Monday, September 29, 2014

Mud-Run Training - Where to Start

Final entry from our trainer, James "Max" Clark.

It's the season for Mudruns and all different kinds of events. Being able to run the minimum 5k can be the least of your challenges when participating in one of these races. They include jumping, crawling, climbing and even balance obstacles that can make preparing for them more difficult than you might imagine. If you have never done one before here is an example of workout regiment to get you started.

Start out with 4 workout days a week, preferably Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Make sure to warm-up with stretching both before AND AFTER each workout.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Intermittent running and exercises-Start with a set time to run or walk at an incline if you have never been a runner.  Start by doing 3 minutes and working your way up to 5 minutes. In between the running, pick an upper body, lower body and core exercise to do submaximal exhaustion with for a time period of 30 to 60 seconds each.  Examples could be: burpees, pushup, pullups, high jump, plank to a pushup, mountain climbers, lunges, inverted rows, squats, overhead press, Turkish get-ups, etc… Repeat this process for a set number of rounds or until you reach a desired total distance on the runs.


This is going to be your long run day. You can either choose a distance, but personally I prefer time. Again for those who are just beginning running, start at 1 mile and work your way up to the total distance of your race. This is the part that is going to take planning because you can’t increase the distance too quickly without risk of injury or breakdown.  Make sure to give yourself enough time and plan out the increments to give your body time to compensate and recover before the date of your race. I suggest not doing this on a treadmill, but instead go to a park or some outside venue that is not paved, after all most mudruns are cross-country!

Happy Training and have fun!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

10 Moves to Improve Your Basketball Game

Basketball season is almost here...GO CATS!!  Here are some tips so you can improve your own game.

Once you've mastered basketball's fundamentals—how to properly dribble, shoot, pass, and trash talk—you can improve your game by fine-tuning the way you train off the court. They will increase your stability, stamina, and strength while aiming to keep you off your team's injured reserve list.


A solid base is important if you don't want to lose your balance every time some lummox hand-checks you.  Along with making your legs, trunk, and lower back strong, front squats will teach your body proper biomechanical alignment. Tall people tend to naturally squat wrong by bending forward instead of sitting deep—and that's not a strong position. When doing these, only squat down until your knees are at 90 degrees, since that's the range of a defensive stance.

How to Do It
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise the dumbbells upward and rotate your hands so they're in the same position they'd be for a barbell squat (might require a lower body "kip" [dynamic move to hoist the weight] if you're using heavy weight).
  3. Descend into a squat position while keeping your back straight, your chest upright, your elbows parallel to the floor, and your butt over your heels.
  4. Once your knees reach 90 degrees, return to the starting position.
  5. Perform 8–15 reps.


Breaking news: NBA scouts are not attending your pickup games. So exiting the game without spraining or tearing anything should trump all other concerns. Lateral skaters work the quads, hamstrings, and calves, but they also play a key role in strengthening the entire pelvic girdle, especially the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius—a small muscle in the butt—helps with hip stabilization and puts your body into a biomechanical alignment that greatly reduces knee and lower-extremity injuries.

How to Do It
  1. Stand in an athletic position with your feet close together; bend at the waist with your knees and arms slightly bent.
  2. Jump off of your left foot and land on your right foot while keeping your left foot off the ground. The opposite leg from the one you're launching off of will naturally pendulum across your body.
  3. Reverse it (jump off of the right foot and land on the left foot).
  4. Perform 6–10 reps total (3–5 each leg) at 100%.


You're far more susceptible to non-contact lower-body injuries when hip alignment is askew. Enter the heel slide. The form can be tricky, but perfecting the movement enables you to maintain proper hip alignment. If the middle of your butt isn't hurting by the time you're done, you're doing it wrong. The downside: You'll need adequate wall space.  

How to do it
  1. Lie on the floor close enough to a wall so that you can place both legs up on the wall.  Your hips should be as close to the wall as is comfortable for you.
  2. Start with both feet resting on the wall.  Slowly pull one foot down the wall, keeping the heel against the wall during entire movement.
  3. Then slowly slide your foot up to where you started.
  4. Perform 15-20 reps (or 30 seconds) per leg.


In every facet of the game—shooting, defending, sprinting off the court in shame after launching an air ball—you're using core strength. For side plank leg raises, raising both the upper leg and arm to provide more stability and to force the hip into place. He also stresses the importance of pointing the toes down on your elevated foot. Turning the toes downward will strengthen the gluteus medius along with your core, he reveals.  Pushing the belly button forward will help maintain verticality. When the upper leg hangs out from the body, it most likely means you're using the back and gluteus maximus muscles (in other words, cheating) instead of the gluteus medius.
How to Do It
  1. Lie on your side, keep your legs straight, and prop yourself up on your arm or elbow.
  2. Raise both the upper leg and arm (remember to point that upper toe downward).
  3. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.


Bulgarian squats build lower-body muscles. They also provide a reason to thank Bulgaria for contributing something to the world. When paired with split squat jumps (we'll get to those next), the two exercises team up to both strengthen the legs and enhance explosiveness. This is a basketball-specific movement that you use in the game. You want your back leg to be about 12 to 18 inches off the ground with your back knee almost touching the ground [like a lunge when you descend]; finding the proper weight and distance to use here will be trial and error.

How to Do It
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and put them at your sides with your arms straight, or move them into the same position you would when doing a barbell squat.
  2. While you're in a staggered stance (your left or right foot forward), place the top of your back foot on top of a bench (or a chair, couch arm, or stability ball—whatever's available or at your comfort level).
  3. Perform 8–15 per leg.


Strength and conditioning coaches rely on split squat jumps regularly with their basketball clientele. Why? They enhance explosive power off of one leg, and that's something players need to snag rebounds, hit jump shots, and execute 360-backflip dunks . . . or layups. Doing a heavy contraction exercise like the Bulgarian or front squat before a dynamic movement makes the latter move safer.  Your muscles are thoroughly warmed up, so it's much harder to injure yourself. The cool thing is that you also free up something called high-threshold muscle cell motor units that will help you jump higher.

How to Do It
  1. Get into a split stance.
  2. Drop into split squat position so your front upper leg is parallel to the floor and your rear knee is almost touching the ground.
  3. Jump upward and quickly switch the position of your legs so you land in the opposite stance.
  4. Perform a squat and repeat.
  5. Perform 6–10 reps total (3–5 each leg) at 100%.


The first thing you do when you're tired in basketball is start to stand up and lose the position where you are strong and laterally quick. And if you can't sink down into a stance and D up, you might as well wear the other team's jersey. This squat hop to wall squat duo will supply your lower body with strength and stamina. Go for speed, not distance.  Move as fast as you can, tapping the feet as quickly as possible. And when you're done, do a wall squat until failure.
(Something to consider: If you sweat worse than a broken spigot and you're doing wall squats at home, Superman a towel over your back to preserve the paint.)

How to Do It
  1. Get into a defensive stance (legs bent at 90 degrees, back straight, head up), arms out like you're guarding someone.
  2. Perform 16 jumps rapidly (4 forward, 4 sideways, 4 to the other side, and 4 backward) and repeat it 4 times.
  3. Find a wall and get back into your defensive stance with your arms and fingers extended.
  4. Stay in that position as long as possible.


Whether you're shooting, passing, or giving someone a Dikembe Mutombo finger wag after blocking a shot, your fingers play a crucial role. And they take a serious beating during basketball games. Fingertip push-ups will toughen your digits and boost strength in your upper body and core.  Work up to 25 reps, but aim for 15 or as many as you can do to start.  Do some of them from your knees to build up strength if you need to.

How to Do It
  1. Get into a push-up position (wide- or narrow-grip).
  2. Support your body weight with your fingertips instead of your palms.
  3. Keep your head, neck, hips, and torso straight, and your back and shoulders stable as you descend.
  4. Push up and repeat.
  5. Perform up to 25 reps (unless you can do more).


Proprioception is an internal mechanism that allows us to do cool things like control our limbs without having to look at them while they work. (That's how we can drive without the need to stare at our hands and feet.) Trouble is, that can be a detriment with basketball. We remember how to run, jump, and shoot from balling when we were kids, but if we haven't played in a while our bodies may not be conditioned to carry out those in-game movements without suffering an injury.  Line hops help with neuromuscular patterns.  Just jumping on the balls of the feet will help get your body used to [those movements] again, as well as help with speed and quickness.

How to Do It
  1. Tape an "X" onto the floor.
  2. Hop quickly over a line, changing direction after every 5 jumps.
  3. After 30 jumps, rest 30 seconds and complete another set.


Don't neglect strengthening your upper body.  With this movement, you're building strength through a squat position, which you spend a lot of time in on the court.

How to Do It
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at your sides.
  2. Perform a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Return to the standing position and do a biceps curl.
  4. When the dumbbells reach your shoulders, flip your hands over and press them over your head by thrusting from your hips (called a push-press).
  5. Reverse the move, slowly, to the starting position, and repeat.
  6. Do 8–15 reps, or until failure.
Good luck and we will see you on the court!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cardio and Weight Loss Quick Tip

Here's quick tip #2 from our trainer, James "Max" Clark.

A lot of people know that for weight loss you need to have a solid cardio regiment, however using that treadmill over and over can get tedious and let’s face it just plain boring. Here are a couple ideas of how to change up your cardio to keep you moving and see the results you want and maybe add something new you haven’t thought of yet.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio - Most people think that this can only be done on a treadmill and sprinting, but it can also be done on Stairmasters or elliptical as well. By alternating between speeds or resistances on the Stairmaster and elliptical you achieve the same effect as on the treadmill.

Add weights to your regiment - By using 5 to 10 pound weights and doing overhead presses or any upper body movement to a brisk walk on a cardio machine for periods of around 60 seconds you can help spike your heart rate and in the process burn more calories.

Give these tips a try and see if your weight loss program gets a little kick-in-the-toosh!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Six Cooking Mistakes That Make You Fat

Eating-in is one of the best ways to get (and stay) slim. Cooking at home allows you to control the calories and fat, and use wholesome ingredients in your meals—not something you can easily do when you go out to a restaurant. But there may be small mistakes you're making when it comes to whipping up a homemade meal or snack that can lead to weight gain, from pouring on the olive oil to baking "low-fat" cookies.

Cooking Mistake #1: You're too generous with the olive oil

No doubt olive oil is a healthy fat—it's rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. In addition, the aroma of olive oil may even improve satiety, prompting you to eat less at later meals, finds a recent German study. But that doesn't mean you can pour it on with abandon. One tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories, and if you're eyeballing how much you add to a pan, it's easy to pour twice that—and therefore, twice the calories. Washington, D.C.–based personal chef and registered dietitian Jessica Swift, MS, suggests using just enough oil to coat the pan's cooking surface, then using a paper towel to wipe off any excess oil before adding other ingredients. In addition, try sautéing veggies in low-sodium chicken or veggie stock or white wine.

Cooking Mistake #2: You forget to spice things up

Rethink how you add flavor to foods. Instead of covering steamed broccoli in butter, sauces, or cheese, reach for your spice rack. One new study from the University of Colorado found that when people added herbs and spices to reduced-fat foods, they rated those foods as tasty as their full-fat versions. Swift likes rubbing fish with dill, paprika, and garlic and topping with a squeeze of lemon. Also try covering chicken breasts with rosemary, garlic, lemon or orange slices, and sage before baking it in the oven.

Cooking Mistake #3: You bake meat in the oven

Baking chicken in the oven can definitely help save calories over pan-frying or sautéing, but here's what you're probably missing: you should elevate the meat and cook it on a rack. This allows the fat to drain away, Swift says. Do the same with veggies. Toss them with oil, salt, and pepper, then roast on a rack placed atop a baking sheet. When done, they won't be swimming in gobs of oil, but you'll still enjoy the same delicious flavor.

Cooking Mistake #4: You're "cleaning up" baked goods

You know the tricks to "healthify" treats like cookies, muffins, and brownies: use puréed fruit instead of refined sugar, and add black bean purée to brownies. Try whole-grain flour in your muffins. And while it's a good idea to make an effort to add as much nutrition as possible to treats, it makes it easier to justify a splurge. In fact, people eat larger portions if food is marked "healthy," shows research in the International Journal of Obesity. So you may snack on four cookies instead of two because your new recipe contains half the fat—but this defeats the entire purpose.

Cooking Mistake #5: You're, well, cooking everything

Because research shows that adults are eating far too few fruits and vegetables, it's a good idea to try to get more into your diet, whether steamed, roasted, or grilled—whatever way you love them the most. But don't forget to eat them raw, too. According to a 2011 study published in the journal PNAS, the process of cooking produce makes more calories available to the body. That means your body burns more calories by simply digesting raw foods, which could translate into weight loss. (Sure, it's a minimal amount, but over time this can add up.) So don't forget to include big salads; crudités, like sliced cukes and red peppers, dipped in salsa or guac; or gazpacho in your meal rotation.

Cooking Mistake #6: You think pasta was made for noodles

If you've already switched from white pasta to whole wheat versions, then give yourself a pat on the back. Pasta made with 100% whole wheat flour digests slower than refined versions, so you stay fuller for longer. But there's life beyond wheat noodles, and it saves mega-calories and dials up the nutrition: veggies masquerading as noodles. Think spaghetti squash, zucchini and squash ribbons, and sliced asparagus. Want proof? One cup of spaghetti squash contains 42 calories compared with one cup of pasta at 200 calories. Top veggie "noodles" with a tomato sauce and turkey meatballs and you've got a lower-carb and lower-calorie (but still satisfying) meal. One tip: when making spaghetti squash, don't salt it before cooking, which adds about 16% of your daily value of bloat-inducing sodium. The sauce you put on top will contain enough salt to flavor the dish.

So, is your cooking making you fat??


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Protein Powder...More Than Just a Drink Mix

Here's a quick tip from our trainer James "Max" Clark on protein powders.

Getting the right amount of protein is important for any diet and exercise plan. Whether it’s to build muscle or recover from a workout, protein powders have become an easy and readily available source for most people who may not have the time to cook something after their workouts or get tired of grilled chicken all the time. Below is a link for a few interesting ways to use that protein powder along with some foods and recipes to get those important amino acids into your diet. I’ve tried some of these and you’d be surprised just how good they can be!

Check it out and try some of these tasty (and beneficial) recipes.