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athlete training

Conditioning in Bloomington, IN

My Child Needs Better Conditioning.  Is Cardio the Cure?


One of the most frequent things I see as a coach is the parent who feels his or her child is never in good enough shape.  While conditioning woes may be the case for a handful, it’s probably fair to say that if your child is playing heavy minutes in 3+ basketball games every weekend, he or she is doing just fine.  


It is important to realize that at the end of a game, any athlete who has played significant minutes is likely a little tired.  The athlete who feels 100% at the end of a competitive game either rode the bench or put forth less than his or her best effort.  


A classic example that I like to refer to when talking about conditioning is former North Carolina Tarheel and Indiana Pacer, Tyler Hansbrough.  During his college days, he would frequently play only 2-3 minutes after the tip before taking a small break. Hansbrough required these breaks because his effort and adrenaline were so high at the beginning of each game, he would need a minute or two on the bench to catch his second wind.  With all that said, Tyler’s college teams were some of the fastest playing teams in current memory, and one look at Hansbrough is enough to tell you that he was a man amongst boys.  


If a guy like Hansbrough can afford to take a break after just 2-3 minutes of hard play, maybe you should rethink what it is that your child requires to be a successful basketball player.  Would you rather be the most exceptional athlete on the court for 34 out of 40 minutes or play a full 40 at a lesser capacity? Would you rather feel you can exert your strength against your opponent at the end of the game, or just hang on for the ride?  


The sport of basketball is highly anaerobic, meaning oxygen is expended far faster than it is taken in.  The average athletes work at 85-90% of their max heart rate at any given point that the clock is running.  When the heart is racing this fast, it is simply impossible to maintain near maximal power output for long durations.  The fittest basketball players are able to exert near maximal power for a handful of possessions and recover during short stoppages (free throws, timeouts, a short rest on the bench).  


Another common asymmetry between parental and coaching philosophy is the effect of distance running on the basketball player.  Many players like to run cross country in an effort to prepare for an upcoming season. Unfortunately, putting in heavy mileage at a relatively slow pace can have detrimental effects on power output.  Athletes who train at a slower, oxidative state are teaching their bodies that it is okay to perform at a middle-of-the-road intensity for a long period of time. The heart rate percentage of a healthy distance runner is rarely close to the 85-90% range, as performing at that capacity for a 20+ minute race is essentially impossible. In summary, not only is the athlete working at a capacity well below basketball speed, but they are also biasing their muscle fibers away from the fast twitch fiber type that is so valuable for sprinting and jumping.  


Hopefully the information above has provided better understanding of the energy systems required for elite performance on the basketball court.  Rather than quite literally running your athlete ragged, consider using shorter, more intense bursts with similar amounts or shorter rest. Also, consider the role of your child on his or her team.  If they frequently shoulder the burden of scoring heavily or guarding the other team’s best player and they consistently perform well, attempt to reframe your mindset. An athlete who carries his or her team on a nightly basis will be tired.  The well trained athlete will not allow fatigue to act as a detriment.


Seth Eash


6-Packs and Athleticism: Social Media vs Reality

6-Packs and Athleticism: Social Media vs Reality

Check out our video on training abdominals here!

One of the most frequently asked questions from our athletes is how to achieve the six pack abs that are seemingly everywhere you look.  Unfortunately, this thought process is focussed solely on the visual and very little on the abdominal strength required to move heavy loads and change direction more efficiently.  In reality, there are 3 separate layers of abdominal musculature that play different roles in stability and athleticism. The three layers in order of discussion are the rectus abdominis, the obliques, and finally the transverse abdominis.  As you read on, consider your own views on abs and whether your way of thinking is helping you to meet your athletic goals.

The first layer of abdominals is referred to as the Rectus Abdominis (RA).  These muscles are the “washboard abs” that so many dream of having. The primary role of the RA is to flex the spine (think about your typical sit-up or crunch).  While the RA plays a small role in preventing extended posture (bubble butt), their larger role in athletic performance is relatively small. In fact, the visual appeal of these abs is primarily achieved through nutrition. With that said, visible ridges in your abs can be symbolic of your body fat percentage, which may need to change depending on your sport’s requirements.  While a football-playing offensive lineman and a cross country athlete may be polar opposite in appearance, it does not mean that the runner has strong abs.

While the rectus abdominis makes up the most clearly visible layer of the abs, the obliques come in as a close second.  The obliques are comprised of an outer, external layer, as well as an internal layer below them with muscle fibers running in the opposite direction.  This “X” shape created by the obliques plays a significant role in supporting the spine and allowing us to stand upright. The obliques also provide stability during side bending and rotation of your torso.  When your coaches talk about getting 360-degree expansion with you brace, the obliques make up a big portion of the area you are trying to fill with air. The obliques work in conjunction with the third layer of the abs, the transverse abdominis, to create intra-abdominal pressure (the pressure you create with your breathing), the most important aspect of athletic stabilization.

The final, and arguably the most important layer of the abdominals is the transverse abdominis.  The TA sits deepest inside the body and refers to the muscles we are trying to activate when your coach tells you to brace against a belly breath or shrink your ribcage.  There is a part of the TA below each of the muscles mentioned above, almost acting as the glue the holds everything else together. While this layer sits deepest into the body and is therefor invisible to the naked eye, it’s proof that there is far more to strong abs than the stereotypical beach body.  

There exists a saying in the athletic world that proximal stability will allow for distal mobility.  What this technical expression means is that if your abs are stable, you allow for your hips, shoulders, and everything farther away from the middle of your body to function optimally.  If you as an athlete can learn to breath and brace efficiently, you have the potential to move safely and become significantly more athletic. Stop worrying about the six pack and start thinking about the success you want on the court or field.

Reference Photos:

Rectus Abdominis: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/95/Rectus_abdominis.png/250px-Rectus_abdominis.png

Obliques and RA:

http://www.balancemotion.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/PicMonkey-Collage-300x211.jpg

Transverse Abdominis:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/thmb/acZh8HH7glUvQSp4P80dvsQ32ms=/768x0/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/GettyImages-87307057-56a0601f3df78cafdaa14e0c.jpg