Archive for the Guest posts Category

Form Tips on the Inverted Row

Posted in Guest posts with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is a guest post from coach Nick Tumminello from Performance University.  I think Nick is one of the more creative coaches in the industry and his dvd Angled Barbell Training is a great resource if you’re looking to learn new exercises to use with the Landmine.

The inverted row and its progressions are a staple in our programming but many times they are performed incorrectly.

Nick goes over some tips to work the upper back with the row.

Inverted Row-The Best Form Tips You’ll Ever Get!

by Nick Tumminello.

One of our favorite bodyweight exercises for increasing back strength (especially in the often weak and under-utilized mid-back muscles) is the Inverted Row!

More specifically, an overhand-grip Inverted row (using a barbell) done with a few simple tweaks, which we’ve found to make this great bodyweight back exercise much safer, smarter and more effective!

The video below reveals some very cool form tips and an innovative concept we developed, which demonstrates what we feel to be the best way to do Inverted Rows!

Additional Coaching Tips on Inverted Rows exercises and grip variations:

– When we’re doing underhand (more close-grip) inverted rows using a barbell, we don’t use the fat pad as the shoulders and elbows are in a different position, which we’ve found allows you to pull the bar into your ribcage without as much risk of “breaking” our desired form.

– Using a suspension device or rings is also a great option for doing inverted rows. That said, at Performance U, we prefer to use the barbell for the overhand grip option (displayed in the video) when we’re really trying to focus on strengthening the mid-back muscles; we feel use the fat pad provides great feedback for both us and the client.

– We really like using the suspension trainer option for our neutral grip inverted row variations and for our Triple Threat Back Blaster protocol, along with other circuit style options where we string together several pulling exercises back-to-back.

Coach Nick Tumminello has built a reputation as the ‘Trainer of trainers” through his workshops at conferences and fitness club around the world. And, for his consulting work with pro/college sports teams and with exercise equipment/ clothing manufactures.
He’s the owner of Performance University international, which provides hybrid strength training & conditioning for athletes and educational programs for fitness professionals. Based in South Florida, Nick is a Fort Lauderdale personal trainer who works with a select group of athletes and exercise enthusiasts.

You can check out Coach Nick’s articles, DVDs, seminars schedule, mentorship program and very popular hybrid fitness training blog at


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.

Are Our Youth Athletes Soft

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2011 by zenithstrength

Here’s a guest post from Dr. Craig Liebenson one of the premier Sport Chiros and injury experts in the world.

His article talks about playing in pain and the consequences of playing a sport year round and the evidence showing that playing year round is not in the best interests of an athlete who wants to reduce the likelihood of injuries. He also discusses certain risk factors that can predispose an athlete to overuse injuries and what to look for during the initial assessment.


Many a High School coach expects youth athletes to play through pain. Is this survival of the fittest? Or a recipe for disaster? Could Stephen Strassberg’s arm injury have been prevented? Let’s take a look at some facts. A successful athlete will learn how to tell the difference between hurt & sore. If they don’t they won’t make it. Today we are seeing an epidemic in overuse injuries in the youth. Girls with non-contact ACL injuries in basketball, soccer, etc. Boys having Tommy John surgery for elbow problems. Growth plate injuries or stress fractures from running, basketball, tennis & baseball.

Are year round programs, early specialization, and single sport athletes desirable? 3 reasons not to play a sport year round. Certain sports such as gymnastics & figure skating have always been early specialization sports. While most good football, baseball or basketball players traditionally played 2 or 3 sports – until now! Coaches pressure kids into choosing. Is this working?

The American Sports Medical Institute USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee Guidelines state,  ”Baseball pitchers should compete in baseball no more than nine months in any given year, as periodization is needed to give the pitcher’s body time to rest and recover.  For at least three months a year, a baseball pitcher should not play any baseball, participate in throwing drills, or participate in other stressful overhead activities (javelin throwing, football quarterback, softball, competitive swimming, etc.).”

In high school 9th graders are lifting weights with 12th graders. This even though many 9th graders may not even biologically have achieved development commensurate with their chronological age! So in fact, the 4 year chronological gap may be even greater in biological age.

Lets look at the knee as an example of the problem of overuse injuries. Patello-femoral pain syndrome (PFPS), also know as runner’s knee, is the most common type of knee pain. Pain is felt around and under the knee cap. Almost anyone can get it, but if mostly affects the highly active person due to overuse or the sedentary person due to underuse. It is very common in teens. A few of the most common clinical presentations seen in practice include patello-femoral tracking disorders, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), post-operative functional limitations after anterior cruciate ligament rupture, partially torn medial meniscus, knee osteoarthritis, and post-operative functional limitations after knee arthroplasty.

While knee pain is common, it’s tricky to find good information about it. An excellent source is Mike Reinold, ATC, PT’s website. He is the Head Athletic Trainer and Assistant Director of Medical Services of the Boston Red Sox Baseball Club The Problem Getting good care for knee pain is a challenge. The conventional wisdom about PFPS is often based on outdated thinking. As an example when the revolutionary text Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual was reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine the reviewer stated, “while pain is the most common reason people seek health care modern medical education for pain is sorely lacking.” The book’s lead author, Janet Travell, M.D. was White House Physician for John F Kennedy.

Chronic musculoskeletal problems and overuse syndromes are particularly baffling to modern medical management. In the esteemed Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 2002 Freedman et al wrote that “It is … reasonable to conclude that medical school preparation in musculoskeletal medicine is inadequate.” And, in  2005 Matzkin et al wrote that “training in musculoskeletal medicine is inadequate in both medical school and non-orthopaedic residency training programs.”

Where are we at?

A consensus is beginning to emerge from cutting edge think-tanks. Ronald Bahr MD, PhD from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center said, “Overuse injuries may represent as much of a problem as acute injuries in many sports.”

A new Norwegian study (Soligard T, et al) (Warm-Up article)  published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (2008) shows that a 20 minutes warm-up program developed by the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center in collaboration with FIFA significantly reduces injury risk in female youth football players. John Brooks, a sports injury expert put the study’s results in perspective:  “The wider sporting population at all levels should adopt this warm-up programme to reduce injury in all sports”.

For all overuse syndromes a sports medicine-orthopedic specialist should be seen who will perform an orthopedic and functional examination to rule out serious conditions, discover “weak links”, and help you identify specific goals of treatment. Once your pain is under control, and your health care provider has ruled out serious conditions, you can begin your rehabilitation process. If your pain persists or worsens be sure to consult with your doctor.


There are two distinct aspects to assessment. Orthopedic & functional. Orthopedic assessment is focused on the mechanism of injury (more important for acute problems) and the diagnosis of the pain generator (i.e. sprained ligament, fracture, tendinitis, etc.). The orthopedic assessment includes orthopedic tests and often imaging. While the functional assessment is more geared to identify the source of biomechanical overload in the kinetic chain. The source(s) of overload are the predisposing and precipitating factors which lead to activation of a pain generator. The functional-biomechanical assessment is more appropriate for chronic or recurrent problems. A common finding in the functional assessment is a breakdown in the kinetic chain arising from dysfunction in the subtalar region such as hyperpronation. Poor ankle mobility at the tib-fib joint or limited ankle dorsiflexion mobility can also lead to compensatory sub-talar hyperpronation and subsequent problems up the chain. Other foot/ankle issues to assess include inhibition of the fore foot muscles of the transverse arch (toe flexors) or poor balance.

When evaluating hip-pelvis dysfunction gluteus medius insufficiency is one of the first dysfunctions to assess. Poor hip abduction strength/coordination is another consideration. Mobility of hip extension (psoas),  abduction (adductor muscles), internal/external rotation should all be screened.

Checking for quad dominance and determining if the posterior chain (glute-ham) complex is controlling sagittal plane motion during squats/lunges is critical.

Another factor in any knee complaint is overall posture and abdominal-core function. Without appropriate core control such as during a stability ball walk out,  ham curl with the ball, or Russian ham curls the knee could become the symptomatic link in the kinetic chain.

Treatment Approaches

Modern care for knee pain consists of 4 components. First-Aid, Sparing , stabilizing, and  functional integrated training (FIT).

1. First-Aid If your pain is flaring up or acute, ice or anti-inflammatory medication may help. Use the R.I.C.E. formula:

  • Rest: Avoid putting weight on the painful knee.
  • Ice: Apply cold packs for 10-20 minutes, several times a day.
  • Compression: Use an elastic bandage such as a simple knee sleeve that fits snugly without causing pain.
  • Elevation: Keep the knee raised up higher than your heart.

2. Sparing strategies

It has been said the knee has “no place to hide”. Functionally it’s fate is often sealed by the foot or hip to which it is linked in the kinetic chain (see figure ) (Griffin 2000). There are various sources of biomechanical overload for the knee. One of the most common is inward collapse of the knee secondary to either foot hyperpronation or weakness of the outside of the hip. A key factor in the lower quarter kinetic chain dysfunction is gluteus medius weakness. It is essential to make a patient aware of the dangers of valgus overload of the knee. Basic flexiblility (i.e. psoas/piriformis/adductors) exercises should be taught.

Video of Inner Knee Collapse During Landing a Jump

Dynamic Warm-Up – The 11+ from FIFA

Dynamic Warm-Up from JBMT

3. Stabilizing strategies

Terminal knee extension exercises (heel raise, pillow push) have been recommended to train the vastus medialis oblique. Heel slides have been recommended to train hamstring/quadriceps co-activation . Gluteus medius training (the clam shell),  glut max exercise (bridge, hip thrust, etc), and hamstring training are essential from an isolated stability perspective.

4. Functional Integrated Training (FIT)

Neuromuscular functional training has been shown to improve both performance and lower-extremity biomechanics The four main components of this training are plyometric and movement, core strengthening and balance, resistance training, and speed training.  The lateral band walk and the supported functional reach are 2 excellent examples.

Dead lifts, split squats, reverse lunges, and box squats are all excellent examples of  functional exercises which can be utilized to train mobility and stability. These are performance enhancement challenges which nearly all patients with knee problems should be progressed to.

Selected Bibliography:

Bobbert MF, van Zandwijk JP 1999. Dynamics of force and muscle stimulation in human vertical jumping. Med Sci Sports Exerc 31:303:310.

Ganley KJ, Powers CM 2005. Gait kinematics and kinetics of 7-year-old children: a comparison to adults using age-specific anthropometric data. Gait Posture. 21(2):141-5.

Hewett TE, Paterno MV, Myer GD 2002. Strategies for enhancing proprioception and neuromuscular control of the knee. Clin Orthop Relat Res 402:76-94.

Hewett TE, Myer GD, Ford KR, Heidt RS Jr, Colosimo AJ, McLean SG, van den Bogert AJ, Paterno MV, Succop P 2005. Biomechanical measures of neuromuscular control and valgus loading of the knee predict anterior cruciate ligament injury risk in female athletes: a prospective study. Am J Sports Med. 33(4):492-501.

Hewett TE, Myer GD, Ford KR 2005a. Reducing knee and anterior cruciate ligament injuries among female athletes: a systematic review of neuromuscular training interventions. J Knee Surg 18(1):82-8.

Liebenson CS 2006. Functional problems associated with the knee-Part one: Sources of biomechanical overload..  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 10;306-311.

Liebenson CS 2007. Functional problems associated with the knee-Part two: Rehabilitation fundamentals for common knee conditionsJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 11;54-60.

Liebenson CS 2002a. Advice for the clinician and patient: Functional training part one: new advances.  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 6;4:248-253.

Liebenson CS 2003. Advice for the clinician and patient: Functional training part two: integrating functional training into clinical practice.  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 7;1:20-24.

Liebenson CS 2003a. Advice for the clinician and patient: Functional training part three: transverse plane facilitation.  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 7;2:97-103.

Liebenson Functional training for performance enhancement. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies,

Mascal CL, Landel R, Powers C 2003. Management of patellofemoral pain targeting hip, pelvis, and trunk muscle function: 2 case reports. J Ortho Sp Phys Ther  33:647-660.

Myer GD, Ford KR, Palumbo JP, Hewett TE 2005. Neuromuscular training improves performance and lower-extremity biomechanics in female athletes. J Strength Cond Res 19(1):51-60.

Powers CM. The influence of abnormal hip mechanics on knee injury: a biomechanical perspective. J Ortho Sp Phys Thera 2010;40:42-51.

Speed Training for Young Athletes

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by zenithstrength

Sometimes as coaches we forget to adapt our coaching styles based on the age and development of the our clients.

Here’s a guest post video from Dave Gleason regarding training youth athletes in the 6-10 year old range and developing key skills such as coordination, agility, mobility and stabilization while keeping the session fun. It definitely gets you thinking about changing some things around training younger clients.

Check out the video:

For more info on youth training check out the IYCA.

Speed Training for Young Athletes

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is a guest post from Eric Cressey of Cressey performance located in Boston. His take on speed and quickness training for young athletes was dead on and I had to share it.

Check it out here.

Cressey brings up some great points in his post about preparing athletes i.e. improving mobility, stability and strength before performing tons of agility and deceleration drills. Due to the high amount of forces on the joints during sprinting which can be up to 4 -6 times body weight, the body must have adequate strength to be able to decelerate and absorb the forces without injury to the knee-joint.

Check out his video as he discusses the absolute speed to absolute strength continuum and explains that you must build a solid strength foundation and build upon that to create a faster/quicker athlete.

Building stronger, faster, quicker athletes takes time and involves a progression of building stability and strength. Some kids may be more ready than others to begin different movement drills, but adding these drills to a young athlete who isn’t prepared for it is an injury waiting to happen.

In Strength,



Mind over Matter

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2010 by zenithstrength

There are too many times in life, whether its training or competing in a sport that individuals give up when going gets tough, refusing to dig in and use the power of the mind to overcome fatigue.

Here’s a guest post from my friend Jason Gor of Raise the Bar Fitness in San Francisco writing about his experience at the San Francisco Fight for Air Climb. Jason is a former wrestler and for those who aren’t aware wrestlers are some of the most bad ass athletes out there. Here’s his take on what its like to climb 52 flights of stairs.


I recently was part of the San Francisco Fight for Air Stair Climb, benefiting the American Lung Association.  I was able to raise over $400 for the cause and the entire event raised over $350,000.  The event took place at the Bank of America Building.  It’s the 2nd tallest building in San Francisco, consisting of 52 flights of stairs.

One drawback about the event I knew in advanced was that I was going down to San Diego on vacation the week before the event and wouldn’t return until the very night before.  I normally would like to train all the way up to the event but being an athlete my entire life I was pretty confident I would be able to climb the stairs without much trouble.  I work out at least 4x time a week and my cardio has always been pretty decent.  6 flights into the climb I knew that I was in trouble.  Though I lift weights and run consistently, climbing stairs is a whole different ballgame.  My legs were literally on fire and I could already feel my lower back tightening up from fatigue.  I had 46 flights left and there was no turning back.  With the stairwell being completely fireproof, the air was extremely stale.  I’ve already begun to work up a decent sweat and my mouth was a little dry.  People that started after me were beginning to either pass or gain ground on me so I knew I had to find the will to continue.

As I climbed from 1 flight to another I had to dig really deep down for inspiration.  There were words of inspiration at many turns urging us to keep on.  One sign would read, “only 600 steps left” or “you’re halfway there”.  These words were somewhat helpful but I couldn’t help but think about how tired I was. I began to think about my wrestling days when I would literally have to finish a wrestling match without any energy left.  Wrestling matches are considered by many 6 minutes of hell.  This stair climb was nothing in comparison to what I did when I was wrestling.  The main difference however was winning a wrestling match was more important to me than climbing the stairs and getting to the top.  I found myself focusing on my fatigue and the actual stairs instead of why I was really there.  I began to think about how this charity event was benefiting thousands and that many people do “fight for air” and how I should be grateful that I am healthy enough to even consider doing this Stair Climb challenge. It sounds very cliché but I began to take each remaining flight of stairs, one at a time.  I thought about the thousands of others that were joining me in this “fight for air” and honestly my competitive side took over.  Not only was this stair climb about helping out a great cause it was now about my self-pride.  I wasn’t going to let these stairs get the best of me.

I now began to focus on my form.  I had to remember what my Group Leader and training partner Ann Grimaldi had taught me which was to lean forward slightly from the hips with the back straight. At no time, should you be rounded in the lower back area. Look forward, keeping your eye on the stairs from time to time without looking down with a bent head the whole time. Avoid over-straightening your knees as you climb up. Place your whole foot on the step. Avoid climbing with your heels hanging off the edge because you can injure your Achilles tendon, which connects your calf to your heel. I was now on the 51st floor and I honestly probably could have easily gone another 15 flights with no major problem.

It’s truly amazing what our human body can do once we put our mind to it.  The majority of this event was completed on pure heart and desire because my legs were gone.  I hope this inspires many others to not only get involved in a great cause, but to also search for what inspires you.  Think about why you are training or working out.  Whether it’s to look better on vacation or for health reasons.  Find that inspiration and focus on your goals to train harder and “get it done”.