4 Tips for Exercising in Cold Weather


Planning a destination race or keeping up with your workouts during a trip to cold weather climates? Don’t let the low temperatures keep you from enjoying your morning run.  With certain precautions you can ensure a safe and productive time outside.

  • Dress in Layers: As you progress throughout your work out and you sweat more and more, you can peel off articles of clothing. And during your cool down – as you begin to dry – you can replace them as necessary.
  • Preventing Frostbite:During a workout, most of our blood flow is concentrated in the core, leaving our extremities susceptible to frostbite. So, you’ll want to wear a hat and some gloves. Also, don’t forget to cover those ears.
  • Know the Signs: Hypothermia and frostbite aren’t two things that the active person should take lightly. Be responsible and know their signs. Stinging sensations are the beginning of numbness – and loss of feeling – which are signs of frostbite.

Hypothermia sets in when there’s intense shivering, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and fatigue. If you begin to notice any of these symptoms you should stop your workout immediately and seek medical attention.

  • Check the Weather: Before even going out, you should know what to expect during your workout. Strong winds, icy roads, and below freezing conditions are dangerous. So, you should be made aware of it, if that’s what’s to be expected during your outing. For your safety if conditions are too harsh, you’ll want to keep your workout indoors.

For days when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor exercise, STACK Sports Performance and Therapy in Atlanta offers killer workout programs. Gives us a call today to see how we can help you!

Posted on behalf of STACK Sports Performance & Therapy

Do athletes need a bigger engine or better brakes?


When it comes to training for performance, many, if not most, people immediately thinking about being faster and more powerful. After all, victory often depends on getting to the ball, finish line, goal line, end zone, or basket before your opponent. This is the same as buying a new car with only one concern: How big is the engine? How fast can it go? How quickly does it get to 60mph?

This is, of course, very important to athletic performance. However, if we stick with our car metaphor, what’s going to happen if you buy a brand new Ferrari but the breaks don’t work? It won’t matter how fast you can go, because, without breaks, you can’t control all that speed. In fact, the majority of non-contact injuries happen in just this way: athletes can’t manage stopping because they don’t have strong enough brakes and something, well, breaks.

So which one should you pick? The answer is that it depends. If you’re an explosive athlete who can’t change direction quickly, then you probably need better breaks. If your top speed blows away your competition but it takes you too long to get there, then maybe you need a more powerful engine. The first step is to assess where you are now and where you need to be.

At Velocity, we use a battery of tests to see where our athletes are strong and where they need to improve. Based on this and other information, like injury history and goals, our coaches can make smart decisions about what our athletes need in order to improve their performance.

If you want to see how your brakes and engine are working, contact us and schedule testing!

4 myths about Muscle pliability you need to know


The term “muscle pliability” has been in the news around the NFL quite a bit recently. Tom Brady and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, claim that making muscles pliable is the best way to sustain health and performance. How true is that claim? While it’s a great descriptive term, we are going to shed some light on what it really means and how to create muscle pliability.

Our performance coaches, sports medicine specialists, and tissue therapists all find it to be a useful term to express some of the qualities of muscle. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary here’s what pliable means:

Pliable

a: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking

b: yielding readily to others

c: adjustable to varying conditions

That’s a pretty good description for many of the qualities we want in the tissue of an athlete (or any human for that matter). The problem is that it’s being mixed up with a lot of inaccurate and confusing statements.

Our Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka, says that “the word pliability, in my opinion, depicts the ideal muscle tissue quality. It is similar to suppleness, elasticity, or resilience. Unfortunately, I believe some of the explanations offered by Mr. Brady and Mr. Guerrero have created some misunderstanding of what ‘muscle pliability’ really is.”

Let’s try and separate some of the myths from what is true.

 

Myth 1: Muscles that are “soft” are better than dense

That depends on what qualifies as “soft” muscle.  Tissue Specialist Cindy Vick has worked on hundreds of elite athletes, including NFL players and Olympians across many sports. “’Soft’ isn’t a word I would use for an athlete. When I’m working on an elderly client, I often feel muscles that could be called soft; they’re not dense. That’s not what I feel when working on elite athletes. Athletes who are healthy and performing well have muscles that have density without being overly tense and move freely. The tissue is still smooth and supple.”

This muscle quality is affected by many factors, ranging from stress, competition, nutrition, training, and recovery. At Velocity, maintaining optimal tissue quality is a constant endeavor.  Proper self myo-fascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.

 

Myth 2: Dense muscles = stiff muscles = easily injured athletes

Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies the reality and is in some ways completely wrong.

You have to start with the operative word: “dense.” Tanioka says, “Dense tissue can be elastic; elastic tissue is resilient to injury. What we have to look for is inelastic tissue.” Cindy Vick adds that “if you mean ‘dense’ to refer to a muscle with adhesions, or that doesn’t move evenly and smoothly, then yes, that’s a problem.”

Scientifically, stiffness refers to how much a muscle resists stretch under tension. It’s like thinking about the elastic qualities of a rubber band. The harder it is to pull, the stiffer it is. If a muscle can’t give and stretch when it needs to, that’s bad.

Imagine a rubber band that protects your joint. When a muscle exerts force against the impact of an opponent or gravity, stiffness can help resist the joint and ligaments from being overloaded and consequently injured.

“I agree with Mr. Brady’s statement about the importance of a muscle’s ability to lengthen, relax and disperse high-velocity, heavy incoming force to avoid injury.” says Tanioka. “However, I think that athletes also must be able to exert maximum power whether actively generating force or passively resisting an incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as well as lengthen. The ability of tissue to be durable and contractile is just as important as to elongate and soften when it comes to performance and injury prevention.”

In the view of our experts, it’s not about dense, soft, stiff, or other qualitative words. Instead, they emphasize developing function through different types of strength qualities athletes need.   Athletes must prepare for the intense stress and strain their muscles will face in their sport.  They need to blend the right strength training with mobility and flexibility.

 

Myth 3: Strength training makes muscles short

“It’s an old wives’ tale that took hold when body building techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according international expert and President of Velocity Sports Performance, Ken Vick, who has worked with athletes in 10 Olympic Games and helped lead the Chinese Olympic Committee’s preparation efforts for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“I’ll give you two great examples: Gymnasts are, pound-for-pound, very strong and incredibly explosive, yet they are known to be some of the most flexible athletes. Olympic weightlifters are clearly some of the strongest athletes in the world and are also generally very flexible. They spend practically every day doing strength training and their muscles aren’t ‘short.’”

In fact, proper lifting technique demands excellent flexibility and mobility. For example, poor hip flexor flexibility or limited ankle mobility results in an athlete who probably cannot reach the lowest point of a back squat. Our proven methods combine strength training with dynamic mobility, movement training, and state of the art recovery technology to help our athletes gain and maintain the flexibility and mobility required for strength training and optimal performance on the field of competition.

 

Myth 4: Plyometrics and band training are better for pliability

We hear these types of claims time and again from coaches, trainers, and others who are quoting something they’ve read without much knowledge of the actual training science. Our muscles and brain don’t care if the resistance is provided by bodyweight, bands, weights, cables, or medicine balls. They can all be effective or detrimental, depending on how they are used.

Sport science has shown that manipulating different variables influences both the physiological and neurological effects of strength training. Rate of motion, movement patterns, environment, and type of resistance all influence the results.

 

Truth: Muscle Pliability is a good thing

Like so many ideas, muscle pliability is very good concept. The challenge lies in discerning and then conveying what is true and what is not. An experienced therapist can, within just a few moments of touching a person, tell whether that tissue is healthy. A good coach can tell whether an athlete has flexibility or mobility problems, or both, simply by watching them move.

In either case, it takes years of experience and understanding of the human body and training science, like that which is possessed by the performance and sports medicine staff at Velocity, to correctly apply a concept like muscle pliability to an athlete’s training program.

Is Strength Training Safe for Kids?


Parents who want to give their kids an extra competitive and athletic advantage are equally worried about not pushing their kids too hard.

You may hear “strength training” and think that it’s a bit of an overkill at this age.

But strength training means working muscles to make them work better. It’s not about bulking up by lifting massive weights.

A lot of the strength training done by adults is for competitions where everyone tries to look the biggest and lift the heaviest. This would naturally be harmful to young still-developing bodies.

So even if your child has dreams of becoming a bodybuilder, it’s best to set those aside for the next few formative years.

In the meantime, how can strength training (safely) benefit your kids?

  • Increases endurance
  • Reduces likelihood of sports-related injuries
  • Boosts endurance
  • Strengthen bones
  • Encourage a healthy weight for your child

Kids’ strength training programs are different from those of adults. They should be fun, light, and focused on technique. Kids also need adult supervision and plenty of time to warm up and cool down. As teens age, they may choose to focus on increasing resistance or weight or reps. But childhood a great time for kids to learn the right form.

To provide safe strength training, your child needs two things:

1. The ability to follow direction for proper technique
2. An experienced trainer

At STACK Sports Training & Therapy, we welcome kids as young as 8 into our Accelerated Young Athlete Program. That’s the perfect age when kids are able and eager to pick up on the proper technique for improving strength.

For the best youth fitness training course in Atlanta, stop over at none other than STACK Sports Training & Therapy!

Posted on behalf of STACK Sports Training & Therapy

8 Kettlebell exercises that will make you fit for life


If you’ve spent any time around a gym, reading fitness blogs, or even scrolling through your friends’ Instagram posts, you’ve probably seen a kettlebell (or KB). You’ve also probably heard people say it is a great tool to make you strong, lean, and fit. This is true, but how does this cannonball-looking thing work? What do you do with it? Do you just buy one watch the fat magically melt away? Most definitely not. There is no magic shortcut to the results you want. A kettlebell is a great tool to help you reach your fitness goals, but like any good tool, it must be used correctly to be effective.

Our kettlebell warm-up moves from simple to more complex exercises will help you master some of the fundamental KB movements. While you might not be able to get into some of the advanced exercises, like the KB snatch right away, with dedication and practice you will quickly feel comfortable performing them. This is what the Velocity kettlebell warm-up looks like:

  • 20 KB Swings (American)
  • 10 Single Leg RDL (each leg)
  • 10 Goblet Squats
  • 5 Presses (each arm)
  • 5 Thrusters (each arm)
  • 5 Clean & Jerks (each arm)
  • 5 Snatches (each arm)
  • 1 Turkish Get Up (each arm)
  • 20 Swings (American)

So why should you bother to learn how to do all of these exercises? The rumors about the KB are true: with a very short workout you can get incredible results. It can help you lose weight, gain weight, add strength, or just be more active, depending on how you use it.

For you to reap these benefits, you must commit. Get your own KB or go to a gym that has some. Even though we coach at a gym with a complete kettlebell setup, many of our coaches like to keep some at home so there’s no excuse not to use one every day. None of us will get any better if we are not committed to our goals. Part of that commitment is planning around what works for you, and even the coaching staff and Velocity doesn’t always have time to make it to the gym. If you can keep even one kettlebell at home and learn to use it, you have a cheap an effective home gym in your garage or back yard.

Owning a KB is the first step. The next is learning how to use it properly so you don’t hurt yourself and have a longer list of exercises from which to choose; our kettlebell warm-up is a simple and effective place to start. The focus is not just learning the movements, but mastering them. As you get good at these basic exercises and understand how best to use the kettlebell, you can begin to create your own workouts. You can combine exercises in any way you like; you can add other exercise elements in like running, jumping rope, push-ups, or anything that excites you. The possibilities are endless, but you have to earn this this freedom of movement by first learning the basic exercises. Do this, and you will always have a way to strong and fit – with just one piece of equipment.

3 ways to get an edge this summer: hockey specific training


Summer is the off-season for hockey, but it’s a great opportunity to get an edge over other players. If you want to get ahead and not fall behind the competition, here are three keys to your summer training.

Get Stronger

Summer is a great time to get strong. In-season you can do it, but it’s a lot tougher. The off-season offers a chance to get in the gym 3-4 days a week and see some gains without tiring you out before games.

Strength has a correlation with reduced injury risk, lower-body power, and on-ice speed. To get these benefits, a hockey player needs to increase his or her athletic strength. This means your strength training must be ground based, use multi-muscle/joint exercises, and include elements of both force production and rapid muscle contraction.

Build Athleticism

While it may seem to be counterintuitive, training to improve your hockey game doesn’t always mean more hockey drills. When you increase your overall athleticism through dynamic movement training or even playing another sport, you challenge your coordination, functional strength, and have fun at the same time.

Building a broad base of athletic skills can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries and increase your long-term potential. When an NHL team has a choice between two equal players, they typically pick the one who is more athletic across a broad spectrum.

Get Fit

The season might be a few months away, but don’t lose your fitness. No one wants to go into the new season and be dragging in the first few weeks. A fit player has more confidence in training camps.

Keeping up your base of aerobic and anaerobic fitness is key even if you’re not on the ice. For the summer off-season, two days of longer aerobic work build a good base and help you recover from the strength and power work. Another 2 days can be used for higher intensity intervals and circuit style workouts.

Use the summer to get an edge. If you’re fast now, you can get faster. The strong can be stronger, and the fit can be fitter. Imagine where you want to be at the start of next season and get to work!

3 Secrets to Quickly Improve Your Hockey Training


Hockey players know that they while they need superior hockey skills on the ice, they also need to work off the ice to keep up with the competition. You can use your off-ice training time more effectively by adding these three steps to quickly get ahead of others.

Strength and Stability on One Leg

Part of developing athletic strength is the ability to apply force the same way you do in your sport. For hockey, that means you need to be able to explosively push-off of a single leg, stabilizing the hip and core as you do it. While common strength training like squats and deadlifts are a great start, they are bi-lateral exercises (they use both legs).  A great way to take your results to a higher level is to add some uni-lateral (single leg) exercises.

Training on a single leg might not let you lifts as much weight, but it will certainly lead to high levels of muscle activation while adding balance and stability to the mix.  Some ways to add single leg strengthening to your mix could include:

  • Single Leg RDL: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
  • Bulgarian Split Squat: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
  • Lateral Box Step Up: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg

Build Your Power Through Plyometrics

While basic strength training builds a foundation, you need to develop power to be more explosive on the ice. Power is the combination of strength applied with speed.  Olympic lifting and plyometric exercises are two great ways that both develop strength and speed.

One of the advantages of plyometrics is that they can be performed on a single leg to work on stability and balance at the same time. They also can be done focusing on movement in vertical, horizontal, lateral, and diagonal directions.  These are all things that build a better hockey player.

The list of potential exercises is long and includes any form of jumping, bounding, sprinting, and medicine ball throws. A few suggestions are:

  • Squat Jump or Box Jump: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Lateral Jumps or Split Jumps: 3 sets x 5-8 reps per leg
  • Hurdle Hops: 3 sets x 3-8 hurdles (line them up in a row)
  • Clap Push-Ups: 3-5 sets x 5 reps
  • Kneeling Med Ball Chest Passes: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps

Train Your Core to Transmit Power

Most hockey players recognize that a strong and stable core is important for performance and preventing injuries. Unfortunately, the majority of training time is spent on crunches, sit-ups, and a long list of their variations.

There can be a place for these in training, but excessive use can actually stress the spine more and create imbalances, all while ignoring key functions of the core. We have to understand that the core isn’t designed to create and initiate diagonal or rotational movement; its key function in hockey is transmitting forces from the lower body and stabilization so you can use your upper body.

Think of both resisting movement through the core as well as making it move. Then think of training in all directions. A few suggestions could include:

  • Pallof press: 8-15 reps x 3
  • Diagonal Cable Chop/lift: 8-15 reps x 3 per side
  • Sit-Ups: 10-15 reps x 3
  • Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: 5-10 reps x 3 per side
  • Side Plank: :30-:45 sec x 3 per side

Why Being a One-Sport Athlete is Not a Good Thing!


As a coach or parent of a youth athlete, we all want the same thing: To put them in the best position possible to be successful. We want them to have plenty of opportunities to be the best that they can be at whatever they decide to do.

Supporting your athlete is a great thing; however, sometimes that well-intentioned support can be detrimental to the athlete’s development. This applies to cases where coaches and parents pressure athletes into playing one sport, focusing exclusively on that one sport, and even seeking private coaching, all in an attempt to get a leg up on the competition.

The Question

Should coaches and parents encourage their athletes to play only one sport or would it be better to play and develop skills across a diversity of sports?

Scenario 1

Before we can answer that question, let’s ponder this scenario: Your child enjoys math. They excel in the subject. In fact, they’ve even mentioned their desire to be a mathematician when they grow up. Does this mean your child should only learn math in school? Should they just not even bother with the other subjects like English, Science, Art, or Physical Education?

The answer is most likely, no. Instead, you’d want them to learn all of the subjects that any student their age needs in order to grow and develop.

Sports and athletics are no different from this school scenario. While focusing on one sport can get you much better at that sport, there are skills in other sports that are worth learning for any athlete.

Scenario 2

Here’s another scenario: When you’re applying for a job, what do you put on your resume? You list all of your previous experience. Employers are searching for a qualified individual with a range of experience and skills.

The number and past jobs, paired with your success in those positions, is an indicator of your quality as an employee. This same idea can be applied to sports. Playing one sport — like having one job — can limit you.

If you look at Olympic athletes, just about all of them played multiple sports early in their career before picking and focusing exclusively on one.

Olympians dedicate their life to excelling at one sport to the point of excellence. And if you ask them, the hardest part about competing at that level of competition is burnout. Without getting into the science and psychology of burnout, suffice to say that playing one sport can, and often does, get boring for athletes. Athletes can also burnout physically — playing one sport year in and year out can take a toll on the body. Using the same muscles to complete the same actions can lead to injury and exhaustion.

The Benefits of Being a Multi-Sport Athlete:

  • Playing multiple sports helps athletes avoid burnout.
  • Playing multiple sports forces athletes to use different parts of the body and learn new movements.
  • Playing multiple sports teaches athletes how to work with different types of people, navigate different team dynamics and learn new perspectives.
  • Playing multiple sports gives the body time to physically recover from the demands of the last sport.
  • Playing multiple sports gives your mind a break, so that when you return to your sport you are excited, engaged and prepared to give it your all.

Here at Velocity Atlanta, we specialize in developing a broad athletic foundation that allows your athletes’ and even You to excel in multiple sports and recreational opportunities.  Contact us Today about how we can help lead your young athlete to their greatest chance for success!

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-up for Any Workout


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One way to set yourself up for workout greatness is by employing a dynamic warm-up. The warm-up below will prepare your body (and mind) for the advanced and technical moves to come. Additionally, taking the time to warm your muscles will help keep you injury free and in the game.

[/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”2%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_title size=”3″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]Before your workout, take ten minutes to perform the following exercises:[/fusion_title][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″ last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_checklist icon=”fa-check” iconcolor=”” circle=”” circlecolor=”” size=”13px” class=”” id=””][fusion_li_item icon=””]10 Up Dog/Down Dog[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]20 Yard and Back Jog[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]10 Leg Swings (per leg)[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]20 Yard Back Pedal and Back[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]5 Lunges (per leg)[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]20 Yard Skip Backward (skip back)[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]

10 Push-Ups

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5 Groiner Stretches (per leg)

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20 Yard Shuffle and Back

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5 Lateral Lunges (per leg)

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20 Yard Karaoke and Back

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10 Supine Straight Leg High Kicks

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10 Bridges

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10 Supine Leg Swings

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20 Yard Broad Jump

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10 Yard Single Leg Broad Jump (per leg)

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5 Burpees and Sprint 20 Yards

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5 Single Leg Burpees (left leg) then sprint 20 yards

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5 Single Leg Burpees (right leg) and sprint 20 yards

[/fusion_li_item][fusion_li_item icon=””]5 Standing Knee Pulls (per leg)[/fusion_li_item][/fusion_checklist][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”5%” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]