I always think its funny when trainers or strength coaches try to rehab an athlete or client when they themselves have no clue on what it is like mentally or what it feels like. One of the greatest blessings of my knee injury was knowing that I would be able to really help that many more athletes and clients at Newell Strength from a position of having been there before. I developed protocols both physically and mentally to cut healing time and comeback time significantly. I start playing in a basketball league tomorrow night, less than 6 months after rupturing my patellar tendon, IT band, medial patello femoral ligament and both sides of the knee capsule. I was told it couldn’t be done and certainly not this fast. Keep telling me it can’t be done, its fuel for the fire…
I thought that video would be a great image to carry into this rant. I get a lot of clients and athletes, emails, etc. of people asking me to help them become better. I can help them all they want physically but if they don’t change who they think they are….its all for naught.
I am a big believer in self-belief and I try to lead by example. But, I cannot get inside someone else’s mind. There is a reason why phenomenal athletes sometimes get to the peak and then disappear just as quickly. It’s not a physical thing, its a mind game. That is the whole key to self-betterment, whether that be in the weight room, on the field or in life.
I get the question a lot about why some fat people will get the lap-band or GBP surgery and somehow wind up fat again. Simple, they didn’t change their beliefs, and what they think about themselves.
My dad is an alcoholic and that is something that he will have to deal with forever, but unless he changes his beliefs and his views on life, he will never be sober. Greatness comes from within and the seed is found within each of us, it is just a matter of whether or not we are going to avoid it because of fear, remain average or actually cultivate it.
This might be a little deep for some of you meat heads, but its true nonetheless and this principle is active in each of our lives. Work on your head game as much as you do on your physical game and good things will happen….
The video below will explain a little bit about how I have developed my ‘never give up, optimistic’ mind-set over the years. I have heard from a number of men that have had similar knee injuries to mine and that is the aspect they are most interested in. With that, it gave me the nudge from Mother Nature to organize my first Newell Strength Success Seminar, which you will be hearing more about next week. But don’t worry, if you can’t make it, I will still be putting out a ton of content on mindset in the coming weeks.
As far as my rehab is going, I had a deep tissue massage this morning with some ART and I just rode the bike in the basement for 20 minutes, even took it down a notch at the end to finish on a high note. The past hour is the best my knee has felt. I spoke with a young soon to be physical therapist this morning and he said that the rate at which I am healing is almost super human, unheard of with an injury involving this much soft tissue. I have to remember this as I move forward so I don’t get discouraged like last week. They told me 12 months, I’ll do it in 6, still a great accomplishment. Doc told me this morning that it would never recover 100% (once again), but I’ll prove him wrong. I am on a mission now and daily steps lead to big gains over time (read that again, it is a lesson that you can use for everything in life). Also, I found it fitting that as I was finishing up my bike session an hour ago, I finally finished the movie ‘The Wrestler’, which I had been watching in bits and pieces since first attempting the bike 2 weeks ago. It was fitting because it reminded me to follow my heart and not give up, a champion will always be a champion because it the mind that makes them so….
The above pic is of one of the gym members at Newell Strength. As you can see from the picture, his right calf is much smaller than his left. 4 years ago, Mike ruptured his achilles tendon and he says that the calf just never really came back.
Now, Mike joined the gym at the right time as I have taken a much bigger interest recently in lagging muscles because I know I am going to have an uphill battle with my left leg after I can full range of motion back. I have read of NFL players with similar injuries to mine not being able to ‘re-grow’ their leg after coming back, which will of course impair performance. Forget about any average folk that rupture a tendon, they are content just to walk again, even if it is with a limp.
So, when I saw Mike’s leg, it presented a great chance for me to put my theory to the test. My theory is that some muscles, injury or not (it is just more pronounced with injury) are ‘trapped’ by the surrounding fascia. The whole purpose of foam rolling is to ‘release’ and make ‘pliable’ the fascia. But here’s the thing, most people only put half ass effort into soft tissue work, thus getting nothing out of it. With Mike, I have him finish every workout with some direct calf work followed by some intense grinding and rolling along a barbell of the fascia surrounding the soleus, gastroc and achilles. So we pump the muscle, expanding the fascia as much as possible and then roll the shit out of the fascia making it more pliable.
I was planning on using this technique with my leg training in preparation of my comeback to the bodybuilding stage for all muscles groups, especially the legs! I will keep you posted of the progress we are making as I am pretty sure this is the culprit behind body parts that are ‘uneven’, although innervation might play a role in it too.
K, quick update, I have been making great progress each and every time at PT. Yesterday one of the therapists asked me to try not and scare the other patients because of my rapping, screaming and intensity in my corner. I approach it just like I would a personal record in the squat. I get in the zone, feel the pain and push through it. I did some light sled dragging this morning and plan on picking up the wheel barrow this weekend to start working with. Keep in mind, I am only 6 weeks post operation from what my PT calls the worst knee injury he has ever heard of. It is all in the mind at this point and I have to be careful not to let frustration set in because as is my nature, I am very competitive even with myself.
I plan on hitting some wheel barrow work early tomorrow morning, followed by PT and then an hour in the pool….the comeback continues….
Part of making my athletes the strongest around is getting them to believe that they can do certain things. Many times, I know they can do it while I can see a look of doubt on their faces as to whether they actually believe they can do it.
Great athletes have an almost cocky type of attitude and they will embrace the challenge. The ones that are scared to go for ‘it’ in the weight room never really amount to much more than an average player.
I have trained myself over the years to embrace and attack challenges and I taught myself this in the gym. 20 sets of 315 for 12 reps in the squat as an example, back when I was more actively competing in bodybuilding.
I have only been off of my crutches for 8 days and the improvement since then is almost scary. I drove my truck for the first time yesterday. I got the seat in to a level 11 on the recumbent elliptical at PT, the pain nothing short of excruciating, but I loved it. I was using 4 plates on the reverse hyper yesterday while most able bodied fold are scared to go above 1 plate per side.
My subconscious got the immediate message that it was okay to start pushing the boundaries once I got off of the crutches and out of the wheelchair. Tommy, one of the PTs that is working with me said he thinks I will set a new record and standard for coming back from this type of injury.
The point being, you can do far more than you think you can. If you have the right attitude, you will go to high altitudes. Believe you can and you will….
I am often amazed that people claim they don’t have time to read. I always try to preach to my athletes that they don’t have time not to read. I’ll admit that the first couple of days after my knee exploded, I actually found myself down and out, crying on and off.
I realized that although I read constantly, it had been a while since I read a purely ‘positive mindset’ book. It was books of these nature that I built myself up, to the point of believing in myself when no one else did. I am gonna tell you right now that if you are gonna succeed on the highest level, you are going to need a way to weather the storm when it hits, and it will hit.
There are hundreds and hundreds of trainers and strength coaches that fail miserably although they might be quite bright in the subject matter. Newell Strength has thrived not only because of our ability to turn average athletes into top notch athletes, but because of our ability to send athletes out as more confident versions of themselves.
Coaching is an art, more than writing down reps and set schemes for some people and it is because of books like Norman Vincent Peale’s the Power of Positive Thinking, that I am constantly coaching the mental and emotional sides of my clients and athletes as much as the physical.
This is one of the first and most influential books on the topic that I had read some years back and it is a classic. I am about half way through it this time and I can’t help but feel good every time I close a chapter.
You NEED to constantly feed your brain positive info, once a week, once a month or never won’t get the job done. Another reason to be very mindful of who you hang out with (masterminds).
Def check this book out:
Many people go through life like mindless drones, wasting minutes, wasting hours, wasting days. This might take the shape of an athlete not working 100% in practice or the off-season or it might manifest with people that talk about their dreams and what they want to be, but they do this while watching TV.
I have always told anyone that asked me that the one great advantage you have as a 1%er would be to look around on any night and see what other people were doing. Most of them were just draining time. When you start to think of time as having value, your whole perspective changes.
One of the biggest and most important things that I teach my physical education students is that of time. I teach them that the most important thing a person can give to you is their time, it is the highest level of love a person can share. You will often see wealthy parents showering their kids in gifts, but not giving them time and it literally destroys the child’s childhood.
Time also has a compounding effect. If you use it effectively, your investment starts to compound. There is one author that I know of that wrote his first book on 10 minute coffee breaks from his day job. It took him a few years, but he did it.
Many athletes say they want to be great, but they aren’t really willing to invest the time. Read that again, the word INVEST. The best thing you can do in your life is to invest in yourself and you do this by how you use your time. I was reading something recently on a knee website I joined and the one guy was saying it is no wonder that most professional athletes have such good success with their rehab programs because they eat, breathe and think about getting better every moment. It becomes their purpose in life just as it will become mine when the time is right.
If you want to be a great ball player, you must be willing to outwork everyone else in your sport. Extreme things take unusual efforts. Time is not to be wasted or spent on silly things. When you develop a philosophy of time, it will drive everything you do in your life. This is something that successful grasp and understand. It is why they people to do things that aren’t worth their time value. Many others see this and say, “It’s so silly to spend money on X, they should just do it themselves.” No, this is incorrect thinking. You should only spend your time on those things that have the greatest return on investment, whether that means spiritually, physically, mentally, athletically, family relationships and so on.
As you can see in the video above, I always try to track and remain aware of how I am using my time. I despise time vampires, which unfortunately 99% of the people are. When you look back on your life, you don’t want there to be chapters in your life book of nothing, no growth, no progress. If you use your time and invest it, you will always be making progress and growing. In life, we are either growing or dying, there is no middle ground. It is not what we do, but how we choose to do ‘it’.
You can either talk about using your time wisely or you can actually do it. When you realize that things can be taken from you in an instant and life changes on a dime, you will have a different view. Was your workout great today? Did you cherish each rep? Was your practice good today? 50 said that after he was shot 9 times, he realized how urgent things were, that time is scarce, Steve Jobs said the same thing, often saying that he knew he wouldn’t live a long life, so he commanded his time like no other. For me, it was my knee. You better believe that I will never take for granted another squat rep, another basketball game, the ability to stand on one leg, the ability to stay healthy and compete on a bodybuilding stage. Use the things in your life as vehicles for transformation.
I got a few things on my chest which are going to come at some of you like venom. One of my members had a knee MRI this week. Turns out, it is a knee strain. Now, this is the part that irks me…the doctors told my client that squats and lunges are terrible for the knees. At which I replied, “False”. This is part of the problem when it comes to health and fitness. The people that are supposed to be leading the charge, the doctors, don’t take the time to really find out the truth. Here is what the doctor might be referring to:
- There was a book written in the 1960′s, the name which escapes me, where the author talked about pre-existing knee conditions and squatting. In that case, then squatting might not be the best (although I could make the argument against this). Many people read only that headline or part of that book and came to the conclusion that squatting is bad for the knees. Nothing could be further from the truth. Look at the squatting motion in which you go through the full range of motion. You are strengthening the leg musculature while at the same time lubricating and washing the joint in synovial fluid. Squatting is the most natural and healthy knee movement there is. Look at pictures of babies in the squat or pictures of some African tribes in which even the senior members are in a full squat.
- The doctors hear that if the knees go past the toes, you are screwed. Wrong again. First of all, when looking at the lunge, what happens to the back leg and knee when lunging? It is past the toe! How come no one ever mentions this?! Look at all types of sports and games, the players knees are constantly out in front of the toes. The logic doesn’t add up! And then, the doctor told client X to strengthen the thighs more…hello Doc! What the hell do you think is the most effective exercise for strengthening the things?! Food for thought.
To be mentall tougher than your opponents will always leave you standing on top. Winners think and work like underdogs. Nothing can be taken for granted. Everything must be earned anew each day.
I had a buddy and member at the gym ask me how to push through a set when it gets tough. Here is my answer: