My USAW SPC Level 1 Experience

My USAW SPC Level 1 Experience

This past weekend I took my USAW Level 1 Sports Performance Coach certification in Brooklyn. The class was run by Michael McKenna a lead instructor for the USA Weightlifting organization. Michael has his own gym in Pennsylvania, and has worked with a ton of nationally ranked athletes. 

The Start 

The course started by covering the fundamentals, the safety and basic terminologies of Olympic lifting. Things like, how do you safely miss a lift, "Push the bar away and move in the opposite direction of the bar," basics, but essential for the beginner to Olympic lifting. This part of the certification felt a little slow, but for someone who doesn't have a background in Olympic weightlifting this information covered is definitely beneficial. And again, it was a level 1 certification. 

My Takeaways 

For me, there were five essential takeaways from the certification that resonated with me, they are as follows.

1. Progressions: The USAW has their recommended progressions for the snatch, clean and jerk. Some I do and prescribe for my athletes, but others I do not. It was cool seeing how they progress through the Olympics and their reasoning's for doing so. 


2. Practical portion: We practice the snatch, clean and jerk. This is awesome. First, we get critiqued by Olympic coaches for our personal lifts, which is nice, but what I used it for was listening.


3. Cueing: A majority of the class + during our breaks, I sat & listened. I listened to Michael and the other coaches on how they cued others. A good coach understands how to change cues for different athletes. When a coach understands their athletes, they can cue them accordingly to how they learn and respond best. For example, some athletes respond to hands on demonstrations, some respond best to simple things like, "move the bar faster at a certain point," and others respond to technical cues, "increase your hip extension speed at a certain point." All of these may work, but finding which cues work best to get the response you want is the tough part, especially with complex lifts and beginning lifters. 


4. Programming: Possibly my favorite portion of the class was the part spent on periodization. I'm a major nerd for learning & reading about different ways to write programs, this was inspired by one of my grad school professors, and while this portion was touched on briefly, it was great listening to Michael's reasoning for writing some of the programs the way he does. It was also cool hearing about some of his experiences with writing programs for his beginner clients and nationally ranking Olympic lifters. 


5. Busted ass shoulder: Okay this wasn't a serious takeaway, but I'm trying to make light of the situation. In the practical portion of class the first day...I went for a snatch weight I shouldn't have (I have AC joint issues from cheer). Basically, went to sit under the bar, my left shoulder locked up and I ended up on my back with my left arm dangling across my body, ready to faint. That pain was fu*king brutal, I wouldn't wish it on my enemies. Although, today my shoulder feels better, so let's hope for a speedy recovery!


All In All 

The class went well + fast, yes it was all weekend, but Michael made it fun and had the charisma to make you enjoy the material being covered. Big thank you to Michael and the staff who ran the cert. Also, a big thank you for helping me out when I had to go the hospital and get my arm popped back into the socket! 

 

How Sitting All Day is Sabotaging Your Health

How Sitting All Day is Sabotaging Your Health

By now you’ve probably heard or seen how sitting all day can take a toll on your health. We’re not a species that’s meant to sit, but it’s unavoidable for most. Luckily there are ways to try and fight poor habits causedby sitting all day. For the sake of argument and brevity, we’re going to highlight quickly why sitting all day is bad and easy ways to fix bad habits.

How sitting all day is bad

  • We develop tight muscles, think of your legs and hips—they’re constantly flexed (bent in 90 degrees). These muscles get tight from constantly being flexed, so when we go to stretch and stand other muscles will end up compensating for their tightness (think lower back pain from excessive hip compensation).
  • Slowed metabolism, when we’re inactive for long periods our metabolism slows and things like our cholesterol (1) and insulin (2) levels are then affected. Leaving us at riskforheart disease and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Our posture changes, along with tight muscles we create imbalances in our joints and skeletal frame. Think forward head posture and hunched upper back, these are bigger issues than tight muscles. When we have to compensate for bad postures, we become more prone to injury.

So how do we combat this?

  • Stretch often: Wake up in the morning and do light stretching, even some possible yoga flows to get blood flowing. If you workout in the morning, cool down and stretch before going to the office.
  • Try the 20:10:5 rule. Basically, sit and work for 20-minutes, stand and work for 10-minutes, then take a 5-minute walk or stretch lightly for a few minutes.
  • Meal prep for the work day to avoid going out and eating meals that will put you in caloric surplus—this can add up quickly with the inactivity from sitting.
  • Try posture aiding movements at your desk, for example, stretching the traps to avoid forward head posture and rhomboid strengthening to limit shoulders from folding in.
  • Walking meetings: Instead of grabbing a coffee or sitting in an office, use a meeting as a good time to take a walk with the other person. Walking will help get blood flowing and can actually increase your mood as well.
  • Regular checkups are easy indicators, a checkup can help you see cholesterol levels along with other possible forming health risks—yearly checkups are never a bad thing.

Works Cited

  1. Owen, N., Sparling, P. B., Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., & Matthews, C. E. (2010). Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 85(12), 1138–1141. http://doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0444
  2. Hamilton, M. T., Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., Zderic, T. W., & Owen, N. (2008). Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior. Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports, 2(4), 292–298. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12170-008-0054-8

 

Could This Supplement Improve Workout Performance?

Could This Supplement Improve Workout Performance?

How nice would it be to have an all natural supplement to improve athletic performance and reduce soreness post-workout? Well, we might be in luck. The answer—tart cherry. This supplement has been used for years to aid recovery and antioxidant support. A recent study (1) even highlighted its affects on endurance runner’s race times.

The science

In the study mentioned above, study authors had their subjects consume 480mg of tart cherry extract or a placebo for 10-days including their marathon race day. They then recorded fasting blood samples and recorded quadriceps soreness ratings using an algometer (used to measure sensitivity to pressure). These recordings were performed: pre-run, 60-min, 24 and 48 hours post-run. They found those who consumed the cherry extract ran 13% faster than the placebo group, along with having 34% lower soreness ratings and 47% less inflammatory markers (most likely caused from antioxidant production).

Another study that analyzed tart cherry juice in runners had similar observations. In this study the authors noticed tart cherry consumers had 10% or more of a total antioxidant status, along with less inflammatory markers. To further the case for tart cherry juice, another study (2) analyzed tart cherry juice in muscle pain post-run. They found consuming tart cherry juice for seven days prior and during strenuous running bouts decreased post-run muscle pain/soreness.

Why does it work?

  • When we run or workout we put stress on the body, while it’s the good form of stress that will facilitate future health benefit—it’s stress nonetheless.
  • Tart cherry is very high in antioxidants which help clear free radicals from the body, or the products that produce negative effects on the body.
  • Flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins are the abundant antioxidants found in tart cherry juice. Flavonoids can also be found in dark chocolate, berries, and multiple vegetables.
  • Muscle soreness is typically caused by damage and stress to the muscle; antioxidants help aid clearing some of the components that contribute to the stress. 
  • The more efficient the body is at clearing these stressors, the more efficient we can recover.

Need inspiration?

Tart cherry juice is great because it’s taken once a day and requires very little to prep and take. Also, it comes in multiple forms, so if capsules aren’t your thing—there’s liquid base and powders—which are great for mixing with other ingredients. You could even use the liquid base and powders to create frozen summer treats by freezing them in ice pop trays!

Works Cited

  1. Levers, K., Dalton, R., Galvan, E., O’Connor, A., Goodenough, C., Simbo, S., Mertens-Talcott, S. U., Rasumussen, C., Greenwood, M., Riechman, S., Crouse, S. & Kreider, R. B. (2016). Effects of powdered Montmorency tart cherry supplementation on acute endurance exercise performance in aerobically trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13:22. DOI: 10.1186/s12970-016-0133-z
  2. Kuehl, K. S., Perrier, E. T., Elliot, D. L., & Chesnutt, J. C. (2010). Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7, 17. http://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-7-17

The Low-Down on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

The Low-Down on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT training is a useful tool to improve cardiovascular health, lose fat and improve overall fitness. We see it talked about in most classes, training sessions and gyms. A lot of people associate HIIT training with sprints, but a recent study found that HIIT training on a bike showed similar results as sprint workouts. This is important because biking has a lot less impact on the body compared to sprinting, which is great news for older populations.

Another recent study used biking intervals for a total of 60-second intense bouts of work in a 10-minute workout for a 30-minute weekly total. They then compared the 10-minute bouts to longer duration workouts of 50-minutes with a total of 150-minutes per week. They found that the 60-second interval group had similar benefits as the longer duration group. Without a doubt HIIT training has benefits while consuming less of our time—which also makes it a useful tool for the busy individual. Now let’s dive into how to structure your own HIIT work and different means of doing so.

Choosing your training intensity

 An intensity that matches your training experience is a huge part of successful HIIT. A lot of people see intensity and instantly think about maximum efforts—while this is true—maximum efforts are relative to experience. For example, if you read you should train at 90 percent intensity when you’re not accustomed to HIIT training already, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The ideal range of intensity I go by for my clients ranges from 70-90 percent of your max heart rate.

How do I find my maximum heart rate?

The basic maximum heart rate calculator (MHR) requires little calculating. It should be noted though, that in some cases this number can actually underestimate heart rates for older individuals (just by a few though).

220 – Your age = MHR
Example: 220 – 23 (my age) = 197 (beats/minute)= MHR

How do I find my training intensity?

This can be the tricky part of structuring HIIT workouts on your own. Like stated above the ranges we’re going to use are 70-90 percent of our heart rate max. Intensity should be chosen on your experience and tolerance levels. Someone who’s new to HIIT training should not start with 90 percent training intensity. I’ve always found it’s easier to underestimate and increase if needed, than to start too high and realize you overestimated what you’re capable of.

MHR x .7 = 70% training intensity
MHR x .9 = 90% training intensity

My personal example below would look like this.

197 x .7 = 138 – 70% training intensity
197 x .9 = 177 – 90% training intensity

70 percent is the lower training zone—which is ideal for beginners or those with less experience—think casual: gym-goer, new runners, or clients who need lower impact activity. While 90 percent is on the higher end for those with more experience—think avid: lifters, athletes and runners.

How should I structure my HIIT workout?

Besides intensity: rest and work time are both important variables to consider when creating a HIIT workout. There are multiple ways to assess your work to rest ratio and these include: physical readiness, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, and lastly a pre-dictated work:rest ratio. For the sake of argument and brevity we’re going to use the work:rest ratio.

Beginners usually benefit best with a 1:3 work to rest ratio (sometimes higher if you’re very new). For example, 3-minutes of work at your target intensity, would then equate to 9-minutes of rest. 1-minute work: 3-minute recovery.

 Advanced populations can use smaller ratios like a 1:2 ratio and sometimes less. Example, 3-minutes of work would equate to 6-minutes of rest.

**When using a work:rest ratio start small and work your way up, starting with something as much 20-minutes of work can be counterproductive. It’s also important to note that with work to rest ratios the total work and rest can be divided as needed for your program. Example, 1-minute of work can be split into three 20-second bouts. **

Means of achieving HIIT work

This is where you get to test yourself as a trainer. One, you need to have your goal set and workout structure created. Two, when going through a HIIT workout it’s up to you to track and be strict with your heart rate and intensity. Three, avoid being lax with your work:rest times, listen to your body, but be true when you to push harder and when you’re at your threshold. A few examples of ways to perform HIIT world include…

Sprints
Circuit workouts
Biking
Fitness classes
Swimming

Any workout that can bring your heart rate to your target intensity and with proper structure can be used as some form of HIIT training. Check back as the summer progresses for examples of HIIT workouts in each of these categories—happy training!