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APA FREE Bodyweight circuit & Running Guide

Are you unsure of how to start a home workout programme? Or how to start a running programme? Maybe you want to combine the two but don’t know how. Well, worry no more because I’ve put together a bullet proof Bodyweight circuit & Running Guide just for you guys.

At the risk of coming to the party two weeks late into the Corona Virus it has been my observation and also concern that many people young and old are taking to the concrete streets to enjoy their hour of exercise, and running with no real plan of what to do and how to progress.

Athletes– I’m concerned for my athletes because running 5kms is probably not the best way to preserve lean muscle mass and fast twitch muscle fibre properties.

Out of shape general population– I’m concerned for my friends and relatives who have suddenly turned into a weekend warrior without any background in or build up to running.

The Solution

Bodyweight circuit guide– I’ve put a menu of nearly 100 of my favourite bodyweight exercises into one guide, and I’ve conveniently split them into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels.

Rather than me creating several different programmes over the next few weeks (and maybe months) I’d rather just ‘teach you to fish’ by giving you a basic structure (6 exercises- pick your work period, 30, 45 or 60-seconds, with the corresponding difficulty of exercise) and off you go.

Running guide

This is the game changer for me.  Not everyone is at the same point on their running journey, so I’ve prepared a Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced plan as well.

A beginner– someone who is going to build up to running 30 minutes without stopping

An intermediate– will incorporate higher intensity efforts using intervals and Fartlek

An advanced runner– will incorporate near maximal efforts into their running programme

Click the link below to download your FREE Bodyweight circuit & Running Guide

 

CLICK HERE

 

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Is Lifting Weights Safe For Children?

Nervous to Lift Weights With Children? In this post I give my Top Tips on Lifting Weights With Children and unpack some myths about the safety of using resistance with youth athletes.

If you’re a coach and you are looking for more info on ‘How To Get Buy In That Lifting Weights Is Safe For Children, I have FREE Webinar on the topic, be sure to click on the link to register for this FREE Training

To be clear, I am in favour of children lifting weights.  But I will explain below by what I mean by this statement so please read the whole article in order to ensure you correctly understand my position.

Background to This Post

Okay, so first things first, this is not the first and it certainly won’t be the last time I write about this.  There are some myths that just won’t go away, and the myth that lifting weights with youths is DANGEROUS is one of them.

The inspiration for this post was that one of my colleagues was asked by a parent to NOT lift weights with their child (for context the child was a teenager going through puberty).  I find that this is the time when this conversation is going to typically come up.

Usually the ‘child’ has gone through a skill learning phase of how to lift weights, meaning lots of bodyweight, broomstick and ‘light bars.’ (the photo below is of a youth using bumper plates and a light bar, meaning it looks heavy but it actually totals less than 20kg in total).

All of this goes by unnoticed (or at least not commented on by the parent).  Then at some point the coach thinks… ”now is time to swap the training bar (let’s call this 10kg) for an Olympic bar (20kg)…and the parent immediately gets on the phone. For context, in my experience, the child is usually going through puberty (12-14 yrs old), will be at least 50 kg in body mass and has probably had at least 6 months training history. So a 20kg bar represents less than 50% body mass.  So we invariably get into a discussion about what we define as ‘lifting weights,’ and what the perceived dangers are.  For some reason the sight of the Olympic bar is usually the trigger for a conversation.

 

Myths of Lifting Weights

Now I must be clear, you won’t have this conversation with a parent (or I’d be extremely surprised) if their child is attending a weightlifting club, with the goal of competing as a competitive weightlifter.  They understand that lifting weights from a young age is going to be part of the process of preparing to be elite in that sport.  It’s more likely to be when the child is participating in another sport and as a coach you use the techniques of weight training or weightlifting in your programme.

Usually the argument goes something like this…’I don’t want my child to lift weights because…..

  1. I’m worried it will stunt their growth
  2. I’m worried it will cause damage to their growth plates 

Now most of the reading I have done in this area has focused on the stress lifting weights may place on the articulations of the knee joint (especially with loaded deep squatting).  A good article to read is Growth Plate Fractures which I will refer to later on.  For an overview of the Maturation of the Growing Spine please click on this link Spinal Development paper.  But for the people who don’t want to read all 31 pages here is the summary:

  • Primary ossification takes place at 1-3 years and 4-6 years.
  • Secondary ossification appears between 10-13 years (puberty) and fuse 18-25 years old.

Parents know that when a child is fully grown, the growth plates harden into solid bone.

Many parents are also aware that stress fractures in the spine of the posterior arch (pars interarticularis) are associated with repetitive flexion/extension (in my main sport of Tennis stress fractures of the spine are known to be associated with repetitive characteristics of the serve action).  So there is already a bit of nervousness about adding ‘high’ levels of additional stress to the developing (and therefore weaker) spine with high level weighted squats.

Medical Definition of Ossification

Ossification: The process of creating bone, that is of transforming cartilage (or fibrous tissue) into bone. … Bone is osseous tissue. “Os” is a synonym for “bone.” The Latin word “os” means “bone” as does the related Greek word “osteon.”

So it could be argued that while a child is still growing particular care should be taken, and that when the spine reaches adulthood it will be less susceptible to damage, and this is the time that ‘higher’ levels of loading could be used.

So let’s look at this in a bit further detail……does lifting weights at a young age stunt growth or damage growth plates? What do we mean by ‘taking particular care?’  And finally what constitutes ‘higher’ levels of loading?

Growth Plate Fractures- Any Truth?

Take from Growth Plate Fractures (see full article):

The bones of children and adults share many of the same risks for injury. But because they are still growing, a child’s bones are also subject to a unique injury called a growth plate fracture. Growth plates are areas of cartilage located near the ends of bones. Because they are the last portion of a child’s bones to harden (ossify), growth plates are particularly vulnerable to fracture.

Approximately 15% to 30% of all childhood fractures are growth plate fractures.

Most growth plate fractures occur in the long bones of the fingers. They are also common in the outer bone of the forearm (radius) and lower bones of the leg (the tibia and fibula).

Cause

Growth plate fractures are often caused by a single event, such as a fall or car accident. They can also occur gradually as a result of repetitive stress on the bone, which may occur when a child overtrains in a sports activity.

All children who are still growing are at risk for growth plate injuries, but there are certain factors that may make them more likely to occur:

  • Growth plate fractures occur twice as often in boys as in girls, because girls finish growing earlier than boys.
  • One-third of all growth plate fractures occur during participation in competitive sports such as football, basketball, or gymnastics.
  • About 20% of all growth plate fractures occur during participation in recreational activities such as biking, sledding, skiing, or skateboarding.
  • The incidence of growth plate fractures peaks in adolescence.

Daz comment: To be honest the statistics here are inconclusive.  We can say that over 50% of growth plates are associated with participation in recreational or competitive sport.  For those who choose to believe that lifting weights is unsafe, it would be easy to assume that this surely contributes towards some of the other 47%.

But other statistics suggest the contrary (Hamill, 1994):

  • Further evidence of the safety of weight training relative to other sports and exercise activities can be seen in the injury rates of other youth sports (Hamill, 1994). Weight training’s injury rate of 0.0012 injuries per 100 participant hours pales to the 6.2 injuries per 100 participant hours in youth soccer and 1.02 injuries per 100 participant hours in basketball. Time in the weight room carries even less risk of injury than a traditional physical education class where there is an injury rate of 0.18 injuries per 100 participant hours.

In cases of injuries reported in the scientific literature the overwhelming majority of these injuries were attributed to improper technique in the execution of the exercises and excessive loading

One-year study of a USA Weightlifting Regional Development Center program that included more than 70 pediatric athletes in which no reports of injury were noted (Pierce, 1999).

Training programs in which training loads are prescribed and monitored and in which training activities are supervised have proven to be remarkably safe in terms of the frequency of injury occurrence.

To my knowledge there are:

  • No studies in science that have shown that deep squatting cause meniscus and cartilage on the backside of the patella to wear away.
  • If this were true we would expect to see extreme amounts of arthritis in knees of weight lifters. This is not the case
  • No studies in science that have reported an injury to the growth plate of a child during weight training when proper supervision and technique instructions are provided

How Can We Take Particular Care During Periods of Accelerated Growth?

In my experience the aspects of athletic training that expose the athlete to the highest stresses are those that lie outside of the gym.  The stress of repetitive loading of the sports skill itself places far higher stresses on the body than anything I will expose the body to in the gym.

So any intervention to manage the stress on the growing body needs to start with a review of overall training stress starting with a possible reduction of the amount of hours of time spent playing the sport.

Landing forces are several times bodyweight whenever an athlete jumps and lands or sprints and decelerates to a stop.  Furthermore the repetitive high speed, ballistic actions of kicking and striking place significantly more stress on the body.  Yet parents and coaches see these as necessary endeavours that you must pay the price for entry into the world of elite sport.

Whenever I have spoken to parents there is simply a lack of understanding of the nature of Force acting on the body during high speed movements on the sports field.  Because they are only using their body weight they just assume the forces must be lower than when you go into the gym and lift with something on your back.  But performing a drop jump like in the photo below can cause up to five times bodyweight load through the spine.  This compares to less than one time bodyweight that a coach will typically ask an athlete to experience in the gym- and the movement is performed under control so it is even better tolerated!!

If you are a parent or coach and are interested in the physics of the forces acting on the body I’d encourage you to watch my FREE Webinar

Now one thing we can definitely do, from the weight training stand point is eliminate spinal loading and move from bilateral (both legs) back squatting, to unilateral (one leg) squatting.  This removes the need to do spinal loading while still continuing to apply an overload to the legs.  This is a no brainer and can relieve some of the parent’s concerns about lifting excess weight through the spine.  We might not have as much control over the forces they experience playing sport, but at least we are using alternative (but equally effective) ways to overload the legs.

Please see my article on this: Which is Better- Back squat or Split Squat?

What Constitutes High Loading?

At APA I have a performance pathway for all aspects of athleticism including strength.  These are known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  Now if your sport is competitive powerlifting or competitive weightlifting then these KPIs are an end unto themselves.  Whereas if you play another sport like tennis, they are simply a means to an end, not an end unto themselves.

However, while a tennis player is never going to need to be as strong as a competitive weightlifter it is generally seen that most adult elite sportsmen and women are capable of lifting several times their body weight in a back squat (2 x bodyweight), deadlift (2.5 x bodyweight) or isometric mid thigh pull (4x bodyweight).

Now to reverse engineer this at APA we have a six stage performance pathway: I will use the back squat as an example, as it is often used as a reference for lower body strength.

  1. Basic 1– bodyweight (early childhood)
  2. Basic 2– soft resistance (bands, balls and light bars-pre-adolescence)
  3. Basic 3– intro to more external load (50% bodyweight for 10-15 reps- adolescence)
  4. Advanced 1– maximal intent to lift for 5 reps (100% bodyweight- post puberty)
  5. Advanced 2– maximal intent to lift for 3 reps (150% bodyweight- junior pro)
  6. Advanced 3– maximal intent to lift for 1 rep (200% bodyweight-senior pro)

So for me, I am very comfortable lifting 50% of an adolescent’s body weight for 10-15 repetitions provided they have excellent technique and can lift and lower the bar at the controlled tempos demanded of them.

However, as I stated earlier it is common sense that if a child is going through some accelerated growth we can substitute some of the back squats for split squats or one leg squats and so on.

Position Statements

If you’re still not convinced or would like to read further I encourage you to read the following:

  1. Youth- USA PositionStatementNSCA2009
  2. Youth- UK Lloyd_Positionstatementonyouthresistancetraining_BJSM_2013

 

Hope you have found this article useful.

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  • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
  • Share this post using the buttons on the top and bottom of the post. As one of this blog’s first readers, I’m not just hoping you’ll tell your friends about it. I’m counting on it.
  • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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Todd Ellenbecker- Injury Prevention and Recovery for Tennis

This blog is a review of the Tennis Files Podcast Episode 39 – Injury Prevention and Recovery

Todd Ellenbecker

 

Website

Background: 

Todd EllenbeckerTodd is the Vice President of Medical Services for the ATP Tour and a Director of Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Clinic in Arizona.  He is a certified sports clinical specialist, and orthopaedic clinical specialist by the American Physical Therapy Association

 

Discussion topics:

TE on why Tennis players get injured

”We can sum that up in basically one characteristic word and that is overuse.  Most of the injuries we see in the sport of Tennis are overuse.  Tennis players typically get injured because they do the same thing repetitively over and over and over again.  We call those injuries overuse injuries and they occur simply because of the repetition that is required to get good and develop skill in the sport of Tennis.  And then when you play Tennis successfully, playing tournaments, practicing, training and all the other things that go with it you typically because of that overuse become injured.

Even if you have a biomechanically efficient stroke you can still get injured in those muscles, because too much of a good thing sometimes isn’t a good thing, that’s why players don’t play 60-70 Tournaments a year, that’s why people don’t practice 12 hours a day.  There are certain limits to our physical capacity, so there is a very fine balance between developing optimum skill and having the optimal amount of recovery so you don’t fall victim to an injury.

Proper mechanics is likely one of the single most important things to prevent injury

    Learning the game with proper mechanics, coupled with proper exercise and development of the musculoskeletal system and neurological system etc all those things help to prevent injury as well as proper equipment.  All of those multifactorial things can add up into why someone can have an injury.

    TE on three of the most common injuries seen on the Tour today

    ”Definitely the number one most common injury is the lower back of the spine.  There is so much rotational stress that occurs at the lower back and obviously the kinetic chain is how we develop power in Tennis and so we are always funnelling power from the ground up through the legs, through the trunk (or core if you will) and then to the arm and ultimately the ball.

    The trunk is that very vital area that funnels a great deal of rotational power through it and so it is often times subject to injury.

    The other area of the area of the shoulder.  We see many different types of shoulder injury particularly with the rotator cuff tendons.

    The third one is foot and ankle injuries because obviously we have got to get to the ball.  Tennis is a multi-directionally strenuous sport where we have to cut and move in multi-directions, with friction on the lower body, friction on the skin and problems with the foot and ankle itself because of the overuse.”

    TE on the mindset and approach we should take to protect the shoulder

    ”Years ago recreational players and even some of the lower level elite players would play tennis to get in shape.  So the idea is that people didn’t really do a lot of things to get ready for playing tennis.  But now the idea is really that you need to get in shape to play tennis.

    So the biggest thing that can be done particularly as it relates to the shoulder, is some level of preventative conditioning.  Usually this means things like using therabands to strengthen the shoulder, flexibility exercises particularly something called the cross-arm stretch, or a sleeper stretch; just some gentle stretching and some elastic resistance to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder blade and the rotator cuff are important steps that truly every regular Tennis players should be doing to prevent a shoulder injury.”

    TE on some the correct approaches to lifting the weight room and the importance of the smaller muscles

    ”Most tennis players use too much weight, and do some bench press, some military press and some dips, basically all those exercises work the muscles in the front of the body the pecs, the bigger muscles around the shoulder and unfortunately they are muscles that are already strong in a tennis player. They don’t work the small muscles that hold the scapulae in position.

    We’re talking about the four rotator cuff muscles.  We’re talking about the trapezius which is a scapular stabiliser.  We’re talking about the serratus anterior, the rhomboids, some muscles in the upper back.  Those are muscles that to optimally contract you actually use very little amount of weight like the bands or a light weight, and you do it repetitively with a high number of repetitions.

    Three times 15-20 repetitions to stimulate the smaller muscles so they not only have strength but they also have endurance.”

    TE on the optimal time to do some of these shoulder exercises

    ”Often times from a well intentioned place they will start doing them right before they play, as this is a good way to warm up using the bands on the court.  The problem is, if you fatigue your rotator cuff and then try to go on court and play Tennis for 2 hours or even an hour that’s not really sound. That’s like saying you are going to warm-up 10km before you run your marathon.  You’d already be tired and it would impact their ability to run a marathon.

    So we really want to make sure we are doing the shoulder preventative exercises for the shoulder after you play or on days that you don’t play.

    So ideally you need at least 4-5 hours for the muscles to recover before you play, so you could wake up and do them first thing in the morning if you are not due to practice until midday or later.  In a perfect world, do the exercises after you play.”

    TE on what type of things tend to cause hip pain in Tennis players

    ”The key is the very strong link to the core.  So probably one of the most significant things about Tennis players who have hip pain is we really want to evaluate their lower back and core musculature.  Many times if there is any weakness in their core, typically most individuals will say my core is not as strong as it used to be, especially as we age and become less active.

    Sometimes players don’t have enough range of motion in the hip and that’s something we can work on getting more flexible particularly with the two joint muscles as we call them, muscles that cross not only the hip but the knee.  Muscles like the IT band, the rectus femoris, the iliopsoas, the hamstrings.  When they become tight they can affect the movement patterns and can affect ether the hip or the knee joint as well.”

    TE on three things Tennis players can do to prevent injuries

    1. The number one thing is to learn how to hit the ball properly- develop the strokes
    2. Make sure that you do preventative type exercises and you get in shape to play Tennis
    3. Recover after Tennis- try foam rolling

    TE on advice to prevent shin splints

    ”Can happen when you transition from one surface to another, for example grass turf to gym floor.  More often than not in a sport of tennis, it’s because of either an inadequate shoe wear and they are not changing them enough or it’s improper footwear.  or it’s the actual athletes that are having the shin splints have a lot of pronation or flat flattens, and you get this eccentric lengthening or pull on the muscle that goes up and down the inside of the shin.

    One of the first things that we try is to put in an orthotic device and/or change the shoe.  If the shoes are very good then we usually try the orthotic.

    We also need to make sure the calves are stretched regularly as a tight calf can make you pronate more.  We also need to apply ice to reduce some of the acute symptoms of the shin splints.”

    Author opinion:

    The part of the podcast that was most interesting was the advice to do the shoulder preventative exercises for the shoulder after you play or on days that you don’t play.  A common part of the APA pre-tennis warm-up utilises a low volume of single set theraband exercises for 10-15 repetitions.

    It will be a good moment to review this approach with the sports medicine team to see if there are anything we might want to do differently in view of this recommendation.

     

    Top 5 Take Away Points:

    1. Overuse Injuries– most of the injuries we see in Tennis are overuse
    2. Fix your mechanics– proper mechanics is likely one of the single most important things to reduce risk of injury
    3. Get in shape to play Tennis- don’t play Tennis to get in shape
    4. Importance of preventative conditioning exercises for the shoulders
    5. Importance of having a strong core and loose hips

    Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

    You may also like from Tennis Files Podcast:

    Episode 136 Functional Training Principles with Mike Boyle

    Episode 134 The Tennis Fitness Mega Episode

    Episode 125 Explosive Movement with Dean Hollingworth

    Episode 119 Tennis Fitness with Nathan Martin

    Episode 101 Dr. Greg Rose- How to Reach Peak Athletic Performance

    Episode 82 Dr. Sean Drake- RacquetFit and the Body-Tennis Connection

    Episode 79 Injury Prevention with Dave Grant

    Episode 78 Strength and Conditioning for Junior Athletes with Aaron Patterson

    Episode 69 Strength and Conditioning on the Road with Jonny Fraser

    Episode 51 Level Up Your Footwork with Dave Bailey

    Episode 33 Mark Kovacs- Strength & Conditioning for Tennis

    Hope you have found this article useful.

    Remember:

    • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
    • Share this post using the buttons on the top and bottom of the post. As one of this blog’s first readers, I’m not just hoping you’ll tell your friends about it. I’m counting on it.
    • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

    Since you’re here…
    …we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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    Dr. Mark Kovacs- Strength & Conditioning for Tennis

    This blog is a review of the Tennis Files Podcast Episode 33 – S&C For Tennis 

    Dr. Mark Kovacs

    Website

    Background: 

    Dr. Mark KovacsDr. Kovacs is a renowned performance physiologist, researcher, author, speaker and coach with an extensive background training and researching athletes and elite performers. His unique skillset has made him one of the worldwide leading performance experts in the area of optimizing human performance through the application of cutting edge, evidence-based information. He formerly directed the Sport Science, Strength & Conditioning and Coaching Education departments for the United States Tennis Association (USTA)

     

    Discussion topics:

    MK on several areas of Tennis fitness that are required

    ”Overall philosophy of Train hard and recover hard.  Like most sports it requires a multitude of physical qualities.

    • Flexibility
    • Strength/Power
    • Agility/Movement
    • Endurance- to last long matches
    • Dynamic Balance

    These are factors that are important in becoming a PROFICIENT ATHLETE first and foremost, and tennis player second.  Unfortunately people are so focused on the tennis side of it, hitting tennis balls that sometimes they don’t develop their physical capabilities well enough.  We see that at every level of the game.  You may have great strokes but if your physical qualities aren’t optimised and you can’t get to the ball, recover from wide balls and fitness for the long term you can’t compete at your highest level for three or four hours.

    So it’s really important to look at yourself as a tennis athlete, and make sure you don’t have major limitations in your physical capabilities.  It’s definitely an area that can be worked on, and you can do a really good analysis to understand where you are at today, and what areas you need to work on.”

    MK on prioritising the different elements of Tennis Fitness

    ”Everyone is at a different stage of their tennis development.  The thing for most tennis players from a speed, power strength perspective is that a lot of that is based on your strength foundation level.  So you need to make sure you are doing some form of strength training.  That’s really a foundation for a lot of other physical capabilities.

    So strength is one component that needs to be a priority.  The other is your endurance.  You have got to make sure you can last a match as we know plenty of players who are great in the first set and by the third set they’ve got nothing left in the tank.  So strength at one end of the spectrum and endurance at the other.

    The third big piece is this flexibility/mobility area where you have got to have the right range of motion.  You have got to be able to get into the right positions so you can really utilise the energy appropriately meaning the energy up from the ground through the entire kinetic chain out into the ball.  That’s where the great players, the efficient athletes do a great job, and get injured less typically.

    Athletes that are less efficient are always using the wrong body parts to create their power, they are adjusting at the last minute to hit the ball and those are the players that typically have more issues in the long-term.”

    MK on which areas are typically lacking in the adult amateur tennis athlete

    ”A lot of what you see as a limitation is a lack of general body strength, not necessarily absolute strength but the ability to repeat that movement (muscular endurance.  Meaning that when I ask you to perform a single leg squat many of them struggle to put eight through their hip and lower limbs without collapsing or falling one way or the other.

    If the lower limbs and core are not strong and stable then we lose energy and have to recruit other muscles to allow us to make contact with the ball.  That’s where we see a lot of the problems stemming from.

    We want to make sure we have stability with muscular endurance.

    MK on which muscle or muscles groups is an area a tennis player typically under trains

    ”We used to say it was the core, but now people seem to have a greater understanding of the importance of training the core.  So a lot more people are now training the entire core region, still sometimes they are doing it with the wrong exercises but that area at least is more of a focus.

    The area that doesn’t get enough attention is the lower limb, the calf all the way down to the ankle.  This is really the large major joint and last major muscle groups before ground contact, and we know that everything we can get energy wise into the ball comes from the ground.  So if we have a weak link at the lower limb then everything further up the chain is limited.

    • Ankle range of motion =>stretch it out DAILY
    • Ankle stability
    • Ankle force generation capabilities => bodyweight squats are a good exercise

    MK on type of strength training most appropriate for Tennis players

    ”A lot of tennis players structure their training to not necessarily increase their size of the muscles but what they are doing is they are developing general strength, power and muscular endurance and they are not trying to increase size of muscle as an objective.  However as you age, you want to increase muscle mass because there is a natural aging effect, where you lose muscle mass as you get older.

    • Strength foundation – 3×10 (two reps short of a 10 Repetition Maximum- so not going to failure)
    • Power– 5×3-5 (30-60% 1RM) -the optimisation of training for a tennis player.  Less that 6 reps.  Light, Fast and Low Reps.
    • Absolute Strength– 5×3-5 (>85% 1RM) less than 6 reps.  Heavy, Slow and Low Reps.
    • Hypertrophy– 4×6-12
    • Muscular endurance– 2-3×8-15

    MK on different types of Periodisation for Tennis players

    Perioridation is simply a form of planning to increase and decrease load throughout a period of time to optimise your training and be prepared for your appropriate competition.  The reason Tennis players train is so that they can compete at a higher level so you need to structure your training with:

    • Heavier weeks
    • Lighter weeks
    • Higher volume
    • Lower volume

    We can’t do week after week more and more.  At some point you will break down.  For some players that might be week two or three of a programme.  For others that might be week six or eight.  But at some point you keep increasing the workload and increasing the intensity you are going to break down, and a structured periodised programme is designed to avoid that!

    Monitor the workload, monitor the rest and then pull back on the training depending on what the numbers are telling you objectively.  When you start to see signs of fatigue (and there a lot of different ways to monitor that) you want to start backing off and you want to start reducing volume and reducing intensity.  Let them recover for two, three, four days or even a week depending on how bad it is, and then start ramping up the training again.  If you don’t do that the body will naturally shut it down itself by getting sick or injured and have to take time off.

    One way is the block approach– where you really emphasis one specific component for an extended period of time (two to threes strength foundation, two to three weeks absolute strength, two to three weeks power etc.  This is a great way to train and develop those areas, no doubt about it, and for athletes who have a traditional season with a full off-season, a full pre-season that’s how I train them (football players, basketball players).

    In many Tennis players, they don’t have that luxury as they are competing once a month, every two weeks, may take two weeks on, three weeks compete etc and that’s their entire year.  So for those individuals that are competing year round, we use a tennis specific periodised model, which is a form of non traditional periodisation known as concurrent approach.  Meaning we do everything every week.  We have a strength day, a muscular endurance/hypertrophy day, a power day.

    The way we periodise it is we increase or decrease the volume and intensity in a structured way leading into our major tournaments.  So certain events where we know aren’t as important as others, where they are competing just for match practice, they are going to train through that tournament somewhat, and maintain their physical training regime so they can really peak for some of the more important tournaments.

    MK on some of the best strengthening exercises for the serve

    A lot of times people try to fix their serve technique without knowing what the cause of the problem is.  Sometimes it’s purely a technical issue that can be changed just with a cue and some practice.  Most of the time there is a PHYSICAL LIMITATION that is the reason why you can’t do certain things on the tennis court.

    In general the big areas that athletes need to focus on are the hip range of motion.  Most people don’t think of the serve as a hip based exercise but that’s really where a lot of the power comes from.  So they have to have good hip stability and range of motion.

    The second big area is their back leg strength.  If they don’t have good strength and power here that needs to be an area of focus.

    Once our lower limb and hip is doing it’s job we can focus further up the chain with the core and shoulder.

    MK on how to improve Footwork

    ”Very. very important area.  A lot of people think that taking a lot of little steps is the best way to move, and it’s definitely not.  It’s actually the slowest way to move on court.  We want to be in the air more than we are on the ground, and what that means is that we want to take less total steps to get from A to B.

    The problem is we want to do that as quickly as possible but you have to have the right amount of power to generate into the ground and out.  So if you think about Usain Bolt at the Olympics, the reason he wins is because he takes less total steps than all his competition in the 100m dash. If the fastest way to move was to take a lot of little steps, we would see everyone shuffling down the track, and we don’t see that for a reason, because the fastest way to move is to take big steps.

    Sometimes we do need to take those smaller adjustment steps but that only occurs if something has gone wrong in your movement to the ball

    (meaning you haven’t timed it right, you’ve over ran the ball or mistimed the ball that is coming to you).  Great movers always look like they are in the right position.

    You with individuals that really struggle with movement you have to ask yourself:

    1. Technique– am I using the most efficient footwork pattern as possible?
    2. Strength/Power– do I have the leg strength and ability to produce the power to move quicker
    3. Flexibility/Balance– concept of stability.  Do you have the stability to be able to take these larger steps and absorb what you need to absorb, and take another step without losing your balance or taking too much time to regain your balance?

    A good oncourt drill to use that work really well is the T line to S line (in service box) 30-sec cross-overs (run facing the net).  This is a great exercise because you have to work on not only your footwork, but your change of direction, acceleration.  If you do that for 30-seconds that is about a long a point as most people will play, so you get a little bit of speed endurance.  You’re starting to get a little tired in the last 10-seconds.

    We also like the Spider 5 ball drill.

    Focus on your technique and understand your angles of stopping and starting, which is the art of good movement.

    MK on areas of flexibility to focus on

    • Calves– loosen up that area
    • Hip mobility– loosen specifically internal rotators (pigeon stretch)
    • Shoulder mobility– internal rotators eg. sleeper stretch

    MK on overall athleticism of a Elite Tennis player

    Tennis players aren’t going to win any of those traditional competitions on a specific quality.  They won’t have the biggest vertical jumps, and jump 40 inches; they will be in the mid twenties or low thirty inch at best.  They won’t get a 4.3 seconds 40Y dash, maybe it’s going to be in the 4.6-4.8 range.  They aren’t going to put up 20 reps on the 225lb bench.

    However, they are going to do pretty well in all those competitions and when you combine all those scores together their average is going to be higher than a (American) football player, because an American football player is not going to have the endurance of a Tennis player etc.  You need to be really good at all those physical attributes to be an elite tennis player.

    Author opinion:

    At APA we always promote the use of using a range of exercises, that require a mixture of physical capabilities- it’s just the focus and intensity of those exercises that changes at a given point in time.

    For this reason APA would agree with the recommendations to use a concurrent approach to Tennis periodisation with a focus on building a strength foundation.

     

    Top 5 Take Away Points:

    1. Total athlete– recognise that Tennis is a sport which requires a multi-variate approach with emphasis on strength, endurance and flexibility
    2. Strength foundation– importance of building relative strength as the foundation of power and speed
    3. Importance of lower limb strength– make sure you focus on strength of lower limb
    4. Importance of hip mobility and back leg strength for serve- rather than focusing on the upper body, make sure you are getting the lower half working efficiently first
    5. Importance of taking big steps- rather than taking lots of little steps remember the fastest way to get from A to B is with big steps.

    Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

    Twitter:

    @MKovacsPhD

    You may also like from Tennis Files Podcast:

    Episode 136 Functional Training Principles with Mike Boyle

    Episode 134 The Tennis Fitness Mega Episode

    Episode 125 Explosive Movement with Dean Hollingworth

    Episode 119 Tennis Fitness with Nathan Martin

    Episode 101 Dr. Greg Rose- How to Reach Peak Athletic Performance

    Episode 82 Dr. Sean Drake- RacquetFit and the Body-Tennis Connection

    Episode 79 Injury Prevention with Dave Grant

    Episode 78 Strength and Conditioning for Junior Athletes with Aaron Patterson

    Episode 69 Strength and Conditioning on the Road with Jonny Fraser

    Episode 51 Level Up Your Footwork with Dave Bailey

    Episode 39 Todd Ellenbecker- Injury Prevention

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    Joel Jamieson: Recovery-Driven Conditioning

    Joel Jamieson– online educator who taches coaches how to write science based conditioning programmes that deliver real world results

    Website

    Related

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    What is Conditioning?

    The overall mental and physical preparation in order for someone to compete or perform in whatever environment they are trying to compete or perform in, whether that’s the game of life and you’re trying to stay alive and sustain a healthy life or it’s in the octagon and last from bell to bell for 3-5 minutes.

    Conditioning- how well they can use their fitness they have to accomplish something

    • Energy system development– VO2max and Anaerobic threshold
    • Movement capacity– the energy it takes to perform a movement (efficiency)
    • Mental performance– control emotion and heart rate without a massive adrenalin dump

    Movement capacity- we try to develop fitness and a lot of times that does mean going to high intensity and causing some fatigue to develop fitness qualities, but what we forget is that as we get fatigued our natural inclination is to let our fatigue fall apart.

    If the coach is reinforcing that by saying: ‘Go faster, finish, keep going’ etc the problem becomes that they have learned to have poor technique as soon as they get tired, and have bad habits.

    In sport as you fatigue, technique is always what wins!  So we have to realise that as we develop these different fitness qualities we can’t let that develop hinder our movement and make us have sloppy technique.  That doesn’t haven’t to be the case and it’s a very trainable quality!

    Need For A Aerobic Base

    Nowadays you will hear coaches say it’s all about interval training now.  The research is based on time constraints of 4-6 weeks studies so of course if you are trying to improve fitness in that time, ”intensity is just a driver of the acceleration of things” so if I have 4-6 weeks and testing from point A to point B then training harder is going to lead to better results in those time frames.

    But if we look at real world development over 6 months or a year then you can’t just do one intensity all the time.  There is something to be said for spending time at lower intensities and higher volume training and greater frequency of training having looked at HRV data for many years.

    In most sports that have a high aerobic demand there is a tendency to have a distribution annually of about 80% of time at lower intensities and 20% at higher intensities.  That seemed to be a distribution that held true across almost any endurance sport in the world.

    First 20-30 seconds of maximum effort work is predominantly anaerobic.  After that point you will be predominantly aerobic.  Because you were so anaerobic for the first 30 seconds, it takes up until to around 60 seconds of maximum intensity to where the total energy comes around to being around aerobic.

    Now of course there is a difference between going for 2 minutes versus 2 hours but both events are going to be predominantly aerobic.  It’s more just a question of how the aerobic system is functioning from an aerobic power versus aerobic capacity over the event.  If you look at the average speed of a 1-mile and a marathon race the speed is not massively different to go one mile or to go 26.  The reason for this is once you get to that 1-mile pace it is entirely aerobic, and when it is entirely aerobic it is possible to sustain that for a long time.

    Specificity? Why not just practice the event?

    Let’s use the classic indoor Concept 2 Rowing challenge.

    A typical interval routine might be: 500m x four intervals with 5 minutes rest between intervals, and over time taper that down to rest to 1-minute between.

    But why not just practice my 2000m rowing challenge every session and get better at the race?

    It comes back to developing fitness qualities which requires a range of intensities.  We are trying to develop different components of the aerobic engine, or anaerobic engine depending on the sport. Those happen at different intensities.

    Let’s say I’m training for powerlifting, which is 1 repetition maximum of Bench press, Deadlift and Squat.  So why don’t I just come in the gym and max out on 10 heavy singles every session and then walk out the gym? Well most people will say, ”A you’re going to blow your joints apart if you try that and B there is something to be said for doing some higher rep work and some different exercises.”

    So we look at strength sports and inherently recognise that we can train for that with higher rep work and different exercises so it’s really the same thing if we are talking about the aerobic engine and aerobic sports.   Yes the sport might mean rowing 2k for a few minutes, but that doesn’t mean that only doing that is the ultimate way to develop fitness qualities for it, because there are other intensities which will help us develop the overall biological systems and capacities that we need to get better at that specific event.

    So one day a week we try and do a very close to competitive scenario session to get that overall brain-body connection used to that distance and pace and feeling so we do use specificity in training.  But again, there are reasons and benefits to using other intensities to build the fitness qualities we need to be able to perform at that event.

    Competition

    The closer you get to the competitive event the more you want to simulate and recreate as many different parts of the event as possible.  That’s where the psychological part of the training comes into play.  The brain works by familiarity.

    UFC fighters- the guys that have been in the Octagon more times are more calm and don’t get the adrenalin dumps than the person who is going in there for the first time.

    There is a reason that the home team wins more than the away time as they are more familiar with the environment.

    Train Slow Be Slow

    There is no way I’m going on an ergometer for 45 minutes but there is some merit in doing longer work at zone 2 or what we know as that steady zone of 120-150 bpm! So can you just chop up your training into say 10 minutes weights circuit, 20 minutes rowing and then a brisk walk home?

    General Central component- adaptations to blood vessel network, and heart are general adaptations that will apply to a lot of different types of exercises.  An elite cyclist would still likely do well in other endurance events because they have developed these large central adaptations of aerobic fitness that will transfer to other aerobic events.

    Specific component- more specific endurance to the sport, specific motion in leg drive in the exact movement of the bike.

    The only caveat with doing general training is that you can’t take this idea that heart rate is equivalent no matter what you are doing.  A strength circuit will cause a high heart rate but the resistance of strength training is significantly different to going out for a jog, or a row.  The resistance drives my blood pressure up which causes different changes in the cardiovascular system.

    But yes going out for a run, versus a bike versus a run can be used to get the general central adaptations, recognizing that the further out from an event we can prepare the body by doing different movements and events.  The closer we get to the specific event

    If that was not the case then bodybuilders and powerlifters would be great endurance athletes and they are not!

    Charlie Francis popularised the High-Low System and he was talking about 70-80% of his overall work volume for his sprinters were tempo intervals at 70% of their maximum speed.  So the vast majority of their overall running volume was done at low speeds, but 20-30% towards the end was done at their high speeds.

    Now did that tempo interval work slow them down? No! Clearly not, they are the fastest guys in the world! So there is something to be said for the fact that the body is going to adapt to what you do, so if all you do ALL THE TIME is run slow then your body will get better at running at those speeds if you’re doing that over a period of time.

    But the idea that any submaximal work is going to all of a sudden slow you down just doesn’t hold up.  Your body is going to adapt to the BIGGER PICTURE of things as long as you provide your body with that high speed or high intensity stimulus it’s not going to slow down.

    Hope you have found this article useful.

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    APA are Recruiting!!

    I have a few important announcements today!!!

    APA Are Recruiting!

    If you would like to be considered for a role with APA then please send a covering letter and CV to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk with email title APA.01

    Gosling Tennis Academy

    Full-Time strength & conditioning coach

    We are looking for a full-time strength & conditioning coach who has a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on the Full Time Academy (11-16yrs).

    This a full-time self-employed role, with opportunity to work with National and International Junior Tennis players.

    The successful candidate will play a key role in driving the culture of strength & conditioning forward, with the opportunity to design, deliver and review long term athlete development programmes that can be used throughout the APA network.  This is an opportunity for the right person to innovate in the sport of Tennis and integrate a physical programme within an experienced world class team of tennis coaches, sports medicine practitioners and s&c coaches

    For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

     

    Part-Time strength & conditioning coach

    There are a number of part-time roles at Gosling Tennis Academy.

    We are looking for part-time strength & conditioning coaches who have a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on the Mini Academy (5-10yrs) and Junior Academy (10-12yrs) programmes.

    These squads run in the evenings from 4-6pm Monday to Friday and would be suitable for a coach who is looking to gain experience of a high performance training environment.

    Gosling Tennis Academy is based at Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City and is operated by Better

    For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

    (Ignore the closing date: we are still looking for part-time coaches at Gosling Tennis Academy)

     

    So what are you waiting for?

    If you are interested in applying for any of these roles then send an email to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk

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    Hamstring Injuries- Part 2 of 2 [Are We Heading in the Right Direction?]

    This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 266 – Hamstring Injury 

    Jurdan Mendiguchia

    Research Gate

    Background: 

    Jurdan Mendiguchia– Physiotherapist, Researcher and Injury Consultant.  Jurdan is a World expert when it comes to injury prevention and rehabilitation, particularly in hamstrings and ACL.  He has 40+ research papers to his name (see link above to Research Gate).

     

    Discussion topics:

    JM on the current approach to hamstring injury rehab and prevention and how would you say there is room for improvement in this area

    ”Good question.  The issue of hamstring injury definitely needs a new boost, a step forward.  I think it has been an injury that contrary to other types of injury such as ACL, has been approached from a very analytical and isolated point of view.  This influences the intervention carried out.

    To give a clear and simple example, in the ACL injury, inciting events such as jumping and side cutting were biomechanically analysed to later analyse how the trunk, hip, ankle or even anatomy influence this inciting event providing a multifactorial approach to the problem.  Consequently injury prevention programmes have been directed to correctly and repeatedly perform the movement related to the injury mechanism such as side cutting.  I never see a guy only perform squats to prevent the ACL injury!

    Everything was reduced to the action of the hamstring at a specific time of sprinting, the main injury mechanism.  And from there the measurement methods such as isokinetic and eccentric (Nord board) and prevention training arised.  It has been focused at that concrete moment without going too deep into how the trunk, pelvis, the other leg interaction influence that moment.  Unsurprisingly that was extrapolated to the prevention methods, and most of the research methods have focused on improving the specific strength or isolated strength of the knee flexor without knowing which exercises activate one hamstring muscle or the other!” (rather than the correct performance of the movements related to the injury like in the ACL!)

    If we go the literature we can see a huge difference between the articles dedicated to the nordic and sprinting, at least in the injury related area.  I wonder myself, since it has been more than 18 years since the first study carried out in the AFL that suggested that eccentrics are effective in reducing this type of injury.  So it is not a new thing, and at least in the major leagues all the football teams I know are doing eccentrics at least weekly.  And what is still the biggest injury problem today? Hamstrings!

    We can assure ourselves in the knowledge that the velocity and intensity of the game has increased but then maybe eccentrics are not effective enough to battle against actual player demands.

    We cannot ignore what is happening and continue to not listening to the concerns of the coaches of the teams frustrated and under pressure because they continue with the same injuries despite using eccentric exercises. What has been suggested does not solve, at least entirely, the problem.

    Without criticising what we have done in the past, we need for sure, something else.  If we can agree that it is a multifactorial injury, and the factors interact with each other the current force or range of motion measurements and isolated measurements are not able to show us these associations.

    Therefore everything goes through the development of new ‘contextualised screenings’ that allow us to decipher the primary factors to correct.

    When we talk about context we are talking about the main injury mechanism, that is none other than the sprint, and of course it is not the only injury mechanism as there are injury mechanisms related to overstretching, trunk perturbations etc.

    If we want to be more close to success and succeed from a injury prevention perspective at least in football, in my opinion we need to perfectly know our sport demands and delivered adaptations and our coaching methods and training.”

    JM explaining the role of the trunk and pelvis when it comes to hamstring injuries.

    ”It has been shown that anterior pelvic tilt is a risk factor for hamstring injury, if we only base it theoretically on elementary anatomy, we know that the hamstrings attach to the pelvis at the ischial tuberosity.  An increase in anterior tilt will increase hamstring length.

    Risk Factors

    • Anterior pelvic tilt (related to bicep femoris)
    • Increased Trunk and Hip Flexion (Functional MRI shows it increases bicep femoris signal intensity).  Sprinting with inclined trunk there is more bicep femoris lengthening mostly at the beginning of the acceleration phase
    • Interaction of one leg with the other- the pelvis is the only joint that connects the legs

    It has been shown that to run faster you need a deep anterior pelvic tilt.  But the mismatch is that while it could be good to run fast like in track and field and soccer,  but if you go too far it can be dangerous from an injury perspective.”

    JM on the focus on knee flexor strength rather than the multifactorial issues around sprinting

    ”The thinking process is not bad because it was hypothesised that late swing phase is where the injury probably happens.  It is true that it is the moment where the hamstring acts as an absorber doing negative work in order to prevent the tibia going away.  So yes, we focus on that and probably generally speaking it is good.

    But at this same moment the anterior pelvic tilt happens, ipsilateral gluteus maximus force happens, contralateral iliopsoas lengthening happens.  So if you look at the entire movement you can see all this happening concomitantly (next to each other!).

    I don’t know why we focus only on that (knee flexor strength).  In fact we see that there is no relationship between isolated testing and mechanical properties of sprinting.  That makes sense to me as the function of the biarticular hamstring muscle is totally different to what we are doing when we test in isolation.

    If you compare the cross sectional area of a football player’s quadriceps and hamstrings with a non player, the quadriceps are equal but the hamstrings are greater.  But when you normalise with knee extension or knee flexion strength, it is less in football players.  This is probably because we are not testing how this group of muscles are functioning during sprinting.

    We know that footballers have greater cross sectional area which means probably they are stronger, but when you normalise and measure knee flexion during isokinetic movement you have less hamstring compared to people who don’t do football.”

    JM on injury prevention methods he would use if he was working in a Football club full-time

    ”This dichotomy of sprint versus nordic that is trending is totally wrong, and also dangerous.

    Consider the this case study of an elite coach considering increasing stride length with a sub 10-second 100m sprinter to increase performance.

    You need to be structurally prepared for the task that your coach (or the game) demands.

    Therefore if his structure is not prepared to run in that way, he can have all of the strength in the world, but if you don’t correct his structural issues sprinting in that new way with the increased stride length for him it would be harmful.  Sprinting is not the new injury recipe either.  If the athlete is not prepared to run properly or does it wrong in terms of shape or volume the sprint will become counter productive 100%.

    In fact, in football sprinting has become the new nordic.  If you hear coaches right now, they will tell you that you are old school if your players don’t sprint.  I think that’s not the right way to think.  If from your screening methods you interpret that the cause of your player’s injury is a decrease (lack) of strength, either from the hip or knee, the prescription of a strength programme in the gym will be adequate for sure.

    But therefore the answer to your question is almost always, ”it depends.”  Do not apply anything as a recipe or established protocol.  Look what your athlete needs, because if not, as many people do, we can treat people by email or twitter without seeing the patient!”

    JM on the use of the nordic in hamstring injuries

    ”The use of the nordic for more than 20 years has shown positive results, in relation to hamstring injury prevention.  Therefore we can say that as a general measure it seems that it has turned out to be advanced in it’s day.  But I wonder if right now it’s enough, according to the training methodology that is undertaken by most of the football teams that contain eccentric work in their programme and looking at the current epidemiology data showing no injury reduction.

    I wonder too, if a single exercise satisfies the individual and multifactorial needs of the individual and the pathology.

    Another thing in relation to your question, is the reason why eccentrics and the nordic exercise in particular is effective, because consistently too it has not been proven the prediction ability between eccentric strength level and injuries.

    But it is true that there are architectural adaptations to eccentric strength such as:

    • alterations at the aponeurosis level
    • change in extracellular matrix with increasing collagen
    • change in protein isoform
    • dynamic pennation angle increases (to protect fascicle from lengthening)
    • tendon stiffness (increase in tendon compliance during sprinting results in a decrease in musculotendinous length).

    A fatigue provoking protocol after eccentric exercise decreased tendon compliance and increased fascicle length and this can be related to different role of the tendon being compliant at low loads and intensities but acting as a force transducer and stiffening structure at high loads and highs.  No one as far as I know has analysed that after an eccentric strength intervention.

    It is true that lately much attention has been paid to Fascicle Length as a possible injury protection mechanism to explain the positive effect of the nordics, with respect to hamstrings.  It has been suggested as a risk factor in football despite having a low association.  Theoretically, the idea is based on a hypothetical increase in sarcomerogenesis after eccentric work.  This assumes that the addition of sarcomeres in series in humans after eccentric exercise will protect the muscle from damage.

    However, although theoretically supported I think that today with the technological knowledge we have with it is hard to demonstrate the relationship between fascicles and hamstring injury.

    There are technical limitations on fascicle measurements.  We know too, that hamstring architecture changes throughout the muscle and only one region is measured. ”

    Moreover, the measure is static, so we are assuming that what we are measuring statically will happen dynamically, without considering  muscle tendon interaction and behaviour.

     

    JM on role of ‘activation’ work and its role as a risk factor for hamstring injury 

    ”In one prospective study no association between muscle activity and hamstring injury during isokinetic measuring was found.  But in contrast another study showed prospectively too, doing a prone hip extensor extension manoeuvre, a delayed hamstring recruitment compared to erectors in those players that after suffered an injury, with no difference in EMG amplitude at all.

    Another study showed an association between decreased EMG activity of gluteus and trunk muscles and hamstring injury in a prospective study of football players sprinting overground.  (prospective definition- likely to happen at a future date).  But in terms of hamstring activity there was no association between EMG of biceps femoris and hamstring injury during follow up was found.

    There is still equivocal data in the research comparing the reduction (or not) of bicep femoris EMG activity when comparing injured to non-injured leg, with some studies showing differences and others not.  But they use different techniques such as functional MRI and EMG, so it is difficult to compare because the physiological processes behind them are completely different.  There are also differences in the type of exercises used.

    There could be something there, but we know at this point that EMG has limitations, it neglects regional hamstring activation, it has high variability and there is an inhibition during eccentric contraction and we have to account too for crosstalk.”

    Individualisation of Hamstring Recruitment Profile

    ”Concurrently in hamstring muscles, the distribution of activation and the distribution of torque generating capacities varied greatly between individuals during a maximum knee flexor task on an isokinetic dynamometer.  Moreover, significant negative correlation was observed between the imbalance of hamstring activation muscle and the time to exhaustion.

    This individual variability is not in isolation and has been confirmed in other muscle groups.  Regional EMG patterns are highly individual, and each individual maintains similar proximal to distal and inter-muscular EMG patterns across different running speeds.

    This confirms the idea that activation sequence and patterns are very very individual  and that has made me wonder if the hamstring pattern is so individual, is there a gold standard?

    • How much can we rely on previously conducted studies knowing the variability between people?
    • Will it be necessary to change the pattern of activation after the injury?
    • Will it be as easy as changing the activation pattern during running and prescribe a hip dominant or knee dominant exercise?

    With these questions I don’t mean that EMG pattern is not related to hamstring injury but we have to question things and we have to move further in this field to give more rigorous advice and opinions.

    Currently there is not a gold standard, we don’t know if it is good or not to change the patterns of people after the injury has happened.”

    JM on use of Isometrics in Hamstring injury reduction training

    ”I know that there is a debate about the isometric or eccentric behaviour of the fibre at the time of the injury.  It looks clear that towards the end of the swing phase during sprinting the hamstring muscle-tendon unit lengthens and the hamstring forces increase. But what about the muscle fascicle or fibres? Do they increase because the muscle is stretching, or decrease because of the force and activation increase?

    I don’t think that anybody knows for sure right now!

    Both visions (isometric and eccentric) share the idea of the inability of the fibres to withstand the mechanical forces imposed during sprinting.

    If you want to reproduce the injury mechanism and the same behaviour and same adaptation to the muscle tendon and fascicle don’t jump between isometric and eccentric contractions- simply run!

    But more relevant and important than the type of contraction is the time and velocity of the contraction depending on the effort that we want to create at the muscle tendon junction.

    We will choose different parameters of time by increasing the contraction time or velocity depending on whether we want to reduce or increase stiffness and so on.   Control the time and velocity parameters that will induce different effects on the different structures.

    Sometimes with the authors there is a mismatch between performance and injury.  With a more stiff structure that is good for performance but may not be as good from the injury perspective.

    Author opinion:

    At APA we always promote the use of using a range of methods to develop athleticism.  As Vern Gambetta once said, ‘Assess, Don’t Guess.”  The answer to the question concerning what the athlete needs is almost always, ”it depends.”  Do not apply anything as a recipe or established protocol.  Look what your athlete needs, because if not, as many people do, we can treat people by email or twitter without seeing the patient!”

     

    Top 5 Take Away Points:

    1. Research– injury prevention programmes need to be directed to correctly and repeatedly perform the movement related to the injury mechanism
    2. Risk factors- multifactorial including anterior pelvic tilt, hip and trunk flexion and tendon stiffness
    3. Assessment- currently we assume that what me measure statically will happen dynamically
    4. Activation- patterns and sequence are very, very individual
    5. Velocity vs Contraction type- more important than the type of contraction is the velocity

    Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

    Research Gate:

    Jurdan Mendiguchia

    You may also like from PPP:

    Episode 252 Steve Saunders

    Episode 248 Hamstring roundtable

    Episode 243 Jack Hickey

     

    Hope you have found this article useful.

    Where I am next presenting?

     

    Speed, Agility & Quickness for Sports Workshop

    Date: 22nd Feb 2020, 09:00AM-13:00PM Location: Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

    Book your spot HERE

     

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    Hamstring Injuries- Part 1 of 2

    This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 248 – Hamstring Injury 

    Australian Catholic University

    Website

    Background: 

    Josh  Ruddy– Running loads and hamstring injury risk.  Two years into PhD embedded with one of the AFL teams.  Looking at hamstring injury prediction.

    Ryan Timmins– completed PhD, now supervising Josh- and working with elite soccer programme Melbourne Victory.  Looking at reducing injury risk.

    Jack Hickey– clinical exercise physiologist, completed PhD and now sports rehab injury lecturing and research.  Looking at hamstring rehab.

     

    Discussion topics:

    JR on the contrast between academic research and real life

    ”The risk of finding nothing.

    We try to grow our research projects around what the industry actually requires and what questions that they might have, so that in turn organically grows interest.”

    JR on predicting hamstring injuries

    ”Background was studying high speed running loads and how that influences the risk of hamstring injuries.  High speed running and Workload in general is quite a hot topic.  Large weekly changes in high speed running loads increase the risk of hamstring injury.

    Non modifiable

    • History of hamstring injury
    • Increasing age

    Modifiable

    • Biceps femoris long head fascicle length
    • Low levels of eccentric hamstring strength
    • Workload (and in particular high speed running volume)

    High speed running was considered to be distance covered above 24 km/h.  Approximately anything over in terms of a week to week change.  Doing 200 metres more than the previous week doubled your risk of injury.

    It is really important to consider that the numbers and statistics reported in studies are actually really specific to the cohort from what they are derived.

    Optimal threshold and optimal cut points are really only optimal from the particular cohort that they are derived.

    They are derived from looking at injury rates above and below a specific thresholds and once they are determined you then actually retrospectively apply that threshold to that same cohort.  It might not necessarily be relevant when talking about other cohorts.  Sometimes people get too caught up in those numbers being hard and fast rules.  For example, it is thought that you need to be above 256 Newtons for eccentric hamstring strength at the start of pre-season or you are going to get injured.  When really they are just there to act as a guide.”

    JR on predictive modelling

    ”It’s a pretty broad term, and there are a number of different facets and elements that fit under that umbrella term.  It is taking some data and identifying different patterns that occur within that data, and then applying what you’ve learnt from that initial data and applying it to a new data set.  The aim to predict specific outcomes at an individual level.

    This is different to the research that looks at associations at a group level which will not allow us to predict specific outcomes at an individual level.  In practice we don’t really want to predict injuries.  We want to identify risk, mitigate risk and prevent those injuries from ever occurring.

    In practice the way predictive modelling should be applied is to identify risk and mitigate risk so you have no injuries to predict!

    At this point in time we can’t predict injuries with a degree of certainty.  Furthermore, predictive models and machine learning (computers learn and identify different patterns from a data set) require a large data set.  A couple of seasons of GPS data and injury rates doesn’t necessarily constitute big data.

    RT on hamstring architecture overview

    ”Basis of my PhD the impact that muscle architecture may have in modifying risk of future injury.

    Two dimensional ultrasound image of bicep femoris long head

    • Pennation angle– angle at which fibres insert into base of muscle (aponeurosis)
    • Fascicle length– bundle of muscle fibres (estimated from trigonometry)
    • Muscle thickness

    We assume that number of sarcomere series could modify the amount of strain we can tolerate.  If we have more sarcomeres in series are we hypothetically able to withstand the effects of large amounts of repetitive damage (such as running, kicking, change of direction).

    We assume that by having a longer fascicle we actually have more sarcomeres in series which are our smaller functioning units of muscles.  If we have more sarcomeres in series then in theory we will have better ability to withstand repeated eccentric contractions, or muscle damage.  And as a result have a better buffer against that risk of injury.

    Ability to increase the eccentric overload in hamstrings such as exercises below will increase fascicle length by having more sarcomeres in series.

    • Nordics
    • 2 up, 1 down RDL
    • Kbox flywheel (squat to hinge)
    • or even leg curl 2 up, 1 down

    RT on hamstring higher and lower volume interventions

    How we can implement lower volume interventions and whether there are different adaptations to high volume interventions.  Whilst the nordic is a great exercise and reduces the incidence of injury the volume prescribed is quite high which means not everyone wants to do it.  We have found that with lower volume nordic hamstring training interventions we can promote similar muscle architecture and strength adaptations to that if we did a high volume intervention.  Although we didn’t look at injury risk as part of that study.

    Following a decent dose during two-week pre-season (I’m assuming twice a week) those gains can be maintained with one times a week (2 sets of four nordics done at a really high intensity).

    RT on hamstring injury risk

    ”In bigger stronger athletes like in rugby when their hamstring asymmetry is greater than 15% then the risk of injury doubles.

    Less well trained athletes first step to improve risk of injury is improve the level of strength first

    So its a two-part approach.  If you’re weak get strong.  If you’re strong, stay symmetrical.

    Typically see average 305N across 180 athletes in Australian A-league football (soccer).

    Very rare to pull below 350N in AFL.  Risk in asymmetry tends to occur around 450N in Rugby.

    JH on asymmetries as part of the rehab process.

    You have an individual athlete who comes in with an injury and you may not and actually rarely have any previous injury history on that individual.  So to benchmark their rehab we can use the strength of the contralateral non-injured side.  Yes we try to close those gaps but we make it clear to the athlete that we certainly don’t want to make your non-injured leg any weaker.  You want to train both the limbs as they will still be at risk of injury in their non-injured limb.

    We can compare at the time of testing or at baseline when they started the rehab.  If it’s a short term hamstring injury of a few weeks that will be quite different to a 12-18 month ACL intervention.   It’s generally advised to use the non-injured limb at baseline as a control.

    RT on alternatives to Nordics

    ”From a practical standpoint it is very hard to get 40 blokes to do a 45 degree roman chair 2-up 1-down on one piece of equipment (longer length hip dominant exercise).  Whereas it is much easier to get 40 blokes to do nordics on the side of the pitch.  So that creates some considerations for a squad wide intervention in terms of what equipment you have available to you to implement that and isn’t going to p@*s off the coach in the mean time.

    Other considerations:

    Can we make them stronger if we can’t implement a squad wide cohort level?

    If guys have some spine issues we might need to find some other variations for them

    Maybe some isometric exercise in addition to some really well prescribed high velocity sprinting intervention actually allows you to improve strength and fascicle length.  So 8-10 sprints throughout the week at greater than 95% maximum velocity.”

    RT on use of Isometrics

    ”Both eccentric and isometric methods can live together in harmony. I don’t think you need to be in one camp or the other.

    Currently there is no evidence that muscles (fascicles) undergo eccentric lengthening during sprinting.  The theory is that all of the lengthening that we see in the musculotendinous unit is actually just slack being taken out of the tendon and the muscle itself is just contracting isometrically to hold it’s shape.  So everyone in the isometric camp, goes, well that means we should just train isometrically to adapt to that isometric stimulus and as a result have the ability to withstand that risk of injury.  We have no evidence to suggest either way! So why throw it out the bin? It has a place.  The heavy isometric work might condition the tendon.

    But there is a lot of research that eccentric training has beneficial adaptations and even injury risk reduction so the nordic has an important place in that programme as well.  So if you do both as well as do a well planned sprinting programme done regularly and you overload the hamstring you will cover most of the bases.”

    JH on use of Isometrics

    ”There is room for both.  I suppose from a rehab point of view in terms of isometric exercise, one of the traditional approaches to acute muscle rehab they generally follow the progression guidelines of:

    • starting with low level isometrics
    • progressing to short length isotonic (concentric-eccentric)
    • introducing longer length and eccentrically biased exercises towards the end of the rehab

    This has changed a little in recent times but at this point in time everything is theoretical.  So basing your whole approach of rehab around isometric training is flawed just as is basing your whole approach around eccentric training is probably somewhat flawed as well.

    There are certainly some high level variations of isometrics that may have some benefit and certainly some transfer to high speed running.  But the biggest problem we have right now is that we just don’t have the evidence and that’s where we need more research.

    To some extent we disagree with the traditional model of rehab just because we don’t believe there is ever a point in time where you should only be doing one type of contraction mode.

    It makes more sense to do all types of contraction mode from the start right through the rehab, but just do it at an appropriate intensity.

    Ultimately there needs to be more research to shed light on these topics, but it is clear there is benefit from a range of contraction modes.

    Author opinion:

    At APA we always promote the use of using a range of exercises, that require a mixture of physical capabilities- it’s just the focus and intensity of those exercises that changes at a given point in time.

    For this reason APA would agree with the recommendations to include a range of isometric, isotonic and eccentric exercises and maintain an appropriate balance based on the needs of the individual.

     

    Top 5 Take Away Points:

    1. Research– grow research projects around what the industry actually requires and what questions that they might have
    2. High speed running– Large weekly changes in high speed running loads increase the risk of hamstring injury
    3. Numbers– don’t get too caught up in the numbers! Thresholds and cut offs might not necessarily be relevant when talking about other cohorts
    4. Importance of strength- if you’re weak get strong.  If you’re strong, get symmetrical
    5. Variety is the spice of life

    Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

    Twitter:

    @joshua_ruddy / joshua.ruddy@acu.edu.au

    @jackhickey89 /  jack.hickey@acu.edu.au

    @ryan_timminds / ryan.timminds@acu.edu.au

    You may also like from PPP:

    Episode 55 JB Morin

    Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

    Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

    Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

    Episode 204, 64 James Wild

    Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

    Episode 183 Derek Hansen

    Episode 175 Jason Hettler

    Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

    Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

    Episode 15 Carl Valle

    Hope you have found this article useful.

    Remember:

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    …we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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    Can Boxing Training Help You Hit Harder on the Tennis Court?

    A month or so ago I asked one of my coaches Ayo Shodimu to lead an in-service session on boxing, to see what we could learn about it.  Unfortunately the video quality isn’t great as we were in a very noisy tennis Academy but I’ve included a few videos from the session.

    Some of the key messages I took away:

    Technique cues for the Jab (right hander)

    • The first thing that moves in any punch is the hips- it all comes from the hips
    • Punching comes from the ground up
    • Left hip rotate towards the target when throwing the jab (left hand)
    • Front foot will lift off heel and shift onto ball of foot to extend reach

    Technique cues for the Cross (right hander)

    • Drive your foot into the ground as you throw your punch
    • Right hip rotate towards the target when throwing the jab
    • Foot flat to foot up

    Technique cues for the Hook (right hander)

    • Left hip rotate towards the target when throwing the hook (with left hand)
    • When you throw the left hook you actually load right leg on follow through ready for a right cross immediately after

    Fast forward to 4:00 minutes for the video below as we talk for several minutes and go through footwork prior to that which is not audible.

    Can this Help Tennis?

    I asked some of the more experienced coaches what they thought about Boxing as a useful skill to transfer to Tennis groundstrokes.  Maybe it could help with ball speed?  I wanted to share one particular discussion, which I thought was fascinating…

    The coach started by making a reference to golf- remarking that the true determinant of distance off the tee is the degree to which the golfer can hit the sweet spot of the club head on the ball, just a millimetre off will cause a major difference in the outcome.

    In some ways this is the same with Tennis, the ability of performance players to hit the ball harder will mostly come down to how consistently they can hit the sweet spot during contact.

    Out of 10 shots in an open game environment the full-time junior players (11-16 years old) can perhaps align optimally [currently] with 3/10 so they are in the ideal position to hit their groundstroke without needing to adapt, and find their sweet spot on contact.  Let’s say a pro is at 7/10.  So for the tennis coach you are going to have to sell them really hard that development of force through the hip drive is the most important thing right now, to help them hit the ball harder.

    Yes, if they are stationary or moving just a little bit then I guess hitting the pads would be like basket feeding a player.  You can give the player a ‘feeling’ of hitting the ball harder, or hitting the pads harder because the skill is relatively easy.  But how often have you come across the recreational player who has a private lesson with their coach and after 20 minutes of baskets on their forehand they feel amazing- they are hitting it so clean, and hard.

    Then when they go and play a match against their friends they can hardly hit the ball! So why does this happen? Because they haven’t learnt the skill [the definition meaning it can be done in match conditions].  They have only learnt how to do it under very closed and controlled conditions.

    Perhaps you could use a radar gun and show that after some boxing (equivalent of basket feeding) you can hit the ball 3-4 mph harder during a controlled trial, but can they still maintain this increase in speed if you measure it during points?

    They have to learn how to hit it deep, then rising, then when changing direction and changing rhythm, then receiving a change of direction and rhythm.  Then after a serve or after a return of serve.  Then in points and finally in matches!!!!

    Probably vision and tracking skills would make a bigger difference than physical hip drive.

    Some further considerations from the coach:

    1. Is boxing a model based approach or a game based approach? How much variety is there in the final skill of the big four punches (jab, cross, hook, uppercut) vs. in Tennis (serves, return of serves, groundstrokes and volleys)? Can the same punch be thrown against most fighters?  In tennis the striking skill will need to align with the game style.  So for example, Player A has very good shoulder around shoulder on his groundstrokes but very poor shoulder under shoulder.  So if s/he was doing boxing perhaps a focus on upper cuts where s/he needs to feel what it is like to drop their right shoulder and hit up might be a good idea.  But for Player B who hits the ball more flat s/he might benefit from more emphasis on shoulder around shoulder.
    2. How much tension is required when throwing a punch in boxing? In Tennis you need the arm to be very loose like a whip as you bring the racket through to contact. How does this compare to boxing?

    One other thing to consider is the cueing of the Hip rotation.   With Ayo the cue was to ‘ground down’ to ‘ground up’ and then rotate towards your target with your hips.  Foot turns in the same direction you are punching.  Louis Cayer I know would cue ‘tip toe finish’ which is an explicit cue to promote hip rotation (like ‘ground up’ foot comes off the floor as you throw the punch.  Some coaches might says this shouldn’t be cued explicitly; it will happen as a consequence.

    My take is this: think of what Louie said as an ”impact” cue, meaning it will probably work to make a short term impact but don’t expect it to fix everything in match conditions and don’t use it all the time.  The implicit cueing idea is ‘by the book’ and will be better longer term.

    Thanks for reading and I hope you found this article useful.  By the way we are still actively recruiting so check out the information below:

    Gosling Tennis Academy

    There are a number of part-time roles at Gosling Tennis Academy.

    Part-Time strength & conditioning coach

    We are looking for part-time strength & conditioning coaches who have a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on the Mini Academy (5-10yrs) and Junior Academy (10-12yrs) programmes.

    These squads run in the evenings from 4-6pm Monday to Friday and would be suitable for a coach who is looking to gain experience of a high performance training environment.

    Gosling Tennis Academy is based at Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City and is operated by Better

    For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

    So what are you waiting for?

    If you are interested in applying for any of these roles then send an email to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk

    Remember to indicate your preferred location if you have one.

    Free Training Reminder

    If you have signed up for the FREE Webinar ”How To Get Buy In That Lifting Weights Is Safe For Children” then click the link below to sign up!

    Hope you have found this article useful.

    Remember:

    • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
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    • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

    Since you’re here…
    …we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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    APA are Recruiting!!

    I have a few important announcements today!!!

    APA Are Recruiting!

    APA have a number of vacancies within the APA network.  If you would like to be considered for a role with APA then please send a covering letter and CV to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk with email title APA.01

    WimX Tennis Academy

    Full-Time strength & conditioning coach

    We are looking for a coach who can start immediately.  The ideal candidate will have experience of working within elite junior tennis although we will consider applications from coaches with complimentary skills and experience.

    The role will involve working with children with a focus on high performance players between 11 and 16 yrs.  You will need to have an enhanced DBS and be on the update service before you can start the role.

    WimX Tennis Academy is based at Connaught Tennis Club, Chingford, London.

     

    For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

    Gosling Tennis Academy

    There are a number of part-time roles at Gosling Tennis Academy.

    Part-Time strength & conditioning coach

    We are looking for part-time strength & conditioning coaches who have a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on the Mini Academy (5-10yrs) and Junior Academy (10-12yrs) programmes.

    These squads run in the evenings from 4-6pm Monday to Friday and would be suitable for a coach who is looking to gain experience of a high performance training environment.

    Gosling Tennis Academy is based at Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City and is operated by Better

    For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

    New Hall School

    The role at New Hall School is for a part-time strength & conditioning coach who has a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on one to one lessons and small group training sessions with senior school students aged 11-18yrs.

    These sessions run in the lunchtime and after school periods at 1-2pm and 4:30-5:30pm and would be suitable for a coach who is looking to gain experience of a high performance training environment.  Priority days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  This role will start in September 2019 and the successful candidate would need to have a DBS and be on the update service.

    For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

    So what are you waiting for?

    If you are interested in applying for any of these roles then send an email to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk

    Remember to indicate your preferred location if you have one.

    Free Training Reminder

    If you have signed up for the FREE Webinar ”How To Get Buy In That Lifting Weights Is Safe For Children” then click the link below to sign up!

    SIGN UP HERE

    Hope you have found this article useful.

    Remember:

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    Since you’re here…
    …we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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