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Fitness Corner -- Shoulders and Legs

Texans strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley is back for another installment of his Fitness Corner column.

Riley and assistant strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright will continue to post selected answers to your questions throughout the year. Join in by shooting over an e-mail to

Here is an archive of past columns. Dan and Ray have also made the club's strength and conditioning manual available. Click here to download it.

NOTICE: Carter Toole has made some changes in the location of the Fitness Corner. To make it easier to find Carter has permanently placed it on the left "Nav" of the front page of the Texans web page. You can now click onto Fitness and catch up on the latest happenings in our Texans strength and conditioning program. Keep your questions coming.

* Every time I try to do push-ups, the bench press, or shoulder exercises, my shoulder pops and it hurts. What should I do? *



Our immediate advice to you Big3784 is to go see a doctor, preferably a sports medicine doctor. You may have some structural damage, or you may need some rest.

Many of our players have popping sounds in some of their joints. It's a product of the wear and tear of the game. If there is any pain we refer them to our staff of trainers. Kevin Bastin is our Head Trainer, and Tom Colt and John Ishop are his assistants. We are fortunate to have an in house medical team to perform all of our rehabilitation. We rely upon the advice of our trainers when a player is finished with rehab.

When the trainers return a player to us from rehab we are cautious on which exercises we choose and how a player performs an exercise. We suggest you do the same. We avoid any exercise that causes any discomfort.

We have a wide range of equipment to choose from. If one exercise aggravates the player we try the same exercise using a different piece of equipment. For example, last week Kailee Wong tweaked his shoulder during the game and again in practice. Last Friday during his upper body weight workout he selected our push-pull routine.

The first exercise in this routine is the supine bench press with a barbell. Kailee tried warming up with a lighter weight, but it caused some discomfort to his shoulder. We switched to the Smith Machine and he was able to perform the bench press pain free.

After seeing your doctor and following his/her advice, we suggest you try substituting equipment if one exercise causes you some pain or discomfort.

Slow reps are another option we use to get around pain. When your doctor gives you the green light to resume training we suggest you try slow reps. Performing slow reps will force you to use significantly less weight causing less strain and shearing forces on your joint. It may allow you to train hard without causing any pain.

To perform slow reps allow eight seconds to raise the weight in a smooth and deliberate manner. Ideally you should have your training partner sound off with a verbal cadence while using a stopwatch to monitor each rep. This will insure the raising phase of each rep is performed at the same speed.

The initial movement of each rep must be momentum free, no sudden jerk or bounce. Spread the eight seconds out over the entire range of movement. The speed of each rep must be identical.

Once the weight is raised, establish a definitive pause (a count of 1001) in the muscles contracted position before returning to the starting position. When performing slow reps we have our players lower the weight at a quicker speed than normal.

Return to the original starting position and pause momentarily before beginning the next rep. Do not rest in this position. Once you begin the exercise there must be constant tension on the muscle from the beginning of the first rep until the completion of the last rep.

We have our players perform eight reps (8 x 8 = 64 seconds) when using the slow rep method. When they can perform 8 good reps we increase the weight. When I was with the Redskins we had an entire slow rep workout. We called it "Slow Death." We don't have that workout in our players file yet.

Best of luck with your shoulder rehabilitation.

* I was looking at your leg routine and was wondering how many sets of each exercise you do? Or do you simply do each exercise and move on to the next in line? *



Our standard Texans leg routine is to perform one set of each exercise in the sequence listed. We give our players 90 seconds rest between each exercise, except for the Leg Curl and Hip Extension. We have our players perform the Hip Extension (straight-legged) immediately after the Leg Curl. We have the weight preset on the Hip Extension to minimize hamstring recovery time.

This is the lower body routine we initially taught to our players when we started out in the Astrodome. Space, time, and equipment were limited. This continues to be our standard leg routine. Most of our players continue to use this routine as the foundation of their lower body training.

We currently have six different multi-joint (leg press/squat) exercises, and four different leg extension and leg curl exercises. We can create a great deal of variety by simply substituting different pieces of equipment into our standard leg routine.

We periodically do something radical to juice up a lower body workout. We have introduced some of our players to several different routines. For example, this past Saturday I took Tony Boselli through our 50 reps leg routine. He performed one set of 50 reps of the Leg Press exercise. He didn't want to, or need to, perform any additional exercise when he finished. We call this a "once every now and then change of pace workout."

He selected which multi-joint movement he wanted to use. He selected the Avenger Leg Press. After several warm-up sets, we selected a sub maximum weight (speculation based on past records). The weight was 60 pounds less than he is capable using for a near maximum set of 12 reps. He performed about 25 good reps before I had to begin removing 45 pound plates whenever necessary to prevent him from reaching a point where he physically couldn't continue.

He continued this process until he completed 50 repetitions in really good form. If you select the proper starting weight and have a good spotter, you'll find this is a pretty demanding workout. This is the first time he (or any of our players) performed this workout. He actually tried talking me into a 100-rep set. I think when Tony finished he was happy we stayed with the 50-rep format.

Another workout that Tony, Seth Payne, and a few of our players have performed is our "20 Rep" Leg Press routine. Our players perform our standard leg routine (12 reps on all the isolation exercises) with the only difference being they perform 20 reps on the first and last set of leg press. Increasing the Leg Press reps from 12 to 20 significantly increases the overall intensity of the workout.

Another routine we use for variety is a five set multi-joint workout. Our players perform five sets of 12 reps using five different Leg Press exercises. We allow two minutes rest between each exercise when we use this format.

We also have an isolation workout. We have four different Leg Extension exercises and four different Leg Curl exercises. They perform one set of each alternating leg extensions and leg curls, followed by one set of Hip Extension, Hip Adduction, Hip Flexion, and Standing and Seated Calf Raises.

During the season we stay pretty consistent with our standard leg routine. We can't afford to do something out of the ordinary and have a player heavy-legged for a game. Keep in mind these alternate routines are used very infrequently just to create some variety.

You need a constant in your workouts to accurately assess strength gains, but we also encourage some variety to generate some excitement. Enjoy the holiday season by juicing up one of your lower body workouts.

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