Archive for training Santa Clara

The Importance of Recovery

Posted in Uncategorized, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by zenithstrength

Recovery is a arguably the most underutilized process in training. Everyone wants to train hard and often to get results and if you’re an athlete that includes practicing your sport. However, without adding recovery techniques to help the body adapt and improve from your training sessions, the work you put in the weight room is futile and will only lead to frustration.

The bottom line is basic recovery principles such as getting in 8-9hrs of sleep per night, going to bed at a reasonable hour(before midnight), addressing nutrition and soft tissue work are integral to get the most out of your training program.

Below are a couple of articles you should check out regarding recovery.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System:Looking for a Way In. by Patrick Ward a respected and knowledgeable  strength and conditioning coach and licensed massage therapist whose opinion I highly respect especially regarding recovery principles and the nervous system.

Patrick talks about the parasympathetic nervous system and the role breathing has with stress, pain and recovery.

Sleep by Joey Giandonato talking about the role of sleep and why it is important.



Core Stability in your Training Program

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2011 by zenithstrength

Assessing and addressing core stability is an important part of a solid strength and conditioning program . The reason for that is the better you can control/stabilize your pelvis the better you can demonstrate force through movement. This applies to whether your goal is getting stronger and lifting heavier weights, or getting faster on the field. I have never seen an athlete who was fast and explosive who didn’t also have good core stability. Now this doesn’t mean that only thing one has to train is the core. I get asked that question a lot, and  the bottom line is that force production is the name of the game if you are an athlete. In order to get stronger, you must have stability in the right places to demonstrate force.

Here are some basic guidelines and exercises regarding programming some core stability exercises into your program.

1. Anti extension which is preventing and controlling back extension/hyperextension. This is especially important with clients who have an excessive anterior tilt and have back pain.

Some examples include front planks, ab roll out variations, body saws and loaded zercher sandbag carries

2.Anti Flexion which is preventing your low back from flexing. Consistent and repetitive flexion of the spine may potentially cause issues with disc herniations down the road.

Examples of anti flexion exercises include  hip hinging, dead lift variations and squat variations. In addition  the prone knee to chest mountain climber using sliders or the TRX is another great exercise that we use with clients who have a posterior tilt/flat back to teach them the difference between hip flexion and lumbar flexion.

3.Anti lateral flexion,which  is preventing the low back from flexing to the side.

Some examples of exercises include side plank variations, pallof presses, landmines, suite case carries using farmers walk handles.

4. Anti rotation, which is preventing rotation in the pelvis and low back.

Some great anti rotation exercises include bird dogs, renegade rows, single leg RDL’s and hip thrusts.


Both anti rotation and anti lateral flexion stability are important especially in rotational sport athletes like golfers baseball pitchers and tennis players. Since these athletes spend most of their time rotating its a good idea to throw in these exercises to keep the low back healthy.

You should have some combination of the core stability exercises listed. Depending on how many weight training session per week you lift,  the combinations are endless and don’t be afraid to get creative.

Eric Cressey has a great article on programming core exercises into your program.

Below, is an example of working anti extension and anti lateral flexion with the plank using a band.

You can make this more dynamic by adding two bands and pulling the athlete into lateral flexion. I originally got that idea from Jim Smith and Joe Defranco. They have a dvd coming out soon called Extreme, detailing creative ways to get stronger and faster.

Try some of these exercises out and let me know how they feel.

Train Hard!


Lateral Quickness Drills

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on August 18, 2011 by zenithstrength

Lateral quickness and the ability to change direction and cut is a necessary skill in order to perform at a high level on the playing field. Unfortunately many strength training programs don’t address lateral stability and strength.

Below is a list of a  few of the exercises we use at Zenith Strength to improve lateral movement and quickness

Band Resisted Turn and Go


Cut stop change of direction.


Cross over sprint with change of direction.

Give these a try and let me know if you notice improvement with lateral quickness and cutting.

I’ll post some videos of some of our favorite  strength exercises for lateral movement that we use to supplement our speed training next week.

Train Hard!


Band Resisted Pullups

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , on June 13, 2011 by zenithstrength

Bands are great way to increase strength and power. We use them for variety of movements. We started experimenting with band resisted pull-up and have been seeing great  strength improvements.

Here’s a video of Marc using a monster mini band. We used the barbell setup with weight to keep the bar in place.


Try out some band resisted pull-up and let me know what you think.

Train Hard.


Top 3 Exercises to Improve Shoulder Internal Range of Motion

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by zenithstrength

Lack of internal range of motion or more commonly know in our industry as the “GIRD” is prevalent in sports that involve an overhead motion. Pitchers, tennis players, quarterbacks, swimmers are all susceptible to this.

Basically the rotator cuff and posterior musculature is under high amount of force during  the deceleration phase of throwing or serving.

The result is usually decreased range of internal motion after a hard session of throwing or serving.

Now there are many factors that can lead up to shoulder internal range of motion deficits but the most important factors to consider are Total motion of the Glenhumeral joint on both sides. Total motion= ER+IR.

In order to determine whether a  client  has a deficit in shoulder internal range of motion you would need to compare the measurements of both shoulders. Here’s where it gets fun. According to Myers there is a range of GIRD and 19.7 degrees is the threshold you don’t want to cross. Ideally you want to be in the 12-17 degree range.

As far as total motion is concerned if there it should be similar on both sides and if there is a loss of total motion on the throwing side you are increasing the likelihood of injuring your shoulder.

Now here’s the real scary thing regarding treatment. I have had a few of my clients come in with shoulder issues who have seen a PT prior and  there are PT”s out there who do not distinguish between internal and external range of motion and in my opinion do a terrible job in rehabbing the injury based on a poor diagnosis. Just doing rotator cuff exercises and using electric stim will not get the job done. Make sure your therapist  uses soft tissue modalities in addition to manual stretching. If he/she doesn’t  the bottom line is that you need to go to a qualified PT or Sports Chiro who knows what the heck they are  doing to get you better.

Enough of the ranting.

Here are my 3 favorite exercises to improve shoulder internal range of motion.

1. The cross body stretch.

I learned this from Mike Reinold from the Optimal Shoulder Performance dvd and has become my favorite internal stretch to use

Its a gentle stretch that increases internal range of motion after only 4-5 passes.

2.The sleeper stretch. For those who don’t have the luxury to have therapist or strength coach perform the cross body stretch this is the self help alternative. Some people like this stretch while others avoid it. The key is to make sure that you stabilize the shoulder-blade and be careful not to torque the shoulder. You should use 5% pressure when pulling down into the stretch. Make sure you don’t feel any pain in the anterior shoulder capsule. Below is a picture of Eric Cressey performing the sleeper stretch.

You can do the cross body version as well but again, make sure that you don’t torque your shoulder into internal rotation.

We like to use the Rotater for the sleeper stretch as it helps to keep the humerus relaxed and it works well for our third stretch.

3. The sleeper stretch may not work for everyone and some people may feel a pinch in the anterior capsule  so we have this version with the arm behind the back. Again be careful you don’t torque your shoulder. I like to use the Rotater for this stretch as well.

You can also use  bands to get a distraction of the humerus and turn your  head to add a trap stretch as well. Often if someone has internally rotated shoulders the upper traps will be  tight and over active.

Here’s the  video of the internal stretch with bands.

Try these stretches out to help improve you shoulder internal range of motion and you will be on your way to  preventing shoulders issues in the future.

Stay Healthy.


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.