Two items in this inaugural post:
1. The goal here is to be a resource for anyone interested in improving performance and optimizing movement. Look for a combo of video and written posts. Remember if we aren’t always pushing the envelope of what we know and how we treat and train, we are stagnant, weak, and slow – don’t be that guy! Now, onto the meat of this…
2. As we dive deeper into the performance pool, here is a primer on a few things we need to consider in regards to how we are looking at and training athletic movements. We shall revisit.
- Performance: if we aren’t seeing change – with our mobility work or strength/conditioning then we need to reassess, looking at the entire body as a system of systems. Been stretching your pulled hamstring like a bozo for 6 weeks but it won’t go away? No more tunnel vision – there is a better way.
- Position: An athlete must always be in a position to cultivate spinal stability (butt and abs submaximally contracted) with global rather than segmental flexion or extension (i.e. spine curves like a C with ribcage organized rather than hinging at one or two spinal segments like an L). Such stability at the trunk allows for proper positioning for the main power generators of the hips and shoulders – otherwise the body will find stability in passive structures, draining power. No matter the movement difficulty, we can ALWAYS develop a stable position, although it may take some considerable mobility work. An otherwise strong athlete may appear weak purely due to poor positioning. Good position is good function. Plus an athletic, organized position is way cooler than rocking the manbelly look. Manbelly = uncool
- Quality: I cannot stress this enough, quality over quantity is never more important than in athletic endeavors. The human body has an incredible ability to adapt – to crappy movement patterns just like good ones. If the imposed demands are developing weak, unstable positioning (shoulders rolling forward, knees coming in into valgus, loss of spinal bracing) then the body will adapt to that poor position. Strength training serves to make us stronger in the positions we are working in – good or bad. Metabolic/cardiorespiratory demands overlayed with strength training can tell us a whole lot about the athlete’s ability to reproduce complex movements (one of the many positives of CrossFit, for example) – something that will result in injury and poor performance once on the competitive playing field.
- Context and Purpose: Consider the athlete who overextends during the split jerk causing the ribcage to tilt up. With this comes a loss of abdominal control and an inability to consummate a stable, fully overhead position without the shoulders rolling forward and elbows bent. Chances are good once this athlete attempts to transfer the skill to the baseball field, he will again overextend causing a loss of midline stability reducing his shoulder internal rotation motion and trashing his throwing shoulder. We must use these complex movements as diagnostics and look at the context of the skill with the ultimate goal of being awesome in your particular skill or sport.
- Stress: In his book Supertraining, Yuri Verkhoshansky talks about the added stress of competition and its effect on fatigue and recovery. Too often we look at reps or amount of weight lifted as the benchmark but adding the stress of competition to training – whether it be against another athlete or against the clock – is a powerful diagnostic for not only where the athlete is competitively but also how the movement breaks down in a rush to win. So throw in a set for time rather than reps or grab that guy at the gym who thinks he’s Ronnie Coleman and establish a 3RM against him.
Bottomline: to perform like Viking heroes (TM) we have to start paying attention to the details. Stay tuned – we’re going to get knee deep in this stuff.