The bare-bones basics of caveman training don’t just apply to adults; now Longview-area youth are reaping the benefits of these hard-core workouts.
Injuries derail athletes of all ages, all across the country, at every level.
But at Athletic Performance of Texas, Josh Gonzalez and his wife, Holly, have developed a training program for athletes of all sports and levels that serves to strengthen core muscles and correct movements, which may lead to injuries in the future.
Gonzalez opened Athletic Performance of Texas in 2008, teaming with Athletic Performance Inc. in Minnesota to bring the “Caveman Training” program to Texas.
“We take kids, and from the get-go, my main goal is to teach local high schools how we can train kids better to make them faster, bigger, stronger without the probability of injury,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, a corrections specialist and master trainer for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, said he works with children as young as 5 years old.
“What we do (with the younger children) is completely different than what you might see from my older high school, college and pro level athletes,” he said. “The caveman workout is truly just strict athletic conditioning. We teach them how to run, crawl and get better movement and starting to learn skill work on how to turn. That way when they get into junior sports, we help to make their job even easier.”
Cooper Mayes, 10, plays select baseball for DBAT West, an elite baseball team in Dallas.
Cooper’s father, Todd, said Gonzalez’s training methods have helped his son to correct issues that might have prevented him from reaching his potential as an athlete.
“We’ve been coming here for about a year,” Todd Mayes said. “Cooper used to bang his heels when he ran, and Josh spoke to us about getting him in the caveman and teaching him how to run more upright on his toes. In doing so, he went from being the eighth-fastest on the team to the third-fastest.”
Caveman training, which consists of an hour workout Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, has been so impressive to Longview High School baseball coach Bernie Martinez that he brings his entire team to Athletic Performance of Texas, which is next to Carlito’s off Judson Road.
“I believe in two fundamental things,” Martinez said. “I believe in a skilled athlete and a conditioned athlete. I couldn’t do both with the time we’re allotted during the school day, which is 40 minutes. So I decided I was going to make sure they’re skilled at what they do. And it happened to be that some of my students were already going to the program after school.”
Martinez said this is the second year that he has encouraged his players to participate in the program, and the results have been eye-opening.
“Unbelievable quickness and agility,” he said. “And its definitely translated to a better skill set. My infielders have greater range, and my outfielders have greater range. But they also have improved their throwing.”
The Spring Hill varsity volleyball team finished as a regional runner-up to 3A state champion Decatur High School this year, the furthest it has gone in the playoffs.
Coach Karen Brundrett said the program has helped her focus on teaching volleyball and not the fitness of her athletes.
“When I took over the program four or five years ago, kids used to come and have no physical preparation whatsoever,” she said. “What (Gonzalez) did is he understood what they needed. We knew we had to get stronger and maintain, and that’s what we added to this season. These kids have made the commitment, and they’re very focused.”
Senior Rachel Riestenberg said the caveman workouts give Spring Hill an advantage over every team it plays.
“The bottom line is we are always more in shape than the people on the other side of the net,” she said. “We see them at the end of the first game and they’re huffing and puffing because we were playing really hard and really close. Then the second game score is a complete blowout because we are in so much better shape than they are.”
One of the tools Gonzalez uses to improve the strength and explosiveness of baseball players and other athletes is the Stroops Perfomance band. The bands are attached to the athlete, and as the athlete runs a short distance, the resistance of the bands creates more strength in the core muscles.
“These bands can make kids stronger and faster without loading the spine with weights,” Gonzalez said. “And I can train the exact movements that the athletes need in their sport.”
Gonzalez said he does incorporate traditional strength training exercises into his program, including squats, dead-lift and power clean.
The 300-square-foot training facility also has an octagon ring, where Harmony High School graduate and professional mixed martial arts fighter Kevin Aguilar has trained for the past two years.
With a record of 8-1, Aguilar, 25, is ranked 25th in the world in the featherweight division.
“The training here has helped me out with my explosiveness,” he said. “If I grab ahold of somebody, I explode to the ground and try to finish him. All my strength and cardio has improved, making me a much better athlete. This is the kind of strength and conditioning that you need to be that next generation athlete.”
Aguilar said his training regiment at Athletic Performance of Texas includes short sprints and throwing a heavy medicine ball rapidly to simulate punching power as well as pushing the “prowler,” a sled loaded down with weights.
Gonzalez said he doesn’t want his program to be viewed as in competition with the methods of high school coaches.
“My main goal is to help the coaches out because they’ll view me as a valuable service.”
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