1) Foam rolling and other self-massage tools do a wonderful job of relieving tension in a muscle during the short term. But always keep in mind that if the same tightness returns to that muscle regularly you need to attack the root cause if you ever want a real solution to your issue.
And often times that comes down to one of three things:
Fixing a faulty movement pattern that is putting too much stress on the wrong area
A misalignment issue due to injury or prolonged poor posture Poor stability somewhere near the tight region, which is causing another muscle to do more stabilization work than it should be doing. As physical therapist Gray Cook likes to say, “If you’re foam roller hasn’t fixed the problem yet, it probably won’t.”
2) Care to guess what percentage of Americans do all of the following?
Eat 5 servings of fruits & veggies most days
Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week
Maintain a healthy body weight
It is 3%.
For all the fad diets and extreme workout programs that dominate our culture, 97% of Americans would still be best served by focusing on the fundamentals.
3) One of the greatest disservices to kids who play sports are the now endless “conditioning” and “dry-land” programs sport coaches like to run. The feedback I get from participants is almost always along the lines of how tired they were from it. But is that the only goal of a workout?
This is obviously something that, as a performance coach, is quite personal to me. I’ve never even thought about going and running a basketball/soccer/hockey camp, for the precise reason that I don’t know enough to help the kids to get any better.
There is an awful lot more to performance training than simply making kids tired. If there are any coaches out there reading this who would like some experienced advice on how to best set this up for your kids, I’ll gladly set up a time to help you out.
4) Are you an athlete who wants to get faster? There are tons of non-sprint ways to accomplish this. Try developing more hip strength, improving your flexibility, doing basic plyometric exercises, and dialing in your nutrition. Speed is multi-faceted. If you can make small progress in all these areas, on top of working on sprint technique, and it will add up to real change for you.
5) If you’re looking to drop a few pounds and you’re focused on counting calories, be aware that most food labels are general estimates and rarely are entirely accurate. Add that to the hormonal factors that each food type presents inside your body, some create more fat storage than others, and you’re fighting a losing battle. Spend more time eating whole foods and you’ll see better results with far less stress.
6) Looking for a book to read at the beach this month? One of the best books I’ve read in awhile is “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday. I wish every athlete we worked with read this, but really it is a powerful book for anyone who meets challenges in their lives they have to overcome (i.e. all of us). My friend and business coach Julie Hatfield recommends “Mind Gym” by Gary Mack as well.
7) It never ceases to amaze me the confidence boost that comes from working hard and getting strong. We see it in our adults and in our youth programs. We can’t teach someone to be confident, they have to go out and do things they didn’t think they were capable of doing for it to happen. Strength training is a safe and straightforward way to do that.
8) In a culture where sitting and hunching over our computers/cell phones is a major part of most people’s day, the need to strengthen and stabilize the scapula and upper back muscles is as important as it’s ever been in human history. This applies double for throwing athletes and may be contributing to the dramatic rise in arm injuries for baseball players over the last decade. A seated and hunched posture slowly pulls your shoulders forward, which can pull the bottom of your shoulder blade (scapula) off your rib cage. And the first step in improving this is simply to walk with good shoulder posture, then to train your upper body in a way that fixes the issue, not add to it.
9) It feels like working with kids today, compared to as recently as 10 years ago, there are far fewer who come in and really know what they want to accomplish. Working towards a goal that truly drives you to greater heights is not only important for athletic success, but for success in all walks of life. I feel like we need to develop more autonomy for kids in youth sports and cut down on some of the structure of practicing and playing games every day of the week, year-round. Being able to go out and explore development on your own, without the coach yelling at you, would return a sense of autonomy to many of our kids dreams and make it more, not less, likely that they will happily challenge themselves to grow.
10) Remember that low-carb diets owe a lot of their early success to dropping water weight, not fat weight. Every stored gram of carbohydrate holds 3 grams of water. As Precision Nutrition states, there is a reason why the word ‘hydrate’ is in carbohydrate. If this early success fuels you to continue exercising, eat healthier foods, and makes you feel better then following a low-carb food plan is perfectly fine. Just don’t do it on occasion for short term weight loss, because the rebound effect is going to likely cause more weight gain in the long run.
11) Lots of people ask us to help them develop more core strength, and there is an easy way to determine if you need to or not. have someone look at your technique on pushups -it can even be just one or two if you don’t think you have great arm strength – and note whether you can get all they way down and up with a perfect level body position. If your midsection arches down or your hips shoot up high, yeah you want to develop your core. If you can stay level throughout, this is likely not a limiting factor in your athletic/fitness performance and thus shouldn’t take up a majority of your training time.
12) We are asked regularly how young can a child start training. The answer is always when they are ready to focus on doing their drills correctly, and they truly want to be there. Under this criteria we’ve seen kids as young as 8 and 9 do very well in age-appropriate workouts. Conversely, we’ve also seen some high school athletes who really weren’t mentally prepared to work out yet. The age is always secondary to inner drive and coachability.