you probably aren’t getting most out of your physical capabilities as a skilled wide receiver. A trainer can help point out other training styles to help you out.
As we just touched on, if you are a speed back back squat, deadlift, and bench press probably shouldn’t be your core movements for your routine. Expanding your lifting techniques, mixing in explosive exercises, and set variety are all things us as athletes think we know but can always use help. You need variety in exercises, as well as variety in free weights, machines, and barbell and dumbbell. Working with a trainer will help get this accomplished.
Tips for Finding a Qualified Trainer
*Read trainer Bios/Resumes - look into their background, see what sports they played, who their clientele is.
*Certifications - read what certifications each has, do research yourself of the work that these certifications required for them to do.
*Talk it out - most facilities offer free consultations, most trainers are also hungry to help new clients. Don’t be intimidated or shamed to walk up and start talking about your goals and getting to know their history. If you establish a good relationship from the get go, you will be more apt to listen to guidance and knowledge.
Everyone can always afford to expand knowledge in order to grow, don’t be prideful, and end up hurt