I Juice Blog

Optimal training for athletic excellence

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Not Just Strong—Steady

You cannot build a house until the foundation is strong and steady. Similarly, you should not add sport-specific skills until the aerobic base is strong and steady. A good VO2 max, improved lactate threshold, etc., all are indicative of a strong aerobic base. But what is steady? An often overlooked athletic necessity, is the topic of our discussion.

Consider this, if you asked a marksman to hit a target, you would not want his body shaking as he aimed. We want the same accuracy for our athletes. Tell a pitcher to hit the outside corner, or the shooting guard to take the three-pointer, you want them to be steady, even as they are in motion. (Dancers have extreme proprioceptive ability. Their muscle memory teaches their brains to know spatial arrangements for their body.)

How can we test for steady or wobble? Very simply – have the athlete stand on one leg. With good proprioception and core, standing erect should not be a problem. If shake or wobble is detected, check for basic flaws:

  1. Pronation, supination – remember, the kinematic sequence starts at the ankle, not the pelvis. The ankle supports the body above.
  2. Apparent muscle weakness – for some reason, right psoas involvement is a common find.
  3. Proper breathing – do not pull your stomach in as you are breathing; let it relax instead.
    Think about it – your lungs are trying to expand; why pull your stomach against them.
  4. Core strength is imperative. Enhance it with a pelvic tilt until full development is achieved. Continue reading 

Learn to Burn

Whether you’re a world class athlete and need to access body fat to efficiently fuel your athletic event; or, you need to lose 5, 10, or even 100 lbs, the proper combustion of fat is essential to your health and performance.

To get through “the wall”, the athlete must access his body fat for energy. Whether it is during the late innings of a game or while running the last miles of a race, glucose—glycogen (carbohydrates) can only take you so far. The proper burning of fat is the difference between success and failure for losing unwanted pounds or setting your own personal record.

Insulin: “The Fat Hormone”

As sweet, starchy foods (High Glycemic Carbohydrates) are consumed, your blood sugar will rise. The body will now secrete insulin to control this. Basically, insulin controls blood sugar by converting sugar to fat and storing it in the body. That’s why insulin is nicknamed “The Fat Hormone”. Hormonally, when you eat a high glycemic (sugar) food, by secreting insulin your body is saying ‘make fat, store fat’. All seems well and good. Blood sugar stays normal, and the tired feeling some feel a few hours after a glycemic meal (bread, rice, macaroni, potatoes, etc.), can be cured with a nap. Not so good, though, when you’re trying to burn fat for energy, or shed those extra pounds. When you are physically active (working out), saying ‘burn fat’, you don’t want to be saying chemically (insulin) ‘make fat, store fat’. At best, you would be an inefficient fat burner.

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Four Phases of Training

I learned many, many years ago that the lifetime of the red blood cell (RBC) was 80 to 120 days. For my purpose in training athletes, I used 90 days as the average. To me it was nice to know the lifeline of our body was refreshing itself each season, or 4 times per year.  If the body was refreshing, then my training schedules would also refresh each season, or 4 times per year. Yes, there would be a common theme throughout, but each year would comprise 4 distinct phases.

Phase I – Building the Foundation

No matter what your sport or competition, a strong foundation or aerobic base is imperative. To know where you are going, you must know where you start. First measure your maximum aerobic effort. For example, max aerobic HR is approximately 220 minus your age, x 85 %. For the purposes of this article, lets say this number is a heart rate of 140. Now determine what intensity of exercise is required to achieve this HR. In this example, jogging on a treadmill at 5.0 MPH, will be used. For the next 90 days your training will be primarily (not totally) aerobic to increase this performance. When creating an aerobic base, you must do aerobic work. Pure aerobic activity can be offset by open chain proprioceptive work. (Open chain – not holding on, or not connected; proprioceptive – where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other). Standing on a balance board or ball will accomplish this. When this becomes too easy, try standing on one leg, or with your eyes closed. This technique will vastly enhance core strength. Fuel it with proper nutrition. Remember, you are what you eat. Eat junk – be junk. Now what are we training for? This phase is a good place to start to learn game enhancing visualization. Standing on a balance ball in your garage, no I don’t think so. Close your eyes and you are now standing on the field, playing 3rd base. As you move from side to side on the ball, imagine you are picking off all the shots hit to the “hot corner”. Remember, what the mind perceives, the body achieves. During this phase you should see an increase in the intensity needed to get to a certain HR. If it took a 5.0 MPH effort to reach 140 HR, by the end of this phase you may need a speed of 6.0 MHP or more to get to the same HR. A good aerobic base has been started, but eventually your improvement will start to level off. Then, it is time to kick it up a notch! Continue reading 

The Three Rs

If you go to school and want to excel, you must learn the 3Rs—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. What does that have to do with training you ask? Nothing, but it is nice to know that our athletes are educated and well rounded.

Let’s get to the point. If you train and want to obtain optimal performance, you must learn the 3R’s—Rest, Repair and Recovery.

You can only push your training as hard as you can recover.
The American Way:
If some is good, then, more is better;
Stronger, Faster, Harder;
Eventually, something has to give or break.

Trying to beat your own personal record in training, each day, is a prescription for disaster. Now that we talked about controlling the intensity of a workout, creating the pattern of hard (anaerobic), and easy (aerobic) is next. Continue reading 

I Just Use Intense Controlled Exercise


In the world of sport, there is a fine line between training and abusing. A hard effort does not make the workout correct, and what may be considered a strenuous effort for one athlete might be considered too easy for another. Proper training involves a combination of hard (anaerobic) and easy (aerobic) workouts, where the INTENSE-ity of each workout is CONTROLLED to get the desired physiological effect. This is the essence of the I JUICE training method.

Over the years there has been a lot of talk about training “in the zone”. These zones are based on a percentage of maximum heart rate, and each zone has its own distinct attributes. The generally accepted formula for maximum HR = 220 minus your age, where 60-80% of this number represents the aerobic (easy) zone and 85-90% the anaerobic (hard) zone.

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We Love All Sports, but We Live for Baseball

Depression, war, tragedy; as tough as it was growing up, we always had baseball to help get us through. The Babe was bigger than life, how many tears dried up because of him?  Lou, Joe D., Ted – “C’mon, with their help we could do anything!”

I once read that Henry Aaron was pitched bottle caps as part of his early training. He used a cut-off broomstick to hit them. Hard work, yes, but what a champion. Thank you Mr. Aaron for being a true hero and role model. When I was young, I dreamt I was Roberto Clemente – able to fly, catch, and make that perfect throw to the plate. Thank you Mr. Clemente for setting the standard both on and off the field.

Koufax, Gibson, Marichal: weren’t they gods? Through dedication, determination, and desire they could make your shudder at the plate. Thank you Reggie, or should I say “Mr. October.” How many of us were inspired by those home runs?
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