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It’s 2016. Are you ready? Do you have a plan? Do you know what you are going to do to achieve your fitness goals in the New Year?

Physical fitness is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, inspiring many people to enthusiastically join a gym. But simply saying you’re going to start exercising, however, will not do the trick, as evidenced by the fact that so many abandon their efforts before January is even over.

If you’re tired of wanting to change certain behaviors, such as getting physically fit, but not being able to follow through, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are some specific strategies you can follow for creating an effective fitness plan that you can stick with over the long haul. If you’re ready to finally achieve your goal of getting—and staying—fit and healthy, grab a pen or an electronic device so you can take a few notes as we go through these important points together.

1. ENJOYMENT

Write down five physical activities that you enjoy or could maybe envision enjoying, starting with the one you like the most.

2. PRACTICALITY

Make a short list of the fitness- or sports-related equipment available to you at home, work, gym or health club (if you belong to one) or in your neighborhood. Compare your list of resources with your list of enjoyable activities and connect potential matches. For example, if you own a bike, you enjoy biking and there is a biking trail in your neighborhood, that’s a great match. If you can’t find a connection between your two lists, think about what you would need to obtain to be able to proceed with activities you enjoy. For example, if you love swimming but don’t have immediate access to a pool, track down a local public or private pool you could use.

3. VISION

Identify three things that you would like to accomplish in terms of your physical fitness and write them down. This could include establishing a regular fitness routine, finishing a 1-mile walk or doing 5 push-ups. Perhaps you have health-related goals, such as lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels. Either way, be very specific as to the details of your goals, such as how much and by when you want to accomplish these things. Remember, your goals should make sense in terms of what activities you enjoy doing (list #1). If you don’t enjoy running, don’t set a goal of wanting to run a marathon because you probably won’t do it.

4. PLAN

All effective fitness plans must include activities to address the complete picture of physical fitness:

  • Cardiorespiratory Endurance
  • Muscular Strength/Endurance
  • Flexibility

To achieve the greatest health benefits, you have to address all three aspects of fitness. Don’t worry if this sounds daunting—the FITT formula can help. The following table includes established fitness industry guidelines for healthy adults who want to improve physical fitness. Feel free to modify each category according to your personal enjoyment, preferences and current level of physical fitness. If you’re new to exercise, you may have to start with fewer or shorter workouts and work up to a higher intensities, frequency or times.

FITT FORMULA

  Cardiorespiratory Muscular Flexibility
FREQUENCY 3–5 days per week 2–3 non-consecutive days per week 3 days per week (minimum)

5–7 days (ideal)

INTENSITY Target exercise zone Weight, sets and reps depending on current fitness status To the point of tension, NOT pain.
TIME 20–60 minutes Depends on number of sets and reps Hold stretches for 15–30 seconds, repeating each stretch 2–4 times
TYPE Examples: swimming, biking, indoor cycling, cardio kickboxing Examples:

calisthenics, free weights, resistance bands

(Note: Be sure to address all major muscle groups.)

Static stretching after workout

5. SCHEDULE

To adopt a long-term effective fitness plan, it is vital to make physical fitness a priority in your daily scheduling. If you leave it up to chance, it won’t happen. Depending on your personalized FITT formula, add each particular fitness component in your daily schedule, just as you would any other appointment, and be sure to block off enough time to accomplish the chosen activity. Be realistic; for example, don’t schedule a workout at 11 p.m. at night, when you know you will be tired. If you are currently not active at all, start with fewer days and shorter times, such as three days a week of 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory fitness and slowly build up your plan from there.

6. TOOLS

Research confirms that people are more successful with their personal fitness plans if they enlist the support of a workout partner or group, have access to music and record what they do (such as a free app or a traditional journal). Is there someone in your life who could be your workout buddy? Have you checked out some helpful fitness apps? Get set up with resources to track what you do on a daily basis. Make appointments with workout buddies and put them in your calendar.

7. PREPARATION

An important tip to remember: Setbacks are part of the process, but an effective fitness plan can help avoid many of them. What will you do when it rains and you planned to run outside? What will you do when your kid’s schedule changes and you can’t make it to your group fitness class at 5 p.m.? Plan ahead for obstacles and identify alternatives. Add these to your FITT formula by adding a row labeled “back-up plan.”

8. ACTION

Take action and follow through with the plan you set for yourself. Every day will be a new journey, but it is up to you to take action and follow through.

9. EVALUTION

It is vital to reevaluate your fitness plan on a regular basis and honestly reflect on the following questions:

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What did I do not so well?
  3. What are my barriers?
  4. What is not working that I need to change?
  5. How will I overcome my barriers?

Every successful exerciser has to plan, prioritize and take action each and every day. It is a fluid process that is extremely empowering, inspiring and enjoyable, IF you employ the strategies listed here to maximize effectiveness. Remember, start slowly and don’t get discouraged when you fail—simply move on and refocus on your detailed plan. And always keep in mind the many positive benefits of physical fitness, because it can truly change and save your life.

Dominique WakefieldDominique Wakefield ContributorDominique Wakefield is a passionate, energetic and innovative health and fitness expert, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NWI Certified Wellness Practitioner, ACSM credentialed EIM-1, presenter and writer. Currently, she is Director for University Health and Wellness and Faculty for Public Health, Nutrition & Wellness at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. In October 2011, Dominique Wakefield was awarded ‘Top 11 Personal Trainers to Watch in the U.S.’ by Life Fitness and the American Council on Exercise. In addition to teaching at universities, she has worked as a Fitness & Programs Manager, Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Wellness Coach at fitness centers, in the clinical wellness setting and in the corporate wellness setting since 2001. Dominique is a PhD candidate in Health through the University of Bath, England. Her studies and research center on physical activity, motivation for exercise and behavior change strategies. Visit dominiquewakefield.com to learn more!

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Josh Weir
josh.weir@cantonrep.com
Updated: Monday, December 28, 2015jackson_05

JACKSON TWP. For Jack Tirmonia, Northwestern University offers the best of both the athletic and the academic worlds.

The Jackson High School senior wide receiver with the good hands and the Ivy League-caliber brain is too smart to pass on that.

Tirmonia announced Monday that he has committed to play football for the Wildcats as a preferred walk-on after originally committing to Brown University in August.
Tirmonia said Northwestern began showing interest in him late this regular season. He was invited to the Evanston, Illinois, campus for a recruiting visit and saw the Wildcats — currently ranked 12th by The Associated Press — beat Penn State with a late field goal Nov. 8.

Then Northwestern offered him a preferred walk-on spot Dec. 16.
“It took a lot of thought and consideration over the last couple of months,” Tirmonia said. “But at the end of the day, this is where I think I’ll be the most comfortable and what will be the best opportunity for me. It was a gut-wrenching decision to not go to Brown and tell those coaches there. But I know I made the right decision.”

At Northwestern, Tirmonia, who finished his junior year with a weighted 4.3 GPA, gets to play FBS college football while receiving about as close to an Ivy League education as one can get without actually being in the Ivy League. He is leaning toward majoring in business.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Tirmonia caught 44 passes for 645 yards and eight touchdowns this past fall as the Polar Bears went 5-5. He earned first-team honors for All-Northeast Inland District and All-Federal League.

Playing Big Ten football has special meaning for Tirmonia. His grandfather, Jerry Krisher, is a Massillon product who played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State and helped the Buckeyes win the 1954 national championship as an offensive lineman.

When Tirmonia told his grandfather of his decision to switch to Northwestern, Krisher searched through his office and produced a recruiting letter that Northwestern sent him more than 60 years ago.
“It was really cool,” Tirmonia said.

Tirmonia is encouraged by the fact that one of the Wildcats’ top receivers (junior Austin Carr) arrived at Northwestern as a walk-on and now is on full scholarship. He also points out that the holder (junior Christian Salem) for the game-winning field goal against Penn State is a walk-on.
Said Tirmonia, “I know I’ll have a good opportunity to contribute there in the future if I work by butt off.”

Reach Josh at 330-580-8426 or josh.weir@cantonrep.com
On Twitter: @jweirREP

Some athletes are choosing water and real food instead of sports drinks and processed bars and gels.

By Alastair Bland
The SALT, NPR Food Blog
Posted 7/16/2012

As the world’s greatest athletes gear up for the 2012 Olympic Games in London this month, viewers like us are likely to see a spike in televised ads for sports drinks, nutritional bars, and energy gel — that goop that so many runners and cyclists suck from foil pouches.

Powerade, in fact, is the official sports drink of the 2012 Olympics, and if it’s true what these kinds of ads imply, processed sports foods and neon-colored drinks are the stuff that gold medalists are made of.

But sports nutritionists and pro athletes don’t all think so. David Katz, physician and nutrition expert at the Yale University School of Medicine, says sports drinks generally aren’t much better than sodas. “[Sports drink companies’] marketing is based on the gimmick that somehow this extra load of sugar and calories will turn you into an athlete,” he says

Perhaps no brand has so loudly touted its product as an enhancement to physical prowess as Gatorade. One of its most effective sales pitches asserts that its sweet and colorful drinks can rehydrate a body more efficiently than water. Leslie Bonci, a dietary advisor to several Major League Baseball teams and a consultant for Gatorade, explains, saying that the body can absorb Gatorade more quickly than it can water alone. She adds that the sugar in Gatorade provides needed calories absent in water.

“Gatorade is a source of fluid, it’s a source of energy, and it’s a source of electrolytes,” she says. Electrolytes are minerals essential in helping the body retain water — and it’s true: We can’t live without them.

But the electrolytes in Powerade and Gatorade occur naturally in many other foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and coconut water.

Katz warns that the sugar content of sports drinks is far more likely to cause unwanted side effects than it is to propel you to the finish line of a race.

Like tooth rot, for example, or that stubborn layer of blubber that clings to our waistlines in spite of our most vigorous efforts to dispatch it. After all, makers of sports drinks, bars and gels encourage people to consume their products not just during exercise, but before and after, as well.

For example,the website for GU Energy — a popular brand you may know from discarded foil wrappers plastered to the asphalt — advises sucking down one of its 100-calorie gel packs before a workout, then again every 45 minutes during the workout. For your post-workout meal, there is GU Recovery Brew.

GU Energy did not respond to our inquiries about their products by press time, but sports nutritionists aren’t so sure about the suggestion to slurp the gels.

“The sports nutrition industry just tells us to eat, eat, eat,” says Stanford University nutrition coach Stacy Sims. “They don’t care how big you are or whether you’re a man or a woman or if you’re trying to lose weight.” (Full disclosure, Sims co-founded her own sports nutrition company called Osmo, which makes powdered sports drinks for hydration and recovery, and are purportedly easier on the body than syrupy energy gels.)

Walk onto any school field on weekends, and you’ll see kids drinking sports and energy drinks, too, even though pediatricians advise good old fashioned water.

Mountain biking legend Gary Fisher says these “engineered nutrition” products keep many amateur athletes on the tubby side. “I see guys who really put in the miles, and they have a gut that never goes away,” Fisher says.

Fisher says he prefers roast beef sandwiches, burritos, nuts, and bananas during bike rides, and afterward, he often eats a large helping of chicken or fish served beside a salad dressed with olive oil.

And Scott Jurek, the record-holding vegan ultra-marathoner featured in the 2009 bestseller Born to Run, enjoys smoothies prior to his 30-mile training runs, scarfs rice balls and hummus wraps en route, and afterward feasts on quinoa, tempe, brown rice, and beans — all vegan recipes included in his new book, Eat and Run.

Jurek says gels, which are easy to pack and carry, may be convenient if no real foods are available. His favorite gel product is by Clif, which also happens to be one of his sponsors.

But Sims at Stanford says unless you’re flat out of gas with miles more to go, don’t do goo.

“The fact is, every time you take a gel, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you want to do,” says Sims, who has worked with cycling stars Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong. She says densely sugared foods dehydrate the body and cause overheating.

But that’s supposedly where Gatorade comes in, rehydrating parched athletes and resupplying the body’s depleted electrolytes.

How important is hydrating anyway? Can it be reduced to a specific formula? Timothy Noakes, a South African sports nutrition doctor, says dehydration is a simpler condition than sports drink companies have hyped it up to be. He says athletes can generally “listen” to their bodies and drink water when they feel thirsty.

Posted: 03/12/2012 12:05 pm
By Scicurious
(Click here for the original article)

I just came back from an 11 mile run. The wind wasn’t awful like it usually is, the sun was out, and I was at peace with the world, and right now, I still am. Later, I know my knees will be yelling at me and my body will want nothing more than to lie down. But right now? Right now I feel FANTASTIC.

What I am in the happy, zen-like, yet curiously energetic throes of is what is popularly known as the “runner’s high”. The runner’s high is a state of bliss achieved by athletes (not just runners) during and immediately following prolonged and intense exercise. It can be an extremely powerful, emotional experience. Many athletes will say they get it (and indeed, some would say we MUST get it, because otherwise why would we keep running 26.2 miles at a stretch?), but what IS it exactly? For some people it’s highly emotional, for some it’s peaceful, and for some it’s a burst of energy. And there are plenty of other people who don’t appear to get it at all. What causes it? Why do some people get it and others don’t?

Well, the short answer is that we don’t know. As I was coming back from my run, blissful and emotive enough that the sight of a small puppy could make me weepy with joy, I began to wonder myself…what is up with me? As I re-hydrated and and began to sift through the literature, I found…well, not much. But what I did find suggests two competing hypothesis: the endogenous opioid hypothesis and the cannabinoid hypothesis.

The endogenous opioid hypothesis

This hypothesis of the runner’s high is based on a study showing that enorphins, endogenous opioids, are released during intense physical activity. When you think of the word “opioids”, you probably think of addictive drugs like opium or morphine. But your body also produces its own versions of these chemicals (called ‘endogenous’ or produced within an organism), usually in response to times of physical stress. Endogenous opioids can bind to the opioid receptors in your brain, which affect all sorts of systems. Opioid receptor activations can help to blunt pain, something that is surely present at the end of a long workout. Opioid receptors can also act in reward-related areas such as the striatum and nucleus accumbens. There, they can inhibit the release of inhibitory transmitters and increase the release of dopamine, making strenuous physical exercise more pleasurable. Endogenous opioid production has been shown to occur during the runner’s high in humans and well as after intense exercise in rats.

The cannabinoid hypothesis

Not only does the brain release its own forms of opioid chemicals, it also releases its own form of cannabinoids. When we usually talk about cannabinoids, we think about things like marijuana or the newer synthetic cannabinoids, which act upon cannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce their effects. But we also produce endogenous cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids), such as anandamide, which also act upon those same receptors. Studies have shown that deletion of cannabinoid receptor 1 decreases wheel running in mice, and that intense exercise causes increases in anadamide in humans.


Not only how, but why?

There isn’t a lot out there on HOW the runner’s high might occur, but there is even less on WHY. There are several hypotheses out there, but none of them, as far as I can tell, are yet supported by evidence. First there is the hypothesis of a placebo effect due to achieving goals. The idea is that you expect yourself to achieve a difficult goal, and then feel great when you do. While the runner’s high does have some things in common with goal achievement, it doesn’t really explain why people get them on training runs or regular runs, when they are not necessarily pushing themselves extremely hard.

Another idea is the idea that we need to run due to our history, that we evolved as persistence runners, outrunning animals not because we could run faster, but because we could run longer. In this case, any system that would allow us to continue running despite the pain of, say, bad knees, shin splints, or a slightly twisted ankle would be beneficial. The hypothesis supposes that the release of the endogenous opioids is for the purpose of killing pain and allowing us to run longer. There is no question that endogenous opioid release reduces our sensitivity to pain, but it’s very hard to prove this kind of hypothesis. I also wonder whether it’s a GOOD idea to experience the dulling of pain. It’s good for the race right now, but if you are being faced with the potential for chronic injury, that will be a major detriment to your hunting in the long term.

A third hypothesis is that the high may merely be the result of a partial brain shutdown. Because the runner’s high commonly occurs during glycogen depletion, the hypothesis is that the brain doesn’t have enough glucose on hand to keep it functioning normally while still controlling your workout, and you get a little loopy. I have never seen any support for this, though a PET study looking at brain glucose binding in athletes experiencing runner’s high might be able to determine whether this hypothesis holds any water.

Is there a finish line in sight?

Not for these studies. Scientists are still chasing the runner’s high, and there’s not yet a lot out there. Right now the evidence appears to support the hypothesis that endogenous opioid release and cannabinoid release in the brain triggers the effects, but of course, there’s lots of room in the brain for the answer to be more complicated, involving other neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the exercise-induced bliss. Even less known, however, is the why of the runner’s high. Maybe it’s exhaustion? Maybe it’s pain killing? Maybe it’s just to get us back out there the next time.

And now, if you’ll excuse me. I started this post after my run yesterday. But I finished it today and…I’ve got to get to the gym. It’s time to chase that runner’s high.

Galdino GS, Duarte ID, & Perez AC (2010). Participation of endogenous opioids in the antinociception induced by resistance exercise in rats. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas / Sociedade Brasileira de Biofisica … [et al.], 43 (9), 906-9 PMID: 20802976

Boecker H, Sprenger T, Spilker ME, Henriksen G, Koppenhoefer M, Wagner KJ, Valet M, Berthele A, & Tolle TR (2008). The runner’s high: opioidergic mechanisms in the human brain. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991), 18 (11), 2523-31 PMID: 18296435

Fuss J, & Gass P (2010). Endocannabinoids and voluntary activity in mice: runner’s high and long-term consequences in emotional behaviors. Experimental neurology, 224 (1), 103-5 PMID: 20353785

Sparling, P., Giuffrida, A., Piomelli, D., Rosskopf, L., & Dietrich, A. (2003). Exercise activates the endocannabinoid system NeuroReport, 14 (17), 2209-2211 DOI: 10.1097/00001756-200312020-00015

Hinton ER, & Taylor S (1986). Does placebo response mediate runner’s high? Perceptual and motor skills, 62 (3), 789-90 PMID: 3725516

Dubreucq S, Koehl M, Abrous DN, Marsicano G, & Chaouloff F (2010). CB1 receptor deficiency decreases wheel-running activity: consequences on emotional behaviours and hippocampal neurogenesis. Experimental neurology, 224 (1), 106-13 PMID: 20138171

This month, the Staunton News Leader, a newspaper in Virginia, ran an interesting story, headlined Parents driving coaches away from the game.  The story by Patrick Hite highlighted a troubling problem: talented youth sports coaches with a love of the game and a passion for teaching kids are no longer volunteering to serve.  Why?  As Covington High School science teacher and volunteer youth sports coach Rob Bennett said  in the article: “Why am I going to be miserable doing something I love to do and, for the most part, was pretty good at?”

This month, the team at Responsible Sports asks: what can we, the community of Responsible Sport Parents, do to help reverse this trend? The answer may lie in the Positive Coaching Alliance principle of the Emotional Tank.

With some parents complaining about playing time, requesting roster changes, and telling coaches how to do their jobs, while others heckle coaches and athletes from the stands, youth sports coaches from around the country are beleaguered and frustrated.  Are these the majority of youth sport parents?  We don’t think so!

But what can we – the community of Responsible Sport Parents – do to reverse this trend of volunteer youth sport coaches quitting (or worse, not even volunteering in the first place)?  We asked the experts at Positive Coaching Alliance to help us develop a quick list of things you can do to help keep coaches feeling good about their roles.


1. Meet the coach at the beginning of the season.

        Start the relationship off right by introducing yourself to the coach at the beginning of the season.  You’re not Luke’s Mom, you are Julie.  You are not Claudia’s Dad, you are Ryan.  Share with the coach why you’re excited about the upcoming season, what your child is looking forward to during the season, and reinforce that you’re committed to a great relationship with the coach.

2. Offer to help.

        It’s not an easy job!  It might look like it from the sidelines or the stands, but trust us – it’s not!  Coaches spend countless hours with practice preparation, field, ice and gym time scheduling, sending out notices, directions and calling trees, organizing equipment, and dealing with administrators and league officials.  And all of this is in addition to their regular day jobs!  Offer to lend your coach a hand – even tackling just one of these tasks will make his or her life a bit easier.

3. Fill the coach’s emotional tank during the season.

        We already know as Responsible Sport Parents, one of our jobs is to help fill our kid’s emotional tank.  (Remember: an emotional tank is like a car’s gas tank – when it’s full, a kid can go for miles.  But when it’s empty, it’s hard to go anywhere.)  But we all have emotional tanks – not just kids.  And our volunteer coaches need their emotional tanks to be full too.  Take the time to congratulate the coach on a good win.  Make a note to say something when the team executes a play that was beautifully drawn up by your coach.  Thank your coach for teaching your child a new skill and compliment him or her on helping your child acquire that new skill.  Practice the same fundamentals with your coach that you use with your athlete: truthful, specific feedback.

4. Honor and respect the relationship between your child and her coach.

        Imagine a situation at work where a colleague was unhappy with your contribution to the team presentation.  Instead of talking to you about it, your colleague complained directly to the boss.  Boy, you’d be steamed!  That’s what it feels like when a parent addresses issues with a coach before a child has taken the first – and appropriate step – to address it with the coach directly.  Empower your children to own the relationships between them and their coaches and to talk to the coach if they feel like they aren’t getting enough playing time or about their desire to play a different position.

5. Say thank you at the end of the season.

      We all know that a simple thank you goes a long way.  Sometimes we  get busy and  forget to say thank you.  But try to remember and take the time.  Shake the coaches’ hands after the last game and the last practice to say thank you.  Tell them what you were thankful for.  Let them know you appreciated all they did this season.  Consider writing a note to the coach afterward.  Or even better, a note to the league administrator praising the  coach.  Consider getting your league to use the free Season Evaluation survey tool with all of your team parents to give the coach feedback from everyone.

The saying ‘It takes a village’ is of course true for youth sports.  In order to have the life learning experience we seek for our children, we need enough players for a team, an opponent, officials and of course coaches.  If we want an outstanding youth sports experience for our children, we need to take the steps we can to help keep quality, passionate, knowledgeable coaches in the game and working with our kids.  It might not seem like a lot, but the smallest actions can help improve the situation and hopefully can help reverse the trend.

What have you done to help fill you coach’s emotional tank?  Any ideas for other Responsible Sport Parents you’d like to share?  Join us on Facebook and weigh in.  or email us at team@responsiblesports.com and we’ll share your comments with the group!

Usain Bolt

100m and 200m Dash World Record Holder - Usain Bolt

Developing Speed for Sprinting – If you consider what the components for speed are, they include firing frequency and muscle fiber recruitment.  Contemporary training programs work on increasing firing frequency through foot or leg drills or through repetitive running for set distances.  Muscle fiber recruitment typically is done in the weight room with explosive lifts. However, explosive lifts require proper training and supervision to avoid injury. Immediate improvements in speed usually, come from neuromuscular adaptations. Neuromuscular adaptations enhance firing frequency and muscle requirements.  A safer method of recruiting muscle fibers for the development of speed includes the addition of more balance work and conditioning program.

If you look at most movement patterns of lower body, at one point during the movement the body must support itself on one leg. However, we do not ask athletes to condition that way. We usually get on a weight machine and use two limbs; thus, never really working on the weaker limb. Each time the weaker limb steps on the ground by itself, it slows you down because, for a split fraction of a second, it must adjust appropriately during the running stride.

Balance work takes advantage of proprioception, the ability of muscle to respond to abnormal positions and situations.  Proprioception provides a sense of joint position and movement.

Doing balance work in conjunction with explosive power movements in your sprint training provides an opportunity to recruit and train additional muscle fibers. If done properly, the end result is improved speed.  The following program will illustrate how to incorporate the right blend of balance and power into the sprinting program.

  • Single Leg Backbridge (Figure 1) – Lie with your back on the ball and with one leg firmly in contact with the ground. Make sure that the leg that is on the ground is at an angle greater than 90° and your foot is pointed straight ahead. Raise the other length off the ground and maintain this position for 3 to 4 sets of 30 to 45 seconds depending on the level of the leg imbalance.
  • Balance on Wobbly Board (Figure 2) – Balance on each leg on the wobbly board. Repeat for 3 to 4 sets of 30 to 45 seconds on each leg. Ultimately build 60 seconds on each leg for 3 to 4 sets.
  • Balance on Wobbly Board with Weighted Ball (Figure 3) – Once balance work on a wobbly board has been mastered, the next level of progression is to hold on to a weighted jelly ball or medicine ball.  Repeat for 3 to 4 sets of 30 to 45 seconds on each leg.
  • Bulgarian Step Ups (Figure 4) – With a 35 pound universal bar on your back (trapezius), place the right foot on a box. Make certain that the effort is placed on the foot that is on the box to step up. Step up on the box with the trailing leg. Do 3 to 4 sets of six repetitions on each leg.
  • Jelly Ball Kickups (Figure 5) – Use a 3 to 4 pound jelly ball for beginning training programs to allow for safe progression to a heavier weighted jelly ball. Place the ball between the feet. Squeeze the ball with the feet and drive down during the preparation phase. Next, drive up while kicking the jelly ball up in the air. Repeat for 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions.
  • Split Squat Jump (Figure 6) – Placed one leg in front of the other leg in a split position. Drive down with the legs and arms and explode up while maintaining the split squat position. Landing should be done in the same position as the drive phase. Do 3 to 4 sets of six jumps on each leg.
  • L Hops (Figure 7) – Place one leg on a table making the hip angle about 90° to the floor. Make sure that use have a soft landing mat or floor while performing these routines. Drive down on one leg and explosively drive up on the same late. Do 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions on each leg.
  • Box Step Ups (Figure 8 ) – Place 1 foot on a box and step up on that foot while driving the other leg up. Make sure to maintain the same arm action that you would in the running motion.  Do 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions on each leg.
  • Quick Foot Step Ups (Figure 9) – Place an aerobic step on a secure floor to prevent movement of the box. On command, the athlete will step up onto the box with the leg, foot, but they normally drive off with drive off with the blocks. The athlete will step on and off the box as fast as possible for 30 seconds. Make sure to maintain the proper sequence of movements in the running motion.
  • Stadium Hops (Figure 10) – Use aluminum stadium steps to do this exercise, as it will provide a much softer landing. Place the hands behind the head and squat, and then explosively drive up to the next step. Perform this for about 10 rows and walked down and repeat the same procedure 3 to 4 times.
  • Single Leg Hops (Figure 11) – Find an area that is soft and level if you are outside. Line up six cones and practiced jumping over one or two to line up the appropriate distance between comes.  Take a running start at the cones and then single leg hop over each one. Perform this drill 3 to 4 times on each leg.
  • Granny Throws (Figure 12) – Use a 16 pound jelly ball or medicine ball. Squat down and drive straight up while tossing the ball as explosively as you can. Perform this drill 6 to 8 times.
  • Incline Sprints – Find an incline area that is no more than 4 to 5 percent grade. The distance needed should be about 25 to 35m in length. On command sprint for a set distance of 25 to 30m. Perform the Sprint 6 to 8 times.

There are many ways to train for speed, such as tubing, parachutes, and shoulder harnesses. The isolated balance work and explosive routine done by each leg as depicted in this article will target those individual muscle fibers not normally conditioned by traditional sprint training. Incorporating balance and explosive movement patterns, as it relates to sprinting with develop the sprinter into a faster athlete. By following this program during the preseason, sprinter will have an excellent base of functional and explosive strength training as it relates to sprinting. The simplicity of this training program is that it does not require an extensive weight room to get results.

Figure . Single Leg - Backbridge Figure 2. - Balance on Wobble Board and Figure 3. Balance on Wobble Board with Weighted Ball

References

1.       Faccioni, A. Assisted and resisted methods for speed development; Part 2. Modern Athlete and Coach 32:8 – 12. 1994

2.       Jakalski, K.  Parachutes, tubing and towing. Track Coach 144:4285 – 4589. 1998

3.       Letzelter, M., G. Sauerwein, and Burger R.  Resistance runs in speed development.  Modern Athlete and Coach 33:7 – 12. 1996

Travis Brown, MS, CSCS, D*

Speed: Definition and How to Develop It

Speed is simply stride length (SL) x stride frequency (SF), or how far you step by how quick you step. No matter what height, weight or size an athlete is, to improve speed one must maximize each step for stride length and stride frequency.  In order to do so, an athlete must be trained with different drills specific to each.

We can accomplish this by working through five different progressions level, what is left we use in the speed to when curriculum five levels of progression are as follows;

  • Pre-Conditioning Aerobic Base
  • Build Sprint Form and Anaerobic Base
  • Develop Stride Length
  • Develop Stride Frequency
  • Addition of Power and Acceleration

In the Pre-Conditioning level, the goal is to get in aerobic shape, or to develop an aerobic base so sprinting can be taught to the athlete.  We can accomplish this by doing specific dynamic warm-up drills such as high-knee grabs, high-knee walks, ankle-quad grabs (Fig 1) butt-kick walks, butt kicks, and more.  We also incorporate long bungee cords while doing backpedals and sprints for about ten yards. The athlete should also developed his/her aerobic base by jogging short distance and distances

In the next level, we focus on building sprint form and anaerobic conditioning. We implement this by increasing flexibility and form is used of speed warm-up and various strides strengthening drills. We also incorporate heavy sled pulls. This forces the athletes to stay low coming out of their stance and to drive the knee high and increase stride length, thus working on sprint form.

During the next level, focus is on developing stride length. We continue to apply the basic dynamic warm-up exercises, with the addition of a high-knee grabs, toe touch-skip, front lunge and press.  This will help to increase flexibility and recruitment of the muscles which will help with the increase in stride length.  And perhaps one of the more important components in increasing stride length is to implement the use of short bungee cords: to work hip flexor (lying on your back) and hamstrings (lying face down).

While developing stride frequency, in next level, we simply learn how to turnover adequate stride length. We incorporate more advanced dynamic warm-up drills such as 1-2-3 skip with a high knee grab and toe touch and flatten (Figure 2-6). A toe and front leg kick (Figure 7-8) would be another ideal warm-up drill to incorporate. This is also where the athlete learns how to increase stride length and stride frequency.

With the addition of power and acceleration, we apply sled pulls, the mule cords and push up starts. It is during this period the athlete learns that in order to accelerate and use power, a forward lean must be created.  Many times coaches focus on this phase, before developing most or any of or any of the other phases the sled pulls were used in previous levels are now much lighter.  This forces the athlete to practice accelerating 0 to 10 yards, transitioning to top speed between 10 and 20 yards, and continuing to sprint at top speeds for another 10 yards. It is a 30 yard sprint working on 40 yard dash technique.  We also concentrate on the mule cords with a partner. As one athlete is pulling against their partner, which is working on deceleration, the other partner is working on acceleration with resistance. Then they switch after 20 yards.

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that all of the levels overlap somewhat. For example a simple high knee drill will and can develop aerobic conditioning, Sprint form, and stride length. A simple butt kick drill can do the same, and if the heel snapped quickly, stride frequency will be improved.

Agility: Definition and How to Develop It

Agility can be simply defined as change in direction. In other words, quickness is controlled deceleration. In order to improve agility, and athlete must increase acceleration, increase deceleration, and then increase change of direction. Too many times we see an increase in acceleration targeted without an additional effort to increase deceleration. This is a major mistake.

Let us think about the heavy/fast athlete.  In sports today, we see a number of non-contact injuries, from torn ACL‘s two sprained ankles and sprain knees. In today’s world, athletes are like a high-performance sports car. Very fast and agile, able to turn corners at high speeds and stop on a dime. However, we are adding more and more muscle and body mass to the same frame that has supreme acceleration. It’s like increasing the horsepower of that same sports car, without improving the brakes and framework of the car. And much like an athlete who tries to stop on a dime after accelerating, and ends up tearing up their ankle/knee, the same would happen to the sports car. When attempted to stop, the body tear right off the frame. We can avoid this by working through five different levels of progression, and ensuring deceleration is stressed as much as acceleration. Five levels of development are as follows:

  • Pre-Conditioning Agility
  • Improve Footwork and Deceleration Strength
  • Footwork Patterns -Learn How to Accelerate and Decelerate
  • Change of Direction and Conditioning Drills
  • Develop Explosive Ability to Change Direction

In the Pre-Conditioning level,  you implement various lateral movement conditioning drills, such as over-under walks, cariocas, side bounding, etc. In this level athletes must learn how to stay low, turn their hips and move laterally. This is the base of agility and must be set as the foundation.

The next level, we focus on improving footwork and deceleration strength. While you’re working on improving agility, were also working on improving speed. Therefore, a lot of agility work beginning is teaching the body to stop. It is during this level that we implement proper footwork and change of direction spots with the ladder. The athlete works on this by doing a series basic ladder drills, such as a straight one foot in every hole, side two feet and every hole, one-two-three cuts (a.k.a. Icky Shuffle, figures 9 through 12)  and one-two-three-four in and outs. We also incorporate the same ladder drills with low hurdles. This forces the athlete to change direction around an obstacle (the hurdle).  And finally, we increase strength and change of direction spots with change of direction strengtheners, which is simply starting from a lunge position sprint forward, stopping at 5 yards and backpedaling back to the beginning and then starting over.

For the next level, we focus on footwork patterns and learning how to accelerate and decelerate. The athlete accomplishes this by implementing straight ahead and lateral stop and go drills. This can be accomplished through five yard sprints and stopping (going forward, as well as moving laterally).  And to work on footwork patterns, we add in more advanced ladder drills, such as two feet in every hole going forward, one foot in every hole moving laterally,  one-two-three spin cuts (Figures 13- 17) and one-two-three-four in and out of the ladder moving laterally. These would be in addition to the other ladder drills in the previous levels, therefore increasing intensity. We also incorporate the same ladder drills with the combination of low and high hurdles, thus increasing intensity

In the fourth level, we work on changing direction of conditioning drills. It is during this level that we implement even more advanced dynamic warm-up drills, such as opposite elbow to ankle lunge and toe touch-hand walk-hurdler stretch (Figure 18-21). Remember, our lateral movement drills, change of direction strengtheners, and learning how to start and stop are what teaching us how to change direction.  We also add cone drills, such as the W drill, outside foot cuts and shuffle-sprint-shuffle. Now athletes are ready to condition themselves but actually changing direction

In the final phase, we develop explosive ability to change direction. Here is where the athlete should be able to put together everything for agility (acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction). This can be done by practicing the five-ten-five pro agility shuttle and the three-cone drill. We also incorporate more advanced cone drills, such as backpedal-sprints and spin cuts.

Keep in mind, just as we just as with the speed levels, the agility levels do sometimes overlap. Many of the base dynamic warm-up drills are key components in the foundation for becoming more athletic. This is thoroughly accomplished in both “Speed to Win” curriculums, by overlapping speed agility, and explosion to become a more explosive athlete that is extremely quick

For the complete file of the drills mentioned above click…