My Top 5 Core Exercises

These are my favorite core exercises I incorporate some these exercises into more training programs and my clients training programs to develop core strength and keep my clients injury free.

  1. Pallof Press                                                            

2. The Boat anti-extension

3.  Suitcase Carry

4.  Cross body Isometric crunch

5.   Hanging Leg Raises

Shout out to Jason for filming

Whiteboard talk: Simplified Conditioning Model

Know your Resting Heart Rate

What your heart can tell you about your fitness

Alex Smith Masters in Kinesiology, CSCS, USAW Level 1

A strong heart is a sign of good fitness but many people don’t train with a heart rate monitor or consistently test their resting heart rate.  Your heart is your life force it keeps you alive works constantly without break to allow you to do what you want to do.  Many fitness enthusiasts rarely take note to how their heart is beating and what it can tell you about your fitness levels. Hopefully in this article I can help teach you about what controls heart rate, how to test your resting heart rate (RHR) what can your RHR tell you about your conditioning level, how to use your RHR to tailor your workouts daily and how to improve your RHR.

The heart is controlled by your involuntary nervous systems. The involuntary nervous system is split into two categories Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. The Sympathetic nervous system is your “Fight or Flight” system in charge of increasing your heart beat getting you ready for action. The Parasympathetic system is your rest “Rest and Digest” in charge of slowing your heartbeat down and getting you into to the rest and recovery state.  On a daily basis there is a struggle between the two systems to control you heart rate. With each inhale your body wants to speed up your heart beat, on the exhale the body wants to slow down your heart rate. Naturally your heart does not stay at the same rhythm throughout the day. It even changes rhythm every beat we call this heart rate variability (HRV). The more variable your heart rhythm is the greater your ability to cope with stresses (i.e. a killer workout or life). The less variable your heart rhythm the less likely to cope with stresses.  To get the proper equipment to measure your HRV you will have to make a little investment of at least $99.

If you’re not ready to make that investment another alternative is that I personally like to do to test my resting heart rate (RHR) as soon as I wake up. It is a very simple procedure that I do every morning.  As soon as I wake up I lie in bed and find my pulse either on my wrist or underneath the jaw (jugular vein) and measure my heart rate for 6 seconds and multiply the number of beats by 10. That should give you a resting heart rate. If you more technologically advance you can download an app on your phone to measure your heart rate. Most people RHR will fall into a range between 100-60 beats per minute (bpm).  Athletes will usually have a heart rate between 60-40 bpm with more endurance athletes falling on the low end of the spectrum.  Every day you test your resting heart rate (RHR). You will eventually notice that your RHR will fall into a range. Personally my heart rate falls between 47-51 bpm. Let say I wake up and my RHR is 45bpm I know that I have gotten proper rest and can push myself pretty hard in my workout. On the other hand if my RHR is 58bpm this could be an indicator that I may not had enough time to recover from my previous workout. I should plan either a rest or a lighter workout.  Remember other factors can affect your RHR as well; lack of sleep, caffeine, Stress in life, sickness, and alcohol.  RHR may not be as accurate as Heart rate variability it can still give you some insight on how your body is reacting to your training program.

What does a lower RHR mean? It means that your heart has a large stroke volume and it is able to push more blood with each heartbeat.  For most endurance athletes it would be best to have your RHR in the low 50s. This will insure that your heart is at optimal aerobic condition. If you want to improve your RHR you can improve it through training. Joel Jamieson and Mike Robertson both talk about Cardiac Output training. Cardiac Output training entails training where heart rate stay between 130-150bpm and is sustained for at least 20 minutes. It is not very taxing you should be able to hold a conversation while performing this training.  You can go for a run or you can make a circuit with 3-4 stations in which you work 4-5 mins at each station and keep moving until you reach desired time.  My favorite exercises to use are; C2 Rower, Heavy Farmers walk, Jump rope, Barbell Complex.  You can use any form of locomotion or strength exercises as long as your heart rate does not go above 150bpm Cardiac output training can be used as your recovery workouts. They are not to taxing on the body and it forces you to keep a certain pace.  For many endurance athletes this will be cake walk for more power athletes this could be very frustrating to keep your heart rate from skyrocketing.

Your resting heart rate is a great tool to help you monitor your conditioning and how well you’re able to recover from workouts. Try added some Cardiac Output into your training program to help your aerobic conditioning and improve your aerobic conditioning which will also help improve your anaerobic threshold in the long-term.

Short Article by Pat Britton

Strong For a Girl

Pat Britton

I’m sure this will offend some of the well-meaning, well-respected college strength & conditioning coaches on this site – rest assured this isn’t directed at any of you! Actually, I guess this is less of an article than it is actually a voicing (typing) of frustrations. So even if it never shows up on the site at least one person had to read it and share even if only momentarily in my frustrations!

We’ve all heard it said at some point in our lives, most of you have probably even uttered the profanity in the title of this article. While I think that fewer and fewer people actually verbalize “strong for a girl” anymore (the phrase sends chills down my spine), it seems at times the phrase is still being embodied in the programming and expectations for female athletes.

For the better part of the last 11 years I have worked mostly with female athletes. Everything from basketball to squash, field hockey to softball. But for the last 7 years, my “niche” and passion has been women’s lacrosse. My athletes’ successes have in large part been due to the incredible resources and access to the minds of the great people on this site – or as I tell my athletes and their parents If I have been able to see further than others, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. So thank you for being my “giants”! To say I love my job is an understatement. My main professional goal is to be thought of as the “Mike Boyle of Women’s Lacrosse”! Now as much fun as my job is, once my girls hit the collegiate ranks… the fun pretty much ends. Girls that in the summer can:

– RFESS 175 for 8

– Single leg squat BW plus 60lbs

– Hang clean 125 for 3

– Perform 5 chins with 25 lbs

– Perform 8 inverted rows with a 40lb vest

– Run sub 55 second 300 yd shuttles

And they do this all while having no joint issues and feeling great. Unfortunately time and time again they come back to us in shambles. They go back to school and…

– No more single leg training (backsquats and barbell deadlifts instead, as well as calve raises & seated leg curls – apparently those exercises still exist in a college weightroom)

– No horizontal pulling (no seriously, in some programs I’ve seen I mean NONE!)

– No chopping/lifting movements and no anti-rotation/anti-extension work (400-800 crunches a week is the preferred tool often times)

– Hang cleans for “reps” and never more than 55lbs

– No chin ups or pull-ups – but they are encouraged to use the chin assist machine for 15 reps.

– In fact everything seems to be rather high reps!

Apparently, they don’t want to “bulk up”. Even if you’re not a fan of single leg training, how do YOU feel after 5 months without doing a pull-up, inverted row, chop, lift, Pallof Press, roll-out, etc.??? Well I can tell you how my girls feel: their backs hurt, their knees hurt, they have hamstring strains, and they lose unbelievable amounts of strength. They figuratively, and literally, limp to the end of the season. Sounds like fun right? I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but I assure you I train girls from several of the top 20 teams in the country (including a couple in the top 5) and there is little difference between their programming.

Now I (and all of you I’m certain) am no fan of this type of program in its design, its movement choices, etc. But the biggest issue I have: the expectations. I won’t speculate as to the “philosophy” behind this type of program, but I believe it’s safe to say that they don’t have very high expectations for their athletes. As Coach Boyle had said in an ACL reduction seminar a couple years ago in Winchester, MA: the expectations for strength and power for female athletes is appaulingly low. I couldn’t agree more. I have an 8 year-old daughter and one of the best things about what I get to do is show her that girls can be incredibly strong, phenomonally explosive, insanely athletic, and dominate on the field. She knows I don’t baby them, she knows that I and they believe the things they can do are limitless, and in turn she will start to realize that she can do the same. I don’t know, maybe it’s different for coaches that don’t have daughters. Fortunately, I have an 8 year-old daughter – and several teenagers and 20 year-olds that I think of like daughters. So coaches, next time you prescribe a chin assist to an athlete (who just happens to be a girl) maybe instead ask them “How many chin ups can you do?” Or even”how much extra weight do you need?”. Drop the assist, raise the bar, and raise your expectations. You see it’s not just our job to get them strong, it’s our job to help them realize how much stronger they can be.