Mission Statement: To enhance ones’ athletic abilities, through the practice of proven methods and techniques, integrated ethically to efficiently provide continuous personal improvement.
Our Approach At AZ Athletic, our approach is simple-NO FAD TRAINING. While standing on top of a stability ball, eyes closed, dumbbells in hand, doing a shoulder press, sounds exciting, it does not directly translate to a better athlete on the field of play. We focus on getting our clients measurable results, by improving their athletic abilities. While many gyms nowadays are filled with flat panel televisions, row after row of sparkling cardio equipment, trendy, hip group classes and shiny new strength training machines (many require a PhD in Astrophysics to operate correctly) as a way to entice people in their doors. Thats not the case with AZ Athletic. Whether you are an athlete or just like to train like one, it's about results. Our programs are individually designed and geared towards improving ones athletic ability. AZ Athletic uses a multi-step approach in developing our athletes’ strength, power, speed, quickness, agility, coordination and range of motion. We will not only focus on the movement of the athlete, but also nutrition & supplementation education and the development of energy systems, (ATP-PC, aerobic & anaerobic sytems) necessary for an athlete to achieve their full potential. Furthermore, we know athletes value the opportunity to train on a regular basis, so we place a premium on injury prevention and recovery & regeneration. This is an often neglected aspect of training, yet it is probably the most important. At AZ Athletic our coaches use multiple recovery & regeneration techniques to maximizes our athletes results and minimize injury.
[01/10/14] Breakfast No. II, my favorite meal of the day. What's your favorite meal?
[01/10/14] Carbs & fats aren't the enemy... Your lack of self-control & commitment are.
[10/01/13] When it's one of "those" days and it feels as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders.... SQUAT THAT SH*T!
[09/24/13] Right now, your competition is getting better. What are you doing?
[09/19/13] Somewhere, someone busier than you, made the time to exercise. Demand more of yourself
THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFTING HEAVY
An all too common misconception, heavy weight-training, is only for men and/or athletes. This type of resistance training can help, the athlete or the desk jockey, both men and women, young and old, not only build muscle, but increase ones metabolism and increase bone mineral density.
After almost two decades of training & coaching, I have assisted thousands of men and women with resistance exercise plans. Often, I’ve found the women to be concerned about bulking up too much or they say, “I am afraid of looking like a man!”
Let me alleviate this concern now by stating to women that heavy weight-training will NOT make you look like a man. Multiple things have to occur in order for this to happen. You can’t build a significant amount of muscle if your testosterone levels are not high enough; if you do not consume the proper amount of calories to keep your body in a surplus; have the proper balance of macronutrients; and most importantly, if you do not train to add large amounts of muscle, you can't add large amounts of muscle. As women, you do not need to fear “bulking up” because you have far less testosterone in your bodies than the opposite sex. Instead of becoming bulky, women who lift weights become leaner and more defined. So, if you are looking to develop greater strength, lose body fat and reshape your physique, you should definitely consider heavy weight-training. Although multiple repetitions using a lighter weight increases muscle endurance, it does not build lean muscle mass or create definition the way heavy weights will. These are both good things for men and women.
Heavy weight-training, also known as high intensity-low volume training, is incredibly beneficial if done safely and correctly. This type of training not only facilitates growth of lean muscle, which is a critical element to increased metabolism and fat burning, but it also stimulates increased density to the bones (more calcium and more stability). A heavy weight-training workout typically falls between 75%–85% of the one-rep maximum weight that you can lift on a particular exercise
For example, let’s say your one-rep maximum for the bench press is 100 lbs. 75% of that is 75 lbs., and 85% is 85 lbs. So, for heavy weight-training, you may do 5–8 repetitions of 75 to 85 lbs. for a specific number of sets with 2 to 3 minutes of rest between each set.
Heavy training will also streamline your time in the gym. When my clients are engaged in a heavy routine, I have them focus primarily on compound movements, maximizing the recruitment of large muscles and spend far less time on isolation movements. For example an upper body push day may consist of large volume on bench press, dumbbell incline press, shoulder press and dips, with maybe only a set or two of isolated tricep work. The reason being, the smaller muscles are already being recruited to help with the compound lifts, unless you NEED to increase their size significantly, there's no need to train them further.
Mix this type of training into your regular regimen for one month at a time. And then take a month off (return to higher repetition, lower weight training) before returning to the heavier training.
There is no need for women to fear “bulking up.” It is physiologically impossible for a woman to get as big as a man by lifting heavy weights, unless she is taking hormones or other chemicals. The only thing to “fear” is all the attention you might get for being leaner, stronger and more defined. I’m positive you will enjoy the amazing benefits you will experience from heavy weight-training.
[09/05/13] If it's important, you make time and find a way. When it's not important, you make excuses and find a way out.
SHOULDER MOBILITY & STABILITY
The shoulders play an important role in any type of physical endeavor one chooses to partake in. If you want to lead a healthy active life, let’s just say shoulders are important. If you are planning to or currently participating in any type of athletics, you really know how important shoulders are to your athleticism. More important than the shoulders though are the actual shoulder joints and their ability to function properly. Without proper mobility and stability in the shoulder joints, doing any type of movement can become quite difficult. Although you might not realize it, the shoulders have an amazing range of motion. The shoulders are actually the most mobile joints in the body. The shoulders can abduct, adduct, raise in front, raise in back, rotate and practically move a full 360 degrees. The problem is most people do not have nearly the shoulder mobility that they should. This could be due to the lifestyle they live, poor posture, muscular imbalances or even ones training regiment. If you are limited by a poor range of shoulder mobility or have some stability issues that are causing shoulder pain, you may want to pay close attention.
THE SHOULDER JOINT
The shoulder joint is composed of three main parts: the Clavicle (collar bone), the Scapula (shoulder blade) , and Humerus (upper arm bone). Total shoulder mobility has a lot of movements going on. Full shoulder mobility will be involved in 13 articulation points, which are:
1. Scapula Abduction
2. Scapula Adduction
3. Scapula Elevation
4. Scapula Depression
5. Scapula Upwards Rotation
6. Scapula Downwards Rotation
7. Shoulder Abduction
8. Shoulder Adduction
9. Shoulder Flexion
10. Shoulder Extension
11. Arm Medial Rotation
12. Lateral Rotation
13. Arm Circumduction
Not being able to properly move thru just a single plane of articulation can be a great hindrance to an athletes' mobility and performance. The shoulder joints are involved in more movement than any other joint in the body. With that much range of motion, the shoulder joints can easily be injured if you’re not careful.
Most athletes could benefit from some sort of mobility work for their shoulders. If you cannot accomplish the 13 points of articulation with the shoulders comfortably, then a little mobility work is definitely in order. Did you know that something as simple as hunching over a computer screen for a few hours a day can greatly diminish your shoulder joint flexibility? The more you stretch or perform some mobility work the better it will be for your shoulders in the long run. Mobility work can be done three to four times a week for rehab or preventative maintenance.
Some simple mobility exercises you can utilize:
-Shoulder Socket Rotations
-Shoulder Wall Slides
-Dowel Overhead Shrugs and Stretch Backs
-Band Pull Aparts
All of thes will help to improve scapular retraction, reducing shoulder protraction and allow the shoulder complex to articulate with a greater degree.
To have proper mobility and working shoulder muscles there must be a point of stability that everything stems from. This is not only for the shoulder joints but all the mobility joints in the body (hips, spine, wrist, and ankles). For this to happen in the shoulders, the scapula has to be working properly. Many times when people get shoulder injuries the first assumption is their rotator cuffs are hurt. While this may be the case some of the time, a lot of times people fail to address the scapula. This is very similar to when people get lower back, knee, or hamstring pain, they address one of the three but fail to look at the glutes or hips. If the scapula is not functioning properly, it will diminish the function of the rotator cuffs. The rotator cuffs will not to function properly because they are overstressed. Usually this is because the scapula either rotates forward or becomes misaligned. The Scapula is the point of stability when it comes to the shoulder joints. Strong shoulder blades will equal great shoulder mobility. If you think I am exaggerating try and find an upper body movement or exercise that does not involve the scapula in some way!
By strengthening the muscles that support the scapula you also strengthen your shoulder joint support. The main muscles we want to target are the rhomboids and the serratus. These are the two major muscles that attach and stabilize the scapula. While these are not the only muscles that support the scapula they are the largest and most supportive. If either of these muscles are weak or become shortened due to inflexibility, the scapula begins to rotate forward or misaligns itself. Once the scapula rotates forward too much the shoulder joint becomes misaligned, this is when you run into shoulder joint problems. Resulting problems can be anything from slight loss of mobility, rotator cuff problems, impingements, or even major loss of mobility. When doing rehab strengthening exercises always focus on form over weight. You’re focusing more on joints and tendons which are much easier to hurt if you are not careful. Stability work can be performed once or twice a week. Perform everything in a slow and controlled manner and most importantly if it hurts don’t do it!
Here are a few exercises that will directly target the rhomboids and serratus for more scapula stability:
-Thumbs Up Lateral Raises
-Ultra Strict Barbell Rows and Hold
-Straight Arm Raise and Shrug
-Neutral Grip Face Pulls
-Scapular Retraction Rows
-Serratus Incline Bench Press
GETTIN' TO THE JOINT
The shoulder joint is the most articulate joint in the body, with this much articulation the shoulders have a lot of mobility. When even some of this mobility is lost it can be quite the hassle to someone’s well being. If there is a loss of shoulder mobility one thing to look for is how the scapula is performing. If the scapula does not have proper mobility or stability it can cause some serious shoulder joint issues. Routinely performing mobility and stabilizing exercises for the shoulder joints and scapula will go a long way in protecting those areas from possible damage.
MUSCULAR IMBALANCES AMONG ATHLETES
A muscular imbalance occurs when antagonistic muscle groups are not in equilibrium with each other: an individual has one muscle group that is overdeveloped and tight, while its opposing muscle group is weak and stretched out of its normal position. A few antagonistic muscle groups are: biceps/triceps, quad/hamstring, stomach/back, hip flexor/glutes, etc.
In athletes, muscular imbalance is likely to be attributed to the overuse of specific muscle groups as a result of a particular repetitive motion that is used in their respective traing for their sport. It can also be attributed to incorrect or lack of exercise.
Many athletes are often met with the predicament of “quad dominance”, where the quads are the primary drivers of movement. For the most efficient stride, all energy of motion is directed towards propelling the athlete forward. The quads function to extend the knee to produce the forward swing of the stride. Stride length is based on how far the knee extends forward and how far the leg extends back. The farther one can push with each step, the longer the stride will be (frequency and stride length are the primary components in overall running speed). To often athletes associate stride length with extension of the knee and often disregard the backward swing of the leg (extension of the hip and the motion of the heel striking the ground). By maintaining focus on the extension of the knee and neglecting the extension of the hip, the quads are overworked while the gluteal muscles remain idle.
Athletes also experience tight hip flexors because those muscles are constantly shortened and rarely stretched to even out the balance. As one lifts the knee to begin each stride, the hip flexors are contracted and shortened. Many runners are not familiar with the idea of using the stomach to lift the knee up rather than the hip flexor. When the stomach is activated to lift the knee up, it keeps the tailbone pointing downwards rather than forward, allowing the spine to stay in its most lengthened position. The hip flexors remain in this shortened state because they are not adequately stretched out in the following movement of hip extension and the leg lengthening back. Ideally, in one movement the hip flexors are shortened and in the following movement, the hip flexors are lengthened. However athletes often neglect stretching the hip flexor (through activation of the gluteal muscles) as their heel strikes the ground.
Problem with muscular imbalance
Many conditions are a result of muscular imbalance because it pulls the spine and body out of alignment which increases the strain on certain muscles, bones, and joints. When the function of the spine is compromised, body weight is unequally distributed, and certain muscles, bones, and joints are forced to carry loads that they cannot sustain.
Try this analogy: If you drive your car with the wheels out of alignment, the tread on your tires is going to wear unevenly. If you don’t get an alignment, eventually you’re going to have a blowout. The same principle holds true for your back and other areas of your body.
For example, shoulder tendinitis (inflammation of the shoulder’s tendons) is caused by a muscle imbalance around the shoulder that places increased stress on the rotator cuff tendons. The muscles in the shoulder are so tight, that they compress the space between the shoulder joint causing tendons to rub during movement leading to inflammation. This issue is only exacerbated by the decrease in blood flow to small blood vessels in the area which only serve to weaken and fray the muscle.
In most cases, our core muscles are out of balance. As a result of lack of physical activity or incorrectly exercising, our powerhouse muscles are out if balance causing other to compensate in ways they would not normally. When the core muscles are out of balance, the pelvis is pulled out of its normal neutral position. The pelvis is the base and foundation of the spine and controls the position and curve of it. When the pelvis is out of alignment, the spine becomes out of alignment, and when the spine is out of alignment there are adverse effects on both the neurological system as well as the muscular system. For instance, if the nerves in the spine are compressed, they will be unable to innervate organs to the fullest extent. If the spine is out of alignment, as in the case of anterior pelvic tilt (‘sway back’), one can expect low back pain. It is critical to understand we are one comprehensive whole, and that one misalignment in the body can have detrimental effects on the rest of the body if muscular imbalances are ignored.
Solution: A strong, BALANCED core will allow other muscle to be in a neutral state. Also, train opposing muscle groups equally. Your abdominals will only be as strong as your lower back, your quads will only be as strong as your hams, a strong bicep needs an equal tricep.
PULL-UP vs CHIN-UP
Let's take a look at two exercises so similar that you may never have really noticed the difference between the two: the pull-up and the reverse pull-up, more commonly called a chin-up. Both work your back muscles using body-weight, but subtle differences between them do mean that you'll want to choose carefully which you utilize.
The basic pull-up is familiar to most of us since childhood. Start by hanging from a bar with a wide overhand grip (that is, palms facing away from you). Be attentive to the grip, as this will be the basis of variation in these exercises. Pull your chest up to the bar, then lower to your start position exhaling at the end of the movement. Note: If you're not able to go directly to the full body-weight exercise, you can use a Gravitron machine or super bands to assist you as you develop this exercise.
There are some subtleties to this basic movement that guys who workout a lot should be familiar with. Let's break it down:
Works the upper back muscles: This exercise is a major winner for developing the latissimus dorsi & teres major in the upper and middle back. If and when you draw your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement, you also develop the rhomboids and the middle and lower portions of the trapezius. This exercise also works the biceps brachii, brachialis and the brachioradialis. Though this is by no means a chest exercise, there will be a slight contraction of the pectorals as the pull-up works with the latissimus dorsi to create an angle between the arm and the trunk of the body.
Variations: This is a simple exercise that depends on a controlled movement. But that doesn't mean you can't add variation, which in turn will lead to different kinds of muscle development. Looking to widen your back? Keeping your elbows close to your body during the movement focuses exertion mainly in the external fibers of the latissimus dorsi and will aid in developing the width of the back. Or perhaps you want to thicken your back muscled rather than widen them. In that case, bringing the elbows back and lifting the chest as you raise to the bar will focus the work more towards the upper and central fibers of the latissimus dorsi and the teres major. This will develop the bulk of the back as you draw the shoulder blades together and the rhomboids and the upper and lower portion of the trapezius are used equally.
So, the basic pull-up will hit all of the major muscles of the upper back, and with minor variations in form can create different kinds of muscle development.
Now let's take a look at what happens if you turn your hands around to create a reverse pull-up, or chin up.
Reverse Pull-ups (aka Chin-ups)
You will begin by hanging from a high bar, as in the pull-up, but now with an underhand grip (that is, palms facing toward you rather than away) and with your hands approximately shoulder width apart, instead of wide. Expand your chest as you raise your chin toward the bar. Try to get your chin up above the bar before lowering (in a controlled fashion) back to the start position. Note: If you're not able to go directly to the full body-weight exercise, you can use a Gravitron machine or super bands to assist you as you develop this exercise.
Here's what happens when you grip the bar differently for the same basic movement:
Similar back work: Like the pull-up, the chin-up is a thorough back exercise. It also develops the latissimus dorsi and the teres major, like the pull-up. By keeping your chest elevated as you perform the movement and pulling through the full range of motion, you will also develop the middle and lower portions of the rhomboids and the trapezius. And, like the pull-up, the reverse pull-up also recruits a bit of your pectorals.
More bicep work: The major difference in this exercise is that some of the work that in the pull-up is done by the upper back is in the reverse pull-up performed by the biceps. In particular, the biceps brachii and brachialis, which had more of a supporting role in the pull-up, work very hard in the reverse pull-up. That may have implications for organizing your workouts, because of the intense nature of the bicep work, you could include this exercise with your arm workouts.
A small change goes a long way here. For a versatile upper back exercise, take the hands wide and facing toward you, and pull yourself up to the bar with a focus on small variations in form. To work your biceps and your upper back together, with a focus on overall back development, flip your hands around and move them to shoulder width apart.
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