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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Archive for 'sports performance'

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Halo Trainer

I recently received a Halo Trainer from Bryce Taylor, its inventor and program director.  I am fortunate enough to test and sample many new products related to fitness and rehab.  Many of them are one dimensional, full of fluff or new takes on an old product. This product really delivers for those in the rehab and fitness worlds.

Disclaimer: I am not being compensated for this product review or paid to endorse this product.  I simply love what it has to offer. The Halo Trainer offers countless training possibilities for so many people despite their backgrounds and abilities.

In fact, here is an excerpt from the Halo Trainer website:

Halo Training currently consists of 4 levels of difficulty for functional bodyweight training.   We all know that people have various levels of strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. so we at Halo Rehab & Fitness believe that individuals should not be performing the same exercises.  Although it is always to goal to increase the challenge, it is not always appropriate.  Sometimes an exercise can be advanced and other times an exercise needs to be made a little easier to meet the specific level of the individual.

For this reason, the Halo training development team has created four distinct levels of difficulty based on scientific principles. Our team has created levels of difficulty for over 300 exercises so that you can create a specific progressive individualized program to maximize bodyweight training.  Just pick a starting level and progress to the next level when you are able to complete the challenges of your current level.


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Increasing shoulder, torso and hip strength and stability is a common training goal for athletes involved in sport.  Facilitating hip disassociation and kinetic chain linking with exercise is always a plus.  I like to use a diagonal mountain climber with hip extension to accomplish these objectives. More specifically, I utilize this exercise with my overhead athletes and anyone involved in cutting, pivoting and rotational sports.

Begin in a tall plank position.  The hands should be beneath the shoulders with the feet on the floor and shoulder width apart.  Slowly bring the left knee/hip under the body and toward the right elbow.  Pause at the end point prior to losing form or control.

Next, return the left leg toward the start position and up into full hip extension in one continuous movement.  Pause at the top end of available hip extension and repeat the cycle for 10 repetitions or time on the same leg.  Alternate legs and perform 2-3 sets on each side.

Sufficient upper body strength and core/hip stability in a 3 point position is necessary to perform the exercise correctly.  At no time should the foot of the moving leg touch the floor or be used to balance the body.  As far as a pace, I feel using a 1/1/1/1 cadence works best.

This exercise is an excellent way to promote shoulder, core and hip stability while facilitating hip disassociation as well.  Driving the hip back up into extension will activate the gluteals and simultaneously force the stable (fixed) hip to stabilize the pelvis and counterbalance the movement pattern. In addition, the client will have to effectively activate the hip and abdominal musculature throughout to avoid unwanted pelvic tilt/rotation during the movement.

Click here to view the full video of this exercise I did for my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine.

Lateral quickness is an important part of athletic development. Having the ability to effectively decelerate and and then re-accelerate the other way is critical for success in field and court sports. Incorporating such movements as part of a multi-directional speed training plan will pay dividends for athletes. In this video I demonstrate how to use the BOSU Elite Balance Trainer to improve lateral speed and quickness.

This exercise is an excellent way to increase lateral foot speed and quickness. In addition, it allows you to introduce energy system training, improve proprioception and enhance dynamic lower limb stability. It is also a great way to train body control and deceleration - two key things necessary for injury prevention in jumping and cutting athletes. Athletes may tend to stand upright once they come back down to the ground, so coaching and cuing them to stay low and not allow their shoulders to move outside the outside leg may be necessary.

You can read more about this exercise in my upcoming column Functionally Fit at www.fit-pro.com.

Core strength and stability deficits are apparent in many people.  The ability to restrain movement while keeping a stable base or pillar is essential for injury prevention.  Building prerequesite pillar (hips, torso and shoulders) stability is important before loading a pattern and moving more explosively.  This exercise I recently featured for PFP Magazine incorporates a progression for both options.

Application:  Poor hip, trunk and shoulder stability elevates injury risk with daily activities and sport.  This movement introduces controlled hip extension, torso rotation and shoulder elevation, while aiming to improve pillar strength and stability.  The handle bar moves around the bar facilitating a safe and smooth motion.  Using both hands allows for more control initially allowing the client to incrementally adjust the amount of rotation while they learn to move in a 3D manner.  Working in a slower manner will effectively train anti-rotation strength /control as well.

The exercise progression provides an option to train explosively to develop power from the ground up using both upper extremities similar to a push press except introducing some rotation to the movement.  Overall, this exercise offers a great way to train the entire kinetic chain in a multiplanar fashion.

Precautions: Clients with any existing rotator cuff and/or labral pathology or low back dysfunction should proceed with caution initially mastering controlled form with light loads and not push through any discomfort.  Be sure to use proper body mechanics when lifting the bar off the ground as well.

Athletes are always striving to be the best.  There are lots of great coaches out there with different approaches.  A few months back I had a trainer, Travis Hansen, approach me to see if I might be interested in reviewing his speed product.

These types of requests are commonplace in the industry, and I have several requests to review and endorse products. While I am generally hesitant to promote other products, I am always looking to expand my current knowledge base and learn something new. I was naturally very skeptical when asked to recommend this product, but I can honestly say that after reading this book that it is a great product for any coach or trainer, or even athlete looking to learn the ins and outs of speed development.

The package is purely digital which allows immediate access, and it’s currently being offered at a very reasonable “summer discount” price of just $37.  Order it here


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Here are 3 reasons I like this resource:

#1- “Encyclopedia” is an accurate name for it

It takes all the different elements of speed development and condenses them into manageable chunks of content.  Sometimes I nerd out and will read a 300 page book just on special strength training.  Sometimes that’s just too much. But, if you’re having a thought or working through an idea, it’s probably covered here and it’ll give you some insight to answer your question or send you to a more detailed resource or direction.

#2- It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel

I really like that Travis isn’t trying to push some already established format of training on you and the call it a cute name and say that he invented it.  Some of the concepts you may actually know really well.  Others you’re probably aware of, but have only a passing knowledge of.  Regardless, it’s all in there.  It’s like a central hub for training topics.

“Oh man, how does Post Activation Potentiation work again?”  Just go to the book and get a Cliff’s Notes sized version on the topic.  Maybe it scratches your itch or maybe it sends you off somewhere else for a deeper look.  With so much training info in my library, sometimes I’m just looking for confirmation of my own thoughts, not a research project.

#3- It gives credit where credit is due

If the book talks about a topic, Travis cites the original author/creator.  He’s not saying this is all coming from his brain, he’s just done a lot of research and clearly cites whose idea it was originally.  Many of us who put out information have been bashed by people in the industry who took credit for other peoples’ information or ideas.  Whether or not you believe anyone who sells any information can actually take credit for inventing it (since everyone’s coaching philosophy is just a personalized interpretation/presentation of other peoples’ information) this book won’t offend.  And since it cites all its material, you can be confident it wasn’t pulled out of the others.

All in all, it is a very solid product.  It’s only $37 right now.  Considering I rarely promote other peoples’ stuff, I feel confident in telling you it is $37 well spent.

Click here to order your copy.