In Season Training

By Mark Asanovich

Contrary to popular opinion, in-season strength training should not be administered as a maintenance program. The goal of the in-season strength program is exactly the same as the off-season program. That is, to develop optimum levels of muscular strength. To develop maximal levels of muscular strength requires maximal levels of intense effort. If a player perceives his goal as merely to maintain his strength level, he will reciprocate with a sub-maximal level of intensity. On the other hand, if the expectation is to get stronger, the player will respond in a manner that will elicit a maximal effort.

Strength training is a use it or lose it reality. From a physiological perspective, nothing is permanent but change, either you are getting better or your not. Therefore it is absolutely essential that what was done in the off-season is replicated during the in-season, the only exception being the frequency of workouts performed. During the in-season program, the player‘s train one to two times per week, whereas during the off-season the player‘s train two to three times per week. Strength training workouts are scheduled on non-consecutive days and not less than 72 hours prior to kickoff. This prevents overtraining and promotes optimal results/recovery by kick-off.

Most teams drop the ball in this respect; they over emphasize the off-season program and under emphasize the in-season program. Obviously, the time constraints of the in-season will dictate when and how much strength training is appropriate. Truth be told, the real measure of any comprehensive strength & conditioning program is what occurs during the season. After all, it is during the season when you want the highest levels of strength to maximize performance potential and minimize injury. Keeping players healthy and on the field is imperative to the success of the team.

The better Arian Foster gets, the more Matt Schaub and the Texans' passing game takes a back seat.

Whereas, many coaches would be satisfied with no improvement (maintenance) during the season, our expectation is to improve strength. In fact, our average in-season gains are what most teams hope for in their off-season programs! Our strength training routines address the five major structures of the body: the neck/trap, lower torso, mid-torso, upper torso, and ankles/arms. We place equal emphasis on all segments of the body since the entire body is involved in playing the game of football and consequently, exposed to injury. Traditionally, athletes have neglected training the neck and shoulder capsule. Certainly, when you consider the potential catastrophic risk to this vulnerable area, it is a priority that needs to be emphasized.

All athletes perform the same workouts regardless of position. A basic workout consists of 12-18 exercises in which one to three exercises are performed for each body part. A workout is generally 60 minutes in length. Larger muscles (chest, back, shoulders, neck/traps, hips/legs) are always trained before smaller muscles (arms, wrists, calves, abdominals). A wide variety of strength training equipment/apparatus is used, with none being more effective than another. Every rep of every set is coached and documented.

The In-Season Strength & Conditioning Program
All players are scheduled for two individualized workouts each week. Players will be scheduled for either a lower torso workout or one total body workout on Monday and one upper torso workout either on Wednesday or Thursday (providing we play on Sunday). Players wanting to train their lower torso twice in any given week will have an opportunity to train Wednesday after practice.

Coach Del Rio and/or the Head Athletic Trainer are the only one‟s to excuse a player from a workout.

NOTE: Practice Squad & Injured Reserve players will be scheduled in for two to three supervised strength-training workouts per week.

All players are expected to arrive in the weight room five minutes early to begin the workout. The digital clock in the weight room is the official clock of record. Being in the building, locker room, training room, bathroom, etc. at an assigned time is still considered being late. Players must be in the weight room, dressed and ready to work. It does not matter if players are one minute late or twenty minutes late – late is late. Since all excuses are good ones and 95% always true, no excuses will be accepted for being late or missing a workout.


recently completed his fifteenth season as a professional football Strength and Conditioning Coach. A fourteen-year National Football League (NFL) veteran, Mr. Asanovich spent six seasons as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Head Coach Tony Dungy, and has served as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings. His list of Pro Bowlers trained includes Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Chris Carter, Warrick Dunn, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis, John Lynch, Randall McDaniel, Warren Moon, Jonathan Ogden, John Randle and Warren Sapp, among many others.

TAKU’s NOTE This week we feature another excellent article from Mark Asanovich. Although this article was written about football, the reality is that all athletes should remember that improving is the goal. One should train hard and rest well. This is the secret to getting better.

Overcoming Procrastination

According to a study published by University of Calgary Professor Piers Steel in the Psychological Bulletin, 26 percent of Americans think of themselves as chronic procrastinators. Should we be surprised? We truly have many weapons of mass destruction when it comes to killing time. If we are not watching TV, we have You Tube. When that gets tiresome, we Google up anything we can imagine. When we leave our home or office, we have cell phones, iPods and BlackBerrys to distract us. According to Professor Steel, “It’s easier to procrastinate now than ever before. We have so many more temptations. It’s never been harder to be self-disciplined in all of history than it is now.”

In addition to temptations, I believe we procrastinate because of Too Much Information (TMI) and misplaced fears. I will get to TMI a bit later, but let’s talk about misplaced fears…

In the ten + years that I have been a Personal Fitness Trainer, I have worked with a couple of thousand people who have asked me various questions about my experience in losing almost 200 pounds. The top two questions are:

“Did you have a bunch of loose skin after you lost the weight?

“How long did it take you to lose all that weight?”

Notice that NONE of these questions actually pertains to how I lost the weight rather they reveal the fears of the person asking the question. My standard response to the skin question is for the person to worry about saving his/her own skin first. Loose skin is a minor problem compared to an early death. When I tell someone that it took me four years to lose all my weight, I often hear, “I can’t wait that long!” To that I reply, “If you don’t start now, where will you be in four years?”

TMI is also a common cause for procrastination. People often tell me that they won’t do aerobic exercise because they just bought a heart rate monitor and they aren’t sure at which heart rate zone they should be exercising. (See my website for a short discussion of heart rate zones).

Do you recognize a pattern here? Our misplaced fears and TMI are causing us to put the cart before the horse. We need to be the horse and gallop into action.

I procrastinated myself into a 368 pound body more than 16 years ago. With each “wait,” I gained more weight. I could feel my life flowing out and my body shutting down. What finally gave me the courage to act was the realization that any move I made would be an improvement over what I was not doing.

Mark before the transformation

I bought a stationary exercise bike and struggled to ride it for two minutes. Rather than get discouraged and procrastinate, I got back on the bike and rode it the next day. Each additional minute I could ride was an immediate triumph that fueled my determination. That simple action of riding a bike for two minutes led to a four-year campaign to reclaim my life and gain an even better life.

A few years back, on February 12, I celebrated my 50th birthday and I was truly thankful that I took that two-minute ride. That ride let me stick around long enough to find a beautiful wife, have two beautiful daughters and find my calling as a Personal Fitness Trainer. I am just getting warmed up. I know there are other people out there that are desperately seeking the courage to start their own ride and find the joy that I have been able to find. To these people I say if I can do it, anyone can!

Mark finishing Florida Triathlon

If you are one of these people who struggle to get started, remember that any small step is a step in the right direction. Doing nothing will always get you nothing.

Here are a few suggestions to get started:

Get a check-up from your doctor.

Once your doctor has cleared you for exercise, get started now!

Exercise can take many forms and does not have to be at a gym.

Walk rather than ride a car (or park farther away so that you can walk).

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Start keeping a food journal listing what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat and what you are doing while you eat. (A dietary log can be found in the “Downloads” section of

This information will help you discover triggers to overeating and what I call “leaks.” A leak is consistent consumption of high caloric, low-nutrition foods and beverages. A classic leak is sodas and alcohol. A person who gives up one soda or alcoholic beverage per day can actually lose approximately ten pounds in one year.

That’s it for now. I have yet another AARP application to turn down!

To Victory!

Mark “XBigMan” Davis

“It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abraham Lincoln (Abe and Mark share the same birthday).

TAKU’s Note: Thanks to my friend and colleague Mark “X-BIG MAN” Davis for sharing some of his experience with us here at Hybrid Fitness. I know that procrastination is something I fight with every week.  Now turn off the computer and GET TO IT!!

© 2006-2009 All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.

Strength’s Identity

By Brian Johnston

There remains a belief in ‘types’ of strength, including ‘absolute strength’, ‘speed- strength’, ‘explosive strength’ and ‘starting-strength’, to name but a few. However, these concepts are descriptions of appearances and intentions (i.e., the nature of the application of one’s strength) but are not actual ‘types’ of strength, as some fitness authorities allude to.

It may be argued that because these types of strength are not in any formal physiology text book that they do not exist or they are not what they purport to be. I will not make this argument since many proven and interesting observations and discoveries in various disciplines continue to go unnoticed or ignored. Rather, I will present my arguments based on what is known together with important questions that have yet to be answered by anyone in support of ‘types’ of strength.
First, we need to look at the definition of strength. In the context of human movement, strength can be defined as a measure of force produced by the tissues, i.e., nervous, muscular, and tendonous, and whether to exert or resist. In essence, the demonstration of strength is a demonstration of force, and is true whether speaking isometrically or dynamically. The definition could be simplified by stating that it is a force produced by the tissues, but I included the abstraction of a ‘measure of force’ for reasons that will become obvious.

Now, we will look at one type of strength, that being starting-strength. This refers to the ability to move from a stopped position and exerting maximal force, such as exploding off the blocks of a sprint. In this regard, would starting-strength fit the description above, that to move from a dead-stop position requires a measure of force produced by the tissues? Definitely, and how quickly a person moves from a dead- stop position actually is irrelevant to the nature of the concept of strength.

Moreover, we constantly move from dead-stop positions, and reversal and changes of directions in our activities of daily living, sports, and other actions. To suggest that specific instances are ‘starting-strength’ simply because of the measure of force produced by the tissues, whereas other instances are not starting-strength because of a lesser measure, is irrational.

Next we have speed-strength. This term, as well as many neologisms in the fitness industry, has various definitions. However, consider the definition offered by the International Sports Sciences Association certification company. Speed-strength, as defined by the ISSA is “how well you apply force with speed,” and consists of 1) starting strength, and 2) explosive strength.

How well one applies force is an issue of quality and does not define what the concept is. In order to discover more, we would then have to look at starting strength and explosive strength.

The issue of starting-strength was addressed previously, and the ISSA defines explosive strength as “Once your muscle fibers are turned on, your ability to LEAVE them turned on for a measurable period” (emphasis theirs). In this context, “explosive strength” sounds like muscular endurance, which I’ll discuss momentarily. Also, what is meant by “measurable”, i.e., for how long? Since these terms are not defined, or clarified, and are subjective, would ten minutes of constant activity, measured via a stopwatch, constitute a demonstration of explosive strength? Apparently so.

Conversely, Vladimir Zatsiorski defines explosive strength as “The ability to exert maximal forces in minimal time.” Therefore, if effort is not 100%, or maximal, and the time not minimal, the action was not explosive. This makes sense in the context and analogy of an exploding bomb, which is abrupt and violent. To demonstrate explosive action, then, there must be a maximum attempt in producing force — regardless of the opposing force — and done as quickly as possible, or in the least amount of time.

Do note, however, that explosive strength is nothing more than a measure of strength relative to time. It is not a different concept, separate from strength, i.e., a measure of force produced by the tissues. It is only one of many different and possible applications of movement based on the same concept. The other point, which is just as important, is that two completely different definitions of the same word, from two self-proclaimed expert sources in the field, exist. Exercise cannot be a science under these conditions. Definitions must be standardized, to communicate ideas logically.

Now, think about what has been stated thus far, from the definition of strength to some of the select definitions of the ‘types’ of strength. In essence, they do not differ except in terms of measurement or quality. This is vital to understand as it pertains to the concept of what a definition is, i.e., a statement that identifies the vital characteristics or units of an entity, and not the various measurements of an entity.

We can relate this to the concept of a table, defined as an article of furniture consisting of a flat, slab-like top supported on one or more legs or other supports. The definition does not tell us the shape, color, materials of construction or other similar characteristics of measurement, only what is vital to define the concept of table. Likewise, all these ‘types’ of strength are not separate entities from that of ‘strength’, but are different measurements of the concept… descriptions of appearances and application of strength.

The argument does not end there, however. Analyze the types of strength on a physiological basis. Activity results in energy breakdown to fuel the forces produced by the tissues. There are differences in aerobic and anaerobic activity as far as energy production and uptake is concerned (although there is a cross-over to a large extent), but this does not mean one is exhibiting ‘aerobic-strength’ or ‘anaerobic-strength,’ two other neologisms offered in the fitness industry. Rather, aerobic and anaerobic refers to the energy system in use, which is different from the concept of strength. There is no purpose or function in combining the two.

Now, if one were to demonstrate speed-strength, what chemical processes or myofilament contractile characteristics are different from other types of strength, to make speed-strength a unique concept and something different from ‘strength’ or the other ‘types’ of strength besides a different measurement of force and time?

In essence, the only difference is an apparent high rate of speed, which may result in a higher uptake of fuel and faster contraction of muscle fibers, but is no different than strength in general in regard to how the muscles contract, how they behave, or the production of energy through chemical breakdown. And to reiterate, a change in measurement of a concept does not produce a new concept. A table is a table, regardless of its measurement, and strength is strength regardless of its measurement.

Next, consider the concept of ‘strength-endurance,’ a final neologism for this position paper. Endurance, in the context of human movement, refers to the ability to sustain muscular effort. A half-second of effort is one measure of endurance, whereas ten seconds is a different measure and, with all factors being equal, is a greater demonstration (measure) of endurance. Consequently, when one exhibits a measure of strength, he or she simultaneously demonstrates a measure of endurance. Hence, ‘strength-endurance’ is both redundant and has nothing to do with performing ‘higher reps’ with a ‘lighter weight’ as has been suggested.

If the field of exercise is to be considered a science, which it is since it follows the fundamental principles of stress physiology, then we need to view it in a more philosophical context. We need to understand the concepts of identity and definition before spewing forward further exercise terms that do nothing more than to confuse, bewilder, and establish myths. And if the arguments put forward are not convincing of this quandary, I welcome the reader to submit a position paper to the contrary. Perhaps such a debate will clear the murky waters.

TAKU’s NOTE: This weeks article offers some excellent food for thought, and appears Courtesy of Personal Training Certification I.A.R.T.

This article is copyright protected and cannot be reprinted in any manner without written consent of the author.

Baked Whole Chicken with a Blast of Garlic


 Anyone who knows me personally, knows that as far as I am concerned you can never have too much garlic. It’s been a while since I posted any recipes so today I present my baked Garlic Chicken.

    1. Chicken 1 whole (about 3 – 4 lbs)
    1. Garlic one whole bulb (more is always better)
    1. Onion 1-2 (quartered)
    1. Extra Virgin olive oil 2-3 tbsp
    1. Fresh rosemary 2 Heaping tsp
    1. Celtic salt 1/2 tsp
    1. Fresh ground black pepper 1 Heaping tsp

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 400. Remove the neck and giblets from chicken then wash and dry thoroughly. Peel the garlic and chop in to small, sharp slivers. Using a sharp knife, poke holes about 1-2″ deep through the skin and into the meat of the chicken. Stuff the slivers of garlic deep into the holes you have created in the chicken. Take your time and make as many holes as possible. Do your best to use up all the garlic. Take the onions and stuff them inside the body of the chicken. Fill it as full as possible. Mix the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spread the oil and spice mixture all over the skin of the chicken. Bake in oven until cooked through usually about 45-55 minutes. Remove and let stand about ten minutes before serving.

For a bonus, make some baked garlic bulbs why you are at it. All you need to do is get a few large garlic bulbs, slice off the tops and baste them in olive oil. Pop them in the oven with the chicken, during the last 10-15 minutes of baking. Roasted garlic is milder than raw garlic. In fact, raw garlic is two to four times stronger in flavor. Garlic becomes very mellow and easy to spread after cooking. Roasted garlic makes a delicious appetizer. Squeeze the pulp out of the cloves and spread on the bread of your liking or serve with bruschetta and/or tapenade. Roasted garlic is also excellent used in your baking.

Enjoy the wonderful flavors…



© 2006-2009 All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.