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Finish First Insider, Issue #63
June 29, 2009
Welcome Back

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

Free Weights or Machines?

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

A few weeks ago, a parent and prospective new athlete visited the facility for the first time to gather some information and see what Finish First Sports Performance was really about. After discussing the ins-and-outs of performance training, and explaining how our system works, the father asked why we don’t have weight training machines in our training center. I could tell he was surprised by this fact, and took the moment as an opportunity to teach him why I choose not to use traditional weight training machines for performance enhancement.

I am going to provide a simplified version of my discussion (really, it wasn’t that long!). I know this issue has been debated since the first machines were introduced by Author Jones of Nautilus in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, it was around that time that performance training in America took a turn in the wrong direction.

Instead of focusing on understanding movement sciences (motion and motor patterns), the U.S. focused on cardiovascular components (aerobic training). Many people have been tested that performed very high with regards to cardiovascular components yet lacked the necessary motor skills to perform the most basic athletic movements. In other words, many people could run forever, but would trip over their own feet if they were asked to run, change direction, block another player, and then catch a ball—all of which requires multiple motor skills and programming specific to sports. While the U.S. was developing ‘distance runners,” the Eastern Bloc countries (former Soviet Union, etc.) were studying and creating better athletes. That is why so much of our modern sports performance sciences are coming from studies done by the Eastern Bloc countries over the last 30-40 years! (side note: at Finish First Sports Performance, we use many different training methods, rooted in movement sciences from the Eastern Bloc research).

Ok, back to machines vs. free weights. During the time that cardiovascular training became the main focus for training in America, bodybuilding began to take center stage as a sport and training method for ultimate performance. While bodybuilding is a sport in itself, its training methods are not optimal for athletes of other sports. In America, unfortunately, much of our ‘performance science’ studies were done on cardiovascular training or bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding requires a muscle to be trained in isolation. When is a muscle used in isolation in sport? I honestly cannot think of a sport movement that utilizes only one muscle, without any involvement of additional muscles for stabilization, rotation, balance, etc. So, why would you train in isolation? You shouldn’t.

First, let me say that most machines are designed to train an isolated muscle around a fixed joint in a specific range of motion. These machines are designed for hypertrophy (muscle size). This is very important for bodybuilding, but not necessarily for sport performance (some athletes need hypertrophy and this can be addressed with free weights). Secondly, training muscles in isolation may actually impede the motor programming needed for optimal sports performance. Remember, the body adapts to the specific demands applied to it. Repeatedly asking the body to use muscles in isolation causes inefficient motor patterns (muscles firing), inhibiting sports movements that require many muscles to work together.

Also, training with machines does not mimic sports movements. Understand that the most sport specific movements that can be done are not done in the weight-room; they are done in the competitive arena. Playing a sport is the most sport specific exercise you can perform. However, playing your sport does not address the many components of functional movements, balance, strength, power, speed, etc. So, it is important to address these through training. Training can be general in the beginning, but must progress to specific movements for a greater carryover into sports related skills. It should also be mentioned that these specific movements need to be carefully selected so that they do not mimic the sports skill too closely, so that any technical differences do not hinder performance.

Most machines are used while you are sitting down, with no demand for balance or any other functional training aspect. Performing an exercise while seated requires much less dynamic vision and balance. Sports require high levels of dynamic vision training and functional training. Using free weights allows you to address balance, dynamic vision training, and functional training, as well as any additional issues that might need to be addressed.

Typically, one machine has one function—a chest press machine is designed only for the chest press. Free weights are more versatile and more specific to performance training. However, because machines are so effective at isolating a muscle, they are very important for specific rehabilitation or to address specific injury issues. I think that is where they are the most relevant for athletes—in the rehab setting (for initial rehab, then specific reconditioning must be used to properly prepare the athlete for re-entry into the competitive arena).

It is our goal at Finish First Sports Performance to prepare our athletes to perform their best when it matters the most. Most often, this requires a comprehensive training program that covers all aspect of training, specific to the function of each athlete’s sport. We choose to use free weights and other accessory training apparatus to achieve the desired results with our athletes. Machines that train a muscle in isolation have no place in our training facility, and should have no place in yours (with the exception of rehabilitation or specific issues). If you have any questions about this article, please contact me at

Washington Capitals Draft Pat Wey

Congratulations to Finish First athlete Pat Wey on being selected by the Washington Capitals as draft pick #115 in Saturday's NHL entry draft. Keep up the hard work! (More sled work to come in the very near future!)

Finish First Sports Performance at Miss Pennsylvania Pageant 2009

Congratulations to Finish First Sports Performance clients Kelsey Pitini, Katelyn Koval (4th runner up), and Shauna Rice (2nd runner up) for achieving a top 10 finish at the 2009 Miss Pennsylvania Pageant! Also congrats to the new Miss Pennsylvania 2009, Ms. Shannon Doyle--we look forward to helping her get ready for the big show at Miss America in Las Vegas in January! (Pics below are of contestants in the order listed)


Due to the volume of athletes currently using the Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters, all athletes are required to schedule all sessions prior to arrival. In the future, if an athlete shows up without first scheduling for a session, there is no guarantee that s/he will be able to use the facility at that time. If the facility is at capacity, the athlete will need to come back for his/her session at a later time. At Finish First Sports Performance, we are taking all measures necessary to prevent overcrowding and help ensure the safety of the athletes and the quality of the programs. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to continuing to serve you.

How to Schedule Workouts Using the Online System

Due to the volume of athletes currently using the training facility, and the expected returning college athletes over the summer, you will need to begin scheduling your workout sessions in advance. It is recommended that you do so online. The Finish First Sports Performance coaches will have access to the sessions calendar to see when you are scheduled. When you arrive to the facility, it is also important to use your fingerprint to check in to the system. Below, you will find the correct way to schedule online. It is also now possible to make payments online, and check your training history. Please call if you have any questions.

1. Go to

2. Scroll down the left and under “Additional Services” you will see MEMBER LOGIN—click on that

3. A new window should pop up and on that window click on ATHLETE

4. Unless you have logged into the system before, your login ID is: last name-first name, and your password is: last name. So for John Smith, his login ID would be smith-john, and his password would be smith. You will be prompted to change your password so that only you may know it—write it down and don’t forget it—if you do forget it, please let Jeremy know so he can reset it.

5. Once logged in, on main screen you will see a box/button on the right titled “REGISTER FOR CLASSES”—click on this.

6. You can register or change your scheduled time up to 24 hours before the session. Any changes that need to be made within 24 hours of the session need to be made by calling Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

The online system works best with Internet Explorer (most recent version).

Motivational Quotes

"Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them"
-- William Shakespeare

"Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends."
-- Brian Tracy

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
-- Winston Churchill

"Divide each difficulty into as many parts as necessary to resolve it."
-- Rene Descartes

Township Of Moon 4th of July 5k Run & Walk

Date: Saturday, July 4, 2009

Time: Race Day registration at 6:30 - 7:30 am 5k Run starts at 8:30 am 5k Walk starts at 8:40 am

Location: Cherrington Corporate Center/Commerce Park 1700 Beaver Grade Road Moon Township, PA 15109

Fees: 5k Run $15 through June 15, 2009 $20 after June 15, 2009 & race day $15 for 5k Walk

Register or find more info at

Thank You for Your Support

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

For Finish First Insider backissues #1 - 29, click here

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