Guest blogger: Nicky Polanco, Perfect Athlete Ambassador, Captain of the Long Island Lizards
My name is Nicky Polanco, and I’m a professional lacrosse player in Major League Lacrosse (the MLL). The current team I play on is the Long Island Lizards, and I’m their captain. I was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American at Hofstra University, and I’ve been named to the All-MLL team six times in my career. I’ve been named MLL Defensive Player of the Year twice, and some people consider me to be one of the top defenders in the history of the sport. But most of all, I just enjoy competing at the highest level of my sport. I’ve also been a member of the US National Team twice, and I’m looking forward to doing that again in 2010 at the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England.
Lacrosse isn’t your typical professional sport; it’s known as the “fastest game on two feet”. We have to be in world class shape to play in the MLL, but our teams don’t have professional caliber weight rooms and strength coaches like you’d find in the four major sports. We’re also still growing the sport on a national and international level, so we don’t have giant contracts and bonuses like the major sports do. Most pro lacrosse players have “day jobs” and I’m no exception.
Because of all this, I’m pretty much on my own to figure out how to get in shape to play. The league wants me looking and performing like a world class athlete, but they don’t really provide the resources for me to do it easily so I have to be really creative.
A few years ago, I decided to take everything to another level and hooked up with Bobby Ihlenfeldt, who’s an incredible trainer in New York, where I live. With Bobby’s help, along with my friend Keith Trimble at Bellmore Kickboxing, we figured out a system and a schedule to help keep me at the top of the MLL. We're doing a lot of work to get me stronger and better conditioned while dropping any excess body fat I may have put on in the off-season.
Strength is the key to everything for me. When we initially assessed what I was doing and what my weaknesses were, it was all about me not being strong enough. In the weight room, we’re working mainly on the basics: the bench press and the squat. What I’ve found is that in order to get stronger, you have to put on muscle. I’m not talking about getting “huge” either. You have to increase the cross-section of your muscle fibers and make them denser, and the best tool I’ve come across for this purpose has been the Perfect Pushup.
Bobby, my trainer, has a big-time powerlifting background, which means he knows the right technique for bench pressing. The way the Perfect Pushup works, I’m able to tuck my elbows on the descent, then flare them out at the lockout – the same way I’ve learned how to bench in order to save my shoulders. It’s taken all the shoulder issues out of doing pushups, and it’s helped me get stronger and build lean muscle faster than I ever have in my career.
One thing I love to do in the off-season is promote the sport by doing camps and clinics -- and you can read about that in Part II of my blog.
I'm playing tonight -- check it out!