Archive for Balance

LTAD and Going Through Puberty

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by razorsedgeperformance

I see a lot of parents and coaches, who concerned about the safety of ‘strength training’ for their children, choose to wait until after puberty before starting athletic development. Coaches may call this the end of Training to Train and the start of Training to Compete.

While I understand where everyone is coming from, there is a major piece to the puzzle missing. Once a child goes through puberty, coordination usually falls behind, because their limb lengths are now much bigger, and they didn’t know how to control the smaller ones!

Gaining coordination as a young child, whether resisted with external loading or not, is extremely important to avoid this awkward stage that sometimes comes about with puberty. Resistance training is not unsafe for children (assuming you are supervised by a qualified individual…) and athletic development coaches will want to see effective use of body weight first none the less.

If you want to be a well coordinated athlete who can stay injury proof through your teens, learning how to move and control your body before puberty is much more efficient than waiting!

If you want to talk performance, you are able to get strong and powerful SOONER!

Kids are allowed to run and jump all they want in sport without restrictions, so why are we afraid to allow them to learn how to control their bodies under supervision? Something is missing here…

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Becoming a Robot Part II….Improving Mobility

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Yesterday we talked about how mobility restrictions can really be hurting the way you move, which in turn can hold back your performances. Today i’ll share a few videos of things you can add into your dynamic warmup or interset rest periods to start enjoying the benefits of quality movement.

 

 

 

Try these out and see what happens!

 

It’s About Getting Better!

Stop! You’re becoming a robot

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Somewhere along the line things got twisted. All of a sudden, the only thing that matters is strength. I’m seeing it all the time, guys are saying:”see how much I benched?? Squatted?”. Sure, strength development is important, but how did it become the be all and end all? I’ve written before about how important it is to learn – and become efficient at – proper movement patterns. This is something that the new strength-centric athletes are missing. When’s the last time you assessed your strengths and weaknesses? Guess what, it’s not a muscle group that’s lagging, it’s your mobility! If you’re anything like most of the young athletes I see these days, your flexibility and mobility suck and they’re holding you back. You have nobody to blame but yourself, I mean, everyone started out with great mobility and flexibility… (picked this up from a seminar)

can you still do this?

So why is it so important??

Look at it this way, mobility dictates positioning. This is what will allow you to go to end range and successfully complete movement patterns efficiently. A good example is a slingshot, since our muscles are like elastics. If you have a slingshot and you can barely pull back the band, does it make sense to make the band even stronger? The problem is, it actually gives it a slight improvement which is all the more misleading. A stronger band would probably improve performance slightly, but think about how much better it would be if you decided to focus on how you could pull the band back further? Attaining full range of motion will allow the elastic to build up more energy and allow the shot to be more accurate. This is how you need to treat your body. Stop focusing on getting stronger when you’ve got poor range of motion and terrible movement patterns.Enough is enough. Learn how to use your body more efficiently first, THEN you can increase your strength again.

If you’ve been sacrificing mobility and range of motion in the weight room (controlled environment), then how will you be able to magically pull it off in a high speed uncontrolled environment (sport)? Wake up and smell the roses. Take the next little while to focus on mobility and you’ll see yourself become more efficient, more effective and more injury resistant.

Come back tomorrow to see some different strategies and exercises to get you started on your path for better movement. Sometimes it just takes a more comprehensive dynamic warmup to help your body move properly for the following workout.

Added mobility has so many positive effects. Hypertrophy is increased when training through a full-range of motuon. Faulty movement patterns can lead to compensations, overuse of certain muscles and structures, then either knotted up muscles or possible tendinopathies. Increased mobility in key areas also allows you to be way more dynamic in all your movement. Do yourself a favour and do your next training session by a mirror and find out how you look going to full-depth in a squats, the start position of a deadlift, or the top of a pullup!

Remember,

It’s about getting better!

Building and Assessing Your Foundation

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I think it’s always good to be aware of what makes up the foundation of your health, movement, training, etc. Generally with health we can get into nutrition, social and emotional factors of weight, diet, training, and body image, and training factors like muscle imbalances or rest and recovery.

That’s a lot to get into, so I just want to focus on the physical body and the way it moves. There are a lot of opinions out there about the different basics that make up a workout, and what level of function a person has within different movements.

Gray Cook and Lee Burton and the rest of the minds behind the Functional Movement Screen have come up with a great resource to assess the way a person moves, and direct further attention to the areas of need. It is not the be all and end all of performance training but a good starting point.

I want to take a different approach and talk about an exercise/movement that can serve both as an assessment and practice for developing many of these basic movement patterns. In fact, I know it’s something that Gray values very much in his work for these reasons.

It is called the Turkish Getup and is an exercise that comes from the Kettlebell world. It’s important to note that it is also possible to do the exercises with a dumbell, so if you don’t have access to kettelebells regularly, don’t lose any sleep over it. In a nutshell, the TGU is an exercise where you start in a supine position (laying on your back) with the kettlebell overhead, and must work your way up to your feet, with the kettlebell above you at all times.

Here are some points as to why I love this movement so much. It utilizes some of the key aspects of body control that everyone should possess. The ability to roll/twist, keep your shoulder blades stable throughout a complex movement, use your glutes to create stability and movement, and an ability to keep your torso rigid through coordination of your core muscles. Having a person go through the TGU can either show me areas where they are weak, or give me an opportunity to have them ‘figure out’ through some cueing, ways in which to develop these basic characteristics.

Here are some brief pointers about the journey from supine to standing…

Step 1

Start with the kettlebell above you, with your arm extended, and your shoulder packed in tight. Bend the leg on the same side of your body as the kettlebell is, and have your foot flat on the ground. The other arm and leg are both extended. NOTE: The arm that starts extended should ALWAYS stay extended, and the foot on the ground should stay in that place for the whole movement.

Let’s imagine the kettlebell is in the right hand.

When you are ready, you are going to ‘crunch and punch’ the kettlebell up, while also rolling onto your left elbow.

Step 2

You are going to reach up again with your right arm, and extend your left arm underneath you, so you are resting on your left hand, both arms extended.

Step 3

You are going to push your right foot down  into the ground, contract your glutes and hamstring, and try to fully extend your right hip. This full extension is crucial for providing space for the next step

Step 4

With your hips up in the air, you are going to try to pull your left leg under your body and place your knee on the ground between your left hand and right foot. Your upper body should look like a T.

Step 5

Now you are going lift your torso so its tall, with your right arm back overhead, and left arm at your side. You are also going to turn your left knee so it is facing forward again and you are in a half-kneeling position.

Step 6

Now you need to pushoff with your legs and rise to a standing position with feet beside each, and arm still overhead.

Step 7

Now repeat all of steps 1-6 in reverse, to get back to the starting position properly.

Here are a couple videos I have made to show the technique. Notice that there should always be a slight pause between each step, so that a proper foundation can be set before proceeding with the next movement. With this move we are looking for stability in each position, not speed.

It’s About Getting Better!

Achieving Your Best…At Anything!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I am proud to announce that I had the pleasure of reading the book of former Blue Jay Shawn Green two weeks ago. In fact, it was so good, that I also need to confess that I read it all within an afternoon/evening. I legitimately could not put it down. It’s called The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph and it chronicles his time in the major leagues, and the secret to accomplishing the many amazing feats from his career. In case you don’t remember, Shawn Green was an absolute monster in the late ’90s and early 2000’s. Don’t believe me? Google him and check out his stats. Better yet, pick up his book and read all about ’em.

Why it was so powerful…

This book definitely transcends baseball, and can apply to anything you do in life. Shawn talks about how he overcame some conflict (for you this can be internal or external) by immersing himself in meditation. There were two really important aspects to take away from his meditation. First, his meditation involved hitting a baseball. This means you can literally meditate doing anything that makes you happy. For many this might involve working out. I’m not trying to press it or anything, i’m just sayin’. Secondly, he had a small history with eastern philosophies, but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference with the actual performance. So if you haven’t studied any, then don’t sweat it. The key is that it is flexible to your conflict, your favourite activities, and your experience level.

What is the key?

The key to achieving success through this practice is the concept of flow. Flow is about being in a state of total engagement in a task. If you’ve ever done something where you’ve ‘lost track of time’ then you have definitely been in a state of flow. In fact, flow is also characterized by low levels of stress, improved focus and attention to detail, and improved mood. For many athletes, training and playing their sport of choice will usually put them in flow, and that helps to perpetuate success. For others it can be writing, reading, or any number of hobbies. Since flow is such a powerful tool for building positive self-efficacy, it’s no wonder that meditating/entering flow through swing practice helped Shawn become one of the best hitters in the majors over a 6 or 7 year span.

What is the takeaway?

As a strength and conditioning professional, I find that the mental aspect of success in sport or life in general are extremely understated. For some people. this casual meditation and flow may come naturally and help lead to magnificent accomplishments. For others, it takes a little bit of focus to practice these same concepts but with appropriate attention to detail. Also, working out can definitely be a meditation-like behaviour for many people trying to get away from something else in their life. Not only that, but if you are trying to get bigger, stronger, faster, or leaner, then losing yourself into the moment of training can be just as important as the exercises you do.

Do me a favour and read the book. Once you’ve finished, sit down and think about the things in your life that put you in flow!

FLOW

It’s About Getting Better!

A basket full of goodies…

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Howdy here…I decided I had a whole bunch of things in my mind that I wanted to touch on, so i’ll make a bit of a summary post with some good tidbits I hope…I’ve been working with some tweens the past few weeks running a Sport Performance camp; It has been a ton of fun, but also a little exhausting. I thought it would negatively impact my training and lean body mass, but oddly enough I’ve been adding some lean muscle lately. While I do definitely feel like my lifts are less explosive, I’ve been hovering above 183lbs lately, at a body fat around 9%. Considering I had been stuck around 179-181lbs in the last 4-6 weeks, I am definitely happy with the progress. On to the other thoughts…

– If you are a recreational weightlifter who can squat 3 plates with some good depth, HUGE thumbs up… It’s not easy to do…having said that though, if you seem to come out of the hole with decent strength BUT fold in half like a chair, giving you a ton of spinal flexion, then all is for naught. Take a plate off and make sure you are doing a proper squat. Totally unacceptable to have that kind of leg strength and atrocious technique or corresponding lack of core strength. Do your best to workout with a reliable partner, who is not afraid to tell you when your lifts look like garbage or hire a professional to put you through a workout every couple months. If they are worth the cost (which they should be!) then they can help clean up techniques or give you ways to do it yourself. I guarantee you’ll learn something, so it’s worth the price.

– I just got directed to a website made by Canadian trainer and strength coach Brad Pilon (HERE ) and it really made me think. I am not here to say one way or another whether or not this book may have some merit, especially since I haven’t read it. However, It does raise some questions with me though. I happen know a lot of graduate students, university professors and researchers who do studies on different supplement ingredients and protocols that have had positive findings and AREN’T on the bankroll of supplement companies. I wholeheartedly agree that there is no black and white as it comes to protein ingestion and how your body will respond. There are so many factors when it comes to physical adaptation that its hard to guarantee anything! From looking at the site, I just think he may be trying a little too hard to produce shock value, but I also understand he’s probably put a ton of good work into a product that he wants to sell…just something to think about.

– From the last few weeks working with kids in the 13 to 16 year old range, I can say for certain how important proper movement patterns need to be reinforced at this age. Every kid wants a chance to do bench press, squats, and deadlifts, but most of them have very little ability to control much of their body during movement.  If you are coaching kids at this age, do the world a favour and stand your ground! When they ask to try something that’s only going to build on their dysfunctions, just say NO! If they don’t care the reasons, then just don’t give them the options.

– I am really loving Cytosport right now. I am extremely glad that they have taken the initiative to be a company that provides products that athletes can count on as being 100% clean(NSF tested). There are so many supplement companies that it’s hard to say whose products are better than others in terms of quality. You’d probably have to take them all into a lab and break them down and I don’t have the resources for that…so let’s assume they are all in a similar range. Cytosport’s new line is also trying to eliminate all of their previous usage of ‘proprietary blends’ and focus on quality ingredients. This makes it much easier to qualify the expected physiological effect of its use. Between a renewed focus on quality and the peace of mind of being clean and safe, we at REP are currently on the Cytosport bandwagon, and happy to sell their line of products!! Email us if you have any more questions!

That’s it for now…It’s About Getting Better!

Where’d My Shoes Go?

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on December 31, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance
As a trainer I’d like to think I try to do most things properly and take advantage of the little things which most people either don’t know of or simply refuse to do. Either that, or I’m a little bit crazy. Either way, I’m fine with that. I’ve owned a pair of Vibram Five-Fingers for almost 6 months now and I have to say they’re one of my favourite training tools. They also happen to be a fantastic conversation starter.
Most people think I either got them from ninja training or I’m about to walk on the Great Barrier Reef. People don’t seem to understand the advantages of being barefoot, or to look at it in another way, the problems caused by shoes.
Vibram Five Fingers

Its taken until now to get people to do dynamic warm ups and regularly work on mobility, so why do we put our feet in an implement which restricts our mobility (and activation) the entire time we’re on them? It just doesn’t make sense.  People need to begin utilizing barefoot training more. An easy way to begin incorporating barefoot work into your training is as easy as doing dynamic warmups barefoot. This will give you an opportunity to work on joint mobility in your feet and ankles as well as light activation of the many muscles in your feet.

For those looking to take it a step further, Lunges, Deadlifts, and Squats are all great exercises which can and should be done without shoes on. If you don’t have vibrams, try doing this lifts in your socks or at least utilize shoes with a very thin, flat sole (ie chuck taylors).

Keep in mind that not all things are great in barefeet. Any activities where a lot of impact is involved will need a certain amount of cushion.  How much training did you do in barefeet in 2010? If the answer is very little or none at all then make that a goal of 2011!  The improved proprioception (balance) and lower limb and foot mobility will greatly improve performance and health in the new year.

For further reading, here is a great article written about Barefoot training by Martin Rooney:

http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/training-articles/the-importance-of-barefoot-training/

From Razor’s Edge Performance I’d like to wish all our readers and clients a Happy New Year! Remember…

It’s About Getting Better!

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