Archive for February, 2012

Back Friendly Core Variation

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by zenithstrength

There is so much core training on the internet its enough to make your head spin. One article talks about how flexion is going to break your back followed by a different post arguing the benefits of flexion. I try not to get caught up in the heated core debate. I listen to what the best in the field talk about, using research to validate their claims and make decisions based on what makes the most sense to me.

I used to avoid flexion when I injured my back a few years ago and then came to the realization that avoiding flexion is why I hurt my back in the first place as I didn’t  have a whole lot of lumbar flexion to begin with. What many doctors won’t tell you if you hurt your back is whether you have flexion intolerance or extension tolerance. There is a difference and each pathology has a different rehab protocol.

Now before I get side tracked I’ll let some coaches and rehab pros who are way smarter than I am talk about the difference between the two. Here’s an article by Eric Cressey that covers quite a bit regarding the low back.

I wanted to share a back friendly core variation that in my opinion strengthens the obliques safely and additionally adds anti rotation stability as well. Working with a ton of athletes the one thing that I’ve noticed is anti rotation and anti lateral flexion deficits seem to be high. I’m not sure why this is but there is a correlation between the body’s ability to stabilize anti rotation and reducing back pain occurrences, especially in rotational sports.

Here’s the video below

I call it the curl up with band anti rotation. Not the most creative name, but if anyone has a better one I am all ears.

Its very similar to the McGill curl up and for those for aren’t familiar with Stu Mcgill, he is one of the premier back specialists in the world.

Make sure to avoid crunching/rounding the upper back excessively especially if you have a ton of T spine extension limitations. The key is to reach up a couple of inches instead of crunching. I also use the ab mat which is great to add a little more range of motion.

Bret Contreras has a nice video talking about the ab mat and demoing the eccentric portion of the crunch.

I prefer the curl up variation over the more popular russian twists pictured below. In my opinion putting someone into flexion and then rotation is asking for disc issue down the road especially since most people can’t avoid excessive lumbar flexion at the top of this position.

The curl is much safer and adds the benefit of additional rotary stability which rotational sport athletes lack.

Give the curl up a try and let me know what you think.

Train Hard and Smart!



3 Keys We Can Take Away From Jeremy Lin

Posted in Uncategorized, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , on February 15, 2012 by zenithstrength

Linsanity is here and it’s not going away anytime soon. Like most basketball fans, I have had my doubts about how long this feel good story is going to last last but after seeing Jeremy light up my Lakers, and then come back a few games later and hit the game winning shot against the Raptors…well…I’m a believer. This is the feel good story of the NBA and there is a lot we can learn about Lin’s success and use to help us with our own endeavors.

In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons someone experiences success is how much they believe it will happen.

You have to put the work and time in but all this is fueled by self belief that you belong and everything will work out. In Jeremy’s case he was undrafted out of college, played for a few teams, before arriving in the perfect situation for him to showcase his ability; a team that desperately needed a point guard to lead the way.

5 games later he is now a sensation in one of the worlds largest markets. I’m no sports psychologist, but I would say, that right there is mental toughness. Instead of cowering under the pressure and bright lights of New York city, he embraced the pressure and continued to perform at an extraordinary level. Or as athletes call it he’s in the “zone”.

So how does this relate to training  and what can we take away from Jeremy Lin’s recent tear.

1. Hard work and self belief are necessary if you want to accomplish something great and when things don’t go exactly as planned and its gut check time your self belief is what  help carries you through. The same goes for training. You have to set your goals and work towards hitting them. Whether its hitting a 400lbs on the trap bar deadlift or getting a thirty inch vertical you have to believe you can do it first and then put the work in.

2. Enjoy the journey to success. We are all guilty of forgetting that many times it’s the journey of trying to get to where you want to be which makes the difference between appreciating success  and being unsatisfied. I know that I am sometimes guilty of not fully enjoying the ups and downs of building a successful training business so Jeremy Lin’s success definitely has me reevaluating a few things.

3. Mental toughness is what separates the wannabes from those who experience success. There is no perfect situation. What I mean is that many times things don’t fall into place the way you want them to. Jeremy was crashing at a team mates couch trying to get quality sleep in. Not ideal  if you’re trying to dominate on the basketball court. How many people do you know would rather sleep on a comfy bed in a hotel room to rest up before the big game? Well, he didn’t have a choice in the matter. That’s what mental toughness is..dealing with the situation and still playing well.

In regards to training, there are many clients who want the fancy exercise that looks outrageous or they see some pro athlete performing a crazy ladder drill and think they need to be doing the same exercise to build freakish footwork. But in reality, it’s focusing on the basics squats, pullups lunges etc.  and building a solid foundation, progressing over time and putting a lot of work in  that builds a solid, strong and explosive athlete who moves well. Most people don’t want to hear that but that’s what separates the athlete who improves vs the athlete who quits and stops training after a few months. There are no quick fixes. Sorry.

Here’s a highlight video of Jeremy training. Inspirational stuff!

Put in the work, keep believing and here’s to you enjoying success with your endeavors.

In strength,


Lower Body Tennis Strength and Conditioning.

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by zenithstrength

I’m excited to announce that Zenith Strength finally got our Pit Shark belt squat machine in. Here’s a quick clip using the machine.

Here’s a quick video highlight of our lower body training session for our tennis players.

We started off with handle deadlifts on the Pit Shark belt squat. I really like this movement as it combines the best of two of my favorite exercises, the squat and the deadlift. It allows the athlete to sit back and load the hips but also hits the quads as well.

We followed that with reverse lunges using a Bulgarian bag for resistance and finished it off with lateral sled drags with a cross over step. Since tennis is over 70% lateral movement we want to develop lateral strength and stability for our players. These are also great for other sports that involve cutting and  lateral movement, such as basketball, football to name a few.

I’ll add more training footage of the Pit Shark soon.

In Strength,


The Number One Key to Losing Weight

Posted in Guest posts with tags , , , , on February 13, 2012 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is a guest post from Colin Triplett. Colin is the owner of Mint Condition Fitness in Los Gatos and he specializes in working with clients who want to lose weight and get in shape. He combines his training with a  holistic approach to improve the  overall health and wellness of his clients.

Colin  discusses his number one rule  for fat loss success.

While this post is geared mainly for people looking to lose weight, the principles of achieving success are the same regardless of the task you are trying to accomplish.. The answer may surprise you.

Check it out here.