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Trainers offer advice for home workouts

Submitted photo Tarik Muse, a former Liberty High School athlete who is now an assistant strength and conditioning coordinator at Mercer University, slaps hands with Mercer players before a game. Muse offers tips on how athletes can stay in shape despite using limited equipment while at home.

Home training

First in a series of stories on how athletes can stay in shape during Ohio’s “stay-at-home” order issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Terry Grossetti is the strength and conditioning coach at Youngstown State University, and the former Slippery Rock football player owns two training facilities in western Pennsylvania, where he has helped prepare around 150 athletes for the NFL — 80 being signed to NFL contracts.

And yet, over the last few weeks with his business being shut down, the well-conditioned 34-year-old has been working out at home like most everyone else who’s trying to stay in shape during the “stay-at-home” order set in place by Gov. Mike DeWine in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The situation has been tough for just about everyone in the Mahoning Valley, and high school athletes are no exception. State tournaments were canceled for the majority of the winter sports and spring sports are on hold — as is any training, weightlifting or conditioning at area high schools.

That doesn’t mean athletes can’t stay in shape, and Grossetti, Reuben Green III and Tarik Muse, all strength and conditioning coaches at Division I colleges, have some tips on how athletes can continue to build their bodies during these trying times.

In stories over the next few days, different areas of exercising, speed training, weightlifting and nutrition will be explored by coaches and coordinators who are currently finding ways to keep college athletes in shape despite limited equipment and communication.

“A wise man once told me, the more equipment you need as a trainer, the worse a trainer that you are,” said Grossetti, now in his second year at YSU. “Our programs are still pretty good. You don’t necessarily need a lot of equipment to develop power, to develop speed. A lot of those concepts that you’re going to be applying to the athletes are basically using their body weight anyway. You just have to find a way that they can do that in the privacy of their own home or at a local track, or yard or high school.”

The first part to a workout is the warm-up, and all three coaches agreed that warm-ups have changed dramatically over the years.

Spending 10 to 15 minutes stretching the entire body before a workout is now a thing of the past. There are a few ways athletes can prepare for the training session; it just depends on what the person will be doing.

Green, a Youngstown State graduate who coached in the area before moving on to the collegiate level, said “dynamic” stretching, which mimics the motions of the upcoming workout, is a good starting point.

“You want to get warmed up with the movement that you’re doing, more of a dynamic warm-up,” said Green, who had stops at Stanford and Ohio State before becoming the assistant strength and conditioning coordinator at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. “I like more of a static stretching at the end, kind of in a yoga format, to really focus on your breathing while stretching. But in the beginning, more of a dynamic warm-up, just get your body going through the movement that it’s about to do.”

Grossetti was on the same page.

He said athletes should almost never “static stretch,” which is essentially holding a stretch longer than 10 seconds, prior to training. He said muscles lose their elasticity and “ability to produce force” after static stretching. Instead, he uses similar tactics as Green.

“At Youngstown State, we do a ton of mobility work before we train,” Grossetti said. “There’s a difference between mobility and flexibility. We do mobility work beforehand. Basic mobility is to get the tissues that we’re about to train with warmed up and mobile to be able to handle the load that they’re about to be forced upon.”

One basic example of a “dynamic” stretch or “mobility” is to lean forward with your hands against a wall swing each leg back and forth (side to side and front to back), Grossetti said. This rotates the hip and prepares the lower half of the body for a number of possible exercises. Again, he emphasized that the movement depends on what the upcoming workout will be.

“Mobility is more about your joints,” he said. “Flexibility is more about your muscles.

Muse added a little wrinkle to the warm-up.

The 2014 Liberty High School graduate is a strength and conditioning coach at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, after stops at Duke and North Carolina State. He agrees that static stretching prior to training is not helpful. He does like to work in another tactic.

“I’m a big fan of doing some soft-tissue work with like foam rollers, lacrosse balls, baseballs, stuff like that, to break up the some of the scar tissue that they may have in those sore areas,” said Muse of pressing and rolling different implements against sore areas of the body. “I do that before sprinting or lifting. After they get their workout in, if they feel like they need to stretch afterwards, I’d let them do that.”

While stretching before training was frowned upon, all agreed that yoga is a great workout to help with recovery and flexibility.

Some other important areas of preparation, according to all three, were having proper rest, being hydrated and not allowing TV, phones or electronic devices to distract from the workout.

“Your nutrition, your hydration and your sleep play a pretty big role,” Grossetti said.

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