Category Archives: LAPS DVD

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Shoulder Prehab and Rehab: Taking a Functional Approach

Shoulder Prehab and Rehab: Taking a Functional Approach to Training the Shoulder

                                                           By Grif Fig

Shoulder injuries are very common in swimming and prevent many swimmers from reaching their potential. Implementing a “shoulder prehab” program that has the correct exercises can greatly reduce the amount of injuries in the sport and ultimately would result in faster swimming. This article will discuss the concepts of taking a functional approach to training the shoulder and the exercises that are used to do so.


When looking at the upper body during swimming it is obvious that this requires repeated overhead motion. It has been established by many professionals that the shoulder is very vulnerable in this position.  Not only is the humerus creating a long lever when in flexion but this is also the pull phase of the stroke, which means a lot of torques is being created at the shoulder joint during this phase. From this we can gather the conclusion that one of the main goals of a shoulder “prehab” program is to increase strength and stability in the overhead position.


Even though this is obvious people are still using traditional methods that ask for us to strengthen the shoulder joint with the humerus at the side while isolating the external rotators. Isolating the rotator cuff and putting the humerus at the side of the body is not functional to having a strong shoulder in swimming.  The bottom line is that the shoulder should be trained were it is most often used in swimming, in the overhead position.

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Is Creatine Safe and Effective?

Here is a great article on creatine written by Jose Antonio, Ph.D who is one of the top guys in sports nutrition right now.

Creatine – Is it safe and effective?
“Yes, it’s safe and it’s effective”
by Jose Antonio, Ph.D.
For those of you with memory-challenged cortex, here’s the rundown.  Regular creatine supplementation (3 g per day for at least a month) will in conjunction with heavy resistance training:
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Increase muscle power
  • Increase lean body mass
  • Increase skeletal muscle fiber size
  • Activate satellite cells
  • May improve neuromuscular function in patients with neuromuscular diseases (e.g., dystrophic muscle)
  • May assist in cellular hydration
  • May decrease brain damage subsequent to head trauma (ok, at least in rats).
Will it harm you?
In a word NO. There is data showing that up to five years of creatine use result in no harmful effects on the kidneys.  So don’t believe the bull@#$% you hear in the mainstream press. 
The mainstream press rarely does its homework when it comes to the facts around creatine.  I mean why let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?  So what we’ll do is explore the facts (and there is a huge volume of scientific data!) surrounding creatine.  Explode the myths, and give you the latest in creatine research and development. 
Get Big!
Bigger… yes!  In fact, work by Dr. Rick Kreider of the University of Memphis showed that after one month of supplementation, the average fat-free mass gain in the creatine-supplemented group was 5-6 lbs compared to 2-3 lbs in the placebo group.  Also, Jeff Volek, Ph.D. performed a study in which he had subjects perform bodybuilding training and consumed creatine over a 12 week period.  Creatine consumption was 25 g per day for the first 7 days followed by 5 g per day for the remainder of the 11 weeks (maintenance phase).  The increase in muscle fiber size was more two times greater in the creatine group versus the placebo (29-35% increase versus 6-15% increase).  So clearly, creatine helps you gain body weight, fat-free mass, and most importantly, muscle fiber size!
It’s Safe
Despite the anecdotal reports, there is no evidence that taking creatine can increase the incidence of muscle pulls/strains, muscle cramping, dehydration, or kidney problems.  In fact, noted researcher Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D. stated that “creatine may be a useful adjunctive treatment in neuromuscular and neurometabolic disorders.”  So rather than worrying about some mythical side effects that creatine supposedly causes, realize that there is a lot of supportive data showing creatine to be safe and effective.
1,000% increase in Muscle Mass?  No way!?
You’re probably wondering why you haven’t made the gargantuan gains in size as promised by those ubiquitous and somewhat amusing ads.  Well let’s do some basic math.  Even if you graduated from public school, you’ll find this quite edifying.  Let’s say you trained for 8 weeks and during those 8 weeks, took 5 grams of creatine monohydrate.  On average, let’s say you gain roughly 10 lbs of lean mass.  But if you were to take the fake creatine (the Placebo!), you’d only gain 2 lbs of lean mass.  Now to you and I, that’s a difference of 8 lbs. 
So reasonably, you could rightfully claim that creatine monohydrate supplementation can increase lean mass by 8lbs more than the placebo.  Now let’s massage the data a little.  Massage? mmm…sounds titillating.  Actually, this is a term I learned in graduate school, not to be confused with the more relaxing massages one receives from the friendly but expensive young ladies in Vegas.  So if we “massage” it…I’m getting excited… you could say (and you’d be technically correct) that creatine supplementation produced 400% more gains in lean mass than the placebo.  How does that work? 
Follow this:  (10 lbs – 2 lbs) / 2 lbs = 4, then take 4 x 100 = 400%.
Now we can get even crazier; let’s say the placebo gained only 0.5 lbs of lean mass while the creatine group gained 10 lbs (and certainly this is possible if you use trained subjects).
Follow this:  (10 lbs – 0.5 lbs) / 0.5 lbs = 19, then take 19 x 100 = 1,900%
So there you have it.  A 1,900% greater increase in lean mass! 
OK, it’s statistical sleight-of-hand and skull-full-of-mush stuff.  But don’t fall for it. 
Creatine is a great supplement; but you don’t have to promise the second coming to believe in its value!


Designing a Power Workout

IHPSWIM – Designing a Power Workout

 By Grif Fig

 Many different options exist when it comes to strength training making it difficult to design a program that has time restraints. Where do the traditional exercises go? Where do the functional/sports specific exercise go? How about core exercise and the power exercises? Deciding where to put these exercises and how much to do of each one is a challenge for a lot of swimmers and coaches.



IHPSWIM uses triplexes, which is a 3 exercise circuit that integrates the many different options that exist in one workout.  This is a great way to integrate traditional lifting with a power movement and a functional or core movement. Performing these types of circuits during training enables you to work on absolute strength, power development, core strength, and sports specific movements all in one circuit! Here is the basic format that we use.


Exercise # 1 – Traditional Exercise (ex. Squat, lat pulldown)


Exercise # 2 – Power Exercise        (Box Jump, Med Ball Slam)


Exercise # 3 – Functional/Core Exercise   (Standing Cable Pulls, Prone SB Twisters)



For the next 4 weeks I will have our swimmers go through a power phase. They will performs a traditional strength exercise (5 reps), followed by an explosive exercise using the same muscle groups (5 reps) and ending the circuit with a functional movement (10 – 20 reps).

Is Weight training safe for my child?

Is weight training safe for my child?
 The IHP youth resistance training: lifting weight lifts the spirit

Juan Carlos Santana, MEd, CSCS
Is weight training safe for my child?  At the Institute of Human Performance (IHP), this is one of the most popular questions posed by concerned parents. Although resistance training carries some injury risk, the risks to children are similar to those of adults!  Additionally, as a recreational activity as well as a sport, statistics clearly show weightlifting/weight-training carries a lower incidence of injury than many popular sports such as football, tennis, soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, baseball and basketball.
Traditionally, abnormal and stunted bone growth has been the primary concern in this area.  Yes, there have been cases of growth plate fractures in adolescents.  However, the use of improper technique, excessive loading or lack of qualified supervision characterized most of these cases.  To date, the position of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the world’s foremost authority on strength training, is that well-supervised weight training programs are well tolerated by children as young as 8 years of age!  To put it in simple terms, there have been no reports showing the fracture of growth plates with properly designed and supervised resistance training programs.  This data includes countries in which children as young as 8 years participate in advanced multijoint lifts that require a high degree of skill demand.  The key to minimizing the risk of injury in resistance training for children is the type of supervision found in IHP; close qualified supervision implementing sound programs!
At IHP, we have seen that the benefits of properly designed resistance training programs for the youth far outweigh the risks.  Our view is also supported by the scientific data. Contrary to conventional wisdom, children as young a 6 years of age can significantly increase their strength with a properly designed resistance program, above and beyond their natural growth and maturation.  However, the training effects in children are not permanent.  That is, if they don’t keep it up by training at least twice a week, strength gains are quickly lost.  The mechanism behind this rapid de-training still remains unclear.
Since children often participate in sports or activities that are strength and power dominated, it is reasonable to expect that resistance training would enhance their performance in such activities.  One of the greatest benefits of IHP’s youth resistance training program is that it better prepares children for participation in sports and recreational activities and reduces the likelihood of injuries. In addition to the physiological benefits, youth resistance training programs also impact various psychosocial parameters.  The parents of the children involved in the IHP youth resistance training program report better cognition and class/home work, improved self-esteem, and healthier attitudes toward physical education, physical fitness and lifelong exercise.   The IHP youth resistance training program has also shown to have various health benefits associated with it, such as, improved blood pressure, improved bone density, and favorable body composition changes.
In closing, one should keep in mind that it is not so much the activity (i.e. resistance training) that is in question, but rather the intensity and appropriateness of the exercise.  I often find that the biggest hazards athletic children face are overzealous or ignorant parents and coaches.  The win, win, win mentality is truly the enemy of a child’s proper development.  Furthermore, specialization in a single sport does not provide enough movement variety for full biomotor development.   Regardless of the activity, children should be encouraged to participate in a wide assortment of fun and developmental activities, resistance training should be one of them.  Come to IHP in Boca Raton, Florida and ask about our youth resistance training program. 




Description and illustrative comparison

Juan Carlos Santana, MEd, CSCS


In past articles we have suggested that the most effective way to increase strength, lean body mass (LBM) and athletic performance is to participate in a multiple set (MS), periodized resistance training program.    The main objective of this article is to elaborate on the application of Periodization and offer some examples on how it compares to progressive resistance training and single set (SS) programs.  First, let’s provide a quick summary to bring the new readers up to date.
Research studying SS systems have shown improvements in strength during the beginning stages of an exercise program.  This is especially true in untrained individuals who are still learning how to perform the exercises.  However, these historical studies lack applicability to real life situations due to questionable protocols and the evaluation criteria implemented.  Current, properly designed research clearly demonstrates that periodized MS training offers several advantages to SS training.  First, periodization varies the training stimulus over time, causing a peak in strength and avoiding overtraining and staleness.  This variability has been shown to be a key factor of stimulating physiological adaptations resulting in superior strength and LBM gains, along with improvement in athletic performance. Second, it offers the extra volume of work that causes greater testosterone and growth hormone responses.  These hormones are associated with muscle building and fat reduction.  Third, MS systems eliminate the necessity of training to physiological failure, thereby increasing compliance.  Now, let’s take a look at the three main types of training systems used today: SS, progressive MS, and periodized MS.
The SS training system has its foundation in the 70s with the advent of Nautilus.  The genius inventor, Arthur Jones was its architect.  Today, many people still use his system of training.  They as a group like to refer to this training as High Intensity Training (HIT).  They vigorously defend their system with a cult-like conviction.   Their philosophy is that every set not performed to failure does not contribute to growth because “new muscle fibers” are not stimulated.  They are also of the opinion that once these new fibers are stimulated, they need 5-14 days for recovery and growth.  These programs are usually performed in a circuit fashion and are very popular in machine-based fitness clubs.  The objective is to get in and out in 20 minutes.
Progressive resistance training has been the most popular method of training.  This approach to training is typified by performing multiple sets of the same number of repetitions.  Those wanting muscular endurance would stay above 15 repetitions.  Those desiring to increase muscle size would stay in the 10-15 repetition range.  A nice combination of muscular size and strength development can be achieved by an 8-12 repetition range.  For that reason, this is the most popular repetition range used.  Finally, those looking for increases in absolute strength would perform multiple sets of 1-7 repetitions.  Although exercises may change, the repetition range remains the same throughout the year.  Most dedicated trainees use this training.  However, they soon find themselves at a plateau that lasts for years, or until they get sick.  Getting sick may be an indication that one is overtraining, and is the body’s way of “periodizing” the current training program!
Periodization has its roots in the eastern block countries where it was first used in track and field.  Coaches found that they couldn’t “run” their athletes 100% all of the time without causing them to “breakdown”.  They developed a method of training where they varied their training intensity in accordance with their season.  High volume, low intensities were prescribed during the “preparatory” phase to develop a “training base”. This stage prepared the body for the more demanding work to follow.  Progressively higher intensities and lower volume typified preseason training.  The objective of this “pre-competition” phase was to bring strength to a peak and get the athlete ready for elite competition.  The “competition” phase was a maintenance period with the main objective being  “not to lose” what was created during the previous phases of training.  Finally, a  “transition” phase was designed after the competitive season to allow the athlete to recovered and regenerate.
Periodization was brought to the states in the 70s.  During this time, several scientists described it as the best method to train for improved performance.  The manipulation of volume and intensity is seen as the predominating stimuli for new adaptation, progressing from high volume – low intensity to low volume – high intensity. 
Here are just some examples of the three different training systems.   There are many permutations of each system of training.  Therefore, for simplicity, I have made all three programs 3 days/week.   I have made the SS program a machine program since many times this is what is recommended in smaller machine based gyms (e.g. in hotel gym, resorts, clubs, etc.).  The right column has the sets x reps and % of 1RM.  RM stand for repetition maximum and it is the number of repetitions a weight can be lifted until fatigue does not allow another repetition to be completed.  Thus, a 1RM is the maximum amount of weight that one can lift a single time with good form.  Likely, a 10RM is the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted a 10 times with good form.  All other workloads are based on a percentage a 1RM maximum capability.  Thus, if you could lift 200 lbs. one time and I asked you to do 10 repetitions with 75% of your 1RM.  Then you would perform 10 repetitions with 150 lbs.  This process is applied to all exercises.
SS Machine circuit                                  Sets and reps
Leg press                                                       1 x 10RM
Leg curls                                                        1 x 10RM
Bench press                                                   1 x 10RM
Seated rows                                                   1 x 10RM
Overhead press                                              1 x 10RM
Wide grip pull-downs                                    1 x 10RM
Biceps curls                                                   1 x 10RM
Seated Calf                                                     1 x 10RM
Sit-ups                                                           1 x 10RM
Hyper-extensions                                          1 x 10RM
**When a weight can be lifted for an 11th rep, increase the load by 5%.
Progressive MS Program            Sets and reps (75%1RM)
Power Clean                                                  3 x 6
Squats                                                            3 x 8-10        
Bench press                                                   3 x 8-10
Seated rows                                                   3 x 8-10
Overhead press                                              3 x 8-10
Biceps curls                                                   3 x 8-10
Sit-ups                                                           3 x 8-10
Hyper-extensions                                          3 x 8-10
**When a weight can be lifted for an 11th rep, increase the load by 5-10%.
Periodized MS Program     Weeks/Sets x reps (% of 1RM)
Power Clean                          1-3/3 x 5 (75%), 5-7/4×3 (82%), 9-11/4×2 (90%)
Squats                                    1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
Bench press                           1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
Seated rows                           1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
Overhead press                      1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
Biceps curls                           1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
Sit-ups                                   1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
Hyper-extensions                  1-3/3 x 8-10(75%), 5-7/3 x 6-8 (82%), 9-11/3 x 3- 5 (90%)
**Weeks 4, 8 and 12 are active recovery weeks.  Perform some light sporting activities to help the recovery process and get ready for the heavier work ahead.
As you can see the Periodization model manipulates the training volume and intensity throughout a 12-week cycle.  This cycle can repeat itself over the year many times.
In summary, remember the above programs are just examples.  There are many different exercises and variations of your training scheme that will result in increased strength and improved performance.  SS training will provide some strength gains for beginners or individuals on very tight schedules, but don’t expect to reach your potential on it!  MS programs will take your development much further than SS systems, but expect a plateau of some kind sooner or later.  A Periodized MS program will not necessarily make a gold medallist out of you, but it will get you as close as “you are willing to work for” to your performance potential.