Archive for Health

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…

Weightlifting is the Answer! Here is why…

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by razorsedgeperformance
We have spoken a number of times on this page about why weightlifting exercises (SEE Snatch, Clean, and Jerks) are awesome for developing speed and power in athletes, and thus why they should be included in many training programs.
While that is still true, I am going to discuss why weightlifting is EVEN BETTER for recreational athletes, and for that matter strength and conditioning coaches!
Let me talk about the second group first, because that is my cohort. As strength and conditioning coaches we are usually a competitive bunch (most are former athletes) and so love to compete no matter how old or out of shape we get. Add to that thought the concept of the high power output that is present in these exercises and it makes for the perfect avenue to compete in that still stays true to what we preach all day in the weight room! Wait, there is a cherry on top…these lifts are highly technical, and require a lot of practice and some good coaching. So as strength coaches, we always want to be working on our craft to provide the best coaching to our athletes. The more you can practice the lifts on your own, the better you get at coaching them and picking them apart.
Now let’s get to the recreational lifter and with that the crossfit population. I will go on record and say there are some things I really enjoy about crossfit. People seem to love it and love getting to the gym. This is great for the health and fitness of overall communities and the individuals within them. It is a system that also works well to improve overall physical capacities and body composition. So why do people hate on it, especially in the health and fitness community? Probably because they break people…some of it is from the crazy amount of volume everyone is expected to do, and some of it is just from the fact few members get taught proper technique for the weightifting exercises (let alone basic barbell exercises!!)…
Here are a few reasons why they are actually amazing lifts for the recreational lifter, even though they seem too technical and only for the ‘elite’…
Mobility! Here is the world record holder in both lifts at 77kg class, Lu Xiaojun. I have a huge man-crush on him for his weightlifting abilities. Not only are we talking about crazy amounts of power to move the bar, but he is catching the weight in a full-depth overhead squat. Even go back and see his starting position; Weightlifting requires a high level of mobility in your hips and ankles, as well as shoulders and upper back. These are the kinds of things the office-warrior loses quickly as they age, so just working on getting to these positions is highly valuable. Posture is such a large emphasis for these lifts that these muscles will get a ton of attention, and have no choice but to get their act together!
Metabolic Demand! These lifts use the entire body. So when you do a set of 8 or 10 reps at a submaximal weight, you are burning a ton of fuel. No wonder all the elite lifters are shredded (save for superheavy’s)…
Even working with a dowel (wooden stick, step 1) to get the positions and transitions correct, will be a great workout for most people as the volume is typically high and the attention to detail as well.
Cool Factor! Because they are so technical, not a lot of people do them well…walking into a gym, taking over the platform, and rocking some double body weight clean and jerks will definitely get you some attention. You will make a lot of friends that day. A lot of people can squat, but throw the same weight overhead as fast as you can? My mind just got blown.
It is with all of these reasons that we have begun a weightlifting club out of FITS Toronto where we work with weekend warriors to master these lifts, and so far the response has been impressive. If you want to really kick your training into another gear, and find something that you can really pour your focus into…then start learning how to weightlift!! (Consult a professional!!)
BONUS: Here is me hitting some PR’s yesterday as I journey to a bodyweight snatch…join me!
DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s Kyle beating Cory‘s PRs

Coffee: The Good, the bad and the ugly

Posted in Health with tags , , , on February 22, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Coffee might just be the most consumed beverage on the planet. I hope it’s actually water, but frankly I see more people drinking coffee than water on a day to day basis. As with anything that popular, there are differing opinions as to its value. Is it good for you? Or is it bad for you but you simply need it to wake up and/or get you through the day? Well it can definitely be good for you but that depends on if you use it or abuse it.


The good:
There are a number of benefits to drinking coffee. Most people drink it for its caffeine, which is a stimulant. Caffeine boosts metabolism, improves alertness and is even an ergogenic aid (increases performance) for endurance sports. All in all it can be a very effective addition to your diet to help keep you lean; be sure to consume it properly for this to happen (“the ugly” below). For a long list of benefits, as well as tips on drinking it, see this article by fellow strength coach and trainer Mike Sheridan.
The bad:
A big problem with our culture is over consumption. This is especially the case with coffee, as evidenced by the new sizes at Tim Hortons. Most people aren’t hydrated enough to begin with, couple that with the 3, 5, 7 cups of coffee I see people drinking and it becomes a big problem. As Mike mentioned, you’re probably drinking too much to begin with but you’re not coming close to hydrating adequately for that volume of coffee. Do yourself a favour, cut down to twice per day (morning and afternoon maybe) and put a major focus on water intake. Lethargy is a symptom of dehydration, which is probably the reason you’re consuming the coffee in the first place – vicious circle, I know.
The ugly:

If you’ve ever asked for a “double-double” then this section is for you. You can stop bragging now, that’s not a good thing. Taking your coffee with loads of milk and sugar is exactly what you need, if GETTING FAT is your goal. If you’re reading this article though, it means you’re either lost or you’re screwing yourself over. We’ve already talked about how important it is to keep a low and steady blood sugar level (here) both for health and for staying lean. Guzzling down a huge coffee with tons of sugar and milk (read: sugar) is the opposite of what we’re trying to do. This is just asking for an insulin spike and most likely fat storage. The benefit of adding cream (and no sugar) is that the higher fat content really slows down digestion and keeps your blood sugar at a steady level. Caffeine can help with fat loss, but taking your coffee with tons of milk and sugar completely negates those benefits.

The Solution:

So what to do about your coffee problem?? A few simple tips can go a long way. First, cut down your intake to once or twice per day. Next, cut down what you’re putting in and go for some cream (18% or 35%) . Lastly, and you should already be doing this, put a major emphasis on water intake. Your body significantly breaks down when it’s dehydrated and most people live their lives that way. Don’t be that guy/girl.

Coffee can be great if you consume it properly.

Remember,

It’s About Getting Better!

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!

Get Help in the Kitchen!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Everyone in the fitness industry laments the start of January due to the flood of people in all of the gyms and health clubs around North America. Is it because we think this is bad? Absolutely not! That’s amazing…for 2 weeks of the year, everyone is acting the way they should ALL YEAR ROUND. The reason us professionals get frustrated is that by the end of January, most people have fallen back into the old habits, and have lost site of whatever health and fitness related resolution they undertook on January 1st.
I think I can help everyone out a little bit by shedding light on the most important intervention for achieving your goals, whether they are related to hypertrophy, fat-loss, or performance enhancement. LEARNING HOW TO COOK. I’m not talking about becoming the next Jamie Oliver, just someone who can follow a damn good recipe.
I always chuckle when people ask me if i’m a good cook. I make almost all of my food, save for some supplements taken around workouts, so that should say something. Yet I have no imagination in the kitchen. I have made some great dishes, and some bad ones. The key to my success? Find a good recipe, and follow it!

Let’s go over a few resources that I like to use that can make a world of a difference between winning and losing in this game we play with our bodies and health.


Precision Nutrition

Do yourself a favour and go all-out with the whole system. You get a fantastic cookbook, a manual that describes a lot about WHY to eat certain foods and WHEN to eat them, as well as food preparation tips and other random nuggets of information. The cookbook, Gourmet Nutrition has recipes for shakes, snacks, side dishes, entrees, breakfasts, soups, salad dressings and sauces, and of course desserts. All of the nutritional facts about the meal are given, as well as designations of when the meal is best consumed. The added bonus is access to the online members content on the site, which has forums and articles that are at least 5 years old, so the amount of content archived on the precision nutrition site is massive.

Gourmet Nutrition 2.0

This is the 2nd cookbook in the gourmet nutrition series. It is along the same format as the first version that is in the Precision Nutrition system, but adds a whole bunch of new recipes. If you plan on doing the Precision Nutrition system, wait on this, until you’ve tried all of the recipes in the first book. If you just want a healthy cookbook, then this is one way to go. It really goes above and beyond the infamous ‘chicken breasts and broccoli’ that many get trapped in when trying to eat well.

Best of Clean Eating
http://rcm-ca.amazon.ca/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=razosedgepe02-20&o=15&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1552100855

I haven’t tried many of these recipes yet, but I flipped through the whole book and it looks absolutely fantastic. Not only does everything look gourmet, but the entire cookbook has tips and facts about different foods and nutrtients, as well as recipes that will only make you healthier.

Best of Clean Eating 2
http://rcm-ca.amazon.ca/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=razosedgepe02-20&o=15&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1552100979

Just go back and read what I just wrote above regarding the first version. This is just another resource with new recipes that follow the same ideals as the first.

That’s 4 resources for nutritional help with your resolutions (or constant struggle for improvement if you didn’t just start this week…). Do yourself a favour and get in the habit of cooking your own healthy meals, and realize healthy and gourmet can fit in the same sentence together. Most unwanted deviations from healthy eating occur because you are unprepared and didn’t pack a lunch, or don’t feel like cooking. So take some time to get your act together in the kitchen, so your body is appropriately fueld for your workouts!

It’s About Getting Better

5 Tools for 2012

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

The holidays are over, it’s time to wake up. The food coma you’ve been in for the last 2 weeks is starting to wear off. The guilt is piling up almost as high as the holiday calories. It’s bad; you know it, I know it. The easy part? That was 2011. See what I did there? A fresh start for everyone.

A new year brings new goals and new ideas. There’s no better time to take your training game to a new level. This is where the title comes into play; below you will find a list of 5 training tools that can help you achieve your new goals in 2012.

1. 
Gymboss Interval Timer

The gym boss is an interval timer. Timing is crucial to training. Too little rest, your strength won’t return, too much rest, your heart rate returns to normal. No matter what your training goal is, a timer will be bring a consistency you’ve never been able to achieve before. Oh and if you’re looking to start interval training (hiit), this is probably the best interval timer on the market.

2. Multipurpose band

Iron Woody Stretch Bands

Besides a good timer, this might be the most versatile piece of equipment in your training bag. A good multi purpose Band can be used for strength, flexibility/mobility, warmup and explosive work.

3. Foam Roller

Maybe you have tried it, maybe you haven’t. We’ve talked about foam rollers before and other self-massage tools in the past, check them out here (Part 1 and Part 2). Not only is it a great tool for recovery from a good workout, it is also important for establishing good tissue quality as well as restoring proper length-tension relationships throughout your body. Issues relating to poor posture always require two things. The mobilization and release of the tight muscles that are causing restrictions, as well as the activation of the weak muscles that aren’t pulling their weight. Foam rolling is crucial for the release/mobilization aspect.

4. Grip4orce or fat gripz

Fat Gripz

While most people will credit the big movers for the majority of strength in things like pullups, bench press, and deadlifts, it is the grip that will hold you back from hitting that PR. The harder you can squeeze a bar, the more force you can put into it. If you have ever felt your grip fail during a set of deadlifts, you can recall how much your grip affects the whole lift. It is not just a matter of the bar slipping out of your fingers, but you lose your upper back, then your lower back, and finally your legs. When your grip is failing there is a reflex for the rest of your muscles to start turning off as well like a chain reaction. By using tools such as the Grip4orce or Fat Gripz, you can turn any bar or dumbell into a thick bar, constantly building your grip strength with every exercise.

5. Skipping rope

This is the best piece of equipment for cardio after your own legs. If sprinting is the king of conditioning exercises, then skipping is a prince. It is much more effective than jogging or biking (don’t even bring up the elliptical), and can be done virtually anywhere you have 8 or 9 feet of ceiling clearance. You can carry around a skipping rope all the time, and just break out the Gymboss to get a good interval workout in. If you haven’t skipped since grade 4, don’t worry, it comes back quick. Getting up to 45-60 secs straight with the rope is mostly about coordination and timing. After 60 seconds, it is all fitness!

If you still plan on doing some holiday shopping for yourself, then get these tools that will make your body and health a priority!

Most of these items can be found at Rogue Canada.

It’s About Getting Better!

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