High Intensity Interval Training vs. Steady State Cardio

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By Darelle Noel

Whether you use cardio workouts to improve your health or performance in sports, one common goal of cardio training is to improve the function and capacity of your energy system. Many people decide the intensity of their workouts based on what they’re looking to accomplish during training. Some prefer steady state cardio (Aerobic) while others prefer high intensity interval training (Anaerobic).  Both yield great cardiovascular results so neither is a wrong way to go.

Slow steady state cardio or aerobic activity is when an exercise is performed at one FullSizeRender 20steady pace for an extended period of time, maintaining a relatively constant intensity level or heartrate.

High Intensity Interval Training or anaerobic training is a technique that alternates between short intense activity with a maximum recovery period. This technique varies the heartrate expeditiously improving your work to rest ratio (Energy System Capacity).

A blend of both could be an even better option. Instead of slow, plodding workouts, try a combination of utilizing both energy systems. This will have your muscle groups, nervous system, and hormones acting synergistically to help your body work as efficiently as possible. All these benefits result from time-efficient workouts that are much shorter than your average lower-intensity cardio session. The program you choose should reflect a balance of strengthening your weaknesses and challenging your strengths.FullSizeRender 19

Begin by improving your overall aerobic threshold, some great exercises are:

◾Outdoors: Paced walking, walking up hills, biking, rowing

◾Indoors: Biking, treadmill climbing/walking, elliptical trainer

Using the aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular system and prepare your muscles for the greater speeds.

FullSizeRender 18Next try to move into a little more intensity levels, At this level you’ll ride, run, or climb as hard as possible for between 10-30 seconds with maximum levels of recovery.. In order to get the most out you’ll need to pack as much power and energy into these segments as possible.

Some of the best activities for this are:

◾Sprinting (flat or uphill)

◾Shuttle runs (5 yards and back, 10 yards and back, 15 yards and back)

◾Bicycle intervals

◾Tredmill Sprints

◾Rowing for speed. FullSizeRender 17

A balanced training program should use different combinations of these exercises and different intensity levels to create varied and personalized workout that will develop both energy thresholds. You can spend more time in aerobic level initially and progress to performing intervals in which you spend more time in higher-intensity zones to improve your overall endurance, strength, and power.

FullSizeRender 21Blog Post written by Darelle Noel, Athletic Gaines Performance Specialist.  I have had the good fortune to work with him at Catz Physical Therapy/Athletic Gaines Pasadena.

Movement of the Week: Standing Stick Press

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Pressing is an essential movement in sports, and the majority of sports take place in standing.  While pressing on a bench, chair or floor is the best way to create absolute strength (also important for sports performance) it does not translate directly into sports tasks, unless your sport is Powerlifting.  Drills like the Standing Stick Press, Landmine & Med Ball Shots can’t be loaded like a Bench Press but they train the entire body and its proprioceptors to respond to the standing forces created by pressing or resisting an anterior to posterior force.

The 3 Stance Stick Press is more of an anti-rotation drill and is great to use with patients or clients looking for core stability.

The Dynamic Split Stick Press can be loaded heavier, has a larger range of motion, and hip rotation that translates well for field sports athletes.


  • Unilateral Pressing Strength
  • Scapular Mobility
  • Core Stability/Strength
  • Hip/Pelvic Stability
  • Full Body Proprioceptive Training

Give these a try and comment or share with a friend.

Movement of the Week: Landmine Variations for Baseballers



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If you are training or rehabbing baseball players I’m sure the Landmine Press and its multiple modifications are staples of your strength program.  Since you’ve already got your athletes familiar with the Landmine and it’s benefits, here are a few variations that will be ideal for your baseball and softballers.

Landmine Floor Press

The Floor Press is a great supine pressing exercise for throwers because it prevents excessive anterior shoulder stress as the humerus contacts the floor prior to traveling behind the frontal plane of the body.  It works well for training small groups or teams because it does not require a spotter and can be part of a circuit.

Landmine Pitching Deceleration

Decelerating the forward, downward and rotational forces of the pitching motion is essential for arm health.  This drill will train the stride leg, core and posterior shoulder muscles necessary for efficient full body pitching deceleration.

Landmine Renegade Row

The Renegade Row is one of the toughest plank variations you’ll ever do.  This is a fantastic way to train scapular and core stability while effectively loading the row for strength gains.

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Movement of the Week: Dynamic DB Squat/Swing Variations

Once your patient/client/athlete can squat efficiently and can perform a DB or KB swing safely, it is time to train multi planes.  These 3 variations of DB swings translate well into throwing and swinging sports and can be biased for mobility,  rotational speed or strength, depending on the load.  They can also give you feedback about an athlete’s rotational coordination, timing and range of motion limitations. Lastly, they can easily be integrated into a metabolic conditioning circuit for athletes that participate in rotational sports.

Golf Squat 

Cues: Starting position is a squat with the elbows extended and forearms against the inner thighs.  Start the upward swing from the hips followed by the DB.  At the top diagonal position, the hips should be fully rotated and extended with the spine in neutral.  Watch the feet for inversion rolling or leg external rotation to make up for limited hip internal rotation.

Reverse Golf Squat:

Cues:  Starting position is a squat with the DB tucked against the lateral hip pocket, elbows flexed and body weight shifted slightly to the loaded side.  The opposite shoulder should be rotated towards the opposite hip.  Thrust the loaded hip and let the DB elevate upward and outwards with the elbows extended at chest height.

Square Stance X-Chop:

Cues:  Starting position is a squat with the DB tucked against the lateral hip pocket, elbows flexed and body weight shifted slightly to the loaded side.  The opposite shoulder should be rotated towards the opposite hip.  Start the upward motion by thrusting the loaded hip into extension and opposite side rotation.  The DB will follow and finish over the opposite shoulder with both hips rotated and the spine in neutral.  Watch the feet for inversion rolling or leg external rotation to make up for limited hip internal rotation.

Movement of the Week: Pitching Lateral Speed Lunge


This movement is part of a pitching deceleration series. Pitchers need to be able to decelerate not only their arm but their entire body. I like to use this not only for deceleration but also for training: foot placement, coordination, hip/shoulder disassociation and agility.

How it’s done:

Hold a pair of lighter dumbbells at shoulder height in 90 degrees of external rotation.  Shuffle once to the side and open up towards the shuffle direction leading with the foot followed by the hip, trunk and finally allow the opposite arm to fall across the body in a pitching motion. The key is allowing the arm to fall, this should not be an active throw, it should be a faster but controlled fall. The trunk should hinge forward at the hip over a flexed knee and ankle. Keep the opposite arm up in an externally rotated position, reverse the motion and repeat in the opposite direction.

Standing Multi-Plane Core Stability

Dead Bugs, Bird Dogs, Bridges & Plank variations are a great place to start a core stability routine.  The problem is that we don’t live our lives on a table.  Once the core musculature is activated and we can move our limbs while stabilizing our spine in a safe gravity reduced position its time to get off the table and introduce gravity and resistance.  This routine is a nice place to start because the majority of these movements are isometric at the spine yet they are able to introduce stability in 3 stances and 3 planes.  This is the environment that most of us live and play in.  The upper extremities do the majority of the movement while the spine and core musculature need to respond the increasing demands created by the changing lever arms of the band resistance.  This routine works well as a second step to traditional core stability movements because it complies with post-op restrictions and provides a more challenging environment where safety is still a priority.

Movement of the Week: Band Resisted Lunge + Reach

This is a more advanced version of a standing core stability series I take many of my lumbar patients through. I like this for clients with hip & pelvic stability issues as well as for athletes having difficulty controlling frontal plane knee forces during lunge tasks. The purpose of these movements is to maintain posture through the ankles, knees, hips, trunk and shoulders while performing a single plane movement and resisting isometric multi-plane forces applied by the horizontal pull of the band as the lever arm.

How it’s done:

Start with the hands against the body and take a fencing lunge forward, once the lunge posture is stable reach the hands forward or overhead. Make sure the hands go straight forward or straight upwards and there is no deviation towards or away from the pull of the band, then reverse the sequence back to the starting position. After the desired number of reps turn and face the opposite direction and repeat.

Movement flaws can easily be observed from side and front views, look for over compensation strategies as well. Modifications can be made by changing the band resistance or shortening the lever arm by remaining in the starting position with the hands close to the body during the entire task.

Below are a few additional variations:

1. Overhead Stick Reach: This makes it easier to get overhead, sometimes clients have difficulty getting overhead witch the narrow grip.

2. Long Arm Rotational Lunge +  Reach:  This is a more advanced version of the rotational lunge + reach movement. The longer lever arm intensifies the rotational core demand.

There are many other variations, feel free to share some of yours with me in the comments.

Basic Scapular Loading & Stability

In order to progress to more complex shoulder loading its important build a solid base.  Here are a few simple scapular loading and shoulder stability exercises that can be made more challenging and once mastered will help with the performance heavier and more dynamic overhead activities.  These exercises are part of a larger arm care routine I have my overhead athletes perform after the manual tissue and joint prep, and prior to a full body movement prep.

These can be easily replicated out on the field using the dugout bench.

Sled Push & Pull


One of my favorite accessory exercises for my lower extremity patients is the sled push & pull.  I picked up this exercise from powerlifting legend Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell.  While Louie uses it for training men and women to Deadlift and Squat world record loads,  I like to use it for my patients rehabbing from lower extremity injuries and surgeries.  The reason this exercise is beneficial is that there is no eccentric phase, which means that there is no soreness associated with the recovery.  Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is what is felt 1-2 days after a heavy workout, and it comes from the eccentric phase of exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges.  Louie uses the sled to add volume to his lifters regimen without adding to their post workout soreness, or sometimes after heavy lifting days when his lifters are experiencing a high level of DOMS.

How its done
The Push portion of the exercise is done in a forward trunk lean, hands holding the vertical poles with locked out arms, and a tight core. The patient powerwalks forward with slightly larger than normal strides, landing on the heel and keeping the foot flat through the movement.  The activity should be felt in the gluts and hamstrings, which are often underdeveloped in most people, healthy or injured.

The Pull portion of the exercise is performed by attaching a band or rope to the sled. While holding the band the arms should again be locked out, but this time the entire body is straight with a posterior lean (think waterskiing).  The patient this time walks backward with smaller and quicker than normal steps.  After 10 yards or so there should be a nice burn in the quads.

I called this an accessory exercise because its not a stand alone task and should be additional to your core lower extremity rehab exercise regimen.  Its not going to build superhuman strength but its a great way to add volume and variety to your patients rehab routine.   Additionally, there is minimal vertical knee loading with this exercise, which means that it can be included for patients with knee issues that are irritated by closed chain knee flexion. There are a few variations of body positioning for this exercise and different sleds types can accomplish the same outcomes, but if done as described safety will be optimized.

Pitching Mobility Series: Part 2

In order for a pitcher to produce significant force through the trunk and into the arm, he needs to be able to load a stable yet mobile hip, knee, ankle and heel.  As the stride leg rises up & then down towards the plate the pitcher has the opportunity to load his joints, muscles and tissues into an optimal position for force production.   Continue reading “Pitching Mobility Series: Part 2”

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