Favorite pair of training shoes:
It depends, I am honestly biased to Nike after playing college football for a Nike school and being required to wear Nike cleats, training shoes and clothes. The ideal shoe depends on the goal.
In a training shoe for things like deadlifting, overhead pressing (think slower, heavier movements) I want something with more lateral support, a stiff sole, and little to no drop (the vertical drop from head to toe, this should be 5mm or less). My top would be a Nike Metcon, No Bull Trainers, or Inov8 F-lite 235.
For a quicker training shoe used in movements such as box jumps, wall balls, or plyometrics, I would recommend something closer to a running shoe. I want something with more flexibility. I would recommend a Nike FlyKnit Metcon or Inov8 BARE XF.
In lifting shoes, I want the most support with a 15-25mm drop. I currently use the Nike Romaleos 3’s and love them. I have also heard great things about the Adidas Adipower shoes.
Where do rec sports fit in a training program?
In general, we train for a sport. If you love your rec sport, train to get better at it. Treat the rec sport as a true game. If you love tennis and play for fun, train lateral movements and explosive power. Treat your tennis matches as game days and your performance in tennis will increase dramatically. On top of that, you are still gaining all the health benefits of training.
Back Squats vs. Front Squats for football?
I have always viewed back squats as one of the “big 3” for football - the other two being bench press and power cleans. I would utilize back squats primarily on a day before a rest day. The back squat should be the main focus of that day’s work out. I would use front squats as an accessory lift on power clean days as they are great for core strength and hip mobility, but not as good for building pure power and strength as back squats are.
Not feeling training on a day?
If there is a day where you do not feel like training sit back and ask yourself these questions:
Are you stressed? If you’re stressed, training can help elevate stress and provide an outlet for energy and frustration. The training session does not have to be long.
Are you sick? If you are sick, take the day off. It is better to take time off and come back when you are 100% better. If you train when sick, you will not be able to perform to your maximal ability and your ability to recover is lower.
Not feeling the gym? Get outside and go to the park, a bike ride, walk the dog etc. The gym is always training for the real thing. This is why I am a huge advocate of finding a goal outside of the gym and training for the outside goal.
Rowing vs. Running vs. Swimming. Vs. Biking etc:
All of these have something in common: They are aerobic movements you are constantly moving throughout them, without a break. I am a huge fan of rowing and swimming as both are total body aerobic efforts with minimal impact. Biking can cause muscular imbalances and joint pain if the bike is not set up correctly, also cycling posture can put the shoulders in a compromised position. Running is great for those who enjoy it, personally I do not. Also with running, ensure your form is correct as running is a high impact activity and if there is a flaw in form, injuries will occur.
Powerlifting for offseason:
Depends on the sport: if you are a lacrosse player, powerlifting will not benefit much as lacrosse is similar to hockey in being a power endurance sport. Likewise, if you are a football linebacker, wide out, running back or other stand-up position, powerlifting might not be the best choice as you are never in a deadlift position and football is a fast explosive game, not and slow grinding. A lineman might benefit from powerlifting as the primary lifts do carry-over. For an athlete looking for a second sport, I would encourage track and field or another team sport such as basketball, hockey, or lacrosse. The main thing is to focus your lifting and training around your goals for your main sport.