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26 November 11:41 am

Week No. 2 of the #UnionTop10 is in the books and it was youth over experience as a matchup between homegrown midfielder Zach Pfeffer and veteran forward Conor Casey found Pfeffer moving on to the "Final Five" with over 75 percent of the vote.

Both plays were awesome but you the fans have spoken and so it’ll be Pfeffer and his first ever goal in Major League Soccer that moves on along with Andrew Wenger's first ever Union goal , a winner in Week No. 1.

Now as we move onto Week No. 3, it's another Wenger special up against a great goal earlier this year from Danny Cruz in a commanding win against New England in Foxborough, Mass.

But first, we examine Wenger’s blast against San Jose, his first of two in a 4-2 win over the Earthquakes in August. What makes this one special is the amount power and sheer lack of an angle Wenger has when he blasts this one past San Jose’s Jon Busch.

What’s great on this play is (well, besides the ball into the box from Sebastien Le Toux) is how it looks as though Wenger’s first touch fails him. Playing the ball away from the onrushing defender it gave the illusion that Wenger killed his angle in front of net, but the turn of the hips and hitting the ball dead on made no mistake that it was headed top shelf.

Moving on…

It’s only right to pair that one with another great goal this season, this one from Danny Cruz against New England. Now with this one, yes the shot was insane in its own right, but watch the run from Cruz which starts at the edge of the Revs’ 18-yard-box.

After taking this one basically coast to coast, the speedy midfielder takes advantage of the ridiculous amount of space given by Revs defenders and launches a “Cruz missile” (see what we did there?) that gave Brad Knighton no chance of getting a hand on it. What’s great about this play is that Cruz smartly took advantage of the spacing between him and defender AJ Soares and use what has always been a trademark power shot to put the Union ahead, 2-0 in the eventual 3-1 win.

Okay, you’re up. Which one moves on? Will it be Wenger’s goal from virtually no angle or Cruz’ fast break and rocket shot? Polls are open now until next Tuesday, Dec. 2 so vote for your favorite and tell us why in the comments below.

Thanks for all who have voted so far. We’ll be back with our Week No. 4 pairings next Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

06 October 9:01 am

We all know the feeling.

The alarm clock goes off and we hit snooze. After 3-4 rounds of pressing reset on the clock we know that we need to wake up and start the day. We stumble out of bed and begin our day. Depending on your situation you may have kids that you need to get ready for school which always adds stress to your morning routine. If you don’t have kids you may have a few extra minutes that allow you time to get a fresh cup of coffee and start your day.

Whatever your situation, I believe your morning ritual is such a key factor in how your day goes. I admit I’m guilty of coming downstairs and reaching for my cell phone. I know that it’s not the best thing for me since it will most likely initiate a stress response and that is not an ideal to start the day.

Below are five (5) ways you can start your day that can have a positive impact on your health:

1. Take ten deep breaths before you jump out of bed. Many of us wake up worrying about what we need to do for the day. By taking ten deep breaths this allows you to tap into your parasympathetic system (rest and digest) which is a good way to start your day.

2. Before you reach for the coffee grab a large glass of fresh water. By adding some sea salt and lemon this will kick start your hydration for the day.

3. Get in a quick workout. If you are short on time, here is a circuit workout (videos included) that you can do with only one kettlebell or one dumbbell.  Set a timer for 15-20  minutes and rest as much as you need to. Warm up with some foam rolling for five minutes and add in some mobility work (i.e. ankle mobility, hip mobility, thoracic spine mobility as well as 10 body weight squats and 10 push-ups). Keep this workout short and as always focus on good form.

One important note: Do not do this work out without FIRST warming up.

  • A1. Kettlebell swing:  six (6) reps (Note, if you do not know how to do a proper deadlift do not do a kettlebell swing. First learn how to do a deadlift and hinge at your hips.)
  • Video: Kettlebell swing
  • A2. Kettlebell goblet split squat: six (6) reps/side
  • Video: Split squat- Goblet
  • A3.  Kneeling kettlebell lift: six (6) per side
  • Video: Kneeling kettlebell lift
  • A4. Kettlebell single leg RDL- six (6) reps per side
  • Video: Single leg RDL
  • A5.  Turkish get up: 3 reps/side
  • Video: Turkish get up
  • Rest 60 seconds and repeat

4. Eat some fat and protein with a small amount of carbohydrates. By doing this early in the day it will allow you to experience the following:

a. Steady sugar levels

b. Satiety. You will feel comfortably full as you start your day. It won’t be a feeling of being bloated but rather a feeling of being satisfied as you start your day.

Here are two options for you:

Two (2) eggs (organic if possible), cooked in grass-fed butter with red peppers and some cheese mixed in.  Add in a side of strawberries.

A smoothie with Hemp or whey protein, spinach (leafy), frozen raspberries and coconut oil (melted). Add in some ice and blend it up.

5. Mix in some Yoga. The morning is a great time to clear your mind and by adding in a 5-10 minute routine it can help you later in the day.

Please keep in mind that you don’t have to do all five of these things listed above. Pick one of these tips and implement them into your routine. Over time develop your own routine that will allow you to have a minimum of twenty minutes each morning for yourself.  I know this will seem impossible for some but if you look at your schedule I am sure that you can carve out time for yourself. That may mean that you need to go to bed earlier or put down your cell phone. Your morning ritual is a key player in your health and well being.

Good luck with your training!

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health

19 September 4:47 pm

It’s Friday…finally.

We hope you are reading this as you settle in for your weekend respite. A lot of good stuff to get through both on and off the field, so let’s get right into it…

The team trained Friday at PPL Park for roughly an hour in preparation for Saturday’s tilt against the Houston Dynamo (7 p.m., purchase tickets), going through light reps and final tweaks before the final match of a three-game in eight day stretch, highlighted by Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup finale.

However prior to training, defender Ethan White received a “shout out” on the Fox 29 “Good Day Philadelphia” show from its adorable female anchor Alex Holley. White and Holley met Thursday evening during the "Feastival" celebration at Penns Landing.

Long story short, images of the two were shown on Good Day with apparently White vowing to wear Holley’s name on his chest during Saturday’s match. 

To which Holley later replied:

We’ll see if Mr. White is a man of his word on Saturday. Moving on…

At Thursday's FIFA 15 video game launch party in New York City, it was U.S. men’s national team captain Clint Dempsey who stole the show with dropped his new rap song “Hot Fire,” but Philly was still represented well by Union midfielder Maurice Edu. Edu was a hit at the party as well, hobnobbing with fans, taking pics and taking in what as a whole was a massive day for Major League Soccer as a new logo highlighted the innovative #MLSNext campaign.

Speaking of Edu, our video team here thought he was so good the first time around that we present Mic'd Up II with Mo: 

Just as good as the first one, if not better. Watch it here: 

Pair of congratulations is in order for two Union players; the first is for Union forward Aaron Wheeler who will tie the knot with longtime girlfriend, Ashli on Sunday. Also, Brian Carroll has hit the 300 mark for number of starts in MLS. Carroll ranks third on the list of active players only behind Los Angeles Galaxy great Landon Donovan (307) and Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman (318).

Stuff you should read this weekend…

On philadelphiaunion.com check out this sit down with CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz. Also, Andy Jasner has you covered with this Match Preview of Saturday’s Houston match. The guys over at Philly Soccer Page  have this fan testimonial on the experience that was Tuesday’s Open Cup final….and finally, www.MLSSoccer.com writer Dave Zeitlin gets this from Jim Curtin on just how good Vincent Nogueira was in that final.

All good stuff; enjoy your weekend and for many of you Saturday’s game.

We’ll be back on Monday.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

19 September 2:12 pm

When it comes to the River Cup, everyone is a winner.

The Philadelphia Union front office came through in penalty kicks over the Sons of the Ben to capture the recently-held fourth annual River Cup. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Philadelphia Union foundation, which supports programming in Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region.

According to Rick Jacobs, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, proceeds from the River Cup were in excess of $30,000.

“Each year, it has evolved with different things working within the partnership and stadium and global side,” Jacobs said. “We’re very excited about it and what it’s about. It was an idea and we’ve taken it as an opportunity to raise money for a very worthy cause. … It’s a process and our feeling is we’ll go back and look at everything involved in the presentation to drive interest and see where we can increase money raised and interest raised for the foundation.”

When the River Cup was complete, guests were invited to stay and participate in the inaugural “Delaware River Craft Brewfest” held on Toyota Plaza.

The Delaware River Craft Brewfest included live music and entertainment, gourmet food options and a variety of vendors, including over 100 breweries. The event featured a sampling of the best crafts, imports and ciders from the United States and around the world. Samples of limited-release beers such as Goose Island Bourbon County and Scratch Series from Troegs were also available.  Breweries on site include Victory, Troegs, Anchor, Rogue, Full Sail, Evolution, Starr Hill, Long Trail, Goose Island, Old Dominion, Lancaster and Magic Hat.

"In addition to the on the field rivalry the Sons of Ben have with the front office we also rival on which one can be the most charitable," said Sons of Ben president Kenny Hanson. "This gives us another chance to help out the Philadelphia Foundation...Chester is really like our second home a lot of the members of our organization spend a lot of time in Chester. We think it's important to 'pay where you play' a lot of what we do in and around Chester we try to use local businesses, when we want to give back to a community we feel as though it's important to first give back to the city of Chester and as we continue to grow [as a supporters group] we hope that with that we are big in helping our community grow and the proceeds raised from this game go a long way into doing that."

Every dollar raised from the River Cup will go to good use. It’s an event which has grown so much in four years.

“We’ll look at what we’ve done in the four years,” Jacobs said. “We know who we are and what we ultimately what the event to be. It’s a process which we’ll get together and talk about more and see what it might take us in the future.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com

28 August 7:53 pm

The Daily Doop came to you from the press box at Skyline Sports Complex, the site of a Thursday night showdown between the Union and developmental affiliate the Harrisburg City Islanders.

It’s was a beautiful night for soccer.

Though, I’ll say it now: this reporter much prefers the pregame music at PPL Park.

Although, if you’re a tween, you would have been in heaven...unfortunately, this guy hasn’t been a part of that demographic for quite some time.

Moving on...

The lineups featured quite a few regular starters but most importantly midfielder Cristian Maidana in a return to the starting XI:

When asked how it felt to have Chaco on the field for the first time since the U.S. Open Cup semifinal win over FC Dallas, Union interim manager Jim Curtin said:

"Getting Cristian back was was a good opportunity to get him 70 minutes and I thought he was good. You could see the quality he has to make the final pass. He was a little rusty, but the biggest thing with him was getting him minutes and 70 minutes of an end to end was great as we try to get him back to full speed."

The match was hard fought as these annual exhibitions usually are. Harrisburg players using this as a chance to get noticed by the big brother squad and Union players making sure they aren’t on the latter end of the score line against their little bros.

In Thursday night's installment, it was the Union pulling off a 3-2 win as goals from surefooted striker Sebastien Le Toux in the 13th minute, Leo Fernandes in the 44th and a 75th minute capper from Fred secured the win in what was a great night for soccer, er football. 

All of these guys will have to be back at PPL Park bright and early Friday morning as the annual team photo will be taken at midfield. 

KICK TV did this awesome piece on the growth of youth academies throughout the nation. The piece largely featured the exploits of the Philadelphia Union academy which was awarded best academy on the East Coast in year-end awards from U.S. Soccer’s Developmental Academy.

In the 101st year of the U.S. Open Cup, the Union is going for the 11th title won by a Pennsylvania based club. Our graphics team mocked this up Thursday to show the breakdown. 

Pretty cool graphic right? If you are looking to learn more, check out our Open Cup 101 article which provides breakdown of Open Cup history, the rich tradition of Philadelphia teams that have played in it and ties to the Union that have experience the thrill of winning it all.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

22 August 2:50 pm

The club was back in training on Friday as preparations for Sunday’s match against San Jose continued – this time with an anticipated face returning to the fray.

New Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi participated in the full hour long session Friday morning at PPL Park, joining Zac MacMath and rookie Andre Blake in a session of instruction with goalkeeper coach BJ Callaghan before integrating with the rest of the club for a series of drills.

When asked how it felt to be back, Mbolhi smiled and told philadelphiaunion.com:

“It’s good to be back, nice to be with my teammates and get going with my new club.”

While yet unknown, given the week he's had it seems unlikely Mbolhi will feature Sunday. On Wednesday, Union manager Jim Curtin told reporters that it was important the two-time FIFA World Cup veteran felt 100 percent both mentally and physically before heading back out on the pitch. Curtin also mentioned before that happened that he would have a “good sit down” with Mbolhi to see where he’s at.

Both Mbolhi and Blake remained to train with Callaghan for close to an hour post practice, so right off the bat it was impressive to see the Algerian eagerly putting in the work.

The team will have a short walk through Saturday to prepare for Sunday. Friday was more of getting the players back out on the pitch after a much needed day of rest Thursday. Also out on the pitch with the players this morning was the inspirational story of eight-year-old super fan Harry Kane Jr. who got a chance not only watch but participate in training exercises this morning.

Harry’s father, Harry Kane Sr. praised the generosity, in awe that Harry was able to hang and get so involved with the "big boys" for a day.

What was also special is that Harry got a chance meet and chat with his favorite player, forward Conor Casey.

“This is something he won’t forget for the rest of his life,” said Kane Sr. “I know my son and this is a memory that will stick with him. Everyone was so great with him and it really speaks to the volume of just how great of an organization this is.”

Mr. Kane, on behalf of all of us here at the Philadelphia Union, it was our pleasure…

Moving on…

If you missed it, defender Ray Gaddis had a one-hour “ask me anything” session Friday afternoon on Reddit. Ray was asked a variety of questions, all of which he graciously answered. To check out the full transcript of Gaddis’ AMA, click this link.  

And if you wondered whether or not Gaddis had fun with it, just look at that smile...

Odds and endlines…

Season ticket holders, you have until Sunday to order your tickets to the Sept. 16 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final if you would like to sit in your seats. If you have additional questions, contact our Fan Services department at 877-21-UNION, press (1) for tickets followed by (3) for Fan Services. You can do the same if you have any questions pertaining to the revised parking setup for Lots B and C, with the ongoing construction of what will be a multi-field practice facility for the club...Be sure to check out the Match Preview and Match Preview video ahead of Sunday’s match with San Jose...Still have yet to reserve your seat to see FIFA World Cup (2014) veteran Chris Wondolowski get after FIFA World Cup (2010) veteran Maurice Edu? One click right here will solve that problem.  

And finally…

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has been going on for a while now to the tune of over $41 million dollars in charitable donations raised to the cause. Last week, the Union front office did it and on Friday, Union technical director Chris Albright was next up to get dunked on...with the help of players Andrew Wenger and Carlos Valdes, who were eager to have the chance to dump mostly crushed ice on the former MLS and U.S. national team stalwart.

A birdie tells us that Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz is up next...Check Monday's Daily #DOOP for that one including reactions and much more from Sunday’s match.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

21 August 10:31 am

“I don’t have a gym membership...”

“My gym doesn’t have kettlebells...”

“I can’t do a pull-up, I am so weak...”

“I do 200 crunches a night but I don’t have any abs...” (FYI, stop wasting your time with crunches)

“I don’t want to lock into a six month membership so I am not going to lift weights...”

Over the years, I have heard so many excuses from people when it comes to training. I understand exactly how hard it can be to find both the TIME and the MONEY to train. I have good news for those of you who want to maybe learn some new exercises without having to join a gym.

My solution to those of you who are on a budget and who are unable to afford a gym membership is to train outside at a park.

Here are five (5) reasons I love to train outside.

1. It’s free.

2. Most people don’t get enough sun so training outside is a great way to increase your Vitamin D levels.  Believe it or not, most people are deficient in Vitamin D.

3. It’s fun. It makes you feel like a kid again.

4. Fresh air. How many times have you gone into a gym and the first thing you smell is something nasty coming off of the person on the elliptical? It looks like they have been on it for 2 hours cranking away with sweat pouring down their face. Don’t get me wrong I love to train hard and work up a sweat but if you have ever belonged to a gym you know exactly what I am talking about.

5. I sleep better at night. If I get fresh air and sunlight early in the day it helps with my sleep cycle.

Now, I still love to train at a gym 1-2 days a week but I think training outside is a great way to mix up your routine. The good news is what I am about to show you involves a small investment on your part. I have included five videos for you to watch. In each video I show a short clip of four exercises that you can include in your routine. The good news is that all you need is the following:

Kettlebells

I would recommend that you go to a fitness equipment store or go online and purchase a kettlebell. Your best bet is to find a local store so you can save on shipping. However, the equipment from Perform Better (performbetter.com) is high quality. I would recommend that you start with two kettlebells. One light one (15-20 lbs.)  and one heavier one (40-60 lbs.). Over time if you can afford it add higher weights to your “at home gym”.

Resistance bands

Here is a link to buy bands. Bands should be a part of everyone’s training program.  I have been using these bands for years. Link: https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/

Abdominal wheel

I made my own for $15-$20 from Home Depot material. You can purchase a good one on line or at a local sporting goods store. Cost is approximately $15-$20.

Click the video below to watch a demonstration as well as some cues for doing each exercise. As always, start slow and if you have any pain than you need to stop. For the Turkish Get Up I would recommend that you start with body weight and keep the reps low. Finally, when it comes to kettlebells it’s worth it for you to work with a person who is certified in how to use kettlebells properly.

Here is a sample circuit that you can implement into your workouts.

Warm up (Always warm up properly before training)

A1) Kettlebell deadlift: four (4) sets of six (6) reps

A2) Band pull-ups: four (4) sets of AMGRAP (as many good reps as possible)

A3) Ab wheel rollout: 4 sets of 8 reps

Note: In the video I go very close to the ground. Beginners only need to go half way down. If you have ANY back pain or hip pain in this movement stop right away.

A4) Turkish get up: 4 sets of 3 reps per side.

Cool down

I hope you enjoyed the videos and make it a priority to get outside and do some training.

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health

21 August 9:12 am

For the second day in a row, major Union news was made public.

On Tuesday, it was the confirmation that a minor car accident in France had less of an impact of goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi returning to the States and rejoining his Philadelphia Union teammates more over the current State Department glitch that is affecting the thousands that are trying to obtain passports and work visas.

However, Union manager Jim Curtin shed light that Mbolhi’s flight was schedule to arrive Wednesday and that he is slated to return to training on Friday. The club is off Thursday, but will train Friday and Saturday before Sunday night’s match against San Jose at PPL Park (8 p.m., purchase tickets).

“As soon as we get him, we’ll be happy,” Curtin said during his weekly press conference Wednesday. “He has passport in hand, he’s is on flight and officially ready to go. He’ll do something on his own (Thursday) we have something set up for him to work with our goalkeeping coach B.J. Callaghan, but with the quick turnaround he’s a guy that said he needs to be 100 percent before he debuts and debuts are special…he wants to be 100 percent sharp and I totally get that.”

But the big news of Wednesday was the announcement of a multi-year contract renewal with baking giant Bimbo Bakeries USA. News of the deal was first reported by Philadelphia Business Journal writer John George Wednesday morning with the Union confirming the report later in that day on philadelphiaunion.com.

“Bimbo Bakeries USA has had a tremendous four year relationship with the Philadelphia Union,” said Vince Melchiorre, senior vice president of marketing at Bimbo Bakeries USA.  “Everyone at the Union – from Nick Sakiewicz, to the front office, to the coaches and players--support our efforts and value our partnership.  That high level of support and trust made it an easy decision for us to continue our jersey sponsorship with the Union. During the coming years, the Union will work with us to strengthen the connection for consumers between Bimbo and several of our great brands.” 

The beauty of this revamped deal with Bimbo is that the proceeds of this longer term deal directly benefits the Union as best explained via this interview from Philly.com soccer writer Jonathan Tannenwald that featured both comments from Union and Bimbo officials.

Back to the team side…

If he is feeling any effects of a hamstring injury you wouldn’t know it as Union midfielder Cristian Maidana had a really strong training session Wednesday morning. The crafty playmaker even ended practice on the final drill. In a short-sided, short field drill, Maidana took a pass, used a great move to elude his defender and hit a ball as he was falling down that curled around the goalkeeper and into the far post.

It was world class…in practice.

“He looked great today,” said Curtin. “He looked like the Chaco Maidana we all know. We need to get him back if this team wants to make the playoffs, not just the playoffs but to go far in the playoffs. He is a guy that is a big piece, whether it is centrally or wide left. He sees the game differently and guys like that are few and far between in our league and in the world right now.”

Odds and endlines…

Join Union defender Ray Gaddis for a one hour chat this Friday at noon as he does an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. For our fans on Reddit, you can click here to chat with Gaddis or follow along on http://www.reddit.com/r/mls

If you haven’t seen it yet, our video team sat down for this feature with Union midfielder Danny Cruz, who coaches a youth club in his spare time.

Again, the team is off Thursday, so all is quiet, but be sure to visit philadelphiaunion.com Friday as we get you ready for Sunday’s showdown with San Jose with match previews, scouting reports and of course another edition of the Daily #DOOP.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

07 July 10:15 am

In less than eight weeks high school athletes will be gearing up for their fall season. Athlete’s ranging from football players to field hockey players are getting ready for the 2014 fall season.  If you drive past most high schools you will see teams practicing on the fields that surround their campus. Football players are lifting weights in the weight room. Soccer players are running intervals on the track in an effort to build their endurance. Coaches are doing their best to bring their teams together so when preseason officially kids off in early August their kids have already developed a solid base of strength, fitness and team unity.

Below I want to share with you FIVE tips for high school athletes when it comes to your preseason summer training.

Tip No. 1: GET A TRAINING PARTNER

Let’s face it, when it comes to training it’s always better to train with a partner. When you get tired he/she will be there to help you finish the last set even when you want to give up. When it comes to getting a training partner it’s important that he/she understand your goals and that both of you are on the same page. The two of you need to hold each other accountable for your actions. Finding a good training partner can be the difference between JV and Varsity.

Tip No. 2: MASTER THE BASICS

When it comes to working with high school athletes I want to make sure that all of them (both male and female) can do the following:

  • Squat  (Front squat)
  • Hinge (Deadlift)
  • Push  (Push up)
  • Pull (Pull up)
  • Crawl (Bear Crawl)
  • Roll (Forward, back and to the side)
  • Sprint (100% effort with good form)
  • Stop (Land from a jump)
  • Breathe (Relaxed with full exhalation)

If you can master the basic movement patterns listed above you will have developed a solid foundation for you to build upon. If all you do is bench press and curl you run the risk of getting hurt.

Tip No. 3: TRAIN IN WARM/HOT WEATHER

If all of your training is taking place in a nice comfortable gym with air conditioning and music you will have a rude awakening when camp starts.  I am not recommending that you do all of your training at the hottest part of the day just get outside and get use to the warm weather. It takes time for your body to get use to the heat.  I would recommend that you do both early morning training as well as mid-day training. Keep the sessions rather short. The goal is to get your body use to training in the warmer weather so on the first day of camp you are not struggling with the heat and humidity.

Tip No. 4: TRAIN FOR YOUR FITNESS TEST

Most high school athletes are required to complete some sort of fitness test. Below are some common tests for high school athletes

  • One (1) mile run
  • Repeat 110’s on a track
  • Bench press max
  • Pull up max number of repetitions
  • 300 yard shuttle runs

Make sure that you understand exactly what is expected of you on day one of fitness testing. Over the summer set a baseline for the tests and over the course of the summer repeat the test several times to see if you are making progress.

Here is an example. If you have to run 1 mile on day one of camp I would recommend that you test yourself 8-10 weeks out and then every 10-12 days test yourself in the mile to see if you are making progress towards your goal.

Tip No. 5: DIAL IN YOUR NUTRTION AND HYDRATION

Nothing can shut down an athlete quicker than poor nutrition and hydration. It’s critical that high school athlete’s take the next 6-8 weeks to understand exactly what their body needs to function at a high level. Some athletes do well on a high carbohydrate diet. Others do well on a lower carb diet with a medium mix of fats and proteins. Everyone is different. Now, is the time to experiment and make good decisions.  I always recommend REAL food for my athlete’s. Start with vegetables, fruits, lean meats, quality fats and water.

Preseason camp is an exciting time for high school athletes. I wish all of you the best and good luck with your training.

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health

25 March 1:55 pm

All of us are pressed for time. Between work, family, social obligations and finding time for ourselves it’s hard to find the time to fit in a good workout. I get asked this question a lot. “How long do I need to train in order to see some benefits”. That is a tough question to answer without knowing the person and having a good understating of their goals as well as their current level of fitness. With that being said, I want to share with you three of my “go to workouts” when I am pressed for time.

Workout No. 1: Hill Repeats

When I think of hill repeats I think of Walter Payton wearing a “Roos” headband crushing hills while other guys are lagging behind sucking wind. Athletes have been running hills for years but it’s that image in my head that motivates me to get out and run up and down a hill.  Hill running is a great way to get ready for speed training and harder workouts that will happen down the road. It’s a great way to “strength train” your legs without the weights. Here is one workout you can try. Ideally you would run on a soft surface but if you are unable to find a gradual soft hill you can run these on the street.

Week 1: 5 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 60 seconds)

Week 2: 6 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 50 seconds)

Week 3: 7 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 45 seconds)

Week 4: 8 repeats x 15 seconds (Rest 35 seconds)

Week 5: Omit. No hill running this week.

Note: Start with a gradual hill with a slight incline. If you are a beginner do not go and find the steepest hill in the neighborhood. Find a gradual climb and start with five (5) runs and progress to eight (8) over a four (4) week period. As you get stronger increase the work time until you reach 45-60 seconds.

Workout No. 2: Kettlebell circuit

Just for the record I am "not a kettlebell guy." I am not certified by any organization however, I really enjoy using kettlebells with the athletes and clients that I work with. It’s simply one of the many “tools” that I have in my toolbox to help people obtain the results that they are looking for. I think with the proper coaching they can add tremendous value to your training program. Please note that I would recommend that you work with a qualified coach who can assess/screen you and can teach you the basics of how to use kettlebells. Like all strength training exercises start light and perfect your form before progressing to heavier weight.

Set the timer for 10 minutes and perform the following circuit. Rest as much as you need to in order to maintain good form.

1. Kettlebell swings: five (5) reps

In order to do a proper swing you must learn how to hinge at your hips. The mistake most people make is that they squat instead of hinge. Let your legs do the work and guide the “bell” with your arms.

2. Kettlebell goblet squat: five (5) reps

Hold the kettlebell close to your body and squat as deep as you comfortable can. Push the knees out, keep your chin tucked and stand tall at the finish of the movement. Don’t allow the weight to drift to far from your body.

3. Push ups: ten (10) reps

Maintain a flat back, elbows in and push away at the finish. If you are unable to do a full push up than drop to your knees and perform a modified version.

Rest for 15-30 seconds depending on your fitness level. Repeat for 10 minutes. At the end of ten minutes  record the amount of the completed rounds and the weight lifted.

Workout No. 3: Head to the park

If you don’t belong to a gym however you want to challenge yourself head to your local park and give this circuit a try.

  • Monkey bar pull ups: 5 reps
  • Body Weight squats: 10 reps
  • Resistance band 2 hand presses: 5 reps
  • Single leg squats to a park bench: 5 reps/side
  • Bear crawl for distance (30 yds)
  • Rest and repeat for time (10-20 minutes)

If you do this workout people will look at you funny and some people will ask you what you are doing. My response is normally “I am training”. The next question is normally “How are you exercising without any equipment” to which I respond “ I have all the equipment I need at a park. It’s one of the best places to train”.

It goes without saying. Before you do any workouts you need to warm up properly. For some people that may be 5-10 minutes. For others like me I need 10-15 minutes to get moving. The key point to remember is when you are pressed for time there are several  ways that  you can train. You just need to make health a priority and stop making excuses!

Train hard and train smart!

Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog (link: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc) on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health