Enhance Performance Article Archives

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The Use of Non Motorized Treadmills to Facilitate Gait and The Posterior Chain

We’ve recently started playing more with non motorized treadmills at Champion and have been very happy with the results.

Non motorized treadmills have gained popularity in the fitness realm as alternatives to self-powered conditioning machines like bikes and rowers. The Assault Air bikes and Concept 2 rowers have long been popular for their ability to produce amazing workouts.

I am a big fan of conditioning machines that increase their intensity based on the amount of effort exerted. Essentially, the harder you go, the harder they push back!

These have done wonders for high intensity interval training and sprint conditioning work.

Woodway has recently developed the Woodway Curve self-powered manual treadmill. Past non motorized treadmills seemed really cheap to me, but Woodway, who makes some of the best treadmills, has really made an exceptional machine with the Curve. I started using them for sprint work with the Red Sox, but have recently been using it more and more with my rehabilitation clients at Champion.

Because it is nonmotorized, your posterior chain is nicely engaged while walking and running on the Curve. A simple period of ambulation on the Curve does a great job engaging the hamstrings and glutes. I’ve been using these in everyone with diagnoses like patellofemoral pain, low back pain, and even postoperative. We start with a slow walk and slowly build up the speed and eventually get to running.

In the video below I explain more. I’m a big fan of nonmotorized treadmills to facilitate a proper gait form and engage the posterior chain.


Does Strength Prevent Injuries?

Evan OsarToday’s guest post comes from Evan Osar.  Evan is doing a great job sharing his views and systems for corrective exercise.  He has a new program teaching you his complete assessment and corrective exercise system that he has produced with our friends from Fitness Revolution.  They have been gracious enough to offer a special discount for my readers.  More info after the article, but you can learn more here: The Integrated Corrective Exercise Approach.

 

Does Strength Prevent Injuries?

The goal of corrective exercise is to help our clients develop a more ideal postural and movement strategy. We strive to teach the nervous system to hold a more optimal alignment, to breathe better, and to control the body better so our clients can hold proper posture and move with greater efficiency and without so much compensation, which is a key factor in many of our clients’ problems and loss of performance.

As strength conditioning specialists, we like to believe that strength prevents injuries because we think the stronger somebody is, the better they are, and the fewer injuries they’ll have.

I’ve been working with clients and patients for the last 17 years, and some of the most dysfunctional individuals whom I assess and work on are the strongest individuals.

 

Strength by Itself Does Not Prevent Injuries

How, then, do we prevent injuries?

What really prevents injuries is helping your client develop an improved strategy for posture and movement. What, then, are the key components to developing an improved strategy for posture and movement?

To improve your clients’ posture and movement, you must get them to understand and incorporate the fundamental ABC’s—the fundamental principles of the Integrated Movement System™.

 

A = Alignment

Evan Osar Corrective ExerciseYou have to teach your clients how to develop the optimal alignment, so when they load the joint, the joint is loaded in the right direction and position.

One way to visualize this principle is to point your finger straight up. If you place the palm of your other hand on the tip of that finger (similar to a “timeout” gesture) and apply force down through the finger, you could hold your finger like this for a long time and not have any issues because you’re loading the joint in the most optimal position.

Now, bend your finger back so it is no longer straight up but is pointing as far away from its palm as it can go. If you try to make the same “timeout” gesture with your other hand and apply force down through the finger, you can’t do that for very long before your finger would be very uncomfortable because it is being bent even further back.

This same concept applies to all the joints in your body: There are maximally optimal positions for loading, and there are suboptimal positions for loading. Our goal is to help our clients align better so that they can put less wear and tear on their joint structures.

 

B = Breathing

We must breathe three dimensionally, or have access to our entire thoracopelvic canister, from top to bottom and from the top of our lung field to our pelvic floor.

We must be able to breathe laterally, or side to side. We must be able to breathe front to back so that we can access the entire diaphragm; all the intercostal muscles between the ribs; the deep myofascial system; and muscles like the psoas, transverse abdominis, and multifidi.

All these muscles coordinate with one another in the process of breathing, which also enables us to stabilize. The primary stabilization of our core should come from internal regulation of pressure—intrathoracic and intra-abdominal pressure. That’s what core stability is really all about.

It’s not about bracing or squeezing muscles—that’s a part of core stabilization, but it’s not the primary component of core stabilization. Therefore, it’s not strength that prevents injuries; it’s the ability to align and breathe.

 

C = Control

Once we align the body in the right position, and once we have proper three-dimensional breathing, we must be able to control our body positions. So whether we’re in a static position, performing a dynamic movement, or moving through the fundamental movement patterns (squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, bending, rotating in gait), we must be able to use the right muscles at the right time in the right manner to control the joint for the activity that you are trying to do.

The “right muscles” and “right manner” will both change depending upon the different activities we need to do. For example, your clients’ resting postural strategy should be different than what they would do if they were squatting 300 pounds. Certainly, we should have alignment of the thoracopelvic canister both in quiet standing and during a deadlift or squat pattern. What changes however, is the level of activation.

When we’re quietly standing in posture, we should have very little activity of the core muscles; they shouldn’t be off, but there should be very little activity: Our glutes, abdominals, and erectors should be soft. This is similar to how you wouldn’t walk around with your biceps contracted all day long, your abs gripped up all day long, your low back tightened all day long, or your glutes gripped up all day long.

As an exercise, stand up if you are sitting right now. Feel your glutes. They should be soft. Feel around your abdomen, and feel around your lower back. They should all be soft while at rest. This doesn’t mean they’re not toned—in fact, they should be soft, just like how your biceps should be soft at rest.

When we need them to activate to lift a heavy weight, lift a child, lift a bag of groceries, do a sled push, etc., we need a higher level of activity. The key is to use the right strategy at the right time so that we have the control we need for, in this example, thoracopelvic canister.

So when I’m squatting 300 pounds, I have a nice controlled thoracopelvic canister where I’m braced up and able to use intra-abdominal and intrathoracic pressure, and I’m able to layer my abdominal muscles, my low back muscles, and my hip muscles. But when I’m done with that squat pattern, I leave the gym, and I’m living my life, those muscles should release and become soft. What we see with our general population clients specifically is they are not stopping their gripping/bracing strategy when they leave their exercise session, and that’s what starts to put wear and tear upon the joints, overuses the muscles, and creates a lot of compensation.

 

So what prevents injuries? It’s not about strength.

All things being equal, strength will help you prevent injuries, but all things are not equal with our clients. Most of our clients do not have an ideal or optimal postural and movement strategy.

They don’t have great alignment, they don’t have great breathing, and they don’t have great control. They default to gripping, bracing, and doing very accessory dominant breathing as their strategy, and that leads to compensation.

So what helps prevent injuries?

The fundamental ABC’s: alignment, breathing, and control, which should be 3 primary areas of focus in corrective exercise.

 

Learn Evan Osar’s Corrective Exercise System

Corrective exercise systemI am really excited to share that Evan and our friends at Fitness Revolution have offered my readers a special $100 off Evan’s new program, The Integrative Corrective Exercise Approach.  In this great program, Evan shares his proven system to help you assess postural and movement problems and develop a corrective exercise strategy.

The program has a special price for my readers!

4 Keys to Implement Long Term Athletic Development

This week’s guest post comes from my friends Julie Hatfield and Dave Gleason from the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).  Dave has recently teamed up with Toby Brooks and Wil Fleming to create a program helping you implement long term athletic development with your youth athletes.  It’s a great program with concepts that we have integrated into our programming at Champion PT and Performance.  The IYCA is good to my readers and has offered us an exclusive 50% off the program this week only.  More info after the article!

 

4 Keys to Implement Long Term Athletic Development

Implementing Long Term Athletic Development TrainingYou have likely heard the term, Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD).  Contradictory to common belief that sport specialization will achieve great success, LTAD is a progressive and injury preventative approach to youth fitness and sport performance that we cannot afford to lose site of.  Simply put, sport specialization should come later in life, and our youngest of athletes (6-16 year olds) are in dire need of coaches to give them a strong and sturdy foundation.

The figure, and concept of Long Term Athlete Development,  indicates that movement skills are at the foundation of the ideal athlete.  Once movement skills are mastered, then it is appropriate to move on to power, speed & agility skills.  Lastly, we implement sport skills and specialization, but not till the athlete has achieved success in the foundational movement skills.

Many performance coaches struggle implementing LTAD. It is a delicate balance between giving kids (and parents) what they want, and what they actually need.

Youth fitness expert, Dave Gleason has put together 4 Keys to Implementing LTAD quickly, so you can have the confidence to add the concepts of LTAD into your sessions, TODAY! 

1. Find Your Why

It comes down to what you really want to do. If you are working with kids, it really needs to be your purpose in life.  They deserve that.  It is a crucial step in all of this.  If you aren’t passionate about working with kids, and doing what is right for them- then this is not the job for you.  If you are…thank YOU.  Next step…

2. Educate yourself

It’s about getting the right tools to work with kids 6-18 years old. The International Youth Conditioning Association is an organization that specializes in providing education for youth fitness professionals.  They specialize in pediatric/youth fitness and provide coaches & trainers with a valuable balance of practical application and science.  For more education on Long Term Athlete Development, Youth Fitness Training and much more, check them out.

Bottom line, get educated to specifically work with kids!

3. Schedule

Scheduling your LTAD program can be tough.  Look at your school systems in your area and obtain their schedule.  Know when they are getting out of school and schedule your sessions accordingly.  

Create a schedule that is right for most people and keep it constant.  Consistency in your schedule will allow parents to plan for your LTAD program!

4. Get Started

Once you have the education and are equipped to train young athletes and incorporate Long Term Athlete Development …it is time to get started.  So many do all the steps, then worry that they aren’t qualified.  When you wait, the kids in your community are losing out.  If you have the passion, education and you have a schedule that will work for you, then it’s time to GET STARTED!

The Kids NEED you.

 

Save 50% on the IYCA’s New Long Term Athletic Development Roadmap

Long term athletic developmentAs I mentioned above, the IYCA has been very generous to my readers and have offered us all 50% off their new program from Toby Brooks, Dave Gleason, and Wil Fleming on implementing Long Term Athletic Development in your programming and system.

The offer ends this week on 1/31/16, so don’t delay.  This is a great product that has helped shape what we do at Champion!

 

 

 

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for You? Taking a Look Behind the Smoke Screen

Today’s guest post comes from Champion PT and Performance Strength Coach Rob Sutton (@rjsutton16).  Rob discusses the health concerns of many pre-workout supplements, and for good reason!  Rob shares a very personal experience of how he really hurt his own health from this class of supplements.  Great info for everyone.  I know I’m sticking to by cup of black coffee as my “pre-workout” supplement!

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for You?  Taking a Look Behind the Smoke Screen

When it comes to making gains in the gym, whether that be weight loss or muscle gain, many people often turn to supplements to help them reach their goals. A high number of gym goers use pre -orkout supplements to enhance their training experience in hopes of getting a better training session. This “pre-workout” class of supplements are promoted to give you more energy and stamina to get through a tough workout.

While there is most certainly a time and place for the right dietary supplements, I have a problem with the majority of these pre-workout supplements, which essentially are stimulants.

The Problem with the Supplement Industry

The supplement industry is a juggernaut. According to Forbes, what’s known as the Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements group, reported nutritional supplements alone produced about $32 billion in revenue in 2012. By the year 2021, nutritional supplements plan to double in revenue to about $60 billion. Gone are the times where it was only meatheads looking to have muscles popping out of their eyelids, buying supplements. The general public and athletes everywhere are now using supplements to aid in their diet and increase performance.

My problem with the supplement industry is the misleading, sneaky, and deceptiveness that is present.

Companies use big words and outrageous claims to market their product to consumers. “Explosive Energy”, “Super Crazy Pumps”, “Increase Strength 317%”, “Growth Hormone Matrix”. All include buzzwords to help aid in claims and gimmicks that the companies want you to believe. And every company claims to provide the highest workout energy on the market. All use colorful labels and big fonts to blind your senses.

Have you ever read through the directions for pre workout supplements? Here some examples from popular pre-workout supplements:

  • “Warning: Use only in accordance with directions for use and warnings.”
  • “DO NOT exceed recommended dosage due to the extremely potent nature of ingredients contained in….”
  • “Assess your tolerance”.

What are we putting into our bodies? There are more warning labels on these than there are on heavy duty cleaning products.

How Pre-Workout Supplements Hurt My Health

Now, I was young once and fell into these traps before like so many others. Although, that has come with a price.

About 7 years ago I began experiencing an abnormal feeling in my chest. It was quite obviously in my heart. It felt as if my heart was skipping a beat. It was happening fairly often and I would notice it mostly at rest. I admit it was something I had ignored for many years. As it began to get worse, it was time to seek out medical advice. Long story short, I was diagnosed in 2012 with (Pre-Mature ventricular contractions, PVC’s). Through several holter monitors and experiments with supplements I was taking, I only remained using whey protein. After cutting out pre workout supplements, my PVC’s were diminished by 97.7%! It was determined the PVC’s were caused by a supplement I had been taking in years past. All bought through local nutrition stores.

There is 1 ingredient in particular that may have caused the heart arrhythmia that I continue to feel every single day. It’s called 1, 3 dimethylamylamine, or DMAA for short.

History of 1, 3 Dimethylamylamine (DMAA)

DimethylamylamineA brief history on DMAA, it was created in 1948 to be used as a nasal decongestant. It had a trademarked named called Forthane. The way the drug worked was via vasoconstriction. The blood vessels in the nose would constrict blood flow, leading to less mucus discharge. This is how many popular over the counter nasal decongestant meds work today but with the absence of DMAA.

Forthane was pulled from shelves in the early 80’s due to dramatic side effects including headaches, tremors, and high blood pressure. DMAA is what’s called a sympathomimetic drug. Which means its mimics the actions of the sympathetic nervous system. On an hourly basis at Champion, we are performing drills and exercises to relax the sympathetic nervous system not stimulate it. We are already stimulated enough!

Supplement companies use this drug because of its high stimulant properties. If DMAA was known to cause ill side effects 30 years ago, how is it still out there for the public to buy? It is in fact banned by the World Doping Agency and reads false positives for amphetamines on urine tests. There is a plethora of scientific journals and facts regarding this subject as well. But what I have learned from a very reputable Physical Therapist and Strength Coach Jeff Cavaliere in March 2011, is that through what we could call a loophole in the “system”, companies can include this ingredient by stating the source of the molecule. The source in this case is geranium oil. Which is an FDA approved food product. DMAA can be extracted from the geranium plant. Some research suggests that extremely small amounts are found in the plant itself. DMAA can also be seen on supplement labels under a giant list of other names including geranium extract, geranium oil extract, and methylhexaneamine, to name a few.

A list of all names and products known to contain the drug can be found here:

DMAACavaliere was ahead of the curve when he presented the problem with this drug in 2011 and the potential health problems related with a drug that causes the blood vessels to constrict. Constricting blood vessels and arteries, leading to high blood pressure, combined with exercise can be a harmful mix. Lets mix in a high amount of caffeine and even more ingredients with stimulant properties as well. This is when this subject was put on my radar and I began to research possible supplements that contained DMAA. And indeed I found some, and some I had taken in the past. The ingredient pictures shown are from 2 pre-workout supplement labels that I had used about 8 to 10 years ago. They have since been changed…. but why?

After Jeff Cavaliere turned me onto this issue, I discarded the supplements I had…sorry my heart just skipped a beat…. that included this potentially harmful chemical. And I then kept my eye on this topic in the future.

In 2012/2013 the FDA put its foot down on supplement companies, ordering them to pull this already illegal drug. As of April 11, 2013, the FDA received 86 reports of illnesses and deaths associated with supplements containing DMAA. These are just a few case reports associated with deaths and severe health problems linked to DMAA.

Hold on it gets better…

Companies began to comply with the FDA’s orders. One popular supplement company, also in April 2013 sent out an email to subscribers about a new formula for their pre workout supplement. Here’s what it stated:

“______has been our #1 selling pre-workout supplement for years and now it is no longer being produced. We are down to two flavors, ______and_______, and what we have in stock is it!! If you want to get your hands on some of the last remaining bottles, you should act fast…quantities on these are extremely limited and quickly selling off. Get it before this original formula is gone forever! Only $21.95!!”

This is complete BS!

Why are they creating a new formula? Because the old one is killing people!! So lets start giving this poison to as many people as we can for a discounted price. Like I said, misleading, sneaky, and deceptive.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) had identified another product by the same company with DMAA in it. They identified 100 people who developed hepatitis from using this product. 47 of those needed hospitalization, 3 needed liver transplants, and 1 died.

What’s the Next Pre-Workout Ingredient to be Banned?

What will be the next ingredient that is in current supplements, to cause as big an uproar as 1, 3 dimeth? I bet you it’s out there.

Here are an unfortunate two possibilities. Beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA) and Synephrine. Both have already had bad press and have been linked to health issues. An article published on WebMD talks about how in April of 2015, the FDA sent warning letters to five supplement companies whose products contain BMPEA, asking them to stop distributing products containing the drug.

This sounds strikingly similar to the beginning of the end of DMAA back in 2012.

In 2012, my cardiologist made me aware of the drug Synephrine. Synephrine, like BMPEA, and DMAA is a powerful stimulant. This was in one of, if not multiple pre workout supplements that I had taken in the past. (Refer back to photos). Synephrine is also disguised in many supplements just as DMAA was. It may also be labeled as Bitter Orange or Citrus Aurantium. Just as DMAA, the source of the drug is being labeled, which helps in the legality. Synephrine is not currently a banned substance.

Synephrine

Is it Worth the Risk?

Think about it, do we really need an exotic plant extract from China to help us lift more weight? Do we need to search for an ingredient buried at opposite ends of the earth to lose 10 pounds?

OVERWHELMING NO!!!

Work hard for your goals and they will come. What happened to eating properly, getting enough sleep, and staying properly hydrated. That is my pre workout.

3 Ways to Improve Throwing Velocity by Enhancing Lower Body Force Production

Pitching a baseball takes a tremendous amount of skill to throw with velocity and accuracy.  Improving velocity tends to be the primary concern of many pitchers, especially youth baseball players.  In order to learn how to enhance velocity, it’s more important to study scientific evidence than to rely on anecdotal information and traditional baseball concepts.

pitching velocityA recent study was published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine by a group of researchers in Japan that compared how youth and college pitchers use their trunks and legs during their pitching mechanics.

They found that youth and college pitchers threw with similar biomechanical kinematics, meaning that their mechanics were similar.

However, what they did find was that momentum and force generation were higher in the college pitchers.  College pitchers exhibited:

  • Greater push off on the pivot leg during stride
  • Greater pelvis and trunk rotation throughout the pitching sequence
  • Greater stride leg control during acceleration
  • Greater stride leg extension explosive force approaching ball release

It should be noted that the data was normalized to body mass to take into consideration the lower weight and size of adolescent pitchers.  This make the comparison fair.

These results correspond well to a previous report by the same authors that showed college pitchers with higher velocity also showed greater ability to produce force in their legs and trunk in comparison to college pitchers with low velocity.

In addition, the results were also similar to what Glenn Fleisig, Dr. James Andrews, and ASMI showed in regard to the upper body and trunk when comparing youth and older pitchers.

 

To Maximize Velocity, Generate More Force with the Legs and Trunk

Again, mechanics of youth are similar, but their ability generate force is different.  Generating more force with your legs and trunk results in greater velocity.

But getting stronger probably isn’t enough.

Based on these two studies it is apparent that getting stronger isn’t the only thing needed to increase your pitching velocity.  You also need to be able to generate more speed and power.

Part of this is simply getting older and bigger.  A stronger body and a longer arm generates more force, that’s just simple physics.  But there are also some tweaks you can perform to generate more force.  Here are three things youth baseball pitchers can train to improve their pitching velocity based on this new scientific evidence

 

Improve Strength

Leg and Trunk Power VelocityWhile strength probably isn’t enough alone, strength is probably the first factor youth should focus on to improve velocity.  To develop more power, you need to be stronger.  The more force you can exert, the harder you will throw.

Based on these studies, lower body strengthening is an area that deserves a lot of attention.  The legs are used during the early phases of pitching, so the amount of force produced early in the delivery will result in more force being developed and transferred through the body for the rest of the pitching sequence.

Take a look at professional baseball pitchers.  The majority that look like they throw effortlessly have big legs, hips, and butts.  Jon Lester is a great current example, and Roger Clemens is probably a great former example.

The shorter and smaller framed pitchers tend throw with much more effort.

The bigger and stronger your legs, the more force you can generate, which has been shown in numerous studies to correlate to velocity.

 

Enhance Speed

medicine ball pitching velocityI think a lot of youth baseball players stop at strength, and that can actually be detrimental.  Research in the strength and conditioning world has shown that training certain qualities, like strength and speed, results in adaptations of the body.

Better stated – train slow and you’ll throw slow. [Click to Tweet This]

Once a baseline of strength is established, I tend to focus on “intent.”  What I mean by that is you want to develop the athlete’s ability to explode.  This is an area that many youth do not understand.  They don’t know how to explode.

Once a young athlete understands how to move a heavy weight slowly, you want them to transition this to moving a moderate weight faster, and eventually a lighter weight even faster.

Exercises like plyometric jumps, medicine ball throws, kettlebell swings, and speed trap bar deadlifts are all very effective in this spectrum of training.

On the baseball training side of the equation, this is where long toss and overweight/underweight balls become important for pitchers (there is a right way and wrong way to implement these).  I’m not sure any of these develop “arm strength” as much as they develop “arm speed.”

Big difference.

 

Maximize Stability

youth baseball velocityLastly, and probably the least well understood and implemented, is training for stability.  To improve throwing velocity, you need the proper motor control and dynamic stability to stabilize both the arm and the stride leg.  People to tend to understand the arm more these days, but I wouldn’t ignore the stride leg.

To properly transfer force that is developed from your pivot leg, you need a strong AND stable stride leg.

You need stride leg stability for force transfer, but don’t forget the body has internal regulations to avoid injury.  If the stride leg can’t stabilize the force, theoretically you body won’t allow you to develop the force.

This also goes for the arm, and I believe why using weighted balls the WRONG way can be harmful, especially for youth pitchers.  Your arm needs to be able to withstand the force to produce the force.  Otherwise, your brain is smart enough to regulate force development.

To maximize velocity, you need to train the body to develop and withstand force.  Too many of us only focus on developing force alone.  This can result in ineffectiveness of training programs as well as injury by pushing past your physiological limits.

 

Understand that maximum velocity in a baseball pitcher occurs through a combination of many qualities.  Work on enhancing each of these will result in a maximum amount of velocity while reducing the chance of injury.

 

Free Presentation on Maximizing Performance and Reducing Injuries in Baseball Pitchers

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How “Movement Age” Impacts Program Design

Any half way decent strength and conditioning program must be individualized to the unique needs and goals of the trainee.  Developing programs that specifically address our clients’ “goals” is fairly straightforward, however, mastering how to design programs that also consider their “needs” can really take you to the next level as a personal trainer or strength coach.

When designing training programs, we often begin individualizing based on age.  That’s a great place to start, but there are many limitations with just using age.  I want to review how we design programs using “age” by starting with a review of chronological, biological, and training age.

More importantly, I wanted to introduce a new “age” we use at Champion called “movement age.”  This may be the most important, yet most neglected as well.

Chronological and Biological Age

Movement Age Program DesignAt the very beginning of the spectrum when discussing the “age” of your client is their actual chronological age, which is their precise age.  While this probably isn’t as big of an issue when discussing the training program of two people aged 34 and 38, it is much more relevant when comparing two people aged 14 and 18.

Chronological age is a good place to start, obviously, but their biological age is far more important. The anatomical maturity of a 14 year old is quite different from an 18 year old and does become a variable that must be adjusted for within your program design.

Line up 6 kids that are aged 14 and you’ll see the difference.  One looks like he is 10 years old, another looks 18, and the rest all fall somewhere in between.  According to the data accumulated at Wikipedia, girls will go through puberty between the ages of 10 and 16, while boys tend to go through puberty between the ages of 11 and 17.  That’s a 6 year range!

Our focus with those with a low chronological age is different that the older high school athletes.  While strength and power tend to become more of the focus in the older trainee, we focus on what we call the ABC’s of movement with our younger trainees, focusing on Agility, Balance, and Coordination.  Strength training is included but the results are obviously going to be limited by the hormonal and skeletal maturation differences.

But, I urge you to not downplay this stage of athletic development.  Developing the basics of movement skills is important and unfortunately this generation of children are not getting the same development as past generations.  In fact, our younger athletes at Champion see some of the biggest changes in athleticism.  These programs are impactful.

Here are my 2 and 6 year olds working on their athleticism!

So it’s apparent that chronological age has limited usefulness and biological age is a much better place to start.  However, chronological age does not take into consideration the experience of the trainee.

Training Age

As chronological age becomes less relevant with older trainees, the next variable to consider is their experience in training.  Image the difference in two individuals:

  • Trainee 1 – 28 year old – Wants to lose 10 pounds – Did not participate in athletics growing up, has never participated in a strength and conditioning program, currently has desk job.
  • Trainee 2 – 28 year old – Wants to lose 10 pounds – Was athletic growing up playing multiple sports in high school, and club sports for fun in college, trained at a sports performance center through high school, hasn’t trained consistently in 10 years.
  • Trainee 3 – 28 year old – Wants to lose 10 pounds – Was athletic growing up playing multiple sports in high school, and club sports for fun in college, trained at a sports performance center through high school, consistently trained through college and has continued since college.

We have people that are 28 years old and want to lose 10 pounds.  Same age, same goal.  Do they all start with the same program?  Of course not.

Training age takes into consideration the experience of the trainee.  Have they strength trained before?  Do they know how to perform the lifts with proper form?  Do they know how to exert force with intent (more on this in a future post…)?

Remember the success of your programs are based around how the body adapts to the stress applied.  You can pretty much do anything to Trainee 1 to stimulation enough stress to make a change, which is good because they have a lot to learn!  On the other end of the spectrum, Trainee 3 has a great understanding of how to train and has been exposing his body to different stresses for years.  To make progress in this trainee, you’ll likely need a more complicated periodization scheme to create a different stimulus for their body.

I have discussed these concepts in the past in my article Does Periodization of a Program Help Improve Strength and in more detail in an Inner Circle Webinar on Periodization for Strength Training and Rehabilitation.

There is one HUGE flaw with training age.  Just because you have been training for several years does not mean you understand how to train, or even that you know proper technique!

Don’t assume that since someone has been training consistently for years that they have been training correctly!

This is a common finding in people that have dabbled in strength training in the past and are starting a formal program or starting to work with a personal trainer or strength coach for the first time.

Movement Age

Poor Movement SkillsThe last age we consider when designing strength and conditioning programs is one of the most important, but often neglected.  We can have an advanced trainee in regard to chronological age, biological age, and training age, however, can they move well?  At Champion, we’ve started to use the terminology “Movement Age” to discuss someone’s ability to move.

We don’t even have to make this too complicated – can they hinge, squat, lunge, step, rotate, push, and pull?

We simply define the ability to “move” as using proper form through the movement’s full range of motion.  This then becomes a scale:

  • Can they move with assistance?
  • Can they move without assistance?
  • Can they move without assistance with load?
  • Can they move without assistance with load and speed?

When it comes to program design, “movement age” trumps training age every time. [Click here to tweet this]

It’s amazing how our movement skills have deteriorated.  How many of your high school athletes can touch their toes?  Isn’t it amazing?!?

In order to advance from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced trainee in our Champion program design system, you need to demonstrate maturation of your chronological, biological, training, and movement age.

On the Performance Therapy side of Champion, we work with a lot of athletes that want to optimize themselves and get the most out of their bodies.  It’s amazing how many of the “advanced” athletes we see have poor movement skills.  They don’t hinge well, or squat well past neutral, or can’t even balance themselves in a half kneeling position!

This can lead to imbalances, asymmetries, and compensation patterns that can suck performance, lead to tissue overuse, and eventually breakdown.  This is especially true if you try to just blast through your poor movement skills and add load and speed to your lifts.

Sometimes we don’t need an advanced and complicated strength training periodization scheme, sometimes we just need to clean up movement patterns.  Consider this taking one step back to take 5 huge steps forward.  Movement age may be the most important variable to consider when designing strength and conditioning programs.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt Influence on Squat Mechanics

anterior pelvic tilt influences squat mechanicsI feel like we’ve been discussing anterior pelvic tilt lately in several articles and an Inner Circle webinar on my strategies for fixing anterior pelvic tilt.  I wanted to show a video of a great example of how a simple assessment really tells you a lot about how pelvic positioning should influence how we coach exercises such as squats and deadlifts.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my past article on how anterior pelvic tilt influences hip range of motion, you should definitely start there.

In this video, I have a great example of a client that has limited knee to chest mobility and with boney impingement.  However, if we abduct the leg a bit, it clears the rim of the hip and has full mobility with no impingement.

As you can see, because he is in anterior pelvic tilt, he is prepositioned to start the motion in hip flexion, so therefor looks like he has limited mobility.  I have a past article on how anterior pelvic tilt influence hip flexion mobility, which discusses this a little more.

While you are working on their anterior pelvic tilt, you can work around some of their limitations.  I hate when people say there is only one way to squat or deadlift.

Our anatomy is so different for each individual.

Some need a wider stance while others need more narrow.  Some need toes out while some need more neutral.  Do what works best for your body, not what the text book says you are supposed to look like.

Enhance Performance During the Baseball Season by Reducing Overuse

I’ve talked over and over again that overuse is the number one reason why we have so many high school and youth baseball injuries.  It’s likely the most significant factor while also being the easiest to address.  People grasp the concept that overuse can lead to injury, but overuse is also the number one reason why performance is decreased over the course of a baseball season.

But it’s all about temptation, right?  Let’s use a different example.  Eating that donut right now probably isn’t going to kill me today (I guess I could choke on it…), but creating a bad habit, like eating a lot of donuts, will have an impact on my longevity and quality of life.  My short term actions will decrease my long term results.

Taking it back to summer baseball, it’s tempting to play in multiple leagues or to sign up for every showcase and tournament you can find.  You want to get the most exposure that you can, right?  Realize that your short term actions will decrease your long term results.

 

Understanding the Stress of a Baseball Season

I like to think that you start every baseball season at 100% capacity, and slowly drip down over the course of the season.  This is normal.  There is this magical line of injury, let’s say at 80% capacity.  You can play at 81% but you can’t play at 79%.  This is a concept I have developed over the years because I see this ALL the time. I’m not sure why, but I do feel there is this magical line.

Here is what that magical line looks like.  The blue line is your magical line that I don’t want you to dip below over the course of the season.  The red line is your capacity.

Youth baseball overuse

 

Once you dip below that magical line of 80%, it’s really hard to get back up.  You end up struggling to stay above water all season.  You play on the weekend, empty the tank, and then we struggle to get you back over the line all week.  This is by far the worst way to get through a season.

baseball overuse

Some people spend every season like this and I wonder if they ever truly reach their potential. People that I tend to see that do wiggle back and forth over this line tend to be doing 1 of 2 things:

  1. Way too much in general
  2. Trying to make big gains during the season

What I mean by the second point is that you spent all winter working hard to get stronger, improve your mechanics, and enhance your velocity.  But, you continue to push your physiological limits with your training in season when you should be scaling back the training and scaling up the skill competition.  This leads to overuse, even though your actual innings may be down.

I’d rather you be at 100% capacity at 80% of showcases, rather than at 80% capacity at 100% of showcases.  Plus, 80% of you isn’t going to impress a scout or coach.  The higher your red line, the higher your performance.

 

Enhance Performance During the Baseball Season by Reducing Overuse

My job is to slow down that drip.  I want to make the red line slowly drip over the course of the season.

baseball inseason injury

I do this by helping you maintain your mobility, strength, stability, and endurance.  Notice I said “maintain” and not “gain.”  You can also help slow this drip down with proper inseason programs.  Paying attention to your recovery, sleep, and nutrition also play a part.

Your job is to raise your capacity as much as possible.  You want to make that blue line go down as much as possible.

baseball performance

 

How do you do this?  It’s building your base in the offseason through a comprehensive performance training program that focuses on strength, power, speed, agility, endurance, mobility, and arm care.  If it’s midseason for you and you are struggling, keep this in mind next offseason!

I work with a lot of young athletes during the season.  It is VERY obvious to me inseason which player put the effort in during the offseason to prepare.  Their durability is noticeably improved.Overuse is specific to each individual.  You can slow down your drip and raise your capacity with the right programs.  This is why your innings may be far less than someone else on your team but you are always hurt and they stay injury free.

 

Learn More About How I Manage Baseball Players Inseason

If you want to learn more about how I manage players during the baseball season, this month’s Inner Circle webinar will discuss my 4 keys to staying health during the baseball season.  The webinar is Thursday June 25th at 8:00 PM EST, but will be recorded for Inner Circle members.