Chris Van Nostrand from Strength Wise Barbell Visits Chicago Union Practice

July 10, 2024

The Chicago Union recently hosted Chris Van Nostrand from Strength Wise Barbell. Van Nostrand visited the Union during a team practice for an educational discussion on the strength and conditioning aspects of training for peak performance in professional ultimate frisbee. As a renowned strength and conditioning coach based in Evanston, IL, he emphasized three main areas crucial for the athletes' performance: strength and aerobic conditioning, total dietary pattern, and recovery.

The team listened to Van Nostrand during their post-practice stretch as he highlighted the importance of a balanced training regimen that includes both strength and aerobic conditioning to enhance the players' endurance, agility, and power on the field. “The determinants of performance are similar to other sports with a similar profile, such as soccer,” said Van Nostrand. “The three big things are the aerobic-alactic energy systems, reactive strength, and power and explosiveness. We want to prioritize these 3 to put together a training program that is focused, concise, and effective.” He then went on to provide practical advice for the team on how to structure workouts to maximize performance and minimize injury risks. 

“We want to go heavy with compound lifts, which means going 1 set to failure, and then the rest of the sets should leave 1-2 reps left in the tank. Emphasize glutes and hamstrings in your training as those are the source of most injuries in sports that are similar to ultimate, based on literature.”

Van Nostrand also discussed the role of a well-rounded dietary pattern in maintaining peak physical condition. He stressed the significance of proper nutrition in fueling the body, aiding recovery, and sustaining energy levels throughout the rigorous season.

“As far as nutrition goes, it’s important to remember that total dietary pattern matters the most - meaning, what you eat 80-90% of the time is going to make a much bigger difference than what you eat for, say, the first 30 minutes before and after a practice or a game. It doesn’t mean that pre-, intra-, and post-workout aren’t important, it just means that that’s where you’re going to fill in the gaps, and it’s really hard to fill in the gaps if those gaps are too big and you aren’t getting enough of your fundamental whole foods over the course of a week. You want to be biasing toward fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, seeds, nuts, and grains.”

Recovery, the third pillar of his seminar, was underscored as a critical component for athletes. Chris shared insights on effective recovery strategies, including adequate rest, hydration, and techniques to manage stress and prevent burnout.

“The focus with recovery is to keep it simple. The whole idea with recovery is that you want to start to enter into a relaxed state post-practice or post-competition. Whatever relaxation looks like for you - whether it’s listening to some calming music, going through a meditation - that’s way more important than, say, stressing about rushing out to get to a sauna that’s an hour away from you, or purchasing a cold tub to have in your backyard. Recovery should be something that’s easy because easy tends to be less stressful, and less stress is what we’re going for. We’re trying to drive ourselves into a parasympathetic state where we’re calming ourselves down, and a lot of those recovery principles we can do without any additional tools or without going anywhere.”

The Chicago Union began playing their home games at Northwestern University in Evanston this summer, and Van Nostrand expressed his excitement about the Union joining the Evanston community and is looking forward to contributing to the team's success. The Union’s final home game of the regular season is on Sunday, July 21, where Van Nostrand will be throwing out the honorary opening toss. Tickets are available on the team’s website.

If you want to learn more about Strength Wise Barbell or work with Chris Van Nostrand to develop a training program, visit