[Originial Content] Lower Body Primers for Optimal Force Production
Primers are an excellent way to warm up the body, while making sure the right muscle groups are activated for optimal performance. These exercises prepare specific muscle groups to move, but are done at a very brisk pace; imagine dynamic warm-ups on steroids. Although they can be tiring, make sure you dose them right to ensure activation of the muscle group, but not fatigue of them.
The Role of Balance
Balance is important for force production because force can only be adequately transferred along a sturdy, rigid, and stable object. If there are wobbly ankles or hips, force coming up is reduced, and muscles above can not produce optimal force without pulling on a sturdy anchor. A lot of these exercises progress through stages of balance and work their way up to the hip. In youth athletes, it's actually recommended that they perform at least 4 weeks of balance training before more dynamic agility and plyometric drills begin. NSCA has published studies that show having a strong balance foundation increases power and force production. Although the studies were for youth athletes, it can be applied to novices or those with poor balance,
Try the primer below. They are ranked in order from easy to hard. Because time may be an issue, feel free to pick 2-3 to do rathet than them all. No rest in between each exercise, but 30-60 minutes rest between cycles is okay. Remember, fatiguing the cardiorespiratory system is okay, but do not fatgiue the muscles; we're merely just activating them. If possible, I recommend doing them barefoot if you're on a forgiving surface.
- Single-leg Stance (30 seconds each leg): pretty straight foward here. Stand on one leg and try to avoid letting your ankles move and fidget. Doing them with eyes-closed, eyes-open on foam pad, and eyes-closed on foam pad are some progressions.
- Single-leg landings (10 each leg): Jump as high as you can, and land with one foot and pause for 2-3 seconds making sure you're completely still rather than trying to survive until the next jump. For regression, decrease the height you jump.
- Ankle bounds (10 each leg): We begin moving into more dynamic plyometric-like exercises here. Only using your ankle, push off the ground as much as you can while minimizing ground contact time. Imagine the ground is on fire. There are arm mechanics here, but because the purpose of this is not speed training, I will not go over it.
- Straight knee bounds (10 each leg): Same as above, but now flex your hip. When you bring your knees up, don't get higher than 80 degrees of hip flexion.
- Lateral Jumps (5 each leg): These are lateral hops, but with pauses (3 seconds). Hop as far as you can twice before switching legs mid-air and landing on a single leg. Pause to ensure you have stability, and then repeat to the other side. To regress, don't hop as far.
- Banded side walks (10 steps each direction): These are just to prime the glutes. Walk side ways, with minimal pelvic and shoulder motion. Stay low with your hips back. Start with the band above your knees, and if it's easy, move the band to the ankle or forefoot.
Once you perform these and get into your power and strength work, you'll feel amazing and ready to go. Below are some videos.
[What You Should Watch] Vision Training for Athletes
If you have not heard about vision training, you need to look it up. Vision training has been around for a long time in the optometry field for learning impairments and treatment of A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. In the last decade, it has become popular in sports to help athletes track objects and people. Although evidence goes both ways on whether it can improve peripheral vision, there is substansial evidence showing that attention and object tracking can be improved. Acuity can not be improved so make sure you have corrective lens via glasses, LASIK, or contacts before you begin training.
Check out the video below for a few exercises by my buddy Shane over at Sensory Speed. I've attached one of their videos explaining what they do. Too lazy to read the scholarly articles? Stephen Curry, Victor Cruz, USA Volleyball, and many other professionals are among people using it with the majority of them in the NFL and MLB. Through the years, SJSU softball did not do too stellar with stats or batting averages. In the last 4 years, they have broken league and school records. The same staff remained, but Sensory Speed was added to take the freshmen through 4 years of training to shatter those records. Non-relavent to sport, but GPA's went up as well. Vision training is here to stay, and Sensory Speed is my preferred company to send them to.
[What You Should Read] Which Supplements Should You Take?
Here's an article by the NY times that makes you think critically of what supplements you should take. People rely heavily on supplements, yet the best athletes in the world don't even take many of them. In fact, D1 athletes are even limted on the amount of creatine they can consume, even when it is one of the most researched and effective supplements. There are some proven ones, but for the most part the field is unregulated and companies make false claims. The NY article sheds some light on which ones to choose and why to avoid others.
See article here: [link]
In addition, here is an older post on ergogenic aids I made talking about popular ones, effectiveness, and amounts you should take:
See article here: [link]
Vien is Doctor of Physical Therapy Student and also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has 6 years of experience training youth, college, and pro athletes in 1-on-1 and team settings. He has shadowed several Strength and Conditioning Programs in a addition to having clinical rotations in sports settings.