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Christmas Workout Spectatular

December 24 @ 9 am

Christmas Break schedule here


The In-Season Training Manifesto

by, Chris Sinagoga and Brian Hassler

Myintrotoletuknow

Basketball players will routinely take 500-1000 jump shots during practice sessions. We even brag about it. But the funny thing is nobody has ever taken 500-1000 shots in a game (not even Russell Westbrook). So if it’s never gonna happen in a game, then why do we practice it?

It’s because everything we do in practice is an exaggeration of reality.

We practice techniques, skills, plays, and scenarios over and over and over and over so that when the game finally comes, you are more likely to perform the right way.

The weight room is practice. The weight room is the lab. It’s the safest environment in all of athletics. Everything we do in the weight room needs to exaggerate the reality of our sports. We can reproduce and challenge positional demands, movement patterns, and training stimulus that we will see in our sport. We do this through a very formal approach we call strength and conditioning.

My background in strength and conditioning comes from an innovative lens that was introduced to me in 2005 by Brian Hassler (the co-author of this essay). That lens, of course, is CrossFit.

Throughout high school and college, CrossFit was integral in my development as an athlete.  The routine was simple: CrossFit in the off-season, avoid the weight room at all costs during the season, then come back after the season to the unacceptable reality of Brian beating me in workouts. Unfortunately, he still brags about those glory days.

Then in 2009, through the suggestion of Brian, himself, I stopped being stupid and continued CrossFit during my basketball season. Only instead of the soul-crushing burners the main site prescribed on a daily basis, I did scaled “in-season” workouts. Throughout the course of my college basketball career, Brian and I had the opportunity to experiment with different programs, exercises, and mobility techniques that seemed to translate the most to the court. Since then, we’ve had hundreds of athletes as our test subjects.

This essay is meant to be a blueprint for coaches and athletes to begin the same process. It is not prescribing CrossFit or any other program. It is not a movement tutorial. It is not a lesson in anatomy. Rather, it gives you the foundation and understanding to perform a science experiment – and the test subjects are you and your team. There are three main ideas we want you to come out of here with:

  • In-season training is mandatory
  • Use yourself as a test dummy
  • The strength coach, sports coach, and athletes need to be on the same page

Working out sucks, and is astronomically more boring than playing actual sports. If it were up to me, you could take our Fundamentals, do the CrossFit Total, Elizabeth, and Murph, and you would be set for life. Unfortunately, biology doesn’t quite work like that. So might as well make the most out of the time spent in the weight room so it translates to the fun stuff. Hopefully in doing so you will discover what kind of in-season training is minimal, optimal, and realistic.

So without further adieu, we present The In-Season Training Manifesto.

Position

Most every coach knows that there is weight-room strong and there is game-strong. 40-yard dash speed, and game-speed. The I Can’t Bench My Bodyweight kid that still destroys people on the field has coaches second-guessing everything about their program. Or sometimes they just ride it off as being a case of lucky genetics. While I don’t think there will ever be a definite answer, it’s become certain that great performance in the weight room does not always translate onto the field. Why is that? In my experience, most of the issues come down to the misunderstanding of one single term:

Strength.

Often confused with “big,” strength is something all coaches want their athletes to gain – whether it’s brute strength for a lineman or strength endurance for a Cross Country runner. Traditionally, this strength is developed by going to the weight room and lifting weights. And how do athletes and coaches know there is a strength gain? They add a pound to the bar and see if the repetition can be completed. It’s the most simple method of tracking progress.

The problem is we do this so often that we lose sight of the original purpose. Instead of doing a movement to serve our sport, we do the movement to serve the weight we add to the bar. In the words of world-class coach Carl Paoli, we should strive to be movement-strong, not numbers-strong.

Spot me bro

I view strength simply as your ability to hold a stable position. The more movements you’re able to maintain stability, the stronger you are. In the world of athletics, this definition is consistent. Can you maintain a stable midline while blocking that rabid monster trying to assassinate the quarterback? Can you finish around the rim while you are in the air and defenders are hacking you from every angle? Can your hips, knees, and ankles support your decaying body as you sludge through a 5k Cross Country race? If we can accept that interpretation of strength, the question then becomes: What exactly is a stable position?

Kelly Starrett does an incredibly precise job of defining and illustrating stable positions in his best-selling book Becoming a Supple Leopard. But for the purpose of this article, a stable position is basically staying as close to our anatomical stance as possible. It’s also important to remember that your safest position is always your strongest position. It may take a while to get used to it, but long-term it is the way to go.

Let’s take the feet for example. We know that toes-pointed-forward is an anatomically stable position for the foot. From there, all of the muscles, bones, and tendons are aligned and are in the best position to move. On the contrary, we also know that feet turned out (or duck feet) promotes a collapsed ankle – which also unwinds the ligaments in the knee and creates instability at the hip. Over time this is the recipe for plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ACL and meniscus injuries, hip impingement, low back pain, and many non-contact injuries that happen in sports. So the fix? Duh, keep your feet forward.

Easy enough, but habits are difficult to break – especially when they are built up for years and encouraged by things like sitting for seven 7 hours a day at school or work. And more importantly, you have better things to worry about during a basketball game than what your feet look like while you are trying to grab a rebound. Once we venture into the world of athletics, there are numerous outside stressors that take our attention away from position – which means we need a place to practice it.

So here’s something to consider: what setting do you think would be the easiest to keep your feet in a good position? 1) Jumping rope. 2) Olympic lifts. 3) Spiking the ball at the volleyball net.

Obviously the answer is doing jump ropes. We have both feet planted, aren’t jumping very high, using minimal weight, and don’t have to think about bar path or where to place the hit. Regardless of the difficulty, all three options contain the same fundamental jumping/landing movement pattern, and therefore the same jumping/landing principles must apply. Once you develop good positions while jumping rope, test out the same thing doing a clean or snatch. With enough repetitions, those habits will carry over to how you land on the volleyball court.

What makes sports even more challenging (from an anatomical perspective) is the fact that we spend a lot of time unbalanced with more weight on one side of our body than the other (running, changing direction, throwing, kicking). This unilateral loading makes it even more difficult to maintain a stable position. This is where true strength come into play and can be crucial in preventing injury.

Matt Morrow - exceedingly handsome but unable to keep good position in a pistol

If strength is your ability to hold a stable position, then mobility is your capacity to get into that position. If lack of mobility is the issue, we can assign mobility drills to increase range of motion in a particular shape. Much like movement practice, our goal with mobility is to exaggerate reality. We would like to have more range of motion than we think would need during sport so lack of mobility would never be an issue. But it is also important to remember that new range of motion is weak range of motion – so it’s best to strengthen and reinforce those shapes and positions by going through formal movement progressions in the safe environment of the weight room before we go onto the field or court.

Movement

Think of the weight room as an English classroom. It is a setting where you are taught the very basics of a language in a formal, progressive manner. Then once you learn the foundations of that language, you apply that to whatever setting you find yourself in. Only in this instance, the language is movement.

Here’s an example: when teaching an athlete the general skill of pushing, a coach would take a newbie through a formal progression in the order of:

The athlete then takes that general skill and applies it to whatever their sport, or life, may require. Understanding the relationship of the movements also gives the coach easy solutions to help a struggling athlete as well as challenge an advanced athlete. If an athlete can’t keep position in a dip, then we backtrack and address the movement fault at the push-up level. If they look good, then we progress onward.

But for whatever reason, the language seems to abruptly change when transitioning from weight room talk to on-the-field talk. Coaches and athletes often overlook the connection between the movements in the weight room to the movements in their sport. If we were to continue the push-up mechanic further in the movement spectrum, it would look something like this:

The order is not exact, or even important. But what is important is to understand that all of those sport-specific skills derive from the fundamental principles found in the push-up; and that missing a performance point in the push-up will affect everything that comes after it. Better push-ups = better volleyball. Even though there is a long distance between the two, the connection is still there. I like to think about these relationships using a pyramid. The diagram below should be read from the bottom-up and movements listed at each level are examples of movements found there, not the only ones.

On the bottom, we have the foundational movements that athletes learn which all other movements derive from. Practice at this level develops strength in simple movement. This is the easiest place to address movement faults seen at high levels, although an experienced coach can spot the same fault at this level.

Next, we have more advanced progressions of the foundational movements. Movements here involve adding skill and accuracy while taking away connection from the ground or a stable surface. Practice at this level develops strength in dynamic movement. This category is interesting because even though it allows for greater power output, it becomes more difficult to maintain good position. This is typically the last level where position is addressed. Anything further upstream and the skill of the movement is usually emphasized.

Lastly we have running – which I see as the most technical skill we do in strength and conditioning and in a class by itself. Every movement principle seen in the lower levels funnels into the foundational positions of running. Midline stability, landing mechanics, hip flexion/extension, and shoulder position are all important components of running. However, due to the extremely high amount of reps that occur (approx. 340 steps in a 400-meter run alone) and speed which the athlete is moving, it’s almost impossible to concentrate on position. Instead, the athlete should be thinking about running technique. The athlete will rely on the positions enforced and practiced during the two previous levels to carry over to running. If those positions are good, they will carry over. If they are bad, they will also carry over.

...........

But once we venture out into the world of athletics, we are changing the game. Running becomes one of, if not the foundational skill that connects almost every main sport we see on the high school level. Everything gets harder after that. So when we move up the ladder past the weight room, we see running on the bottom of the pyramid that all the skills in sports then branch out from. And in the sport of running, race strategy (along with running technique) takes even more attention away from position.

At the second level, we have reaction-based movements. These movements involve the same running and jumping mechanics seen in the weight room, only there is a reaction component involved. This would be man-to-man coverage for a cornerback, grabbing a rebound, stealing a base, shuffling on defense. In this scenario, the athlete is not concentrating on either the position or skill of the movement. Their attention is paid to whatever it is that caused them to react – whether that’s the ball or the opponent.

Finally, we have tactical-based movements. At this level, all of the principles mentioned in the previous layers (position, skill, accuracy, reaction) come into play, only these require a great deal of hand-eye or foot-eye coordination. The best athletes in the world are usually naturally gifted in this area – which is a topic for another discussion altogether. This level is mainly sport-specific skills that Brian likes to call "Tactical Modifiers" because they accentuate the ability of the sports coach and can modify his gameplan. But as expected, specific anatomical position is nearly impossible to control at this level. Whatever habits practiced in the weight room and daily movement (good or bad) will be on display.

Aaron Sexton - good foot position reinforced through endless box jumps, burpees, and cleans

The most important thing when teaching movement at any level is setting a standard. That way you have a point of reference. You can either emphasize the timing/skill of the movement, the local/global positions that occur, or the metabolic response. For advanced athletes, you can demand all three at times. Then once you decide, set a standard that must be matched in order for the rep to count. For instance, maintaining hook grip on the pull-up bar sets a standard to ensure a stable shoulder position, whereas being able to keep a butterfly kipping motion to challenge coordination would emphasize skill of the movement, and completing 20 pull-ups every minute for 5 minutes would be a metabolic standard. A small deviation from the standard is a mistake and a large deviation is an error. A mistake might be corrected on the fly, where an error may cause the coach to stop the athlete and discuss. This is consistent through all levels of the movement pyramids.

A well-rounded strength and conditioning program primes the most fundamental layers of the movement patterns you see in your sport. No matter how advanced you are as an athlete, the best way to improve is to master the basics. And in-season training does just that. What you see on the field, court, or track are very advanced progressions of what is happening in the weight room. They are connected through the same joints, muscles, tissues, and neurological pathways across that movement spectrum.  If you can’t find connection then your training is compromised.

So what happens if we take that foundation away during the most important time of the year? You’re about to find out as I pass the baton to Brian.

Purpose

Option, Veer, Power I, or Pro-style?

The question you may be asking yourselves right now is what do the four things above have to do with in-season training. If you aren't a football coach then you may have even more questions. Before continuing, I have some questions for those reading this.

  1. Is in-season training an option for your athletes? Is it mandatory or optional?
  2. Do you have the time, commitment, and resources to run a strength program?
  3. What are those resources? (facilities, personnel, time, etc..)
  4. Who is deciding what the athletes are doing?
  5. Are the athletes being veered toward or away from the weight room?

There is a saying, “what I allow, is what I encourage”. If we allow our athletes to be any less disciplined and regimented in their time in the weight room than we do on the field then we are encouraging a less than optimal approach. The power of I is just as important, do not underestimate it. With the resources available to most athletic programs there is no reason to not employ a pro style in regards to the training of our athletes. 4 factors that go into the pro style are programming, progression, promotion and protection. It starts with proper programming with a progressive overload. Then promoting the benefits of the program. A simple plan that the athletes believe in is just as good as the most sophisticated plan that they don't believe in.  Finally, we have to protect the athlete. Looking at the big picture that means creating stronger athletes, because increasing strength will enlarge the “cup” for all other athletic abilities. On a smaller more specific scale that can look like strengthening the neck to protect against concussions or fixing landing/deceleration techniques to protect the knee.

Key point: Have a program, continue to progress , promote the plan and protect your athletes.

Blocking movement for quality landing while adding a minor tactical aspect (holding a football)

Program: The Off-Season to be continued...

The In-Season is the focus of this article but before that can be addressed you need to have a point from which to continue and the methods to achieve your goals and desired adaptations. There are many viable options such as the Tier System, 5-3-1, Triphasic, Bigger Faster Stronger to name a few and I will also provide my own program template at the end of the article. The key though is to determine what adaptation we are trying to get out of our athlete; Hypertrophy, structural integrity, strength or power, and the mode to accomplish that; repetitive, dynamic or max effort.

Hypertrophy/Structural Integrity via repetitive effort: This should be the focus for a few of the younger undersized athletes that aren't seeing significant playing time. Also for 1st team athletes with a large amount of uni-lateral workload or anyone post-injury e.g., the quarterback, right and left tackles, or an athlete returning from an ankle sprain; there will be some structural integrity work necessary. Repetitions from 8-20, 60-75 percent 1RM.

Strength via (sub) max effort: The no. 1 priority whether in season or not for the majority of our athletes. A slight shift in the terminology to a sub-maximal effort during training should be considered. The training age of most high school athletes will not allow for true max effort training because of degradation of form and lack of experience. Sub maximal effort will allow for a closer control on form and form breakdowns while still achieving the strength increases desired by the staff. Repetitions 1-6, 80 percent and above of 1RM.

Power via dynamic effort: Reserved for athletes that have a training age of +1 year e.g., junior or senior athlete, that has obtained a baseline of strength and movement experience to perform more dynamically challenging versions of exercises. Repetitions 3-6, 30-80 percent of 1RM. Speed of movement is more important than the weight of the movement.

Key point: If the program doesn't stop, neither do the adaptations. In-season training is a vital part of the total package.

Check your progressions

The strength of the athlete is built in the off-season with the in-season often used to “maintain” those gains. This is outdated thinking and less than optimal for the athlete from a short term and long term prospective. The short term would be the competitive season from that first two a day in August until the end of the season hopefully after Thanksgiving. The strength potential of the athlete is what they arrive to camp with. The minute that first whistle blows though the athlete will encounter a variety of different stresses that will impact his strength potential. Those stresses could be the type of offense, type of defense, weather, starter vs. sub, position, 2 way player, length of practice, intensity of practice, number of impacts, game day, school and life. The difference between the strength potential and the stress is the strength realization. For instance two weeks into the season after your first live scrimmage against another opponent the equation may look like this:

Strength potential 100% – stress impact 10% = strength realization 90%.

This decrease in strength will only continue as the season and the stresses increase unless there is a continual push to increase the strength potential through the in-season program. The question I often ask is why do we seek improvement on the field but maintenance on one of the key attributes of athletic ability. The word strength can easily be replaced with power. Do we not want powerful athletes at the end of the season? Then the training program must supplement that desire.

From a long term prospective many athletes play multiple sports (all though that is diminishing) and even though they are dedicated during the summer program they are often not training during other sporting seasons. This is where a solid program that can easily transition between “off” and “in” season athletes and focuses on some of the basic athletic abilities that I mentioned above such as strength and power can be useful and thus effectively communicated and shared with other coaches to get them on the same page regarding the long term athletic development of the athletes.

The biggest issue that I have encountered is not the program itself but the tracking of the program. The eye test is great but without numbers we are just guessing. Stats carry a lot of weight in football, win/lose record, points per game, points against, passing yards, rushing yards, turnovers, yards after catch. They should carry the same weight in the strength and conditioning program. This does not mean tracking every 2.5 LB plate the athlete lifts but there should be some form of record keeping based around qualities you deem important.

Strength: upper body (bench press), lower body (squat), total body (deadlift) *1RM or multiple RM

Power: overhead medicine ball toss, vertical or broad jump, olympic lifts and their variations

Acceleration: 10 yard sprint

Speed: 40 yard sprint

Agility: T-test, 5-10-5 shuttle run, 3 cone drill, Illinois agility test

Work capacity: repeat sprint test, repeat 30 yard shuttle run, etc…

Aerobic: mile time trial, 20-40-60 continuous shuttle run (5x for 1200 meter total distance)

Key point: The majority of the tests above will give you baselines of where your athletes are at from off-season to off-season, while continued progression of a few key lifts will help guide and narrow the focus during the in-season.

Seeking a Promotion: PT vs TP

This is not the old school coach’s homecoming week speech about choosing PT or TP. I am referring to a differing approach involving 3 elements of the athlete’s practice time: physical, technical, and tactical preparedness. Physical preparedness would involve any strength and conditioning. Technical preparedness covers any individual skill as it pertains to the sport such as a QB working on his 5 step drop, a WR running routes, or a defensive end working on a rush move these are often worked on during individual drills or indy’s. Tactical preparedness deals with any formations or adjustments both offensively and defensively. A player’s perspective may include reads that a defense player might have to make or audibles that are called, these are often worked on and adjusted during team offense and defense. There is a physical impact from all 3 components that does need to be accounted for but that can be done on an individual player by player basis.

In the off-season and if we reference the inverse pyramids from the above portion the majority of the time should be spent in physical preparation starting from the base with strength in movements, strength in dynamic movements, and running throughout the winter, spring and summer program. A portion has to be accounted for technical (4 man workouts, individual instruction and or camps) and tactical (7 on 7, team camp) preparation but the majority will be spent on physically preparing your athletes for the rigors of the game. This is not set in stone because some physically gifted athletes may need more of a technical focus.

In-season the script is flipped. The majority of the time is spent with technical and tactical preparation, but we cannot exclude the physical component. Again if we reference the inverse pyramid, you can see that the majority of the sport season is spent above the reaction based movement line and in a tactical/technical setting, and the foundation becomes less stable when most of the physical training is based off of running and conditioning, (gassers, half or full, etc...) By adding in the level 1 basic movements of strength we do not allow the foundation to crumble. In fact with proper programming we can continue to enhance the athletic base.

Adding a reaction component to dynamic level movement

Recap:

Off-season: Physical (injury rehab, winter to summer workouts) + Technical/Tactical (4 man workouts, 7 on 7, Team Camps, Individual Camps)

In-season: Tactical/Technical (Skills/Drills, Team O/D, Film, scrimmages and games) + Physical (Training Room, Conditioning and Weight Room)

Key point: Football season is technically and tactically based, but promotion within of a physical culture is necessary to optimally prepare the athlete.

Protection Breakdown: Repetition vs Repetitive

Repetitions are an important component of mastering any skill. The beauty of the off-season is that the variety of repetitions can cover a greater spectrum than what is faced during the sport season. The sport specific nature of repetitions and the number accumulated between players during the season can vary greatly between different level athletes and can lead to repetitive traumas.

Scenario A: two-way starting tailback/strong safety that gets 20-25 high impact carries/touches a game with over 50 snaps from defense and offense. That is potentially 100 repetitions per game on the body. Add in first team repetitions that could range from 20-40 impacts per practice per side of the ball. The player will see conservatively over 300 repetitions per week.

Scenario B: one-way starting offensive lineman playing a tackle position. He will average 50-60 plays per game. First team repetitions during practice could put him well over 200 plays per week.

Scenario C: Underclassmen 2nd team quarterback. Limited, if any snaps during the game. Mostly scout team repetitions during practice and less than 50 percent of 1st team snaps. Limited contact of QBs.

The commonality between the first two players is that throughout the week they will face a repetitive stress with impact that will accumulate unless accounted for. The accessory work for these athletes can address diminishing mobility, accentuating stability, soft tissue management, and overall structural integrity.

Key point: The in-season program must address any possible “protection” breakdown that your athletes will encounter.

Chris and Brian. Post in-season training session, 2010

BONUS: Programming Notes from Brian

There is a saying by strength coach Eric Cressey, “if you are fast, train strength. If you are strong, train speed. If you are neither stop thinking so much and just train”.

The basis of this program is APRE – Auto-regulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise. This provides the strength coach and the athlete with a guideline for when to increase or decrease the resistance on specific lifts the coach is tracking while fitting within the desired adaptation.

For example: An athlete on a 10RM APRE program on a day with the focus on upper body strength with a 10RM of 200 lbs in the bench press does the following for the bench press

1st set 100 lbs for 12 reps (12 reps @ 50% of 10RM)

2nd set 150 lbs for 10 reps (10 reps @ 75% of 10RM)

3rd set 200 lbs for max reps, athlete gets 13 reps. Weight increased 5 lbs for set 4

4th set 205 lbs for max reps, athlete gets 12 reps. Starting APRE weight next week is adjusted up to 210.

Two Days a Week Total Body Program

Day 1 Total Body Strength + structural deficiencies (SD) emphasis

Warm-up: Tissue work, Corrective Mobility, Dynamic Movement Prep

1A) Upper body push: Bench Press 6RM APRE (refer to notes above)

1B) PVC  Seated Thoracic Torso Twist: 3x20 reps (SD)

2A) Lower body hinge: Double over Deadlift 4x3 reps (only concentric portion, drop during eccentric)

2B) lacrosse ball hip capsule smash 4x30/30 (30 secs per side) (SD)

3A) Upper body pull: 1 arm DB row 3x8/8

3B) Alternating Spiderman  3x5/5 (SD)

4A) DB Farmers walk + DB shrug 3x 40 yards + 8 shrugs

4B) Partner Hamstrings Stretch (contract/relax) 3 sets x 30/30 (SD)

Day 2 Total Body Power and Structural Integrity (SI)

1A) Total Body Explosive: Hang Power Clean 3RM APRE

1B) Squat Jump 4 sets x 3-5 reps (Jumping/Landing Mechanics) (SI)

2A) DB or KB Front Squat w/ 2 sec pause in bottom 5 sets x 5 reps

2B) Back Extension 3x10 reps (SI)

3A) DB Landmine press 3 sets x 8/8 reps

3B) Band pull-apart 3 sets x 15 reps (SI)

4A) Glute Bridge 3 sets x 15 reps (SI)

4B) Plank Complex (Side-Prone-Side) 3 sets x 45 secs (15 secs per)

Coach's Corner: Carey Clean Crew

Friday we saw a hybrid max effort/dynamic effort ladder typically referred to as "death by." This originated on the CrossFit mainsite with the pull-up variation. The movements on Friday were dips and hang power cleans.

With dips, there is not really a lot to it. When your arms go, they go. Nothing you can do because it is a measure of strength. But the the cleans, this gave us an opportunity to evaluate your technique.

The 5 pm session consisted solely of the Carey family. I got video from an early set, along with their last two. Our goal with any movement in this style of workout is for the last reps to look the same as the first ones. So watch the video and explain what you think was off between the sets.

Website PSA: Feedback Loop

Look, I enjoy writing. And the setting I most enjoy writing is this website because 1) I am my own editor 2) I like the features like adding pictures and hyperlinks that make things better than an academic paper and 3) I know the audience and like them (you) very much.

But here's the thing, for me to continue this, I need some feedback. I don't care any more if the articles get noticed by outside sources (although it's cool). What I care about is good conversations continuing on these pages. It helps us keep on the same page as the college kids when they're away, makes new people feel welcome, provides a meeting ground for people of different sessions, and helps extend teaching points from workouts. Long story short, the website helps our community - which is one of the three areas which I evaluate our affiliate, along with Coaching and Movement.

I used the Wendy line before, but imagine Wendy taking time out of her day to cook her children a delicious meal. She sets the food on the table then has to run out of the house because she has more work to do. When she comes back she finds the table completely cleared. She has no clue who ate what, how much of it, or if they just tossed everything and ordered McDonalds. That's me, Murley, and Emma after 90% of the posts we write.

There is a direct correlation between who comments the most often and who is featured in a majority of the posts. Also, when the comments are up, the website traffic reflects it. During the late Summer, I had a 45-minute conversation with this website guy about a bunch of things we do. His company (who designed the new CrossFit Kids site, among other top affiliate sites) specializes in getting affiliate websites to increase traffic and hits and such. He told me that with the help of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, the average affiliate website gets roughly 2,000 - 2,500 unique visits and 7,000-10,000 page views per month. Then I showed him our statistics - which sometimes covered those numbers in a week. In fact, even out bad months (at the time) managed to double those numbers. Take a look at this screenshot from late October:

The top line is total page views. The middle line is unique visits. November through March of last year was the peak of our website stuff. I expected the Summer to be down significantly because of being outside and all, but it was still pretty solid. Unfortunately, it just kept declining. This November and December are an improvement from October, but still under the 10,000 page view mark. This makes me bring back the keyboard-bashing man.

...........

The In-Season Training Manifesto will be published tomorrow at 4 pm. This project, along with True in the Game, have taken up a majority of my writing time since the Summer ended. TISTM has been sparsely in the works since last spring, but Brian and I really began to dig into it in late September. It is probably as close as it gets to a complete description of the Champions Club training method - the reason why we use foam for the feet, why we mobilize before workouts, why we don't do "strength workouts" every day, why every single one of you experience dramatic improvement in your sports after training with us. Of the trillions of words that's in the world, "why" may be the most important one. And this article will explain just about every single "why" that may be going through your head (except for Why is Matt Morrow so handsome?)

I learned a lot during the course of writing this. Not only from Brian, but writing my part made me explain some things that I usually don't have to. I also made the Great Pyramids, which you will see when you get there. Brian's section is kinda geared towards a different audience, but it still ties in very well with my section - as he also helped with the Great Pyramids.

This will be the final post on this site until the Christmas Workout recap stuff. It's MS Word-equivalent 10 pages long and has a few dense parts, so it may need to be digested in a few sittings. Aside from giving me a mini-break, this will provide plenty of time for the article to be discussed. We put a lot of time in this, and it would be greatly appreciated if you were to give your feedback. What makes sense? What doesn't make sense? What doesn't connect? I ask that you not just read it through how you would a normal post, but try to understand everything. See if you can explain it in your own words. Doing so will give you a new view on the time you spend in the gym.

As for the website stuff, I am entering both sides into an agreement. Starting back with the Christmas Workout recap stuff, I will be dedicating more time to providing better content for the site, while you will be rewarding me with more feedback.

Deal?

Deal.

 

Until then, get ready for your sports to be explained from a CrossFit lens...

Hollow body position on the basketball court

New Graduate: Tyler's Been Sandbagging!

This morning in front of the entire team workout Tyler Jabara did his first kipping handstand push-up...

...then he did a few more for good measure. This probably beats out Jennifer Banet as the easiest first kipping handstand push-up of all time.

A Real Life Correlational Study Starring the College Kids

First off, thanks so much for anyone who took this survey. We needed 80 partipants to run our study and my group ended up with about 150...double what everyone else got. I'd like to show you all the finished product, which is pretty interesting. For those of you thinking about going into science/math/research, this is the kind of stuff I get to do in my Research & Design class. Anyways, this paper, word for word, was my final project. Hope you guys like it, or at least are mildly interested (sorry in advance for the fancy stats)!

Abstract

This paper summarizes the result of a study that examined the correlation between exercise and grade point average. Based on research from Baker (2012) and Decklebaum and Williams (2012), we hypothesized that the more hours per day a college student spends exercising, the higher their grade point average. This study utilized a survey on Google Docs to collect the data. There was no significant correlation between hours exercising per day and GPA when analyzed in respect to hours studying per day. Hours studying per day was a confound, because when we analyzed the relationship between the two factors, there was a significant negative correlation between hours exercising and GPA. The lack of correlation could be due to student time management as García-Ros & Pérez-González observed in their research. (2012)

The Effect of Variable Hours per Week Exercising on College Student GPA 

The days of recess and kickball are dwindling. Even though obesity rates among American children are climbing, schools continue to cut programs like physical education. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that nearly half of high school students have no physical education class during an average week (Baker, 2012). Principles explain that they have to dedicate resources to standardized testing preparation, and that gym is often one of the first programs to go. (Baker, 2012) Even though many programs cannot afford to keep kids moving in school, recent trends show that it might be imperative. Obesity is now considered an epidemic in North America. (Deckelbaum & Williams, 2012). Childhood obesity has led to the increase in early onset Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and dyslipidemia (Deckelbaum, 2012). As many are aware, obesity can often be remedied with an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits. However, an active lifestyle is often only thought of for preventing weight gain. The truth is, exercise has more positive aspects. 

Exercise can improve one’s mood. When humans become stressed, their capillaries become constricted due to the release of a hormone called cortisol. This increases blood pressure and reduces the amount of blood that is available to tissues. However, during moderate exercise, vasodilation occurs. Blood vessels expand and more oxygenated blood is delivered to the muscles. If muscles have more oxygen, they can perform more efficient cellular respiration. One of the many muscles that benefits from increased blood flow is the brain.

The brain is a muscle and needs sufficient oxygen to function, which exercise can facilitate. Recent research shows that exercise can increase brain function. Even though nerve cells do not often replicate during maturity, studies show that exercise can increase the number of cells in the hippocampus. (Physical Fitness Can Help Improve Grades, 2014) The hippocampus is a part of the brain that plays a significant role in transferring information from short-term to long-term memory. The more efficient one’s memory is, the better they can retain information in class and earn good grades. Based on these studies, we can hypothesize that the more hours per day that students exercise, the higher their grade point average will be.

Method

Participants 

147 participants took the survey associated with this study (108 female, 39 male). The only requirement for taking the survey that we designed was that they were taking college classes. There was no age, gender, or grade restrictions. We made no attempt to accurately represent ratios of college students (like gender, race, or socioeconomic status). All participants were recruited through convenience sampling. All four researchers in our group simply posted a link to the survey on their social media page with the same statement. The statement is as follows: “ATTENTION COLLEGE STUDENTS!! This is a survey for my Psychology class. If you clink on the link, it will only take about 2 minutes to complete. It would be incredibly helpful to get as many responses as possible! Thank you! :)” Participants were made aware that the results of this survey would be recorded, and taking the survey would not take a large amount of their time. The names of each participant were not recorded. 

Environment and Apparatus 

This study utilized the Google Docs program. Our group created a form that contained several survey questions. The responses were recorded in a spreadsheet in Google Drive.  The survey was composed of 14 questions (Appendix A).

The first and second questions asked participants how much they exercise in a day and a week. Students were also asked to answer how many hours a week they spend studying. All of these questions were simple multiple choice with ranges for the answer. For example, a student could answer they study from 0-1 hours a week, or up to 14+ hours studying a week. Participants were also required to give their GPA in the same fashion. Exercise efficacy in terms of ability to study were indicated on a Likert scale, with 1 being “Not affected by all at exercise”, and 10 being “Very effective.” A Likert scale was also used to illustrate student stress level, with 1 being “Chill as a cucumber”, and 10 being “Ripping my hair out.” 

Some questions were asked to measure factors that could influence GPA, such as hours studying and hours a week on the Internet. Other questions were asked to measure factors that influence time spent exercising, such as “Do you have healthy eating habits?” or the Likert scale concerning stress. The remaining questions were concerned with demographics: such as age, gender, and if the participant lived on campus or not.


Procedure 

Once participants could access the link through social media, they answered all the questions without any interactions from the research group. After they completed the survey, participants had to click a ‘submit’ button. Google Docs then recorded their responses. Our prospective effect variable was hours of exercise a day, and the prospective effected variable was GPA. Before the responses could be analyzed, several of the response categories had to be preprocessed. Many of the answers to the survey questions were ranges. In order to draw a statistical conclusion, we had to choose one number in between the range to represent that range. For example, if a student marked that they studied for 0-1 hours a day, their response was recorded into SPSS as 0. Responses such as gender and year in school had to be quantified as well. We ran two correlation analyses, because we believed that hours per week studying could be a third variable, and possibly even a confound. The more students study, the better their GPA generally is. We did not want that to affect the correlation between hours of exercise per day and GPA, so the first correlation was a partial correlation in respect to hours per week studying. The second bivariate correlation test we ran was a correlation between just hours of exercise per day and GPA. This analysis gave us a correlation between the two without taking into account how many hours per day students study. 

Results 

After adjusting for the third variable (hours studying per day), there was no significant correlation between hours of exercise per day and GPA, r(146) = -0.141, p > 0.05. (Table 1) This result indicated that we had to reject our hypothesis. However, we were correct in thinking that hours per week studying was a confound. Without running a partial correlation for the third variable, there was a significant negative correlation between hours of exercise and GPA, r(146) = -0.173, p > 0.05. (Table 2) This result indicated that the more a student worked out a day, their GPA would decrease. However, when we adjusted the analysis to take the third variable into account, the results were no longer significant. These results indicate that the more hours students spend exercising, the less time they have to study.

Discussion

Our hypothesis was incorrect. The more hours a student spends exercising does not positively impact GPA. Even though the positive benefits of exercise have been well recorded, students may not be utilizing it to the best of their ability. For example, students might spend 3 hours running and then not have enough time to immerse themselves in classwork because of time constraints. Students who are more accountable in time management skills show higher academic performance (García-Ros & Pérez-González, 2012). Hours per exercise, therefore, may not have been the most effective survey inquiry.

If this isn't time management I don't know what is...

More research needs to be done on this topic in terms of what kind of exercise is the most beneficial to foster hippocampus development. Does sprint training, long distance running, or weightlifting have the advantage? The only studies thus far that include hippocampus integrity involve rats, and the only type of exercise that the rats are able to perform is running. (Hescham, 2009) Hopefully this field can be further explored, and find a solution that will decrease childhood obesity without decreasing standardized test scores.

References 

Baker, A. (2012, July 10). Despite Obesity Concerns, Gym Classes Are Cut. Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/education/even-as-schools- battle- obesity-physical-education-is-sidelined.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Deckelbaum, R., & Williams, C. (2012, September 6). Childhood Obesity: The Health Issue. Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.125/full2

García-Ros, R., & Pérez-González, F. (2012). Spanish version of the time management behavior questionnaire for university students. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 15(3), 1485-94. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.woodhous.aquinas.edu/docview/ 1439791213?accountid=8340

Hescham, S., Grace, L., Kellaway, L. A., Bugarith, K., & Russell, V. A. (2009). Effect of exercise on synaptophysin and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase levels in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of a rat model of developmental stress. Metabolic Brain Disease, 24(4), 701-9. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11011-009-9165-2

Physical Fitness Can Help Improve Grades. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2014, from http://people.westminstercollege.edu/students/gfk1216/

Pic of the Week: All of the Lights

Great turnout all week for the 7 pm College Kids session. It was something I was definitely looking foreward to every day. As the schedule changes and you kids may be mixed in with the "regular" people, just know that I'll probably be more strict on form and technique. But either way, it's great to have you guys back and keep at it this break.

This picture was taken from Monday. First workout under the lights.

Again, shouts to Murley for setting up all of the lights, and Aly for rounding up all the College Kids. Emma's science post comes out tonight at 6 pm.

Christmas Break Schedule + New Editorial Alerts

The mobility/technique session for tomorrow, and every Saturday from here on out,  will be pushed back to 11 am instead of 9. As for the weekly schedule, here's what we got:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

10 am

12 noon

5 pm

7 pm

 

Wednesday

10 am

5 pm

 

Saturday, Sunday

11 am


There are two editorials that will be published soon. The first one is Emma Wonsil's final project for an Aquinas class. In fact, many of you kids took part in it by completing the survey from November. It's very science-y but I supposes that's what gets good grades. That is obviously finished and will be published Saturday at 6 pm.

The second one is the In-Season Training Manifesto by me and Brian. This project has been in the works for a few months. It's roughly 10 pages long and is kind of a companion piece to the clinic that I am doing on Monday at Warren Mott. We are finishing up one final concept then it will be ready to go. Look for it sometime early next week.