Welcome Samantha Lucente!

Samantha Lucente – Clinical Athletic Trainer

Effort: Performance & Rehabilitation would like to happily announce and welcome its newest staff member to join the Effort family, Samantha Lucente. A recent graduate of Northern Illinois University, Samantha has had experience working with youth athletes, high school athletes, division 1 and 3 athletes, and geriatric population. Prior to graduating Northern Illinois University, Samantha has spent time increasing her knowledge in minor league baseball. The former intern of Effort: Performance joins us in the clinic as a Clinical Athletic Trainer. Her role in the clinic will be providing our patients with rehabilitation for musculoskeletal injuries, ranging from ankle sprains, hamstring strains, to the ACL reconstruction and everything in between. She is a welcomed addition to our practice and will be a great asset in providing the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland communities with the highest quality rehabilitative services around. Welcome to the Effort family Samantha and everyone else reading, if you have an ache, pain, or lingering issue schedule your appointment today by contacting us either by phone (219)794-4653, email at audric@effort-performance.com, or visit our website at www.effort-performance.com for more information.

Welcome Samantha Lucente!

One Year Anniversary

Effort: Performance & Rehabilitation is celebrating its first year of providing sports medicine, rehabilitation, fitness, and sports performance training to Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area. In celebrating such a great year we’d like to thank everyone who has become a member of the Effort family to make Effort: Performance and Rehabilitation what it is.


Midwest Blackbirds Program

House Teams

Silver Mite

Gold Mite 1

Squirt 1

Squirt 2

Pewee 1

Pewee 2

Pewee 3

Bantam 1

Bantam 2

Travel Teams

Squirt A

Squirt AA

Pewee A

Bantam A

Illiana Blackbirds

Thea Bowman Leadership Academy

Calumet College of St. Joseph Wrestling

Moraine Valley Community College Women’s Basketball


Jessica Joy (Lake Central Hockey/Valparaiso Hockey)

Tabitha Burrink (Lake Central Soccer)

Ryle Platusic (Lake Central Softball)

Makayla Sullivan (Lake Central Cheerleading)

Renee Dinino  (Lake Central Track & Field)

Madylinn Hickey ( Vikings Hockey)

Claire Hickey (Vikings Hockey)

Matt Duvall (Lewis University Hockey)

Jasmine Adams (Thea Bowman Leadership Academy girls basketball)

Xavier Walker (Thea Bowman Leadersip Academy basketball and track/ Indiana University Track)

Emily Searer (Kankakee Valley Highschool)

Joe Shaughnessy (Crown Point Hockey)

Jake Enquist (Assisant Coach of the Illiana Blackbirds)

Max Karpikov (Illiana Blackbirds)

Abraham Vazquez ( Wrestling Coach)

Brooke Merritt

Jayden Evans (Midwest Blackbirds Bantam/Crown Point Hockey)

Mackenna Evans (Kout High School Cheerleading)

Sophia Harris (Illinois Lutheran Volleyball)

Audrey Harris (Midwest Blackbirds/ Crown Point Hockey)

Emily Henke (Lowel Highschool Tennis)

Olivia Henke ( Lowell Grade School Track & Field)

Alexa Henke (Lowell Grade School Track & Field)

Robin Osmolski (Purdue North Central Volleyball)

Sophie Sakeleris (Munster Cheerleading)

Malia Butler   (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Paige Hein  (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Madison Rolle  (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Mackenzie Rolle  (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Abby Martisek   (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Isabelle Martisek (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Cadence Moore (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Maddy Martel (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Sanaa Cannon (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Angel Sang (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Tiereney Rodgers (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Stepahanie Ramos (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Laci Gigglio (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Callie Joseph (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Yasmin Albor (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Kenadie Major (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Gianna White (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Megan Wagenblast (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Savannah Covacio (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Toni Wilson (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Raylee Jackson (Team Midwest Gymnastics)

Meredith Donovan (Team Midwest Gymastics)

Bridget Donovan (Team Midwest Gymastics)

Mariyah Palmer (Team Midwest Gymastics)

Abby Castellanos (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Kristofer Bonilla (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Georgia Cappas (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Sara Rivera (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Shelby Noonan (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Emma Speck (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Miah Bruns (Midwest Trampoline and Tumbling)

Matthew Coronado (Boone Grove Baseball)

Kiersten Gora (Marian Catholic Cheerleading)

Trevor Donnelley (Midwest Blackbirds)

Jacob Veihman ( Midwest Blackbirds)

Justin Finley ( Midwest Blackbirds)

Brianna Pollachek (Midwest Blackbirds)

Ethan Anderson ( Midwest Blackbirds)

Bradley Ames ( Midwest Blackbirds)

Kristine Neumeyer

Cheryle Muench

Kathi Burrink

Robert Burrink

Stephanie Peters

Kathleen Nuemeyer

Jim Kick

Angel Mills

Judy Redmond

Nicole Roethle

Derek Serbon



A Special Thanks to Derek Serbon for his hard work remodeling our office.

A Special Thanks to my fellow Athletic Trainers for their efforts; Natasha Zurek and Samantha Lucente, Maggie Butler, Jose Salas, and Andrew Timbrook.

A Special thanks to the Eileen Butcher and The Midwest Training and Ice Center and Mike Ward of The Dyer Indoor Soccer Fields for partnering with us providing facilities for us to call home.

It has been a great year and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without any of you! Thank you so much again everybody we look forward to another great year.

(If we failed to mention anyone please make sure you let us know and we will gladly add you to the list and if you have any pictures you’d like to add please feel free to send them to us)

Audric R. Warren




One Year Anniversary

Are They Sports? Absolutely! (Cheer Edition)

In the world of athletics there are sports that don’t get enough credit where credit is due. Whether it’s because they don’t bring in the same money to athletic programs as football and basketball or they are simply misunderstood, certain sports don’t get the recognition or treatment that they deserve. The lack of acknowledgment of skill and athleticism that it takes to play certain sports , in my opinion, is unfounded. The average person is incapable of running a 9 second 100 meter dash, kicking an upper 90 goal, doing a back handspring let alone a full yet, they are quick to dismiss certain sports with ease. On the reverse side, there are coaches and athletes that participate in these sports who acknowledge the skill athleticism it takes, but ignore the training portion that it takes to foster being an elite athlete. This gets further exacerbated when fitness professionals and sports medicine professionals also don’t give the sport the time of day. So I started this series to discuss different sports that don’t get the recognition they deserve from outsiders but also from within. Today it’s all about cheerleading.



When most people think cheer all they can think about is “rah, rah, rah” when in reality it has evolved from that into a very high intensity, acrobatic sport. With the evolution of the sport it still struggles to find that recognition from outsiders. This is typically fostered by the misconceptions most people who don’t play the sport have. They don’t see the work that goes into it, they have probably never been to a competition, and I scarcely doubt most of these people can perform a single stunt. The other issue is, the athletes, sports performance professionals, sports medicine professionals, and coaches involved in the sport don’t treat it like other sports. Personal Trainers and Strength Coaches don’t make programs designed for cheerleaders, Orthopedic doctors don’t specialize in incorporating cheerleading into their practices, Athletic Trainers/Physical Therapists aren’t going to seminars for cheerleading injuries or learning techniques geared toward the sport, and cheerleading oaches don’t utilize the former professions rarely if at all.


Cheerleading and Injuries

As it is with all of athletics, injuries can and will happen. Cheerleading is no exception to the rule. Cheerleading athletes are prone to ankle sprains, spine injuries, concussions, knee injuries, and wrist injuries to name a few. There has even been much debate about the dangerousness of cheerleading in regards to injuries. Depending on the year, cheerleading has ranked amongst the most dangerous sports or the least dangerous sports in all athletics. This is because the data can be very misleading due to a misunderstanding of the sport. For instance, data for concussion rates is collected in certain instances during competitions. A football game, regardless of how often the clock is running, has a combined total of 48 minutes in highschool to 60 minutes in the NFL. During a cheerleading competition, a routine is usually no more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. If the rate of concussions is looked at when comparing time cheerleading will absolutely have a higher rate of instance. However, if you look at sheer numbers, cheerleading may run in the middle of the pack or toward the bottom compared to other sports.

The secondary problem with information regarding injuries related to cheerleading comes from the overuse/chronic side. There are many chronic wrist, back, knee, and shoulder injuries that would rival sports like basketball or baseball/softball. The problem is many of these types of injuries go unreported or undocumented because; A) Both coaches and athletes see them as a normal part of battling through injury in the sport, B)at the highschool level they are dismissed by their Athletic Trainer for being a cheerleader, or C) It is a club sport, so there is no Athletic Trainer present to document these injuries at all. This causes less research or data to be presentable on how to reduce or treat these types of injuries. If any of these types of injuries occurred in another sport they would get the evaluation, documentation, and rehabilitation required to allow healing and prevention of the same or more injuries. Because information is all over the place with cheerleading it usually gets ignored in the world of sports medicine.


Lastly, most athletic injuries occur during practices. This is a well known fact. In the highschool setting, the administration does not place high value on Athletic Trainers being provided during these practices. If injuries happen they happen without the appropriate medical staff being provided. As I stated before in the club setting there aren’t Athletic Trainers provided during practices.  If no one is around to evauate, document, and treat injuries that happen at practices how does anyone know what they are or if they even existed? Regardless of acute or chronic it’s impossible to know what is going on in the world of cheerleading in regards to injuries when there is no one present.


Cheer Leading and Injury Prevention
As previously stated Cheerleading has its fair share of injuries ranging from skull fractures to jumpers knee. Many acute and chronic injuries in cheerleading can be reduced/prevented. Some can be prevented by simple education while others require action. Cheerleading is a non-contact sport, thus many soft tissue injuries have a direct correlation to a lack of strength, mobility, or both. In a sport that requires so much landing, planting twisting, and jumping it’s astonishing how very little is done to prevent injuries. In comparison to a sport like basketball where so much has been done to decrease ACL and ankle injuries, which has been on a steady decline, cheerleading has not taken the same actions while these types of injuries are at a steady increase year to year. The same injury prevent programs that other sports implement, with a few tweaks geared toward cheer, can be easily implemented and it would greatly impact the sport.

Movement Analysis
Every athlete across the globe is engaging in movement analysis screenings to assess movement dysfunctions. They are a great way to find the problem before they become an issue. For such a dynamic sport as cheer it’s necessary to implement these screenings to keep athletes on the mat. A proper movement analysis will go a very long way in the prevention of injuries and increasing performance.

Landing Technique
Cheerleading is literally all plyometric related activities. In my previous article ( insert article here!!!!) I discussed how important learning to land was in plyometrics. As I also stated previously in this article soft-tissue injuries that occur without non-contact involvement typically stem from some sort of dysfunction. Whether it’s a mobility or strength issue, adding poor landing form with dysfunction is a definitive way to get hurt. Teaching cheerleaders proper landing techniques makes all the difference. From simple verbal cues to advance video analysis, can show athletes how they are landing, correct movement faults, and eliminate many non-contact injuries.


Injury Prevention Program(s)

Educating, evaluating, and treating concussions in cheerleading is just as important as football and soccer. The first step is establishing appropriate education regarding concussions so athletes, parents, and coaches understand what they are, recognizing the signs/symptoms of them, and how to appropriately treat them. The second step is to provide athletes with the proper pre-concussion screenings prior to participation. And lastly establishing protocols when concussions are suspected so the athlete does not sustain a second concussion by returning to play too soon

Acute/Chronic Soft Tissue
If it’s understood that specific injuries to the wrists, ankles, knees, and back can and will occur during a cheerleading season it makes sense to act accordingly. Adding short 5-10 minute programs to prevent injuries before or after practices can greatly impact a season. These can be easily implemented after a movement analysis of a program is performed or simply added based on the type of injury that is trying to be prevented. These exercises can range from simple core strengthening, ankle mobility, or thoracic spine mobility programs. Adding these programs is the difference between having a full roster or an inconsistent roster.

Treatment of Injuries
Injuries like ankle sprains are a religious occurrence in cheerleading. Unfortunately most cheerleaders seem to R.I.C.E. themselves right into a second, third, or fourth, injury. Following the injury these athletes rely heavily braces that aren’t really doing anything because braces were meant to be combined with some form of treatment.To end the cycle of injury/re-injury cheerleaders need to address their injuries appropriately with rehabilitation as no injury can heal properly without it.


Sports Performance and Cheerleading

How often do you see cheerleaders in the weight room? How often do you see a cheerleader doing a box jump? How often do you see a cheerleader with a strength and conditioning coach? The answer, rarely to never do you see a cheerleader performing these activities. While the skill component and choreography of a routine is incredibly invaluable to win competitions, basic strength components to performance shouldn’t be ignored. For a sport that requires so much power to perform it, there is a serious lack of training these athletes to actually be powerful. It doesn’t make any sense that staples like resistance-training, footwork, or vertical training is in every sport yet, cheerleading it’s relatively non-existent.


Resistance Training
Besides the fact that this would tremendously cut down on injuries shouldn’t this be a requirement? In order to be a base it requires strength. Strength comes from resistance training. Starting to get the picture? Bases and those proving front and back spots shouldn’t just be taller than other girls on the team they should also be much stronger. Not only will cheerleaders have less upper extremity injuries from catching people/drop less people, stronger bases are stable bases. A more stable base will not only safer for flyers but also allow them the stability needed to perform their stunts cleaner. With more strength, bases can also send the athletes higher into the air and catch them from greater distances giving routines higher levels of difficulty.

There is a lot of precision for performing routines. There are a ton of moving parts. Being able to move your feet with a certain amount of precision is a bit of a must. Cheerleaders need footwork to move frontwards, backwards, and side to side. The benefits from footwork/agility drills will teach cheerleaders the how to move their feet smoothly, efficiently, and fast. Choreography will become smoother and having the wherewithal to know where they are in space and time without stumbling over their own feet makes for much needed ease of movement.

Vertical-Jump Training
To perform complex stunts it requires a certain amount of time in the air. The more time in the air you have the more time you have to pull off clean looking, safe stunts. The less time in the air the more average the performance of a cheerleading routine. Implementing vertical jump training into a cheer program is a game changer for all levels of cheer. If an entire cheer program can out jump the competition the possibilities are limitless for the advanced level of stunts that can be pulled off during a routine.


I think it’s time to face the facts. Cheerleading is a sport, it’s not going anywhere, and it’s going to keep growing/evolving as time goes on. To the outsiders looking in, give respect where it’s due, as the skills they have can’t be mimicked by you or many others. For those who are on the inside looking out vying for respect in the athletic world, treat the sport like it is one. Train like athletes and treat injuries like athletes, it’s that simple.

Audric R. Warren


Are They Sports? Absolutely! (Cheer Edition)

3 Things Athletes and Coaches Should Avoid

Training as an athlete or for an athlete is complex to put it mildly. The amount of information that must be taken into consideration when it comes to getting results, preventing plateaus and overtraining, and the prevention of injuries is daunting to say the least. Because of the sheer amount of information that goes into a successful workout, training session, or entire program the athlete or coach can have a tendency to do generic workouts with the “one-size fits all” approach. In my opinion this stems from a misunderstanding that exercise is a science. Anyone whose taken a science class knows that the tiniest variable can make or break an experiments success. When you view training from the scientific perspective, training becomes a completely different monster. So I have compiled a short list of things athletes should minimize or eliminate doing during their training sessions/programs.

Doing “Cool” Workouts

The Internet can be a great resource for learning new methodologies, techniques, and the sciences behind training. In the right hands and utilized as a way of augmenting exercises or tweaking small aspects of a program the information creates new avenues to making gains. The value can be immediately seen in the progress that is made . At the same time the internet can also be a breeding ground for misinformation. Athletes or novice coaches look at a video on YouTube and think something looks great or has that wow factor. They immediately try to implement it as a workout because it looks cool or looks hard, not knowing most of these videos are simply people showing off. Implementing cool, overly difficult, or non-functional exercises is the quickest way to injury and loss of performance.


Understand that YouTube is merely a resource. As with any resource it requires doing your research. Don’t look at one video , even if it is explained very thoroughly, and go straight to implementation. Look at multiple videos, look at multiple people explaining the same exercise, and lastly read up on it. Take the time to understand before jumping head first in. If you are going to use YouTube as resource for your workouts, find videos of individuals who:

Explain Muscle Groups:

A good video will educate the athlete or coach on what muscle/muscle groups are specifically being targeted when performing the exercise that is being described. The person on the video will also teach you a break down of the proper mechanics of the exercise as to how to properly activate these muscles and how improper mechanics will affect the user. The video will also explain how it impacts the kinetic chain not just an individual muscle. Stressing quality of movement is usually a key indicator you found someone worth listening to.

Explain Theory:

The person in the video should have a good understanding of the biomechanics and kinesiology associated with performing the exercise(s) they are demonstrating in the video. The exercise will have a clear and concise explanation of the “why” part of the movement/movements. They might even suggest how the appropriate sets, reps, and rest periods will affect the athlete. This will give a clear understanding of what muscle fiber types and energy systems are being trained. When that component is explained it can give the potential user of the exercise the amount of rest necessary between sets and days that would be appropriate to perform the particular exercise again. Like I’ve stated before exercise is a science if they cannot explain the science behind it, then it would be wise to stay away from it.

Explain the Function:

Every exercise is not meant for everyone. If the video(s) that you have watched cannot explain how the exercise(s) in question pertain to the specific sport, it’s probably best to stay away from them. The person/people on the video(s) needs to be clear and concise on why and how it is functional to your sport. Otherwise, you could not only run the risk of injury but simply wasting valuable time that could be spent training the right way. Even if the video says it is for a sport it is necessary for them to explain why and how, otherwise it isn’t worth your time.

Explain Modifications:

Every athlete has different capabilities in regards to strength. An exercise could be perfect for your sport, position, and to correct your movement dysfunction(s). However, there may be a limitation relating to strength, mobility, or coordination that is preventing you/the athlete from doing that particular exercise. A good video or series of videos will reveal ways to modify that exercise so that you/the athlete can perform it properly. Information of modification offers a better foundation to performing more complex versions of the exercise.
Once again, YouTube can be a good resource. As a resource it doesn’t mean that every tidbit of information is gold. The more information found on the topic the better. If you go the route of taking one video as the gold standard you may wind up setting yourself up for failure.

The Treadmill and Elliptical

Every gym across America has one of these. They are a great way to get cardio or maintain your cardio. To put it succinctly, treadmills and ellipticals are good for cardio only if you are an average person. If you are an athlete and you live on the treadmill or elliptical, you might want to take a break from your old friends the treadmill and the elliptical. You don’t necessarily have to eliminate them completely but think twice about your performance standards before using on one. Some of you may disagree but let’s look at it like this:

Treadmills/Elipticals aren’t Running

Let’s start with discussing with the most basic parts of what running is. Running has two major requirements; 1.) Picking your leg up so you can reach forward with your foot to allow for an appropriate stride length, and 2.) driving your leg downward to push your foot into the ground to propel yourself forward. The second part of running is something that a majority of people struggle with. Add in a machine like the treadmill and you are only reiterating a lack of the second part of running. This affect occurs especially using the treadmill because you are “running” on a surface that is rotating underneath you. This eliminates the the leg driving down and back to push off of the ground, which creates acceleration. Instead you get active hip flexion (lifting the leg) and passive hip extension( pushing down and back). Without the driving the motion running is not achieved, only reaching, so when an athlete goes to sprint they lack the explosive ability to drive off of the ground. The translation from training to performance leaves too much of a gap.

Looking at the elliptical, it is even further away from running than the treadmill. Running is a single leg activity. While one leg is propelling, the other is striding forward. It requires balance, uni-lateral strength, and coordination. While you are on the elliptical both feet are in contact with a surface, removing the single leg components of running. Keeping both feet planted in the striding motion of the elliptical activates muscles like the quadriceps, hamstring, and low back muscles but diminishes activation of glute, and core muscles. These types of muscle sequences do not translate into creating speed, explosiveness, or even preventing injury for an athlete.

Daily Improper Use

While using an a treadmill or elliptical sparingly has no problem, the issue for most people lies in the way that these machines are being used. If an athlete plays a sport that needs speed (100 meter runner, gymnast, hockey, basketball player, volleyball player, softball/baseball player) it is safe to say jogging on a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes to an hour is going to diminish their explosive capabilities. Athletes wind up training their slow-twitch (endurance) muscle fibers and neglect to train their fast-twitch(short duration/speed) muscle fibers because of these long durations on the treadmill or elliptical. The secondary problem with them is all of these sports, minus a 100 meter sprint in track, require lateral or rotation movements.

Even long distance runners who require the endurance training lack the appropriate training when utilizing a treadmill or elliptical. Now instead of just paying attention to the lack of balance, uni-lateral strength, and coordination, athletes will have more endurance in certain muscle groups. Because of these muscular imbalances endurance athletes will not be able to maintain the pace they would if they were on a treadmill or elliptical. You will also see many of these athletes wind up having shin splints, SI joint problems, and knee pain.

There is nothing wrong with using a treadmill or elliptical, it needs to be understood how to use them appropriately when it comes to training. The athlete or coach utilizing these tools should do so sparingly. They are best used when it comes to a light warm-up, a rest day, or active rest post season. However, to prescribe these workouts as cardio for an athlete or to train an athlete is folly. It can be the quickest way to rob an athlete of gains and set them up for injury.

Bad Plyometrics

Plyometrics are high impact exercises, like jumping, kicking, throwing, or rebounding/landing, that focus on maximizing the stretch reflex of the muscles. The purpose for this type of training is to to teach the muscles to produce maximum force faster, which enhances performance for athletes. The most common types of plyometrics that people do are sprinting, box jumps, jumping rope, bounding, medicine ball throws. While plyometric training is essential to the athletes success most athletes and coaches have a tendency to do them inappropriately.


The problem:

When plyometric training is performed incorrectly it can actually decrease performance and increase the likelihood of injury. This typically happens because a number of factors aren’t taken into account before starting plyometric training:

Age – More often than not age is ignored because youth is seen as highly pliable and can bounce back from stress that is placed upon them. This mindset leads to high volume (repetition count), too complex of movements, and lack of rest between sets/days. When you combine those three factors young athletes learn improper movement patterns. Poor movement patterns with such high demand on the muscles and surrounding joints/tissues these athletes are more susceptible to repetitive stress trauma like; growth plate injuries, tendinopathies(tendon inflammation or chronic injury with degeneration), and stress fractures.

Form– Plyometrics require a high level of quality. Without that quality athletes and coaches wind up creating problems for themselves when they ignore quality over quantity. Ignoring form creates muscle dysfunction(Quadricep dominance, hamstring dominance, poor movement patterns, etc..) and places stress on tendons/ligaments/joints (tendinopathies, tendinosis, cartilage damage, etc..) that would otherwise not be affected nearly as much if form was taken into consideration.

Basic Strength– I see this factor ignored fairly often when either athletes assume they are stronger than they are or coaches think an athlete should have a certain level of strength. Athletes that aren’t strong enough will either recruit the wrong muscle fiber groups or fatigue very quickly. This practice becomes unsafe as the athlete will run the risk of both overuse injuries but also acute injuries because the stress placed on the tissues will be too great thus leading to tissue failure.

Volume/Training Load– Volume is considered the number of jumps in a given session/cycle while training load is considered to be the intensity in which a given exercise is performed. These two factors when combined improperly ,in my opinion, are the two biggest culprits when it comes to bad plyometric training. Often athletes and coaches take the approach that quantity trumps quality. Combine that with the second mentality of all plyometric exercises were made equal and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. High quantity and intense training on a regular basis ultimately leads to decreases in performance, recurring injuries and more often than not season/career ending injuries.

Weight – Every athlete is not built the same. What might be considered a low demand landing/jump for an athlete who’s 150 pounds will be a high demand jump to an athlete who’s 250 pounds. Athletes and coaches often see a teammate doing a jump that might not stress the 150 pound athletes tissues but when it is performed by the  250 pound athlete stress on their tissues will be absorbed in a completely different fashion. Barring the potential of injury it affects performance greatly. Without taking weight into consideration the nervous system will learn to fire slowly and instead of the intended exercise making the athlete more explosive it ends up making that athlete less powerful/more prone to injury.

External Load – Implementing resistance bands, ankle weights, weight vests, or sleds are a common practice in plyometric training. However, two things happen;

1.) The athlete or coach adds a random amount of weight with no reason for why they started there


2.) The athlete or coach attempts the same workout as if the weight wasn’t added

More often than not  you/the athlete will fatigue quickly because of the added strain. Yes, you/the athlete can work through the fatigue and finish the workout but at what cost? Once again, you/the athlete learns poor movement patterns, slows down your/their nervous system, and if the volume/ load isn’t incorporated into your/their overall plan the there will only be short-term gains, plateau, and tissue break down.

Displacement of Center of Gravity– This is essentially the plane of motion a person is either jumping and landing (up and down, left to right, rotational, or a mixture). Two factors concerning this are often not taken into account when it comes to this concept:

1.) Athletes train or are often trained in one plane of motion when they play a sport that happens in all three planes


2.) Coaches don’t take into account how many times during a given practice or training session how many times they are landing or jumping in a plane of motion that is more stressful than straight up and down.

This factor is pretty significant when it comes to performance as if you/they don’t train in multiple planes you/the athlete cannot translate training into competitive results or you/they will sustain injury what is typically called a non-contact injury. This is where a sprain to a ligament occur when another person is not around nor has placed any  outside forces on you physically.  The other side of that spectrum is not taking into account that landing laterally, rotationally, or backwards causes much more stress on tissues than a vertical jump so planning to implement these types of jumps will demand starting from scratch and appropriate recovery intervals.

Density – Last but not least is density. I left this this concept for last as it is the accumulation of all of the above factors rolled into one. Density is defined as the overall volume/type of plyometric training an athlete has done in a given cycle. When the number and type of plyometric training is not taken into account for a given cycle you/the athlete will be at the greatest risk possible for injury.


The solution:

Age – At younger training ages the overall training demand should be kept low. Beginners, should have low demand exercises with low motor complexity so stress on the nervous system is kept to a minimum. It is possible to get a large number of contacts with minimum stress through game activities such as jump rope, jumping relays, or simple landings.

Form– Before starting plyometrics assessing basic strength is not only key but also assess an athletes form while doing basic movements. If an athlete has difficulty controlling their body weight and they have the appropriate strength its necessary to look at mobility ano overall skill/ability levels. Start slow, work on mobility and coordination then build up from what you/the athlete can and has difficulty doing. Always train to success never failure.

Basic Strength – Assess the athletes overall strength to first see if they are even a candidate for plyometrics. If an athlete can’t lift their own body weight successfully whether through a push-up or squat then the odds of them being ready for plyometrics will be very low. If they are ready to start performing plyometric training, start slow with landing with proper form. Once they have mastered their body weight and landing then they are ready for more advance forms of plyometrics.

Volume/Training Load– When it comes to planning a workout taking volume and training load into account is pivotal. First you have to decipher what the training load is:

Low intensity – Examples of these types of plyometrics would be jumping rope, small in place hops, short duration sprints, or any sub-maximal jumps. These exercises are done in quick repetitive motions for a set amount of time. Low intensity plyometrics typically have a very short recovery window of the same day to 24 hours.

Moderate intensity – Examples of these types of plyometric exercises would be stair jumps, squat jumps, tuck jumps, pike jumps, small cone hops, etc. These exercises can be done both in quick repetitive motions for time or for a specific amount of repetitions. These types of jumps require at least 48 hours of rest in between.

High intensity – Examples of these types of plyometrics would be box jumps, depth jumps, or any single leg jumps. All of these jumps must be performed at maximum effort for a set amount of repetitions due to their intensity level with optimum rest in between sets. High intensity plyometric exercises typically require at least three-5 days of rest in between repeating these types of exercises.

After taking into account the type of exercises you will be doing or giving to an athlete and how much recovery time that you/they will need it will determine the volume for the day, week, and the month.

Body Weight – The athlete or coach needs to take this into account when planning their training session or cycle. While it may seem like a sensitive subject this information can determine the effective and appropriate type of plyometric. Because the quality of the movement matters so much it is important to plan, but more importantly to observe how well the you/the athlete performs the exercise. If you/the athlete is performing sub-maximally it may require a different approach to training to allow maximal results. This can include de-loading the action by way of bungee, trampoline, or underwater. Eventually that load will prove too little and you/the athlete will be capable of controlling their own body in space and time making it possible to get the desired results.

External Load – Implementing external load is a valuable tool in increasing performance. However, it has to be done correctly or you will not get the desired results. To do so, first an assessment of strength needs to take place. Looking at basic movements like landing, squatting, lunging, can give a better idea of where to start. Once you have built to the point where you/they are capable of controlling not only your/their body weight then it is time to add an eternal load. Once you have entered this phase always remember that less is more in this scenario. When your nervous system is resisted, yet it is still able to communicate effectively between brain, joint, muscles, and tendons then the exercise is doing its job. When the external load is so much that it slows down the movement of the trunk and extremities and the athlete is unable to maintain their posture, the exercise is not having the desired effect. The last component involves monitoring/adjusting the entire training session/cycle to account for the early onset of fatigue. Putting these concepts to work for you will make a huge difference in the results that are being sought after.

Displacement of Center of Gravity– Know the sport, and apply plyometrics that correlate to it. Simply put if the sport lands or jumps in specific ways, build up to those types of landing or jumping patterns. Train the way the sport is played but keep in mind some of those movements require a different set of mobility, strength, coordination, and recovery intervals. Plan accordingly when implenting different lading and jumping patterns. If you follow all over the other guidelines while applying this concept it’s only going to lead to successes.

Density– Plan, plan, plan, plan and re-plan. I cannot stress how important it is to plan and re-plan when implementing plyometrics. Start with a basic plan of implementation of plyometrics. From there monitor the volume/training loads, knowing how may jumps and landing you/your athletes have done in a given day, week, or monthly training cycle. This is going to determine results or lack thereof. While monitoring these factors is important it’s necessary to adjust the plan based upon what you have seen, documented, and the feedback given from the athlete.  It’s nearly impossible to not get results and have a healthy season when density is planned and adjusted accordingly.

Plyometrics can be a great way to increase performance or a quick way to end a season or career. There isn’t a single athlete that won’t benefit from them. It’s all a matter of how they are used that makes the difference. Choosing the appropriate path towards implementation can often be a slow process but in the end the rewards far outweighs the wait.



The main take away from this is to remember exercise is a science. When taken lightly, the person performing an exercise runs the risk of being injured due to a lack of understanding. When performance is the goal, the athlete or the coach should take into account how important using proven theories and concepts are so that goals can be met. Just because something looks cool or it was done in the past does not negate what science has proven to be true. When training is done in a calculated, methodical way, the skies the limits but if its guessed at and poorly planned nothing good can come of it. Take the time to educate yourself before training or training someone else, it will be the difference between success and failure.

Audric R. Warren


3 Things Athletes and Coaches Should Avoid

Quitting: A Habit Not Worth Forming

I’ve worked with a number of teams over my career and one of them few things I have never understood is quitting. Athletes that have so much talent laying dormant within them find a reason to give up. Quitting is an action that has always perturbed me for the simple fact that it is such a heavy action to take. It has such a detrimental impact on an athletes overall development as a person and also affects the entire program that they are deciding to leave so abruptly. There are many reasons why people quit. I will focus primarily on three of those reasons.


Playing Time/Role on the Team

Athletes often have in their mind a role they think she should be playing. This role many times doesn’t align with the overarching goals the program needs. When a conflict like this happens the athlete finds themself in a position that they are often unhappy with. With every game that less minutes are played it erodes the vision of a team based mentality the athlete once had into a selfish “me” mentality. They begin to question “why” they aren’t playing more, allowed to shoot more, or why they aren’t playing the position they want to. These questions take a toll on certain athletes who focus solely on themselves and not the team. They begin to think about quitting as an option. When enough time passes and enough emotions build up that same athlete quits.

The real issue:

Athletes that begin to let those seeds of negativity creep in more and more often don’t take the time to look inward for those “why’s” they ask themselves. If a majority of those athletes that quit or are thinking of quitting take an introspective look at themselves the answers 99% of the time can be found within.

“Why am I not starting over him/her?”

“Why don’t I have the green light to shoot more often?”

“Why am I not on the varsity team?”

“Why are they all conference or an All-American and I’m not?”

The answer to any question that revolves around not getting a desired result(s) boils down to effort. I personally guarantee that if you or someone you know has asked any of the previously mentioned questions, they are not working nearly as hard as they think they are. Any goal that wants to be reach requires at least 3-5 daily maintenance actions to reach goals that they want. What this means is if you know someone who quit or you yourself are doubting your role or playing time ask yourself questions like this instead:

“Did I/they put up an extra 100 shots before or after practice when no one was looking?”

“Did I/they watch film and know my opponent before game time?”

“Did I/they practice running plays after practice with the quarterback?”

“Did I/they practice stickhandling, shooting, and passing an extra 30-60 minutes a day?”

“Did I/they study my playbook and know where everyone is supposed to be?”

“Have I/they been in the weight room like I’m supposed to be?”

“When the coach corrects mistakes do I/they take his/her advice and change?”


“Did I/they get to practice right on time and leave right after?”

“Do I/they neglect taking extra time outside of practices to get better?”

“Did I/they watch film on my opponent outside of with the team?”

“Do I /they only know certain plays and only where I’m/they’re supposed to be?”

“Do I/they pretend to work out or sign in and go home?”

“Did I/they miss off-season workouts?”

If you can answer at the minimum 3 of the first set of questions with a “yes” everyday then there’s no doubt your situation will be different. Athletes who can only answer “yes” to questions in the second group or “no” to questions in the first group, well WORK HARDER! When an athlete quits because they want something they haven’t worked hard enough for is not only a poor excuse, it is literally blaming other people for their own mediocrity.



Why it matters:

Having the ability to look at one’s self, assess, and take action are critical to the growth and maintenance of an athlete from youth until they are an adult. The daily maintenance of “bettering your best” is what makes the athlete go from an accomplished team player to a fully functioning contributor to society. It’s the difference between getting a degree and working to earn a living and continuously learning to make a difference. The person that learns how to serve and play a role will take whatever craft they have and make it the best they can offer to their patrons. No matter when or where that athlete works in the future they will be a member of a team. Whether CEO or anything below playing a role must happen so that the entire machine runs smoothly.




Working in sports medicine I have seen injuries decimate an athlete’s confidence. Injuries can be very difficult to get over as it involves a very arduous process of getting back the ability to do the simples tasks and progressing to the most advanced skills an athlete can do. Athletes often give up because of the daunting task of getting back into playing shape and trusting that appendage to do anything without a second thought as it is too much for some people to get over. This is typically because there is that fear in the back of their mind of getting hurt again. They don’t want to go through the same pain again, which is understandable, so the injured/recovering athlete quits.


The real issue:

Injuries are a part of sports it doesn’t matter what level of competition. There is no single way to prevent 100% of every single injury, it’s just not realistic. While I sympathize with the athlete who has sustained an injury and understand the process that it takes to come back, it is possible to make a return. By quitting and using the excuse of an injury it becomes simply “a way out”. To look in the face of adversity and shy away from it, suggests there was no passion or drive to begin with. With all of the knowledge that exists about injuries, rehabilitation, and sports performance there is really no excuse (barring serious traumatic injury with lifelong restrictions). Nowadays every sports program has or should have an Athletic Trainer who works closely with a sports medicine team of qualified healthcare professionals. This means an athlete has the resources from the moment of the injury throughout the tenure of their athletic career to evaluate, treat, condition, and prevent injuries from recurring. So simply put there is no excuse to be had when there is an injury, it’s just a speed bump on the road to reaching a goal.



Why it matters:

The word injury is synonymous with the word adversity. Adversity exists to expose character flaws so that we can grow and and overcome that which is in the way of our success. If adversity gets the better of us once, it will get the better of us twice, and will continue to do so until it becomes second nature to just bow out every time there is a bump in the road. Quitting once adversity strikes is literally the same as killing one’s character. Adversity should be the fuel towards self realization that can propel anyone to a different level, not a deterrent from reaching goals and dreams. Starting at any age quitting sports is killing potential, it never stops there and seeps into other aspects of life. The moment adversity hits, and it will hit, that same athlete will find excuses like:

“This book is too long” so they never read it

“This class is too hard” so they drop it

“College is too expensive” so they never go

“Getting my masters is takes too long” so they never earn that degree

“I don’t think I’m qualified for that job” so they never apply or get promoted

Life is cyclical, everything will always eventually come back around. Just as the sun will shine so too will the rain come. So that athlete that’s afraid to get wet will never truly appreciate the sun.



I Don’t Like My Coach(es)

If you have played sports long enough you can probably remember at least one coach that you just couldn’t seem to get along with, never agreed with, or maybe even flat out hated. While most people suck it up and go about their business, others use them as an excuse to quit.

The real issue:

While there are some scenarios where coaches are being blatantly malicious to certain athlete’s, 9.9 times out of 10 that isn’t the case. The problem often lies within the individual being coached. Typically it’s one of two scenarios, either the athlete needs to put their ego in check or they need to change their perspective. If its the former, the athlete might want to take the time to realize that it is the coaches job to do exactly that and coach. Putting one’s ego aside and being coachable will breathe life back into the coach-athlete dynamic that fosters learning more about the sport and being better for it, instead of resisting being coached and creating a toxic environment. When it comes to the latter, changing one’s perspective, that can come in a multitude of forms. The major two are:

Looking at the coach differently
Sometimes athletes get this jaded perspective that coaches are just there to open the gym, show them what plays are in the playbook, run practices, or make decisions during games. While these are responsibilities of the coach it is not all a coach does. This perspective lends the athlete to have the vantage point that they are the one playing and experiencing the sport so they know what they are doing and the coach is just there to tell them the next drill or the next play. So the moment the coach does what they are there to do which teach skills, raise IQ about the sport, develop the athlete, and basically get everything that they can out of an athlete effort and talent wise the athlete with poor perspective can’t handle it. They get upset, and thinkthe coach is a jerk and the coach “hates me”. Eventually the athlete with this perspective will quit because they constantly fee persecuted by the coach. This is where much needed perspective comes into play. When an athlete takes a moment to see where the coach is coming from, in a positive way, it becomes clear of what they are trying to accomplish. Sometimes it may even take communicating with the coach on what he/she is trying to accomplish to actually see that.

Looking at the yourself differently
Many times the athlete thinks that they know more about a sport than they really do. So they perceive themselves as one type of player or playing one type of role while in reality that is often not the case. When a coach tries to coach an athlete with this perspective they automatically bump heads. This leads to too much friction between the two and the athlete decides that quitting is what is best for them. If that same athlete took the time to step outside of themself, they would be able to adopt a more malleable approach. I like to use two quotes by Bruce Lee when it comes to this example. “Nothingness cannot be defined; the softest thing cannot be snapped” and “Empty your mind, be formless be shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup it becomes the cup, If you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, if you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” These two quotes are philosophies athletes should try to adopt when being coached as it gives them the assumption that they can learn something new everyday and be molded into a better athlete consistently.

Why it matters:

The coach is the coach, there really not much that can be done about it. It is a fact that must be dealt with regardless of how much you like them or hate them. When the athlete tries to deny this fact, fiction is born. The fictional narrative of “the coach hates me” or “the coach is playing favorites” plays out in the mind of the athlete with an ego and/or lacking perspective. Yes there are times that a coach might actually be a jerk, yet it still has nothing to do with how one acts in response to it. An athlete still has to get their extra work in, know the plays, give effort during practice, watch film, and do what it takes to contribute to the team. The coach has nothing to do with any of those factors, so why does it matter? In reality it doesn’t matter. So quitting because you do not like the coach is a cop out. The athlete that chooses this route will ultimately have problems when it comes to authority later in life. They will blame teachers and professors for their poor grades and bosses for their lack of performance in the workplace. These individuals will struggle and confuse their own egos and lack of perspective on others who do not control any of the actions that they choose to take. So taking the time to put one’s self in check makes all the difference in learning and growing.



Any athlete will ultimately have to deal with the tools that they have. It’s akin to having the same seeds, the same soil, the same pot, the same water, and the same amount of sun that everyone else has on the team. All of those things mean nothing, absolutely nothing, if the soil isn’t put in the pot, the seeds aren’t put in the soil, the seeds aren’t watered regularly, and the pot isn’t put out in the sun. It is the athlete that chooses to quit whom neglects to take the necessary and consistent actions to get the directly related results. These are the people who don’t realize circumstances rarely change it is them , the individual, that needs to do the changing. Once the athlete, who contemplates quitting as an option, holds themselves accountable for their actions the thought of quitting their sport will never re-enter their mind. The only thing they will ever quit, is blaming external forces for their current situation.



Audric R. Warren


Quitting: A Habit Not Worth Forming

Welcome Moraine Valley Community College Women’s Basketball Team

Effort: Performance & Rehabilitation would like to welcome Moraine Valley Community College Women’s Basketball program to the Effort family.  Effort is blessed and excited to be a part of such a stellar program. From 1997-2015 Moraine Valley Community College Cyclones have won the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship a total nine times and the NJCAA Region IV championship as well as appearing in the NJCAA national tournament on multiple occasions.  MVCC’s women’s program has produced a vast number  of All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference athletes, All NJCAA region IV athletes, and NJCAA division II all-Americans.  Effort: Performance & Rehabilitation would like to say thank you to such a great program for letting them be a part of it and the opportunity to help develop your players. We look forward to helping you grow your program and welcome you to the Effort family!



For more information about Morraine Valley Community College’s Women’s Basketball program follow the link: https://www.morainevalley.edu/athletics/womens-sports/basketball/


Welcome Moraine Valley Community College Women’s Basketball Team

Nutrition: Food for Thought


If you are an athlete ,recreational or competitive, whether your ultimate goal is to lose or gain weight ,live a healthier lifestyle, or increase your performance, it is necessary to do several things. Being more active, making better lifestyle choices like getting more sleep or sitting down less, and lastly modifying or adapting your nutrition to fit your needs whatever they might be. Of these necessities I feel that nutrition is often the most misunderstood and neglected. With all of the fad diets and the plethora of misinformation that exists regarding the topic it’s understandable as to why this might be.

The Basics

The reason many people struggle with the nutritional component of fitness is most people lack the basics of what nutrition is, its purpose, and how to implement it into their daily lives. Nutrition is defined as the process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair. These processes of growth, metabolism, and repair occur by way of receiving the two major components of food, macronutrients and micronutrients.


Macronutrients provide the body with fuel/energy by way of calories. These caloric providing components of our foods are split into three categories carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.


Carbs over the past few years have gotten a very bad reputation, again I attribute this to the mounds of misinformation that exists. Carbohydrates are broken into two categories:

Simple:  These carbohydrates are made of one or two sugar molecules that are rapidly digested. They can be found in certain fruits and vegetables, dairy products, bleached grains, and sugars.

Complex:  These carbohydrates are strung together in long chains that are slowly digested. Carbohydrates that fit into this category are often high in starch and fiber. They can be found in green vegetables, foods with whole grains, starchy vegetables, and beans/lentils.

Carbohydrates regardless of their reputation play a key role within the body.This macronutrient is responsible for 4 major roles within the body:

1-2.) Providing energy to the body/regulating blood glucose
When carbohydrates are broken down they form a substance called glucose. Glucose is the only sugar used by the body to provide energy for its tissues. Because of the importance of maintaining proper cellular function throughout the body, blood glucose levels must be at a constant level. Blood glucose levels are controlled by way of the pancreas producing insulin to decrease blood sugar concentrations so the body may absorb the glucose into its cells. This allows the body to store fat instead of using it for energy. The pancreas also secretes a substance called glucagon that increases blood sugar concentrations when glucose levels drop too low. Because the body can only use so much glucose at a given time insulin production and glucagon production are vital to maintaining one’s overall health and maintaining appropriate energy levels.

2-4.)Store glucose/Prevent usage of proteins and fats
When there is a surplus of glucose it gets stored within the liver as glycogen. In the absence of carbohydrates the liver only stores enough glycogen for a 24-hour period. Once the storage of glucose is used up, the body begins breaking down fat to provide the body with fuel . Because some of these compounds are too large to cross the blood-brain barrier to allow proper nutrients to the brain various body tissues are broken down to fuel the brain. This use of bodies tissues essentially deteriorates its muscles and other tissues to keep the brain from “dying”. Overtime this can be very dangerous to ones health.

Because of the effects carbohydrates have on blood sugar, foods either rate high  or low on the glycemic index, a ranking system from 1-100 on how they affect blood-sugar levels. The higher the number a food rates on the glycemic index the quicker blood sugar levels will rise versus the lower rated foods that don’t raise blood sugars too quickly. This is why certain foods can effectively provide quick immediate energy or  provide long steady amounts of energy. Regardless of what your goals are in fitness, you need carbs.



Proteins are large, complex molecules that are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. Proteins play a variety of critical roles in the body including:

1.) Catalyzing metabolic reactions
Example: Structural components- proteins provide structure and support for cells. On a larger scale, they also allow the body to move.
2.) DNA replication
Example: Enzymes – carry out almost all of the thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells. They also assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in DNA.
3.) Responding to stimuli
Example: Antibodies – bind to specific foreign particles, such as viruses and bacteria, to help protect the body.
4.) Transporting molecules from one location to another.
Example: Transport/storage- These proteins bind and carry atoms and small molecules within cells and throughout the body


Fat is another macronutrient that has gotten a bad reputation as well over the years. In all actuality fat is a part of a well rounded diet. The issue of fat lies between  what type of fat you are ingesting regularly. There are four types of fats:

Saturated: Chemically saturated fats have no double bounds because they are saturated with hydrogen. This is the “bad” fat that is often solid at room temperature that raises the bad cholesterol LDL and lowers the good cholesterol HDL. This fat is typically found in beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard, butter, cheese, and dairy products made from whole or 2% milk.

Trans fat: This group of fats can either be found naturally inside the stomachs of animals or artificially by companies adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid. This is another fat that raises bad cholesterol LDL and lowers the good cholesterol HDL. Most processed foods have trans fats inside them.

Monounsaturated fat: Chemically these fats have what’s called a double bond of on unsaturated carbon molecule. Eaten in moderation play a role in lowering bad cholesterol LDL. Monounsaturated fats can be found in sesame oils, safflower oils, peanut oil, canola oil, olive oils, and various nuts and seeds.

Polysaturated fat: From a chemical standpoint these fats have what’s called a double bond of multiple unsaturated carbon molecules . When eaten in moderation they can lower bad cholesterol LDL and provide the body with fatty acids that it otherwise cannot make. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in soybean oils, corn oils, sunflower oils, olive oils, and certain fish

Knowing that there are both “good” and “bad” fats it’s impossible to lump them together. The “good” fats are a a necessity to a well rounded diet. Fat plays several important roles in the body:

Although carbohydrates provide the primary source for fuel within the body, fat is the back-up energy system when carbohydrates are not available. This can come into play during high intensity exercise or in emergency situations for instance in trauma where your carbohydrate stores are used up and the body must rely on fat to fuel itself.

Vitamin Absorption and Storage
Certain vitamins (A,D,E, and K) require fat to be absorbed appropriately into the body. Without fats your will be unable to meet the requirements needed to process these vitamins which can lead to deficiencies. Vitamins A,D,E,and K play a role in eye sight, maintaining bone density, blood clotting, eliminating cancer causing free radicals, and affecting mood.

To sustain a normal core body temperature fat cells that are stored in adipose tissue plays a role in providing the insulation necessary to do that. Insulation also comes in the form of protecting the organs during sudden movements or outside impacts.



Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals. These complexes differ from macronutrients in the sense that they are required by the body in smaller amounts. Although required in smaller amounts they still are vital to development, disease prevention, and wellbeing. Micronutrients are also not produced in the body thus they must be acquired through a proper diet.

Okay now that we’ve gotten that over with…….


It is important to understand how all of the above information factors in to living a healthier lifestyle and increasing performance. This involves; Re-evaluation the basis of our nutritional goals, looking at calorie counting differently, understanding why timing is important, why hydration is important, and how eating naturally more often will aid in your efforts toward living healthier and increasing your performance.

Re-evaluating the Basis of Our Nutritional Goals

Most peoples’ goals, in terms of their weight, revolve around three basic ideas; weight maintenance, weight gain, and the most popular weight loss. While there is nothing wrong with any of these goals, this makes it easy to get distracted from the real reasons we eat. At its most basic concept the primary role of eating is to live. Simply put, eating food provides the body with fuel. Without the proper types of fuel in our bodies, the “machine” doesn’t run properly. When we eat we are not merely satisfying our hunger to gain energy. Our body as a whole is being fed, every living cell in our body and every physiological process that occurs within our body is getting fueled by what we ingest/digest. Looking at it from that perspective a few examples of what our food “Feeds” includes:

Creation/Maintenance of Cells

Anything that contains a cell within our body requires growth and maintenance (skin, hair, eyes, organs, muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, the brain) to name a few. Over time, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, our bodies are constantly breaking down and rebuilding. Without the appropriate “building blocks” our bodies will create the aforementioned structures poorly. Our bodies may even borrow materials from itself to bridge the gaps between the building blocks if necessary. Dietary deficits can even be noticed in the appearance of tissues like eyes,hair, nails, tongue, and skin for example.


Hormone Production/Secretion

Hormones are essentially tiny chemical messengers inside of your body. Different hormones perform specific roles inside of your body. Hormones also “act” differently, some quickly to start or stop a process, while others continually work over the course of a long period of time to perform their respective task. These jobs can include the body’s growth and development, metabolism (or production of energy), sexual function and reproduction. The effects of various holes in your diet can be evident by how it affects different parts of your body such as; acne/skin breakouts, frequent headaches, weight gain/inability to lose weight, decreased libido, irritability, and many other factors affected by diet.


Building/Maintaining Healthy Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are basically chemical messengers that transmit signals across neurons. Neurotransmitters are important because they “excite” and activate the brain and its various sections as well as “excite” and activate muscles. The building blocks to sustain these particular chemicals can all be found within a solid foundation of a well balanced diet. When neurotransmitters aren’t doing their jobs it can affect; mood, memory and learning, alertness, appetite control, and muscle contractions, to name a few things.

If there are gaps in your diet the body can’t have the best “building materials” to maintain healthy cells, and physiological processes. When the approach is taken of using food to live many of the goals you set for yourself will be met naturally.

Re-evaluate Calorie Counting

Calorie counting has become a staple amongst a majority of people who are looking to reach a fitness goal.Why? In my opinion, it is because we are living in the age of tracking EVERYTHING. We track our steps, activity, food, and even our sleep. Because of the quantitative approach society has adapted we have lost the most important component of any concept, including nutrition, which is QUALITY. Anyone who has ever trained with me has heard me preach “quality, quality, quality…!” time and time again. This is with good reason, as it translates so well into nutrition. For example, 2,000 calories eaten at McDonald’s does not equal 2,000 calories of home cooked/prepared meals and snacks.

When the quality of the food is taken into account, the quality of the results will show. Depending on the type of diet that you are on can affect an individual in a number of ways. Some research has shown that in the case of a high protein diet, participants of that study gained weight as a 50/50 mixture of fat and muscle while a low protein diet revealed mostly fat (90%) was gained while muscle was lost. Other research showed participants on low fat diets burn fewer calories while changing certain metabolic factors that predicted weight regain, low-carb diets burn more calories but increase markers within the body related to stress and inflammation, and low-glycemic diets burn calories without some of side effects of the previously mentioned diet choices. Does this mean automatically switch your diet to low-glycemic choices, NO. That is a decision that needs to be made between you and an appropriate professional. However, the information suggests quality matters, if quantity is the only factor taken into account not only will goals not be met but it can be really unhealthy.

When performance is taken into account in reference to the quality of caloric intake, it can make or break an athlete regardless of weekend warrior status or the most elite. Throughout the length of a year or a season there must be a delicate balance of breakdown, recovery, and maintenance. Without the appropriate nutritional choices the recovery and maintenance portions that should occur can be reduced significantly especially if the previously mentioned dietary factors play in (increased stress hormones, increased inflammatory hormones,  and decreased muscle mass). Not only will performance suffer but injuries can occur more frequently without the proper rebuilding materials .

Timing is Everything

While quality of foods is often missed, the timing in which we eat our foods plays a major role as well. Time can affect a number of factors that can lead to gaining results or wasting time.  The first key to success is breakfast, by eating within an hour of waking up in the morning insulin and blood sugar levels can be regulated and jump starting the bodies metabolism. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s true. By eating within the first hour of waking up it will help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels to start the day as well as give the metabolism a jumpstart. 3-4 hours after breakfast It’s appropriate to eat a meal to keep your metabolism going and maintain a regular blood glucose level.

Most people are typically working or are in class around those times, so packing a snack will help. It’s important to not skip a meal as this is when the bodies insulin and blood glucose levels change and energy levels suffer. By waiting until lunch time or dinner it can affect the bodies metabolism negatively. Because the body is always searching for ways to “survive” by depriving it of the appropriate nutrients at the appropriate times it will hold on to different nutrients and use the bodies nutrients as a fuel source.

As it gets closer to the time to workout or practice, timing is even more crucial as it is important that within 1-2 hours prior to exercise to consume foods with carbohydrates and protein so that the body does not need to rely on the glycogen (energy reserves) it has stored “in case of emergency”. This will allow for a better workout/performance due to having energy readily available from food versus relying on the bodies back-up storage. After a workout,practice, or game it’s critical to eat within 45 minutes. By doing this you:

1.) Stop the catabolic processes (breaking down) and initiate the anabolic processes (building up) thus allowing faster recovery and minimizing soreness

2.) Speed up the process of eliminating the waste products of exercise from your muscles and blood stream

3.) Replenish the bodies stored glycogen (energy reserves)

4.) Reduce muscle damage and promote muscle growth

5.) Bolster the immune system

To keep the bodies ability to maintain the anabolic state that it is in, it is suggested that eating 4 hours after the workout is important. For the next 14-16 hours keeping a well rounded diet will promote synthesis of protein within the body’s tissues and muscle growth. It is also important to note that if you go to bed late it is still necessary to eat, as you are still using calories by being awake, and sleeping still burns calories (not as many as being awake) so refraining from eating only reiterates the detriments of not eating that were previously discussed.


Hydration is Nutrition Too!

Just as it is important to understand eating healthy yields amazing results, drinking healthy does just the same. Before you go and reach for that sports drink or energy drink thinking it is going to rehydrate you think about this. Most of those sports drinks and energy drinks are diuretics, they make you eliminate water through urination more frequently dehydrating you. In small amounts there is nothing wrong with sports drinks or combining sports drinks while hydrating with water simultaneously. Alone it is only hurting the performance most people are desperately seeking.

It only makes sense to drink water.  With the body being roughly about 60% water (the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, the lungs are about 83% water, skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are 31% water). Water isn’t only limited to our basic make-up it also plays a vital role in our bodies processes as well; it regulates our internal body temperature through sweating, carbohydrates and proteins are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream, it assists in flushing waste mainly through urination, it acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus, forms saliva, and lubricates our joints. Something as small as a 2% decrease in our body can cause slight brain shrinkage that can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking. This also affects the body by causing cramps, reducing endurance, decreasing strength/power, and decrease the conductivity of our muscles ability to fire.

Just like dehydration has its pitfalls so does overhydrating. Overhydrating has become a more recent phenomenon as some people drink water excessively to overcompensate for dehydration. This can lead Hyponatremia, a condition in which the bodies sodium levels drop dangerously low. Hyponatremia at its least severity can have symptoms of; Nausea and vomiting headache, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, appetite loss, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, and spasms or cramps. At its most sever it can cause; seizures, decreased consciousness, coma, and even death. Understanding that the body is about balance helps to eliminate/decrease the likelihood that dehydration or over hydration will affect your overall health and performance.



Eat Real Food

I saved this topic for last as the above topics only matter as much as long as this last one is taken into consideration. It’s the simple suggestion of trying to eat real food more often. No, I’m not suggesting that the food you are eating is imaginary. However, take into account how processed and preserved is the food that you are eating regularly. If a majority of the food you consume is already pre-packaged, frozen, or full of artificial dyes, then this applies to you.

Without throwing out a list of preservatives and their ill effects I think it’s critical to consider a simple notion, the guilty pleasures we enjoy that contain artificial substances that make our food last longer and taste better were primarily designed for short-term preservation and minimal consumption. Nowadays foods are able to stay on the shelf much longer and most American diets contain a majority of these types of foods. With that being said, isn’t it weird that high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, ADHD, and obesity are at a all time high? Something like type II diabetes that was seen as a condition that affected adults is now affecting children. 30 years ago that would be unheard of, just some food for thought.

I’ll get off of my soap box now and appeal to the performance side of those reading this article. Many of the artificial substances that go into processed foods are full of saturated and trans fats, simple carbohydrates, are diuretics, and rank very high on the glycemic index. Pardon the pun but any of those combinations caloric content equal a recipe for disaster. Mixing high blood sugar levels, dehydration, affected pulse/heart rate, and weight fluctuations  is no way for any athletic or fitness minded person to find success. In order to have a high level of performance it’s virtually impossible when real food isn’t being consumed. Besides the ill effects of artificial substances, without real food certain macro/micronutrients cannot be obtained in a diet full of pre-packaged/frozen meals.  Ignoring the importance of  a well-rounded diet will only translate in a decrease in performance.



Audric R. Warren


Nutrition: Food for Thought