Every child should have the opportunity to play a sport. Sports help us develop social skills, problem-solving, learning to work with others, and, most importantly, building athleticism and a healthy lifestyle. As an exercise professional, it is my job to assist athletes and parents in navigating the road to development.

Developing the Athlete Within for Long-term Success

Too often today, we see kids specializing in one sport leading to frequent or overuse injuries and burnout. My goal is to help them learn the skills and fundamentals of being an athlete, such as agility, balance, coordination, power, and endurance. These skills will set them up for long-term success.

The Advantages of Playing Multiple Sports

Today we see more specialization at younger ages. Kids are playing one sport on multiple teams for an entire year. Many leading fitness and medical associations recommend playing a specific sport for less than eight months out of the year, playing on one team at a time, and maintaining proper recovery time for the athlete’s bodies. Playing multiple sports will help develop physical advantages such as improved motor skills, strength, and aerobic fitness. This will also enhance socialization skills by meeting new kids and learning to cope with new personalities. My job is to help develop a performance program that is safe, scientific, and designed for the individual to ensure the best outcome and long-term success.

Maximizing Athletic Performance While Reducing Injury

Young athlete with jumping exercises in gymCertified Personal Trainers and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists should develop a program that will maximize an athlete’s performance while reducing injury potential. These professionals will oversee the athlete’s progressions and ability to withstand the program and fitness regime’s demands. Using evidence-based training methods and current research, a performance coach will not only set their athlete up for long-term successes but lifelong healthy habits. Building a well-rounded athletic base will, in return, build long-term success for the athlete. Too often, success is measured in playing time and winning. I measure my successes in long-term changes in my athlete’s health and habits.

Train With a Purpose

Our youth should be active and participate in sports (multiple sports if they have the desire). I also feel they should run, jump, crawl and climb as much as possible. Building long-term success in our athletes by providing them with supervised, progressive training programs that are functional will build their athletic abilities and confidence and help decrease their chances of injury and offer long-term healthy lifestyles. As a parent, coach, performance professional, or athlete, I urge you to play, train with a purpose, and look for long-term success in life.

FAST Youth Summer Sports Performance Program

Olympic lifting weights on sledNo matter your child’s sport, summer is the perfect time to develop their skills and learn the fundamentals of being an athlete by improving strength, speed, agility, and power. Foothills Acceleration and SportsTraining  (FAST) offers a summer sports performance program for kids ages 8+, college, and professional levels. Our Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist incorporates a properly designed and supervised program to help young athletes improve performance, compete, and reduce injury. These skills will build confidence, help prevent injuries, and set them up for long-term success. For more information or to sign up, check out the program at https://fast-training.com/summer

Want a stronger core? Are you crunched out? Don’t know what exercises to do next? I have the answer. Core exercise programs are not the same as “doing abs”. This article is here to help you get off the floor and perform a crunch free core exercise program that can be achieved by performing a plank series, as well as adding rotational and anti-rotational exercises to strengthen the core.

First, let’s talk about the core and what makes up our core. The core in my opinion is anything that is attached to pelvis, assisting in maintaining a neutral spine and neutral pelvis. This includes the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external oblique’s, rectus abdominis, the longissimus, glutes and the diaphragm. The body works like a system or a chain, working together, not individually. While each individual muscle of the core has its own unique responsibility, they work together with other groups to makeup the core. While crunches have stood the test of time, they are only focused on one other many muscle groups of the core. So how do I work all these muscles at the same time as a system?

Second, everyone knows what a plank is. Planks are a great core strengthening exercise when done correctly but ask yourself this, are you doing them correctly? How long should you hold a plank? How do you keep it fresh so you don’t sleep through your planks? A plank is a simple form of a pillar exercise that is to hold the spine in neutral while keeping your core tight for a period of time. Keeping the spine neutral can be difficult for many. Simple mistakes include drooping heads and more commonly the sag if the lower back when fatigue sets in. Remember that quality movements are always better than quantity. Following these simple rules when beginning a plank regiment.

Start from knees and elbows. If you are able to hold for a minute, progress to elbows and toes. Work your way to a minute and a half hold then add movement. This can be as simple as arm movements, leg movements, both extremity movements and then you can add slides and walks and such. Don’t forget that side planks are a great way to add variety as well. Remember, you must maintain a neutral spine in order to progress, otherwise the exercise is worthless.

And don’t forget to get up off the floor! Performing rotation and anti-rotation exercises are very important. Working all three planes of motion available is vital. The spine is a series of joints working together to not only act as a supportive structure but also allows movement in the three planes of motion. Rotational exercises include cable chops (up and down), lawn mowers, battle rope rainbows, rotational swings with sand bag or dumbbell, lunges with rotation, landmine rotations and Turkish get ups.

Anti-rotational exercises are less traditional but equally important when improving core strength and conditioning. These exercise are fondly referred to by myself as pillar exercises, designed to build stability and strength to prevent injury with everyday types of activities. Preventing rotation means that you are able to resist forces acting on the body that will try to rotate or move it in ways that may not be safe. Examples of pillar or anti-rotational exercises are Single leg dead lifts (both stiff leg and traditional deadlifts), Single arm inverted rows off a suspension trainer, anti-rotational push pulls with a cable or band, anti-rotational plank pulls, Palloff press with cable or bands, and weighted carries for a distance over time.

Crunches have been the go to for many when trying to improve core strength but these only work one plane of motion. I advise you to get off the floor and add these types of activities to your core exercise program, and work all three planes of motion to help prevent possible injury. A strong core will assist you when carrying heavy items, lifting items, pushing or pulling heavy items or simply performing your favorite fitness activities. And if you’re looking to get one-on-one personal training or sports performance coaching in the West valley, contact the FAST Arrowhead facility today.

This article is dedicated to one of our talented athletes here at the FAST Arrowhead location, Brooke McGlasson. Brooke has been training with our facility for over a year to better her golf game through our sports performance program.

Kyle and his team at FAST have created a unique program to help Brooke improve her strength, mobility and power—as well as continue to maintain her flexibility and core strength. Her drive and commitment to bettering herself shows through each time she’s at our facility.

We would like to wish Brooke luck as she plays in the AIG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego, California from July 10-14th, 2017. She will be competing against 11 and 12 year olds from all over the world as she battles for the top spot. Players must qualify in a qualifying tournament in the state that the athlete wishes to represent in the championships. Bring home the gold, Brooke!

Interested in upping your golf game? Contact the team at FAST Arrowhead to learn more.

In honor of National Athletic Training Month, we’re highlighting FAST facility manager and athletic trainer, Kyle Decker. Athletic trainers are crucial to the healthcare industry and help ensure athletes of all levels and ages are safely preventing and recovering from injuries. Read the Q&A to learn more about Kyle’s background and advice for future athletic trainers!


Q: How long have you been an athletic trainer and what’s your background in athletic training?

A: I have been an athletic trainer for 17 years. I have spent time in a variety of settings including; major/minor league baseball, the NBA, junior college athletics, high school and clinical.


Q: Why did you become an athletic trainer?

A: As a college athlete, I found my interest in athletic training after suffering from a major injury. Through my recovery process, I ended up spending a lot of time with the athletic training staff. Being exposed to this setting, I saw all the potential avenues I could go down and I knew athletic training would be the perfect career path for myself.


Q: What role does an athletic trainer play for sports teams?

A: Athletic trainers pay a pivotal role for sports teams. We work with athletes to keep them on the field, rehabilitate when needed, as well as assist in performance training which helps with injury prevention. Athletic trainers work with the entire sports medicine team to keep teams, athletes and coaches going strong.


Q: Where do you see the profession of athletic training going in the next 5 years?

A: Athletic trainers have been integrated into healthcare more now than ever before. You can find athletic trainers in traditional roles, corporate health, dance companies (like Las Vegas shows), and on research and development teams for athletic safety equipment. As the profession continues to grow, so will the trend of integrating athletic trainers into other areas within the healthcare world.


Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue athletic training as a career?

A: Know the profession—athletic training isn’t for everyone but can be extremely rewarding. If you’re interested in this career path, speak or shadow with an athletic trainer to learn more about the role.


Interested in learning more about athletic training? Contact us here and we’d be happy to help any questions regarding the athletic training profession. Happy National Athletic Training Month!

As your race approaches you ask yourself one question, “how do I get in all my miles and still have time to strength train?” When mileage gets high, most runners will drop strength training to make sure that they are getting in enough miles. This is when you start to feel a little stiff, a twinge or something starts to hurt, and the body breaks down. There are two types of runners—those who just run and the well-balanced athletes who cross-train/strength train. Those who strength train are usually stronger, suffer fewer injuries and reach new levels of performance over those who just run.

The stronger you are, the more your body can handle the demands of running. When your body is strong, it decreases the chance of injury and minimizes preexisting issues. A proper strength training program will improve structural weakness in muscle tissue and bone, and help to improve joint movement, which will decrease many common running injuries.

Of all the factors that can influence your running, strength training is the biggest. Strength training can impact your health, fitness level, and overall performance. But in some running circles, strength training is a dirty word. Runners have been taught that they just need to run or that strength training will “bulk” them up and slow them down. This is false.

A runner-specific strength training program is one of the best ways to use valuable training time while preparing for your race. Remember, you don’t have to spend countless hours training every muscle group individually, or lift so heavy that you can’t run for days.

How do I strength train during high mileage?

Strength training while in a high mileage phase doesn’t take much. You can participate in a park, parking lot or at home. Find a great place that will allow you to focus. Strength training can be added after a run, depending on the distance, effort, goal or training day. Here are five of my favorite movements that every runner should perform in their strength training program: squats, lunges, eccentric step dips, pushups, and planks. Please note that all exercises are best implemented into a strength program by an experienced strength coach.

  1. Squatting increases overall lower body strength while targeting the glutes. Body weight squats are a great way for runners to maintain their strength training during a high mileage phase. Squats can be performed in many different styles including body weight squats, back squats, front squats, goblet squats, overhead squats and split squat.
  2. Lunges improve unilateral strength if there are deficits as well as improve balance as we load one side at a time. They are also very good for change-of-direction activities. Runners typically stay and live in one plane of movement. Lunges force them out of that repetitive motion by performing lateral, rotational and reverse movements. This movement can be performed with multiple systems to get in more work in less time.
  3. Eccentric step dips are a great loading exercise that has a tremendous impact with little movement. Eccentric movement is the motion of an active muscle while under tension and is also referred to as brake contractions, negative work, or negatives. Step dips are performed by lowering the body from a single leg stance, against gravity. Your goal is to maintain a pelvic neutral position as well as maintain control as you lower your body from a park bench, curb or step. This can be performed in many different planes of movement.
  4. Pushups are one of the best exercises that can be done. Most are under the belief that the pushup is directly related to the upper body, chest and arms. That is correct, but keep in mind that if your core is not firing properly, neutral spine achieved, then this exercise is pointless. There are many types of pushups including neutral, incline, decline, plyometric and single arms types.
  5. Planks are a harder core activity than most people give them credit for. They are also one of the most improperly performed activities in gyms and homes across the country. The position that is optimal requires a neutral spine and pelvis, glutes to fire and the head neutral. After achieving this position for a duration of 90 seconds, think about adding movement and changing position. Here are some examples of the many types of planks that can be completed: prone planks, plank reaches with arms, plank leg drivers, side planks and roman twists (prone position to side plank).

In summary, a well-designed strength training program will take an oft injured, slower athlete and make them a faster, healthier athlete. Focus on the hips and glutes, but don’t neglect the other systems as they too have importance with the sport of running. When mileage gets high, stay true to your strength program as it will keep you from falling victim to over-use injuries and help you ultimately race FASTer.

If you are a runner searching for the right strength training program to fit your needs, please contact your local Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training facilty for more information.

Post Attributed to Kyle Decker, ATC, CSCS and FAST Facility Manager at our Arrowhead Location.

It happens every season. An athlete gains strength and mass over the summer, only to watch it diminish slowly during the season due to a lack of training. This is because most athletes do one of two things: they either stop training altogether because they feel they cannot handle the demands of practicing 5-7 times a week as well as training, or they attempt to continue to gain mass, strength, and speed, but experience decreased performance as a result of overtraining (which can and will lead to injury.)

Both of these paths can result in diminished strength and a greater chance of injury. Athletes should not, and cannot, train with the same intensity and frequency year-round, so it is extremely important they train during the off-season to prepare for the demands of preseason, training camps, practices, and games. But what about training during the regular season itself?

An appropriate in-season training program can be the key to maintaining the performance gains made in the summer, while avoiding overtraining when sports start back in the fall. Your in-season training program’s goals should be to preserve strength gains while controlling volume and frequency.

Athletes are not content with just making the team, they want to perform at a high level and contribute throughout their season. If athletes want to be at their peak performance when playoffs arrive, practices and games are simply not enough to carry them through a season.

So how does an athlete maintain their strength and performance? What does it mean to perform a maintenance program in-season? First, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist will cut back the frequency and volume of the athlete’s off-season program. Off-season programs require more days of training to get desired results, whereas in-season programs only demand one or two hours 2-3 times per week. An athlete should be recovered and even able to perform well in competition the following day after an in-season training session.

Since gym time is reduced, speed, agility, and jumping activities are cut from the training program, as most sports already hone these skills during practices. This allows the athlete to focus purely on the strength component. Athletes need to lift challenging weights at full speed to maintain gains and they should train on the days they feel the most energized. This requires the athlete to be responsible about knowing and listening to their body.

While performing lower volume strength work, it is very important that athletes keep up with injury prevention and recovery methods such as mobility training, stabilizing muscle groups, and myofascial work. This will build a favorable platform for the individual to continue to perform at a high level throughout the season. In-season training also allows for the athlete to enter the off-season training program needing minimal remediation.

If you or your child is an athlete looking to gain an additional edge this season, contact the Phoenix personal training experts at FAST.


Post Attributed to Kyle Decker, FAST Facility Manager, ATC, CSCS (Arrowhead Location).

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training is a group of locally-owned Phoenix personal training facilities that help people all over the valley reach their fitness goals. We provide hands-on, individualized training plans to our clients of all ages and athletic abilities. We also offer a free consultation to evaluate your needs, which can be scheduled online here today. For more advice about Phoenix personal training, check out our blog.

Kyle Decker is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Athletic Trainer who has worked with a wide range of athletes, including professional baseball teams. He is here today to explain the benefits of a functional training program, and how to start one.

For years, we have been conditioned to believe we need to spend countless hours in the gym doing strength training and cardio exercise in order to maintain fitness. Isolation exercises that only work one muscle group at a time have become the norm. However, fitness is changing. We now understand that the body works through a chain of movements, rather than one isolated movement at a time. As a result, more people have begun performing functional training programs that use the entire body.

Functional training programs are great for people on a time crunch who are still trying to maintain or build fitness and strength. These programs are more efficient and effective, because it makes the muscles work harder – leading to increased strength and a faster metabolism. If you incorporate just 5 different functional movements in every workout, you utilize muscles all over your body while adding variety and decreasing boredom during exercise.

The 5 movements you should perform are: push, pull, hip-hinge, squat, and plank. Each of these movements requires multiple joints and body systems to work together, and they are also incorporated in activities we do every day. When you pick something up off the floor, you squat down to pick it up, pull it towards the body, and push it away to place it somewhere. A plank strengthens your abs, helping you maintain core control while lifting and carrying.

Creating a plan to implement this type of training is actually quite simple. Just pick an exercise from each of the 5 functional movement categories, and perform 3 to 5 sets of the exercises during every workout. Follow this template and choose different exercises for each workout during the week.

Here is a list of possible exercises for each type of movement:

  • Push: Push-ups, incline press, single-arm kettlebell or dumbbell press, push press
  • Pull: Dumbbell rows, cable rows, pull-ups, lat pull downs
  • Hip-Hinge: Kettlebell swing, Romanian dead lift, dead lift, glute bridges
  • Squat: Body weight squats, dumbbell goblet squats, weighted front/back squats, lunges, split squats
  • Plank: Plank for time, plank with movement, bird dogs, side planks, heavy carries (farmer and suitcase)

To send your metabolism into a high gear, add cardio to the end of workouts. Be sure to make it fun by doing hill sprints, using rowing machines, climbing rock walls, or jumping rope.

If these exercises are done correctly, every movement will work the part of the body it is focused on, as well as other systems at the same time. However, like most things in life, you can do too much. This program should only be followed three or four times a week: more than that would be overtraining and would not allow the body to fully recover.

Every total body functional workout should incorporate these five movements. This programming technique will help you spend less time at the gym, increase strength, and add variety to your workouts. Contact FAST for to learn more about personal training techniques today.

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