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The Next Level DVD

The Next Level DVD - http://www.thenextleveldvd.com/

Written by Joe Papp

274_image.jpgIf you're an endurance athlete ready to start a strength and conditioning program, where would you go for advice and instruction on everything from creating a periodized plan to performing exercise movements correctly? While the best choice might be to hire a competent personal trainer experienced in guiding athletes such as runners, triathletes and cyclists through gym work, there is now an "at-home" solution: The Next Level Strength Training for Endurance Athletes DVD by Endurofit.

The Next Level is a periodized strength and conditioning program that instructs endurance athletes in each phase of gym training from the start of the preparation period through the beginning of the competitive season. It is designed to improve performance and prevent injury, and addresses every spectrum of the strength training paradigm, including various forms of flexibility and core training, stability, strength, power and maintenance.

The DVD, which was created by Jeb Stewart MS, PES and Reece Haettich, is packaged with a unique set of gym-friendly printed workout cards that the athlete can refer to while training. There are companion versions of the plan available for purchase online for those athletes who want sports-specific guidance to compliment the video instruction.

For $34.95 (available online from www.thenextleveldvd.com), which is substantially less than the cost of a single personal training session in most major markets in the United States, The Next Level DVD delivers one hour of incredibly informative content, guiding athletes through three phases of training:

Phase 1 — Flexibility and Stability, 8-10 weeks. Develop full range of motion and learn to perform exercises safely, with proper form. Encourages the creation of strength base, flexibility and balance to prepare for the more intense training and higher loads of Phase 2.

Phase 2 — Strength and Power, 12 weeks. These are the hardest workouts, using the greatest loads and are best completed in a gym setting with access to a spotter or workout buddy.

Phase 3 — Maintenance, in-season. These are the workouts that you do once you've returned to your primary sport, to ensure that you don't lose the powerful gains you've made during off-season strength and conditioning training. They are no less intense or demanding, but the routines focus on maintaining what you've already developed, without creating additional fatigue that inhibits your sports-specific performance.

The video, which is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is clean and attractive and the DVD is multi-region and suitable for viewing on a laptop, portable DVD player or through your home TV. The audio is clear and crisp, and both Stewart and Haettich are easily understood when speaking.

What is immediately apparent is that The Next Level is not your typical "watch and do" program. That is, you don't pump-up and work out while simultaneously watching the disc. Rather, The Next Level is menu driven and provides the visual and auditory guidance that you would expect from a personal trainer. Haettich and Stewart describe the significance of the various exercises and demonstrate them, while explaining how to do the exercises with proper form and in a safe, effective manner.

While The Next Level offers a very comprehensive approach to strength and conditioning training, the best way to utilize this program might be to familiarize your self with its basics by watching the entire disc in one sitting. Then grab the training card that matches the appropriate phase that you're starting, decide on which exercises are most important for your sport, review the video segment that corresponds to that phase and then head to the gym. You can even take the disc with you if you have a portable DVD player so that you can check and recheck proper form and movement as you progress through the routine. However, be prepared to be quizzed by your fellow athletes, who may want to know what's on TV as you move through the gym with your own virtual personal trainers guiding you along!

As there is a broad selection of exercises suggested during the three phases of The Next Level, proper planning will help you to choose which movements are necessary for your particular sport. The Next Level is designed for endurance athletes all of disciplines, but it is appears to be most appropriate in its current context for triathletes.

For example, core and leg exercises are the most appropriate for cyclists, who might want to limit upper body movements to only the pulling exercises, triceps exercises and shoulder retraction and stability movements. This will help limit the development of unwanted upper body mass that might not be seen as negative by a triathlete preparing for his first half-Ironman. Nonetheless, Stewart and Haettich claim that the complete program is designed to develop only usable muscle, and not to encourage hypertrophy for its own sake.

The Next Level presents a program that is definitely suited for a properly outfitted gym facility. However, some of the flexibility and stability leg work, much of the core and all of the static and dynamic flexibility training can be performed at home using the athlete's own body weight, a stability ball and stretch cords. At the very least, a stability ball, stretch cords, a medicine ball, a set of dumb bells and a bench are required.

Stewart says that The Next Level is "fully customizable," and that an educated athlete with a sound understanding of the principles of periodization and the demands of his sport could use this DVD to plan a workout routine on par with anything that could be created by a private coach. Furthermore, he explains, "You can move days around within the week to better fit your schedule and increase or decrease phases to their minimum or maximum suggestions to fit your annual plan."

If you don't have the confidence to mix and match workouts and phases to customize The Next Level for your own needs, Stewart offers online companion programs that provide sports-specific workout schedules for triathletes and cyclists, in addition to plans for athletes in specific situations like trying to stay fit while on the road traveling. These downloadable plans are available through www.trainingpeaks.com/jeb.

There is one "extra" on the DVD (in addition to the workout cards): a two-minute set of outtakes that are interlaced with the production credits.

The Next Level Strength Training for Endurance Athletes DVD is an excellent resource for all endurance athletes, and is especially relative now as we move into off-season training for many endurance sports. The information presented during the one hour video is accurate and informative, and it reflects the most current research and understanding of the basic principles of strength and conditioning training. Unlike a printed text, the dynamic visual illustration of proper exercise form and movement found in The Next Level is similar to having a personal trainer at your side. However, it may be appropriate to retain the services of a certified strength and conditioning coach before you attempt some of the more complex and dangerous movements, such as power cleans and squats.

We rate it five stars!

The Next Level Strength Training for Endurance Athletes DVD, available for $34.95 from Endurofit, through www.thenextleveldvd.com.

Joe Papp, a UCI Elite bike racer and self-confessed cycling gypsy rode the 2006 Italian granfondo circuit with Team Whistle. Before moving to Tuscany, he was a double stage winner at the 2003 Vuelta a Cuba (UCI 2.5) and has finished in the top-10 three times at the UCI Pan Am Continental Championships (2005, 2004, 1996). He is also a USA Cycling Level 1 elite coach. Learn more about him and his adventures on the bike at www.joepapp.com.

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Posted: November 15, 2006

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