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Because Heavy Things Won’t Lift Themselves
Updated: 11 hours 6 min ago

Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/24/19

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 17:28

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

Whoa – who was the a-hole this week and barely wrote anything for the site?

And by “anything” I mean “zero, zilch, nada.”

My bad.

But it was for good reason. I travelled to Colorado Springs this week to film some stuff with the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) for their upcoming 2019 (Virtual) Personal Trainers Conference, as well as made a cameo appearance at T-Nation headquarters.

Man, between those two establishments AND the National Olympic Training Facility AND The Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs is one buff and beautiful city.1

Also, as it happens, I’m off to Edmonton (<– that’s in Canada by the way) tomorrow to go film the (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with Dean Somerset this weekend.

So, yeah, it was a busy week. SO GET OFF MY BACK YOU BIG JERK

I love you.

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint Workshop – 2019 Locations & Dates

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th at SVPT Fitness. (<– THIS weekend).

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th at Clean Shred.

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st and Melbourne Strength & Conditioning. (<—  Includes bonus “Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

Luke (Worthington) and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

  • Upper/Lower Extremity Assessment
  • Technique Audits (how to coach common  strength training exercises)
  • Ways to integrate PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) strategies that don’t make your brain hurt.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

3. Strong Body-Strong Mind Workshop – Chicago, IL

This will be the only time Dr. Lisa Lewis and I will be presenting this workshop together in 2019. In previous years we’ve presented it in Boston, London, Toronto, Bonn (Germany),  and Austin, TX.

This 1-day workshop is targeted towards fitness professionals and digs a little deeper into what really “bogs” them down and stresses them out….

…their clients!

Click THIS link for more details on topics covered as well as date/cost/location.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

I still find one of the hardest things for me as a coach is to remember to keep things simple.

I get in my own way overthinking things. The best programs I write (and not coincidentally the ones clients tend to like the best) are the “simple” ones.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) May 19, 2019

Instagram

 

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Chaos Carry. Stole this bad boy from @smittydiesel . . Checks a lot of boxes with regards to Scapular stability, rotator cuff activation, and general levels of badassery.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on May 20, 2019 at 6:12pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK How to Build Value and Increase Your Value Proposition – Chi Bang

REINVEST in yourself.

Game.

Set.

Match

Commonly Misunderstood Words in Movement and Mobility – Ryan DeBell

My man crush on Ryan just got to absurd levels with this article.

He may need to get a restraining order.

Speed Training For Hockey –  Kevin Neeld & Travis Pollen

Fun Tony Fact: I can count on one hand the total number of times I’ve ever attempted to skate on ice. I say “attempted” because I believe the longest I’ve ever stayed upright before crashing to the ground (and taking someone with me) is nine seconds.

That said, despite my lack of skating skills I know a great program when I see it. Kevin and Travis have produced an outstanding resource here, and if you work with hockey players this is an absolute NO-BRAINER.

Speed Training for Hockey is currently on sale at a very fair price, but it only last through this weekend.

Check it out HERE.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/24/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

Categories: Feeds

The Road to Recovery Is Paved With More Training

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:49

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of trainer, writer, and guy I hate because he is waaaaaaay too good looking, Michael Gregory.

Michael wrote an excellent post on nutrient timing for my site last year which you can check out HERE. He’s back again discussing an important topic: “reframing” injury and how to use (more) training to aid recovery.

Warning: Avengers: End Game spoilers ahead.

But come on: It’s been three weeks for crying out loud. If you haven’t seen it by now it’s your fault.

Copyright: javiindy / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery Is Paved With More Training

Let’s talk about acute injuries in your clients: those accidents that leave a scar in the shape of a teddy bear.

“Oh! What a cute injury!”

Allow me to elaborate, for those of you who aren’t a fan of Dad jokes.

If you hurt yourself, the best recovery plan you can follow includes continuing to train and actually treating the injury as if it is less egregious than it may actually be.

I’m not suggesting that you act as if nothing happened, but I am suggesting that you only adjust your training as much as you have to in order to work around the pain.

As a coach, you aren’t a doctor, so don’t act like one. You are, however, in the chain of recovery, and may be the only fitness professional around when an injury first occurs.

Know your role Snoop Lion

How you react matters to your client more than you realize.

The Assumption Is You Know What You’re Doing

You’re a shit hot programmer that doesn’t plan anything your client isn’t ready for because you follow the principle of progressive overload.

One-rep maxes are not a spontaneous event that you perform when the sunset is a particularly auspicious color. They are planned for and prepared for, for weeks or even months in advance.

Because you program smartly, you know that any injury a client sustains under your care isn’t going to be a career ender.

It’s simply a kiss from the weightlifting gods that initiates them into the barbell illuminati.

Barbell Illuminati spotted in The Rock’s belly button. Mystery solved.

If you train hard you will have battle wounds. That being the case, it’s time you learn how to get your clients past their injuries in the most economical way possible.

The Biopsychosocial Model of Pain for Acute Injuries

This framework comes from Dr. Austin Baraki over at Barbell Medicine. It applies on some level to every injury you or a client may sustain.

This entire process is about facilitating the best environment for healing. That means not freaking out and quitting, but rather, changing training only as much as is needed.

Step 1: Reassure AKA “Don’t freak out.”

Even if someone’s eye is hanging out of their skull, the best thing you can do is keep your cool. The power of positive thought is a hot topic these days.

There’s guys healing broken spines with just their minds, supposedly.

Even if those stories are only 10% accurate the power of the placebo effect is a wildy useful tool to have on your side. Keeping your cool and addressing unhelpful thoughts and fears are the first things you can to do to help your clients harness the effects of the placebo.

This is the psychosocial aspect of the model. It is the most important to get right the first time. Poisonous thoughts are really hard to uproot once they’ve been planted.

This whole step is the opposite of what my Junior Varsity football coach did to me and my relationship with the 2-plate bench press.

He told me I’d never be able to bench 225 with my long-ass arms unless I weighed 300+ pounds and the gravitational pull of the moon was twice its normal strength.

I’d probably be stronger if I just ate it and stopped laughing.

(Brief aside: Of course, the world’s weather and tidal patterns would be thrown into absolute chaos if all of a sudden the moon was twice as strong. So the joke’s on Coach J, because we’d all be dead before I could even make it to the gym. Try to remain calm after that sick burn.)

Regardless, I struggled for years with that negative reinforcement (nocebo effect) in my head. I could rep out 205 for sets of 5 but as soon as that second plate went on the bar “it was too heavy.”

Step 2: Assess the Situation

Like a good cub scout that just stumbled onto the remains of a deer that had been hit by a car, you’ve got to get your bearings.

Should you help it?

Put it out of its misery?

Add it to your Instagram story?

He already knows he messed up. Overreacting isn’t going to help the situation.

Start by asking the trainee what they were attempting and what they felt.

Remember, poker face: don’t let ‘em see you wince.

This is the first two “O’s” of the OODA loop, something that fighter pilots and military tacticians love to reference. Observe and Orient to the situation. (DA is Decide and Act, but you have to orient first).

No need to jump to any reactions here or start calling people lower life forms.

Be a professional.

Step 3: Move Forward by Reintroducing Movement in a Non-Threatening Context

Your special snowflake of a client is down, but not melted. You can still fix this and get them back to lifting heavy and kicking in doors faster than you can say “rubber baby buggy bumpers”.

Arnold said it first.

Your goal is to work your way backwards from the exercise that caused the injury in as short a distance as possible.

Start by asking these questions:

1st Question: Load. Is there a weight you can use that does not hurt?

If you can just reduce the weight of the exercise and the client no longer feels pain or discomfort then… do that.

If your client felt a “tweak” (technical term) in their mid-back while deadlifting, deadlift day isn’t over. Just take some weight off the bar. If it still hurts with 135, use the bar.

If it still hurts with the bar, use a PVC pipe.

The goal here is to show your client that the movement isn’t inherently dangerous at all weights.

2nd Question: Range of Motion. Where does it hurt?

If your client is still in pain conducting the movement with only their bodyweight, the next thing to adjust is range of motion.

In deadlifting, for example, if their pain is in the first two inches off the floor, elevate the bar until you are out of the danger zone.

No, this isn’t perfect form, for you deadlift sticklers out there, but your client isn’t going to be doing deadlifts from the rack or with the high handles on the trap bar forever. Pretty much as soon as you adjust the range of motion of a movement you should be planning for a progression to get the trainee back to the full movement.

If you haven’t seen it, consider this your warning.

Secondly, who the fudge decided what “full range of motion” is for any given exercise?

If your client isn’t a competitive lifter, it doesn’t actually matter.

I promise you won’t cause a rift in the space-time continuum resulting in an alternate timeline where Thanos succeeds in destroying half of all life in the universe and it stays that way. (Okay, that’s not really a spoiler so much as conjecture. Hey, spoiler warnings entice the reader to finish the article).

3rd Question (well, statement): Exercise Selection. If decreasing the weight and range of motion still results in pain, work your way backwards down the line of exercise specificity.

Only now should you be thinking about changing up the exercise entirely. This is assuming that you chose the initial exercise because it is the one which most completely trains you client to achieve their specified goal. If you just chose the exercise because it makes the vein in your biceps pop when you apply the Clarendon filter on Instagram I ask you the following question. How did you get this far in this article?

As an example, let’s say you were doing conventional deadlifts with your client. In my mind, the regression looks something like this:

  • Conventional deadlift
  • Snatch grip deadlift
  • Sumo deadlift
  • Straight leg deadlift
  • Romanian deadlift
  • Trap bar deadlifts
  • Rack pulls
  • Dumbbell deadlift variations
  • Single-leg DB deadlift variations
  • Single-arm DB deadlift variations
  • Single-arm single-leg DB deadlift variations
  • Good mornings
  • Cable pull-throughs
  • Hip thrusts

Okay, I digressed quite far there, but I think you get the point.

There are lots of exercises you can try with your client to teach them that they are not only not broken, but in fact still strong even with pain.

There is no excuse for the countless number of trainees doing leg presses and camping out on the stationary bike in the name of recovery.

Training is recovery.

It’s All Really Just Reassurance

This entire process of managing acute injuries is really just reassuring people that they aren’t fragile.

Some of our fellow humans, some of them your clients, have spent their entire lives avoiding pain at all costs. As a result, they’ve never had to learn how to overcome true adversity. By teaching this process to your clients, you are giving them the gift of self-reliance.

Resiliency is something most trainees are looking to build, mostly in the context of making their muscles more resilient. As far as I’m concerned, tenacity, fortitude, resilience, and mental toughness are all muscles. Each and every one of those is embedded in this process, and they are all made stronger every time someone learns to overcome something you or the barbell throws their way in the weightroom.

Does that tempt you to injure your clients on purpose now so that you can teach them about mental toughness?

Don’t do it.

But do be prepared to react calmly and with precision when accidents happen.

About the Author

Michael is a USMC veteran, strength coach, amateur surfer, and semi-professional mushroom connoisseur. As an intelligence officer and MCMAP instructor Michael spent the majority of his military career in the Pacific theater of operations.

He now lives in Bali where he writes, trains, and has had multiple near-death experiences in surf that is much too heavy for him.

For more by Michael check out his Instagram,  Facebook, or his website www.composurefitness.com.

 

 

The post The Road to Recovery Is Paved With More Training appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

Categories: Feeds

Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/17/19

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 08:27

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint Workshop – 2019 Locations & Dates

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th at SVPT Fitness. (<– NEXT weekend).

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th at Clean Shred.

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st and Melbourne Strength & Conditioning. (<—  Includes bonus “Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

Luke (Worthington) and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

  • Upper/Lower Extremity Assessment
  • Technique Audits (how to coach common  strength training exercises)
  • Ways to integrate PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) strategies that don’t make your brain hurt.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

3. Strong Body-Strong Mind Workshop – Chicago, IL

This will be the only time Dr. Lisa Lewis and I will be presenting this workshop together in 2019. In previous years we’ve presented it in Boston, London, Toronto, Bonn (Germany),  and Austin, TX.

This 1-day workshop is targeted towards fitness professionals and digs a little deeper into what really “bogs” them down and stresses them out….

…their clients!

Click THIS link for more details on topics covered as well as date/cost/location.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

I just left therapy.

I’ve been seeing the same therapist since 2011. At first we met 1x per week, for about a year. Now we meet 1x every 4-6 weeks; to check in.

It’s been an invaluable asset in my life. Just wanted to toss that tidbit out there. Your mental health IS important

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) May 16, 2019

Instagram

 

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Return of the Cobra Row. . After a brutal phase the past 8 weeks it was nice to open up my program today from @gnrobins to see some lighter loads (and higher rep shenanigans). . I remember performing this row variation over a year ago and enjoying it (and I know @coachleeboyce has singed its praises in recent weeks). . ✅It’s a great way to accentuate the eccentric (lengthening) portion of the lift which helps increase range of motion and torches the lats. . ✅This variations lends itself well to high(er) reps or performing “rounds.” . Do This: perform 8 reps on one side, then perform 8 reps on the other. Because you’re alternating between sides there’s a built in rest period. . I performed 5 “rounds” today. . Lats were feeling it afterward. . ALSO: You can use either a band or cable system here; it’s all personal preferences (and whatever you have access to). . Sick beats aren’t optional…

How to Get Clients Working in a Commercial Gym

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 14:35

I received the following question from another trainer via Instagram the other day:

“I wanted to know how you got clients when working in a commercial gym?”

I felt it prudent to share my thoughts as a blog post in the hopes it may help some fitness pros out there.

Copyright: ruigsantos / 123RF Stock Photo

#1 Rule: Wear T-Shirts That Are One Size Too Small

Hahahaha – just kidding.1

In all seriousness I haven’t worked in a commercial gym since the summer 0f 2007 when I “retired” to go off and help co-find Cressey Sports Performance.

It’s been a while.

That said, I did spend the first five years of my career working in both corporate and commercial fitness and even though I may be a bit rusty much of what follows is still relevant and undoubtedly help some of you reading to separate yourself from the masses.

Lets assume the obvious: 1) You have a degree or certification, 2) you’re competent in the areas of assessment, exercise prescription & technique, and Shaolin shadowboxing (hey, I don’t make the rules),  3) you practice basic hygiene and don’t smell like an old lady fart passing through an onion, and 4) at the very least you can name all four muscles of the rotator cuff and their functions (you’d be surprised how many trainers are unable to do this).

You’re already a step a head of your competition if you can place a checkmark next to all of those things.

And while I can sit here and wax poetic on the importance of all the things mentioned above in addition to the nuances of psychology, basic anatomy, undulated vs. concurrent periodization (what they are and when you’d use them), how to write a program for someone dealing with secondary external impingement, breaking down the Kreb’s cycle, or, I don’t know, even knowing what the fuck the Kreb’s Cycle is….

…..none of that, truly, will be the “x-factor” in determining whether or not any one specific trainer is capable of filling their client roster.

 

Although, if you know this by heart we should hang out.

Will possessing those attributes help?

You betcha.

However, I think it was my good friend, former business partner, and Cressey Sports Performance business director, Pete Dupuis, who stated it best:

“If you can’t hold a basic conversation and make small talk with people, you’re going to have a hard time in this industry.

Also, Tony’s pecs can cut diamonds.”

You’re Always Being Watched…Always

The best piece of advice I can give any trainer is to always act as if you’re being watched and observed.

Because you are.

When I was a commercial gym trainer I always treated every session as an opportunity to audition for other prospective clients. Meaning, my actual client – you know, the person who was paying good money for a service – got my undivided attention.

I didn’t want to come across as the cliche trainer who just stood there counting reps waiting for the hour to be over with.

Or worse, this trainer:

An acquaintance of mine, who’s a coach himself, posted this picture on my Twitter feed today. This is a trainer  “working” as his client attempts a 2x bodyweight squat.

#byefelicia

Now, if you’re a trainer struggling to fill your client roster or struggling to hit session quotas every month and EVERY other member of the gym saw that this is what they’d be paying for, would you have any room to bitch and moan about how the man is keeping you down?

A few months ago my wife and I were in Florida visiting family and we needed a place to train for a few days. We ended up going to a CrossFit that was two miles away. The first morning we arrived was Day #1 of the 2019 Open. The energy when we walked in was palpable.

Loud music, people getting after it, coaches coaching, it was awesome.

I just went into one of the corners and did deadlifts.

Fast forward 30 minutes, everyone left, and the next group came in which happened to be two older women not competing in the Open. The coach then sat down in a chair and maybe every ten minutes who would look up and half-heartedly say “nice job” and then go on doing whatever the hell she was doing.

Talk about a 180 (and a complete letdown as an observer).

Be a shark, in motion at all times.

Be an active coach…always.

Give feedback, provide cues, give a shit.

Be a participant for crying out loud.

That’s how you’ll get clients.

Oh, and Don’t Be An Asshole

This is Mike Boyle 101.

People don’t want to train with an asshole. They don’t want to train with someone who talks over their head and uses big words all the time and they don’t want to train with someone who’s a judgmental jackass.

YEAH…I ATE A CARB YESTERDAY, TONY. DON’T JUDGE ME!!

Smile, say hello to other members, introduce yourself, offer some pointers here and there, put on free 15-30 minute clinics to get more eyes in front of you to showcase your value, and, if you’re going to train where you work, maybe consider not turning into “I’m wearing headphones, I’m a psychopath, don’t you dare look at me guy,” or be overtly obnoxious, hooting and hollering all over the place and sniffing ammonia packs before a set of deadlifts.

Being approachable is part of the game.

If members are watching you sniff ammonia packs before every set deadlifts you’re not doing yourself any favors.

The post How to Get Clients Working in a Commercial Gym appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

Categories: Feeds

Diagnosing Limiting Factors to Speed Development

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 08:33

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of long-time friend (and current Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins) Kevin Neeld.

His new resource, Speed Training For Hockey, is now available.

Kevin knows how to train hockey players. However, the information below can be applied to any athlete. In short: when it comes to making someone faster the answer is rarely “just go do some sprints.” Digging deeper and understanding inherent limitations from athlete to athlete needs to be considered.

Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

Diagnosing Limiting Factors to Speed Training

Speed is one of the most highly coveted physical attributes in almost any sport, but particularly in ice hockey.

Unfortunately, many speed development programs take a bunch of dynamic warm-up and sprint exercises from track and field, scramble them together, and assume players will get faster.

There are two fundamental flaws in this line of thinking.

First, there is a lot more to speed development than simply sprinting.

Second, the assumption that all players (regardless of age, training background, physical development, etc.) will respond favorably to this type of program is clearly misguided.

The “this is what most people need” logic leading to this type of program is unique to the fitness industry and clearly unacceptable in almost every other area. For example, can you imagine picking your car up from a mechanic, and having he/she tell you…

“I rotated your tires, changed your oil, and topped off your windshield wiper fluid.”

“Why’d you do that?”

“Well that’s what most people need.”

“Yes…but I came in because my car is leaking transmission fluid.”

via GIPHY

Having a diagnostic system to help identify limiting factors to speed development will help you avoid both of these mistakes by providing clarity on which physical qualities need to be the focus of a training program, and by tracking progress to ensure the training is actually leading to the results you desire.

Limiting Factors to Speed Development

Below is a slide from a talk I gave at the NSCA’s Training for Hockey Clinic a few years ago. While this is overly simplistic, it provides a starting point for understanding the key elements that underlie performance in each area, and therefore what areas need to be “tested.”

Focusing in on speed, there are 4 key areas that contribute to speed development and expression.

1. Technique/Pattern

Speed can be limited by a player’s technique or skating pattern. This is why skating coaches are so important – if players aren’t taught to skate efficiently, to find their optimal skating depth, feel comfortable on their edges, learn optimal transition mechanics, etc., they’ll inevitably be wasting energy and skating slower than they could if they improved their mechanics.

2. Mobility/Stability

That said, from an off-ice training perspective, one of the major goals of training is to remove barriers that may be preventing a player from skating with optimal technique, which brings us down to the rest of the items on this list.

From a mobility standpoint, if a player doesn’t have the ankle and hip mobility to get into an optimal skating position and execute an effective stride, they’ll be leaving speed on the table.

In support of this concept, Upjohn et al. (2008) compared the skating patterns of high and low caliber players, and found that high caliber players set up with their hips, knees, and ankles all flexed more, and this allowed them to have a longer and wider stride length, and greater knee and ankle extension during the push-off phase of skating. In other words, a lower skating position translated into a longer stride length, which allowed for a more powerful push-off with each stride.

In this way, ensuring that the player has the adequate range of motion to get into a deeper skating position can be viewed as speed training.

This research is insightful because it highlights the importance of having adequate ankle mobility. A lack of dorsiflexion, or knees going over the toes, will limit your skating depth, and a lack of plantar flexion, or pointing the toes away from the ankle, will limit your power through the end of the push-off. What isn’t as readily apparent, is how a deeper skating stance will require increases in other components of hip mobility, notably hip abduction or moving the foot out to the side away from the hip.

Another way to illustrate this is to consider the lateral split.

The further apart the feet spread, or the further the hips move into this abduction position, the lower the hips drop. So if someone doesn’t possess the hip mobility in this direction, they’ll have to stand up higher to allow for a full stride.

This, along with a lack of ankle mobility, is one of the major reasons players will adopt a higher skating position. Again, all of this just illustrates that mobility in very specific areas can improve skating position, stride length, power through push-off, and ultimately speed. In other words, mobility work IS speed training, and if a player with a mobility restriction just runs more sprints, they’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity to improve their speed.

Note how greater hip abduction range of motion allows the player in red to achieve a much lower hip position, despite being several inches taller than the player in gray.

3. Muscle Size/Strength

Within a similar context, one of the major limitations to skating speed, particularly in high school and younger aged players, is a lack of lower body strength. Strength is a function of both how large the muscles are, listed as “muscle size” on the chart, and how effectively the brain can activate those muscles to produce force.

Strength can limit skating speed in two important ways.

First, if a player doesn’t possess the strength and local muscular endurance, listed in the stamina column, to maintain a low skating position, they’ll start to stand up taller as fatigue sets in. As they stand up taller, their skating stride shortens, they produce less push-off force with each stride, and they slow down.

Secondly, speed is largely determined by how much force a player can put into the ice with each stride. The more force that pushes into the ice, the further the player is propelled forward. By improving the player’s ability to produce high levels of force, you allow them to increase their propulsion with each stride, which simply means that each stride will push them further forward, allowing them to cover more ice with the same number of strides. Force is really just another way of saying strength. So in this way, strength training is really speed training.

 

Great example of a player possessing significant relative strength in a single-leg pattern.

4. Rate of Force Development

Lastly, ROFD stands for rate of force development. If a player produces the same amount of force, but does it faster, it will shorten the time it takes for them to complete the stride, allowing them to initiate their next stride sooner.

I don’t see this a lot, but in some players that have spent a lot of time developing strength using traditional bodybuilding or powerlifting methods, they’re capable of producing high levels of force, but they do so slowly, so the thing that’s limiting their speed the most is their ability to produce that force at a faster rate.

This is really the first time in this discussion where sprinting, plyometrics, and other more traditional speed and power work has a place in improving a limiting factor to speed.

That isn’t to say that these methods aren’t important in a comprehensive speed development program, but hopefully you now have a better appreciation for how speed training is MUCH more than just simply running.

Relevant Tests for Tracking Progress

There are a lot of performance tests available to help provide insight into limiting factors to speed development, and many of them have merit. Below are a few that I’ve found particularly effective, both in terms of the information they provide and the ease of implementation.

Mobility/Stability

This section could easily be its own article, but in the interest of simplicity, players should have some assessment of ankle mobility, hip range of motion, and single-leg stability. I’ve used several tests over the years to accomplish this, but want to highlight the Y-Balance Test, which has a few notable benefits:

  • Performance in this test correlates with ankle dorsiflexion and hip flexion range of motion, two important areas for achieving an optimal skating depth
  • The test serves as a reasonable off-ice assessment of stride length
  • Some studies have found a relationship between performance in this test and injury risk

The Y-Balance Test is really designed to be an end-range stability assessment, but if you watch how the player goes through it closely, you can get a sense of what may be limiting them from going further. For example, if the knee doesn’t smoothly drift forward over the toes without the heel popping up, the player may have an ankle mobility restriction.

Addressing mobility restrictions and improving single-leg stability should improve performance in this test AND stride length on the ice.

Speed/Acceleration

20-Yard Sprint with 10-Yard Split Time: The body positions, movement pattern, and ground contact time in the first few strides of acceleration more closely resemble the characteristics of skating than top-speed running.

With this in mind, a 10-yard sprint provides valuable information about a player’s ability to accelerate.

However, because hockey players aren’t the most polished sprinters (and they don’t need to be, as mentioned above), there can be a lot of variability in the start. Extending the sprint 20-yards gives a great indication of the players early and late phase acceleration while minimizing the impact a variable start will have on the overall time.

Lower Body Power

Vertical Jump: The vertical jump is one of the most commonly used tests to assess lower body power, and has been shown to moderately correlate to on-ice sprinting speed.

Aside from published research studies, I’ve personally been involved with testing a wide range of players both on and off the ice (youth players, junior teams, NHL Development Camps, NHL Training Camps, Olympic Training Camps, etc.) and the relationship between VJ height and on-ice speed is consistent across all of these groups, making it a suitable option for all players.

Part of the value of the test is that it’s so heavily used that it’s fairly easy to find normative data to look at how a given player compares to others in his or her age group, playing level, etc.

Equipment can be a limitation for some, so using a broad jump (or long jump) is a reasonable alternative. However, I’ve found that broad jump distance correlates with height, so ideally you’d divide the jump distance by height to get a scaled number to track over time.

Lateral Bound: This is a movement included in most hockey training programs, but not one many players are using to track progress.

Compared to the vertical and broad jump, this tests power in a lateral/horizontal pattern, which is more specific to skating, and provides an opportunity to identify side to side imbalances. I’ve also found that in players that are quick on the ice, but don’t have great vertical jumps, they tend to perform well in this test. Including both tests gives a more complete picture of the power profile of the player.

 

Leg length also plays into jump distance in this test, so it’s important to take a quick measurement of that (or split distance) as well.

I’ve published normative data for players in different age groups here: Hockey Power Testing.

Lower Body Strength

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge (5-RM): For strength testing, it’s possible to get a really good snapshot of the player’s ability to produce force through their lower body with this test.

Similar to the lateral bound, the reverse lunge is a unilateral exercise requiring single-leg stability and dissociated movement between the two legs, two fundamental characteristics of skating. It’s also a fairly easy movement to teach, so it’s safe to implement with players across all age groups.

Strength will fluctuate across developmental years, but by the time players hit high school, they should be able to use at least their body weight in external load (e.g. 90lb dumbbells for a 180lb player).

Wrap Up

There are two major points I want to leave you with.

First, developing speed involves a lot more than running sprints. It’s important to recognize the potential limiting factors to a player developing and expressing higher levels of speed to ensure these are being addressed through a comprehensive training program.

Second, running through these (or similar) tests can be helpful in both identifying individual areas for improvement and ensuring that a player’s training program is leading to the desired results.

The ability to produce force is the foundation for producing force quickly, the recipe for speed. If a player does not have adequate strength, that should be the primary focus. If the player is very strong, but doesn’t perform well in the jumping or sprinting tests, then exercises to improve rate of force development and acceleration should be the primary focus.

A well-designed, comprehensive speed training program should lead to improvements in all of these areas. Addressing a player’s limiting factors is the key to optimizing his or her speed development.

Speed Training for Hockey

This is a no-brainer if you happen to work with hockey players.

What’s refreshing about this resource is that, while Kevin works with NHL players and has worked with many elite level hockey players throughout his coaching career, this is about keeping things simple and honing in on the basics.

This is about making better athletes.

Speed Training for Hockey is currently on sale at a hefty discount for the next two weeks, so act quickly before the price jumps up.

 

The post Diagnosing Limiting Factors to Speed Development appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/10/19

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 08:04

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th at SVPT Fitness.

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th at Clean Shred.

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st and Melbourne Strength & Conditioning. (<—  Includes bonus “Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

NOTE: The Early Bird rate of $100 OFF the regular price ends THIS WEEKEND (May 5th)

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

3. Strong Body-Strong Mind Workshop – Chicago, IL

This will be the only time Dr. Lisa Lewis and I will be presenting this workshop together in 2019. In previous years we’ve presented together in Boston, London,  Bonn (Germany),  and Austin, TX.

This 1-day workshop is targeted towards fitness professionals and digs a little deeper into what really “bogs” them down and stresses them out….

…their clients!

Click THIS link for more details on topics covered as well as date/cost/location.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Bear Saw

Stolen from @EricCressey and it suuuuuuuucks. pic.twitter.com/aILgqRc7jW

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) May 7, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Lisa’s been working hard working her way back from a hip/glute “thingie” . . During today’s training session at @terrierstrength she hit a 185 lb DL with 80 (ish) lbs of chains going along for the ride. . Diesel doc in the house! . She JUST started a new IG account – @drlewisconsulting – that’s going to be more professionally based moving forward: her posting more on Psych Skills for fit pros as well as general levels of badassery like above. . If you’re a fit pro give her a follow.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on May 6, 2019 at 12:34pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK How to Break Your Social Media Addiction – Tessa Yannone

This article doesn’t really have anything to do with fitness, but it does have A LOT to do with your health. My friend Tessa (who’s the head health/fitness honcho at Boston Magazine) asked my wife, Dr. Lisa Lewis (who’s the head honcho of Jedi mind tricks), to provide some basic suggestions on how people can begin to ween themselves off of social media.

Given how social media, in particular Instagram, has transformed the way we get and digest health/fitness information, this article is never more relevant.

Life, Fitness, and the Road to Hana – Pete Dupuis

There are many parallels between “life” and fitness. The one that reverberates most is….

“The journey is more important than the destination.”

This quickie blog post from Pete beautifully backs up that statement.

40 Years With a Whistle – Dan John

I was sent Dan John’s most recent opus the other day.

Of course I love it, as I do with pretty much anything that man writes.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/10/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Alignment Affects ROM

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 15:25

I had a new client start at CORE recently who, before we even met in person, let it be known that 1) he hated techno and 2) he hated squats.

Well, why don’t you let me know how you really feel?

Personally, whenever I email someone for the first time, my approach is to just, you know, introduce myself, say I’m a big fan, and maybe butter them up with a savory compliment like “oh, and your cat’s adorable.”

I generally refrain from taking a proverbial shit on the things the person on the other end enjoys:

“…and while I’m at it, Tony, I also hate 8o’s cartoons, cheese, rainbows, and your kid.”

I’m exaggerating of course, but once I dug a little deeper and had a bit more back and forth with this individual I got a better sense of his lack of enthusiasm towards squatting.1

Copyright: lightfieldstudios / 123RF Stock Photo

The Smash, Thrash, and Trash Method

When “Ken” came in for his initial assessment he noted that he had, at one point, enjoyed squatting.

Admittedly, those days were more than a decade ago, and despite his current disdain for all things squatting, he was still very much interested in putting them back into his training repertoire and giving them a go again.

The obvious question from me was, “why?”

“If you don’t like back squatting and more to the point, they hurt, why insist on doing them? We can also perform other variations – Goblet, Front, Zercher – that may be a little more back friendly.”

“That’s the thing,” he said, “they didn’t always hurt. When I trained all through college and into my early 30s I never had any issues.”

“But then, you know, I became more sedentary due to life, was stubborn and not taking into consideration I wasn’t 25 anymore, and things just fell apart.”

SIDE NOTE: “Ken” is 47, works long hours mostly at a desk, and I can’t stress this enough, hates techno…;o)

via GIPHY

To speed things up all I’ll say is that, while Ken isn’t the most supple person in the world, nothing during his initial assessment came up as a stern red flag or required an exorcism. Sure, he had a few aches and pains, but nothing outside of the normal “niggles” that come with the territory of lifting heavy things for a large portion of one’s life.

I did notice with his passive vs. active squat screen that his active ROM was limited (while his passive ROM was pretty darn okay).

Pertinent information. And if you want to know why that’s pertinent information read the article hyperlinked a sentence above this one.

He also noted he had worked with several trainers in the past who, like me, noticed his lack of ROM with his active squat.

Seriously, read the article.

It’ll help.

As a result he was used to being given a laundry list of hip mobility drills in addition to a plethora of aggressive soft tissue “smashes” to perform daily:

A1. Take a 88 lb barbell and roll it over your thighs. Have someone stand on it and jump up and  down for added pressure. Doesn’t that feel great!?

A2. Take a lacrosse ball and poke around in your glutes. If you feel nothing, glue on some razor blades to make it more challenging. Splendid!

A3. If neither of those work, go get a chainsaw. RELEASE.

brb

Moreover, Ken was also given poor advice and told to arch his lower back aggressively whenever he squatted because, #powerlifting.

As a result, whenever he hit a certain depth – usually juuuuust as he passed 90 degrees of hip flexion – he’d compensate with more lumbar flexion and exhibit what’s often referred to as “butt wink.”

Photo Credit: GirlsGoneStrong.com

Again, pertinent information.

No wonder his back always hurt when he squatted:

  1. His issue wasn’t a mobility issue, but rather a POSITIONING issue.
  2. Squat cues that work for powerlifters usually don’t work well with non-powerlifters.
Alignment Affects ROM

To be clear: I am not some anti-anterior pelvic tilt lobbyist.

Anterior pelvic tilt is normal.

There’s a natural lordotic curve to the lumbar spine which is accompanied with a slight forward/anterior tilt of the pelvis.

It’s when it becomes excessive –  or people are encouraged to seek it out – that it can (not always) elicit negative repercussions.

Ross et al (2014) noted that:

In 3D modeling of pelvic motion from x-rays of test subjects an increase of anterior pelvic tilt of 10 degrees resulted in:

  • Decreased hip flexion by 6 degrees.
  • Decreased hip internal rotation of  15 degrees.
  • Decreased abductions of 8.5 degrees.
  • Increased contact with positions of impingement.
  • Being put into Hufflepuff.2

In short: more anterior tilt (may) require more spinal motion during squatting exercises compared to more posterior tilt.

The dotted section(s) to the left represent the acetabulum (or hip socket). As you move down from A to C we lose site of the acetabulum due to increased anterior pelvic tilt. This will incite increased bone on bone contact – or impingement – sooner as we go deeper into a squat.

Now, I am not suggesting we all walk around in more posterior pelvic tilt like a bunch of Ed Grimley wannabes:

However, what I am suggesting is that nudging a little more posterior pelvic tilt so our clients/athletes get out of their aggressive anterior pelvic tilt (and closer to neutral) may be the more appropriate long-term play.

Sure, it may entail “some” releasing of this and “some” mobilizing of that…but not as much as most people think.

Much of the time the more pertinent approach is to have your clients adopt a better bracing strategy in addition to spending more time strengthening the anterior core and glutes (both of which aid in posterior pelvic tilt).

Likewise, I don’t feel cuing people to “arch their lower back” during a squat is beneficial. As pointed out above, increased anterior pelvic tilt resulted in increased impingement of the hip. Once someone runs out of room in his or her’s hips, in order to squat deeper they have to gain ROM elsewhere.

Their soul lower back.

Moreover, the reason many powerlifters adopt a hard arch when they squat is more out of necessity than because it’s better.

  • They wear gear/squat suits (that require an aggressive arch in order to hit passable depth).

Photo Credit: EliteFTS.com

  • People who don’t compete, don’t wear squat suits (and “passable” depth is arbitrary and highly individual anyway).

Circling back to Ken (remember him?), all I had him do in our initial session(s) was to appreciate POSITION. I took away the cue to arch his lower back, and instead had him focus more on posteriorly tilting his pelvis to scoot him closer to neutral (which, remember, is STILL an anterior tilted position).

He was able to squat pain free AND was able to squat deeper without “falling” into that butt wink posture.

I think he’s beginning to like squats again.

Tiesto?

Not so much.

The post Alignment Affects ROM appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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A Complete Guide to Core Training

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 11:01

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of TG.com regular contributor, Travis Hansen.

He shares his approach to core training as well as numerous exercises he uses with his own athlete/clients. I’m willing to bet there’s a number you’ve never seen or tried before.

Enjoy!

Copyright: ammentorp / 123RF Stock Photo

A Complete Guide to Core Training

In the world of core training, there is a vast array of option to choose from and it can be overwhelming perhaps at times to decipher which options are more appropriate for you and your specific training goals.

What’s more, is that there are six sub-categories that absolutely need to be incorporated into your training regime so that you satisfy complete development of your core and all of its specific parts.

Here are the six categories for you:

#1- Prehab/Rehab based drills

#2- Anterior core drills

#3- Lateral/rotational core drills

#4- Posterior chains drills

#5- Explosive core work

#6- Core endurance work

1. Prehab/Rehab

Anytime there is a major weakness in the core there will be both a reduction in the recruitment of specific muscles in the core on outward to the rest of the body.

For example, it has been found that the TVA (Transverse Abdominis) muscle is suppose to be one of the first muscles to fire in the human body upon any movement initiated. This function is concrete enough to warrant a very valuable term/training principle that has been coined its honor.

The term “proximal to distal sequencing” has been adopted by many practitioners in the field on a regular basis, and helps explain how muscles activate inside at our core and then outward to the limbs sequentially. It’s also pretty well understood at this point that individuals with lower back pain tend to present with a timing delay of the TVA muscle which can prose several subsequent problems for you.

As a result, it becomes important that these individuals and even you partake in regular core training to either help remedy a current back issue, or prevent one from emerging in the future. And with 80% plus American who report back pain this issue becomes very urgent.

So in the context of prehab/rehab drills, here is a short list of drills you can include in your program if you aren’t already:

#1- Deadbugs #2- Plank Progressions<— click to check out some plank progressions that don’t make my corneas bleed. #3- Quadruped Progressions

 

2. Anterior Core

The next category on the list involves the development of the anterior core region or everything attached proximally from the lower sternum down all the way to the pubic symphysis. The TVA, Rectus Abdominis, and the external obliques are notable muscles within this sub-system of our anatomy.

This is system is your power pump per se as well, when it comes to core development.

Of course all systems are relevant in locomotion and none should be discounted, however, your individual power potential truly lies in this region along with the posterior chain, since they “co-contract” against one another in the sagittal plane.

If you don’t’ believe this then just witness performances across multiples exercises that are directionally linear dominant in nature versus those that are classified as lateral or rotational based: Squat, Deadlifts, Bench Presses, Jumps, and sprints are going to absolutely trump any shuffle, carioca, hip turn/crossover step, or lateral raise so on and so forth.

There are a few exceptions just like with everything, but overall our species was designed to express more strength and power in an up and down, front to back manner.

Here is a short list of anterior core drills for you:

#1- Reverse Crunches

 

#2- Stick Crunches #3- Hanging leg raise progressions

 

#4- V-ups #5- Rollouts 3. Lateral/Rotational Drills

The next category carries distinctions, but due to a natural lack of available variation with lateral based core drills, it’s much easier to just merge the two types together into one category.

If you play any sport, whether it be recreationally or what have you, you will need to incorporate lateral/rotational based core exercises into your program. Movements such as throwing, swinging, change of direction, etc. heavily rely on this region of our core anatomy.

Moreover, some of the fibers in the anterior core muscles will possess specific lines of pull that are geared towards rotation, such as the Rectus Abdominis muscle.

That means that by doubling up training to this muscle group and others, you are effectively covering all portions of the fibers within that muscle group and making them more sensitive to contracting in the process.

Some of examples of lateral/rotational based drills are as follow:

#1- Side plank variations

 

 

#2- Pallof presses #3- Russian Twists

 

#4- Chops and Lifts #5- Renegade Rows

 

4. Posterior Chain

The posterior chain has been discussed ad nauseum before just about everywhere on the internet, and it was alluded too briefly earlier, so we wont spend too much time on this one.

The “Deep Longitudinal Sub-System” is the more geeky and technical term for your posterior chain and if you analyze all of the target muscles you will see that it composes a vast majority of gross muscles or more than any other system which implies its extreme value in human movement and the core specifically.

The system begins at the heel then moves up through the shins, continuing up through the hamstrings and glutes, then across the thoracolumbar fascia and then the lumbar erectors, respectively. And if you haven’t heard it enough already, then its worth repeating, that if you aren’t absolutely crushing your posterior chain in the gym your are leaving a lot of strength and power skill in reserve.

Here are some common drills for this type of core training:

#1- Bent Knee Hip Extension Work (glute bridge, slideboard leg curls, stability ball leg curls, GHR’s)

 

 

#2- Straight Knee Hip Extension Work (Swings, Deadlift variations, pull-through variations, sled sprints)

 

#3- Lateral/Rotational Hip Work (Jane Fonda’s/hip abductions, clamshells, and bandwalks)

 

5. Core Power

Core power is next on the list.

As an industry, there would to be more of a focus on promoting power in the lower and upper body regions, with less focus on the middle of the body. Then again, the core is implicated in many of the popular power training methods, like medicine ball throws, jump squats, and swings to name a few.

Truth is it doesn’t matter if you are an athlete who has to change directions frequently, or you’re a lifter or gym junkie whose trying to maximize your strength and power potential or raise your RFD (Rate of Fore Development) to the next level, you have to build high levels of reactivity in your core to initiate, anchor, and even match upper and lower body efforts. Once again you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Here are some core power training exercises:

#1-Standing medicine ball throws #2- Medicine pullover throws #3- V-up throws #4- Rope plank swings

 

6. Core Endurance

And the final category of exercises is the more slow and higher volume-based approach.

Before we continue though, please understand that considerable research has shown that every possible motion of the lumbar spine is linked to some type of injury.

And if this were the case then we should all act like rigid hot dogs right?

Not a chance.

So what gives?

Well, like most things related to training: injury history, structural variances, program design, age, genetics, nutrition, work capacity, and much more will dictate future outcomes.

Dr. Stuart McGill is one of the best in the world when it comes to spine biomechanics, and he postulated at one time that the spine has an eventual limit to how many times it can bend and extend in a lifetime. Everyone took this information and ran with it. He also understands and appreciates that the rigorous daily demands of an athlete require us to potentially exceed or really challenge thresholds of the spine, so we need to prepare the highly delicate and vulnerable region as best we can.

And it’s inevitable that less than ideal postures and patterns will be produced in training, but managing these potentially threatening scenario’s is the end goal. Also consider that even if someone were to stress the core and spine heavily in their youth, intense activity will eventually decline since this type of activity is inversely related to aging.

As such, it will probably all balance itself out in the end and we shouldn’t worry too much if your training is in order.

With that being said, it’s imperative that you build the work capacity/endurance of your core just like all other muscle groups.

In one study, a timed superman or back extension test that was performed isometrically was useful in treating patients with non-specific lower back pain.

This would make obvious sense since discs have been shown to slightly slip as fatigue emerges in the core.

Endurance training of the local core musculature satisfies this TUT (Time Under Tension) specificity and when progressed properly, may help center the disc more and surrounding structures right where we want them.

Moreover, the core is comprised of a lot of slow twitch muscle fiber which have a tendency to respond better more with longer sets and TUT according to Henneman’s Size Principle.

Last but not least, witness all of the athletes throughout history who regularly performed thousands of crunches over the course of a training cycle with no back issues and stellar performances. How do you explain that one? Maybe there would be a slight link to back health or a lack there of in these instances, but more than likely it’s probably satisfying a psychological compulsion which drives other forces and is important.

Now that you have a compete infrastructure of core training you can effectively design your core training program so that it suits your individual needs and preferences. Just make sure to include all elements of the program. The core is synergistic in nature just like the rest of the body, where one part will fail to match the strength of all the components combined.

Programming Suggestions

I wanted you to go away with some rough parameters on how to program for the various options of core training.

Some methods can be performed in higher quantities and frequencies than others. Again, this is just a general scheme that applies to a majority of clients:

                                                                       Frequency/Sets/Reps/Rest/Int/Tempo (E-I-C)

 

#1-Prehab/Rehab based drills                3-5x     4-5     12-24   0-30 sec Mod.   3-1-1

#2-Anterior core drills                              2-3x       3-4     8-16     0-60 sec Mod.   3-1-1

#3-lateral/rotational core drills            2-3x       3-4     8-16     0-60 sec   Mod.   2-1-1

#4-Posterior chains drills                        2-3x       2-4   6-16     0-120 sec Mod-Hi   2-1-1 or 1-1-1

#5-Explosive core work                            1-2x       3-5     5-8       0-180 sec Ultra Hi   1-1-1

#6-Core endurance work                         2-3x       3-5     12-50+ 0-120sec   Mod.       1-1-1

 

The post A Complete Guide to Core Training appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/3/19

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 07:59

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th (<– EARLY BIRD rate ends this weekend).

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th at Clean Shred.

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st and Melbourne Strength & Conditioning. (<—  Includes bonus “Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

NOTE: The Early Bird rate of $100 OFF the regular price ends THIS WEEKEND (May 5th)

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

3.  FREE E-Course for Online Trainers via Online Trainer Academy

This is a free self-paced mini-course from Jon Goodman and his team at the Online Trainer Academy. They are the experts who have helped more fitness pros transition to online training than every other company and coach combined.

You will learn:

1. The systems you need to repeatedly generate clients.
2. The marketing know-how to ethically and douchily (<– my word, not their’s) attract the right people.
3. The tools to get high-paying clients.
4.  An action plan to make it all happen.

—> Click here to get your free online training career blueprint

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

A handful of my coaching colleagues have been posting rad videos recently of their young athletes doing rad things.

I dig that & it inspired me to share too.

Here’s one of my athletes – 14, soccer player – nailing her single leg squats today. #icantdothat pic.twitter.com/yNBKkVdjkq

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) April 30, 2019

Instagram

 

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And she’s off! . Dr. @lilew13 is out the door heading to Kansas City to present at this year’s The Fitness Summit. . I’m so excited for her and can’t wait for fitness professionals to hear her message on how to better foster motivation with their clients/athletes. . Mom’s away so Julian and I will probably be running around with scissors and stuff.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on May 2, 2019 at 3:59am PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Your Guide to Partial Range of Motion Exercises  – Aleisha Fetters

Nice synopsis of why (and when) utilizing partial range of motion exercises can be beneficial for strength and muscle building.

The Joy of Being a Woman With Muscles – Emily Beers

Because, fuck what others think (<— my quote, not the author’s).

Stop Doing That, Start Doing This – T-Nation.com

Here’s another compilation article I was part of via T-Nation.com. Some great insights courtesy of coaches such as Lee Boyce, Eric Bach, Nick Tumminello, and others.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 5/3/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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The Anti Highlight Reel

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 14:26

“Things are going to get interesting.”

That was the message my coach, Greg Robins, relayed to me two weeks ago after our weekly program check in. I had just hit a new squat PR that week and he proceeded to congratulate me on a job well done and then followed suite with his “things are going to get interesting” comment.

My mind swirled.

Like, did “interesting” mean we were going to switch gears and maybe emphasize muscle building over max weight? Did “interesting” mean something sphincter clenching like 5/3/1 or German Volume Training. No, wait, shit, Smolov? Please god, no, not that.

“Interesting” post workout kitty cuddles?

What, Greg, WHAT?!?!

Copyright: jtrillol / 123RF Stock Photo

Interesting = An Unexpected Week

As it turns out, I found out exactly what he meant by interesting when I opened up my Google sheet this past Monday to see what was in store for me this week:

Lifting

a

Metric

Shit

Ton

of

Weight.

I couldn’t help but do a double, nay, triple take when I saw what was on the agenda. I was slated to come close to if not surpass PR’s in the “big 3.”

  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift

I wasn’t expecting that.

 

I was both excited and defeated.

Excited in that I’m always down to lift heavy things. However, I’d be lying if I said I felt ready. Not to make excuses (even though that’s exactly what I’m going to do), but the weekend prior I was in Philadelphia presenting the (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with Dean Somerset.

I always feel like a bag of dicks after presenting for 14 hours between Saturday & Sunday, but that feeling was exponentially compounded due to some hefty travel woes both Dean and I had to deal with making our way to Philly.

My flight was delayed seven hours from Boston on Friday and Dean ended up stranded in Toronto when his flight was cancelled due to inclement weather

Moreover, Dean texted me Saturday morning 90 minutes before our workshop was to begin to say he wasn’t going to be able to get on a flight until the following day which meant it was going to be the Tony Show all day Saturday into Sunday afternoon.

Okie dokie…

LETS…DO…THIS.

via GIPHY

To make a long story short: The workshop went splendidly. By the time I got back to Boston Sunday night, however, I was exhausted.

I didn’t even stay up to watch that epic “The Long Night” episode on Game of Thrones. Although, my wife and I ended up watching it Monday afternoon.

AYRA!

The Anti-Highlight Reel

I had a shitty week of training.

On Tuesday I missed my goal weight of 305 lbs. on the bench press. Actually, I didn’t even attempt 305 because I missed 290 lbs.

Puh.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Because people always post their highlights in the gym. . Here’s me missing 290 on my bench today. . SHUT UP. I HATE YOU. YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE. . (slams door)

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Apr 30, 2019 at 12:45pm PDT

My best bench ever is 315 lbs and it’s been a while since I attempted 300. I was disappointed I missed 290, and felt it prudent to share because, well, you know, everyone uses social media to highlight their wins.

I figured I’d keep it real and showcase a “fail.”

Although my buddy, John Rusin, did a wonderful job at making lemonade out of lemons with this comment:

“This is great for people to see. Not the miss (c’mon mayne!!) but a proper setup utilizing pins the way they were designed for. No horrific bailing, no jeopardized positions, just bar on safeties safely. Nicely done.”

And then today (Thursday) I missed my 605 lb attempt on the deadlift. I hit 585 (kinda-sorta easily) and was supposed to go for 615.

My training partner, Justin, kept it real though. He saw my 585 attempt and when I looked at him and said “what do you think? Should I go for it?”

He said, “you’re not going to hit 615.”1

He encouraged me instead to go for 605 since that would still be a 5 lb PR.

Annnnnnnd, nope.

 

Goddamit!

Two BIG misses in a week.

Not cool.

A few things to note from this video, though:

1. 0:24s = amazing post-DL fail ups.

2. 0:29s = Tony’s tantrum belt toss.

3. Because I want this to be a somewhat educational post, Justin did point out a great piece of constructive criticism on that particular pull.

If you look real close you’ll notice the bar get away from me a bit; you’ll see the plates roll forward juuuust a smidge as I initiate my pull.

Here, I slowed it down for you:

 

Full Disclosure: I think I would have missed the lift either way, but it does go to show how meticulous you have with regards to your set-up and execution to hit a big lift.

Nevertheless, I’d like to sit here and chalk up this entire fail of a week to stress, travel, and lack of sleep of late.

If I’m going to be honest with myself, though, I have to call bull to the shit on all that.

You see, I’m just like you dear reader.

There are times where I’m dialed in with my training, sure. But there are also times where I can get a bit complacent and lackadaisical and start to cut corners. I’ll skip my warm-up and there are even times where I don’t work as hard as I know I should be on my accessory work.

Hell, there are even times where I won’t complete all my accessory work.

I’m not perfect nor infallible; and this past week was a stark reminder I need to cut the shit. I need to hold myself more accountable and to DO…THE…WORK.

I want this to be a reminder to some of you reading too, because I know some of you can commiserate. Are you in a bit of a slump or not getting the results you want?

  • Go to bed. Hydrate. Eat to support you goals. Understand you’re not going to feel like Voltron every day. You’re bound to miss a lift here and there (it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence).

But too, be honest with yourself:

  • Are you really working as hard as you can in the gym?
  • Are you really hitting all your sets/reps?
  • Are you really doing the work?

I’m willing to admit when I’m slacking.

Can you?

The post The Anti Highlight Reel appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Leverage Your Strengths to Pursue Your Goals

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 09:04

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of my wife Dr. Lisa Lewis who, later this summer, will be one of the presenters taking part in the Soul Sista Summit here in Boston the weekend of June 22nd.

For more information go HERE.

Copyright: ipopba / 123RF Stock Photo

Leverage Your Strengths to Pursue Your Goals

As a psychologist, a performance consultant, and a lover of personal evolution and enhancement, I often talk to clients, trainers, coaches, and students about their dreams and their endeavors.

Whether they are personal, professional, or fitness-related…goals shape habits, require focus, motivation, and regulate how we execute all kinds of behavior. Typically, I hear people focus on their “weaknesses” – the barriers to behavior change, the “bad habits” that get in the way of change, the disappointments they feel toward themselves.

This negativity bias is natural.

We are inclined to focus on the negative, and for negative experiences and emotions to weigh more heavily on us than positive ones. Research on negativity bias demonstrates that a significantly higher ratio of positive emotions are required to counter balance negative ones – in other words, we need many, many more compliments than we do criticisms.

We need more pats on the back, and less kicks in the ass.

My clients will naturally beat themselves up, tear themselves down, and be hard on themselves, and have been working hard on those interventions prior to meeting with me. In my years of clinical and performance-enhancement work, I have come to see clearly that I will not add value or help to facilitate change by doubling-down on negative thoughts and feelings, or by centering goals around “weakness.”

Instead, I utilize a strengths-based approach – creating goal-directed action plans around what the client excels at, enjoys, and executes easily.

Because negativity will always creep into our thoughts and color our evaluations in a more intense way than positivity, focusing on strengths and capitalizing on what you do well will correct this imbalance, and allow for a clear, more efficient, and more productive approach to making change and facilitating growth.

Here is an example:

Jeff is 34-year-old investment banker who, when I met him, worked 90+ hours per week, lived alone in his city apartment, and spent Friday night through Sunday morning drinking to excess and using cocaine.

When he first came to see me he had “tried everything” to curtail his drinking and stop his cocaine use.

This included working longer hours, avoiding hard liquor and “only drinking beer” when he would go out out on the weekends, avoiding friends that used cocaine, and carrying around a mountain of guilt and shame wherever he went, because he “deserved it”.

Jeff’s opinion of himself was highly negative, and he explained that he was often “on edge,” irritable and agitated easily, and anxious most of the time. He told me he wanted to “cut the shit” and “grow up.” His approach to addressing the problem had been punitive, and his feelings toward himself and his approach to “fixing” himself were negative.

I proposed a different approach – one that utilized his strengths and would promote feeling good about himself.

As you can imagine, this Type-A, high-achieving client was skeptical. He rolled his eyes at the idea of “positivity” and let me know he had nothing to gain from “going easy on” himself!

But, my persistent, insistent, and consistent collaborative approach focused on negotiating for positivity and strength-building.

In weekly sessions with Jeff, I encouraged adding and then increasing physical activity – something this collegiate athlete had been missing in his professional life. Despite his tendency to focus on negativity, I was persuasive, and eventually, he remembered being strong.

Fast.

Athletic.

I wanted to capitalize on those positive qualities.

First he added two cycling classes on mornings before work, and soon that increased to five days a week. Next, he added boxing a few afternoons, then added in some strength training, and finally a yoga class on the weekend.

The more physically active Jeff was, the better all other aspects of his life.

By adding something he loved (and was good at), other behaviors naturally changed.

He was so exhausted in the evenings that he chose going to bed or watching a movie with a lady-friend over going out to drink and using cocaine. He was so drained from all that physical activity that he felt motivated to improve his nutrition, which also increased his motivation to limit his alcohol use.

He enjoyed improved attention and mental acuity at work, which was noticed by his colleagues, and most importantly, he felt proud, engaged, and “on his game”.

Today, Jeff works a bit less, drinks a lot less, and abstains from cocaine.

He enjoys an even temper, low anxiety, and feelings of confidence and pride.

He is planning to play on a community soccer team this summer, to train for his first boxing match in the fall, and to try the “Whole 30” diet during the upcoming month.

These are goals that Jeff has identified as interesting, meaningful, or just plain fun.

Although they may not look like treatment for substance abuse or anxiety at first glance, pursuing goals that result in positive feelings, behaviors, and self-appraisals led to a decrease in self-destructive behaviors and eradicated a self-reinforcing cycle of negativity.

My advice to you is to adopt a similar approach in pursuit of your goals!

Even though we may not know each other, I assume that, if you are reading this, you are goal-directed, driven, and probably tough on yourself. You have most likely exhausted all possible benefit there may have been from beating yourself up over your “weaknesses.”

What Do You Have to Lose by Trying a Different Approach?

Identify your goal.

Be as specific as possible.

Then, name the strengths and skills that you bring to the table.

They may not seem directly connected in the moment, so think broadly, and then weave those strengths into your action plan. If you love to bake, transfer those skills into preparation for your upcoming triathlon by baking some delicious protein bars.

If you were a dancer or a gymnast as a child, and you miss it, choose a dance-based exercise class to help you get back to regular exercise – don’t stress out about finding the “best” or the “right” workout.

Thank you for reading!

And best of luck in pursuit of your goals. Always remember that you have all of the ingredients you need, they’re inside of you, to make the change you want for yourself. If you want to read more from or about me, please visit my website: drlewisconsulting.com.

Soul Sista Summit

If you are interested in hearing me speak, and learning more about personal growth and a strengths-based approach, register here for the Soul Sista Summit.

This two day women’s only experience is designed for personal growth, and is hosted by Athena Concannon and Lauren Bradley. The summit consists of workshops and workouts, and an exploration into approaches to lifestyle, fitness, and nutrition that facilitate thriving.

At the summit, I provide a 2-hour presentation on using mental skills to enhance motivation, persist in health- and goal-directed goals, and to stop and reframe negative thinking patterns that keep you from your goals. Learn to leverage your strengths and your passion in pursuit of your goals. The Soul Sista Summit is Saturday, June 22nd, and Sunday, June 23rd.

If you are a woman and can make it to Boston this summer, I hope to see you there.

The post Leverage Your Strengths to Pursue Your Goals appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 4/26/19

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 07:53

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th (<– THIS weekend, always room for more).

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th at Clean Shred.

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st and Melbourne Strength & Conditioning. (<—  Includes bonus “Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

NOTE: The Early Bird rate of $100 OFF the regular price ends on May 15th.

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

3.  FREE E-Course for Online Trainers

This is a free self-paced mini-course from Jon Goodman and his team at the Online Trainer Academy. They are the experts who have helped more fitness pros transition to online training than every other company and coach combined.

You will learn:

1. The systems you need to repeatedly generate clients.
2. The marketing know-how to ethically and douchily (<– my word, not their’s) attract the right people.
3. The tools to get high-paying clients.
4.  An action plan to make it all happen.

—> Click here to get your free online training career blueprint

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Every night after he eats dinner (when I’m home) Julian and I head out into the hallway to horseplay and to bother our neighbors. Love watching him develop his movement skills in a fun fashion. pic.twitter.com/ukL1cATE2e

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) April 18, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I had very specific instructions for my deadlifts today. . I feel as if mission was accomplished. . Swipe to see if you agree. . And because I want people to learn something with this post today, I can’t stress enough how crucial the lats are with regards to DL performance. . It’s no exaggeration to day the lats connect your hips and shoulders (via the thoraco-lumbar fascia). Lately I’ve been stressing with my clients that the lats are what connect you to the barbell. . Pretend as if you’re squeezing an orange in your armpits…that’s your lats turning on. . And that’s connecting you to the bar. . Keep those bad boys on throughout the ENTIRE set (even when lowering the bar). . It’ll make a profound difference, I promise.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Apr 23, 2019 at 1:00pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK The Message You Send to Your Kid When You Complain About Their Coach – Jason Bacigalupo

It ain’t a good one.

Under the Influencer: Why “Fitness Influencers Are Bad For Fitness and Humanity – Mike Howard

This was a really good and really entertaining read.

Slow clap to Mike for writing this.

MASS Research Review – Smart Dudes

The guys who put out the MASS (Monthly Applications in Strength Sports) Research Review – Greg Nuckols, Eric Helms, and Mike Zourdos – are holding  a TWO-YEAR anniversary sale (congrats guys!) where all new subscribers save 30% OFF their subscription.

I can attest that this service is the SHIT.

If you’re interested in being a better coach (and saving yourself a TON of time) this is a way to do it.

This offer only lasts until May 2nd.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 4/26/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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MASS Appeal: How Fitness Professionals Can Separate Themselves

Thu, 04/25/2019 - 07:30

25 years ago one of my all-time favorite hip-hop songs, Mass Appeal, was released by one of my all-time favorite hip-hop groups, Gang Starr.

Annnnnd, in one of the oddest (or appropriate?) segues I’ve ever attempted, two-years ago one of my favorite research reviews, MASS (Monthly Application in Strength Sport),1 curated every month by Greg Nuckols, Eric Helms, and Mike Zourdos (coaches who actually lift things), came to fruition and saved me from a world of ineptitude.

I’m unabashed in advertising my disdain for reading research.

I hate it.

There are many things I’d rather do than sit down and read an entire research article. Watch NASCAR, stick my finger in an electrical socket, attempt to give my cat a bath, anything.

That’s not to insinuate I don’t feel it’s important or worth my time. A coach (or athlete) who knows and truly understands the latest research has a huge advantage over his or her’s peers and competitors.

I wholeheartedly feel that what separates the average/ho-hum trainers and coaches of the world from the excellent ones is biceps their insatiable desire to not suck and take more pride in their continuing education.

What’s more, as Greg (Nuckols) notes:

“Most people are still quite uninformed about the science behind hypertrophy, strength development, and body composition. We’d never argue that science is inherently better than in-the-trenches experience, but we think science and experience work together much better than having either in isolation.”

What’s more (even morer), trying to keep up with the research on your own is overwhelming.

There’s something in the ballpark of 50-60 journals which publish research that’s relevant to hypertrophy and strength on a regular basis.

Conservatively that’s 1000+ articles per month.

Going through all that and combing all the studies relevant to helping make people bigger, faster, and stronger is time & labor intensive, to say the least.

Personally, the only way you could get me to do that is this:

via GIPHY

Which is why I can’t say enough great things about MASS.

It saves you a metric shit load of time2, and it makes you smarter.

2-Year Anniversary Sale

If you’re a coach, physique or strength athlete, or just someone who likes to nerd out and talk about actin/myosin chains at the dinner table this will be right up your alley.

Starting TODAY (Thursday, 4/25) is your chance to take advantage of some BIG markdowns on the service:

  • $21 monthly subscription (normally $29)
  • $209 yearly subscription (normally $299)
  • $699 lifetime subscription (normally $999)

This offer only lasts for a week (5/2).

What Else Subscribers Get
  • A new PDF issue of MASS every month.  Each  issue contains s7 articles and access  to 2 video presentations.
  • Mobile friendly versions of every article.
  • Access to online membership site with back issues.
  • 7 audio roundtable discussions with Greg, Eric, and Mike every month.
  • Access to the private Facebook Group.
  • Access to NSCA and NASM  CEUs
  • A movie quality Chewbacca mask

If you’re still on the fence you can check out the goods HERE for a free sample issue.

Otherwise you can just trust that I have smart friends and excellent taste in the resources I recommend to people and go HERE to subscribe.

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Barbell Shrugged Podcast: Episode 388

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:46

I have to admit: This was pretty cool.

A few weeks ago the guys who host the popular Barbell Shrugged Podcast – Anders Varner & Doug Larson – reached out because they were going to be in Boston and were wondering if I had interest coming onto the show?

  • Is water wet?
  • Is bacon delicious?
  • Is Bran Stark odd as fuck?1

Of course I’d want to come on.

Copyright: dr911 / 123RF Stock Photo

Barbell Shrugged #388

Anders and Doug showed up at CORE, set up their mics and laptops, handed me a pair of headphones and this is the result…..

None of us have pants on.

Kidding.

It was a treat to be invited onto the show and I think it came out really well. The three of us talk about everything from my start in the fitness industry to my early years writing for T-Nation (and meeting all the O.G’s of the strength & conditioning community) to Cressey Sports Performance to discussing a smorgasbord of coaching topics: training baseball players, adjusting technique to fit one’s anatomy, why most people don’t need to stretch to increase ROM, and how to implement warm-ups  into programs.

You can listen to the show directly HERE.

If you’re an iTunes snob you can listen or download the episode HERE.

The post Barbell Shrugged Podcast: Episode 388 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Exercises You Should Be Doing: Wall Press Single Leg RDL

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 13:12

Before we get to today’s “Exercise You Should Be Doing,” a quick parenting tip:

If or when your two year old wakes up from a nap and says his tummy hurts, and even if he seems in good spirits, don’t assume he’s just hungry (like I did) and then proceed to take him out for ice cream because it’s Easter.

Cause inevitably, what’s going to happen is what happened to me two hours later…..

…projectile vomit E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.1

Onward!

Copyright: tankist276 / 123RF Stock Photo

Wall Press Single Leg RDL

Who Did I Steal It From? – I honestly can’t remember, but my inclination is to say Chad Rodgers of Show Me Strength.

Or, I don’t know, maybe it was Jesus.

What Does It Do? – Well, before I say anything on that front I should probably show you what the heck it looks like, huh?

 

Pretty fancy.

I’ve long championed the notion that the single (or 1-Legged) RDL is fairly advanced exercise as it requires a hefty dose of “things” to pay nice together:

– Lumbo pelvic stability
– Core control
– Stable spine
– Balance
– Hip extension
– Lat activation
– Stark’s shaking hands with Lannister’s

Many trainees are unable to perform a traditional single-leg  RDL without my corneas resisting the urge to jump out of their sockets, which is why I’m such a stern fan of more “intermediary” variations such as the one that’s highlighted today.

It provides the support/balance many people need, albeit allows an opportunity to load the standing leg making it more or less a “fake 1-legged” version.

Key Coaching Cues: It takes a bit of trial and error and finesse to get the feel down, but one cue that helps a lot is to push the back foot INTO the wall while also pushing BACK with the standing foot.

This way you elicit a bit of a “wedge,” and thus more full-body tension.

From there, simply push the hips back towards the wall. I like to remind people they’re not lowering the weight with their arms, but rather pushing their hips back.

Continue as such until you feel the bulk of the pressure in the hamstring.

NOTE: The other advantage of this exercise is you can go heavier compared to traditional single leg RDL variations.

So, meatheads will love how this torches the hamstrings.

The post Exercises You Should Be Doing: Wall Press Single Leg RDL appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 4/19/19

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 07:59

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th (<– Next weekend, always room for more).

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st (<—  Includes bonus “Psych Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

NOTE: Early Bird rate for this event is $100 OFF the regular price and the deadline is only  a few weeks away.

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

STOP telling your clients/athletes:

– They’re broken.
– They’re dysfunctional.
– They need to be fixed.

INSTEAD:

– Focus on what they CAN do.
– Show them there’s work to be done, but be emphatic on showing them success.
– Use more positive verbiage.
– Don’t do kipping pullups

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) April 16, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Heaviest pull in about two months. . 550×1. . There is no spoon.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Apr 16, 2019 at 12:53pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Create the Perfect Meal – Dr. John Berardi

It’s no secret that a well-balanced meal (typically, not always) contains the “big 3″….protein, carbohydrates, and fat. But how much of each should you eat? More importantly, how do you take all three and go about conjuring up a meal that doesn’t taste like cardboard box sprinkled with sawdust?

Thankfully the people over at Precision Nutrition made a nifty infographic to make things easier.

10 Overcomplicated Things Trainers Say – Nick Tumminello

“Think trainer, speak client.”

Do You Find a Way, or Find a Way Out?  – Tony Bonvechio

Why do a herd of buffalo run TOWARDS a storm rather than away from it?

You need to be more like a buffalo.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 4/19/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Part III: Correcting the Knees and Ankles

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 10:56

It’s been a bit, but Part III of Kevin Mullins’ “Corrective Exercise” series is finally here.

I’d sorta mirrors the anticipation everyone had for the Game of Thrones season premiere this past week, except not even close.

Sorry Kev: dragons will always reign supreme over ankle dorsiflexion…;o)

NOTE: Stressing the word “finally” above had nothing to do with Kevin actually writing the article (which he submitted weeks ago), but everything to do with ME and my nincompoopness in actually publishing it.

Nevertheless, enjoy. It’s really good.

Copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo

Part III: Correcting the Knees and Ankles

You are a fitness professional who wants to train people – AKA provide them with enough of a fitness stimulus to generate the results they’ve paid you for. You also want to help them overcome pain and dysfunction in their body.

Thankfully, this series of blogs have got you covered and smothered like Waffle House hash browns.

To recap, our previous installments include:

Which brings us to the final piece of the puzzle – corrective exercises for the knee and ankle.

Ta-dah!

via GIPHY

Many people who would consider personal training deal with some level of knee or ankle problems. In fact, it could be argued that everyone walking around this beautiful Earth has dealt with knee or ankle pain/dysfunction at some point in their lives.

(Tony raises hand. I spent the better part of two years in the early 2000’s working around a cranky left knee.)

A proper discussion of these two joints, one mobile and one stable, would not be complete without a discussion about the role of the hips and feet in the function and performance of the knee and ankle. Our feet are our first and only contact with the ground during much of our lives. Any disruption of their optimal function is going to send dysfunction up the kinetic chain into the ankles and knees.

Just the same, the hip, and its multitude of muscle attachments, functions, and movement possibilities can have a dramatic impact on knee function. Tight hip flexors or imbalanced anterior/posterior chain development can change how the patella tracks over the feet – a recipe for pain or less than desirable movement outcomes. As a proud fitness professional, you should be capable of assessing, correcting, and training clients past many of the common problems that might land on your doorstep.

In this post we’ll explore the anatomy and physiology at play when knees and ankles are the weakness in someone’s kinesiology. We’ll discuss the interplay between the hip-knee-ankle-foot. Then, like the other articles, we’ll discuss five specific issues that most trainers encounter and show off a few new exercises that you can use today.

And then we’ll tie a fancy bow on this corrective series, gather all our jackets and move towards the exits. I hope you’ve found a friend…

via GIPHY

Basic Knee and Ankle Anatomy – Skeletal

(nerds only)

When looking at the knee joint, we are only considering four specific skeletal structures:

  • The Femur – the longest bone in the human body is also our primary weight bearing skeletal structure. The femur’s entire function occurs at the hip. It can move through flexion and extension, abduction and adduction, external rotation and internal rotation, and circumduction.
  • The Tibia and Fibula – load bearing bones of the lower leg. Their design allows for weight transfer in gait and for optimal loading of the lower body during any exercise that creates knee flexion or extension.
  • The Patella – a bone unlike most others in the body, the patella is interwoven with the tendons that cross the knee joint and serves as a cover for those tendons. The structure of the patella also improves the mechanical efficiency of these tendons.

The ankle joint is a bit more complex though. We must consider the bones of the foot to some degree.

  • The Tibia – The load bearing bone from earlier is also a major contributor to ankle function. The medial malleolus, a bony growth on the inside of your ankle is located on the tibia. At the ankle, the medial malleolus plays a role in ankle eversion and inversion.
  • The Fibula – Like the tibia, the fibula is a load bearing bone that also functions during ankle eversion and inversion. It’s bony process, the lateral malleolus, is located on the outside of the ankle.
  • The Talus – a unique bone in a variety of ways, the talus serves as the base for the tibia and fibula to plant upon. Both dorsiflexion and plantar flexion involve the talus changing position in relation to the rest of the foot. The talus also plays a role in eversion and inversion.
  • The Calcaneus – connected to the talus via the subtalar joint – the calcaneus functions as a base of support for the structures above it. It hosts insertion points for a variety of muscles and tendons – most notably the Achilles tendon. It is the largest bone of the foot.
  • (Foot) Metatarsal – critical bone structures that connect the toes (phalanges) to the larger structures of the foot. The metatarsals are critical for weight transfer and distribution and while they don’t move like other bones in the body – their ability to adjust to pressure is critical for elite performance.
  • (Foot) Phalanges – the toes are the final element of this puzzle. Understanding that the toes can and should flex and extend as a result of ground force reaction or conscious neural action is critical to optimizing the foot’s function. While there may never be a “toe day” – we need to train the function of the phalanges to ensure their relationship with the other foot bones, the ankle joint, and even the knee and hip, are optimal.
Basic Anatomy of the Knee and Ankle – Muscular

It is important to discern the muscles that act on the knee and the ones that act on the hip.

Sure, both are in the thigh and run the length of the femur. However, since the knee joint is designed for flexion and extension – we are only considering the muscles that do just that. With that said, realize that the muscles that do function at the hip must do so properly. Otherwise, the knee joint will act to compensate for dysfunction at the hip and that will cause a host of problems too.

The following addresses strict flexion and extension of the knee joint.

The primary flexors of the knee are:

  1. The muscles of the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus)
  2. The gastrocnemius, popliteus, gracilis, and sartorius are synergistic muscles

The primary extensors of the knee are:

  1. The muscles of the quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis)

Now, when looking at the ankle we find simplicity and complexity at the same time. On one hand, there are a bunch of muscles that control the toes and ankle joint that aren’t needed in the typical fitness professional’s vocabulary. Simply put, most trainers don’t need to know the minor details of how the fibularis brevis functions, or where the insertion point of the flexor hallucis longus is.

But they need to know they exist.

(Although, more knowledge is never bad and anyone with an interest in self-myofascial release therapy should understand the interplay between these lesser known tissues).

We do need to know that ankle and foot function relies on many more players than just the prime movers. We do need to understand that dysfunction at the ankle could be a myriad of things and not just a blanket statement about someone’s gastrocnemius.

So, we will address the for major movements of the ankle and point out the muscles for each.

The Primary Dorsi Flexors of the ankle are:
  1. Tibialis Anterior
  2. Extensor hallicus longus, extensor digitorum longus
  3. Peroneus tertius
The Primary Plantar Flexors of the ankle are:
  1. Gastrocnemius
  2. Soleus
  3. Planataris
  4. Flexor hallicus longus, flexor digitorum longus
  5. Tibialis posterior
  6. Peroneus brevis, peroneus longus

** Take note of just how many more plantar flexors there are compared to dorsi flexors. This could explain why we are so strong with our “calf-raise” exercises and why we typically can access a greater range of plantar flexion under control than we could with dorsi flexion. **

Primary Movers of Eversion
  1. Fibularis and extensor digitorum longus
Primary Movers of Inversion
  1. Tibialis anterior and posterior

When looking at this from a slightly higher viewpoint – we see that we have significantly more muscularity driving both flexions of our ankle joint. The lack of muscularity controlling eversion and inversion explains why we don’t load up on an exercise that challenges that motion. Moreover, it probably explains why “rolling” an ankle can be so devastating – we have so little musculature to control that motion.

Going a little broader, we see that muscles of the lower leg have multiple functions. The tibialis anterior dorsi flexes and inverts the foot while the tibialis posterior contributes to plantar flexion and inversion. The extensor digitorum longus everts the foot while contributing to dorsi flexion. These functions are not accidental – they are essential evolutions and developments of our anatomy to meet the demands of our life.

If we are to succeed in our experience as human beings, then we must be able to communicate with the ground effectively. Thus, the muscles that control our foot, ankle, and knee become our first point of contact with outside world.

Understanding their function, their interplay, and their contribution to elite performance is critical to maximizing the impact you’ll have on your clients and your purpose as a coach.

Basic Movement Physiology

The function of the knee and ankle are highly dependent upon the task we are trying to perform and whether the hips are involved.

For example, the knee will flex and extend during traditional deadlift, but not at the same degree that they would during a front squat. The same logic also applies to the amount of dorsiflexion needed from the ankles to meet that demand.

A different example points to our running stride.

The gait pattern that most elite distance runners take involve very minimal action at the ankles and toes. This sort of “hammer-foot” stride is highly efficient and puts the emphasis on the hips and knees to generate all forward locomotion. Sprinters, however, require maximum action from all the joints of the foot and ankle in order to increase velocity and compete successfully.

Thus, understanding physiology of these structures requires an understanding that optimal function is dependent upon the demands of the task.

Still though, a few notable things exist:

1. When the ankle is in full eversion or inversion – there can be an issue with one’s ability to flex and extend the knee. This is because of the change in position of the inferior aspects of the tibia and fibula creating an up-chain manipulation in their superior aspects (which form the knee joint). It is minor in most but could explain why individuals who live in eversion or inversion find discomfort in their knees.

2. Triple-Flexion (hip, knee, and dorsi-flexion) is the most loaded position of the body because of the major muscles that have created force (tension). In most populations, the greatest power will come from individuals in this position. The stacking of joints lowers the center-of-mass and improves the ability to generate tension.

3. Triple-Extension (hip, knee, and plantar-flexion) is the “tallest” the structures of the lower body will get. The process of going from triple-flexion to triple-extension typically generates the greatest joint velocities.

4. The running stride requires a rhythm between hip-knee-ankle-toe action. Upon foot strike, the toes should flex, which drive the ankle joint into plantar-flexion, assist in driving knee extension, and hip extension. The cycling leg does the exact opposite as it returns to the pre-strike position.

The Major Issues

The knee and ankle joints can be seriously injured during sports and accidents in life. None of the issues discussed below involve torn ligaments, broken bones, or even severe tendonitis. The conditions listed are ones that routinely plague clients who are either inactive or too active with poor function.

In fact, many of the issues of the knee come from overuse of the joint without proper interaction with the hip and ankle. Runners and lifters alike may experience knee pain when their form is off. Likewise, many untrained or detrained individuals deal with knee and ankle dysfunction as a result of their sedentary lifestyles.

And don’t forget about footwear.

There is a cost and benefit to each type of footwear that you and your clients are wearing.

  • Dress Shoes and Boots – great for making a suit look dapper, or kicking tail on a job site, but atrocious for allowing mobility in the foot. Basically, you feel like you are walking inside of bricks.
  • High heels – an entire day spent into plantar flexion is not good for anyone. Spending additional time walking in them can hurt the wearer’s ability to distribute their weight once they are out of the heels. Great calves though.
  • Flip Flops – If you are wearing these, then you are probably at the beach. Sweet. However, that sliding and gliding motion that you are using to keep them on is wreaking havoc on your ankle function while also driving too much knee extension.
  • O-Lifting Shoes – Having your heels elevated when driving your heavy squats or cleans is awesome – can you say performance? However, if you spend most of your day in these shoes than you can bet your bottom that you’ll begin to lose optimal ankle function since you aren’t feeling the ground.

Image Credit: T-Nation.com

With all of that said, let’s focus on the five most common things you’ll see in your clients and discuss exactly what is going on.

Lack of Dorsi-Flexion

A lot of people struggle to dorsi flex their ankle in response to loading. In fact, a lot of great coaches, including Tony, have pointed out the importance of adequate dorsi flexion for someone to succeed in a squat pattern.

High quality athletes and desk jockeys can both suffer from this issue. It isn’t simply limited to an inactive or undertrained population. It must be dealt with though if someone is going to optimize the function of their hip-knee-ankle and drive greater results in their programs.

Strengthening the muscles that drive dorsi-flexion while also “stretching” the ankle into these positions with bands or straps is usually the best intervention. We aim to increase mobility, improve strength and stability, and begin providing context and practice with traditional strength training movements such as the squat or lunge.

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

A sort of unofficial name, runner’s knee refers to the over-development of the quadriceps (knee extensors) while also keeping the hamstrings (knee flexors) and glutes underdeveloped. In addition, tightness and exhaustion of the plantar flexors can lead to instability and pain at the knee joint.

In fact, there is some evidence out there that shows that some runners experience a mild shift of their patella in space. Only a few millimeters – this shift can cause significant pain and contribute to the official name of the condition (patellofemoral pain syndrome).

The training for individuals presenting this issue is quite simple:

  1. Release and relax the muscles that plantar flex the ankle and extend the knee.
  2. Strengthen and tighten the muscles that dorsi flex the ankle and flex the knee.
  3. Train the glutes to improve hip drive in the running stride

Traditional strength training and myofascial release typically take care of the problem, although a cessation of running in the short term is almost always a good idea.

Knee Valgus

One of the most misunderstood dysfunctions of “the knee” is a hip issue. Many trainers can coach “knees out” until they’re blue in the face and still get no change in the performance of their client.

First, knee valgus refers to the inability of the hip abductors and external rotators to fire appropriately, thus causing a collapse once tension reaches a certain threshold (such as the bottom of a squat).

Image Credit: prehabguys.com

Now, sometimes this only requires good coaching as the client or athlete simply doesn’t know they are doing it or that isn’t ideal that they are doing it.

We must be wise though. Coaching knees out could be driving excess ankle inversion, which changes the relationship of the tibia/fibula with the knee and could lead to torque being experienced in the knee joint as the body seeks to overcorrect the inversion. This isn’t a common worry – but it is possible.

The training cure though will involve strengthening the abductors and adductors of the hip to improve knee tracking in a variety of exercises. It is important to keep in mind that overtraining the abductors can lead to other problems that only arise when the adductors are forgotten about.

There could also be something going on at the ankle too…

Inappropriate Eversion and Inversion

This one sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?

Inappropriate sounds like someone left their pants at home.

But it points out a deficiency that a lot of people have. Whether it be from a lack of coaching and training, or the development of patterns by accident through sport and training – many people lack the right ankle position to complete the task they are attempting.

Think of that client that can’t stop squatting without eversion. Every repetition pushes them into their toes and insole (often leading to valgus). It could be coaching (or a lack thereof), it could be muscle weakness, or it could be a neural disconnect between their brain and their ankles (they don’t know they are doing it).

Just the same, there are people who can’t seem to run on their big toe. They’ll stride flat footed, especially on the outside of their heels, and wonder why they aren’t getting any better at running. These people have not unlocked enough plantar flexion or awareness of their inversion.

It is exceptionally common to see in long distance runners.

Having the wrong ankle position is coachable and trainable. You must relax what is overused and overworked and strengthen what is left behind. There will be specific protocol for whatever you are seeing. Simply look back at the muscular anatomy and select exercises and interventions that are appropriate.

Disconnect of Hips from Knee/Ankle Function

The final issue that people have with their knees and ankles is that they have no idea they have a pelvis. It is as if they believe their lumbar spine connects to the back of their legs…

No really, you probably have a client or twelve who seem to have no idea how to flex and extend the hips. As a result, everything hurts their knees and ankles. Squatting hurts, running leaves them achy, and they absolutely despise lunges.

They aren’t broken thankfully.

They just need to discover their glutes.

They need to learn how to flex and extend the hip with a lot of exercises that leave the knees out of it. So, deadlifts, hip thrust, banded abductions, Copenhagen side planks, and some anterior core work will do wonders to wake up their hips, stabilize their core, and allow them to excel and knee-dominant and gait patterns. Want to learn more about this? Check out my last installment on the hips.

The Exercises 1. Bulgarian Split Squat to Ankle Glide

 

Your goal with this bodyweight exercise is to create a crossover effect between knee flexion and dorsi flexion. By working with the single leg variation – you’ll enhance your clients focus on one specific ankle while simultaneously exposing them to pause reps for the single leg squat variation. You can train them and correct them at the same time.

2. Banded Dorsi to Heel Raise

 

Great for runners and athletes, but effective for everyone, this ankle exercise only requires a band and a seat.

The goal here is to maximize both dorsi flexion and plantar flexion in the same movement cycle. This sort of training allows for you keep the muscles that control both actions in relative balance. This is not unlike being on a calf raise machine and allowing your heels to dip below the step.

3. Barbell Hip Thrust w/ Banded Abduction

 

One day I want to call Bret Contreras and thank him for his research on the glutes. (Although this video is of Ben Bruno – a stud coach in LA who does NOT like burpees). Discovering that the hip thrust provides more activity of the glute muscles than other exercises is critical for the development of aesthetic and athletic glutes.

Adding in the abduction component at the top is a sure-fire way to ensure your “knees-out” coaching cue for valgus hits home. The band ensures they move from the hip joint instead of just torqueing at the knees. Add in the isometric hold of the glutes and you’ll be sure to work the hip component of knee stability.

4. Duck Walks

 

This is an absolute torture device. Duck Walks, loaded or unloaded, drive the body into that triple-flexion position we discussed earlier in the blog. This coiled position strengthens the posterior chain and improves dorsi-flexion by keeping our feet in a set position.

A highly integrated exercise – the duck walk can be used for neural prep or as a burn out after your primary work is done. Sure, its goofy and it doesn’t “seem” like it is going to do your body any favors, but try it and feel how your systems work together to hold isometric tension.

5. Reverse Nordic  Curl to Nordic Curl Superset

 

We want the quadriceps and hamstrings to be in relative balance for optimal knee function. Depending on our choice of sports or training – one may overpower the other a little. That discrepancy though shouldn’t be a chasm.

Hitting both versions of the Nordic curl in a single superset provides an opportunity to train the muscles in a unique way using only bodyweight.

BONUS: Sprinting

 

The act of sprinting is one of the most athletic things the human body can do. The whole body must get in on the act if we are to excel.

Specifically, for the knee and ankle, sprinting helps drive a low-level of eversion while demanding quality cycles through plantar flexion and (mild) dorsi flexion and knee flexion and extension. Add in the function at the hip and we’ve found the perfect lower body exercise for improving someone’s function and interplay between these regions.

Obviously, not every client could sprint or should sprint. Be wise with your prescriptions and coach who you are with, not who you wish they were.

Finding the Exit

So, once again we conclude that we can intervene in our client’s discomfort and dysfunction with exercises that not only correct issues, balance muscles, and improve coordination, but also drive a fitness stimulus.

The knee and ankle are interesting joints in a sense that they have less muscle mass around them than the hips and shoulders. But that doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, their proximity to the ground – a constant in our lives – makes them more important than most trainers think. Everything that is dysfunctional at the foot, ankle, and knee will run up the chain into the hips and spine and even the shoulders.

Help your clients discover their foot stability, ankle mobility, and knee stability and you’ll help them discover a better body – both in performance and in aesthetics.

Thank You

Thank you for your time.

Thank you to Tony for allowing me to share my ideas on his website – a treasured space on the internet.

Whether you visit him for his pop culture references, his biceps veins, or his absurd level of knowledge about the body – you’ve made a great choice.

I truly hope you have learned something from this series and enjoy my writing style. I poured a lot into this, and into my book, Day by Day. I hope I can download everything I have learned (good and bad) from me to you every chance I get.

Like I say to my clients, “let’s get just a little bit better every day.”

Check Out Kevin’s Shit

You can read more of Kevin’s stuff at his website HERE.

Follow him on Instagram HERE.

Pick up a copy of his book, “Day by Day: The Personal Trainer’s Blueprint to Achieving Ultimate SuccessHERE.

The post Part III: Correcting the Knees and Ankles appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 4/12/19

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 08:25

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Melbourne, Australia: July 19-21st (<— JUST ADDED. Includes bonus “Psyche Skills for Fitness Pros” pre-workshop with Dr. Lisa Lewis).

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side.

Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who is one of the best and brightest coaches I know. This will be his first time teaching in the States.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

WALL PRESS 1-LEGGED RDL. I like this as an intermediary single leg variation.

A traditional 1-legged RDL is a very advanced movement and one not many can pull off. This takes balance out of the equation, but also allows ample loading of working leg. pic.twitter.com/RxOcTQ8cFd

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) April 9, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

30 Days of Shoulders. . Day 15: The Decline Press. . Oftentimes if flat or incline press variations bother someone’s shoulders it’s not uncommon for the DECLINE press to feel just fine. . Why? . Simply put it reduces the degree of shoulder flexion. I.e., it helps keep trainees out of the “danger zone” or pain arc with regards to shoulder flexion. . This is HUGE because it allows for a training effect to be accomplished while using a shoulder friendly pressing variation. . Too, and as @drjohnrusin has stated recently, it’s never a bad idea to expose people to different angles of training to better challenge joint centration. Adding some variety in pressing motions can go a long ways in keeping shoulders healthy and performing at a high level for years on end. . The bigger lesson, though, is understanding you can always train around an injury or ouchie. Always.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Apr 10, 2019 at 9:34am PDT

Progressive Overload: Building Real Strength Is More Than Just Lifting Heavier – Scott Hansen

The title says it all.

There’s more ways than just telling someone to lift more weight to make progress in the gym.

Training the England Football Legends, Harry’s Heroes – Luke Worthington

My good friend, Luke Worthingon, was tapped late last year to help get a group of former British soccer stars in shape for a game with their rivals…

…za Germans.

All for a television show – Harry’s Heroes.

He was given the job of coming up with a 12-week plan to whip a bunch of retired soccer (er, excuse me, football) stars into game shape.

This was a BIG deal and the show is currently airing all its episodes weekly on ITV.

I’m very proud of my friend.

Ketogenic Diets Suck For Speed and Power – Dr. Mike T. Nelson

Because, hahahahaha.

NOTE: Read the article. He’s not saying Ketogenic sucks for everything.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 4/12/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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An Open Letter to New Fitness Professionals

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 15:18

Oh, hell0 (new) fitness professional.

Congratulations on (pick whichever pertains to you):

  • (A) Recently graduating college with a Health Science, Health & Wellness, Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology, or History in Shakespearian Literature degree.1
  • (B) Switching careers from accountant, computer programmer, or, I don’t know, professional mustache grower…to strength coach.2
  • (C) Passing your weekend personal trainers course.

Welcome to the industry. Happy to have ya.

Guess what: You’re not that special.

It’s time to get to work.

Copyright: oneinchpunch / 123RF Stock Photo

Chances Are…

You decided to enter the industry under the guise you’d get to wear sweatpants everyday (a definite perk) and make a boatload of money.

You’d put in your dues for a few months at a local commercial gym, build a client roster, charge anywhere from $60-$150/hour, and then graduate to doing stuff solely online and, fingers crossed, eventually reach the holy grail and become a social media influencer.

Brb: I need to go throw up a little in my mouth.

via GIPHY

I despise that term…influencer.

Some fuck-stick is all of a sudden an “influencer” because he has abs and posts shirtless pics of himself standing next to a Tesla?

How’d all that work out a few weeks ago when Facebook and Instagram went down for several hours and everyone’s influencing world came to a screeching halt?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Stay strong, fam.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Mar 13, 2019 at 7:21pm PDT

Okay, I don’t mean to come across as a jaded, cantankerous curmudgeon. It’d be a bit hypocritical of me to poo-poo on the power of social media altogether.

I do owe much of my career to my website/blog/biceps.

That said, I’d be remiss not to offer a little dose of tough love and urge upcoming fitness professionals to heed the following piece of advice.

Social media is fleeting.

Think about: there’s nothing, nothing, preventing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, hell, even MySpace (that still exists, right?) from pulling the plug tomorrow and reneging their platforms. I mean, granted, the likelihood of them abandoning billions of dollars in potential revenue is about as likely as me winning Kumite.

But still, it could happen.

And then what? The only thing you’re left influencing is a big fat NADA.

To be clear: I am not insinuating you should ignore the power of social media or not to use it to help grow your brand and/or business.

I am, however, in a not so subtle way, underlining the dangers of putting ALL YOUR EGGS into the social media basket.

What Will Separate You As a Fitness Professional From the Masses is to Not Be Like the Masses

I’m often asked by upcoming fitness professionals what they need to do to get to where I am in my career? What business books should they read? Marketing? Writing? No, wait, maybe they should invest in taking a course to optimize their SEO?

All are valid questions and I’m happy to offer direction.

But I’d be lying if I said my mouth doesn’t usually end up agape, flabbergasted at the question.

I’ve been a coach for 17 years and feel I’ve only just now started to figure shit out. It’s so frustrating because we live in a society that feasts on entitlement; that if you just read “x” book or take “y” weekend course, the world owes you a six figure salary and a roster of professional athletes.

One piece of advice I always give, and it’s an unpopular one is this…

“Spend – at MINIMUM – a year working in a commercial gym.”

I did this for the first FIVE years of my career and wouldn’t change a thing. Eric Cressey did the same thing. Mike Robertson too. Cassandra Forsythe, Dean Somerset, Jon Goodman, heck, I even think Mike Boyle has reminisced over long, arduous years as a commercial gym trainer as the cornerstone of his prominent career as a trainer and coach.

Many of the top names in the industry share the same common denominator: (former) commercial gym trainer.

For me it was the only way to marinate myself in misery.

  • It was hard getting up at 3:45 in the morning twice a week to open the gym at 5 am.
  • It was hard working at such a low salary and to try to make ends meet.
  • It was hard working long hours, holidays, and weekends.
  • It was hard to learn how to “temper” my coaching style to meet the needs of my various clients.
  • It was hard dealing with different personalities and learning how to motivate people.
  • It was hard. All of it.

Misery is a strong word to use in this scenario (really, I was just aiming for a good alliteration). However, it seems appropriate.

Those initial years helped make me resilient and prove to myself that I could “make it.”

Coaching people, in person, provided me with so many (life) skills that helped shape my career. Possessing the ability to break down someone’s squat and honing my scapular upward rotation assessment skills have proved invaluable.

But equally as invaluable has been the ability to hold a conversation and partake in small talk.

“Oh my god, YOU like Balrogs too? Did we just become BFFs?.”

Shit, get back in task Tony.

Focus, focus.

What the hell am I trying to say?

Get off Instagram?

No.

I am not here to rag on your desire to grow a brand on social media or to build an online business. Go for it. But both have a higher degree of actually happening if you concentrate on doing one thing; the thing many upcoming fitness pros fail to understand and respect.

GO COACH.

A lot.

That’s what will separate you from the masses.

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How to Optimize Your Training For Maximal Hypertrophy

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 08:44

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of strength and conditioning coach Kevin Finn.

It’s a doozy with tons of information related to how to add slabs of muscle to your frame in the most time efficient and scientifically backed way possible.

So, pretty much everyone will be interested in reading it.

Enjoy!

\Copyright: shevtsovy / 123RF Stock Photo Step One: Optimize Your Training Split and Rep Ranges for Volume Accrual

First off, if you’re still doing a “bro split” and hitting your muscles once per week, you need to “get woke” as the kids say these days. It’s time to get out of the 90s and get that frequency up. Besides optimizing muscle protein synthesis rates over the course of the week, higher training frequencies allow you to accumulate more quality volume—both throughout the week and on a per session basis.

Consider this:

We know that 10 sets per muscle, per week is likely the minimum threshold for maximizing muscle gains, but there is also evidence that suggests there may be a per session cap on volume, beyond which, progress is actually impaired. One study, for example, showed that 10 sets of 10 (a popular protocol utilized in German Volume Training) offered no additional benefits when compared to 5 sets of 10. In fact, the group that only performed 5 sets had greater strength gains and slightly higher increases in lean body mass!

via GIPHY

This is one of the reasons higher training frequencies are so beneficial. By upping your training frequency, you can still hit 10+ weekly sets per muscle while sidestepping that potential “per session cap” on volume.

With this in mind, utilize a split that allows you to hit each muscle a minimum of twice per week, and consider even higher frequencies for the upper body or for smaller muscle groups that recover well (calves, shoulders, arms).

Now that you’ve got your training frequency sorted out, you need to consider your rep ranges.

As you attempt to push volume, an issue that will invariably crop up is time. As much as I’d love to stay in the gym for 2+ hours, as a working dad, it’s simply not going to happen.

Some days I’m lucky to get an hour.

So, if time is going to be an issue, you should strongly consider ditching most of your lower rep strength work. In fact, if you’re trying to build muscle as your number one goal, you don’t have any business doing much work below the 5 rep range.

What? Blasphemy you say?

Well, there’s a couple facts to keep in mind when it comes to rep ranges:

1) Utilizing higher rep ranges is a much more time efficient way to accumulate volume: Higher reps allow you to perform more total volume as they require shorter rest periods, less warm-up, and they don’t beat your joints up like heavy loading does.

2) Even when sets are equated, moderate rep ranges (8-12) have been shown to produce more hypertrophy than high load sets in the 2-4 rep range.

If the goal is to build muscle and you’re seeking to push volume, stick to moderate and higher rep ranges. Keep the bulk of your training based around 6-15 reps, and don’t be afraid to play around with reps as high as 15-30 on some of your accessories.

As long as you come sufficiently close to failure, you’ll build just as much muscle and you’ll be able to accumulate a lot more volume in less time.

One more time-saving tip:

If you’re still having issues fitting in the amount of volume you need to progress, I suggest following a split that will allow for the pairing of antagonist muscle groups so you can perform antagonist paired sets (APS). By performing APS, you get the time saving benefits of supersetting without tanking your performance.

Here’s how they work:

Take two exercises that work opposing muscle groups—like a shoulder press and a pulldown.

Perform one set of shoulder presses, rest about a minute or so, and then do a set of pulldowns. Rest for another minute and then repeat until you’ve completed all your sets for both exercises.

If you typically rest 2-3 minutes between sets, this will save you quite a bit of time, since you will be utilizing a portion of your rest periods to perform another exercise.

And, unlike with supersets, your performance won’t suffer due to excessive fatigue; in fact, there’s even some research that suggests performance may be enhanced.

APS work best with movements that don’t inflict a lot of systemic fatigue, so don’t try these with squats or deadlifts.

Key Takeaways:
  • Use higher training frequencies (2-4 times per week) to facilitate higher training volumes and increase the average quality of your per session volume.
  • Do the majority of your work in the 6-30 rep range as this is the most efficient way to accumulate volume and is less likely to leave you beat up and burnt out.
  • If time becomes an issue limiting your total volume, consider using protocols such as APS to get in extra volume without tanking performance.
Step Two: Be Flexible with Exercise Selection

Listen, if it takes you 40 minutes of warm-up, mobility work, and movement prep in order to get to your first working set of squats, we need to talk…

And if deadlifts tire you out so much you need 5-10 minutes between sets to recover, perhaps you need to consider a different approach…

Because the truth is, unless you’re a powerlifter, there’s no need to stay married to the big three, especially if hypertrophy is your main goal.

I love squats and deadlifts as much as the next guy, but these movements tend to be uniquely time-intensive and fatiguing. If you’re not careful, they can “crowd out” other movements that may give you more bang for your buck in terms of volume. Furthermore, some of us are simply not well-suited to these specific exercises and would do better with other movements.

Maybe hitting some heavy leg presses first and following that with some front squats and Romanian deadlifts would allow you to accumulate a lot more volume in a lot less time while still maintaining those same basic movement patterns?

Key Takeaways:
  • Unless you’re a powerlifter, there’s no reason to stay married to the big 3.
  • Do a “cost benefit analysis” on movements that cause a lot of fatigue or eat up a lot of your training time.
Step Three: Work Smarter, not Harder

There’s a fair amount of evidence showing you do not need to train to complete failure to grow your muscles. In fact, by avoiding failure altogether on most sets, you not only reduce the risk of injury, you also open up the possibility of performing more total volume. And more volume is generally associated with more hypertrophy.

Not a bad trade-off, right?

When attempting to maximize volume and recovery, the key is to come close enough to failure to maximize muscle fiber recruitment and adaptations without actually hitting failure—all while maintaining good form.

In general, the higher the intensity (in terms of percentage 1RM), the farther you can be from failure while still maximizing muscle fiber recruitment. Conversely, the lower the intensity, the closer you must come to failure.

Here’s a general rule of thumb I like to follow regarding average RPE ratings:

  • <10 reps = RPE 6-8
  • 10-15 reps = RPE 7-9
  • 15-30+ reps = RPE 8-10

There will always be exceptions to the above of course, but this will get you in the right ballpark.

Key Takeaways:
  • You don’t have to train to complete failure to achieve full muscle fiber recruitment.
  • For lower rep sets you can leave quite a few reps left “in the tank” and still maximally recruit muscle fibers.
  • For higher rep sets, you should come a little closer to failure.
  • In managing your “per set fatigue” by avoiding failure, you will be able to perform more total volume in that session and throughout the week.
Step Four: Mitigate Muscle Damage

I came up as a young lifter thinking the goal of training was to tear down your muscles so they are rebuilt bigger and stronger than before (no pain, no gainz). This lead me to pursue protocols that focused disproportionately on muscle damage. I’d take pride in my levels of soreness and relish the pain–never mind the fact that my recovery and performance were compromised for the rest of the week and I was hobbling around like an old man…

Now I know better.

via GIPHY


As more research comes out, it seems of the three proposed mechanisms for muscle growth (mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage), muscle damage is likely the least important factor.

In fact, recent studies show excessive muscle damage can have a detrimental effect on your gains because your body must spend time and resources repairing the damage before it can begin to build new muscle

So the key is to allow for some muscle damage as a natural consequence of training hard and progressing, but not so much that your total weekly volume is compromised by impaired recovery and/or performance.

How do we do that?

One way is by taking advantage of the repeated bout effect.

The repeated bout effect is the phenomenon by which a single session, or bout, of a given exercise protects against muscle damage from future bouts. Put more simply, the more you perform an exercise, the more resistant to damage (and adaptation) the muscle becomes.

This is often viewed as a bad thing; after all, if the muscle becomes resistant to adaptation, doesn’t that make it harder to progress?

That may be true, but there’s another way to look at it…

Becoming more resistant to damage means your muscle are able to perform more volume with less damage per session. This is key because it can allow us to incrementally increase training volume to levels high enough to maximize hypertrophy while protecting against excessive muscle damage that will impair recovery and progress. One way I like to take advantage of this is by incorporating “intro weeks” into my training cycles.

When you first start a new training cycle, you’ve most likely changed quite a few variables—reps, progression schemes, exercises, etc.—and these changes will temporarily result in higher levels of muscle damage due to the novel stimuli.

By starting off with an intro week with slightly lower volume and intensity, you’ll still get a strong training effect and the easy dose of volume will inoculate you against the higher volumes and intensities coming down the line.

How low one should keep the training volume and intensity during an intro week will vary based on the individual, but I like to put the intro week somewhere in between a deload and an average “meat and potatoes” week of training. Think of it like a bridge between the two.

Another thing to consider in regard to mitigating muscle damage is exercise selection.

If deficit, stiff-legged deadlifts consistently leave you so sore you’re crippled for a week, you’re not doing yourself any favors by maxing out on them on the regular. Sure it feels like you’ve accomplished something (gotta sacrifice to win, brother), but it’s a short-sighted approach.

Don’t get me wrong, being sore is not a bad thing per se. And I think it’s good to include a few movements that load a muscle in a stretched position—especially if hypertrophy is the goal, but you need to do a cost-benefit analysis with these types of movements.

You may not need to give them up entirely, but tweaking the volume, rep range, and proximity to failure can help attenuate some of the excessive damage while still allowing for the positive aspects of the movement.

Key Takeaways:
  • Excessive muscle damage should not be the goal of training and may even negatively impact gains.
  • Take advantage of the repeated bout effect’s ability to protect against muscle damage by using intro weeks and gradually increasing volume and intensity as the mesocycle progresses.
  • Consider modifying the loading and progression schemes for particularly damaging exercises if excessive soreness is impairing recovery.
Step Five: Include Overreaching Weeks and Deloads

Just as you are most sensitive to volume at the beginning of a mesocycle, you are most resistant to volume toward the end. Thus, the natural counterpart to an intro-week at the beginning of your mesocycle, is an overreaching week to close it out.

An overreaching week is a week where you intentionally push volume a little higher than normal in an effort to maximize potential progress. When done in an intelligent manner, this can be an extremely productive and fun week of training. During this week you can go for slightly more damaging protocols, push a bit closer to failure, and/or up the volume to a level higher than you could normally sustain.

Immediately following an overreaching week, you should perform a deload week. The two go hand-in-hand.

A deload is more than just a preventative measure to protect against injury, it’s the second half of a “one-two punch” that allows you to expose your muscles to higher levels of volume by providing a window for recovery.

During a deload, you should reduce volume and both intensity of load and intensity of effort to allow for active recovery to occur. Without the recovery period, you would not be able to peak volume as high and your muscles would not have been exposed to those superlative levels of stress.

The higher the peaks, the lower the valleys.

Overreaching strategies:

While I consider deloads a mandatory part of a good training program, overreaching weeks are more of an optional piece. For some lifters (particularly those who tend to run themselves into the ground), any small benefits that may arise from the overreach could easily be outweighed by the increased risk of injury or burnout.

Thus, it’s important to remember an overreach is not an excuse to get sloppy with form or drastically change things up.

If hypertrophy is the main goal, you are primarily just looking to get some extra volume in and perhaps vary the training stimulus a bit. One method of doing this is to add a drop set or two to your last movement for a muscle group in a given session.

Research has shown that drop sets can be just as effective as straight sets. And because they are so time efficient, it’s easy to tack them onto your workouts without a huge time investment.

Thus, drop sets can add a nice little punch of volume without making your workout significantly longer, and we’re not so concerned with the fatigue because the deload in the following week will ensure recovery is adequate.

Key Takeaways:
  • Pushing a bit harder towards the end of a mesocycle can be a valuable strategy to potentially eke out some additional progress.
  • You must pair an overreach with a deload to allow the higher levels of fatigue to dissipate and any potential supercompensation to occur.
  • Regardless of whether you utilize overreaching strategies, regular deloads should be incorporated in your training.
  • Drop sets can be a very time efficient way to add some quality volume during an overreach.
Parting Thoughts and a Word to the Wise

You’ll note I didn’t include a sample training program with this article. This was intentional. I’ve instead chosen to outline some “broad strokes” concepts so that you can use these principles to improve on your programming now and for years to come.

By following the steps outlined above, you may find you now have the potential to double your training volume.

But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Let’s say you’ve been doing around 10-12 sets per muscle group, per week on average. You’re training hard, eating well, and feel well-recovered between sessions, but you’ve hit a plateau. It’s very likely that you’ll benefit from bumping up your training volume. It’s the most logical next step. By using the strategies outlined above, you may find you are now able to fit in 20 quality sets per week.

Don’t jump straight to 20.

Just as you should progress incrementally when adding weight to the bar, you should view volume in the same way. So rather than doubling your volume right off the bat, simply add about 10% or so and see how you fare.

Did you progress? Was recovery okay?

If so, run it again. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Milk as much progress as you can out of your current level of volume, but keep an eye towards progressively and incrementally adding volume—both to test your limits and to keep those adaptations rolling. Your ideal volume is a moving target, but if you are paying attention to your training, tracking variables, and keeping your eyes on the prize, it’s a target you should be able to hit fairly consistently.

It doesn’t have to be a bullseye.

About the Author

Kevin Finn is a strength and conditioning specialist, online trainer, and the owner and creator of FitnessWalkthrough.com.

As a coach with a master’s degree in education, he specializes in breaking down complex information and arming people with the knowledge and tools necessary to transform their physiques and take their performance to the next level.

He has created some of the most comprehensive guides available online for skinny guys and girls who struggle to build muscle. Visit http://fitnesswalkthrough.com/get-jacked.html to get a free copy and learn more.

The post How to Optimize Your Training For Maximal Hypertrophy appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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