Archive for strength and conditioning santa clara

Monday Sprint Workout at the High School

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by zenithstrength

Sprinting is one of the best ways to improve your conditioning. Whether you are a professional athlete looking to improve speed or a weekend warrior looking to stay in shape the benefits of sprinting can help an athlete of any level.

There are many different modalities one can use and it doesn’t matter whether you use the prowler, tred sled, resisted s bands, or a treadmill,  the important fact is get out and start running some sprints.

As an athlete, resisted sprinting is a great to increase the benefits of heavy sled drags and pushes. One of those benefits is improved hip extension or leg drive in to the ground. In order to accelerate you need to push hard in to the ground to propel yourself forward.

Check out Joe Defranco’s article on the benefits of heavy sled drags for improved acceleration.

In my opinion, adding resisted sprints adds another component of force production that compliments heavy sled dragging and pushing. For those who are lucky to have access to a tred sled they are great for resisted sprints. For everyone else, bands work well.

At Zenith Strength, we like to use the Optum SPS unit which allows you to control the amount or resistance you can add. The website claims that you can add as little as 4lbs to as much as 1000lbs or resistance.  One  advantage of using this piece of equipment is that the tension is constant throughout the movement and very smooth. There is no jerking or increased tension as you sprint which happens with band usage. You can also perform multi directional resisted movements as well such as side shuffles and cross over steps.

Here is a sprint workout using the Optum SPS at a local high school.

If you are new to sprinting get back into slowly and make sure to warm up and dynamically stretch the hip flexor with some  lunge variations or spiderman walks.

Get out and start sprinting and enjoy the results.

Train Hard!



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,



Functional Movement Screen Seminar Oct. 9th

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by zenithstrength

Zenith Strength is proud to announce that the functional movement screen certification and seminar will be held Oct 9th at the facility in Santa Clara

The FMS designed  by Gray Cook and Lee Burton is one of the most highly regarded movement screens in the industry.

Here’s an excerpt from FMS website:

“The philosophy behind the FMS is rooted in the concept that, in order to maximize performance, the whole body must be functioning properly. When the body is considered as a chain of individual elements, it’s reasonable that a weak link weakens the entire chain. Ignoring a weak link increases the potential for disaster, and strengthening the wrong links will not improve the integrity of the chain. The FMS provides the means to identify and resolve any weak links that may be jeopardizing the body and its healthy motion.

We are excited to integrate the FMS into our assessment protocol to better serve our athletes to help identify weakness and improve their movement, reduce the likelihood of injuries and enhance performance and athleticism.

We will be integrating these assessment tools along with our training protocols with the Full time program kids at the Eagle/Fustar tennis academy, working with their top tennis players to get them faster on the court, stronger and improving overall athleticism.

To sign up for the FMS seminar check out click here. Space is limited.

Stay tuned for more training related articles coming soon this week.

Speed Training Using Bands

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , on August 10, 2010 by zenithstrength

Bands are a great tool to use improve 1st step acceleration and quickness. Since the tension increases as the band lengthens, this forces the athlete to accelerate against the resistance.  We often follow band resisted drills with body weight shuffles and sprints to take advantage of the nervous system stimulation. The athlete will be able to explode and accelerate much faster following band resisted work.

The video below is a compilation of band resisted drills we use for our tennis players.

You can vary the movements depending on the sport the athlete plays.

Try some of these moves and watch you quickness improve.

Train Hard!


5 Tips to improve your Vertical Jump

Posted in Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by zenithstrength

Every athlete I have ever worked with wants to get faster, quicker, improve their speed. Before I discuss the 5 things you must do to improve your vertical jump I want to briefly explain how we test power output at Zenith Strength and the rationale behind the tests.

We test the vertical jump using the JUST JUMP mat to see how much force the athlete can produce. Based on the results we determine if the athlete needs to improve relative strength, upper body strength or the stretch shortening reflex.

We have the athlete perform 3 different types of jumps.

  1. A squat jump with the hands behind the head
  2. A counter movement jump using the arms to swing up as the athlete jumps.
  3. The counter movement jump with a step.

If that athlete has a low squat jump we will focus on improving the athlete’s relative strength with dead-lifting or squatting variations, which will improve ground force production.

If the athlete has a low counter movement jump we will add heavy chin up and pull-ups to improve upper body strength and help with the counter swing movement, in addition to lower body work.

And finally a low counter movement jump with a step means we have to focus on improving the stretch reflex through repeated jumps, broad jumps or depth jumps to a box.

Here are five tips that help improve your vertical jump in no particular order. Keep in mind that these are general recommendations. You should be implementing the strength training, plyometric work and mobility work, in your program.

  1. Increase your relative lower body strength.
  2. Improve your hip/posterior chain strength.
  3. Perform body weight jump variations
  4. Improve your hip flexion mobility
  5. Increase your relative upper body pulling strength.

In order to enhance your vertical jump you need to increase the amount of force you produce. The best way to do this is to improve your relative lower body strength.
We use the trap bar deadlift since it is easy to teach and feels natural for the athletes.

We also use squatting variations such as box squats which improves starting strength, since you are pausing on the box and then driving up using your hips.

Training to increase hip/posterior chain strength is essential as hip strength is necessary for a powerful jump. We use glute/ham raises to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes.  We also use hip thrusts and weighted bridges which I learned about from Bret Contreras. The common misconception is that you need to strengthen the quads and calves to jump higher. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You will see much greater gains in vertical jump and sprint performance by strengthening the hip complex.

Here’s what a barbell hip thrust looks like.

The video below is an example of some of the plyometric training we perform. We use box jumps and resisted jump training with the vertimax.

In order to integrate your hips and sit back during the loading phase of the jump you must have adequate hip flexor mobility. In fact Joe Defranco, one of the most respected strength coaches in the field insists that stretching out the hip flexors prior to testing your vertical can add some height. He teaches this technique to football players to use at the NFL combine for the jump testing portion.

Here’s a good hip flexor stretch:

And finally improving relative upper body pulling strength using chin ups and pull-ups will help with the counter movement arm swing portion of the jump. In addition there is also a high correlation between sprinting speed and relative upper body strength with pull-ups.

Add these training ideas into your program and watch your vertical jump improve dramatically.

Train Hard!


Sandbag Clean for Power Development

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by zenithstrength

The sand bag is a great tool to integrate into your strength and conditioning program for power development. Certain exercises such as power cleans are extremely technical and difficult to teach in a short period of time. However, the sandbag  clean is relatively simple to teach and retains the benefits of integrating triple extension,which is basically an explosive jump, with the added benefit of challenging the athlete’s core stability.

A couple of cues to make sure you are doing these correctly.

1.The start position is your basic dead-lift position. Make sure your low back is flat and your mid-back is tight.

2.Drive through the hips and explosively shrug your shoulders and finish off catch phase.

There are a couple ways to catch the bag. You can rotate the bag as the shown in the video below

or you can literally get under the bag and catch it.

Try them both and see which one you prefer.

As a side note  I recommend that you check out Mark Rippetoe’s book Starting Strength. Its a great instructional resource  how to dead-lift correctly as well teaching other barbell lifts.

Train Hard!


Thoughts on the SV Dirty Legs Spring Trail Run

Posted in Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by zenithstrength

I had the opportunity to work a booth at the South Valley Endurance run, bike, and duathlon,on Sunday with my good friend and Sports Chiropractor Dr. Armen Agacanyan. The majority of the athletes participating were either runners and/or cyclists and as I observed those who came in for some complimentary soft tissue and pre- race tuneups work, I noticed the similarities with some of their issues.

Almost all the athletes who came in had severe mobility restrictions in their hips. Since running is a repetitive motion that heavily taxes the hip flexors I wasn’t  surprised that they were tight after assessing them, but alarmed that very little was done to address those  issues through soft tissue/foam roller work, dynamic warmups and post race stretching in their training regimens.

The other alarming trend was almost everyone who came had ankle mobility restriction. I watched as Dr Armen, dug into their calves with the graston tool, also know as the torture device for the intense pain it causes, to help open up the soft tissue restriction and improve ankle mobility.

So here’s my point from these two observations.

If you are a competitive endurance athlete, and want to be relatively injury free you need to address ankle mobility and hip mobility issues. Everything starts with proper foot mechanics and if there is dysfunction in the ankle its only going to cause more issues up the kinetic chain to the knees, hips and low back.

Endurance athletes also need to strengthen the hips, especially the glute medius, which helps to stabilize the hip and knee while running, reducing the risk of knee tendonopathy issues.

If you are a competitive endurance athlete I would highly recommend going to a qualified strength coach to get assessed making sure any potential injury issues are addressed through prehabilitation and working with the coach so he/she can tailor a program to meet your competitive goals.

In Strength,