Add power to your workouts

Consider plyometrics for improved performance

  • Even if you visit your gym frequently, plyometric moves might be new to you. If you want to improve your overall fitness and burn calories, look to plyometric exercises for improved performance and power.

Power is the ability to produce large amounts of force quickly.

For every sport, unless you’re an equestrian athlete, or kayaker, your skill starts by your feet pushing into the ground or firm object that returns force back through you.

Plyometric is a quick powerful movement involving pre-stretching that activates the stretch shortening cycle. Plyometric exercises are also referred to as reactive training. The ultimate goal of reactive training is to increase the reaction time of the rate of force production. An explosive tennis serve, better basketball, golf swing, or a faster running gait are all examples of sports in which you could benefit from this type of training. It can also enhance how you react to ground surfaces throughout the day in simple daily activities. Quickly responding to an unexpected change, like ice, when stepping off a curb or rapidly changing direction when walking your dog on a leash are both examples of daily encounters when you’ll want to have better reaction time.

We all need vigorous levels of physical activity to maximize bone mass throughout our lives. Incorporating plyometric exercises is also extremely valuable in post-rehab and for a safe return to play.

Plyometrics, in its purest form, are meant to be all-out, quality efforts in each repetition of an exercise. Although commonly thought of as only muscular activity, the nervous system is intrinsically linked. The exercises heighten the excitability of the nervous system for improved reactive ability of the neuromuscular system, a benefit for both pro athletes and the rest of us.

Before incorporating plyometric exercises into your training, it is important to have good flexibility, motor control, core strength, and balance capabilities. If you can’t do it slowly, you can’t do it fast!

Be proficient in exercises such as step-ups and different kinds of squats before practicing, and start with plyometric exercises that are low intensity. Bounding or footwork patterns are a good place to start. Like hopscotch, they are fun and challenging.

Before any kind of jump, know that landing strategies are crucial. You should land in a partial squat. A partial squat is a position with feet shoulder-width apart and the bodyweight centered over a stable base of support. Bearing weight symmetrically, a stable base of support means that the trunk is relatively upright over the legs (or leg) with slight flexion of the ankle, knee, and hips.

The exercise selection is vast, as you would start with moves that are easy to complex, stable to unstable, body weight to loaded, to activity specific.

Plyometric training isn’t only limited to lower body training. Moves such as wall throws plyometric push-ups, or jump-squat with a chest pass are other examples.

Photos in article below~

As published in The Idaho Mountain Express- Fitness Guru

More good news for coffee drinkers

More good news for coffee drinkers

Caffeine could protect against dementia

    Caffeine is one of the strongest of 24 compounds that Indiana University scientists recently identified that can protect against dementia. Caffeine boosts an enzyme in the brain, called NMNAT2, that guards neurons from stress and combats the formation of plaques due to aging. Plaques, tangled and oddly folded proteins, called tau, have been linked to debilitating neurological  disorders  such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Lou Gerhig’s diseases. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common condition, affects 1 in 9 people over age 65—almost 5.5 million people—and the numbers are expected to grow as our population ages. As scientists continue to identify compounds that could play a role in halting the deterioration of proteins in the brain, don’t feel bad about your coffee fix.

 Golf performance, fatigue, and caffeine

    From an intensity perspective, the physiological demands of playing 18 holes are half the energy expenditure of running. But competitive golfing can be mentally and physically exhausting. Critical shot-making decisions, hand–eye coordination, high-level motor and biomechanical skill and numerous maximum-effort shots all play a role in competitive golf. Caffeine is one of the most common go-to ergogenic aids for elite athletes, and that extra jolt of caffeine might help improve concentration, energy, reaction time, fatigue and overall confidence during an 18-hole round. A recent study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests that caffeine-containing supplements before or during golf can improve iron club accuracy, drive distance and overall golf scores.

The buzz on health risks and benefits

    Coffee keeps us awake or makes up for inadequate sleep, and has been revered for just that as far back as the sixth century. However, caffeine’s ability to stimulate the central nervous system doesn’t hide the fact that it is still a drug. Some people are genetically more susceptible and don’t enjoy the jittery effects of it.

    But the good news is that it can be a good habit. Recent scientific studies show that coffee shines from a cardiovascular standpoint in that it can decrease the onset of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. More so than fruits and vegetables, coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, having more antioxidants than blueberries, raspberries or green tea. Your morning joe (or tea, coming in second) contains large amounts of several powerful antioxidants, including phenols and polyphenol compounds that help neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.

    The bottom line is that if you enjoy it, moderate caffeine use offers much from an overall cardiovascular standpoint and numerous health benefits.

 Connie Aronson is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at the YMCA in Ketchum. Learn more at

Published in the Idaho Mountain Express April 7, 2017


Training Like a Pro for Golf

The biomechanics and complexity of a golf swing could make your head spin. An elite player uses nearly every joint in their body to propel 900 kg of force to hit a ball in half a millisecond or so at impact. At the elite level, the club-head speeds can exceed 160 kilometers an hour, all the while taking only .2 seconds to accelerate the club to this speed. Furthermore, throughout the game, elite players maintain a consistent club-head alignment within 2 degrees from shot to shot. At this level of playing, the game requires core strength and stability, power, flexibility and balance.

So it’s no surprise that today’s top players take their preparation for the game very seriously. They are leaner, more flexible and muscular than previous generations. They are training like athletes to play at a consistently high level.

To excel at any sport you love requires preparation and training, and new research  offers some training ideas .The Canadian National Golf Team was recruited for a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research this past May. The testing of these competitors looked at limb length, abdominal strength, pull-up strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, balance, and leg power and how it all affects golf performance. The testing showed genetics gave some advantage to players with long limbs and height. Those long limbs generate much more force at impact in both men and women.  The results of a run test showed a relationship between a good cardiovascular base and total score short game and putting average.

The abdominal muscle endurance test s involved variations of forearm planks, where the body is held stiff using your arms and toes as pivot points. Strong internal and external oblique muscles on the dominant side of the female golfers helped swing power and drive distance. These muscles act like an anatomical girdle around your middle. There were also correlations between putting distance and 5 –iron distance, in both men and women, showing that core strength and stability are important to train. The balance test had the athlete stand on one foot, with the foot of the other leg against the lower part of the support foot. The test began when they were asked to raise the heel of the support foot from the floor, and to balance as long as possible.  Given the weight shifts and balancing primarily on the dominant leg that occur during backswings, and sometimes uneven ground, balance training was found to be very beneficial to performance.

Leg power was found to be more crucial for men than for woman for power during the golf swing. Upper body strength as in pull-ups and push-ups was correlated with drive distance. Forearm strength was different between the men and women, suggesting that very different recruitment patterns may be happening for the different sexes during different aspects of the game. (Distance in the male group; only putting in the female group)

Body angles, joint forces, and muscle activity patterns all sounds very complex. You can start to practice at least one good habit this summer by keeping your  warm-up simple, as another study of competitive golfers  warmed up  with 10 practice swings, then 15 full swings with their competitive clubs to longer lighter clubs,  as opposed to a 20 minute stretching routine. (Less force can be applied to the bone because of the slack in the tendon after static stretching).  It’s just a game, after -all.

Connie Aronson, ASCM Health Fitness Specialist                                                                                                        Published June 26 in The Idaho Mountain Express