Staying Injury-Free Through Plyometrics

The Rep

Believe it or not, plyometrics training has developed a bad reputation. It is hard to determine if its image as a highly efficient and effective form of training is being replaced by the latest Instagram hero demonstrating yet another close call-personal record box jump, or because most trainees simply don’t know how to incorporate it into their training safely. What was born in the track and field stadium, where the world’s fastest and most explosive athletes display their skills, plyometrics training has come under heavy scrutiny for their safety, especially when performed by children in training (Brown, 2001). As the father of a 14-month old (shameless plug for my son, Mateo!), I continually plan for my son’s athletic development, as it will finance my retirement. Despite their gross misuse through countless social media outlets, plyometric exercises should be recognized for their role not only in improving sporting performance but more importantly as a means of injury prevention in children. Let’s go back to a better time where plyometrics training wasn’t that “thing” that had the potential to get people hurt, but used as the “thing” that made our athletes better. In this 2-part article, let’s look at what plyometrics training consists of, who could benefit from its use and how one can they use it safely.

Coach Eddy’s son, Matteo

What Exactly is Plyometrics?

Asking people to define what plyometrics training is can prove to be more challenging than getting an answer to who the 35th president of the United States; without the use of Wikipedia. The answer of what plyometrics training consists of will range from bodyweight exercises performed quickly to throwing a ball. To an extent those answers are correct; sort of! Essentially a plyometric exercise is a quick, powerful movement which uses a pre-stretch, or countermovement, that involves the stretch–shortening cycle (SSC) (Brown & Ferrigno, 2015). For those not familiar with the SSC, essentially, it’s one type of muscular contraction immediately followed by another. The sequence of these two types of muscular contractions takes advantage of your muscle’s energy storage capabilities to maximize its performance. In a highly oversimplified example, think of a rubber band, the further you pull it apart, the more “snap” it produces to return to its original shape.

Stretch–shortening cycle

The Science Behind It

Now that we have the formal definition out of the way, what are some exercise that you may have seen that could be classified under this type of training? Let’s refer to my box jump example; an exercise that most people associate with plyometrics training. A box jump includes the descent (eccentric phase), quickly followed by the ascent phase (concentric), and ends with a landing on top of the box. The time between the eccentric and concentric phase is called amortization phase, the transition between the sinking down to jump and to execute the jump. To take full advantage of the SSC, we want to minimize the amount of time spent in the amortization phase (Brown & Ferrigno, 2015).

Benefits of Plyometrics

There is no doubt that there are noted positive health benefits associated with increases in physical activity, including “improved health, increased self-esteem, collaborative teamwork, and enhanced social development” (Weber, Lam, & Valovich McLeod, 2016). Unfortunately, attached to these positive benefits comes the inherent risk of injury. According to the Sporting and Fitness Industry Association (2013), an estimated 25 million children throughout the United States, between the ages of 6 and 17, participated in some form of team sports. In 2003, estimates of the costs for treating injuries related to sports and recreation-related activities were around $11 billion (Weber et al., 2016). Considering how many children participate in team sports, coupled with the jaw-dropping costs of treating injuries related to sports and recreation-related activities, we can begin to recognize the need for some form of injury prevention.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Let’s look at some studies that have shown plyometrics training as an opportunity to keep children safe. In a meta-analysis by Rössler et al. (2014), researchers looked to examine the effectiveness of injury prevention programs in youths and adolescents. These injury prevention programs incorporated exercises aimed at improving flexibility, strength, and balance. The findings of the meta-analysis by Rössler et al., (2014) revealed that injury prevention programs decreased the likelihood of injury by 46%. That’s cutting down the risk of incurring an injury by almost half; who wouldn’t buy into that? But the research doesn’t stop there; as a 2016, meta-analysis by Weber et al. built on the findings of Rössler. In this 2016 meta-analysis, 21 studies were included with a combined total of 27,561 youth and adolescents with a median age of 16.7 years. The findings not only confirmed that injury prevention programs deliver beneficial effects of injury reduction, but those injury prevention programs that contained jumping or plyometric exercises appeared to be especially beneficial to lowering the risk of harm.

The Takeaway

At a time where childhood obesity is at an all-time high, keeping the youth and adolescent populations involved in sports and recreation-related activities should be a major focus. As I mentioned before, with increases in physical activity comes the inherent risk of injury. Armed with a better understanding of what plyometrics training consists of and their potential to decreases injury, the next article will give examples of specific exercises you can use, along with an understanding of how to safely incorporate them into your routine.

If there is anything we can take away from this, it’s that his name was John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Until next time!

Coach Eddy

Training Manager and Coach, Eddy

Learn how to train injury-free by scheduling your strategy session with Eddy weekday mornings Monday-Friday. Sign up HERE.

 

References:

Brown, L. E. (2000). Are Plyometrics Safe for Children? National Strength & Conditioning Association, 23(2), 45-46.

Brown, L. E. (2001). Plyometrics or not? National Strength & Conditioning Association, 23(2), 70-72.

Brown, L.E., & Ferrigno, V.A. (2015). Training for speed, agility, & quickness. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Weber, M. L., Lam, K. C., & Valovich McLeod, T. C. (2016). The Effectiveness of Injury Prevention Programs for Youth and Adolescent Athletes. International Journal Of Athletic Therapy & Training, 21(2), 25-31.

Rossler R, Donath L, Verhagen E, Junge A, Schweizer T, Faude O. Exercise-based injury prevention in child and adolescent sport: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2014:44(12): 1733-1748. PubMed doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0234-2


 

 

How To Make Your Outdoor Workout a Great Success

The weather is beautiful and the sun is out; why not make New York City your gym!  There are several parks in NYC that are perfect for calisthenic training, equipped with pull-up bars, benches, monkey bars, and more.  I am here to share the benefits of training outdoors, guide you to the hot spots for outdoor fitness, and provide a bodyweight workout for you!

Benefits of Training Outdoors

When the weather heats up, take the time to get off machines, become more creative and have fun with your training.  There are several benefits connected to outdoor fitness.  Moving in a natural environment will improve your mental and physical health.  Many times when working out we are focused on the physical benefits.  However, taking your fitness outdoors is an excellent mental boost. A team of researchers from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry analyzed a population of adults and found outdoor exercise not only increased their energy and revitalized them, but decreased confusion, anger, depression and tension (https://www.sciencedaily.com).  Participants also enjoyed their workout more than those that kept their fitness indoors, which is key to sticking with a regime.

Not only is outdoor fitness beneficial to mental health, it is a great opportunity to catch some D3.  Vitamin D3 provides healthy bone and metabolic function.  Also, exposure to sunlight during the day can help you sleep better, improve immune system, and increase endorphin – those ‘feel good’ hormones (http://www.healtharticlesworld.com). Use the summer months to change up your typical routine once or twice a week and explore some outdoor fitness.

The Hot Spots in NYC

Once a week my training partner and I will take our training outdoors and use the equipment in the park to design a workout.  It’s an excellent option to get out of a traditional gym and provides a wide variety. There are several parks in the city that are equipped for outdoor fitness and I have provided some of my favorite places.

Top NYC Parks

1. *John Jay Park

Located on the Upper East Side; the space is small and equipment minimal but it still has what you need for a total body workout.

2. East River Park

Part of a beautiful riverfront view of the East River and runs under the Brooklyn Bridge. It includes athletic courts, a bike trail, a 400 meter track, and more.  Taking your fitness to the East River Park will provide endless options.

3. Tompkins Square Park

Located in Alphabet City near the East Village. One of New York City’s well known park made popular by Al Kavaldo. It is equipped with monkey bars, a variety of pull-up bars, arched horizontal ladder, and many of the city’s strongest calisthenic athletes. Meet Al Kavaldo at Tompkins Square park

4. Marcus Garvey Park (Mt. Morris Park)

A beautiful park located between 120th Street and 124th Street and Madison Avenue.  The park contains a hill with plenty of stairs. The fitness area contains a variety of equipment – pull-up bars, two taller and shorter ones, monkey bars, vertical ladder, diagonal bar, and push-up bars.

5. *Astoria Park (My stomping ground)

With a gorgeous view of the East River, the park sits between the Triborough Bridge and the Hellgate Bridge. The conditioning workouts are endless that can be done on the track, bike trail or open field. It’s newest addition is the adult fitness area that includes pull-up bars, parallel bars, diagonal bar and more, along with guidance on how to use all the equipment.

 

* My favorite parks to train

 

Try This Park Workout

Warm-Up: 5 minutes

  • Dynamic Exercises of athlete’s choice

Work: 10 repetitions of each exercise/ 3 sets

  • Bench /Box Jumps
  • Chin-ups
  • Skaters (per side)
  • Push-ups
  • Hanging Knee Tuck
  • Walking Lunges (per side)
  • Horizontal Row
  • Burpees

Looking for more park workouts? Stay up to date on @bodyspacenyc for announcements on the next BSF outdoor workout with me!

~Coach Sarah

 

Sarah teaches classes Monday mornings and Friday nights. Click here to sign up for a class with Sarah and ask all your burning questions regarding outdoor fitness and eating right in person!

 

References:

The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. “Benefits of outdoor exercise confirmed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm>.

Leo Eigenberg. “4 Benefits of Using Outdoor Fitness Equipment.”

HealthArticleWorldYour PremiumHealthArticlesSource. 3 March 2017.

http://www.healtharticlesworld.com/fitness/4-benefits-of-using-outdoor-fitness-equipment/

Enjoy A Summer Barbecue, The Healthy Way

Summer barbecues; the days are long, the weather is warm, and the grill is fired up. Everybody loves a barbecue until we think of the staple dishes like hot-dogs, chips, potato salad, beer, and other tempting dishes that wreak havoc on one’s eating plan. No need to stress; I have tips to enjoy those summer festivities and stay focused on your goals.

1. Eat Before the Barbecue

Arriving to the barbecue on an empty stomach can lead to overindulging and choosing unhealthy dishes because they seem satisfying at the moment. Eat something before the party, this will help you exercise control and keep your favorites in smaller portions.

2. Bring a Healthy Side Dish

To make sure there is at least one healthy dish; bring your favorite one or try a new recipe. I do this for every family gathering; especially for barbecues. It is a great opportunity to share a healthier alternative with friends and family. They may hesitate at the sight of greens set next to the baked beans; but be the example! At the end of the party I am sure many will ask for the recipe; it happens all the time with my family!

Check out these two delicious recipes: Purple Cabbage and Apple Slaw from The MilletownPress and Tomato-Basil Freekeh Salad from Whole Foods Market.

3. Use the Power of Colorful Veggies

Take the focus off all the grilled meat. Create colorful kabobs using eggplant, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, squash and more! Let’s not forget about the summer staple, corn! By cooking corn, the levels of antioxidants and other healthy phytochemicals become more readily available (Berkleywellness.com). Be sure to leave the butter and salt out of the equation and enjoy the sweet savory flavor of summer corn.

4. Make a Lap Before Filling the Plate

Take a lap around the table before filling your plate and prioritize your selections. Swap out the traditional store bought baked beans, cole slaw, and macaroni salad – which are high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar for a homemade version. Also, when filling your plate use the three-quarter rule. Your plate should contain grains, vegetables, legumes and/or fruit which leaves just a quarter for meat. This will help keep your portions balanced and make an excellent mixture of nutrients (Berkelywellness.com).

5. Think Before you Drink

Choose your beverages wisely. Even light beverages like wine coolers can have 150-300 calories in a 12-ounce bottle. Also, stay away from the ‘fancy’ alcoholic beverages like pina coladas, margaritas, and strawberry daiquiris which are high in calories and sugar. Even non-alcoholic beverages like sweet tea and fruit juices are filled with sugar. Be sure to read the labels and try to stick to water or flavored seltzer in order to stay hydrated and avoid drinking many empty calories.

6. Finish Eating? Time to Play

When you finished eating instead of spending time around the food table where it will be tempting to go back for seconds or thirds get moving. Toss the ball around with the little ones or organize a game. It can be anything to get you and others moving and doesn’t need to be too strenuous. Keep it light, keep it fun and everyone will want to participate!

The Takeaway

Through the next couple weeks, you may celebrate outdoors with friends and family. The summer is a wonderful time to share, live, and enjoy. Stay focused on your goals and remember it is the time you spend with your company that is important and not the hamburgers, potato salad, or beer. Have a happy and healthy Fourth of July and see you on the turf soon!

~Coach Sarah

 

Sarah teaches classes Monday mornings and Friday nights. Click here to sign up for a class with Sarah and ask all your burning questions regarding outdoor fitness and eating right in person!

 

References:
“13 Tips for a Healthier Barbecue.” Berkeley Wellness, 2017 Remedy Health Media, LLC. Web. 19 June 2017. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/slideshow/13-tips-healthier-barbecue

Improve Mental Health With Exercise by Coach Tony

Hey Famiglia,

Coach Tony here to talk about the benefits of exercise on mental health. The physical benefits of exercising go without saying. The focus of this post though, is of the more underlying benefits that are not as obviously observed. The psychological and emotional benefits of regular movement show us the real value of having a fitness routine. With anxiety disorders affecting about 40 million adults and depression hitting more than 15 million adults in the U.S. alone, the advantages of finding your preferred form of exercise can be life changing.

The Benefits On Mental Health

As you become more active, neurotransmitters (such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine) and endorphins are released in your brain that specifically help you feel better, manage stress better and reduce the perception of pain. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to be connected strongly to help keep you cognitively sharp into later life as it helps prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, which is used in memory and learning. Moving on a regular basis can also help you get a better night’s sleep, which again goes hand in hand with stress reduction. Also, various studies have shown that keeping fit can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

Put simply, if you want to have a higher sense of overall well-being, you should start moving.

Where Do I Start?

Now that we know exercise is good for you, let us make a game plan.

Now I know that life happens and then priorities start to shift. Try not to have an all-or-nothing mentality. Instead, see if you can have more of an Always Something. See if you can do just a little something most days of the week. Just a 5 min walk will help, if you feel like you can’t do it because you are exhausted.You can also schedule physical activity just like you would with work to fit small amounts into an already overwhelmed schedule. If you do not want to start out being in front of people, maybe home workouts may be better. Need to be held accountable? Find a walking buddy.

Walking is good way to start slow with something that is low impact if you are starting from scratch and not sure what to do first. All it takes it moving 30 minutes a day a few times a week. If you don’t have that kind of time in one block, try breaking it up. Go for 3 10-minute walks or 2 15-minute walks. If the work week does not even allow for that, then become a weekend warrior and fit in physical activity any way you can. Moderate intensity is a good place to start. If you are going for a walk with a friend, you should be able to have conversation comfortably and feel a little bit warmer.

Also, set yourself up for success. If you have higher energy levels in the morning, go for a walk or a jog when you wake up and make yourself a nice breakfast when you get back home. Busy work schedule? See if you can get yourself moving in the middle of the day.

The Takeaway

The body and mind are closely related. When you start to treat the body better through exercise and relieve physical tension, the mind will start to relax. The mind-body connection is strong. Capitalize that fact and leverage it to your advantage. Tend to the body and mind will reap the benefit. Find something you enjoy and stick with it. I should mention though, that if you do want some of these benefits faster, you will have to bump up the intensity. Do with this what you will. Have fun and be healthy.

Until next time Famiglia,

Tony

Want to learn more? Click here and here to learn how to adjust your diet to eat, move and live better.

3 Reasons Why a Pushup Should Be in Everyone’s Training Program

The top three reasons I think a pushup should be a mainstay in everyone’s training program:

In a recent article in Shape Magazine, I gave my advice on what form I think you should use while doing a pushup. I want to take a second to step back and be clear on why are we doing a pushup and why I think they’re a great exercise that should be in every training program.

Number one, a pushup is a great core exercise. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you’re using force generated in your upper body to affect your dead weight in your lower body. That force needs to be transferred in your core, so in its most basic state, a pushup is a core exercise.

Number two, a pushup is metabolically challenging, meaning relative to other exercises, you can get a lot more metabolic response out of doing a proper pushup potentially than doing, say, a dumbbell chest press, or a bench press, or a cable press.

Number three, no matter what the situation, a pushup is easily measurable. What I mean by that is you may have a gym, you may not have a gym. You may have a gym with a bench, with dumbbells, you may not have a gym with a bench with dumbbells. No matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, no matter what equipment you have access to, you can always do the exact same pushup. Therefore, it’s an exercise that you can measure consistently no matter what the situation.

Now, that being said, a couple of things about a pushup that I do want to mention is A, I try as much as possible not to do pushups from our knees. That pretty much takes the need to have a strong core not necessarily out of the picture, but it reduces the need, and that’s one of the things that we’re going for. B, I do want you to have a full range of motion with my neck in line with my shoulders. C, when necessary, I do want you to regress or progress the pushup, meaning if I cannot keep proper form, I want to first elevate my hands.

What I mean by this is put my hands up on a 12-inch box, a 6-inch box, an 18-inch box, or even a bar on a squat rack. When ready, I then want to maybe potentially put my hands on an unstable surface, or elevate my feet to progress. Enjoy reading this, and enjoy reading the article in the March edition of Shape Magazine, and feel free to ask questions if you have them.

Kelvin and his expert advice were featured in the 2017 March issue of Shape Magazine. Grab one at your local bodega and skip ahead to page 68 to get the deets!