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Month: July 2023

Training to Extremes

Over the next two weeks, I invite two colleagues on to the Zelos Podcast. They are experts in training for extreme sports. Christoph Wyss is the Strength & Conditioning Coach for Red Bull athletes. Red Bull sponsors over 200 sports ranging from E-gamers to formula one racers, to soccer stars to big wave surfers. We talk all about what it is like to work with such an extreme variety of athletes and what goes into designing complete conditioning programs for this cast population.

The following week I talk with Tamas Kelermen, Strength & Conditioning Coach for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. He trains the performers in three of the shows on the strip. He took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of the O Show. We talk a bit about that experience and a whole lot more.

In case you have been living in a cave for the past several years and you haven’t heard of the Zelos Podcast you don’t know what you’re missing. It is the show that’s all about the Pros behind the Pros. Every Monday at 9am (EST)/6am (PST) I have conversations with my colleagues in the world of professional and college sports. Top experts in the field of strength, rehab, mental performance, athletic training, etc. If you want to know a bit more about how your favorite athletes keep in peak performance in the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, MLS, and beyond, then this is a podcast you need to tune in on and subscribe. Over 130 episodes and growing.  

Plank’s Constant

For several years people have been using the plank to encourage a “stronger core.” Holding one self up in a push up position and holding still for minutes at a time. Did you know the world record for holding a plank was just broken this year? The record breaker held the plank for 9 hours, 38 minutes and 47 seconds! You could watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in that time (don’t worry, I’m not getting any ideas).

That is all well and good but we are not tables, not are we trees. We are creatures who move through space. Being able to brace and create a strong, static structure is important, especially when it comes to lifting heavy objects. Yet, we also need to be dynamically strong, pliably resilient, and be able to be that way in three dimensions in which we live.

Long story short, it’s great to work on static planks AND we also need to work on dynamic planks (if you like doing planks). Allow the hips to drop and then lift. See if you can control a sideways glide with your hips without turning or sinking. Allow your hips to rotate left and right while holding the plank. These are just three examples of how to create dynamic planks.

You could reach with your arm and allow the body to follow while preventing the body from collapsing to the floor. You could hold on to a cable hand or resistance band and begin to press or pull in a variety of directions. You could crawl on your elbows and toes while holding a plank. Heck, you could even just lift or turn your head in different directions.

All of these movements would be asking your brain and muscles to coordinate the body in a strong, dynamically stable environment. So the next time you lift something and move or twist you will be a bit more prepared and your back and other joints will thank you.

Two Shoe Sizes

Feet come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes that applies to even one single person. Aside from the obvious, one left and one right, it is not out of the question for someone to have two distinctly different feet.

Consider that each foot is comprised of 28 bones and those bones have the ability to shift in a number of directions based on where the body is balanced above it. If a person were to subtly gravitate over one foot more than the other, the shape of both feet would alter. We might find that the foot bearing more bodyweight descends toward the ground to a greater degree. When arches drop the foot gets wider, flatter, and longer. There are many people who have two different shoe sizes because of this weight shift. If someone were to have subtle rotation in their frame we could see a similar outcome. Rotation encourages the arches of one foot to flatten while lifting the arches of the other. 

The more the body migrates away from its ideal, balanced center the more likely we will observe unique changes in foot structure. So rather than going to the shoe store and trying to sneak a mismatched pair of sneakers in a box without anyone being the wiser, it might be better to restore balance to the force, or at least your body. Chances are it is not the feet that are reason for such differences, but the body above. Give us a call. We might be able to help.

The Path

Next week I have the opportunity to travel to the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) National Conference in Las Vegas. This will mark my 30th anniversary with the organization. In 1993, I traveled to Las Vegas for the same conference, in order to take a certification exam as a Strength & Conditioning Specialist. What a wonderful path I have been on since that first conference in 1993. 

Of course it does not seem like thirty years. I jokingly tell my trainers (many of who were born after I received my certification) that the study material for the examination was a collection of xeroxed pages in a three ring binder along with audio cassettes and VHS tapes. The test itself was on paper with number 2 pencils and you had to wait six to eight weeks for the results to be mailed to you. Today trainers do almost everything online and can get results in a lot less time.

I have the great honor of returning to this conference as not only an attendee but as a presenter. I will be leading a two hour hands-on workshop on one day and presenting on another topic a couple of days later. What an amazing turning of the tide and a wonderful way to give back to the community that gave me so much. 

I will also be receiving a very prestigious award, one that has only been given to a small amount of professionals. I have been named the 2023 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year and will receive an award during the conference. I am honored to join a select group of amazing individuals who have been recipients of the award in past years. There are few words to express the gratitude I feel to my colleagues, friends, clients, and family who continue to support the path I have chosen to continue on. 

I remember reading The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, back at the university. There was one passage that has stuck with me through the years. One that has been a guide in some ways when it comes to my career. The passage is below.

“Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.”

― Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge