November 3, 2011

Gym Rats: UMBC Coaches Kelly Berger and Amy Appelt

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter

UMBC head coach and Team USA midfielder Kelly Berger (left) and Retrievers assistant coach and 2004 Tewaaraton Award winner Amy Appelt.
© John Strohsacker/ (All)

Amy Appelt is not the type of person who needs motivation to work out. The UMBC assistant women's lacrosse coach and former Tewaaraton Award winner who led Virginia to a national title in 2004 said that since high school, she hasn't gone consecutive days without doing some type of training. It runs in the family. Her dad was an athlete, and Appelt said her mom's latest training of choice is to run a marathon on a treadmill while watching a marathon on television. At Appelt's apartment complex in Towson, Md., she's alone in the gym at 4:45 a.m. during the week and goes until about 6:30 a.m.

But sometimes it's nice to work with a partner, like Retrievers head coach and Team USA midfielder Kelly Berger.

"You can be more creative," said Appelt. "Different people come from different places and have different coaches and do things differently. It adds another element."

Berger, a former James Madison star who has trained through knee injuries to become a U.S. team veteran, also likes the tandem approach.

"Having another person there can help you push yourself to the limit. You might be going hard, but not be going as hard as you should be," Berger said. "Technique could also be a question when you're by yourself. When you're with someone else, they can help you have the proper technique. And sometimes the length of your workout tends to be longer when you're working out with someone else, as opposed to cutting it short when you're by yourself."

Q&A with Kelly and Amy

What's your favorite type of workout?
KB: I love to run — anywhere with music, outside, inside. I love the feeling of being able to change up a run every time you do it, and make it a different workout every time. I also like to spin. It's a different type of workout. It touches different muscles, and you're able to challenge yourself in a different way.

AA: Running, and then I do a lot of body weight lifting. I don't really use much weight. And I like yoga. I used to be a big hot yoga person.

When did you start exercising consistently?
KB: I was an athlete in high school, but I finally understood it in college (James Madison) and right out of college playing at the highest level. You don't have a choice, because you get left in the dust if you don't.

AA: My dad has always been big into working out. He always told me I needed to go running to be faster than anyone. Not that he was a pushy kind of guy, it was because I did it and I kind of pushed him, asking what I could do. When I was in high school, I had a trainer who helped me with weight lifting.

What tips do you give to your UMBC players about training?
KB: The thing I always say the most is push until you can't push anymore. Push to your limit, because then you know your limit. Until you do that, you don't know.

AA: For the seconds that you're not working out, someone else is. Yeah, you can't work out 24 hours a day, but you also need to be aware that the times that you're not working out, someone probably is. They're getting a leg up on you and you're sitting on the couch eating chips.

Suggested Workouts

Medicine Ball Sitting Twists

  • This works your core, lower abs, upper abs and obliques. "Everything you do in lacrosse comes from the strength of your core," Appelt said. "Running, throwing, passing, dodging."
  • Using a 5- to 15-pound medicine ball, sit back-to-back with a partner as close as possible without your shoulders touching.
  • Both partners should extend your legs, with knees bent and bodies angled at about 45 degrees. 
  • Beginners can keep their feet on the ground. Berger and Appelt keep their feet 1-2 inches off the ground the lower body. "If you're doing it the right way, you can also engage your quads and hamstrings," Appelt said.
  • Holding the ball tight in front of you, pass it around your left or right side to your partner. Get full rotation of your midsection. Keep your lower body as still as possible. 
  • Each person should do 20 passes. One set includes 40 rotations total among the pair. Complete three sets with a 20- to 30-second break between each.

Medicine Ball Sit-Ups

  • This variation of traditional sit-ups works your core muscles.
  • Both you and your partner assume sit-up positions, linking your feet for leverage.
  • Hold the ball with your arms extended above your head. 
  • As you sit up (not after the rep), release the ball above your head and throw it to your partner, who's in the "up" position ready to receive it.
  • Your partner should use the ball as resistance as she returns to the "down" position.
  • You can touch the ball to the floor over your head after catching it, but do not rest after. This should be a fluid exercise. 
  • Each person should complete 15 tosses per set. Do three sets with a break between each.








Hamstring Extension

  • Have a partner hold the back of your ankles behind you while your kneel on the ground and use your hamstrings to lower your body to the floor.
  • Keeping your back straight, tilt forward and tries to hold your body in the air for as long as you can. The idea is to get as low as possible before releasing and landing. This works the hamstrings.
  • When you can't hold any longer, stretch your hands down in front of you to brace yourself as you fall to the floor. Berger typically crosses her hands in front of her chest as she tilts forward and then extends them in front of her at the last minute before hitting the ground.
  • Push yourself back up to starting position. This is one rep.
  • Do three sets of 12 reps each, with a break in between.
  • Very Advanced "Gym Rats" can try a reverse extension, starting flat on their stomach and pulling themselves up to a 90-degree angle with a partner holding their ankles. But even Berger and Appelt said this is extremely difficult.








A version of this article appears in the November issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Check back to for Gym Rats features on Team USA goalie and current Marquette assistant coach Scott Rodgers, Northwestern's Erin Fitzgerald and Mercyhurst's Ian Wild. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 350,000-plus members today to start your monthly subscription.

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