Corrective Exercise

Warm Up Menu

Here is a warm up menu for flexibility and injury prevention I have developed over the years.

We always spent 12-20 minutes in warm up and injury prevention drills prior to the work out.

My last few years in college we had NO major surgeries in any sport – any athlete.

That was a very proud event for our staff.



Foot Work Drills – Pick 1-2

# 1 Ladder Drills –
L1 Shuffle R/L Scissors R/L Hop Scotch
L2 Qtr Eagle R/L Crossover R/L Carioca R/L
Do Each 1X
L3 Ins & Outs R/L Over & Backs R/L Icky Shuffle

#2 Line Hops
L 1 In – Place X20 Scissors Skiers Front to Back
Hammer R/L Hammer Crossover R/L Lateral Hop
R/L Front/Back Hop Qtr Eagle R/L *180-240-360 R/L 1xRt/1xLt

L 2 Moving X10 Yds Scissors R/L Skiers F/B Hammer R/L/X-Over F/B R/L Hop F/L/B R/L Zig Zag Hop F/L/B
Qtr Eagles R/L Circles R/L

L 3 Hop and Stick L 4 Jump Rope moving

#3 Platform Step Ups X20 Seconds
R/L Ft Forward R/L Ft Lateral R/L Ft Crossover
SGL Leg Frwrd R/L SGL Leg Lat. R/L SGL Heel Tap Lat. R/L
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets

#4 Jump Rope X 120 Jumps
(2 Ft, Scissors, Rt, Lft, X-OVR Rt & Lft) 20 each
L1 2 sets L 2 3 sets L3 4 sets

Shoulder Drills – Pick 1 – 2

#1 Shoulder Activation Series – Do each Drill X 10
Short Wings 90/90 Pec Dck Ret. Pump It Up
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets OR Add weight

# 2 Shoulder X’s 10 Reps Each
X Retraction rt up X Retraction lft up T Retraction
Hip Hinge – Bent Over
Posterier Shoulder Y’s T’s A’s
Prone TD’s Angel Wings
L1 Body weight/20’s L2 2.5 lb X 10’s L3 5 lb X 10

# 3 Standing BW Series
Empty Can Bnt Ovr Empty Can T’s Bent Over T’s
Int/Ext Rotation Hip to Lip 90/90 Rotation
Bnt OVR 90/90 Rot. Bnt OVR Angels
L1 Body weight/20’s L2 2.5 lb X 10 L3 5 lb X10

# 4 Shoulder Tubing Series x 5 – 10
Int/Ext Rotation 90/90 3 Way Int/Ext Rot.
Hitch Hiker 90/90 3 Way Retraction
Y’s, T’s, A’s
Level 1 LITE Tubing 5-10 Level 2 Lite + Tubing 5-10
Level 3 Medium Tubing 5-10

Core Exercises – Pick 1 – 2

# 1 Body Wt Core
McGill Sit Ups: Rt/Lft Straight & Rt/Lft X-OVR 10’s Ea. X 10
Lat. Leg Lifts R/L Each X 10
X Superman’s: Same Arm/Leg & Opp. Arm/Leg 10 – 20 per set
Parachutes: X Superman 10 – 20 per set
Level 1- 1 set Level 2 – 2/3 sets
Level 3 – Hold on Coaches count

# 2 Planks
Prone Leg Abduction, Chicken Wing, Alternate Reaches
Lateral Outside Hip Leg Up, Leg Swings, Apple Pickers
Lateral Inside Hip Hip Up, Leg Swings, Apple Pickers
L1 all x 3’s L2 all x 6’s L 3 all x 9’s

# 3 Chop-Lift-Twist Ea. 1-2 X 10
Use Keiser, Cable Trainer or Tubing
Twist stance parallel Chop/Lift stance half kneel
Knee/foot/ankle L1- 1 Fist apart stance L2 Either side of a line stance L3 In-line stance

Hip Hinge Training – Pick 1

# 1 Bridges Ea. X 5
Two Feet Rt/Lft X-OVR Rt/Lft X-OVR Rotate
Skips(Knee Punch) Rt/Lft Leg Up Rt/LFt Leg Out
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets

# 2 Tip to a T L1 ½” Band Ft to Shldr – Same and Opposite Side Reach Back Swing Leg
L2 1/2 ” Band Ft to Neck – Same and Opposite Side Reach Back Swing Leg
Ea. X 5 L3 ½” Band Ft to Hand – Same and Opposite Side Reach Back Swing Leg

# 3 AB/AD Series Squat and Squeeze Bridge and Squeeze Good Morn & Squeeze
Ea. X 5 Ankle Band Shuffles X – Band Shuffles
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets

Knee Flexion / Stopping – Pick 1

# 1 1 Leg Balance Squat Series Reach Front, Lateral, Back, Scorpion Each 3’s Right and Left
L1 1 x 3 of each L2 2 x 3 of each L3 3 x 3 of each

# 2 Push Back Lunge Series Forward Push Forward Diagonal
Ea. 3’s Lateral Reverse Diagonal
Drop Step Scorpion
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets

Core/Shoulder Series

Crawling Planks Forward/Backward Shuffle R/L Cross Over R/L
10 YARDS Each Carioca R/L Spiderman F/B Alligator F/B
L1 1 set L2 2 sets L3 3 sets

Functional Flexibility Series – Pick 1

#1 Squat Flexibility L1 Cat to a Squat to a 1 Arm Reach and Stand
L2 Stick, Bar, Band, Rope, Jump Rope Overhead Squat
Ea. X 10 L3 ½” Super Band O – Overhead Squats

#2 Windmill L1 Get up with 10% of Body Weight
L2 Get up with 15% of Body Weight
L3 Get up with 20% of Body Weight

#3 Turkish Get Up L1 Get up with 10% of Body Weight
L2 Get up with 15% of Body Weight
L3 Get up with 20% of Body Weight

Recovery Circuit

Dilemma – You want to work out, but you need to recover. You need to train to feel good about your self but you know you are needing recovery. What to do . . . . ? Do a recovery circuit. Build in stretching, foam rolling, easy cardio creating a circuit that will prepare you for tomorrows session of intense training. What would this look like? Check out the sample below:

10 Kg Plate Squat      10 Reps

Row 2:00 Hard

Squat and Alternate Reaches      10 Reps 5/5

Foam Roll Glutes      10 Reps 5/5

Glute Ham      10 Reps

Jacobs Ladder 2:00 Fast

Alternate Mountain Climber Medicine Ball Stretch      10 Reps 5/5

Foam Roll IT Band      10 Reps 5/5

Rotational Push Ups      10 Reps 5/5

Airdyne 2:00 Hard

Foam Roll Quads      10 Reps 5/5

Pretzel Stretch      10 Reps 5/5

TRX Incline Pull Ups      10 Reps

Run 2:00

Foam Roll Figure 4 Rotations 10 Reps      5/5

Stick Drill for Shoulders 10 Reps      5/5

This type of workout is very beneficial to your body recovering. It is actually better than rest alone!! Next time you need a break, try this workout out and I bet you feel better and train with more quality at your next session.



Top Ten Things I Apply to my Training Programs


The following items are philosophical tenants I apply to all my training prescriptions and programs. I have found that when I keep these items at the forefront of my process of training, my athletes and clients are trained to a much higher level with less volume and fewer problems.
1. The first 5:00 minutes of the workout sets the tone for the entire session and the last 5:00 minutes of today’s workout is the start of tomorrow’s session.
2. Pattern Before Power
3. 20% of Corrective Exercises applied during the training session will tend to positively impact 80% of the problems and complaints of the athlete/client.
4. Just because you can does not mean you should.
5. The quality of the focus, effort and repetition are the key to optimal performance.
6. Body weight before external loading.
7. Build in fun and competition.
8. Speed, power, strength, core and fitness sequencing are the key to maximizing the performance training prescription.
9. After clean patterns and added volume and load – integrate time under tension, speed, unilateral loading, complex and combination patterns of training for added stimulus and improvement.
10. More is Better – more rest, more recovery, more quality and more nutrition
The first 5:00 minutes of the workout sets the tone for the entire session and the last 5:00 minutes of today’s workout is the start of tomorrow’s session. The first 5:00 minutes set the tone, tempo and focus of today’s session. Many corrective exercise strategies can be seamlessly integrated into the warm up process. The last 5:00 minutes of the workout can be focused on passive recovery and/or active regeneration techniques in order to maximize the benefits of the session as well as begin to train the athletes that warm – up and recovery are a part of every training session.
Pattern before power. If the athlete/client does not have clean movement patterns, why load them, increase their volume, add speed, etc? It makes absolutely NO sense to have the athlete continue to execute crappy reps. Good to great reps are acceptable, depending upon the athlete/client. The novice can get away with good, but not the veteran.
20% of Corrective Exercises applied during the training session will tend to positively impact 80% of the problems and complaints of the athlete/client. Most of the poor compensation/movement patterns I have encountered are from ankle immobility, hip immobility, low core instability, T-spine immobility, anterior shoulder tightness and scapula instability. Addressing these items during the warm up, cool down or the training session with a few easy to do exercises will tend to address most of the issues that people have when it comes to movement and overall muscular-skeletal health.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. If you can do 50 snatches in a row, should you? Why? 100 hang clean and squat presses? 100 burpees? Why? To get smoked? Ok, that makes a little sense. Very little. Are you training or are you working out? If you are working out – go ahead. If your focus is to increase work capacity – fine. But just doing it to do it or for work capacity is like running around the goal post to warm – up. It accomplishes the goal and nothing else. If you are training and you have a goal or have an issue or have a technique or pattern problem – then why do a bunch of unfocused, crappy reps? When you get tired and keep going – you most likely are doing crappy reps.
The quality of your focus, effort and repetition are the keys to optimal performance. Not only do your patterns need to be optimal but your effort needs to be intense and your focus needs to be great in order to get the most out of your training session. If your effort is average, your return on your effort will be average. If your focus is poor, generally your execution and pattern will suffer. If you are training with great effort, optimal focus and executing great reps, your return on your training will be maxed. Effort and focus can pertain to speed, power, pauses and holds as well as rounds and reps.
Body weight before external loading. If an athlete cannot execute 20 reps of air squats and push-ups properly, then why prescribe loaded squats or bench press? If they cannot execute 3 good pull-ups, why let them continue to bench press 225 and do lat pulls with 90 pounds? If an athlete cannot execute a single leg sit down squat onto a bench for 5 reps, why load them with dumbbells for lunges? Body weight before external loading.
Build in fun and competition. If it is not fun, why do it? If the person does not like to compete, why are they in performance training? If you are just working out, then you do not need to compete. If you are not going to be graded or measured in any type of physical parameter, then you do not need to compete. But it always MUST be fun, or, why do it?
Speed, power, strength, core and fitness sequencing are the key to maximizing the training prescription. Would you time a mile and then test a 40? Would you test bench press max and then test seated mediball push test? Would you smoke the core and then test a dead lift max? NO! Then why set up your training sequence so that the athlete trains in a poor order or sequence of stimulus? If they do not improve on test day, then the training program was flawed. The Russian coaches felt that if 60% PR’ed, it was a poor training cycle. If 70% Pr’ed it was an average training cycle. If 80% PR’ed then the training program was outstanding. How do your training cycles compare?
After optimal movement patterns are established and/or volume and load are added – integrate time under tension, speed, unilateral loading, complex and combination patterns of training for added stimulus and improvement. If the same workout prescription is done time after time, with similar progressions, similar loads and similar exercises – why would you ever expect different results? New stimulus must be applied and training emphasis focus must be integrated and weaved in and out of the program as speed, power, strength and fitness are all vital components for competitive athletes to improve during the off-season.
More is Better – more rest, more recovery, more quality and more nutrition. It is America and yes more is better. However, it is not always just more volume or more load. What is critical to integrate is more quality stimulus at the optimal time, more proactive recovery and better nutritional support at the times that it is critical and the body is starving for nutrients.

These are some of the tenants that I judge every one of my training programs and workouts by as I prescribe them to my athletes and clients. They have helped me over the years and I hope they are of some inspiration to you.

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Core Vector Training

The core is an area of the body roughly defined as the region from the armpits to the knees.  Most of our movements occur through the core after beginning somewhere else.  For instance, in jumping the area of the core will move toward the ground as the arms reach back or up and the legs flex.  Upon forceful extension of the arms and legs the body is propelled upward with the force moving through the core to the blocked arms.  When sprinting, the arms and legs are dynamically moved through out the range of motion in order to develop the velocity of the body, moving the core forward. These ballistic arm and leg movements occur around a generally stable, strong core.  If the core lacks proprioceptive strength, (strength with balance and stability) then energy leakage can occur upon force production or force absorption and the power generated by the limbs and transferred through the core can be lost, resulting in less speed or height generated for an event, routine or technique.  During force reduction, the compensation pattern to accommodate these weaknesses can lead to injury.

In training the core it is important that the many vectors of stress and planes of motion be addressed as the demands of sport occur at high speeds and a variety of angles.  Training the core in the variety of angles needed is similar to the angles of attack in the combative arts.  The attack vectors of martial arts are up and down; diagonal up and down right and left; across the body from right to left and vice versa: and finally straight in, which is unnecessary for core development.

If the core can be trained in these various angles with a variety of implements then it will better be able to withstand as well as transfer the forces needed in preparation and competition.  The labels for the various vectors are as follows:

Straight Down             –             Slams

Straight Up                        –             Scoops

Side to Side                         –             Twists

Diagonal Up                        –            Lift

Diagonal Down            –             Chop

The stances are relatively simple to master as there are 4 basic stances with three levels of difficulty.  There is the lunge stance (kneeling or standing), the squat stance (kneeling or standing), diagonal variations off of each of these and the single leg stance.  To vary the level of difficulty for each all you do is shorten the stance from wide to narrow.  The lunge stance starts out with the foot about 1-2 foot widths wider than or away from the opposite knee.  The next level of difficulty is the foot/knee is on one side of a line and the opposite foot/knee is on the other side of the same line.  The most difficult lunge stance is the one in which the foot/knee and opposite foot/knee are on the same line, as if on a balance beam.  In the squat stance start out wider than hip width, move to hip width and the most difficult stance in order to maintain core stability during a strength movement is with the feet less than hip width.  Needless to say, the single leg stance is the most difficult of all to maintain balance and execute pillar core training.

As for modalities used to implement core training the Keiser Functional Trainer is excellent for the constant variety of speeds and loads at any angle and it has a power output reading.  Most of us are not so fortunate to be able to afford a Keiser, so substitute some light to medium resistance tubing in order to give resistance in the proper ranges of motion.  Medicine balls are excellent in order to mimic the movements in the various vectors and stress the ability to maintain a tall pillar core without arching or collapsing with rotation. The medicine ball can also be thrown to the floor or off of a wall in the various vectors in order to increase the power developed and force transfer through the core.  The most stressful implement to use in core vector training is the water ball.  The water ball is simply a small stability ball with about a gallon or 8.8 pounds of water.  Just get a small piece of tubing and fill the sink with water.  Take the smaller stability ball that is about ¾’s full of air and insert the tubing into the sink, under the water and suck start it in order to start the flow of water.  Insert the tube into the ball in order to siphon the water from the higher sink into the lower ball on the floor.  Keep adding water until about a gallon of water is added into the ball.  During the movements the added water will move about inside the stability ball and cause the core to react and proprioceptively stabilize in order to execute the movements.

Another way to execute core vector training is by using dumbbells and ankle weights and moving the limbs through a variety of movement vectors while beginning with a pillar core in extension on the floor for front side or on a stability ball for back side core.  A 2 – 5 pound dumbbell and 2 – 5 pound set of ankle weights are sufficient for most any athlete.  While on the back, the dumbbell is extended above the head and the opposite leg is extended while the same side leg is flexed at the knee. The athlete will bring the dumbbell and ankle weight up in a long arm and leg movement and meet in the middle for a sit – up type movement.  As the dumbbell and ankle weight are returned to the ground it is imperative the athlete get long through the core but does on arch the back.  The second vector is to move the arm out to “2 o’clock” position and the opposite leg out to the “8 o’clock” position and now execute the same sit – up type movement in a diagonal type vector.  The final movement starts from a totally different position.  The arm is extended above the shoulder straight up at the ceiling while the opposite leg is extended up above the hip in a similar fashion.  The arm moves away from the body toward the “3 o’clock” position and the leg moves away from the center of the body toward the “9 o’clock” position.  Neither the arm nor leg will touch the floor as the core of the body fights to keep the belly button facing straight up to the ceiling.  Do not let the belly button follow the long, straight leg away from center is one cue, the other being to maintain ground contact with both hips throughout the movement.

The same concept can be utilized on a stability ball for the “super man” type of exercise.  However, we will change the vectors and emphasis of motion. Just about everyone is familiar with the “superman” exercise.  However, we will add a dumbbell in one arm and ankle weights as well as provide a different aiming point and cue for technique execution.  Most people will coach and execute the movement by reaching up for the ceiling with the arm and leg.  The optimal execution is to reach the foot and hand for the meeting point between the wall and floor and let the long stable core support the shoulder extension at the deltoid and hip extension at the glute.  The foot should not get higher than the glute and the hand should not get higher than the deltoid.  The cue is to “reach” and get “longer” through the back side core.  The vectors are the normal superman with either the same arm or opposite arm involved.  The second vector is the arm at “2 o’clock” and the leg at “8 o’clock” and the final vector is with the arm at either 3 or 9 o’clock and the opposite leg at either 6 or the opposing 8 or 4 o’clock angles.

Question and Answer for Strength Coaches

What emphasis do you put on core training and when and where does it fit in your program?

Core training is done at the beginning, middle and end of all of our strength workouts performed in the weight room.  At the beginning of our workouts we may do chronic abs which are a series of on the floor sit –ups done either coach directed or at the athletes direction targeting all areas of the abs. We may also do hanging abs, where we hang from the racks and lift our legs, knees or feet up to our stomach, chest or hands in a variety of exercises.  We may also do some swiss ball exercises, some mediball drills or some rubber band or tubing exercises for our core.  I always assign some type of core training prior to the work out in order to awaken and stimulate the core in order to foster correct neural recruitment to protect the core as the heavier exercises are executed.  Years ago it was recommended that no core work be done prior to heavy weight training in order to prevent core fatigue and possible injury.  I have found over the years that some core work at the beginning actually seems to help foster better mechanics during the lifting workouts.

At the end of our workouts we assign more ab/core work and a lot of this is of the weighted or heavier variety.  We repeat our pre workout chronic abs but add ankle weights and a plate or mediball in our hands for extra resistance.  We do burnout sets with the mediball.  We prescribe swiss ball exercises for stability and strength when the athlete is already fatigued.  We do more rubber band or tubing ab drills.  I also have found that if I break up the ab work I can get better compliance from my athletes, especially when it is not coach directed.

Many of the exercises our athletes perform call the core into play.  When an athlete cleans, snatches, squats or does combination lifts, the core is being called upon in order to support and stabilize the load.  Many of our circuit workouts with dumbbells have an extreme core component in the execution of the individual exercises.  In essence, any time our athletes are standing and lifting loads that are in their hands or on their shoulders, their core is involved to some degree.  The higher the load is over their shoulders and the lower the hips are in the movement, the greater the core is being called into play.  Going from bilateral support to unilateral support increases core involvement.  Decreasing the stability of the athlete or increasing the instability of the surface the athlete is on increases the demand on the core.

In summary, the more ways we can target the core, the better we get at just about everything we do.

Is warm-up that important?

Warm – up is a critical component of the training and conditioning process in my philosophy as a coach.  Warm – up will set the tone, tempo and attitude of the individual, group or team for the entire workout.  If the warm – up is slow, methodical, sloppy, half – hearted, mechanical, or non – existent, then the workout,  practice or competition will reflect that type of warm – up.  However, if the warm – up is up tempo, crisp and possesses variety, then the following session will begin will reflect those same attributes.

I try to accomplish several things during warm – up. I want to warm the athletes up.  But, I also want to create suppleness throughout the body, turn the neuromuscular system on, properly prepare the athletes for the workout to follow and progress the warm – up to the point the athlete is ready to handle the stressors of the upcoming workout.  I call this sequence warm – up, loosen – up, turn – on, build – up and workout.

Warm – up consists of a variety of exercises and drills I implement in order to create an athlete that is prepared for the workout.  When I was coming up, warm – up used to consist of “run around the goalpost” or “3 times around the gym” or “give me a lap around the track” and that was it.  Today, warm – up is utilized for pre – hab injury prevention exercises, neural innervation to “turn on” the proper musculature, agility, mobility, core strengthening, joint loosening, balance enhancement, spatial awareness training, as well as building up to the speed, power and strength in the ranges of motion needed in the workout itself.  In other words, as Vern Gambetta queried many times,

“Where does warm – up end and the work out begin?”

The warm – up is crafted based upon several parameters.  The type of workout that will follow the warm – up, the sequence of the previous workout, the warm – up menu for the training period, the demands of the sport and the needs of the athlete.  If the workout is a horizontal speed session, then the warm – up is more like a “track” warm – up, with lots of sprint technique drills.  If the workout is a lateral speed and agility session, the warm –up is designed to prepare the athlete for hip, knee, ankle flexion, rotation and extension at the proper speed and depth.  If the work out is a strength, plyometric, conditioning or work capacity session, then the warm – up will again reflect those differences.

During warm – up I prescribe lots of pre – hab drills in order to foster injury prevention.  Things such as neck for football, multi – planer balance single leg squats and single leg good mornings as well as rubber band walks for ACL protection.  Slide board drills for groin development/protection, hamstring slow speed strengtheners on glute hams, physioballs and with partners to name a few.  Loosen – up consists of dynamic movements to prepare the joints and the body for the full range of motion demands of the workout.  I do not do a lot of “stretching” prior to a training session.  Old timey stretching/flexibility is saved for post workout time.

Turn – on is a reference to incorporating the neural component of the neuromuscular system.  Many of my athletes have been in bed sleeping or sitting in class just prior to the training session.  Many of the muscles have been somewhat dormant and need to be awakened or “jazzed up” for the workout.  The core needs to be addressed, the glutes need to be made to function and on some specific athletes, the abductors and adductors of the hip need remedial work.  I assign specific drills and exercises in order to get these areas fired up and functioning as they were designed.

Build – up refers to the athlete continuing the warm – up to the point in which they are prepared to move at the speed needed for the session and in the manner required for the drills assigned.  If the athlete is doing an agility workout, they need to be prepared to bend, rotate, extend and explode in and out of cuts.  If the training session is a horizontal conditioning session, then the athlete needs to be prepared to run at the tempo required for the sprints assigned.  If the athlete is going from warm – up to the platform, then they need to be ready to pull and rack quality weight with posture, power and technique.

My warm – ups are generally 10 – 20 minutes in length and consist of a variety of drills, modalities, techniques, planes, tempos and ranges of motion.  It is imperative the athlete be prepared for the upcoming session.  I look at it this way.  If the upcoming training session were a competition, would I want my athletes prepared to start fast, with great focus, function and fundamentals?  I think we all would respond with a resounding “Yes!”

Regeneration Strategies: What, Why, When and How to Recover

Recovery and Regeneration are the limiting factors to much of our training prescriptions.  I know with more control over the athletes’ recovery and down time, the better quality and quantity of training I can prescribe.  When our NBA and NFL athletes are here for combine preparation we greatly influence their rest, nutrition, supplementation, recovery and regeneration as well as their training programs.  This allows us to prescribe programs of great volume that include intense quality movements and exercises.

Sleep is a critical part of recovery.  Most athletes need 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night beginning and ending at about the same times.  Too much sleep, too little sleep or long naps can inhibit the bodies ability to adapt to the stresses of training.  Deep sleep will encourage the release of hormones for recovery of muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as the immune system.  Lighter sleep stages will help to reinforce neural patterns stimulated during training sessions.  Drugs, alcohol, environmental changes, delayed bed times and illness can all disrupt normal sleeping patterns and recovery.

General Post Training Strategies

Ten to fifteen minutes in a swimming pool of movement consisting of large general movements of the body can relax, refresh and speed the process of recovery.  A

3 – 4 minute hot tub alternated with a 30 – 60 second cold plunge repeated for three reps can greatly foster the recovery process.  For relaxation, end with a warm environment which will encourage sleep.  For recovery between training sessions, end with a cold bout.  The cold tub should not exceed 10 degrees Celsius.

Specific Post Training Strategies

Metabolic fatigue – is volume related such as training for over an hour in length, multiple training sessions as well as the overall cumulative effect of fatigue and can be recovered by the use of re-hydration and refueling immediately after training and competition.  Metabolic fatigue can be recognized by early onset of fatigue, normal training seems more difficult or the athlete struggles to complete the session.

Neural fatigue of the peripheral nervous system – is also volume related and caused by high intensity sessions or long low to moderate sessions of training and can be recovered by hydrotherapy, light active and static stretching as well as massage.  Neural fatigue is expressed by low power output, heavy/slow feet and poor technique.

Neural fatigue of the central nervous system – is caused by low blood glucose levels brought on by high pressure training sessions involving rapid decisions and reactions or just training monotony.  This type of neural fatigue is expressed by lack of motivation/passion and can be recovered by steady intake of carbohydrate during and after training, rest and alternative activities such as music, movies and video games.

Psychological fatigue – is caused by team conflict, competitive pressures or other outside stressors such as school and personal or social conflicts.  This type of fatigue is expressed by loss of confidence and/or lowered self esteem; poor interaction and communication among team members; negative attitudes; increased anxiety and poor sleep patterns.  This fatigue can be recovered by activities such as reading, movies, books, video games, etc.

Environmental and Travel fatigue – is caused by disruption of normal routines such as sleep patterns, meal timing, increased sitting or standing requirements, cultural changes, climatic differences and time change.  This fatigue is usually expressed with longer warm-up needs and slower starts to the workout, increased unforced errors in early competition and earlier onset of fatigue.  Recovery strategies for this type of fatigue include proper preparation and planning for training and travel: adequate hydration and refueling patterns; limiting climate stressors such as extreme heat or cold; minimize visual fatigue with sunglasses and limited computer time and minimizing hearing fatigue by wearing ear plugs on long flights and limiting loud music on mp3 players.

Post Training Recovery Schedule

Immediately After

Restore fluid and glycogen levels by drinking .6 –1 L of sports drink

Eat quality protein and low glycemic carbohydrate snack

Stretch lightly with active and short duration static (10 seconds or less)

Walk or jog lightly to assist lactate recovery

Check weight to gauge sweat loss

Listen to relaxing music

At Home

Continue to rehydrate and refuel

Shower and end with alternate hot/cold showers (30 seconds each) for 3 – 5 reps

Have a balanced meal of quality protein, low – moderate glycemic carbohydrate

Utilize a relaxation or music to unwind


Bath to relax

Long stretches and/or PNF

Self massage – foam roll

Prepare for bed

Incorporate visualization and/or relaxation techniques

If unable to sleep – get up – jot down the problem(s) or make a list

Next morning

Monitor your body – respiration and heart rate as well as how you feel

Weigh in

Record in your training journal

I hope this article will help give you insight into the art of the application of the science of recovery and regeneration.  It is easy to read but can be very difficult to put into practice.   I would like to thank Angela Calder of the University of Canberra in Austrialia for much of the body of this article.  She is an expert in the field of recovery and regeneration.  For more information see or the reference for this article “Recovery and Regeneration” in FHS issue 22 from 2003.

Triangle Circuits

Triangle Circuits is an excellent tool to use in order to build your circuit and control the volume of exercise that is prescribed. Steve Myrland (the inventor of the agility speed ladder) first introduced me to this training design concept.  It is very simple in concept but can be very complex in the application.   The first exercise (1) has the highest priority since it will be executed the most times during the circuit.  The second exercise (2) has the second highest priority and so on.  Below is a schematic drawing of this type of circuit design.

Circuit   E X E R C I S E S / D R I L L S


1) 1

2) 1    2

3)  1    2    3

4)  1    2    3    4

5)  1    2    3    4    5

6)  1    2    3    4    5    6

7)  1    2    3    4    5    6    7

8)  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8

9)  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9

10) 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10

This is an example of a 10 series circuit that builds up to 10 exercises or drills.  It is easy to teach as the athlete builds one exercise/drill upon another, but always begins at the start which is always exercise/drill one.  Exercise/drill one will get 10 sets, exercise/drill two will get 9 sets, exercise/drill three will get 8 sets, etc.  So for instance if core is my main emphasis, followed by single leg strength, upper body pulling and pressing then the circuit with exercises/drills might look something like this.

1) Supine Plank Hold

2) Lateral Plank Hold

3) Prone Plank Hold

4) Lateral Lunge Squat

5) Inverted Pull – Ups

6) Single Leg Balance Squat

7) Push – Ups on Medballs

8) Alternate Step – Ups w/a weight vest

9) Alternate Tubing Pulls with Feet Staggered

10) Alternate Tubing Punches with Feet Staggered

This type of circuit can be time driven or rep driven in order to control either the total time of the workout or in order to increase the quality of the repetitions.  I have found that time creates a sloppiness in reps but can also increase the mental stress of the work bout as the athlete does not know exactly how many reps are left to execute.  If it is timedriven, I have an excellent chart in my “Power Conditioning Handbook” that details exactly how long any timed circuit will take in order to complete.  An example from this table is below.

Number/Exercises Work Bout Recovery/Exercises   Recovery/Sets

2 sets              3 sets             4 sets

4                                 :15           :30                        2:00                             7:00                11:30               16:00

6                                 :15           :30                        2:00                           11:20                18:00               24:40

8                                 :15           :30                        2:00                           13:00                20:30               28:00

10                               :15           :30                        2:00                           16:00                25:00               34:00

4                                  :30           :30                      2:00                              9:00                  14:30             20:00

6                                  :30            :30                     2:00                            13:00                  20:30             28:00

8                                  :30           :30                      2:00                            17:00                  26:30             36:00

10                                :30           :30                       2:00                            21:00                 32:30            44:00

4                                     :45           :45                    3:00                             13:30                  21:45            30:00

6                                     :45           :45                    3:00                             19:30                  30:45            42:00

8                                     :45           :45                    3:00                             25:30                  39:45            54:00

10                                   :45           :45                    3:00                             31:30                  48:45            66:00

This chart is designed to be utilized in conjunction with the old style straight circuits that we are all used to using.  In order to construct a triangle chart, it would need to look something like this:

Time :15 on and :15 off

Number of                             Total

Exercises                                Time

1                                                 :30

2                                                 1:00

3                                                 1:30

4                                                 2:00

5                                                 2:30

6                                                 3:00

7                                                 3:30

8                                                 4:00

9                                                 4:30

10                                                 5:00

Time :30 on and :30 off

Number of                          Total

Exercises                             Time

1                                                 1:00

2                                                 2:00

3                                                 3:00

4                                                 4:00

5                                                 5:00

6                                                 6:00

7                                                 7:00

8                                                 8:00

9                                                 9:00

10                                              10:00

Time 1:00 on and 1:00 off

Here is another tool to use in order to develop and implement workouts for your clients.

A special thank you is in order to Steve Myrland for sharing his expertise with me concerning the development of this topic.

Pattern Quality: The Impact of Exercise Prescription Variables on Overuse Injuries

It is important in prescribing exercise programs to be aware of several variables and the impact the exercise prescription can have on a person that is not ready to execute certain drills, movements, loads and intensities due to lack of training age, poor general fitness and/or  inadequate movement patterns due to lack of mobility and/or stability.  Some popular exercise programs assign exceedingly large loads of volume and/or intensities (resistance, speed and/or range of motion) with little regard to the ability and state of preparation of the end user.  The human body is a superb machine, able to compensate for many inadequacies and still execute some form of the movement, even though the pattern is less than ideal.   Over time, especially with increasingly larger loads/volumes, the body will begin to exhibit symptoms that relate back to these less than ideal patterns of movements.  Poor compensation patterns of movement may ask muscles to do jobs they were not designed to do, in a sequence and order that is not optimal for the pattern, or put joints in poor positions in terms of their designed function.  These symptoms include low back tightness; hamstring tightness and pulls; tendonitis and bursitis in various areas; stiffness in joints; and over time, the inability to execute certain movements due to pain and restrictions in muscles and/or immobility in the joints themselves.

Let me explain.  If a person is unable to squat in a normal squat pattern because they tend to load the front side by bending the knees first (rather than hinging at the hip), collapse forward at the trunk due a weak core or tend to shift onto one leg due to a lack of flexibility in a muscle group or lack of mobility in a joint, is it wise to load them with 40-50 reps, added resistance, speed as in jumps or large range of motion movements?  They may be able to execute the prescribed workload (4-5 x 10 with a 20 pound vest and squat below parallel) and not immediately have any noticeable ill effects.  However, over time, the cumulative effect of repeated poor movement patterns will cause training adaptations that may not be ideal and could contribute to muscle, tendon, ligament, joint and disc problems.

If the professional tasked with prescribing exercise programming is aware of some simple parameters when implementing the exercise prescription, then the program designed for the athlete will not only prepare them for the rigors of their occupation and hobbies, but can also enhance the athlete’s ability to stay fit, healthy and active at an exceedingly high level for as long as they choose.

Observing the athlete moving in any skill or pattern begs the question, is the pattern optimal and clean in its execution.  If the answer is yes, it is ok to execute that pattern.  However, if load is added in terms of speed, additional ROM, volume, TUT (Time the muscle is Under Tension – i.e. heavy and slow, light and fast or medium loads with pauses or stops in the range of motion) or some other variation and the pattern changes for the worse, then the athlete is not prepared adequately. This compensation is due to a weakness, imbalance, lack of mobility or stability and negatively impacts the ability to execute that exercise prescribed. At this point, a decision must be made to either restrict the load/intensity or regress in the progression and periodization of the exercise prescription.

However, in some instances, the movement improves, providing a clue as to the cause of the poor pattern.  If the athlete is unable to perform a decent squat pattern, i.e. collapses forward in the trunk region, but when load is added in the form of a medicine ball or weight held at bent arms length which subsequently improves the movement pattern, this tell us something.  The front of the core (abs) is a spring built for resistance to collapse.  With the addition of external load at bent arm’s length, many times the body will compensate by engaging the core and resisting the collapse, thus causing improvement in the squat pattern in terms of the anterior core no longer collapsing.

As a professional tasked with assigning exercise, if optimal pattern awareness is made a part of the exercise prescription process, then managing the physical ailments by our athletes as they age will be made easier by the type and quality of training the end user does in their younger years.  No pain – no gain is no way to prepare the people we are entrusted with improving their fitness abilities.  No train – no gain combined with train for stability/mobility for enhanced physical ability to bend, rotate and extend with strength, power and fitness is a way to approach program design and exercise prescription for the diverse population that presents itself each and every day.  Pattern, progression and periodization pave the way to optimal movements, continued progress and few injuries.

Neutral or Natural Spine? Which is Optimal for Health and Performance?

There has been great controversy over the past several years about the position of the spine (specifically the low back) as it relates to optimal performance and long term health.  Is the Lordotic spine healthy?  It seems to function quite nicely for a great many athletes.  What about the Kyphotic spine?  This back position seems to produce the greatest amount of symptoms and problems.  But what about the concept of “neutral” spine, how do we define it, what is it?   Is it braced, drawn in, tail tucked, flat back bowed, arched or what?  How do we attain it?  Why are we so worried about it?  What happens if I don’t have it?  How do I get it?  Where do I find it?  Who invented it?

Let’s look at some definitions.

Another way to look at this concept is the tilt of the pelvis.  In lordosis, the pelvis is rotated forward or anteriorly.  In kyphosis, the pelvis is rotated posteriorly.  In neutral, the pelvis is aligned.  In examining this concept as a performance practitioner rather than a researcher, athletic trainer or physical therapist has led me to some conclusions.  First of all is the pelvic position and the corresponding lumbar spine position resulting in some type of symptom manifesting itself in terms of pain, discomfort, tightness or inhibition of performance.  If so, then I will prescribe some corrective exercises, stretching, foam rolling in order to address the inhibited performance due to pain, discomfort and tightness.  I will also refer this person to an athletic trainer for further evaluation.  If there is no pain, discomfort, tightness or inhibited performance, then why fix it if it ain’t broke?  Most sprinter, hurdler, jumper, power, speed athletes will have a lordotic lower spine.  If they are asymptomatic and pass the intrinsic muscle tests for the pelvic floor and lower core region – then train.  The kyphotic person may need some remedial work, regardless of symptom level if you plan on loading the spine with squats, cleans, deadlifts or other types or resistance exercises that place load through the core.  According to Dr. Stuart McGill, one of North Americas leading experts on the spine and its ability to withstand load a flat lumbar spine will tend to exhibit symptoms or problems much more often under load stress than a lordotic spine.  Extension work for the kyphotic spine will be prescribed in order to enhance the lumbar area’s ability to withstand load.

My concern is the ruckus over the “neutral” spine concept and its application to performance training.  After listening to many experts argue over the efficacy of this concept (it reminds me of the back side of the “drawing in” controversy), reading about this in the various publications concerned with performance and health exercise information as well as coaching thousands of athletes performing literally millions of repetitions over the past 25+ years I have come to the conclude the following observations.  In a nutshell, the “neutral” spine is a manufactured and artificial position for the lumbar region.  The term I feel much more comfortable with is the “natural” spine position.  Here is a practical application of the difference.  Have the client/athlete reach overhead until they feel skinny.  At this point, have them take a big, deep breath and lock it in as if you were going to punch them in the stomach.  While maintaining this core-lumbar position, drop the arms, exhale and drop into a basic athletic position.  This is a natural spine position that is ready to absorb and produce force throughout the core region.  In order to convince the skeptic, have the client/athlete produce a lordotic lumbar spine while in basic athletic position and then press down on their shoulders much in the manner of a resistance squat load.  Repeat this drill with a kyphotic lumbar spine and ask the client/athlete, “ which is better to absorb and produce force?”.  Then, if the client/athlete or colleague is still not convinced, ask them to assume the “neutral” spine position and repeat the drill a final time.  The asymptomatic, “neutral” spine is a manufactured position that is unable to be replicated during the duress of performance.  It also goes against the concept of maintaining pillar core integrity in order to transmit the power generated from the legs into the shoulders, arms, hands or implement with very little flexion, extension or rotation in the lumbar spine, until the mobility of the hips and thoracic region have been exhausted.

Dr. McGill explained this concept to me at a seminar in which in a one on one conversation I had asked him why I was being instructed at a performance center to teach the tail tucked position in training performance individuals.  His first response was “I would have no idea”.  When he laughed and said he would expound upon his point, I knew he was teasing me and asked him to please continue.  He asked me if I would humor him in a little experiment.  I said “sure”.  He then instructed me to assume an athletic position, “tuck my tail” and then react to his instruction for the next 30 or so seconds.  At this time he commanded me to “jump, do a squat thrust, shuffle right, shuffle left, do a quarter turn right, do a quarter turn left, squat, buzz my feet, lunge right, lunge left and get back into position”.  At this point, he asked me what had happened to my lumbar postural position.  I responded that I had no idea.  He stated that was his point – that artificial/manufactured core positions are not practical to teach for performance athletes that are asymptomatic.  In rehab settings in which specific symptoms or deficiencies are being addressed then artificial spine positions are certainly a part of the rehabilitation protocol.   The natural lumbar spine position with core integrity to withstand force in multiple planes as well as transmit force in a variety of angles while still maintaining the ability to respire (without holding your breath) is a huge piece of performance that allow us as coaches and trainers to unlock the power of the legs and hips and express that power in our sports.  This “natural” spine position combined with hip mobility, the skill of disassociation of the hip – shoulder complex and internal coordination resulting in huge force summation creates the physical performances we all long to enhance with our expertise.