Happy Belated New Years from PSTI! It is already February (and almost March!), so hopefully you are well on your way your way towards fulfilling your resolutions. Nonetheless, I wanted to recap 2010, so that as you plan your route towards your goals, you are able to figure what's just the latest trend and what really works. Fitness has become like fashion with new trends coming in and out of style each year. So here are the
TOP 5 FITNESS TRENDS FROM 2010:
1. Crossfit • Great workout, but if you have no experience with olympic lifting and don't receive great instruction, this has high injury risk (especially with the high volume which often results in poor form as the body fatigues). I think its a great concept if taught correctly, but problem is the teaching talent has been diluted by the popularity of the program and the proliferation of "certified" Crossfit instructors.
2. TRX • Created by a Stanford MBA, TRX quickly became the Kleenex of suspension systems. TRX is a great, portable way to get a body weight workout as your core and stabilization muscles are constantly forced to work. The only complaint that I have with TRX is again the dilution of the talent in the fitness industry due to the proliferation of "certified" TRX trainers.
3. High Intensity Interval Training • Big fan of H.I.I.T! Our Cardio Resistance Core (CRC) System is a combination of this and metabolic resistance training. P90x, the trendiest workout video of the year, makes use of this concept as well. H.I.I.T. allows you to get a lot done in a little time and keep your metabolism up throughout the day. Studies show that those who train in intervals burn 9x more fat than those who do regular cardio training for the same length of time.
4. Shakeweight The biggest joke in fitness in 2010. They probably made more off gag gifts than the legitimate purchasers that they conned into thinking it works.
4.5. Snuggie • Just kidding, but I put this in the same category as the Shakeweight. Who would have thought you can make that much money off a blanket with holes in it?!?
5. The Death of Personal Training • With the economic downturn, people have turned more to group fitness classes to save time and money. This trend will not change anytime soon, as group training benefits the client by making personal fitness instruction affordable and benefits the trainer by allowing him/her to leverage her time and get more out of each hour. Personal training will still have its niche with clients with special needs or particular interests or those with a lot of time and money. However, for general health, weight-loss, and total body strengthening, Boot Camps are the way to go to get the individual instruction and motivation that you need in a small community atmosphere.
TRENDS COME AND GO, BUT CONSISTENCY IS KEY IN REACHING YOUR FITNESS GOALS. WE HAVE THE FORMULA THAT HAS WORKED FOR HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU...
This is an article we wrote about a month ago, just before the Discover Orange Bowl was played in Miami, FL between our Stanford Cardinal and the Virginia Tech Hokies. Enjoy! (Not a bad prediction... except for the score)
The Orange Bowl match-up between Stanford and Virginia Tech is one of the most evenly matched bowls of the bowl season. Here are my 4 keys to the game:
1. Staying on Schedule. • Both Stanford and Virginia Tech have strong running attacks and attacking, big play defenses. Both teams will look to stay on schedule, meaning they will use the run game and play action to make positive gains on first and second down to put themselves in third and manageable situations. By staying in third and short situations, this will prevent either defense from getting into their turnover-forcing blitz packages. With two efficient quarterbacks and without big plays, the defenses could be on the field for extended drives and with two strong running attacks, the fresher defense in the fourth quarter could be a big factor.
2. Winning on Third Down. • Both teams have big-play quarterbacks. Luck and Taylor are the type of players that the longer that they are on the field, the more likely they are to make a big play for their teams. Containing each quarterback's mobility on third and medium downs will be key to winning the third down battle as both quarterbacks have shown the awareness to tuck the ball and reach the sticks. I think Stanford will get pressure off the edges with Chase Thomas and Thomas Keiser, flushing Taylor up in the pocket. So the key will be for the interior line maintaining their rush lanes and the middle linebackers playing in space when Taylor tucks and runs. This is one area where Stanford does not match-up well as mobile quarterbacks have given this defensive personnel trouble in the past (See Oregon game).
3. Big Plays on Special Teams. • Virginia Tech is known for its big play special teams. Stanford was one of the most explosive teams in the country in the return game last season, but Chris Owusu's injuries have somewhat stymied that production. With Virginia Tech's big play reputation and Stanford's Owusu healthy, look for a big special teams play to swing the momentum one way or the other.
4. Execution of Scheme • This will be the difference in the game. Both coaching staffs are proven and will come up with solid gameplans to exploit the other teams weaknesses. However, with Andrew Luck at the helm and a line-up full of Academic All Americans, I think Stanford will have a slightly more complex scheme that will cause some confusion with Virginia Tech and Stanford will execute this scheme more cleanly. Tyrod Taylor is a great athlete and collegiate quarterback, but the NFL-level consistency and efficiency of execution that Andrew Luck has displayed will be the difference in the ball game.
Final Prediction: Stanford 27 - Virginia Tech 21
(Be ready I'm going to get a little scientific on this post)
The key to the mechanics and physiology of being a fluid, explosive athlete is the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). There are three phases to the SSC:
1. Eccentric- The stretch phase of the musculotendinous unit creating elastic potential energy in the unit. To simplify things, think of the muscle like a spring. The eccentric phase is when you stretch out the spring. The potential energy is the tension that you feel because it wants to snap back into form.
2. Amortization- The brief time between phase 1 and 3 in which nervous system fires to tell the body to release the energy. This is the moment the spring is all the way stretched out right before you release it.
3. Concentric- The shortening of the musculotendinous unit releasing the potential energy to create a force. This is the explosive snap of the spring. You've loaded it up by stretching it out and upon the release, the potential energy is turned into power.
So to be a more fluid, explosive athlete, we must:
1. Increase the flexibility of the muscle to increase the elastic energy created in the eccentric phase. This increases the force and the fluidity of movement.
2. Activate the nervous system to decrease the time in the amortization stage where energy is lost.
3. Increase the speed of the concentric phase.
Because Power=Force*Distance/Time, by increasing force and speed and decreasing time, we are creating more power which translates into a more explosive movement.
THE SCIENCE IS GREAT, BUT THE APPLICATION OF THIS KNOWLEDGE IS WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT. BUT HOW DO WE TRAIN TO MAXIMIZE THE EFFICIENCY OF THE SSC TO CREATE A MORE EXPLOSIVE ATHLETE IN EVERY MOVEMENT?
Running hills is a long-time training tradition, but just because it is a tradition does not mean that coaches and trainers are using it correctly. Athletic performance is becoming a science. Gone are the days of running until you puke and putting as much weight as you can on a bar and lifting it as many times as you can. Functional, anatomically-correct training is the new age of athletic performance training. We now know that maximizing the efficiency of the our body's movement systems is more effective than maximizing the strength of an inefficient system. The purpose of this post is not to discount the tried-and-true training systems, but instead to expose you to the science of how these traditions fit into a well-rounded training regimen.
Running hills has its merits, but if increasing speed is the goal, it should not be a regular practice in your training. With all the different time demands on today's athletes, training must be as efficient and effective as possible, so with this in mind,
HERE ARE THREE REASONS WHY RUNNING HILLS IS NOT THE MOST EFFECTIVE USE OF YOUR SPEED TRAINING TIME:
1. Inhibition of the full leg cycle • The key to speed training is to maximize the efficiency of the leg cycle. This is done by maximizing the stride length and stride frequency. When running hills or stairs, the extension phase of the stride is repeatedly inhibited. This shortens stride length by creating muscle memory of the inhibited motion. Shorter stride creates a slower runner.
2. Slow-Twitch Muscle Development • There are two types of muscle fiber that are responsible for most athletic movements: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. It is important to train to develop the type of muscle fiber that your sport necessitates. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are important for long distance athletes such as marathon runners and triathletes. These are sports that you are working at 60-75% of capacity for extended periods of time. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are important for athletes in sports such as football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and soccer. These are sports that you are working at 75-100% of capacity for short spurts. Think about your sport. For the majority of them, the important action takes place within a 5-10 yard box. Thus, we want to train accordingly. Running hills or stairs is typically done at 60-75% of capacity over an extended period of time. This tempo is good for developing slow-twitch and muscular endurance, but for most our sports, we want to focus on fast-twitch and explosive movements.
3. Muscular imbalance • Because running hills/stairs inhibits the natural leg cycle, the quadricep muscles become overworked. Running hills minimizes the recovery phase of the stride in which the hamstring pulls the heal to the butt and through. This combination of quadricep overload and hamstring minimization causes a muscular imbalance that can lead to an increased risk of hamstring tears.
IF I SHOULDN'T RUN HILLS, WHAT SHOULD I DO TO GET FASTER?..... Contact us!
A few weeks ago, Andrew Luck turned down $60 million dollars as the consensus #1 pick in the NFL Draft to return to Stanford to complete his degree in Architectural Design. He has received some criticism for his decision. However, regardless of what you think about his decision, you have to respect it because his reasons must be very compelling to turn down $60 million (set for life kind of money). I think some of Luck's critics have lost sight of the fact that the point of going to college and receiving a collegiate scholarship is to graduate with a degree. Even for the best players, football only lasts until their 40s. For Luck, standing on his morals and finishing his Stanford degree is a decision that will last a lifetime.
As Luck said, there are definitely worse decisions to make in life. Wouldn't we all love the opportunity to choose between beginning an NFL career with a $60 million contract and receiving a Stanford degree and competing for a national championship? Through all the attention and hype around him and Harbaugh, Luck handled the whole situation with class (Lebron James should take note).
Here are my TOP 4 REASONS ANDREW LUCK MADE THE RIGHT DECISION:
1. The uncertainty of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement • The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is the labor agreement between the NFL Franchise Owners and the NFL Player's Union. Without a new agreement in place by March 3rd, 2011, there will be a lockout, meaning owners will lock the doors to all practice and training facilities for all players. In this argument between millionaires and billionaires, all reports indicate that no agreement will be reached and an extended lockout is a near certainty. Luck's father, Oliver Luck, former president of the World Football League, probably had some insider information on the progress of the agreement and this was probably a heavy factor in Luck's decision. The lockout would have affected Luck's career in two ways. The first is that during the lockout no players will receive a paycheck, so Luck would not have gotten paid for however long it takes to come to an agreement. The second and most important effect is that there will be no practice/mini-camps/team training facilities available for players during the lockout. No matter how "NFL Ready" a quarterback is there is still a huge adjustment to the speed and sophistication of the NFL. Once the CBA is reached, it is likely the NFL will head straight into an abbreviated season without any training camp or preseason. Being thrown into the fire like this could have definitely stunted Luck's growth as a quarterback.
Not comparing Luck to him in anyway other to compare the effect of not going through that first training camp/preseason, look at former number one pick Jamarcus Russell. Because of his contract situation (in contrast to Luck's situation, his holdout was by his own choice), Russell missed half his rookie season and he never caught up in his development and 5 years later he is out of the NFL.
2. The Carolina Panthers are not a stable franchise. • Being drafted into an unstable system can ruin a quarterback's career. Prime example is former number one pick right here in the Bay Area, Alex Smith. Look at the difference between the career paths of Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers (not to say that Rodgers was not a more talented QB all along, but I do think outside factors came into play). Alex Smith was drafted onto a bad 49ers team with a defensive minded coach (Mike Nolan) and then went through six offensive coordinators in six seasons. Aaron Rodgers was drafted by a stable Packers organization as Brett Favre's heir apparent. He had time to learn the system and learn from Favre in a much more stable environment. Now, Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the NFL playing for the NFC Championship and Alex Smith is the scapegoat of another failed 49ers season.
Carolina's situation has a lot of similarities to the 49ers' six seasons ago. They just hired a defensive-minded coach in Ron Rivera. Their top receiver, Steve Smith, wants to be traded and there is not much talent on the team. Here's the proof: quickly name 5 players on the Carolina Panthers... This is the exact same situation the 49ers were in 6 seasons ago and as we saw this season, although they have acquired talent over the past six seasons, they are still not a stable, quarterback-friendly situation.
3. Becoming a role model. • Luck is now the poster child for staying in school and completing one's college degree. What he may lose in salary, he will make up for in endorsements because wouldn't every mother want their child to be a well-spoken, intelligent, academically-minded young man like Andrew Luck. Gatorade and Nike are probably already putting together campaigns for him (as is PSTI, hopefully we can land him).
4. He picked his happiness over money. • Luck's decision was clearly about more than the money. Luck is clearly very happy as a college student athlete. His sister will be attending Stanford next year, so he will get to spend time with her in her freshman year. He will also get to finish what he started and compete for a national championship with the recruiting class that he came in with. According to reports, Luck and his family spoke to Peyton Manning (who also chose to stay in school) and one of the things that I think Manning probably emphasized is that never again will Luck get the opportunity to compete and grow 4 consecutive years with the same 20 brothers by your side (his recruiting class). The NFL is a business and the relationships are much more professional, as players are coming in and out every year. Look at how the Colts just let Marvin Harrison go after all the success he and Manning had together. Just like Manning, I'm sure Luck plans on having a long successful career in the NFL and out of all the early QB draft picks that I mentioned in this article (among others who have flamed out including Ryan Leaf, David Carr, Akili Smith, Tim Couch), Manning is the one who's path that seems pretty smart to follow.
Here are TOP 5 SECRETS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL ATHLETES to help motivate your young athlete:
(These tips apply to adults too, so those of you with that New Year's Resolution to get in shape keep reading!)
1. Plan your training schedule. • The holidays are always hectic with family events, vacations, and parties, so plan your training days in advance and make these sessions non-negotiable priorities.
2. Train with partners. • Compete, compete, compete! Training with other athletes always brings out the competitive spirit. It also creates an accountability factor on those days that you tell yourself, "I'm on vacation."
3. Don't allow special occasions to be an excuse to eat poorly. • Yes, we understand that certain days during the year are dedicated to big family feasts (birthdays, holidays, etc), but don't allow these special holiday meals to become habits. You don't need an extra piece of pie every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's for example.
4. Maintain your sleep schedule. • Keep getting at least 8 hours a night to allow your body to recover from training. However, the tendency during the holidays is to stay up late and wake up late. This throws off your internal clock. Also, the mornings are often the only uninterrupted time to train during the holidays, since most holiday activities occur in the early afternoon and evening. So turn off the video games, log-off Facebook, and get to sleep!
5. Set short-term goals. • Set goals for your gains from training over the break. Writing down your goals will keep you On-T.R.A.Q. (Timely, Realistic, Attainable, Quantitative)
HOWEVER, KNOWING WHAT IT TAKES AND APPLYING IT ARE OFTEN TWO DIFFERENT STORIES FOR YOUNG ATHLETES...
Training of proper body movement mechanics from a young age can give an athlete an advantage in terms of their speed, agility, and explosive movement across all sports. But if you start too young, they won't be able to commit the mechanics to muscle memory and if you start too old, they may already have bad movement mechanics ingrained in their system that are difficult to correct. So what is the ideal age to get started with training?
Research shows that by age 7-8 the brain has formed its neuromuscular connections and by age 10-12 reflexive movement patterns are formed and relatively permanent (Grasso, 2005, Training Young Athletes). Based on this research, the ideal age to begin training would be in the 7-10 age range, but as we all know, "research" does not apply to all children and there are several other factors that must go into the decision to begin a training program for your athlete. An important subjective measure of your athletes readiness to receive training is their mental and emotional maturity. In terms of mental maturity, can your athlete take detailed coaching points and make the necessary adjustments? Can they stay focused through multiple sets of the same movement to perfect their form? In terms of emotional maturity, can your athlete take constructive criticism and view it as a critique on their performance and not a personal attack? Can they handle the fact that it may take hours/days/weeks to master some movements and not get frustrated? Once you've determined that your athlete is physically, mentally, and emotionally mature enough to handle training, the next step is to find a program that suits his/her needs (this is a whole new topic of conversation, so I'll address this in a future post, but if you have any questions feel free to email me at email@example.com).
As we age, our bodies take more wear and tear and recover slower. Our knees/hips/ankles/pickyourjoint don't move as well and our muscles are not as strong and flexible as they once were. Aging is an inevitable process, but it the process can be slowed by staying fit and active. In the U.S. medical culture, we have historically taken a reactive approach with an emphasis on rehabilitation after an injury or ailment. However, the culture is shifting to a more proactive, prehabilatitive approach, meaning we assess possible deficiencies and strengthen them to prevent injuries. This approach to training to slow down aging and its negative effects is a life-long commitment, not capped by any age. There is no upper limit as to how old you can be happy and healthy, so in turn, there should be no upper limit as to how old you can stay active. As we age, there may be certain movements or pain points that need to be avoided, but unless your total body is in pain every time you move, a training program can be adjusted to fit your needs. The best type of training as we age is a Metabolic Resistive Training program because it combines the positive effects of strength training (strengthening the muscles and bones) and cardio training (strengthening the heart and lungs) without the repetitive stress of standard cardio work.