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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2012 issue 7



Elementary Fitness

It's July already.  This is the time that I start getting a lot of interest around preparing student athletes for the fall sports seasons.  Every little bit helps when it comes to getting that edge and making a good first impression with the coach during those late summer practices!

While there are certainly a variety of sport specific exercises and movements that can assist in preparing these athletes for their chosen sport, many exercises and the targeted muscle groups are common enough to be beneficial to most sports.

As with most training programs, a solid preseason training program should include aspects of all of the following...

  • cardio training
  • resistance training
  • flexibility training
  • recovery

Program design is an important focus prior to beginning the training program.  There are some important questions to ask prior to putting together the training program.

·         What are their specific goals?  Just getting faster or stronger is not always specific enough as they get older.  Quicker off the line (acceleration), change of direction (agility), short sprints, long sprints, leg power, there are different ways to focus on these specific aspects.

·         What equipment and facilities are available to them?  I have gotten (and given) full body workouts in a 4 foot by 6 foot space with limited equipment.  However, things certainly are more interesting when you have a larger space and more toys to play with to keep things interesting.  This is a nice to have, not a need to have.  The need to have is simply the motivation to go do it and to make the most of each session.

·         All programs should include some type of cardiovascular training.  Both endurance training (steady state cardio) and interval training (sprints, shuttles) are beneficial to improving athletic performance.  You can have all this skill in the world, but if you don't have the endurance when the time comes to execute those skills, your performance will not be very impressive!

·         How many days per week will the athlete train?  This is an especially important question with regards to planning your resistance (weight training/bodyweight training) exercises.  Muscles require at least 48 hours to recover after resistance training.  If the athlete will be training consecutive days in a given week, then splitting up the body parts being trained, is usually a good idea.  Upper body/lower body splits, or chest/shoulders/triceps on one day and back/biceps on another are common ways to split up your resistance workouts.

·         How many hours per day?  What you can accomplish in 2 hours versus 30 minutes makes a big difference.  However, this can be a tricky decision when dealing with elementary and middle school athletes.  You have to maximize your balance of performance enhancing activities, without burning them out to the point that they don’t want to do it anymore. 

·         Mixing things up from time to time will also help to keep things interesting (cross training).  I put together a volleyball resistance training program for my daughter (6th grade) that she enjoyed doing with her friend. After a few weeks, they started to get distracted and just go through the motions... that’s when it’s time to switch things up. 

·         Competitive and or fun activities work great for the younger, less mature kids.  I read somewhere that one of the best sport specific activities for elementary school kids was Freeze Tag!  Think about it… they’re sprinting, cutting, stopping, starting… who needs cones when you can react to a fellow athlete coming at you?!

Here is an example of a good overall training program that I would recommend to most elementary/middle school athletes (my daughter’s age) for summer pre-season training for the fall sports season.  This is also similar to the program that I use with many of the clients that I train.  I based this workout on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday program with a maximum of 1 hour total training time per session.

Warmup (at least 5 minutes) – starting with some shaking out and swinging your arms and legs and progressing to dynamic stretching exercises.  I like to do 30 seconds of each of the following… arm circles, jog, high knees, jumping jacks, butt kickers, mummy kicks.

Burpees! (15-20) -  Probably one of my favorite bodyweight exercises of all time, and one that I have all of my clients start with… regardless of their fitness level.  This is a great overall body exercise and one that serves as a good bridge between warm-up and the meat of the program.  A burpee can be made easier by stepping back versus jumping back.  Of course it can also be made more difficult by adding pushups.  We like to start off every Warrior Workout with a burpee pyramid (burpee w/ 1 pushup, burpee with 2 pushups, all the way up to 10 pushups... awesome!). 

Resistance Training - In order to get the most out of the time that we have per session, I often order the exercises in the workout so that we do and upper body exercise, followed by a lower body exercise, followed by an abdominal exercise and keep rotating through this order.  I like to shoot for 10-15 reps on the weighted exercises with the last rep being difficult.  Max reps on the bodyweight exercises.  If time permits, I often throw in short burst cardio exercises to keep the heart rate up and improve endurance.

These training components apply to all levels of student athletes, from elementary, to middle school, to high school and beyond.  While high school athletes are physically mature enough to incorporate some more of the advanced exercises and equipment, there are hundreds of exercises that are functional enough, yet safe enough, to be included at any level.

  • Pushups (max) - there are hundreds of variations for any level athlete... pick one!  While pushups can challenge even the most advanced athletes, bench press/chest press can certainly be substituted.

  • Walking Lunges (15-20 reps.. add dumbells or sandbag as progress is made)

  • Ball Exchange (15-20 reps)

  • optional 1 minute cardio (stairs, shuttles, kick boxing, jump rope, jacks, etc...)

  • Lat pulldown/Seated row/Chin-ups/One arm row/Inverted row... pick a back exercise and get 10-15 reps.

  • Hamstring machine curl or Hamstring ball curl

  • Mason twist (30-40 reps) add dumbbell or medicine ball for added challenge.

  • optional 1 minute cardio

  • Tricep dips/Press downs/Extensions/Tricep blast

  • Calf raises (15-20 on each leg and then both legs)

  • Flutter kicks (50-100)

  • optional 1 minute cardio

  • Dumbbell deadlift-curl-press or sandbag clean and press (10-15 reps) combination exercises that work multiple muscle groups really require a lot of energy and endurance.

  • Split squats or Step ups (15-20 reps per leg)

  • Bicycle crunch/L-sit raises/Abs!

This is a very basic program that should take about 30 minutes to run through once... an hour if you go through the circuit twice.  I am using it as an example just to demonstrate the content of a full body program that can be effective to a wide variety of clients.

If I add in any sport specific movements to the routine, I like to put them at the beginning of the program.  For example, for my daughter's volleyball program, I added some overhand medicine ball throws against a rebounder to work on her shoulder strength and added some box jumps for her legs and vertical leap.  Functional exercises like this should simulate the motion that is intended to improve.

Cardiovascular Training - When doing cardio during the same workout as resistance, it is now advised to do so at the end of the workout.  This helps to return the muscles to their normal state as well as to dissipate the lactic acid to minimize muscle soreness.  20-30 minutes is a solid cardio workout, although "interval training" is considered the best variation for both athletic performance as well as fat loss.

Flexibility Training - Static stretching/flexibility exercises held for a minimum of 10 seconds each should be performed for at least each muscle group that was trained, although a solid full body flexibility program is suggested for the best performance enhancements.

Remember to tell all of our young athletes out there that it's better to pay now than to pay later!  The best first impression that you can make with a coach is to be the one out there that still has gas when the other kids are coughing up a lung.  The one that is still operating at his or her peak when other kids are getting sloppy.  Good luck with the preseason training... the fall season starts NOW!


USA Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Suspended Bicep Curl


Bicep curls are a tried and true exercise for the development of about 1/2 of "the guns".  This suspended version provides a nice alternative and, as with most suspended exercises, you can adjust the resistance based upon how close your angle of incline is to the ground.  The closer you get to horizontal, the more of your weight you will be lifting.


Target:  arms and core (biceps brachii, rectus abdominus, erector spinae)

Description:  Start by grasping the rungs of the USA, palms up, with an incline that is good for your fitness level.  Starting with straight arms, focus on freezing your shoulder joint so that your elbow is doing most of the movement.  Pull your body upward by pulling your hands towards your face... pause... then lower your self back to starting position.  Repeat for desired reps.

There's an App for That

If you're a runner, do you have a favorite playlist on your iPod that you like running to?  How about those songs in the playlist... If you're anything like me, you might find your pace increasing or decreasing ever so slightly based upon the BPM (beats per minute) of the song that you are listening to.  Tempo Magic give you the means to change all of that!

This app lets you speed up or slow down the BPM of any song on your iPod without messing with the pitch.  That means that it does so without high-pitched chipmunk voices or slowed down zombie vocals... very cool in my opinion!

Tempo Magic Pro has been featured by Apple as a Fitness Essential, but it is also perfect for DJs, Music Instructors, Dance Instructors or anyone who wants to move to their own beat.

So whether you are a group fitness instructor that wants more flexibility in your song choices, or if you're a runner that wants a playlist with a steady pace to match your cadence to, I'd recommend checking this application out!  However, this was probably one of the more expensive apps that I've downloaded at $4.99.  Oh, the pain! J

Recipes for Health

I down the liquids like crazy when I'm working out and those sports drinks can start adding up when you figure out the costs of what you're consuming.  The below recipe came from one of my favorite nutrition books and it's very similar to what I do.  Actually, when I'm biking or working out outdoors, I just fill a water bottle with a mixture of about 1/3 orange juice and 2/3 cold water... sometimes I might even throw a spoonful of Glutamine in there for muscle recover on a long bike ride.

The nutrition profile of commercial sports drinks is 50 to 70 calories per 8 ounces (250 ml), with about 110 milligrams of sodium.  Below is a simple recipe that offers this profile, but at a much lower cost than the expensive store-bought brands.  You can make it without the lemon juice, but the flavor will be weaker.

You can be creative when making your own sports drink.  You can dilute many combinations of juices (such as cranberry and lemonade) to 50 calories per 8 ounces (250 ml) and then add a pinch of salt.  More precisely, add 1/4 teaspoon salt per quart (liter) of liquid.  Some people use flavorings such as sugar-free lemonade to enhance the flavor yet leave the calories in the 50 - 70 per 8-ounce range.  The trick is to always test the recipe during training, not during an important event.  You want to be sure it tastes good when you are hot and sweaty and settles well when you're working hard.

Sports Drink


  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice (not concentrate) plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 cups (840 ml) cold water


  • In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
  • Add the juice and the remaining water
  • Chill

Makes 1 quart (1 L)

Nutrition Information:

  • 200 total calories
  • 50 calories per 8 ounces (250 ml)
  • 12 g carbohydrates
  • 110 mg sodium

ref. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

* Don't forget... if you have a healthy recipe that you think people would benefit from, shoot me an email with the details and I'll include it in one of my newsletters!

It's Go Time!

WOW it's been hot outside... so much for that ozone layer!  I know that everyone gets it... but make sure that you are adequately hydrating BEFORE, During, and After any outdoor workouts.  Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink... that's when it's too late.  Your body performs better when it is hydrated, and that includes your internal organs in addition to your muscles!  Water is great, but if your going to be sweating a lot, try to replenish some of those electrolytes (specifically sodium and potassium) with a sports drink, as well to stay fully functional.

Vacations are outstanding, but they can certainly do some damage to all the progress that you have made in the gym!  Try to sneak in some exercise here and there if you're going to be gone for an extended period of time.  I'm not saying to be a madman about it.. some recovery is good too... but try not to take too many steps backwards!  And just remember... the best dip during this barbeque season is the kind that works your triceps J...  Enjoy!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"The first rule of Zombieland: Cardio.
When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go, for obvious reasons... were the fatties.

youtube of the month --> Stair Intervals
I posted this video in my newsletter before, but considering that I just did this workout in the hotel stairwell while I was traveling for work, I figured that it would be a good reminder that you don't have to wait in line at the gym for those cardio machines to open up! | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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