How to Tape Wrists for Gymnastics

The bars are killer on a gymnast¡¯s hands and wrists; that¡¯s why routines last less than a minute. ¡°Even if you had the strength and endurance to stay up there longer than a minute, you couldn¡¯t because your hands would burn up,¡± says United States Olympic coach Don Peters in the book ¡°Gymnastics.¡± Beyond the burn, gymnasts can suffer from what¡¯s commonly called ¡°gymnast wrist,¡± an inflammation in the forearm bone where it connects the hand to the wrist. Taping your wrists is one way to reduce the burn and your chance of injury.
Wash your hands and wrists, because grease and sweat can interfere with the tape¡¯s adhesive ability.
Hold your left hand out with your palm up and your fingers extended, and bend your wrist back no more than 30 degrees.
Stick the tape to the palm of your hand, just below your fingers, and wrap it around your hand. The tape should be tight enough to offer support not restrict blood circulation.
Wrap a new piece of tape around your wrist once.
Start a new piece of tape on the back of your wrist, below your thumb. At an angle, wrap the tape up so the inside edge of the tape is along the bottom of your pinky finger. Loop the tape around the front of your palm so it goes around your pinky and angles down to your thumb. You should have half an X on either side of your hand.
Wrap a new piece of tape on the back of your wrist, starting below the pinky and angling up between the thumb and index finger. Continue wrapping the tape back down to your wrist so you now have an X on the front and back of your hand.
Tape your right hand following the same method shown in Steps 1 to 6.

Foot Numbness While Running

As a runner, you expect the occasional aches and pains like muscle soreness and blisters. But a foot that goes numb when you’re running is a strange sensation. You are undoubtedly used to the feeling of your foot “falling asleep” when you sit cross-legged on the floor too long. But when that numbness and tingling develops while you’re running, you may be alarmed. Fear not: Foot numbness while running is not uncommon, and most of the time, it’s easily remedied.
Foot numbness is most often caused by a compressed nerve. The nerves that cause sensation in your foot and ankle can get trapped between bones or soft tissue. Because the nerve is compressed, it’s unable to send the correct signals to your brain from your skin and soft tissue. Nerve compression can make your foot feel like it’s on “pins and needles,” or it can make your foot completely lose sensation. The feeling sometimes makes you want to take off your shoe and rub your foot. It’s usually localized to one part of your foot, often your toes; occasionally, your entire foot may feel numb.
Nerves in the foot can become compressed for many reasons, including: Poorly fitting shoes. Shoes that are too tight, which don’t have enough room in the toe box, or are laced too tight can cause the nerves in the foot to become compressed. Thick socks may be another culprit. Trauma. An injury that causes the tissue in the foot to swell, or causes direct damage to a nerve, can lead to foot numbness. Increasing your running mileage suddenly can cause trauma to your feet; likewise, improper running form may cause damage that in turn can lead to foot numbness. Foot structure. If your feet are flat, or if the sole of your foot is overly flexible, you are more likely to compress the nerves of your foot when you run. Scar tissue. Occasionally, a nerve that is repeatedly compressed becomes thickened and develops scar tissue. This is called a neuroma; the most common neuroma is between the second and third base of the toes, and is called a Morton’s neuroma. Foot numbness, especially heel and base of the foot numbness, may also be caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs from the spine down the back of the leg. This nerve may be compressed by a herniated/slipped disk, or by muscles that overlie the nerve.
There are steps that you can take to prevent or alleviate your foot numbness: Buy larger shoes, and make sure that there’s adequate room in the toe box at the front so that you can wiggle your toes freely. Buy shoes with a stiffer sole; shoes with a pliable sole can cause swelling and trauma to the ball of your foot, where the nerves to the toes pass through the bones. Don’t lace your shoes as tightly. Loosen the laces on your shoes to relieve any pressure points on your foot. Try wearing thinner socks, which take up less room in your shoe. Pay attention to your running form. Avoid “slapping” or “pounding” your feet on the ground as you run. Don’t suddenly increase the duration or distance of your run. This may lead to trauma.
If these steps don’t alleviate your foot numbness, a trip to a foot and ankle specialist, orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine doctor may be in order. The specialist will ask about your medical history, to rule out any diseases that may be causing your foot numbness. He may obtain X-rays and examine your foot to try to identify the source of the nerve compression. He may prescribe special shoe inserts, anti-inflammatory medications, or special exercises. Occasionally, more severe cases of foot numbness, including numbness caused by a neuroma, may need treatment with injections to the nerve, or with surgery.
Although foot numbness while running is uncomfortable, it is often easily remedied by relieving pressure on the compressed nerves. Simple remedies such as buying larger shoes, lacing your shoes less snugly, paying attention to your running form and making increases in running time or distance gradually may be enough to keep foot numbness from occurring. If self-help fails, a physician may try other treatments to relieve the discomfort.

Fartlek Training for Soccer

The word means “speed play” in Swedish, and fartlek training given its varying running intensity perfectly mirrors what happens in soccer games. Runners perform fartleks by timing alternate sprints and jogs, based on a watch or heart-rate monitor. The intensity can change based on light poles or even dogs seen in the park. For soccer, you can adapt sport-specific fartlek drills.
This ingenious drill, from strength coach Greg Gatz’s “Complete Conditioning for Soccer,” weaves skills work in with soccer conditioning. You stand at the end line with a ball while a teammate stands at the midfield line. Dribble quickly toward your teammate. Pass the ball to your teammate and turn, taking a long bending run toward goal. Have your teammate serve the ball ahead of you as you close in on the goal and take a shot. Perform four repetitions as a shooter, take a rest of three minutes, and complete three sets.
Gatz also places his University of North Carolina soccer athletes through the sprint-jog-walk drill. You’ll need a watch with a stopwatch function or a heart-rate monitor. You simply continuously sprint for 10 seconds, jog for 20 seconds and walk for 10 seconds for a total of 10 minutes. Put some fancy curves and angles in your pattern of running. Rest for two minutes after each set and complete two or three sets.

Does Donating Plasma Affect My Work Out?

More than 38,000 blood donations of all kinds are needed in the United States every day, according to the American Red Cross, and it is particularly looking for healthy volunteers like athletes. Blood plasma donation doesn’t take a lot of time and is relatively painless, with few side effects. While most casual exercisers should be fine, there are considerations that may affect your ability to be a plasma donor if you’re involved in training for athletic competitions.
Plasma is the clear liquid part of your blood that is left after the red cells, white cells and platelets have been filtered out. Plasma contains 92 percent water and eight percent proteins, salts, enzymes and antibodies. It’s the single largest component of human blood, making up approximately 55 percent of blood volume. Plasma is used to make therapies for treating life-threatening diseases and medical conditions such as shock, trauma and burns. There are more than 330 licensed and certified plasma collection centers located in the U.S.
In general, plasma donors are required to be at least 18 year of age and weigh at least 100 lb. You’ll have to pass two medical examinations, a medical history screening and be tested for viruses and other factors. Giving plasma takes about two hours, as blood is taken from your arm, the plasma filtered out, and the other blood components returned to your veins. Most collection centers require that you wait at least 48 hours before making a second donation, because that’s the amount of time it takes for your body to replenish the plasma.
If you’re a healthy athlete, you should be able to recover fully after plasma donations within eight weeks, although you may lose some of your ability to train over the next few days due to low energy levels. Donating plasma can also reduce competitive performance for up to four weeks, depending upon whether you also donate red blood cells, because it takes that long for blood hemoglobin levels to return to normal. About 12 percent of donors develop lowered levels of antibodies, which may make you more prone to getting an infection.
In a 2001 article published in the journal “The Physician and Sports Medicine,” Marvin Adner, M.D., said that blood donation shouldn’t be a concern for active people as long as they aren’t iron-deficient. Donald M. Christie Jr., M.D., added that hydration is the key to a quicker recovery and to drink a lot more liquids than those offered at the donation center, continuing afterward throughout the day. Christie notes that a reduction in performance fitness levels would be slight in an endurance athlete, and donation should have no effect on strength or short-burst activities. However, in a separate article in “Omega Cycling,” Dr. P.A. Lambeti reported the results of a study showing maximal performance was decreased for at least one week in cyclists and recommended competitive cyclists not donate within seven to 10 days of a race.

David Beckham’s Free Kick Technique

Soccer great David Beckham is well-known for his free kick ability in professional soccer. Not everyone can master Beckham’s free kick technique but with enough practice you can improve your own ability to take free kicks. You can learn to “bend” the ball like Beckham and curl it into the back of the goal.
Before taking a free kick, Beckham makes sure the ball is still and takes six to seven steps behind the ball. He analyzes the situation on the field — the wall, goalkeeper positioning and distance from goal — and aligns himself with the ball at a 45-degree angle. Beckham approaches the ball from this angle in a controlled movement, not running too fast, and places his plant foot 5 to 6 inches from the ball. As he kicks the ball, Beckham moves his opposite arm in a circle and bends his body back slightly to lift the ball off the ground.
Beckham makes contact with the soccer ball with the side of his big toe. This technique causes the ball to roll along the inside of his kicking foot. Beckham avoids hitting the ball with a straight foot and from a straight angle, which would diminish his ability to control the direction of his shot or the flight of the ball. Beckham brings his kicking foot across the ball, hitting the desired side — left or right — depending on where he wants the ball to travel. He uses one leg to balance and support his body, and the ball travels in the distance to where that foot points to.
As Beckham kicks the soccer ball from underneath, it picks up speed and height and sometimes beats the wall and the goalkeeper. He creates extra spin on the ball by bringing his kicking foot across and around the ball, causing it to dip and bend. Beckham also generates extra height by leaning his shoulders back as he makes contact.
As you try to emulate Beckham, avoid kicking the ball too hard; you want it to fly over the wall and beat the goalkeeper. Avoid revealing your intended flight path by keeping your body relaxed throughout the entire movement and keep your supporting leg steady. Evaluate the distance between yourself and the wall and yourself and the goal. Some players on the opposing team may jump to block the shot; consider shooting under the wall if you anticipate this.

How to Avoid Fall Weight Gain

Fall is associated with dying leaves, garden slowdowns and chilly temperatures, but it also means positive change: Loved ones draw closer. A new school year begins. Leaves turn vibrant colors and your warm sweaters come out of hiding.
Fall months can bring warmth and brightness to your diet and overall wellness — if you approach them properly.
There are only two contributing factors to holiday season weight gain: increased hunger and reduced physical activity.
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups broth
3 cups water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups diced butternut or other winter squash
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
1. Simmer one cup of the diced squash in a saucepan with one cup water for 10 minutes, puree in a blender, and return to the saucepan. Add broth and remaining two cups of water, and bring to a slow simmer.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about five minutes. Add the two remaining cups of diced squash and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the rice and pine nuts, and cook one minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula or spoon.
3. Add the wine and cook and stir until the liquid has evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring in the liquid, 1/2 cup at a time, until all or most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still al dente, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top and serve.
As though in preparation for their New Year’s healthy lifestyle and weight loss resolutions, Americans consume more food and exercise less during the fall and early winter months than the rest of the year. Gone are the months of sun and beach time, and the feast-filled holiday season begins. Depending on where you live, you may leave for work and return home in darkness, which is more likely to inspire curling up in front of the TV than going for a walk or a run. All of these factors can influence your diet.
“Summer is a time of cool salads, grilling, fresh fruit, cold drinks,” said Diane Kress, a registered dietitian and author of “The Metabolism Miracle,” “The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook” and “The Diabetes Miracle.” “It¡¯s almost as if people begin to hibernate and seek comfort foods during the fall, [such as] casseroles, creamy sauces and rich desserts.”
And if you’re a parent of school-age children, you may rely on fast food, frozen meals and processed snacks, such as potato chips, cookies and pretzels, for convenience as they race between the classroom, extra-curricular activities, study and rest time. But many of these foods are dense in unhealthy fats, sodium, refined grains and calories.
“On occasion, a quick meal is fine,” said Kress, “but when it becomes the rule rather than the exception, nutrition is sacrificed.”
Fall also kicks off the highest calorie months of the year. Football games, Halloween and Thanksgiving are paths to sugary, salty and high-fat snack foods, which are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor. In 2009, Americans spent $7.1 billion on potato chips, according to the Society for Science and the Public, much of which were consumed during fall months.
In a study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases released in 2000, the weight and overall health of 195 volunteers were collected for six months. Participants were a mix of men and women, and the percentage of those at a healthy weight, overweight or obese matched the general U.S. population. Most of the average 1.05 pounds of weight gain per person occurred between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
While one gained pound may seem insignificant, holiday pounds tend to stay, said the said the researchers, and increase your risk for serious conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. By starting your fall season off on a healthy foot, or “plate,” you improve your chance of dodging these risks. Doing so can also reduce emotional risks associated with overeating and weight gain, such as depressive moods, anxiety and intense sensations of shame.
During their historic Mayflower voyage, the pilgrims’ diets consisted of various pickled foods, fish, dried meats and cereal grains. While they lacked fresh fruits and vegetables, they consumed significantly less sugar and unhealthy fats than Americans do today.
And long before Christopher Columbus or the pilgrims sailed the ocean blue, Native Americans ate diets rich in plant foods. Snack chips, canned cranberry jelly, soft drinks and frozen pies didn’t enter the equation until well after the late 19th century, when processed foods first came on the scene.
“We should be adopting almost all of the Native American and pilgrim eating principles,” Kress said. “Lean meats in the form of naturally-fed game, poultry and fresh-caught fish from pure streams and a clean ocean. Fresh fruits and vegetables. [There were] no bleached, enriched white flours or pastas, no fast-food joints, convenience stores or junk food. Those were the days.”
While it isn’t necessary, or perhaps realistic, to limit your fall foods to fresh-picked, organic fare, cutting back on processed foods and eating more natural, seasonal options adds ample bang to your nutritional buck.
The NICHHD and NIDDKD study of 2000 revealed only two contributing factors to holiday season weight gain: increased hunger and reduced physical activity. Following early Americans’ lead by eating more grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables adds plentiful amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber to your diet. Because fiber promotes satiation, you’ll experience less hunger between meals. Whole foods typically also require more chewing, which slows your eating pace and promotes portion and appetite control. And emphasizing nutritious food guards against food cravings, which can stem from nutrient deficiencies.
Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, a holistic nutritionist, natural-foods chef and creator of the Healthy Voyager brand, recommends pumpkins, sweet potatoes and yams as prime fall-friendly food choices.
“While folks tend to eat them at holiday meals or as fried snacks, such as sweet potato fries or chips, these veggies are incredibly versatile and should be incorporated regularly in fall meals in order to take advantage of their seasonal health benefits,” Scott-Hamilton said. So make like the pilgrims and Native Americans and eat vegetables fresh or cooked from plates, not packages.
Get a handle on how many calories you’re consuming each day by tracking your food using a free calorie tracker like LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate. Find out how many calories you really need per day by going to http://www.livestrong.com/myplate/
It will also show you how many calories you are burning from exercise. You can even download the free mobile apps for iPhone and Android.
Eating in-season foods, or foods at peak harvesting time, provides another way of improving your diet during the fall. Not only are these foods at their nutrient prime, they also haven’t been sitting on trucks or store shelves for months.
“One of the main benefits of eating seasonal foods is freshness,” said Mark Thompson, who as the publisher of SeasonalChef.com visits and reports on farmers markets throughout the country. “Also, though it might sound kind of corny to some, you really do start finding yourself getting in touch with the seasons when you get in the habit of eating locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and over the course of several years, begin to look forward to the arrival of seasonal favorites.”
For best results, Thompson suggests shopping at farmers markets. “You can find any out-of-season item you want in the supermarket, but you can be sure it was grown on the other side of the world,” he said.
At your supermarket, look for on-sale, colorful fruits and vegetables. Because of their plentiful supply, seasonal foods cost less. Although seasonal foods vary somewhat by region, fruits and vegetables particularly lush during autumn include apples, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, parsnips, chard, eggplants, bell peppers, rutabagas, apricots, pears, grapes and apples — all of which are often found in some form at a Thanksgiving feast.
To make use of fall produce, Thompson suggested pureeing squash for soup. For a sweet treat, bake cubed apples and butternut squash tossed in maple syrup, until they soften. Sliced, lightly batter-fried Japanese kabocha squash provides a higher nutrient alternative to nachos and potato chips while watching football games or anytime you feel like snacking.
Other healthy snack alternatives include raw kale chips, baked potato wedges, whole grain pita chips with salsa or black bean dip, apple and pear slices topped with almond butter and grilled portobello mushrooms.
¡°There are so many fabulous treats to tailgate with,” said Scott-Hamilton. “Try portobello mushroom sliders instead of burgers … or bake corn tortillas for homemade chips.” For fizzy drinks minus the added sugars and calories in soda, combine seltzer water with pure fruit juice.
To trim unhealthy fat, cholesterol and calories from fall foods, Kress recommends baking, broiling and roasting lean meats and fish, then removing visible fat and skin before eating. When it comes to vegetables, aim for at least one fresh salad helping per day and steam other vegetables to retain nutrients. For a heart-healthy salad dressing, Kress suggested balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Hot green tea provides warmth, comfort and immune system-enhancing antioxidants.
Your most important beverage? “Water, water, water. Did I mention water?” Kress said. Staying well hydrated can help stave off excess hunger, which is often confused with thirst.
Rather than diet your way through the season, which increases hunger, stress and eventual weight gain, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, aim for balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout each day. And regardless of your food choice, don’t forget to count your blessings.
¡°Gratitude plays a major role in our general health any time of year,” said Scott-Hamilton. “Positive thinking and being grateful for what you have instead of what you don’t can have an amazing effect on your health. When you are consciously grateful, you are more likely to want to make smart choices for the health of your family and yourself.¡±

Football Players’ Responsibilities

It’s not just a matter of hot-dogging it on the football field during weekend games for a player. The game itself is beautiful, challenging and fun, yet it carries responsibilities. You will need to take care of your conditioning, show respect for team policies and understand your role down to the last detail to make the strongest contribution to the team.
Football players must understand the roles and tasks their position is involved with in the coaches’ scheme. You should learn the skills involved with your position and understand what exactly you are being asked to do for the success of the team. For example, you may be asked to be an option-run quarterback more than a passing quarterback. You must then work on speed, quick decision-making abilities and ball handling.
You must know the playbook and what you’re supposed to do on each play call. Players cause errors and create missed play assignments If they do not know what they should be doing on each play. So even if a player possesses the most incredible athleticism, their abilities cannot be optimally used if they cannot be depended on to know each play. You must know responsibilities as well as plays. For example, offensive lineman must know blocking responsibilities for various run plays to prepare for different defensive looks. A common blocking responsibility entails checking whether a defender is in your blocking gap, directly in front of you, over the area the ball is heading towards and following the linebacker. Going down this checklist lets a lineman know who he should block specifically — rather than saying they block the defensive tackle or end — because it may be different each time that particular play is called depending on the defensive look.
You must adhere to protocols and policies set forth by the organization or school they play for. Not maintaining a minimum grade-point average, getting in trouble with the law or breaking substance abuse policies for example can have you suspended from games or kicked off the team entirely. Each school, institution, organization and coach has rules to abide by. Bruce Brown, author of “Teaching Character Through Sport: Developing a Positive Coaching Legacy,” states that the main components of most policies and rules is that a player must demonstrate discipline, respect and integrity.
Football demands a high level of physical fitness to succeed. Being faster, stronger and more agile than your opponent — and your teammates — allows for an increased chance of team success. If a player is not conditioned enough to last in a game, his skills essentially become useless. Many coaches provide training and conditioning programs that the players are responsible for during the offseason.

Middle Hitter Volleyball Drills

In volleyball, a middle hitter is an attacking player who specializes in hitting the ball over the net from the middle part of the court. Middles are also critical as blockers, so can also be defined as defensive players. Middle hitters can hit the ball from in front or behind the setter. Learning how to be an effective middle hitter requires practice and determination. Specific drills designed for middle hitters will help provide the necessary skills.
Hitting the ball over the net in combos will teach the middle hitter footwork and how to transition quickly off the net. The coach tosses a ball to a passer, who then passes it to the setter. The setter sets the ball up for the middle hitter, and he deposits it over the net. As soon as that first ball hits the floor, the coach tosses a second ball to the passer. The middle hitter must move away from the net quickly to get into position for another set. The coach can determine how many combinations to use.
Timing is critical for middle hitters. Hitting for repetitions is a good way to build muscle memory and endurance for middle hitters. This drill can be performed before a match, or before or after practice. Line up a few middle hitters with a setter just to the right. The coach passes the ball to the setter, who sets it to the middle hitter to deposit over the net. The player who hits the ball over then goes to the other side of the net to retrieve the ball, before returning to the back of the middle hitter line. The drill continues with the next hitter in the same fashion.
A slide in volleyball is a single-leg take-off when jumping up to hit the ball. Slides can be an effective tool because the opposition can¡¯t be certain where the ball will be set, and the attacker can hit the ball at different heights and speeds. To practice, the coach should toss a ball to the setter, as the middle hitter begins moving toward the setter. The setter makes a quick set and the middle hitter adjusts the speed of his approach to hit off a one-foot take-off. Place one or two blockers on the other side of the net to make the drill more realistic.
During a fast-paced match, it is important for a middle hitter to identify how many blockers are on the other side as the play develops and make the necessary adjustments. The coach will toss a ball to the setter, who sets the ball to the middle. The defenders will either set a double block, or move away from the net to play defense. The middle hitter must tip the ball to an empty spot if the defender blocks, or spike the ball if the defender moves off the net.

Metformin for PCOS & Weight Loss

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition caused by an over-production of the luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. This over-production causes a hormonal imbalance in estrogen, progesterone and insulin. This results in symptoms such as facial hair growth, weight gain, infertility, ovarian cysts and type 2 diabetes. Although some women don¡¯t show these symptoms initially, their physicians may prescribe metformin as a way to prevent diabetes and some may prescribe this medication to treat symptoms of PCOS and aid in weight loss.
Metformin is a medication that is usually used to treat type 2 diabetes. Metformin works by controlling the level of glucose in the blood, by minimizing the amount of glucose your blood absorbs from food and the amount your liver produces.
Women with PCOS have an increased level of insulin, which puts these women at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. This risk is increased if a woman with this condition becomes overweight or obese. Women with PCOS may gain weight easily due to the increased insulin level and may also find it very difficult to lose this weight. For this reason, women are usually told to go on a low-glycemic index diet, which shuns foods that cause spikes in blood insulin after consuming them. In addition to dietary changes, women are also encouraged to exercise for 60 minutes daily to help lower insulin levels.
In addition to going on a low-glycemic diet, women with PCOS may be prescribed metformin to lower their insulin levels. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome who are overweight are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, due to becoming insulin resistant. However, the Center for Young Women¡¯s Health states that young women who take metformin are less likely to develop this condition.
The Center for Young Women¡¯s Health states that women who take metformin in combination with modifying their diets and exercising are able to both lose weight and lower their blood sugar. Even though this medication can be prescribed for this condition, it is not FDA approved for use in this regard.

Football Upper-Body Workouts

Big, powerful legs that help you tackle harder and run faster on the football field are all well and good, but you’ll get nowhere without upper body strength to match. Football involves total body movements, so the most functional upper-body exercises are ones that involve multiple joint actions and build strength, power and explosiveness.
Start every upper body workout with a dynamic movement. This involves moving through a range of motion. Joe DeFranco, owner of DeFranco’s training and coach to college and NFL players, suggests dynamic bench presses performed with bands wrapped over the bar. This is like a normal bench press, except each rep is performed quickly and the bands are secured under heavy dumbbells on the floor to add tension at the top of the press. DeFranco also recommends explosive medicine ball chest passes. Alternatively, try regular bench presses performed dynamically, or do clap pushups. Pick one exercise and complete five or six sets with three to five reps in a set.
Back training can often be neglected in favor of pushing exercises like chest presses and pushups. Tim Slominsky, general manager of Euphoria Health and Fitness and coach to NFL tight end Ben Watson, recommends performing two back exercises in your workouts. First up are one-arm dumbbell rows, performed with one knee on a bench and the other foot on the floor. Row a dumbbell one-handed up to your mid-section. For the other exercise, wrap resistance bands around the top of a cable crossover, place a bar between the loops and perform pull-downs while sitting on the floor. For each exercise, complete four sets with eight to 12 reps in each set.
Variety is best when training your chest. The dynamic movements at the start of your workouts will hit your chest to a degree, but they’re more about building explosive power, rather than brute strength and muscle mass. Michael Palmieri, president and founder of The Institute of Sport Science & Athletic Conditioning in Las Vegas, advises combining pressing exercises with isolation movements and body-weight exercises. Aim for an even ratio of chest-to-back moves. If you’re performing rows and pull-downs for your back, try incline dumbbell presses and weighted pushups, or decline barbell presses and dips for your chest. Do the same number of sets and reps as you did for your back exercises.
Train your upper body once a week, advises coach Zach Even-Esh of the Underground Strength Gym in New Jersey. Along with one lower body workout, one conditioning session and your team training, this should be enough to elicit power, size and strength gains. While you can get by with the basic power, back and chest exercise combo, you may also wish to add some arm isolation training to beef up your guns. For building biceps and triceps, NFL running back Thomas Jones does band pushdowns and incline dumbbell curls as well as JM presses — a cross between a close grip bench press and a triceps extension. Add two arm exercises to each upper body workout. Do three sets with 12 reps in each set.