Archive for Shyam

Random Thoughts on the Functional Movement Screen

Posted in Athlete's Accomplishments, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , on February 25, 2013 by zenithstrength


This past weekend we hosted the Functional Movement Screen level one certification at our facility. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the FMS it was created by Gray Cook and Lee Burton as a way to score and grade movement and predict potential injuries based on the score. You can check out more info here.

A nice analogy that I got from Gray Cook regarding the FMS and how it works as a movement screen is thinking about going to the doctor’s office for a health screen and being told that you have high blood pressure without experiencing any health issues. Having high blood pressure doesn’t mean you’re going to die, but we now know that having high blood pressure for an extended amount of time increases the risk of stroke and other ailments. The FMS works in similar way with regards to screening movement. A score below 14 or obvious asymmetries that aren’t addressed doesn’t mean you will get injured tomorrow but poor movement patterns combined with repetition is the perfect storm for an injury waiting to happen.
There are 7 tests used in the FMS.

FMS hurdle step

1.Overhead Squat

2.Hurdle Step

3.Inline Lunge

4.Shoulder mobility


6.Trunk Stability

7.Rotary Stability

Certain tests will be skewed given the population that you work with. For example most overhead athletes with probably exhibit limited internal rotation with their dominant hand and have a limited score on the shoulder mobility.

Internal rotation


How the scapula sits on the rib cage will also affect this test.

Trunk stability can be affected by one’s upper body strength levels. But overall, you have a scoring system to see if clients improve over time.
Now there are definitely two sides of the coin on methodology of the FMS as people will question if the FMS is the only screen you need to perform. There is more research coming out on the effectiveness of the screen but overall I like the fact than coaches have a tool to grade movement and it definitely benefits your clients to incorporate the FMS into your assessment protocol.

I still feel you need to perform static assessments on athletes and clients, as there are limitations to the FMS tests but when you combine the two you get a very good picture of what the athlete needs to design a program geared towards sports performance.


3 Things I Learned in 2012

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2013 by zenithstrength

2012 was a big year in terms of continuing my education and having an understanding of how the body works and how different segments of the body can affect each other. Below are 3 aha moments that I learned in 2012 and how they are related to each other.
1. Extension is the new flexion. Anterior tilt 2

I remember reading a post from Eric Cressey (although I can’t recall which one), and he talked about this training baseball athletes and how they were seeing more extension patterns vs flexion patterns. Although the light bulb didn’t fully go off until I attended the Postural restoration seminar, given that we work with a ton of athletes, I was noticing a similar pattern  and came to the conclusion that essentially, the majority of athletes are going to come in with some sort of extension type issue. It is important to address this especially if they are involved with overhead/ throwing movements, as the inability to control extension can also affect how the scapula is positioned on the ribcage which will affect shoulder stability.. If they are involved in jumping sports like basketball, this can lead to anterior knee pain and hip impingement, even groin/sports hernia issues.
The goal isn’t to make wholesale changes to athletes but moving them towards a more neutral hip position by strengthening weak links, which can help alleviate a ton of extension related symptoms.
So, with the increase in athletes who exhibit these features you start to appreciate how things are connected with regards to movement. You will find that an extension athlete will have rib flairs and extend in the T/L junction so it is important to cue them to keep the ribs down and engage their anterior abdominals and obliques. Inchworms are a great exercise to work on bringing the ribs down.
There is also a correlation between how someone breathes and their hip and scapula position which brings up point number two.

2. Breathing is really important.

Breathing has been talked about by quite a few coaches I highly respect. And it wasn’t until I spent more time with a PRI trained therapist that I fully understood the relationship between how you breathe and how it affects everything from core stability to shoulder stability and range of motion. The inner core has been discussed comprehensively, and breathing properly sets the diaphragm in position to stabilize the spine when lifting heavy stuff. How you breathe can also affect your state of mind and how you deal with stress. Here are a couple of great articles that talk about this. Mike talks about stress and breathing here and Sean talks about the importance of breathing.

A few things to assess are whether someone inhales mainly through chest, or do the lungs expand with the belly. Also, look to see if they can depress their ribs during the exhale and engage the diaphragm.

3. Upward rotation for shoulder health.

Again this is a topic that has been discussed extensively by Eric Cressey and a few other coaches. Most overhead athletes will have poor upward movement of their scapula and if they are stuck in the extension posture we talked about, they will probably have their scapula locked in depression and  downward rotation using the lats. To mimic this position, exaggerate sticking your chest out and feel what it does to your upper back, scapulae and lower back.

Adding Y’s can help to some degree but we prefer seated wall slide variations and the 135 wall slide.

These are great variations  but to make them even better I would add an exhale before going into shoulder flexion to keep the ribs down and prevent them from flaring up.

Here’s a video from Mike Robertson demoing the forearm wall slide 135

And Eric Cressey demonstrating the half kneeling landmine press.

We have also started integrating Landmine presses to allow the scapula to move freely into upward rotation.


The name of the game is to keep getting better and continuing to learn so we can help athletes achieve higher levels of performance while limiting injuries as much as we can.

Hopefully these tips will help with your training and coaching.


Getting Back to Basics

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by zenithstrength

There have been quite a few articles from some highly respected coaches talking about getting back to basics and working on their own limitations to improve and progress with their training:

Its My fault Too by Tony Gentilcore

Back to Basics: A Challenge for Myself by Molly Galbraith

And another article on why you should not write your own program by none other on Tony G’s blog.

Noticing a theme here? I decided a few weeks ago that I had reached a breaking point  with my training, frustrated with my lack of progress; it was time to hire a coach to help me reach my goals.

I have quite a few movement “issues”  that I have been trying to address with some success. But with my goals of getting stronger in the front squat , barbell deadlift and just feel like a “bad ass”, I knew just lifting heavy was going to lead  to trouble. Now I am not as eloquent as Tony who talks candidly about his SI joint issues but basically what I have going on is the lack of ability to control my T/L junction. In addition, I have limited T-Spine extension despite my daily routine of soft tissue  and mobilization work….. In English all it means is that it is very difficult for me to arch my mid back without arching my low back and its hard to keep my low back neutral when I squat and deadlift with light weight. Of course as the weights get heavier the compensations become more noticeable.

As you can see on the left there is much more of an arch vs the more neutral start position on the right.

Now before I accidentally set off a controversy on whether or not to arch, it really depends on the client and what you are trying to accomplish. But from my understanding and what I have learned from some of the best coaches, you do not want to rely on passive restraints for support when you lift. In this case that would be crushing your spine if you arch too hard. There needs to be support from active restraints with minimal help from the passive restraints.

Anyways, getting a little side tracked here…. to work on my goals I hired Mike Robertson to help me get on track and back to feeling good about lifting. I have quite a few products from Mike including Assess and Correct and wrote a review on Bullet Proof Back and knees so I had a strong feeling I would be working on the basics such as doing a ton of half kneeling/tall kneeling movements and goblet squats to box for the first part of my program

As Mike says it’s not sexy and I would concur,  I think he forgot to mention it is also humbling since it has definitely been much harder than I thought to perform planks and birddogs correctly with a neutral spine and proper alignment. Ultimatel,y as a coach, I understand you have to get this stuff  down and learn to control your spine before advancing to the heavy/fun stuff…after all this is what we want to achieve with our athletes.

It’s almost been 2 weeks and I am already  noticing better control of my low back with the movements and a ton of oblique activation when I do the exercises correctly.

I’ll start updating my training more often as I continue with Mike’s program.

Remember that in order to progress, many times you have to take a few steps back and work on the basics but in the long run the results are well worth it.

Train Hard!


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,


“Extreme” Review

Posted in Uncategorized, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by zenithstrength

Jim Smith and Joe Defranco are two of the best and most innovative coaches in our industry, so when I heard that they were coming out with a new dvd called “Extreme”, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Extreme is the third product that coach Smitty and Joe D. have put out within the last year or so. Power and Amped warmup are the other two products that I also purchased and highly recommend them if you’re a coach or athlete.

Extreme is a fantastic resource utilizing over 130   exercises that bridge the gap between traditional lifts such as squats, deadlifts and benching to improve performance on the playing field.

Ultimately, the  goal of a  coach is to produce gains that transfer on the playing field on game day and this dvd allows the viewer to gain insight to a smorgasbord of supplemental exercises to achieve those goals.

The exercises are broken into Upper Body, Lower body, Rehab and Core to name a few. The value is seeing the creativity behind many of the movements, and if you understand how the body moves and the rationale behind the movements you start to look at many basic movements from a different perspective and it allows the coach to really get creative with exercises.

Below is a video from going through a variation of the rollout they use in the dvd.

If you want to learn from the best and add more tools to your toolbox get your copy of Extreme here.

Train Hard!


Core Stability in Your Program Part 2

Posted in Athlete's Accomplishments, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. conditioning, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2012 by zenithstrength

In part 1  we talked about the different types of core training exercises and implementing them in your training program.

In part 2 we are going to talk about developing stability while standing and integrating it with movement.

Anti Lateral flexion and rotation is an area that many athletes lack strength and stability in.  It would be nice to see some studies correlating back pain or knee pain with anti lateral core stability/strength. If someone has a link to some studies please comment below.

The benefits of owning lateral stability are especially important for rotational athletes such as baseball players, tennis players and golfers to name a few. I’m a huge fan of integrating stability with movement patterns once the athlete masters the basics such as planks and tall/half kneeling variations as I feel this most closely mimics how the body functions while moving.

Below is a video of Tony Gentilcore of Cressey Performance performing a pallof press while squatting.

You can also add lateral movement and hip strength to the pallof press.

Below is variation of the press using the TRX rip trainer with a band around the knees to facilitate  glute activation.

This is a great exercise for athletes that need stability in the frontal plane as it incorporates both the upper and lower body working together to stabilize.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Shyam Soin

3 Strength Exercises to Improve Linear Acceleration

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by zenithstrength

Just about every sport involves short bursts of acceleration, whether it’s a wide receiver getting off the line of scrimmage to run a route or a tennis player chasing down a drop shot, an athlete’s ability to accelerate is one of the most important factors that determines success on the playing field. The bottom line is that you must put a tremendous amount of force into the ground to propel yourself forward. In order to do this you must work on getting stronger. In addition to strength training, another key component is teaching the proper mechanics of acceleration making sure that the athlete is pushing into the ground versus sliding the foot back.

Joe Defranco has a great article on acceleration mechanics and some great cues on teaching the start of the 40 yard dash and explains importance of getting full hip extension during the acceleration phase.

At Zenith Strength we use many different tools to improve linear acceleration of our athletes.

Here are my 3 favorite exercises to strengthen the lower body and improve first step acceleration.

1. Heavy Forward Sled Drags and Heavy Pushes

Heavy sled dragging and sled pushing should be a staple in your program if your goal is to improve starting strength and leg drive.

Both movements teach hip extension and enable the athlete to put force into the ground to improve their hip extension strength.

They also put  the athlete at a 45 degree angle which is the position you want to be in when accelerating.

You can also combine the sled work and get a drag push combo. I got this idea from Joe Defranco a few years ago.

Below is a video of the drag/push combo.

2. Split Squats with the rear foot elevated.

Split squats are a fantastic exercise to build single leg strength in the quads, glutes and hams in the weight room.

The rear foot elevate split squat (rfess) is the go to strength exercise used by  Mike Boyle, Joe D and Martin Rooney, some of the best coaches  in the industry,  for developing strength for linear acceleration. They work with some of the best athletes in the world and when they talk about what works for them you have to pay attention!

Here’s a video of Ben Bruno doing some RFESS with 75lb dumbbells and a weighted vest.

3. Woodway Force Resisted Sprints

The Woodway Force is a fantastic piece of equipment found and used by top collegiate programs and training facilities  to build acceleration power as well as top speed leg turnover.

We can set the load, which is the resistance, to teach the athlete to drive back to propel them forward and really work on improving their hip extension power output.

We will use a load that is 10-20% of the athlete’s body weight and have them sprint for 5 secs and rest 30 secs sometimes longer to make sure they are fully recovered during our power workouts. You can adjust the duration and rest periods depending on the sport you;re training for.

If you don’t have access to one you  can also uses resisted bands around the waist.

Here’s a video using the Woodway force .


Try these exercises out and you should notice an improvement in your ability to accelerate.

Train Hard!