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How Physical Activity Enhances Brain Power – Erica Suter - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 16:34

If you’re a sport parent or coach, chances are, you enroll your kids in strength and conditioning programs so they become stronger, faster, and more resilient.

Of course, you want kids to perform at their best physically, whether that is by scoring goals, blowing by defenders, shooting three pointers, outrunning opponents, bodying off defenders, or making the audience “ooh” and “ahh” with sharp agility jukes. Expounding further, you want your kids safeguarded from injury and able to enjoy their sport, instead of being sidelined.

While performance and injury prevention are the backbone to youth strength and conditioning programs, I’d argue mental development is just as important.

Most of us have heard that physical activity improves cognitive function, but what exactly is going on at a neural level? How exactly does movement enhance memory, learning, and creativity? How can physical activity maintain or enhance brain function for a lifetime?

Without going into too much of a neuroscience discussion, here’s what you need to know: the brain establishes neural networks based on our experiences, from learning to roll over as a baby, to building the core strength to lift our heads up, to walking on different surfaces, to connecting the two hemispheres of the brain to perform sport-specific movements.

Movement, then, is the impetus for the expansion of new neural pathways in our nervous systems. Looking back to our elementary school days, we were able to learn skills in school because of the integrative dance of the muscles and brain.

When you learned cursive, your eyes moved to look at the chalkboard to see the letters on the board. Then, your brain sent a message to your hand to write what you saw on the paper.

Or how about learning a musical instrument? Your eyes followed the notes on the page, and the dance of your fingers and flow of your breath brought music out of your instrument.
Movement is a miracle. A gift. And something we should not take for granted. Movement leads to tremendous skills and rebuilds the plasticity of the brain for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, kids are being pulled away from magic of movement. Schools are cutting recess, video games are on the rise, phone and TV distractions are endless, strength and conditioning programs are not prioritized by sports clubs, physical education teachers are being laid off, and street pick-up games are waning. Because of all this, kids are becoming sedentary drones of society whose brains remain stagnant, close-minded, and distracted.

It’s sad because as we know that the brain is capable of restoring itself and rebuilding new pathways so long as we keep moving and challenging it with our movement.

Alas, to provide hope, there are several solutions to get the most out of your kids’ fitness and boost their brain power.

Let’s dive in:

1. Give them movement autonomy.

More often than not, physical activity for kids nowadays is under an organized setting. While some structure is needed for kids learn, I’d argue that free play is just as beneficial.

This doesn’t mean you should let kids run around with absolutely no guidance, but it’s totally okay to sprinkle in activities that give them autonomy. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.

As an example, for my middle school soccer players (ages 11-13), I will teach them a skill, then design a fun game around it where they have to problem solve on their own. My favorite game is “Soccer Break Dancing.” I give my kids a diverse menu of flashy soccer skills, then I tell them to get a partner and create their own dance together. Eventually, we all get in a circle and have a “dance-off.”

Not only is this activity one that inspires creativity, but it also allows them to create on their own and tap into the right side of their brains.  Find more conditioning games here.

2. Do cross-body movements daily.

Speaking of brain hemispheres, it is important for kids to activate both the left and right sides of their brains. The integration of the hemispheres allows humans to be optimally proficient in every life activity. Many people will argue, “oh, well they are a creative. They are just right-brained.” While some people may tap into one side an itty bit more, the left side is needed to analyze, sequence, and plan to jump-start the the creative process.

To give another soccer example, Messi is a “creative” player, but he needs the foot coordination and technique (left brain) in order to spontaneously (right brain) execute his skills. This is just one example of optimal interplay of both hemispheres.

With that said, research shows that cross-body movements maximize the functioning of both hemispheres. These movements are special because they cross the mid-line of the body, and allow the muscles of each side to work in concert together. Here are a few examples of cross-body movements you can perform daily to keep building neural pathways (adults included):

Cross Crawl

Crawling Coupling

3. Make fitness fun.

In order to inspire kids to be active in the digital age, fitness must be fun. The less of an obligation and chore it is, the more they develop a passion for movement and play.

Whether you are a parent, sports coach, or strength coach, there has to be a nice balance of structure and free play. However, for kids under age 8, free play is your best bet. Want them to get stronger? Take them to climb some trees. Want them to become more conditioned? Play tag. Want them to become agile, balanced, and aware? Take them to the playground.

Taking the conversation back to the “Break Dance” competitions I use for my athletes to hone in on autonomy, this is also a drill that allows kids to have fun and be carefree to come up with their own flow of movements:

Oddly enough, yes, coaches are there to instruct, but at the same time, we are also there to set up our kids’ environment so that it elicits certain physical results. Set things up properly, and let the drill do the work.  Over-coaching might look good from the outside (especially to over-bearing parents), but it doesn’t produce great results.  Kids need to learn and explore on their own.

Give these pointers a try and I promise the results will be nothing short of amazing. Your kids will not only have increased energy and focus, but also, increased confidence and creativity. And last I looked, these are things we want kids to have even outside of sports. After all, their sport careers will be over one day, and all they will have left is their brain power.

To that end, their mental development extends far, far beyond their athletic endeavors. It permeates into friendships, relationships, academics, career achievements, and creative pursuits.

Erica Suter is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and soccer performance coach at JDyer Strength and Conditioning in Baltimore, Maryland. She works with youth athletes across the state of Maryland in the areas of strength, conditioning, agility, and technical soccer training. Besides coaching, she is a passionate writer, and writes on youth fitness as well as soccer performance training on her blog She also is the creator of the Total Youth Soccer Fitness Program, which is a comprehensive guide for coaches and parents on how to train youth soccer players both safely and effectively. Her mission is to inspire a love for movement and play in kids, and motivate them to stay active for a lifetime.

The post How Physical Activity Enhances Brain Power – Erica Suter appeared first on IYCA - The International Youth Conditioning Association.

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How to Get Your Clients to Work Harder - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 14:05

I often say that what bogs down most fitness professionals, and what often causes the most stress, isn’t the x’s and o’s of program design, assessment, or breaking down the Creatine phosphorylation cycle.

Nor is it the ability to break down squat or overhead pressing technique.

Most coaches/trainers can do all the above without blinking an eye.1

Nope, what really grinds most fit pro’s gears is how to better motivate their clients and to get them to work hard(er).

Copyright: annotee / 123RF Stock Photo


Now, to be fair (and to add a sense of brevity), when I say “to get them to work hard(er)” I am not implying the word “hard” means someone trains to the point of shitting their kidney on their last set of cleans or that they can’t feel the right side of their face after finishing that day’s WOD.

Just so we’re on the same page…

I Am Not Referring to This


5 Tips to Get Your Clients to Train Hard(er) 1) Meet Them Where THEY Are

We all have biases as coaches. We all have notions of how most people we work with should train and what they need to do to get from Point A to Point B.

Using myself as an example:

“Lifting heavy shit.”

I’ll unabashedly admit that the bulk of people who walk through the doors at CORE already know what they’re getting themselves into

I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to take a gander at my logo and tagline to put 2 and 2 together:

I.e., we’re not participating in tickle fights.2

That said, I’ve made a massive philosophical change in my coaching style ever since marrying my wife, Dr. Lisa Lewis.

She’s a psychologist and knows a thing or two about Jedi mind-tricks.

To that end, I try really, really, really hard not to force feed and project MY preferences onto my clients. Granted I live in a bit of a strength & conditioning bubble where I don’t have to work very hard to convince new clients to understand and appreciate the benefits of strength training.

Many times people walk through the doors of CORE on Day #1 wanting to deadlift, or front squat, or discuss why Colton was a fool (and FOOL I tell you) to pick Cassie over Tayshia in the latest season of The Bachelor.

However, NEWSFLASH: a lot of people could give two shits about deadlifting 2x bodyweight or performing a low bar back squat.

Using the latter as a reference point, not many people have the ability to perform a barbell back squat well, and if I played the meanie head strength coach card all the time and forced every client to do it – even if it didn’t match their current ability level, injury history, or goal(s) – I’d be doing them a disservice and likely taking away from their training experience.

Doing our part and meeting our clients where THEY are – oh, you mean not everyone wants to train like a powerlifter? – would be the more germane and responsible approach.

If your client can’t perform a certain exercise because it’s too advanced (or worse, it hurts), then yeah, they’re not going to be very motivated to work hard.

2) Set Them Up For Success

I’m going to divulge a big (coaching) secret; something that will undoubtedly help separate any coaches/trainers who may be reading from the masses.

Wanna know what your clients want most and what will (likely) allow them to work harder?

No, it’s not a Instagram feed of you wearing yoga pants making a smoothie or posing shirtless next to a Tesla.

And it’s definitely not however many supplements you want to peddle their way.

Nope, what they really want is to not feel like an incompetent asshole on the gym floor.

The fitness industry likes bright shiny things; exercises that are flashy and look cool. That’s fine. I am not anti having a little fun in the gym.

That being said, lets stop with the exercises that take 13 minutes just to set up or are only good for garnering “likes” on social media.


I think the more prudent approach, and at the expense as coming across too “vanilla,” is to hammer the basics – squat, hinge, row, push, single leg, carry, core – and to use your skills as a coach to find out what variations of these patterns best fits the needs of your clients.

Want your clients to work hard(er)?

Set them up for success and provide a litany of exercises they can actually perform well and without feeling like a fool.

And then, you know, progress them accordingly.

3) Have Them Write Shit Down

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

Client: I’m frustrated by my lack of progress.

Me: Okay, lets break this down. Let me look at your program.

(looks at program)

Me: Why isn’t there anything written down?

Client: Oh, I just try to remember each week what I do.

Me: Excuse me, brb.

(tosses face into a brick wall).


Most people can barely remember what they had for dinner the night before let alone what they did on their third set of DB Bench Press last Wednesday.

“What gets tracked, gets managed”

I like to place a bit of accountability with my clients and encourage them – almost naggingly so  – to WRITE THEIR SHIT DOWN FOR THER LOVE OF GOD.

4) Appreciate RPE

It’s one thing when I can have my eyes on a client and adjust load or otherwise provide instant feedback on their technique in real time.

It’s a whole different ballgame when a client trains on their own.

There’s always going to be a bit of trial and error, however most of the time (not always) I find people tend to UNDER-estimate how much weight they can lift when training on their own.

Lets say a program calls for 4×8 of a particular exercise and that’s exactly what a client does.


That’s half the battle3

Upon further inspection, though, when you bring up effort or Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), you come to the realization that they could have done eight more reps with that same weight.

[Cue The Price is Right horn here.]

Granted, they’re doing work, which should be celebrated…just not work that’s challenging enough (or, to be more specific, “work” that challenges the body and forces it to adapt to the load placed upon it).

Getting your clients to appreciate and adopt “RPE” to help provide feedback and direction in terms of what loads to use can be a game changer with regards to nudging them to work harder.

Courtesy of Mike Turscherer

5) Use a Teeny Tine Dose of Tough Love

Lastly, sometimes I like to write little notes into my client’s programs – especially those who can’t seem to live without their cell phone – to remind them that I have their best interests in mind.

Unless you’re a brain surgeon on call, leave your phone off the gym floor…;o)


The post How to Get Your Clients to Work Harder appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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How to Program for a Large Group of Athletes with Limited Resources - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:04
The DOMINATE method is a way of working out a team with the bare minimum while still being able to maximize results. It consists of eight principles that all successful strength and conditioning programs must have and must be able to do.
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10 Tips for Managing Fat Loss Goals on the Road - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 09:58
Going on vacation is a blast, but not when you're trying to blast body fat. Nothing is more frustrating than working on a show-prepped and/or beach-ready bod only to lose progress while you're actually at the beach... so here are 10 tips to help you avoid that. Von boyage!
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Crush Your Hamstrings and Glutes with the ValSlide Leg Curl

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I’m looking to get maximum bang for my buck when in the gym.

And suffice it to say, the days of body part splits and hitting a single muscle-group during a training session are long gone!

So if I’m going to do a more “isolative” hamstring exercise, I’m going to find a way to integrate as many muscle groups as possible.

Now you might have seen a ValSlide leg curl performed at some point in the past, but I think I’ve got some subtle cues and tweaks here than can really crank up the intensity.

Let’s discuss….

Now that you’ve watched the video, here are a few key things to focus on:

  • Cue the exhale and set position of the rib cage and pelvis first.
  • Once in position, work to keep the belt buckle up and pelvis tipped back throughout.
  • Lower slowly and under control! Initially, it may help to only do the lowering/eccentric portion, put the hips down, and then reset at the top/starting position.

The big focus here isn’t just on the moving of the slides, but perhaps more importantly, on controlling the hips and pelvis.

Give this a shot the next time you’re in the gym – I guarantee you’re going to feel it the next day!

All the best,

P.S. – If you’re interested in taking your coaching of the lower body lifts to the next level, be sure to check out my Coaching the Lower Body Lifts workshop which is coming up in May!

The post Crush Your Hamstrings and Glutes with the ValSlide Leg Curl appeared first on Robertson Training Systems.

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Get out of your own damn way - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 17:51

Have you ever wanted something so badly, while simultaneously believing that you can’t have it? That you’ll never “get there?” That it’s just not possible for you? I got my first muscle up at 35 years old, with absolutely no gymnastics background, and two herniated discs that sometimes inhibit my […]

The post Get out of your own damn way appeared first on Neghar Fonooni.

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What Chocolate Chip Cookies and Guinness Beer Can Teach You About Barbell Basics - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:16

On the flight home from teaching a StrongFirst Lifter certification (SFL), I was thinking about the programming section and some of our discussions. One of the questions that always gets asked is: “What about assistance exercises?”

My answer is simple—until you have spent at least a year working on the movements that we taught at the SFL, you don’t need assistance exercises. Why?

Don’t Mess with Great Basics

The reason lies within the title of this article. My mother makes the most awesome chocolate chip cookies. Her recipe has been in our family for generations. Every batch comes out the same—gooey, soft, very tasty, and oh so good! If left on the kitchen counter unsupervised, they magically disappear. My cousins don’t even let the dough make the oven—they eat it right out of the bowl. Chocolate chip cookies are delicious but very basic. Any attempt to change the 70-year old recipe leads to mini-revolts in many households. The lesson: don’t mess with the basics of cooking a great cookie.

StrongFirst-Barbell-CookiesDon’t mess with the basics

The same thing applies to the barbell squat, be it the Zercher, front or back squat. People in gyms around the world see someone else do it and go to a rack and attempt to copy them. Squatting or hinging down to the ground to pick something up, such as the deadlift, requires minimal introduction and is something that we have been doing since we learned to walk. However, when under a load of the barbell or kettlebell, the story is different. Hence the reason I said spending at least one year practicing the basics of squatting or deadlifting.

StrongFirst-SFL-Zercher-SquatZercher Squat—SFL Brisbane, Australia

Most people don’t like that response. They argue that doing the same thing every week gets old and monotonous. I answer back that each time they contact the barbell/kettlebell, they get that one baby step toward getting better. Getting better allows one to not only improve their performance in the gym but also in their respective sport. It also helps decrease the potential of an injury occurring.

Guinness, the draught version, was first brewed in 1759. It is still made the same way and produced by the same Guinness factory and shipped around the world. The recipe is the same and will continue to be the same for years to come and enjoyed by beer drinkers. They haven’t messed with the basic formula and don’t plan to.

GuinnessGuinness, since 1759

The same thing with the deadlift—around for many years and practiced by tens of thousands of fans daily. It is simple, basic, and (to some) boring. But these exact qualities are necessary to teach the student to hip hinge, to activate their lats, abs, and grip properly, and to get just plain strong with minimal equipment. Basic and simple, like Guinness beer, but highly effective in creating strength in the person who avails themselves of it.

StrongFirst-Conventional-Deadlift-SFLDeadlift—SFL Brisbane, Australia When to Consider Variety

Assistance exercises, or as we call them specialized variety exercises, do have benefits. They certainly help the student change the load parameters or relative physical stress on the body. They also help to address weak areas of a particular motor pattern.

However, one doesn’t generally realize they have any weaknesses in a specific motor pattern until after they have performed an exercise, like the squat and deadlift, for a good year. At that point, if they are my student and if they so desire, they can add a specialized variety movement that is just a hair different than what they have been doing.

For example, adding in pause squats with regular squats. This utilizes the same motor pattern as regular squats, but with a pause somewhere along the pattern route. Most people use the bottom of the squat to do this, but it can be done anywhere in the squat groove.

Front Squat—SFL Brisbane, Australia

However, if their squat pattern isn’t cemented by spending a few hundred hours just squatting, adding in pause squats will throw their form off and affect their overall squat technique (same with the bench press or deadlift). If they are either butt-winking or additionally hinging from their lumbar spine during the movement, adding in pause squats while performing the aforementioned abnormal motor patterns can have disastrous results.

Similar results occur during bench press board presses, say with 2 boards. Same pattern and set-up on the bench, but stopping the bar on the board(s) laying on top of your chest instead of your chest directly. Using this variation ensures a greater carryover to the main movement of the bench press. Again, if their movement pattern isn’t correct with the basic bench press, then it won’t improve during the board press, especially with the increase in weight used.

Get Great at the Basics

Someone once said that the main difference between the average athlete and the elite athlete is that the elite athlete can perform the basics that much better. Both athletes can do the basics, but the elites make them look so easy and effortless.

When my mother announces she is baking her delectable cookies, all hands are on deck to consume them. The same goes on my back squat days. It’s another day to train one of my favorite movements. The basics—they are fundamental, necessary, and very important for all levels of students and athletes. Learn them, practice them, and practice them some more.

The post What Chocolate Chip Cookies and Guinness Beer Can Teach You About Barbell Basics appeared first on StrongFirst.

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The JuggLife | Meghan Scanlon - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:38

USAPL National Champion and SuperTotal Queen Meghan Scanlon joins us fresh off competing in both Weightlifting and Powerlifting at The Arnold Sports Festival.

The post The JuggLife | Meghan Scanlon appeared first on Juggernaut Training Systems.

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The Meet That Was Like a Family Reunion - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:27
This was the first meet that I attended neither as participant, lifter, nor spectator; instead, I was a coach, cheerleader, and go-fer. At this meet, Flex Gym proved it is as much a family as any group I have ever seen. Everyone is there for everyone else.
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Bodybuilding for the Powerlifter: The Hamstrings (with Sample Deadlift Routine) - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:01
In this "powerbuilding" article, we’re looking at hamstrings — a muscle group bodybuilders and strength athletes alike struggle to develop. If you’re naturally lower-body dominant, you don’t need to spend tons of time on 'em. But if you’ve got piglets instead of hammies, I don’t need to convince you to read on.
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Does Vegan Nutrition Make You a Better Athlete? - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 08:02

Humans are very tribal, and especially so when it comes to their nutritional preferences: Paleo vs. Keto vs. Vegan vs. Jets vs. Sharks vs. Decepticons.

It’s crazy out there.

In lieu of the release of his new book, Athletic Nutrition 101, regular contributor, Travis Hansen, sent me this fantastic blog post the other day I think you all will enjoy.

Copyright: saschanti17 / 123RF Stock Photo

Does Vegan Nutrition Make You a Better Athlete?

Before we dive in I want to make it clear that my sole intention with writing this objective article is to just be, you know…objective.

There is no denying that there are some profound emotional ties with various types of diets and nutritional approaches and although the information and science presented may trigger or ruffle up some feathers, please understand that is not my intent at all.

The purpose of this write-up is to simply look at some of the brief scientific literature as it pertains to proper vegan nutrition and its role on athletic performance outcomes to either confirm or disprove its credibility as a reliable dietary strategy for athletes.

That’s it.

I think it’s best to start by breaking down specific topics of discussion aimed at providing a conclusion into whether or not utilizing a vegan approach could support you or an athlete you train into becoming a better performer on the field or court.

Here are the most common areas of concern as far as the research is concerned on vegan nutrition and performance:

  • #1-Supplementation factors-Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • #2-Adequate protein intake
  • #3-Iron and Creatine levels
Supplementation Factors

Vitamins and Minerals are absolutely critical to so many biochemical reactions and functions in the human body.

Vitamins are stimulatory in nature and satisfy specific roles responsible for improved athletic performance measures, or a lack thereof. According to one study, supra or mega-doses of vitamins does not seem to have any increased benefit on sport performance.

“In general, vitamin supplementation to an athlete on a well-balanced diet has not been shown to improve performance. However, additional research with certain vitamins appears to be warranted, such as with the vitamin B complex and fine motor control, and with vitamin E and endurance at high altitudes. Moreover, research with mega-dose supplementation may also be necessary.” (1)

Unfortunately, there is some concern regarding a vegan approach and whether or not it can deliver proper doses of Vitamin B12 without supplementation.

“On the other hand, questions have been raised by some investigators regarding unique risks of the vegetarian diet, including oligomenorrhea and amenorrhea, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, and impaired mineral status.” (2,3)

However, if athletes remove deficiencies and restore normal Vitamin B12 levels then there doesn’t seem to be an issue in terms of performance.

Adequate Protein Intake

The next issue deals with protein intake. This topic definitely seems to be the most detailed and alarming, but again, if

athletes supplement and consume adequate amounts of vegan protein sources they should be just fine.

Here is a short excerpt from my nutrition book that puts it into perspective and then afterwards I want to share some important information and a diagram you can check out from the infamous Boirie study which will help you appreciate why you need to attempt to overcompensate and consume more protein than normal to ensure an adequate anabolic muscle building response in the body.

“Adequate protein intake, although more perhaps difficult to come by for vegans vs. non vegans, does seem attainable to support proper athletic development.

For example, a study from van Vliet, 2015 found that plant protein is typically less anabolic than animal protein for several reasons. 132

Some include a reduced amount of essential amino acids, in particular Leucine. Greater excretion rates, proposed digestibility issues and more. However, the author did state that several strategies could be used to improve the anabolic response of a protein based meal primarily derived from plants. Including a higher variety of plant based protein sources, supplementing the amino acids leucine, lysine, and methionine, and eating greater amounts of plant based protein sources. Gorissen et. al agrees that compensating for reduced functional protein content by eating higher quantities of plant based protein is one way to go.133 “

So, the research clearly states that it is possible to ingest enough protein if you are a vegan, but you need to be particularly aware of the types of protein that you are consuming with a strong emphasis on getting in more than normal to overcompensate for any issues in amino acid content, increased removal of this type of protein, and digestive issues associated with vegan protein sources.

The amino acid Leucine is a key regulator in muscle growth via the MTOR pathway and lowered levels of this Branched Chain Amino Acid will cause reduced muscle growth levels, so you may need to supplement here if you are electing to be vegan.

Another issue that was brought to attention compliments of leading researcher Lyle Mcdonald, is the extremely poor digestion rate of vegan based protein sources.

According to the Boirie study chart, our digestive network has an absorption rate of 3.9 grams of Soy Isolate based protein per hour!

This is insanely low compared to meat based sources.

The unfortunate reality is that protein digestion rates are markedly slow to begin with and Soy based products compound this issue and make it even more difficult. Not to mention you have to be very concise with your vegan protein food combing selections if you aren’t consuming a vegan based protein supplement.

Here is another helpful excerpt from my book:

“Let’s first take a look at a limiting factor with regards to vegan based protein sources, comparative to animal based proteins dense with complete protein. When we eat meat, eggs, and other animal sources of protein then there is no need to fret about fulfilling a complete amino acid profile. Plant based sources, on the other hand, lack one essential amino acid and need to be complemented by another source to deliver all amino acids.

For example, plant based protein sources are often guilty of being unable to deliver a single amino acid known as the ‘limiting amino acid.’

“For example, grains’ limiting amino acid is lysine, but grains are high in the amino acid methionine. Therefore, grains match well with legumes, which are low in methionine but high in lysine.”

So greater consumption of complimentary proteins becomes essential to make sure that all potential deficiencies are accounted for, while also giving some extra supply of amino acid’s since plant based proteins are only 85% digestible, compare to animal sources which scale around 95%.” 2

And here are some combination strategies if you are going down the vegan path of nutrition to ensure you get a complete arsenal of amino acids to build all of your proteins….

Plant Based Meal Combo’s:
  • Stir fried vegetables and tofu over rice (soy and grains)
  • Vegetable chili with cornbread (legumes and grains)
  • Oatmeal with nuts and soy milk (grains, nuts, and soy)

  • Spinach salad with vegetables, garbanzo beans, and sunflower seeds (legumes and seeds)
Iron & Creatine Levels

The final concern for vegans trying to optimize their nutrition and athletic development deals with keeping Creatine and Iron levels.

As many of you already know, Creatine phosphate is the primary metabolic driver for literally any activity performed at or very near maximal intensities, and Iron is critical to any aerobic based activity.

But what about the upside to a vegan approach on performance?

This wasn’t directly mentioned in the research, but upon observation it’s obvious that vegan based diets contain higher levels of carbohydrates. This topic is another article series in itself, but if you are interested in how and why carbohydrates are essential for ANY athlete looking to perform better, here is a quick primer series below, and my book goes into even more detail if you are interested.

Vegan diets do a great job of prescribing the proper amounts and types of carbohydrates which many other nutritional approaches lack, so kudos to Vegans on this front!

1. 5 Scientific Reasons to Eat CarbsHERE

2. 5 More Scientific Reasons to Eat CarbsHERE

3. Even More Reasons Why Athletes Should Eat CarbsHERE

Final Thoughts

In closing, there is no magic cure for nutrition for any athlete.

Rather there is a broad range of diets you can experiment with and see how you and your performance responds.

A vegan approach, although more difficult for the few reasons I mentioned above, does seem to work, contrary to what many people say. Also keep in mind that there are indeed absolutes that need to be considered when it comes to nutrition, and once you begin to learn and understand these timeless principles it will make you and your athletes life much easier.

For example, overall energy intake regulates so much of our metabolic system and needs to be set at certain levels for proper functioning. Researchers have dialed down precisely how much protein our body’s can assimilate per meal and per day along with governors in our body that have been developed in the liver and through fullness responses. There are different ways to go about nutrition and some subtle differences between individuals, but then again there seems to be FAR more similarities and that helps simplify the topic to a high degree.

Athletic Nutrition 101

To pick up a copy of Travis’ book, which is priced at a steal given the amount of information he provides and the depth at which he goes into, you can go HERE.

Scientific References

#1-Williams, MH. Vitamin Supplementation and Athletic Performance. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl, 30: 163-191, 1989.

#2-Barr, Susan I, and Candice A Rideout. “Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes.”Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 7-8, 2004, pp. 696–703., doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.015.



The post Does Vegan Nutrition Make You a Better Athlete? appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Athletic Scholarships & Dream Teams – Greg Schaible - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 16:21

The allure of earning athletic scholarships drives people toathletic scholarships take massive action.  This phenomenon has been around for years, but it seems to be intensifying.  This article will address some of the factors involved in earning athletic scholarships and will use my personal experiences to illustrate the challenges of this process. 

Competition vs. Talent Stacking

First it was the Dream Team!

Then it was the Big 3 with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh.

Now it’s the Warriors or pretty much anywhere Lebron is playing.

It seems to be most prevalent in the NBA but certainly it happens across all pro sports to a certain extent. For TV ratings and viewership this is probably just going to become the new normal within professional sports. It’s starting to happen more and more at the collegiate level with recruits teaming up and all heading to one school to play ball. I even see this to some extent in high school with players transferring schools just to play on a different team.

While it certainly can make for some exciting teams. I think we need to be cautious of how much we let this mindset start trickling down into high school and especially youth athletics.

Before I give my argument against the Dream Teams, I want to first give a reason why they can be beneficial for an athlete.

Competition creates improvement. Without competition complacency starts to set in. If you are constantly competing against (or practicing against) someone just as good as you, if not better than you, it will force you to up your game.

I’ve experienced this first-hand running track in college. My event was the 400m. We had five really good 400m runners on that team, but only four were going to make the relay team. It pushed all five of us to be better and continually push ourselves in practice. Practice, as we all know, is where the improvements are made, so if practices are not competitive, nobody gets better.

Going to a “Dream Team” where you would get to practice and compete with the best of the best only makes sense then….right?

Possibly… If that is your mindset going into the move.

However, if that competitive mindset isn’t already established. The athlete may just be taking the easy route to wining a championship and perhaps college exposure and earning athletic scholarships.

A big part about youth and high school athletics is developing a competitive mindset.

Some would call it grit or resiliency.

Giving athletes the easy route to championships at an early age may do more harm than good both in that athlete’s career, and their approach to life.

And, for most kids, that is what athletics should be about – learning about life and how to deal with adversity through lessons learned in sports.

Coaches and parents need to encourage a developmental process for kids. They are certainly not going to have that outlook initially, especially in the day and age of social media showing highlight reels but never highlighting the process.

Obsession with D1 Athletic Scholarships

Kids (and parents) have a love affair with D1 athletic scholarships. In my opinion, the whole D1 scholarship is over-glorified. If you or your kid has the opportunity for a D1 scholarship, that is an awesome accomplishment, and you should take pride in that! However, it shouldn’t be the reason you pick a school, and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t receive any D1 offers.

I grew up in a small town (graduated with just over 100 kids in my class). Needless to say, my high school isn’t the first stop on a big D1 school’s recruiting trail.

I played football, basketball, and track in high school and received interest from a number of DII and DIII school to play different sports. It was my dream as a kid though to go D1. I eventually did get a couple letters from D1 programs saying I could be a preferred walk-on in Track, and if I scored points in the conference meet, that I could work myself into a scholarship.

With aspirations to go D1, I jumped at the opportunity!

A couple lessons here: 1) If you are good enough, schools will find you….usually.  With social media, YouTube, and highlight tapes being passed around, it’s very easy for a school to catch wind of you. 2) I was extremely naive in high school, assuming that colleges would find me.  It may sound contrary to point #1, but you have to be pro-active about the process.  

I sent out zero highlight films to schools and went to zero showcases for any sports. Schools still found me, but I would have received many more offers if I’d done a little more work to be seen. If you are serious about wanting to play at the next level and earning athletic scholarships, you need to make it a point to be seen. Go to showcases, send film to schools you’d like to go to even if you don’t think they’d watch. I’ve heard of several athletes getting athletic scholarships by doing this. It shows the coach you care, and if they offer you a scholarship it’s usually because a specific intangible they see in you or you fit well with the system or coaching scheme they run.

But again, don’t forget about YOUR ability to develop as an athlete and a person. This is what I did not understand when choosing a university.

I ended up going to that D1 program as a preferred walk on, only to be cut from the team at the end of the very first semester on campus. People from relatively small towns are not exposed to how many great athletes are actually out there. Up until that point, I was always the best on the team and had never been cut before. I thought athletic scholarships were pretty easy to get. 

Getting cut sucked! But looking back, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

I ended up transferring to a DII school and ran track at the University of Findlay. Like I mentioned before, we had five really good 400m runners on that team and many other very talented athletes. This taste of adversity forced me to work harder to get better. When all was said and done, I ended up running faster times than anyone from the D1 school I was originally cut from. I also had the opportunity to compete nationally at the DII level earning All-American honors. I received an athletic scholarship in undergrad, and, after my athletic career was over, I worked as a graduate assistant for the athletic department as I finished my doctorate degree.

I say none of this to brag, but to only bring your awareness to the possibilities elsewhere!  It’s all about finding the right fit.  I feel very fortunate that I found the right fit.  

Most athletes who play a sport in college are going to be doing it for the love of the game, the competitiveness inside of them, and the perks that come along with being an athlete at a University. Some will have the ability to take it to the professional level. Like I said before, if you are good enough, someone will find you no matter if you are DI/DII/DIII or junior college.

Select an environment that allows you to develop as an athlete but also a person. Go to a school where you can both compete and play (in practice and games). Choose the opportunity to play, and as a result, you will get better!

One final aside.

The ability to go somewhere to play a sport you love, and possibly receive athletic scholarships for it, is a privilege (no matter the level) that not many people get. I see way too many athletes waste the opportunity by not taking advantage of it with their academics. I didn’t know it at the time, but being cut and transferring also saved me 10-20 years of paying down student debt.

Sports can bring you countless opportunities if you choose to look at it that way. It’s important to recognize that it’s an opportunity to grow as an athlete and person, so don’t put up blinders and have tunnel vision to what may seem glamorous at the time.

Dr. Greg Schaible is a physical therapist and strength coach specializing in athletic performance and a regular contributor the the IYCA. Greg is the owner of On Track Physiotherapy and owner of the popular online education resource Sports Rehab Expert. Greg works with athletes and active individuals of all ages. As a former athlete himself, he attended The University of Findlay and competed in both Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field where he earned honors as a 5x Division II All-American and a 6x Division II Academic All-American.

The post Athletic Scholarships & Dream Teams – Greg Schaible appeared first on IYCA - The International Youth Conditioning Association.

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Top 5 for February - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:08
Here are the articles, blogs, and logs that were clicked, read, liked, and shared the most for February: Add 100 Pounds to Your Deadlift, Technically, You're Weak, Talon Grip for Squats, The Anti Shrug and Why It's Important, and more! Find out too, a couple of things we're compiling for March.
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Bring the Juice - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:16
In order to fully help your athletes maximize their performance while bringing the juice as a coach, you have to be able to communicate to them how to do the lifts properly — through effective and efficient cues. Here, take a sample sip of some of my juicier cues.
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3 Band Shoulder Stability Drills You Probably Haven’t Tried, but Should - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 09:43

Shoulder stability drills tend to fall into a couple categories: training concentric action of the shoulder with stuff like external rotations for the rotator cuff, or dynamic stabilization drills like using the Shake Weight.


In the first example, the goal is to create strength through the muscles so that they’re better at resisting positional change. In the second the goal is to get neural firing rates more responsive to changes in force application to the tissues so that the muscles controlling glenohumeral and scapulothoracic positioning and motion can keep the place together while enduring some challenging stressors.


With this idea, we can put together some exercises that use bands to try to do some specific things:


  1. Try to pull the joint positions away from the stable starting points while trying to resist that change, and
  2. Trying to create motion against resistance trying to perturb that plane of action.


Bands work really well for this as they can have adjustable tension based on stretch and resistance, can be used at any angle, and at any speed you desire. With that said, here’s a few drills you can incorporate into your training to promote some shoulder stability, whether at the gym or on the road, or even on the field before a game.


  1. Band Stabilization Diagonal Pulls




This is a great stabilization drill for maintaining an overhead position, specifically while holding on to some scapular upward rotation. You can adjust the elevated arm and hand position to any height you can achieve, depending on shoulder mobility, and work on controlling your positioning against any band tension you can manage.


The key features to remember with this is that the hand overhead should be like it’s locked in stone, no movement should occur when the band tension pulls it forward. That’s a massive challenge to anyone who may be in need of more scapular stability in this position, but may not be able to manage traditional weight loading in that range of motion.


  1. Band 90 90 Shoulder Press Stabilization




This position is a little bit more challenging specifically for the rotator cuff versus scapular stabilizers, and due to the lever arm acting on the rotator cuff, may be harder to maintain positioning against the band tension compared to the diagonal pull, but it’s still a solid option for anyone looking to maintain some shoulder control.


Some big coaching considerations on this one are to consider where the rib positioning winds up when setting up and pressing the weight, trying to keep the ribs flat to prevent arching through secondary motion to get stabilization for the shoulder elsewhere, and also ensuring the hand doesn’t start drifting forward as the shoulder fatigues.


The press can be at any angle you choose, and you just have to have the band attached to something that’s not going to fall over during the press.



  1. Band horizontal overhead press




This video brings in 2 major components of resistance. First, the band resistance makes the shoulders work to continuously press out into it, and then using gravitational loading in a non-axial manner makes pressing the hands out away from the body harder as you go further into the movement. The overhead movement relies more on scapular motion in terms of true rotation with less of a potential anterior tilt, at least as long as you can manage to keep your hands from dropping during the movement. The hip hinged position also gives some stretched loading to the posterior chain, which is always a nice benefit during shoulder work.



These are simple, easy and effective drills to help improve shoulder stability, and can be done pretty much anywhere. Give them a try and see what you think. Use a light band and slower speed to start, and ramp it up as you are able to maintain positioning and not fatigue out.


If you’re interested in learning more drills for shoulder stability, I have a bunch of recommendations.

Tony Gentilcore does a sweet deep dive into overhead mobility, which has a massive drive off scapular stability, in The Complete Trainers Toolbox.

He and I also cover an entire day of shoulders in our video series The Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

We even have some live workshops with more advanced content in Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with events coming up in Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Australia.

The post 3 Band Shoulder Stability Drills You Probably Haven’t Tried, but Should appeared first on

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A Horrible Bottom Position Doesn’t Make You a Lost Weightlifting Cause

The explosion of masters weightlifting in recent years has brought thousands of new competitors to the sport. And many of them are crusty old people with bodies that won’t totally cooperate with the Olympic lifts. People are “getting bit by the iron bug” and making the decision to fully commit to it, despite physical roadblocks that basically don’t allow them to do the full classic competition movements we see on the platform at the World Championships.   As athlet
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Push The Knees Out In The Squat? Maybe.

Pushing the knees out in the squat does not directly contribute to standing up. It’s a measure to correct or prevent knee valgus and forward leaning. Standing up is achieved primarily with knee and hip extension, and secondarily with some hip adduction and ankle extension. That pushing the knees out doesn’t make you stand up is easily demonstrated by sitting into a squat and pushing your knees out—you won’t move up a single inch no matter how hard or far out you pus
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Don’t Let the Wheels On The Bus Run Your Ass Over - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 01:37
If you were on a serious and strict diet in 1985, you really had very few, if any, options to go out to eat and you were relegated to eating only at home. In 2019, there really is no excuse not to eat relatively well while out at a restaurant unless you simply DO NOT WANT TO.
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WATCH: What I'm Seeing and Why It’s Wrong: Fixing the Sumo Deadlift - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 01:05
elitefts coach and 2019 Stronger Sports Training Success Summit speaker Julia Anto has seen far too many social media lifts with poor form — enough to start up a video series to correct lifters' form. In the first video of the series, she fixes the sumo deadlift.
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WATCH: What I'm Seeing and Why It’s Wrong: Fixing the Sumo Deadlift - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 01:05
elitefts coach and 2019 Stronger Sports Training Success Summit speaker Julia Anto has seen far too many social media lifts with poor form — enough to start up a video series to correct lifters' form. In the first video of the series, she fixes the sumo deadlift.
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