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Fit For Life: Must-Have Tips for Sports Specific Training

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Although you do not need to be athletic to play golf, having strong core stability and proper range of motion is essential to avoiding injuries, believes Matt Espeut.

There are many different programs, and types of workouts in this continually evolving and confusing industry, and in order to get ideal results and avoid injury, you must select the system that works for you, by matching your needs and abilities. Why? You need to determine your goals, first, then you need to get directions to reach these goals, otherwise it is like getting into your car, without a map or destination. You will end up wasting time, energy, and money, or even worse, end up with an unnecessary injury. You need to treat exercise as if you were taking medication. Too much is an overdose, and too little does nothing. You need the right amount for it to be effective. (I never encourage medication, but you get the idea). So with that being said, I will try to correlate your potential goal with a method of training you can adopt.

Although there are different goals wanting to be achieved, three things are set in stone, and apply to EVERYBODY.

1) You need a nutrition program based on whole organic foods and proper hydration.

2) You must strengthen the core, before loading the body.

3) You need to master basic movement patterns such as the squat, press, dead lift, and rotational moves.

These rules apply to everyone from the recreational exerciser to the most high endurance athlete. If you do not accomplish these three things first, you will be swimming against the current, and results will be tougher or non-existent. Different goals may go from wanting to be fitter with better posture, to being a better golfer, football player, or entering a fitness contest or bodybuilding show.

If you are content with your dimensions, and you want to maintain strength and mobility, body weight exercises such as pull- ups, push-ups and body weight squats will do the trick. Add core routines like planks and bridges and you can create a routine and perform it anywhere. There are lots of progressions that can be added to create a more intense workout and adding simple equipment such as bands and med balls creates even greater challenges.

Golf season?

Although you do not need to be athletic to play golf, having strong core stability, proper range of motion, t spine mobility, and strong shoulder stabilizers is essential to avoiding injuries, due to the sheer force needed to perform a strong drive. You need exercises that promote strength, flexibility, and acceleration muscles as well as deceleration muscles, to help stabilize the core under force. Strong legs are important but you need mobility and balance, so single leg exercises are helpful. Cable rotary, and stability exercises will be beneficial to maintain range of motion and build power.

Football, hockey, rugby

These, or any other contact or lateral sport, requires another level of intensity. If you don't have it and your opponent does, you have a problem. If you want to play hard, you need to train harder. Your off season should consist of at least 2 power sessions containing heavy dead lifts, squats, and press variations, as well as 2-3 metabolic/core sessions. Agility ladders, jam balls, plyo-boxes, push sleds are all beneficial tools to make athletes strong and metabolically fit. All these tools will only work if you bring intensity to every session. You can't get fit to the level you need to if you don't have a never quit attitude, and mental toughness. If you can't push yourself in the gym, and are unprepared game time, you end up on the injury list. So train hard, and smart and you will play at a higher level.

Body builders and fitness contests

You’ll need to forget life as you know it and devote your life to your body. This is the most calculated and measured form of training you can do. Food needs to be weighed, measured and portioned for every meal. Exercise needs to be scheduled, and never missed. You need to pay attention, and understand how your body responds to certain foods, supplements and exercise. Your willpower around food has to be flawless, giving up sugar, bread, and dairy completely, and following a regimented diet for 8-12 weeks. This takes an extreme amount of discipline, and hard work, and sometimes requires high-risk practices such as dehydration and depletion to achieve certain aesthetics to impress judges. Proceed with caution - but this could be a good goal and test of ones discipline.


Matt Espeut has worked as a personal trainer for almost 20 years with clients ranging in age from 14 to 86. His focus is on overall health, strength, and functional conditioning. Holistic health and nutrition is the cornerstone of all his programs. Matt works in private and small group training available at your home or office location or at gym facilities. Matt offers his services to everyone wanting to be more fit and healthy, overweight young people, youth/collegiate athletes, and seniors. Matt has worked and continues to train at several facilities in the Providence area including Gold's Gym and CORE Studio, and he believes continued education is a must in his field. Email Matt: [email protected], check out his website at http://www.fitnessprofiles.net or on Facebook at Matt Espeut or on Twitter @MattEspeut.


Related Slideshow: 25 Olympians from Massachusetts

Prev Next

Richard “Butch” Johnson

Men’s Archery

Born in Worcester, Johnson is a five-time Olympic archer who competed in every Summer Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008. He received a gold medal as a member of the U.S. team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and a bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Johnson also won a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Johnson failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, but has not ruled out competing in the next Summer Olympics in 2016. Johnson, who currently resides in Connecticut, has accumulated 46 national championships, two IPAA World Championships, and has several world records to his credit.

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Todd Richards

Men’s Snowboarding
Born in Paxton, Richards was heavily favored to win the halfpipe event at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but finished in 16th place. Richards, who pioneered the snowboard trick “the wet cat,” won a silver medal at the Snowboard Halfpipe World Championships in 1997.
He also penned an autobiography in 2003 entitled P:3: Parks, Pipes, and Powder. Currently, Richards is the owner of his own snowboard company called O-Matic, which he started in 2006.  
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Albina Osipowich

Women’s Swimming
Despite finishing third in the 100m freestyle at the 1928 Olympic Final Trials, Osipowich went on to nab gold at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam – setting a new world record. She also won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s relay team, which set a record in the 4x100-meter freestyle.
Osipowich, who was born in Worcester, graduated from Pembroke College in 1933. While attending Pembroke, which was the women’s college for Brown University, Osipowich played field hockey and swam as a hobby. She went on to marry Brown basketball star Harrison Van Aken. 
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Henry Richardson

Men's Archery
At just 15 years old, Richardson became one of the youngest American medalists as a member of the Boston Archery Club that took bronze at the 1904 St. Louis Games. He would go on to win another bronze medal four years later at the 1908 London Olympics – becoming the first archer to win medals at two different Olympic Games.
Aside from his Olympic endeavors, Richardson had a stellar academic career. He graduated from Harvard University in 1910 and Harvard Medical School in 1914. Richardson went on to work at Cornell Medical School. At the age of 54, he returned to school at Columbia University where he studied psychiatry. In his later years, Richardson practiced psychiatry and worked at the medical schools at both Columbia and NYU before passing away in 1963 at the age of 74.
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Alex Carpenter

Women’s Ice Hockey

At just 19-years-old, Carpenter is the youngest of Massachusetts’ 10 athletes competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The daughter of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter, she currently plays forward for Boston College. In fact, Carpenter was the Turfer Athletic Hockey East scoring champion last year and finished seventh overall in the nation with 1.89 points per game.

Despite her young age, Carpenter has won a pair of gold medals so far on the international stage – one at the 2013 Women’s World Championships in Canada, and another at the 2011 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship in Sweden.

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Susan Rojcewicz

Women’s Basketball

This three-sport athlete won a silver medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s Basketball team in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Rojcewicz, who was born in Worcester, averaged 7.2 points, 3.8 assists and 2 rebounds per game during the ’76 Olympics.

Rojcewicz also played on 1975 World Championship team, and took home a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games. Rojcewicz would go on to be an assistant coach at Penn State and Stanford, as well as a head coach at the University of San Francisco. She currently coaches Farmersville High School in California. 

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Dina Rizzo

Women’s Field Hockey

Rizzo was a member of the women’s field hockey team that finished 8th overall at the 2008 Beijing Games. A start player for Walpole High School, she became the first player in Massachusetts history to score more than 100 goals in a career. Rizzo went on to be named an All-American at the University of Maryland, helping the Terrapins win the national title in 1999.

In January 2013, was promoted to associate coach at the University of Maryland where she had been an assistant coach for three seasons.  

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Anne Warner

Women's Rowing
Warner was a member of the United States eight boat that won the bronze medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She made the Olympic team for the boycotted 1980 games, and was also on the national team that finished second in the 1975 World Championships.
Born in Cambridge, Warner attended Yale University for her undergraduate degree and then went on to Harvard Law School. She now practices law in New York.
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Stuart McNay

Men's Sailing

This Newton native served as skipper of the U.S. Men’s Sailing Teams at the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing and the 2012 Games in London. In addition to his Olympic experience, McNay and his team finished in first place in the 2009 U.S. Team Racing Championships.

McNay attended Roxbury Latin and went on to sail at Yale University, where he was a finalist for College Sailor of the Year in 2005. He was named an All-American in 2003 and 2005. McNay currently serves as an assistant coach to the Yale Bulldog women’s sailing team.

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Nancy Kerrigan

Women’s Figure Skating

Born in Woburn, Kerrigan won a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and a bronze at the 1992 Winter Games in France. She is also a two-time world medalist, and the 1993 U.S. Figure Skating Champion.

Despite her titles, Kerrigan will forever be remembered for 1994’s unfortunate incident known as “The Whack Heard Round the World,” when Jeff Gilolly – an ex of rival Tonya Harding – clubbed her in the right knee. 

She was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.

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Coralie O’Connor

Women’s Swimming

This former competition swimmer represented the United States at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland finishing fifth in the women’s 100-meter backstroke. In 1955, O’Connor won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter medley relay team.

O’Connor, a Worcester native, taught physical education for 37 years in the Worcester Public School system and is currently a coach at the Worcester Swim Club. She is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester Alumni Hall of Fame. 

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Tim Daggett

Men’s Gymnastics

Daggett, a graduate of West Springfield High School, earned a team gold medal and an individual bronze medal on the pommel horse at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

After retiring from competition, Daggett went on to work as a television commentator, covering gymnastics, for NBC. He has covered every Summer Olympics since the ’92 Games in Barcelona for the network. In addition to his broadcasting career, Daggett is the owner of a gymnastics facility in Agawam. 

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Dick Lamby

Men’s Ice Hockey

As an amateur, this Auburn native played defenseman for the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team in the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. He had two assists that year for a U.S. squad that finished 5th overall.

Lamby would go on to play 22 games in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues from 1978 to 1980. He also represented the U.S. in the 1975 and 1978 Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments. 

Prev Next

Karen O’Connor

Women’s Equestrian

O’Connor, who grew up in Bolton, has represented Team U.S.A. in six Olympic Games between 1988 and 2012. At the 1996 Atlanta Games she received the team silver medal riding Biko, and at the 2000 Sydney Games she took team bronze riding Prince Panache.

She has been named U.S. Female Equestrian of the Year ten times and was ranked number one in the world in 1993. She is married to David O’Connor, a decorated equestrian himself, who among other accomplishments, won individual gold in Sydney riding Custom Made with the highest Olympic score ever.

Most recently, O’Connor competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London riding Mr. Medicott. At the age of 54, she was the oldest athlete at the London Games.  

Prev Next

Alexandra “Aly” Raisman

Women’s Gymnastics

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, this gymnast won gold as captain of the U.S. women’s gymnastic team and individually won gold for her floor routine. Raisman also won bronze on the balance beam.

This Needham native also received a gold medal as part of the U.S. team competing at the 2011 World Championships. Most recently, Raisman, 19, appeared as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars in 2013 where she finished in fourth place.

Prev Next

Caitlin Bilodeaux

Women's Fencing

A two-time Olympian in 1988 and 1992, Bilodeaux originally hailed from Concord, Massachusetts and attended Columbia University.  She represented America in both individual and team foil events at both Olympic Games.

She won the United States Foil Association Women’s Championship four times and the Pan-American Individual and Team championship; she is also a two-time NCAA women’s foil champion and four-time all American.

She is married to former the fencing Olympian from Canada, Jean-Marie Banos.

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Elliot Hovey

Men's Rowing

Despite focusing on downhill skiing in his youth, Hovey caught the rowing bug while in high school. He would go on to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London.

Manchester-By-The-Sea, he attended Salisbury School in Connecticut and went on to row for the California Golden Bears at the University of California, Berkeley. He now lives in Chula Vista, California. He is currently a member of Union Boat Club in Boston. 

Note: Hovey is at the far left. 

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Bruce Hunter

Men's Swimming

Hunter took fourth in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1960 Rome Games, missing the bronze medal by just 0.2 seconds. He nearly missed qualifying for the Olympic Games, as he placed seventh in the 100-meter semi-finals, but came back to place second in the finals to go on to compete in Rome.

In high school, Hunter was a one-man swim team for Cambridge High and Latin, and was named an All-American in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle his sophomore year. He went on to swim for Harvard, where he set NCAA records in the 50 and 100-free within his first two years.

Amazingly, for all his accomplishments in the pool, Hunter is nearly blind and had to either wear his glasses or be led to the starting block. 

Prev Next

Shalane Flanagan

Women's Athletics

A native of Marblehead, Flanagan took the bronze in the women’s 10,000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Games, breaking her own U.S. record with a new time of 30:22:22 and becoming only the second U.S. woman to ever medal in the event.

After attending Marblehead High School, Flanagan competed for UNC Chapel Hill, winning national cross-country championships in 2002 and 2003.

Competing in just her second marathon ever, Flanagan set the U.S. trial record at 2:25:38 at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials to earn a trip to the London Games. Despite her impressive trials performance, she would go on to finish tenth at the Olympic Games. 

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Alicia Sacramone

Women's Gymnastics

With nine gold medals in her professional career, Sacramone is one of the most accomplished artistic gymnasts in U.S. history. From 2004 to 2008, she won twelve medals, including four golds on the vaults and two golds on the floor exercise.

Sacramone, a native of Winchester, was subject to intense criticism after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where her two stumbles in the beam and floor exercises led many to hold her responsible for the U.S. team’s second place finish. A sophomore at Brown University at the time, she put the blame on herself, despite receiving ample support from her coaches and teammates.

Sacramone has appeared in multiple commercials, and appeared nude in ESPN’s 2011 “Body Issue.” She finished second on both the balance beam and vault at the 2012 Olympic Trails, but was not named to the Olympic team.

Prev Next

Steve Langton

Men’s Bobsled

Born in Melrose, Langton finished tenth in the two-man event at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Langton and his team did not compete on the second day of competition due to injuries sustained in a crash. Langton is set to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi.

Considered one of the sport’s best athletes, Langton has won 20 World Cup medals; 10 Gold, 7 Silver and 3 Bronze.

Langton graduated from Northeastern University in 2006 with a degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. 

Prev Next

Karen Stives

Women’s Equestrian

Born in Dover, Stives was the anchor of the U.S. eventing team that won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. That year, she also became the first female U.S. equestrian to win an individual medal, taking the silver on Ben Arthur.

After retiring from competition, Stives remained active within the eventing community, becoming a judge and serving as Chief of the U.S. Equestrian Team Selection Committee for ten years. She was inducted into the U.S. Eventing Association Hall of Fame in 2006. 

Prev Next

David “Skippy” Browning

Men's Diving

Browning won a gold medal in springboard diving at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. He never scored less than seven points on any of his dives in his championship performance. After his victory, he was arrested for climbing up a flagpole to steal an Olympic flag,

Born in Boston, Browning attended the University of Texas, where he won four NCAA titles between 1949 and 1956. He also won six AAU indoor and two outdoor championships.

Just two weeks before his training for the 1956 Olympics was set to begin, Browning, who was a Lieutenant in the Navy, crashed his jet in Kansas and was killed. He was 24. 

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Jim Campbell

Men’s Ice Hockey

Born in Worcester, Campbell played right wing for the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Campbell and his U.S. teammates did not medal that year finishing in 8th place.

In addition to his Olympic career, Campbell enjoyed a long professional career – including nine seasons in the NHL. Campbell played a total of 285 NHL teams for several teams including the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues and Might Ducks of Anaheim. Campbell also played one season for his hometown AHL team the Worcester Ice Cats, which later moved to Illinois and were renamed the Peoria Rivermen.

Prev Next

Simon Shnapir

Figure Skating

Originally born in Moscow, this member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team grew up in Sudbury. A Marketing Communication major at Emerson, Shnapir has won two U.S. national championships (2013 & 2014) with his skating partner Marissa Castelli.

Partners since 2006, the pair have won numerous accolades, including the gold at the 2012 Ice Challenge and the Grand Prix medal at the 2012 NHK Trophy international competition. 


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