Reader Mail #1 ("Bench Press: Avoiding Shoulder Pain")

Q: My shoulder hurts when I bench. Is there anything I can do to avoid this?

Answer: Fortunately, the answer is yes. However, the change in your form may reduce the effectiveness of this exercise for chest development but you may find yourself being able to bench much more weight with this technique. This modified bench press technique will require your triceps do a lot more of the work. The technique for a "shoulder pain-free" bench press includes:

1) Use a "medium" grip (space your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart).

2) Keep the elbows tucked in close to the body rather than pointing out to the sides.

3) Press the bar up in a straight line.

These tips come from the bench press experts at the Westside Barbell club where they believe that many bench press-related shoulder problems are caused by poor technique. Their hypothesis is, "If you push the bar in a straight line, as opposed to pushing back over the eyes, the shoulder rotates less and there is less stress on the rotator cuff". This is the basis for pressing the weight up in a straight line.

You may even be able to press more weight with this technique (if your shoulders are healthy and your triceps are strong). But if shoulder problems are a current concern, don't rush into heavy weights. Instead, train properly with the correct technique and perform additional work to strengthen and rehabilitate the injured area. Consult your therapist for a rehabilitation program and when you return to weight training always make sure to include an equal or greater volume of rowing and upper back training. Some simple yet extremely helpful exercises include wide-grip seated rows, wide-grip barbell rows, dumbbell rows, deadlifts, and bent-over lateral raises.

You can also change the technique of your dumbbell chest presses to minimize shoulder strain as well. In this case, hold the dumbbells with your palms facing one another and keep your elbows close to your upper body. Again, this may reduce the amount of training effect on your chest but it will be less stressful for your shoulder.



Reader Mail #2 ("Nutritional Advice to GET LEAN")

Q: Do you have any 10-12 week diet plans that can help me lose weight? I have found the time to exercise but I simply just don't know enough about nutrition to get my diet on track for fat loss. Thanks for your help, and the great website.

Answer:My GET LEAN manual helps overweight people lose lots of fat through dietary changes. There are numerous dietary options given and each meal of the day is specifically laid out (with many examples). The how's, why's, what's, and when's are all covered in this thorough manual. GET LEAN can also help average people achieve very low body fat levels. This manual has also been updated to include some extraordinary information on healthy living, and to help combat obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Its applicable to everyone, man or woman.

Here's what one successful client has had to say:

"With tips on training from CB ATHLETICS, I have been able to decrease my body fat, increase muscle mass and follow a more balanced diet. Having a very hectic executive job, the training tips have helped me to work out more effectively. All of this has lead to a healthier lifestyle, body and state of mind." - Dion Guerin

Check out the testimonial section of the site for more individual success stories...and then consider the manual...a steal at only $50.



Reader Mail #3 ("The #1 Question Asked by Athletes")

Q: What is the best way to improve vertical jump? My coaches have recommended technical jump training, while my buddies say I should lift weights? My phys ed teachers have mentioned something called "plyometrics". Please help!

Answer: A lot of things will work for the vertical jump, but most importantly, you have to figure out what you need to work on. Are you already quick, but just not strong? Is your technique and timing good or bad?

Let's go over your strengths and weaknesses first, and then work towards improving your jump, as well as other aspects of your game. Remember, ball just isn't about two-foot take off verticals. It's about being faster and more agile when driving. It's about being conditioned. It's about being strong and sturdy.

In the meantime, you can perform this self-test:

Chalk your hands and measure your standing reach height.

Perform a countermovement jump and record the height (see description below).

Now, perform a squat jump and record your height (see description below).

[Countermovement = regular vertical jump (i.e. stand, rapidly dip, then jump)]

[Squat jump = crouch in a half-squat position, pausing for 2-3 second count, and then perform the jump]

If your countermovement jump is a lot greater than your squat jump, that means your "plyometric efficiency" is excellent (i.e. your "speed"/"movement velocity") is well trained. Thus, you likely can spend less time on explosive jump training ("Plyometrics") and more time increasing your absolute strength. A lack of maximum strength may be the weak point in your vertical jump performance. Your program should focus on leg strength (Squats!).

If the 2 jumps are similar, it means your absolute strength is very good, and you probably need to increase your movement velocity (technique & speed) in order to get more rebound out of your explosive "dip". Thus, plyometrics (jump training) is recommended as the focus of your training regime.

As for other components of training, do not give up working on quickness (or conditioning). Vertical jump may or may not be that important to your success. Drills that improve vertical jump often go hand in hand with improving first step explosiveness (quickness). The phrase really should be "quickness kills" rather than "speed kills" when regarding athletic performance. If your first step to the ball is much faster, you will win many races and look that much better on the court. In contrast, pure "speed" will do little on the court.

Check out this athlete training program: www.cbathletics.com/issues/85.htm. While this program was initially developed for hockey, many b-ball players (and other athletes) are using it to make great improvements in their conditioning and performance for the winter season.



Reader Mail #4 ("Athlete Conditioning: A Guideline to the Proper Intensity")

Q: I need help! I'm get physically sick from my hockey training. After I do my high-rep weights, my intervals, my plyometrics, and then my conditioning, I end up feeling really ill. Sometimes I get sick to my stomach. I usually have a meal replacement drink about an hour before training. What can I do to avoid these problems?

Answer: Sorry to hear about this problem. It is a combination of 2 things:

1. The food in your stomach.

2. Your very long and intense workout.

The structure of your workout is causing you to feel nauseous. Your body just isn't conditioned to deal with the metabolic changes that are occurring as a result of the repeated high-intensity exercises you perform. It is somewhat surprising that you are still getting sick this late in the off-season, but it clearly indicates there is too much high intensity work.

You should slightly decrease the amount of the meal replacement drink that you take before training. Then slowly start drinking more and more each time as you become used to the food in your stomach. Add whatever you don't drink before the workout to your post workout meal.

The second recommendation is to drop the high rep weight lifting. This is the beginning of the trouble as far as your workout routine is concerned. Decrease the number of reps in each set and add weight. Use weights for strength, not endurance. Get down to sets of 12, then try 10 reps the week after, and then try 6-8 reps the following week. Get strong (not sick)! It will really help you on the ice!

There is another change you should make to your routine. Plyometric training should be performed the first thing after your warm-up. Please check this newsletter for other suggestions on training for hockey: www.cbathletics.com/issues/85.htm.

Stick with the intervals and endurance training at the end. That will provide much more hockey-specific conditioning than high-repetition resistance training ever will. Now you have a better workout, and one that won't cause you to be ill.



Reader Mail #5 ("Training the Female Athlete")

Q: Hi CB ATHLETICS! My daughter is 14 years old and has what we believe to be potential national level soccer talent. Right now she has the quickness but not the strength to compete against older girls. What can we do?

Answer: First let me congratulate your daughter and wish her the most success! Second, let me mention that I am participating in a new website called www.grrlathlete.com. It will be up in September and will really address the concerns facing your daughter.

Next, there are some links from CB ATHLETICS that will help your daughter out. These are somewhat general, but check them out and then formulate some more specific questions regarding your daughters' needs. Some of these links relate to hockey training and speed-quickness training, but they are all relevant to almost every athlete!

Latest Issue

Issue 85

Her coaches must also pay attention to protecting her ACL! Check out this article: www.cbathletics.com/whatsnew.htm. Read through these to formulate an educated training manual for your daughter. Even in no equipment is available, she can begin training her legs for strength with this workout: www.cbathletics.com/issues/29.htm#1.


Good luck to everyone!



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