Fitness Insider: Fan Mail, part 2

Ben Yauss answers fan questions related to fitness & training

David Gregory: Can you tell me if you use GPS & Heart monitoring in training / match scenario.

Ben Yauss: We are currently using a system to monitor the players’ heart rates and training loads and are exploring options to expand on this to include more data.  Some of things we are looking into include total distance, number of sprints, power, change of direction and speed, among other things.  There are a lot of great resources out there and we are always looking at ways to provide the staff and players with pertinent information that will help them recover and improve their performance. Our monitoring process starts during preseason with testing such as the VO2 where we establish max heart rate as well as anaerobic threshold heart rate. We use these heart rate numbers to set training loads and training zones and can then see how much time the players are spending in each of these zones at practice.

PHOTOS: See Galaxy players go through fitness testing during preseason

Andy Guynn: Is it a good idea to train cardio with ankle weights?

BY: I think this is a bit of a tricky question and I’m sure different people would probably have varying opinions on this.  In my opinion though, I would not suggest training or running in ankle weights.  The reason I say this is that with cardio you are performing an exercise for a long period of time which requires a lot of repeated movements or steps.  The first issue I foresee is that you are already putting an enormous amount of stress on your body during these exercise bouts, so you don’t need to overload the body even more with additional weight for these long periods of time.  Secondly, I would consider what affect these weights will have on the body once they are removed.  The ankle weights will affect your center of mass, proprioception, stride length and frequency, range of motion and numerous other areas. So if you train with the ankle weights, your body adapts to all those changes and it becomes a major problem once the ankle weights are removed and you try to perform the same movement or exercise without them on.  I feel the negatives outweigh the positives on this one and would instead suggest focusing on the quality of your cardio sessions and you should see the benefits you are looking for.

Nicholas Carter Mounkes: I am coming back from an injury where I hurt my lower left back and had a slight sciatica. I have been released to start running and exercising again about a month. I was wondering if you had any workouts and soccer related workouts to help get me back in game shape.

BY: I will always say when dealing with an actual diagnosed injury make sure you are on the same page with the doctor and that you are following the doctor’s orders and are cleared before returning to sport and exercise.  With that being said, the lower back and sciatica is a very difficult injury to get to calm down sometimes and will probably require the assistance of a therapist or an athletic trainer as well.  From my end, I would suggest strengthening some of the surrounding areas, primarily the core and glutes and working on the mobility and flexibility of your hips and hamstrings.  By strengthening the core and hips and improving your flexibility you should hopefully be able to take some stress off that aggravated area and get that to calm down a bit.

Vince McLeod: Is 20 minutes [for warm ups] your optimal time across the board, or is it team/sport specific in terms of the time duration?

BY: I would say at the very minimum you need at least 10 minutes just to get some of the initial benefits from your warm up such as increased core temp, active elongation of the working muscles and priming of the nervous system. Realistically, anything over that depends on how much time you have available and what you are looking to accomplish with your warm up.  We have found that 20 minutes allows us to cover some of the components we deem important to the health and performance of our players while also being aware of the load, intensity and total volume we are putting on the players as they transition into a training session.  READ: Warm-Up Wrap Up

Lee Powell: How did you get into your profession?

BY: Lee this is the one question I get asked the most.  I think everyone’s path can and should be different; but if I had to give some advice for those looking to get into the strength and conditioning field, and specifically into a team setting, I would say network, network, network. You also have to be willing to put in the time to learn your craft and work your way up the ladder.  Having a college background in a related field will help and internships are extremely important as they open doors and provide hands on learning opportunities. Use the people around you in the field and in school to continue to expand your contacts and knowledge base.  Nothing is going to be handed to you in this field but there are some unbelievable coaches and people out there who are more than willing to help you on the journey if you have an open mind to learning.

Anthony Leon: Do you give [the players] advice on nutrition or encourage/discourage certain foods leading up to and on game day?

BY: I love the fact that you brought up nutrition.  Nutrition is in my opinion the NUMBER 1 most overlooked component to all athletes and their ability to perform.  We put an ENORMOUS emphasis on nutrition and how much information we are providing to the players.  We actually have a nutritionist from Athletes Performance who is available to all of the players.  She meets with all the players, provides them with do’s and don’ts, food options, tips on what to eat and when and approves the menu for all team breakfasts, lunches and dinners amongst other things.  A properly fueled and hydrated athlete is vital to the success of the player and the team collectively, so we make sure to cover everything from the nutrition side.

Chris Losoya: What exercises/stretches do you guys do to prevent hamstring injuries?

BY: Hamstring injuries are probably the most common injury we have to deal with throughout the year.  We focus a lot of our efforts on addressing and trying to prevent these injuries before they happen.  Here is a link to a sample exercise program we do with the players to prevent hamstring injuries: Preventing Muscle Pulls Before They Happen

Michael Prendergast: What do the players do to recover after a training session to maximize the session?

BY: The second a session or game ends is the first second in preparing for the next training session or game.  What we do immediately after a practice or game is very important in order to recover and prepare for what lays ahead.  We stress the importance of regeneration to the players which includes a series of stretching, foam roll, massage stick, cold tubs and nutrition that will help their bodies heal and recover so they are ready for the next training session or game. This is a great topic though and something we will cover in more depth as the importance of a proper cool down is vital to setting our players up to be successful as they prepare for the next game.

Have questions about anything you read in this article? Want to learn more? Leave Ben a question below, tweet it to him @byauss1 or email socialmedia@lagalaxy.com.

Follow all of Ben's Galaxy Fitness Insider updates at www.lagalaxy.com/fitnessinsider. Fans are encouraged to participate by leaving questions for Ben at the bottom of each article, which he will aim to incorporate into these weekly posts.