Monday, September 30, 2013

Battle of the Tapes: KT tape Vs. Rock Tape

Since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the rise of kinesiology tape used by athletes has dramatically increased. With the increase in popularity there are now multiple brands of kinesiology tape to choose from, but which one works the best?  As an athletic trainer, I have used both KT tape and Rock Tape on my athletes. With this experience, I have developed an educated opinion about both tapes. The pros and cons of the two brands include:

KT Tape

 --- Inexpensive, a box of tape with 20 pre-cut strips can be purchased for under $10.00. A box will usually last one person about a week and a half.
 --- Available for purchase at local drugstores and athletic stores, example: Walmart, Walgreens, Academy.
 --- Athletes have the option to purchase KT tape or KT tape Pro. Proponents of KT tape claim that it will stay on for 1-3 days, while advocates of KT tape Pro tout that the “Pro” will stay on for 7 days.
 --- Tape comes pre-cut.
 --- Available in a wide variety of colors to match school colors.

 --- Does not stay on athletes for more than a day, especially athletes that sweat profusely.

Rock Tape
 --- Can stay on an athlete for up to 4-5 days, even ones that are heavy sweaters.
 --- Can customize length of the tape and splits.
 --- Have a variety of colors and patterns to choose from.


 --- More expensive than KT tape, 1 box of tape (16.4 ft.) runs for $18.00.
 --- Many stores do not carry Rock Tape; athletes will have to buy it directly at   or         .

When comparing the two brands I prefer using Rock Tape because I can customize the length and cut of the tape and it also stays on the athlete longer than KT Tape.  Whatever brand you choose, Kinesiology tape is very user-friendly --- it can be used by athletic trainers, marathon runners, and weekend warriors.  

Post your thoughts about kinesiology tape… let me know which brand YOU prefer! 

Life of a ‘New’ Personal Trainer: Am I Really Ready for This?

The three most common types of learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best by looking at pictures, reading charts and graphs, or watching a demonstration. Auditory learners would rather listen to things being explained than reading about it. They depend on hearing to retain information. Kinesthetic learners, however, process material best through a hands-on experience. I am a kinesthetic learner. I took the personal training pre-certification courses, I studied my study guides, learned the test material to pass the written ACE Personal Training exam and then I was certified; I had a piece of paper that said I could train anyone. However, I was terrified.

I had read the books, listened to the courses, but I had yet to have that hands-on experience! This is the case for almost all new personal trainers. Once in the field, we are slapped into reality when we realize that we are responsible for the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of another human being - something which we have only read about in the textbooks. The truth is personal trainers gain most of their training knowledge through experience.

Experience is defined as “active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill”. In other words you can think back on previous practice, with other clients or your own experience, and combined that with your book knowledge to think through a situation that hasn’t been presented before. With every new client comes new understanding and information for future clients. For instance, if a client complains about knee pain, your understanding will allow you to refer to your studies, and your experience will assist in your course of action.
Experience teaches you to modify and tailor the personal training to each new client. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

APR: The NCAA’s Academic Law - Part II

As I stated in a previous post , Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a team-based formula developed by the NCAA in order to track the academic eligibility, retention, and achievements of Division I member institutions’ athletic teams during each academic term. The NCAA states that since the implementation of APR, “The number of student-athletes who have left school while ineligible has decreased significantly each year since the APR began and is now at an all-time low.” Essentially, a larger number of student-athletes are graduating each year since APR’s inauguration in 2004.

While I entirely understand the argument against APR, I believe head coaches and universities hold complete control over their teams’ APR scores based on the athletes in which coaches recruit and the academic atmosphere coaches instill.  In regards to recruiting, coaches serve as the lone force in choosing players that will fit into their systems. It is for this exact reason that I believe APR regulations and sanctions deserve little to no criticism. APR simply expects student-athletes to rise to certain standards that encourage academic triumph while maintaining a healthy connection between sport and scholar, preserving a degree of integrity within the NCAA.  Athletic directors and administrators must ensure the coaches at his or her university recruit not only athletically qualified student-athletes, but student-athletes that will succeed in Division I academic standards.

I believe educators, coaches, compliance departments, NCAA directors, and all others holding involvement in college athletics cannot justify opposition to APR, for all are appointed supporters of student-athletes. APR serves as a regulating system ensuring student-athletes are provided with a supreme education to assist in the transition into the professional world. Thus said, support for APR transcends into support for the student-athlete.

Coaches & Teaching: Do Coaches Belong in the Classroom

When it comes to the subject of coaches as classroom teachers, I personally think that they do not belong in the classroom. My reasoning for why coaches should not have to teach classes is, for one reason, coaches have many items on their plates already. Dealing with their players, and their problems, and on top of that the personal problems the coaches have to make sure that the players are taking care of business on and off the field or court.
When dealing with student athletes it brings problems from two different fronts, because there are certain struggles a coach must to go through to make sure that their players maintain eligibility. This alone takes an incredible amount of work. Some of the student athletes do not have a very stable home life, so not only is the coach trying to lead his players on the court, he also is playing counselor off the court.
Another time restraint that comes into play for coaches is trying to keep the player out of trouble, which is much harder than many people think. I also think that if coaches were not required to teach classes, they could focus more of their attention on their team’s success as a whole. This would allow them to find the necessary adjustments that need to be made to make their teams better. But when the coaches are teaching and coaching, not only do they have to worry about their student athletes but also all of the students in their classroom, grading papers, and tutoring. Furthermore, I think being a coach IS being a teacher in and of it-self, and the NCAA agrees. In an article I read, the NCAA stated that The best college coaches are real teachers.”

The Kettlebell Craze: Learning the “Swing” of Things

When I received my kettlebell certification training for small groups, one thing that my instructor emphasized was “know the basics”. Although kettlebells are a great tool for exercise, it can also be a harmful tool to your body if handled incorrectly. 
The first step in handling kettlebells is understanding the biomechanics of the hip joint. To understand the hip hinge movement better, you can start by performing ‘bridges’ on the floor. By lying flat on the floor, begin with your shoulders and feet flat on the floor and raising your hips up and down towards the ceilingthus, you can feel the hip hinge movement. According to, the next progression would be holding the kettlebell with straight arms hanging between semi-bend legs with a completely straight spine; your knees and hips should be slightly bent or “hinged”. You want to have your kettlebell “hanging in front of the body by the waist, brace the stomach, keep the knees slightly bent and push your weight back into your hips (maintain a straight spine, don’t let the back bend or round), once you can’t move the hips any further (without causing rounding in the back) then squeeze your glutes and push the hips forward to return to standing (”
After mastering the hip hinge, you will next increase your hinge speed and add arm movements. The swing is an explosive move; during the lowering phase of the swing, you sink back quickly into the, then quickly and explosively push the feet into the ground and drive the hips forward to produce the maximum momentum for the exercise. (
According to, “the hip hinge is extremely important, if at anytime you feel pain in your lower back, it is because you are not properly executing the hip hinge, and you are hinging at the lower back.” On the website, there are more examples of hip hinge exercises to perfect your movement!
Youtube video on the mechanics of a kettlebell swing:
Stay tuned for my next post about the second progression, a “clean”.

Strength and Conditioning, Conjugate System Part 2: Dynamic Effort Method

The Dynamic Effort Method, or more commonly known as speed work, is defined by training with submaximal weight with maximal speed. The purpose of the DEM is to build a faster rate of force development in the muscles, making muscles contract faster and with greater force.1 The DEM accomplishes this by utilizing compensatory acceleration, which means to perform the concentric phase of an exercise or lift as fast and as powerfully as possible. In order to achieve compensatory acceleration, the DEM often utilizes accommodating resistance, or bands and chains. The bands and chains increase resistance as the individual goes through the concentric phase of an exercise requiring the trainee to produce more and more force, which in turn creates compensatory acceleration and a faster rate of force development in the trainee. Accommodating resistance used in the DEM teaches trainees to accelerate and reduce bar acceleration, which is to say that trainees learn to accelerate faster and more efficiently decelerate.2
The DEM can be used with any exercise, but is most beneficial in multi-joint large muscle group movements such as barbell squat, deadlifts, bench press, and military press. An example of a DEM training session is to perform 8 sets of 3 reps in the back squat at 60% of a trainee’s 1 rep max with a band resistance of 15% of the 1RM performed at the start of every minute for 8 minutes. This means that at the beginning of the concentric phase of the squat the resistance will be at 60% of the 1RM and at the end of the concentric phase the resistance will be at 85% of the 1RM.
The DEM may also be used to replace a Maximal Effort Day, which uses maximal resistance at submaximal speed. This is very useful for trainees who cannot handle more than a single high intensity training session in a week. By replacing a MEM with a DEM trainees can avoid over training.3
Check back next week when I cover the last Phase of the Conjugate System, the Repetition Effort Method.   
1. Dr. Y. V. Verkhoshansky,
2. A. S. Prilepin,

3. V. M. Zatsiorsky, Science and Practice of Strength Training.

Synthetic Turf and Recreational Sports

The rise of synthetic turf has become a new trend among recreational facilities. According to Mike Goatley Jr., president of Sports Turf Managers Association, “They are popping up like dandelions.” With increasing participation of recreational events and the growing popularity of sports such as soccer and lacrosse, many recreational sports supervisors are finding it difficultto manage a natural grass field.
Many collegiate recreational sports programs offer  softball, soccer, flag football, and ultimate Frisbee during a fall season. These facilities may also host other events that produce ‘wear and tear’ on the field.  For example,  at Tarleton State University the recreational sports fields are also the site for band practices, track practices, youth sports and much more.. In this case, there is not a lot of time for maintenance on the fields. After a long fall semester of sports, the natural grass tends to wear down and get torn up.
This leaves no feasible option for the intramural complex but to use synthetic turf. According to the article “Ground for Innovation, Turf Trends for Today & Tomorrow’’ by Chris Gelbach in Recreation Management magazine, “artificial turf can be used safely in inclement weather conditions, and allow for almost nonstop use if lights are installed” (2013). With that said synthetic turf also drains quicker with rain, making it more adaptable to the weather. Facilities without synthetic turf, such as those at Tarleton State University, will experience frequent loss of games (rainouts) due to improper drainage.
Synthetic turf has become one of the hottest trends in outdoor recreation due to the fact that it requires less maintenance, can withstand a great deal of foot traffic, and is more adaptable to weather.

Spot Reduction & Exercise: A Fitness Fallacy

Having spent well over a decade as a personal trainer and having been an adjunct instructor for the last six years, I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of people and hundreds of students. I also enjoy having countless amounts of conversation with family members, friends, and strangers about fitness-related topics. One of my main focuses as a personal trainer is to educate my clients, as well as anyone that is willing to listen to me talk about fitness. Yet, there has been one fitness fallacy that seems to always come up when talking to someone about working out  – spot reduction.
In my opinion, the number one lie when it comes to working out is when someone targets an area on their body in order to reduce excessive body fat at that area through exercise, which is called, ‘spot reduction’. For an example, if a woman wants smaller inner thighs she will work her thighs using a Thigh Master or do hundreds of Scissor Kicks. 

The main areas that are targeted for spot reduction are the abdominals, buttocks, and thighs. These areas began being targeted in the mid-80’s, which led to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts in which subjects were to do 5000 vigorous abdominal exercises over the course of 27 days. Fat biopsies were obtained from the subjects' abdomens, buttocks and upper backs before and after the exercise program. The results of the study revealed that fat decreased similarly at all three sites—not only in the abdominal region. Simply put, there is not sufficient research supporting ‘spot reduction’ – it just does not work.
Proponents of spot reduction often ask ‘If it doesn’t work then why did their fat decrease?’ It decreased due to the abundance of exercise, which burned the sufficient calories to see a reduction. Research conducted by the American College of Sport Medicine found that spot reduction training could lead to over training, which can be counterintuitive and can cause an increase in body fat.  So in this case more is not always better but rather can be worse. 
Spot reduction is a fallacy, so do not get caught up in the trap of practicing spot reduction!

Sports Medicine Fads – Kinesiotape or KT tape

Athletes are always looking for the newest invention to better their game and have an extra competitive edge. Often athletes seek the advice of athletic trainers to learn about the effectiveness of such products. In the upcoming three weeks, I will discuss the following popular sports medicine fads: Kinesiotape, Power Balance Bands and Phiten Technology.

Kinesiotape was first founded in 1979 by Dr. Kenzo Kase, but its popularity really exploded into the public eye during the 2008 Olympics when U.S. Volleyball player Keri Walsh sported the tape during matches. According to the Kinesiotape website, Kinesiotaping claims to “facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion.” The research, however, has found conflicting evidence.

Multiple research studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of kinesiotape. A study in 2010 compared ankle bracing to kinesiotape and found no apparent differences between the methods. The study proved that kinesiotape did not provide any extra benefit to competition or reduce the time to return to play.

A second study analyzed kinesiotape’s effects on blood flow. This study, from 2011, looked into the theory that the application of the tape should slightly lift the skin, allowing for increased blood flow. The results of the study concluded that there was no significant difference established between using kinesiotape and athletic tape.

After analyzing the given studies, the research shows that kinesiotape provides no significant support or healing benefits. These research studies were set up very differently to examine different components of kinesiotape, and both experiments were unable to prove that kinesiotape had any sort of benefit over normal athletic tape or no tape at all. The placebo effect, the mere belief that a treatment works, of the tape may be what makes it effective in the athletic population.

Upcoming Next Week: Check out what the research says about Power Balance Bands

Soccer: Academy Program or High School Program?

United States Youth Academy Soccer teams are transitioning into a 10-month season for elite soccer players.  This change is being done in an effort to further develop youth players into becoming more competitive on an international scale.  While this sounds like a great upgrade for elite players to train, it is creating a tough decision for many athletes.  The decision of playing for an academy team or their high school team is a choice that is now required of players that have the ability to play at the academy level.

The advantages for an elite player playing for an academy team is that the amount of instruction they would receive is be drastically increased.  According to the U.S. Soccer website, the 10-month season will add between 32-40 weeks of active training compared to the 12-weeks of training during a high school season.  This abundant amount of time allows for a high amount of valuable training time for the elite players.

However, there are downsides to academy players not being able to play with their high school teams.  While this not only affects the social aspect that players experience with a high school team, the high school soccer programs are now having to watch some of their star players walk away from the program.  While some players do not have a problem leaving their high school teams behind, others still wish things were different.  A player who has to leave his high school team in order to play academy was being interviewed by New York Times and stated, “you look at Lebron James, he played for his high school and went pro. Why do we have to give it up?”  This is a decision that many elite athletes have to make at 15-16 years old.  How many of us were making possible life and career changing decisions at this young age?

You Make the Call --- Are select sports leagues, such as Academy Soccer programs, putting too much pressure on young athletes?

The POWER of the Olympic Lifts

There are a number of people, strength coaches included, that are under the impression that the O-lifts are too dangerous and not applicable to traditional sports.   Many believe that performing the bench press and back squat are enough to create a powerful athlete.   As a collegiate strength coach, I disagree and contend that there is no such thing as a dangerous exercise - only dangerous coaches.   When taught correctly and properly implemented into a training program, the Olympic lifts or variations of them are an incredible tool in developing maximum power.   One needs to realize that these are extremely technical lifts and coaches must take the time to teach proper technique.
According to Tom Cross and Mike Burgener, “using the Olympic lifts incorporates all four of perhaps the most important aspects of weight training for football – train on your feet, use free weights, train using compound/multi-joint movements, and train explosively.”  ( )
Although most know this obvious information the 1RM bench press is still the “end all, be all” of demonstrating an athlete’s strength and power.   When is it important for an athlete to exhibit maximal power while lying on their back?   The answer is NEVER!   Picture an athlete performing a power clean.   The weight is ripped off the ground aggressively, followed by an explosive triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips, finally catching the weight at shoulder height.   This is what should be seen as true power, it’s even in the name!
Before I go let me leave you with a little food for thought, let us look at the difference between the power output of a bench press compared to the power clean using the equation for power ---
 Weight x Distance/Time = Power
1RM 300 lb. Bench Press = 300 lbs. x 2 feet (600) / 2 seconds = 300 ft. lbs. power
1RM 300 lb. Power Clean = 300 lbs. x 5 feet (1500) / 1 second = 1500 ft. lbs. Power

Gayle Hatch, 2004 USA Olympic strength coach, once told me “power comes from the floor, all of the other lifts are good but the Olympic lifts create athletes”.   As you can see from the comparison above there is no match to developing pure power like the Olympic lifts do, the same weight was moved at a much faster speed.   The answer is right here so get off your back when you go to the gym and instead get on your feet.