With the World Series coming up, were going to look at a few things that can help with training for the greatest sport of all, Baseball!

First off, we know that there is a lot of rotation that takes place in baseball.

Even though there is a lot of rotation that takes place in this sport while throwing and hitting, this does not mean that we should solely work on exercises that include rotation. Mobility, strength, and power are also major aspects of the sport and its demands.

Think of a pitcher’s hips and thoracic cavity during the pitching delivery. During this movement, both the hips and shoulders must be able to rotate and even dissociate from each other in order to develop the most amount of power. In turn, it will create more velocity on the pitch.

Pause the television next time while watching a baseball game at any point before the pitcher delivers the pitch and look at the hips and the shoulders. There is a lot of separation that takes place throughout the pitching delivery. Moreover, there is a lot of stress placed on the shoulders and elbow if you are a baseball pitcher. Knowing that throwing a ball overhand is not easy on the shoulders, and being able to maintain or gain mobility through the thoracic cavity will help not only increase velocity but help maintain good shoulder health too.

Pitchers do need to develop strength in addition to mobility to be able to reach top velocity.

The power comes from the ground up. If we can develop a good lower body strength, the pitcher will be able to produce more power and velocity on the pitches. A great strength training exercise that can help with this is the deadlift.

Lastly, pitchers are not the only players on the field who need to keep their shoulders in mind while training.

If you really pay attention to a player when they dive, you will notice quite a few arm angles that may look like they hurt. Thus, our training program needs to include not only complete shoulder strength and stability but mobility as well. Including this into our training programs will allow the body to withstand these awkward positions that the body takes on during a game or season.

When creating your exercise programs for your sport, try to think of all aspects of the game including the minor details. By doing so we can hopefully improve your ability and your durability to play longer with fewer injuries. Come in for a free fitness assessment at your nearest FAST location and gain the competitive edge that you desire.

Today, I’m sharing tips for maintaining proper form in the deadlift, squat and split squat—three of the most popular exercises. If you’re struggling or experiencing pain during any of these exercises, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your form.



Deadlifts are a very good exercise for developing lower body and total body strength. Whether you’re performing traditional deadlifts, sumo deadlifts or deadlifts with a trap bar, there’s a few key components to maintaining proper form throughout the lift.


First, when gripping the bar try to engage the latissimus dorsi (lats) before lifting the bar. By engaging the Lats we are helping to keep the integrity of a neutral spine throughout the lift.  Rounding the back is NOT something we want to occur during any variation of the deadlift. Furthermore, when performing a Sumo Deadlift make sure to have the feet wider than shoulder width apart with feet point slightly out. The smooth notches on an Olympic Bar can be used as a marker to help with setting the feet. Allow your arms to hang down naturally towards the bar and that is your grip width in a Sumo Deadlift.


To help with the deadlift, you’ll need to strengthen your posterior core. Don’t hammer out 200 crunches a night and expect it to help with the deadlift. Deadlifts are a very posterior lift in relation to the muscles being used. Therefore, the back is at risk for injury. Try to focus on strengthening the posterior muscles of the core, that way when under the bar on a deadlift, the body has the strength to better prevent injury. The erector spinae, glutes, latissimus dorsi and trapezius are a few core muscles that can be worked on to help maintain a neutral spine in the deadlift.


Lastly, if you’re someone who struggles with a traditional deadlift, try the sumo deadlift or trap bar deadlift. If you think about picking up something heavy from the floor, spread your feet out wide to lift the object. This same movement occurs with a Sumo Deadlift. This exercise is a great way to lift heavy in a safer and more relatable way.



Squats are another exercise where maintaining proper form is incredibly important. One of the biggest aspects of the squat that we need to watch are the knees. While performing the squat, we want to make sure our knees are apart, in line with our toes and not caving inward. If the knees are caving inward it’s a sign of weak glutes and weak hip strength.


Outside of working on the hip and glute strength, next time you go to squat place a band above your knees. The band is going to try and pull the knees inward throughout the squat pattern; don’t allow it to do so. By placing the band above the knees, it is giving us a cue to activate our glutes while we squat. This will allow you to move through the squat pattern and actually use and engage the glutes.


The band above the knees can also be used if you ever feel pain in the knees while squatting.  The band, like mentioned above, will force us into external rotation of the hip by engaging the glutes, which should help alleviate the pain in the knees.


Lastly, during a squat, try to keep your core tight and push through the heel of the foot. Keeping the core tight will help to maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift. Our strength comes through our heel, not our toes, when pushing through the ground to stand up.


Split Squat/Static Lunge

Similar to the squat, many individuals may feel some pain in the lead knee while performing a split squat or static lunge. Just like placing the band above the knees on the squat, we can perform this same cue to turn on the glutes and relieve the pain in the lunge. If you feel pain in the lead knee, place a band above that knee only and either attach the opposite end to a bar or rack, or have partner slightly pull the knee inward. The slight pull will make the glute activate and externally rotate at the hip to help relieve the pain in the knee. Remember the band should only be tight enough to feel tension. Also, don’t forget to push through the heel of the lead foot.


Everyone has heard the phrase, “no pain no gain”.  Well that pain may be your body’s way of saying, “there’s something wrong” or “there is a weakness and we need to work on it”.  Listen to your body and make sure you are maintaining proper form through every exercise to maximize the benefits you are working hard to achieve. At FAST, we offer one-on-one personal training sessions to help our clients safely achieve their goals. Contact us today to set up a free fitness assessment.

We beat ourselves up all the time working out. The progressive overload is how we get stronger, faster, and more powerful. That being said, do you move properly through these exercises and are you doing what it takes to maintain your body? One aspect of training that people don’t always focus on is mobility. If you’re working out and can’t control your body through movements, then you are already at a disadvantage. Mobility training is key to any good strength and conditioning program.

Mobility in short, is the body’s ability to actively move through full range of motion at a joint while maintaining full control. Mobility is key to staying healthy whether you’re the average Joe or an elite athlete. If we can’t move through a joints full range of motion freely, we are at a risk when loading it with weights, or even at a disadvantage in sport performance. If moving is difficult, we have to fix the issue first before we can truly get stronger through such movement patterns. By performing mobility drills we are maintaining the range of motion in our joints and the strength to actively move through our full range of motion freely. This will then in turn allow us to build proper strength in our lifts. Additionally mobility drills can help to reduce every day pains, improve posture, and even help individuals to become more aware of their body and how it should move from head to toe.

Listed below are a few of my favorite mobility drills.  The drills listed here are mainly for hip and shoulder mobility.


  • Lie on one side of the body with the top leg resting at 90° on any ball, foam roll, etc.
  • Slowly move the top arm in a circular motion like a windmill along the floor.  Make sure to follow the hand with the eyes.  If you’re unable to keep the hand on the floor, allow the hand to come off the floor naturally.
  • If your left arm is on top, move the arm through a clockwise motion.
  • If your right arm is on top, move the arm through a counter clockwise motion.
  • Perform a set of 10 reps each side.

Side Lying Windmill Stretch


  • Stand with the back flat against the wall, chin tucked, and the hands down by the side.
  • Slowly raise the arms up bringing the thumbs to the wall and return back to sides.
  • Foot position is determined by the individual being able to keep the entire back flat against the wall.
  • Perform a set of 10 reps.

Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion


  • Start in a staggered stance with the front foot a couple inches from the wall and forearms at 90° against the wall.
  • Slowly slide the arms up the wall at an angle.  Once at the top position, bring the shoulder blades back.
  • Return arms back to the wall and slide back to the starting position.
  • Perform a set of 10 reps.

Wall Slides


  • Lie on your back slowly raising one leg in the air stopping perpendicular to the floor.
  • Slowly lower the raised leg straight to the side until you feel a comfortable stretch in the hip.
  • Return leg back to the starting position.
  • Perform a set of 10 each side.

Supine Leg Whip


  • Start in a kneeling position with one foot a couple inches from the wall.
  • Grab the foot of the knelt leg and slowly rock forward bringing the front knee towards the wall.
  • Then return to the starting position.

Kneeling Hip Flexion

Mobility training does not have to take more than 5-10 minutes to perform. This is a brief explanation for some of the benefits of these drills, as well as a few of my favorite drills to perform. Scheduling a monthly massage, mixing in a yoga class, and foam rolling are a few things that can definitely help the body stay moving properly as well.  Give these drills a try before or after your next training session.

As a personal trainer, I often create training programs for my clients and suggest they get moving and work hard towards their goals. But, sometimes, clients are on the other end of the spectrum and I need to tell them to slow down.

If you’re experiencing a lack of motivation to workout, constantly tired throughout the day, have muscle soreness that lasts for long periods of time, accompanied by pain in the body, your body may be telling you it needs a break or a different training program. If you don’t listen, your symptoms could increase and develop into something more serious, like Rhabdomyolysis.

WebMD states that, “Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome due to a direct or indirect muscle injury.” As the muscle injury breaks down the muscle fiber, it releases the broken-down muscle contents into the blood stream, leading to problems and complications within the body.

Symptoms of Rhabdomyolsis may include aches and pains in the muscles, muscle weakness, fever, or even brown colored urine. It should be noted, however, that despite the syndrome being caused by a muscle injury, the sensation of muscle pain is not always present. Rhabdomyolysis can also cause kidney failure and, in rare occasions, death.

While there are a wide variety of causes of Rhabdomyolysis, one group of individuals who need to be aware of this condition are athletes.

Athletes who work out and put an enormous amount of strain on their muscles — more strain than their muscles can hold — put themselves at an increased risk for direct muscle injury. Also, athletes who train outside — especially in our great state of Arizona — need to be wary of the signs and symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis, as heat stroke can lead to Rhabdomyolysis.

Like many conditions, the cause and severity of Rhabdomyolysis helps to determine the kind of treatment necessary. Some patients can be treated at home with medication or simply rehydrating, while patients with more serious cases may have to be hospitalized for tests and treatment.

My goal is not to scare anyone away from working out or partaking in athletic events or sports. In fact, I recommend remaining active as the benefits — typically — far surpass the alternative. That being said, listening to your body — especially during you training program — is key. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an athlete, your body will let you know if you’re doing too much.

Working with a qualified strength and conditioning specialist who will design a training program customized for you will help you stay safe and continue playing to your full potential. Our certified physical therapists will be happy to help you at one of our many locations. Train hard, but train smart!

Without a doubt, exercise yields great benefits to an individual’s overall health and wellness. For instance, improvements to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems through a training program can lead to decreased blood pressure and heart rate. Exercising can also help with reducing body fat, stress, and anxiety, while increasing muscular strength, endurance, mental capacity, and self-esteem.

As a trainer, the first question I get asked is, “How much exercise should I perform starting out?” It doesn’t matter if the individual is experienced but has taken a large amount of time off, or has been inactive most of their life and wants to get active; training two to three times per week is a great way to begin an exercise routine.

There is a set standard for the amount of exercise individuals should undertake to be considered an active person. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (ACSM/AHA) state that all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 should participate in moderate intensity, aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days per week. Alternatively, they should participate in vigorous, intense, aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes, three days per week.

Additionally, the ACSM/AHA also suggest every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days per week. For individuals wishing to engage in more intense training program, there is a dose-response relationship where exceeding the recommended amounts of physical activity can yield more improvements in an individual’s long-term health and wellness. However, always listen to your body when first beginning an exercise program.

Most individuals have started an exercise program at some point in their life. Whether they maintained the routine or not, the soreness felt after the workouts will not be forgotten. The body is most likely going to be sore after getting back into such routine. The demands placed on the body during exercise for someone who has had a lot of time off, is intense. Having the one or two days in between workouts allows the body to recover.

Overuse is a term used for performing too much exercise. An overuse injury can manifest into tendinitis, muscle strain, or even injury to the ligaments. Overuse injuries occur by using incorrect form while exercising, overloading the muscle with too many reps, too much weight when first starting, or from gym sessions lasting too long. Overuse is serious, so be careful and listen to your body.

Injuries can be avoided, in part, by easing into an exercise routine. Your body is not going to go through a complete transformation overnight; it’s going to take time to reach your goals. However, if a proper training program is set up, these goals can be quickly achieved, and without any setbacks. If you need help getting started, contact your local FAST Training location and get going.

Mark Spitz, an American nine-time Olympian, said, “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” Frame your health and fitness with this mindset. Prepare your body for what lies ahead and you’ll overcome even the largest goals in the long run.

Making exercise and fitness a part of your life is a great thing. The muscle tone, increased bone density, strength, balance, reduced injuries and stress, increased confidence, and improved health are all great motivators and benefits of an active lifestyle. But what many of us don’t realize is that we don’t want to perform the same exercise routine everyday—or even every week.

Cross Train

To reach your full potential, you’ll want to train your entire body, rather than focus on one specific area day after day. By working your entire body, you’ll help avoid injuries and increase overall results.

If you find that you’ve hit a plateau with your results, consider a cross training may be beneficial for you. It is ideal for anyone from beginners to weightlifters.

Focus on Form

When working out, it’s very crucial to pay close attention to form. I often see someone’s heels come off the ground while mid-squat, their knees cave in, or they bend them past their toes. This is bad form and can lead to injuries if repeatedly loaded with heavy weight.

To improve form, what really needs to be worked on is hip strength, both adductors and abductors, along with ankle mobility. Ankle mobility, or lack thereof, may not seem like too big of an issue, but if an individual doesn’t even have the ankle mobility to perform a squat, it can be dangerous to load a squat with heavy weight.

To begin working on this, grab a foam roll. Start rolling and stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps, abductors, adductors, and your ankles. There are many more benefits to performing light-weight movements than there are to loading up a movement with heavy weight and bad form.
Opposite Movement Patterns

If your occupation puts you in a specific movement pattern routinely it’s okay to still train that movement pattern. However, it’s important to train the opposite movement pattern as well to avoid muscular imbalances. So, if you’re consistently pushing, incorporate pulling movements into your next workout. Take a golfer, for example. They perform thousands of swings a week in the same movement pattern. When they go to train, it is important to work their entire body, not just the same swinging motion. They could get burnt out or injured repeating movements, leading to an overuse injury.

Bottom line, workout to create balance in every muscle of your body to feel your body respond in a positive manner and decrease injuries. We’re here to help create a custom workout regimen to help you achieve your fitness and wellness goals. Contact us today to learn more.

Post Attributed to Brandon Wood, FAST Facility Manager (Litchfield Park Location).

Brandon Wood is our Litchfield Park Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training facility manager. He has years of experience working with athletes and competing as an athlete himself. Here, he explains how to effectively work out your core muscles for better strength, stability, and athletic performance – and it probably doesn’t involve the exercises you’d think.

Just about everyone wants to gain impressive abs in the gym. People will often hammer out hundreds of crunches or sit-ups because they want a six-pack, but are these exercises truly the best way to build core strength?

Having six-pack abs doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong core, and many exercises that burn your stomach muscles aren’t effective ways to build core strength. Over time, hundreds of crunches can lead to back pain, and a good-looking midsection is actually made in the kitchen. A six-pack is achieved by losing body fat, not building muscle. However, having a strong core is important – it helps you while exercising, improves posture, and makes daily activities easier. You should train for the right reasons (building strength is more important than looking a certain way), and you need to train the right way to achieve it.

A strong core means more than just having strong abs. The hips, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and internal and external obliques are all core muscles. If you only train the anterior core (the midsection that exercises like crunches target), other areas may become weaker. The posterior core muscles are important in performing a number of exercises, including deadlifts. If they are weak, exercises become more difficult and dangerous for the lower back. Anti-rotation exercises work the posterior core to help prevent this issue. Cable machines and TRX Suspension Training are great tools for this type of exercise.

Here are some examples of anti-rotation exercises you can perform:

  1. Grasp the handles of TRX Suspension Training straps and assume a pushup position. Then, remove one hand and raise it until it is horizontal to the body. Do this ten times, then switch arms. Wide set feet and a taller stance will make this exercise easier, and feet closer together and farther back will make it more challenging. Throughout the exercise, make sure not to rotate. Keep your core tight with a neutral spine. This simple movement of the arm raise, while maintaining a single arm push-up position, will force you to engage all of your core muscles while resisting any kind of rotation through your center.
  2. Another anti-rotation exercise involves cable machines. Stand perpendicular to the cable machine, pull a cable attachment toward your chest, and hold it there – this is called an isolated hold. You don’t need to use much weight for this exercise. Next, step away from the machine and extend both arms out slightly (without locking the elbows) and hold for 10-30 seconds, switching the direction you face after each set. It should feel as though the weight is trying to pull you back toward the machine, which is what your body is resisting. This is another anti-rotation exercise that does not place your spine at risk.
  3. A Palloff Press also uses a cable machine. Stand perpendicular to the machine, pull a cable attachment toward your chest and press the handle away from your chest, then bring it back toward you in a controlled manner. This is similar to the isolated hold, but it adds some movement to the exercise.
  4. Utilizing a physio ball is a great, simple way to build core strength that you can even do while you’re at work. The purpose of a physio ball is to increase balance and strength of the body’s core muscles, as well as an individual’s posture. Instead of sitting in an office chair for hours at a time, switch it out for a physio ball. Office chairs make it very easy to slouch, which promotes bad posture. The physio ball forces you to sit up straight, which stabilizes the core. At first, the switch may seem difficult and tiring after years of leaning against the back of a chair. It will get easier. Try to sit on the ball for a few minutes at a time throughout the day until you build up better core strength and improved posture. A major key when transitioning to a physio ball is the size of the ball. When you sit, your thighs should be parallel to the floor, so make sure to choose a ball size that allows this.

New ideas and exercises guaranteeing six-pack abs will continuously emerge, but be sure that any new exercises you try are safe, viable, and performed correctly. An injury is the last thing you want when trying to improve your fitness. Often times, the simple moves are more beneficial to the health and strength of the body than hundreds of reps or too-heavy weights. Having a strong core is vital to every exercise you perform – in the gym, and in daily life.

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training clinics offer Phoenix personal training services to athletes all across the Valley. At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, we create individualized training programs for our clients to help get them stronger, faster, and in more competitive shape. We also offer a free assessment of your fitness level, which can be scheduled online here. For more advice about Phoenix personal training, check out our blog.

Post Attributed to Brandon Wood, FAST Facility Manager (Litchfield Park location).

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training is a group of locally-owned Phoenix personal training facilities that use cutting edge techniques to provide you with the tools you need to increase sports performance. Our certified trainers will work with you to create an individualized plan tailored to your personal fitness goals, and you can schedule a free assessment with them by simply going online here today. For more Phoenix personal training advice, follow our blog!

Brandon Wood is the facility manager of our Litchfield Park FAST location. He has years of experience as an athlete himself, and has trained athletes and individuals at every fitness level. He knows the effects stress can have on the body, and how it can drastically impact fitness and health. That’s why he’s here to explain what stress is, what causes it, and how to manage it.

There’s no question that there are many possible sources of health problems in today’s world, but you may not be aware of all of them. One factor that people are either unaware of, or often take for granted, is stress. Here are some little-known facts about the effects of stress:

  • Stress is considered to be the number one proxy killer in today’s society, otherwise known as a “silent killer”
  • According to the American Medical Association, stress is the cause for more than 60% of all human illnesses and diseases
  • Stress costs businesses here in the United States $200-$300 billion dollars each year due to loss of productivity and treatments for stress
  • 95% of Americans put up with some form of stress each week
  • Untreated stress is a greater risk factor for cancer and heart disease than smoking and foods high in cholesterol

These facts show that stress poses a significant threat to many peoples’ health and possibly lives. So what is stress? Stress is something that people feel when they are overwhelmed with work or when they feel as though they have more things to do than they can actually handle. According to Webster’s Dictionary, stress is a “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” Stress can also be the way that someone reacts to a certain situation, or feelings caused by being put under pressure.

Although no one likes feeling stressed, it can be good for you. Stress essentially tells the body that you are in danger, and this is why some scientists say it helps us survive by causing what is known as the ‘flight or fight’ response – our body’s security system. We are built to react to stressors to protect us from predators, or anything else the body perceives as a threat. ‘Flight or fight’ is a quick injection of stress hormones and adrenaline into the bloodstream, increasing a person’s strength and endurance. It speeds up the heart, increases the blood flow to the brain and muscles, your muscles tense up, you breathe faster, and the digestive system stops, allowing for more energy to flow through other parts of the body. Once the body feels as though the danger or threat has passed, this system will help bring our body levels back to normal.

Many things in life cause stress, and different situations cause stress to different people. Personal problems, social situations, money, major life changes, lack of sleep, or even your surroundings can cause stress. Additionally, jobs can be a major source of stress for many people. They may feel stressed because they don’t like their job, because it is too hard for them, or they could be having a hard time finding a job. Sources of stress are often uncontrollable, so it is important to learn to live and deal with them. However, dealing with the effects of stress can be the hardest part.

Stress can have varying effects on the body, some of which can lead to major issues. Stress can cause headaches, chest pain, fatigue, anger, loss of social life, or even drug and alcohol abuse.

The effects of stress greatly depend on whether stress is acute or chronic. Acute stress causes an increase of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in the body. This relates to an increase in glucose delivered to neurons located in the brain, which can help with the function of the brain. Acute stress can also enhance clotting, decrease pain sensitivity, and increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Hence, acute stress can actually be beneficial to the body. Chronic stress, however, can be very dangerous. Our bodies are not meant to deal with chronic stress, or stress that occurs over a long period of time. Studies have shown that chronic stress is related to six of the top causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver cirrhosis, and suicide. Chronic stress is also related to sleep problems, depression, and trouble with memory. Cortisol released during the first 30 minutes of acute stress can be beneficial, but excessive cortisol will begin to decrease the function of the body’s immune system. An overreaction to this can cause autoimmune disorders like allergies and arthritis, whereas an under-reaction can cause bacterial infections, the flu, or even cancer. Excessive cortisol levels can also inhibit formation of new bone growth, and will begin pulling calcium out of the bones, ultimately resulting in bone loss.

It is important for people of all ages to manage stress as best as they can. What are some ways to manage stress? As I mentioned earlier, certain situations may cause stress to one person but not the other. Similarly, everyone has a different stress relieving method. Some of the most effective ways to manage stress are:

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising
  • Getting a healthy amount of sleep every night
  • Finding time to relax
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Laughing

Without a doubt, stress is a part of life. We all deal with stress all throughout our lives, and it can be beneficial, or harmful. The key to managing stress is to find what works best for you and to apply this behavior to your everyday life. Hopefully the information presented here will help to educate and allow you to take a step back, find the stressors in your life, and begin to make positive changes for your overall health.



Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).