One of the top request I get from my athletes is to do speed and agility work. I do work on these components, but what many people fail to realize is that they are both branches on the tree of strength. What I mean by this is that the stonger you are, the faster you are. As a very simplistic example and one that almost seems moronic, I had one of my 3rd graders challenge me to a shuttle race yesterday. Obviously, I won, but if you break down the why, you will see my point. I am stronger than he is. And in a shuttle run, we have to change direction quickly (agility) and to win the race we must start quickly (acceleration) and maintain that velocity (speed). All the things that many athletes request to work on. If you get strong, you will be faster, period. You can do all the speed and agility work you want, but if you stay weak, you will be slow, I don’t care how perfect your form is. The sled is great to use for getting faster as well, but I will highlight this more in another blog. Peace!
Many people cannot find the time or so they say to get their workouts in or even begin a program. For those of you that are fitness buffs and self-proclaimed meatheads, this might never affect you, but unfortunately you are a small majority of the general population. Perhaps if we were able to explain to the general population people that exercise and the benefits are a natural part of our biology, they will be more likely to listen. Just as we need to eat, drink and sleep, we need to exercise.
- I saw Martin Rooney speak at a seminar recently and he talked about how not enough people incorporate sprinting into their routines. You don’t need to be a competitive athlete to work this into your program. This got me thinking, so as I always try to do, I read a book that dealt with the topic. Sprinting is something natural that our ancestors had to do to either A) hunt or kill food to survive or B) escape from predators. When we sprint, we use every single muscle in our body in an explosive manner. We have to fight massive rotational forces around the spine and it is a great way to work the hip region through its entire range of motion. And no, sprinting does mean you did a 45 minute ‘interval’ workout on the elliptical.
- Exercise spikes a whole bunch of ‘good’ hormones in our brain that may be rooted in evolution. We have all heard the term ‘runners high’ and if you have heard that, you’re more than likely are familiar with ‘endorphins’. In particular, exercise raises levels of nor-epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, all which make us feel good and can block pain. Some scientists believe that these came about because humans needed them during long hunts, to block pain and keep them going. Since we no longer hunt for our food (most of us anyway, not sure about a few of you), we need to find another way to produce them and exercise is the answer.
- We have always had to lift heavy things from the beginning of time in order to build things. Today, we have the option of dead-lifting (or squatting, pressing, benching, etc.). When we lift heavy things, we build stronger muscles and bones and we get a nice increase in our production of HGH and testosterone. If we lift often and heavy, we will stay younger via more muscle and hormonal production. Only the strong survive, again a nice mechanism of evolution. If we don’t use our bodies they die, to make it simple. Inactivity is a sign of death. And not only will our bodies begin to fall apart, so will our minds-refer back to the benefits of exercise on the brain, which is arguably even more important or just as important than the benefit to the body.
- There are a whole slew of things that I can put for diet and evolution and I know some of it has already been done elsewhere. So, I will make it simple (I like simple)- our bodies are meant to be lean and muscular. If we can maintain or get into this state, energy will be higher and even thought process will be clearer. If you don’t believe me, get ready for a bodybuilding show and report back to me. However, there is a fine line of trying to get too lean in which case performance and thought will suffer. Eat protein and fat at your meals and a little bit of complex carbs and you are good to go. Our bodies have evolved not to be very efficient at handling huge insulin spikes (as would happen when eating tons of carbs).
The list could go on and on. However, the point of this article was to show that it is part of our DNA to be active and eat well. It speaks to the heart of every human being and there is a reason that exercise feels so good once you get into a routine. The key is just in finding something that you like to do.
I was out in the early morning hours this morning on the local high school football field doing my sprints. I will be doing my conditioning on the mornings that I don’t lift as it compliments the program nicely. This morning I did two 400 yard sprints and two 300 yard sprints. That adds up to be 1400 yards. Then on the way home, I remembered something that strength coach, Dan John once said….he never has his athletes do more that 1200 yards in a workout. Now that does not mean to go jog 4 laps and call it a day. I can think of hundreds of different ways to perform a volume of 1200 yards total that would make you puke just thinking about (puking is never the goal). So three 400s would have been a little more appropriate this morning. This weekend it will be shuttle runs (300 yards, 4 times, give it a try and let me know if you survive). Now, this is not set in stone, but a good way to start out. Once you become a beast, we can up the volume for a few weeks at a time. It depends on your sport and goal too. But doing eighteen 110 meter sprints for a football conditioning test is plain stupid. Many college teams do this and I have no idea how it correlates to the field. Anyway, that is besides the point. Stick to the protocol for now. Check out coach Dan John’s DVD here (highly recommended):
I figured that many of you will be trying to lose some bodyfat now that January 1st has come, but you may not have the best plan laid out. Treadmill? Good luck with that. Elliptical, same thing. Take a look around your gym and notice if the people on these machines have changed their physiques at all during the past decade. If you go the ‘normal’ route, you are going to wind up just as fat and probably have sore joints. Slow, long distance training is terrible. Yes, I said it. And before all the distance athletes start emailing me, if you are competitive distance athlete, then obviously you have to train this way (not nearly as much as you think though), but for somebody trying to get in shape and get ripped, it is terrible. I can go on and on about this, but instead, I will highlight a much more effective strategy that will only take 4 minutes per day at the end of your workout. Tabata is a Japanese researcher that found a way to improve people’s aerobic and anaerobic threshold in a short time. And a very nice side-effect is the Post Exercise Oxygen Debt that it will cause, which means you are going to attack your body fat stores. The protocol is 20 seconds of sprinting with 10 seconds of a light jog, repeated for 8 bouts or 4 minutes. It is extremely tough and hard to do. If you live in the northeast and aren’t one to go out in the hours before dawn when it is 10 degrees, then you can follow this protocol in the weight room, with an exercise that uses a ton of muscle, like the front squat (thanks Dan John:)). Try it and get back to me, or email me if you want to know more. I’m getting sick of typing for the day.
Hey guys, hopefully you have set your goals and are working on them already for the new year. Sometimes, when I don’t have any set topic to write about, I will just give you random thoughts from the view of a strength coach, so here ya go. Take Fish Oil, lots of it. It is so good for brain function, recovery, skin and the immune system, that you must take it every day. Things that are good for you, do every day. Things that are going to make you healthier, do every day. Think about things that are good for you and tell me if this is not true. How much Fish Oil, up the dose until the point where you get diarrhea (I know, gross) and then lower the dose slightly below this point. Second, SPRINT! Running a fast 5 K is not a sprint. Go out and run 100 meter sprints, 400 metere sprints, 40 yard sprints. It is very demanding and intense, great for the whole body, is one of the most natural things our body can do and is a great conditioner. It is fun too. Put these things to use, otherwise, you wasted your time reading this!