SAPT

Nutrition Tips For Those LOOOOONG High School Tournament Weekends

Tournaments! Weekend-long (sometimes longer) events where athletes play multiple games in one day with very short breaks between games. Definitely not long enough to get a solid meal in before the beginning of the next match. All of our baseball and volleyball players have, seemingly, an endless stream of tournaments during the club seasons; it blows my mind a bit.

Anyway, this can pose a problem when it comes to being able to fuel properly before/after games. The aim for this post will be to provide tips how to eat leading up to the tournament, during the tournament (i.e. between games/matches), and sample snacks to bring. One can make this a complicated subject (eat 23.5 grams of protein, 15.8 grams of carbohydrates, eaten during the half-moon's light for optimum performance), but it's not really. It's easier than tracking orcs through the plains of Rohan.

If you glean nothing else out of the post, glean this: EAT. REAL. FOOD. There's no magic bullet supplement that will enhance your performance any more than eating solid, real food regularly.

Leading up to the tournament:

For (at least) the week prior, ensure that your meals consist of REAL foods, that is, plenty of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Conveniently, the same rules that appeared in the post  Eating for Strength and Performance, apply here. Craziness. As I've said before, if you fill your tank with crap, you're going to feel like crap, thus leading to performing like crap. Simple yes? We live in an age where technology makes our lives "easier" (though I would argue against a few of the more recent inventions) yet eating, the most basic human need, is over complicated. Our volleyball and baseball player (and all our athletes!)  will take their training to the next level if  if they just ate real food. Practical tips on how to achieve this below.

During the Tournament:

The length of the competitive day (6, 8, 10 hours?!!) will, to a degree, determine what types and how much food to bring. Obviously, longer tournament days will require more food than the shorter days. Here are three main points to remember when seeking foods for between games/matches.

1. EAT. REAL. FOOD. (notice a theme?) Don't go to 7-Eleven and pick up a Slurpee and whatever else they sell there. (You should NOT find body fuel at the same place you find car fuel.) Grab some fruit, make some sandwiches, and bring plenty of WATER. We'll go over a couple of beverages down below, but the number one liquid you should slurp: good ol' water. Divide your bodyweight in half... that's how many ounces (MINIMUM!) you should be drinking. If it's hot, and sweat is soaking your garments, drink your body weight in ounces.

2. Choose food that you know will sit well in your stomach. If you never eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches (though if you don't, I don't know what's wrong with you. Try it. But not on tournament day.), don't pack them. The combination of nerves and high activity doesn't provide the best situation to try new foods. Pack food that you know you can handle (I also recommend staying away from a lot of dairy and highly acidic foods/drinks as both can lead to upset stomachs during intense activity).

3. Pack a cooler. I know it's extra work, but you'll be glad you did when you're able to chow down on healthy, delicious and filling foods while your friends are relegated to protein bars, candy, and who knows what other food they scrounge up.

Practical Solutions:

What does all this look like? Fill in your preferred food choice utilizing this general template. Think of it as a nutritional MadLib.

Breakfast:

1-2 fist-sized Protein source (eggs, cottage cheese, lean meat, Greek yogurt) + 1/2- 1 cup of Complex Carbohydrate source (fruit, oatmeal, whole grain toast, sweet potato, beans, any kind of vegetable) + 1-3 Tablespoons healthy fat (nut butter, real butter, olive oil, egg yolks, 1/2 avocado, nuts, pumpkin seeds) + at least 1-2 fist-sized serving of vegetables!

As an aside, I made cauliflower cream of "wheat" (and you know I love my cauliflower) the other day for breakfast. I tried this recipe and I just found this one. I think the second one would be a tastier option; the recipe I tried still had a cauliflower-y aftertaste. Maybe I needed riper banana or something. Anyway, this is an example a creative way to incorporate vegetables in tastier ways. And make them a DAILY part of your diet.

Lunch: 

1-2 fist-sized protein source + 1/2 cup/serving of carbohydrate* + 1-3 Tablespoons healthy fat + at least 1-2 fist-sized serving of vegetables!

Dinner:

You guessed it: 1-2 fist-sized protein source + 1/2 cup/serving of carbohydrate* + 1-3 Tablespoons healthy fat + (you guessed it) at least 1-2 fist-sized serving of vegetables!

Snacks:

The same composition as the meals, just take half the serving side. For example, a hard boiled egg and an apple would be perfect. If you want some ideas of various foods to try, check out my posts here and here for other, less publicized super foods that have a plethora of benefits to offer to the competitive athlete.

* the amount of carbohydrates will fluctuate depending on if you work out/practice that day or not (see linked post about performance nutrition for more information). Eat 1-2 extra cups of carbohydrates spread throughout the day if practice/workouts are on that day. The "carb-loading" tactic is not a good idea unless you're running an Iron Man. A huge pasta meal the day before a competition doesn't do much for you except make you feel really full and sick.

Here are some sample snack options that might do well during long tournament days:

- Fruits (always a great option) such as bananas, apples, oranges, kiwis, melon etc.

Homemade granola (complex carbohydrate source)

- Trail mix- a healthy blend of nuts and seeds (to provide satiety) and dried fruit with maybe a little chocolate thrown in (because let's be honest, the M&Ms are the best part).

- Celery, carrots, sliced bell peppers, jicima slices (or any raw veggie) and hummus

- Hardboiled eggs (this is where the cooler becomes handy), deli meat, tuna fish, sardines (if you're ok with no one sitting near you while you eat)

- Sandwiches: meat/cheese or peanut butter variations

Beverages-

1. Water, water, and more water. Water is the oil that keeps the body's engine running smoothly. No water? The engine starts grinding and struggling, like Gimli over long distances, and eventually poops out entirely. Not a desirable result during a big showcase tournament.

2. Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are ok, but don't make them the primary source of liquid. They're useful if there's copious amounts of sweating going on (to help replace electrolytes) but too often I see athletes downing multiple bottles, when really, 1 bottle should be plenty.

3. If there's a decent chunk of time between games/matches, chocolate milk is actually a pretty good option for providing carbohydrates and protein (both of which are needed after a workout). I don't recommend drinking if there's only 15-20 minutes between games as dairy can sometimes upset stomachs.

4. Soda = fail.

Do you see a pattern? By eating quality food throughout the week and during the tournament days ensures that your body has the proper fuel for competition. Matter of fact, eating this way ALL the time does wonders for your health and performance.

Think of it this way: leading up to the tournament, athletes practice and strength train to prepare their bodies to ensure they're ready to compete. Any coach would tell you that if you try to cram all those hours of practice in the day before the tournament, things won't work out so well. The exact same principle applies to nutrition. If eating nutritious food starts the night before, well, things won't work out so well. Be vigilant in your preparations and take care as to what goes in your body as diligently and enthusiastically as you practice for each tournament.

Intro: Overhead Athlete Basics

Note: Any time I use the phrase "overhead athlete" I'm referring to an athlete who's sport requires him or her to bring their arm(s) repeatedly overhead. The most common sports falling under this umbrella are baseball, volleyball, softball, swimming, tennis, and, perhaps the most awesome of the bunch, javelin. 

In the wake of SAPT's inception, back in Summer of 2007, arrived the immediate realization that overhead athletes would be the predominant population we'd be coaching and training within the walls of our facility. In fact, you could have nearly fooled me if you told me that the only competitive sports in the Fairfax, Mclean, Tyson's Corner, Vienna, and Arlington regions were baseball and volleyball!

Sure, we had, and still have, the pleasure of working with a host of people from countless other athletic "categories" - field athletes, track, powerlifting, endurance sports, water polo, fencing (yes, fencing), and military personnel - overhead athletes were and still remain roughly 80% of the folks we get to work with at SAPT.

As such, given such a large and varied sample size, and years to work with these individuals, we've had ample time to manipulate X, Y, and Z training variables to accurately delineate which constituents of a sound training program are going to most efficiently and effectively help the overhead athlete feel and perform at their best.

Throughout the month of August, we at SAPT are going to dedicate our time to providing you with solid and applicable information that you can immediately employ, be you a strength coach, physical therapist, sport coach, or athlete. And hey, even if you don't do anything related to overhead sports, you can still pick up some quality gems related to vertical jumping, shoulder-friendly pressing variations, Olympic lifting, sprinting, and a plethora of other topics that will undoubtedly pique your interest.

The primary reason we are devoting an entire month to the topics of training and management of overhead athletes is that it remains abundantly clear that there still exists a unfortunate paucity of coaches - sport and strength coaches working with youth, amateur, Division I, or Professional athletes - who truly understand the unique demands overhead athletes face, and how to account for these demands both on the practice field and in the weight room.

Due to the awful tragedy of early sports specialization, and the lack of coaches and parents (despite being well-intentioned) who understand how to implement a sound, yearly training model (that includes time OFF the court or field), we are seeing injuries occur in players at the young age of 13 that didn't used to happen until the age of 25 (or ever). Baseball players are realizing too late that's actually not a good idea to throw year-round, and youth volleyball players are experiencing an unprecedented volume of upper and lower extremity issues that could have been prevented simply by taking a season to play a different sport, and/or immersing themselves in a solid strength & conditioning program.

The overhead athlete's arm and shoulder continually undergo insane stressors that need to be accounted for; and not only by the strength coach but the sport coach as well, as they control how many times in a practice an athlete throws, hits, or jumps.

Let's take just a quick look at what a baseball pitcher's arm is assaulted with every time he throws a baseball:

- His humerus (upper arm bone) undergoes internal rotation at roughly 7,200° per second. In case you're wondering, and would like a more scientific way of describing things: that is a crap ton of revolutions in a very short period of time. - His elbow has to deal with approximately 2,500° of elbow extension per second.His glenohumeral (ball-and-socket) joint experiences about 1.5x bodyweight in distraction forces.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as we haven't even dived into the other demands the wirst, elbows, and shoulders face, let alone what occurs at all the joints below the shoulder.

These demands simply won't be attenuated by doing a few hundred reps of band work before and after practice, let alone throwing the athlete into the proverbial squat-bench-deadlift program overseen by the high school football coach.

Over the next four weeks, you can expect to find us discussing:

  • Practical warm-ups for the overhead athlete
  • Why power development for baseball, softball, and volleyball players needs to be approached differently compared to many other sports
  • Olympic lifting for overhead athletes
  • The truth about vertical jump training for volleyball players
  • The myriad myths and fallacies surrounding "shoulder health" and "arm care" programs
  • Biomechanical asymmetries - both undesired and desired - that accrue in an overhead athlete's body due to the inherent nature of the sport, and what to do about them
  • Energy system training
  • Nutrition for fuel during tournaments and game day
  • And, of course, as many Star Wars and Harry Potter references that we can find room for
  • And much, much, more

All of us at SAPT are looking forward to the next month together!

You Want To Be Fast, Huh?

Intern Post By Goose & Josh:

                      Get infinity times faster by going beyond your understanding of speed.

Humans have an addiction to speed. No matter what we do we are never fast enough. Whether it is from running to jets flying over the open sky we build/engineer these bodies to go faster. The question is how do we engineer speed and how do we do it properly? We can break it down into 5 parts strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, form, and genetics. Having a firm understanding of these 5 elements will allow you to harness a power that the human race strives to attain.

Strength

Being strong does not mean being able to lift heavy things and put things back down. It is the matter of building a foundation for speed. Without strength speed cannot be accomplished. Strength determines the rate of force development (RFD) meaning how fast your muscles contracts to produce a maximal amount of force. With minimal strength there is low RFD meaning that the muscles in your body will not be able to get you to the finish before the guy that can produce the same amount of force is a shorter period of time. Strength training, done correctly, can and will excel your RFD to the next level.

Strength training is also vital to injury prevention. It is much more beneficial and time efficient for the athlete to prevent and injury versus recovering from one. Resistance training strengthens one’s connective tissue and increases the size and strength of ligament. Strong ligaments especially in areas such as the Achilles are necessary for an athlete to keep running at top speed. The physical stress from resistance/strength also increases bone density, which will help prevent overuse injuries such as stress fractures.

                    Did you know that the Hulk can run at least 215 mph? That is pure strength.

Well some of you also may be thinking, “I lifted once and I got hurt…” Well yes improper lifting can hurt anyone just like improperly can cause stress fractures. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing and if you do not ask people who do. I’ll admit it is difficult to find people who know how to teach lifts properly and this requires research. Well you might be thinking this is a lot of work just to pick things up and put them back down. Let me tell you this, if you truly want to get faster then you will do whatever you can to get it done.

P.S. As strength coaches it is our responsibility to understand that we are responsible not just for making them lift more weights but for the athletes overall health and well being.

P.P.S. If you still are not convinced about building strength and its obvious benefits then check out this great article: http://saptstrength.com/2013/06/17/lifting-running-monster-benefits-an-intern-post/ It should help clear up some doubts.

Cardiovascular Endurance

What’s the point of running fast if your heart cannot keep up? Cardiovascular endurance determines how long your heart rate can pump at a high rate. The heart is the most important muscle in your body and without it there is no life, thus no speed. To have a healthy heart can mean to add more years to your life, which means more time to go fast!

Yes sure a healthy heart is great and goes without saying, but honestly how does this effect my force production to create more SPEED!? Well let’s put it this way, your heart pumps blood through out your body right? Well that includes your muscles too. What muscles need in order to function is oxygen. Well guess what is in the blood going to your muscles, OXYGEN!

So that being said if your heart poops out and pumps less blood after 10 seconds, your muscles start getting less and less oxygen. If your muscles are not getting enough of oxygen then the they will have a much harder time contracting thus = less force production. So the longer the heart can pump blood without straining the longer your body can propel itself at full speeds.

Having strong cardiovascular endurance is also vital for recovery between your bursts of intense speed. The aerobic energy system is responsible for full recovery between bouts of sprints, so that you can sprint fast on each successive sprint rather than seeing drops in performance. It clears out metabolic byproducts of anaerobic work such as CO2. Clearing out the waste allows for ATP to be produced and ATP is what we use for energy to create explosive speed.

             Long story short DON’T skip cardio day! Never know when a zombie will show up

Muscular Endurance

    The body derives its energy from three different energy systems, the Phosphagen, Anaerobic, and Aerobic Systems. Generally speaking the Phosphagen System provides energy for all out efforts lasting 6 to 15 seconds, depending on the nature of the activity. Meanwhile the Anaerobic System provides the energy for submaximal bursts of speed lasting 30 seconds to2 minutes. Finally the Aerobic System provide a low but constant flow of energy for long lasting activities such as distance running. Whenever you exercise all three of the energy systems are turned on however the amount of energy you get from each one varies depending on duration, intensity, and the nature of the activity.

When sprinting you primarily rely on the Phosphagen System and the Anaerobic System for energy. The Aerobic system is being utilized during the activity but its main role is providing energy for recovery. This is why it is important to have a strong cardiovascular system, it’ll help you recover faster so you can sprint for longer. Muscular endurance training teaches your body how to push the limits of these energy systems and how to recover faster. This can be done through interval workouts, fartleks, hills, and bleacher/stair workouts. By continuously putting a high energy demand on your body and teaching it to keep working under stressful conditions you are actually pushing your Lactate Threshold back further and further.

Your body naturally produces lactate throughout the workout but when you do high intensity muscular endurance workouts you get to a point when the lactate overwhelms the system which gets rid of it. Once lactate production exceeds the removal capacity of the body it starts to accumulate in the blood stream. This is bad news because it interferes with the production of energy by the 3 systems I mentioned before. This begins the downward spiral to you ending up on the ground with vomit all over yourself. During workouts you push your body to its Lactate threshold but not passed it, this paired with your body’s awesome ability to adapt to new stresses over time will keep pushing the threshold further back. This is how people “get in shape”, they constantly put stress on the body which causes it to adapt until the previous level of stress is no longer as challenging.

Mental Toughness! My personal definition of mental toughness is being able to push yourself to do what you have to do even when it hurts. My favorite example of this is the 400m dash. The 400 meters is a great but terrible race for no matter who you are/how fast you are the last 100 meter are ALWAYS going to hurt. The high school scrub who runs 53 seconds and the all-star who runs 46 seconds are both hating life during that last straightaway. The difference being that the all-star has taught himself to ignore the pain and maintain form, meanwhile the scrub is thinking too much about the burning in his quads while his arms flail everywhere and everyone flies by. It’s the mental fortitude to ignore how tired you are and being able to remain focused on the task at hand that separates champions from benchwarmers. Only by constantly putting your body in this tired state, through running workouts, and testing your mental fortitude will you get tougher.

                                           Only the toughest person wins the race!

Form

    The reason why coaches are such sticklers about form is because bad form sacrifices efficiency. There’s a reason why all the fast people on TV look the same when they run! Good form allows you to use you’re body’s levers to your advantage and to properly direct the force you’re putting on the ground. In layman’s terms, it lets you do work while expending less energy. This makes the difference in the end of the race/game when everyone is tired. Whoever has the most energy left will win 9 times out of 10. The simplest running form drill that will work wonders when performed correctly are:

-A Skips

-B Skips

-High Knees

-Butt Kicks

-Straight Leg Bounds

-Alternating Quick Leg

-Falling Starts

These drills not only work on running form but also coordination. They can do wonders for kids and adults who lack the coordination to run properly.

 

**Front pack = world class times, stragglers = average times, form made the difference!**

Genetics

    As much as I would love to say we are all equal and have the exact same potential, that would be a lie. I’m a firm believer in genetic superiority. We all knew that guy in high school or college that had the drive to work hard but barely improved every season. On the flip side, we all had that friend who never tried hard at all and was still the best on the team. You can only fight your genetics so much! HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve greatness! Sure you may not be a national champion but being All-State or Conference Champ is still pretty awesome. There is still plenty of glory to be had, you just have to go out there and get it! Even if you don’t win but set a personal best, that still means you are now better than you’ve ever been, there should be some small amount of satisfaction there! So what if you’re genes aren’t the best it doesn’t mean you can’t get faster! Odds are you’re not even close to hitting your genetic ceiling, aka you’re body’s full potential. Do work and worry about the factor you can control.

                        **We can’t all be the greatest athlete in the world, but we can try ;)**

My L5-S1 Disc Explosion Pt II

Continued from Part I So after bucket-loads of pills, rest, e-stim, physical therapy, decompression treatment, chiropractic adjustments, and acupuncture I was still a mess. My pain had only gotten worse over the course of 6-7 months. What was the next step?

Steroids

I was referred to another doctor, this time a pain management specialist. I gave him the story that I’ve been repeating over and over to the other health care professionals. He took notes, reviewed my MRI and my treatment history, and decided the next step was to try an oral steroid treatment. Before you shake your head in disappointment and disdain, understand that we aren’t talking about anabolic steroids (I doubt those would have helped me much). The treatment consisted of 10 days of a corticosteroid drug, specifically Prednisone, in a hardcore attempt to kill the inflammation in my spine. The doc was straight up with me and told me that there’s a chance it will help but it’s a far cry from a guarantee. He wrote me the prescription and warned me of the side effects:

-High blood glucose

-Fluid retention

-Insomnia

-Anxiety

-Weight gain

-Severe facial swelling

-Fatigue and weakness

-Mental confusion

-Steroid dementia syndrome

-Infection

-Joint pain

-Blurred vision

-Acne

-Depression, mania, or psychosis (wait… what?!?!)

I followed the directions closely and took the pills everyday for ten days. The dosage started high and tapered down throughout the duration. I can’t say I felt much of a difference throughout that time. The pills didn’t make me feel better at all, but I didn’t get any noticeable side effects either.

So soon after that I’m back in the doctor’s office to see what the next step is. We agree that something more invasive needs to be done, but not surgery… yet. He suggests an epidural steroid injection. An epidural injection does not “fix” the issue of the blown up intervertebral disc, but can provide lasting relief for anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. In combination with a solid rehabilitation program, many patients have had great success with these injections.

A few weeks after the oral steroid treatment, I’m in the doctor’s office ready for my first injection. It was definitely a scary thought, the idea of an enormous needle driven right into your lower back, but I was a desperate man ready to take desperate measures.

They provided some local anesthetic to my lumbar region, and proceeded to stab me in the spine with a Super Soaker of a syringe. They warned me that it would hurt, and it did. I felt an extreme sense of pressure in my lower back, as if an elephant stepped on it, followed by intense pressure down my left leg. When I got off the table to stand up I almost collapsed, because my left leg was still numb. They told me this was normal and that I should regain the feeling in my leg in a couple hours.

The pain in my back and down the leg at this time wasn’t completely gone, but it was significantly dulled. I remember feeling a sense of hope, that I was FINALLY on the path to recovery. The dulled pain continued for a few days, but then slowly started creeping back. I called the doctor with concern, but he let me know that sometimes it actually takes a couple weeks for the drugs to kick in 100%, so I should give it time.

Over the next two weeks I remember trying to ignore the fact that the pain was coming back, but after a few days of waking up to the full blast pain that I felt before, I went back to the doctor. He recommended a second injection. The second injection was just as pleasant as the first one, and left me numb for a day. This time the doctor also wrote me a prescription for Cymbalta.

“An anti-depressant?!” I asked. I mean this injury is depressing for sure but c’mon doc.

He explained to me that the drug is a seratonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and that yes, it is used to treat clinical depression but also to treat peripheral nerve pain. Reluctantly I took the prescription and took about a weeks worth. I quit after that first week because I felt like it wasn’t helping and I was becoming paranoid about the dictionary-sized list of associated mental side effects.

The dulled pain lasted about three days this time and immediately returned. After another couple weeks I came back for injection round three. The limit for these injections is three per year, and I reached this limit within a couple months. These injections definitely aren’t child’s play and you can’t haphazardly just shoot them up into your spine whenever you want to. With each injection you run the risk of infection, dural puncture, nerve damage, and even joint degeneration in the long run!

This time the doctor wrote me a prescription for Gabapentin as well. Gabapentin, also known as neurontin, is a drug used to treat epilepsy but has been successful in treating neuropathy as well. Apparently it’s also a popular recreational drug because of its potential psychoactive effects. What is this doctor feeding me?!

Anyways, after three injections and a bunch of sketchy drugs, I was back to square one. No relief. When I came back to the doctor I already knew what they were going to tell me: “We’ve exhausted all of our options and it may be time to consider surgery.”

The Surgeon

My girlfriend, who works at INOVA, did some digging on several reputable orthopaedic surgeons in the area. After consultations with three different surgeons, I decided to go with Dr. Thomas Schuler of Virginia Spine Institute.

As one of the top 100 spinal surgeons and specialists in the country, recognized among the top 1% of physicians in his specialty, and top 10 spinal surgeons for the NFL, his reputation preceded him. Being the spine specialists for the Washington Redskins had nothing to do with my decision… I think…

IMG_0897
IMG_0897

During the consultation at his office, he and his assistants spent almost two hours of dedicated time with me, running me through a myriad of tests, looking through my records, performing another x-ray on my spine, and analyzing my MRIs.

When it was all said and done, he was confident that a microdiscectomy would be the way to go.

A micro-what now?

The plan was to perform a “micro-surgery” that was relatively minimally invasive: The doc would slice into my lower back, push the erectors out of the way, cut some bone away from the lamina of the vertebrae, find that insidious piece of disc that was pushing on my sciatic nerve and ruining my life, decapitate the herniation, and stitch me back together.

Terrifying… I thought. “Let’s do it,” I said. My consultation was on a Thursday, and the operation was scheduling for the following Monday.

The Surgery

Like almost everything in life, the operation came with a bunch of paperwork. I filled out all my papers, signed a will (yeah, really), and they sent me home with my pre-op packet filled with instructions.

There wasn’t much to do from my end pre-op. I couldn’t eat or drink anything the night before and had to shower with a special soap.

The next day I showed up at the hospital, checked in, and waited in the waiting room with a number of other poor souls like myself that were about to get cut open. When I was called up they prepped me up in a gown and surgical socks and rolled me away on a bed to the anesthesiologists.

The anesthesiologist prepared the IV and stuck it into my arm. She explained that she would soon inject the drug and I would fall into a deep sleep. I remember her asking me where I went to school, to which I replied “George Masgfughabluhhhhhhh…” BAM! I was out like a light!

After what seemed like a minute or two, I slowly woke up, very hazy. One eye half-open, I looked up at a nurse and asked “when are they taking me to surgery?” She chuckled and replied “Oh honey, you’ve been out of surgery for hours.  It went perfectly!” I didn’t want to argue so I went back to sleep.

316395_10150283021360974_1035511306_n
316395_10150283021360974_1035511306_n

The second time I woke up I was in the recovery room with my girlfriend and family. After the blur started to wear off I realized that the intense pain in my back and left leg were gone. I was so happy I could’ve cried. Pain had become such a huge part of my life that I forgot what it was like to not be in agony. I was definitely sore from the flesh wound I now had in my back but it was merely a slight discomfort compared to how I’d been living that past year.

I spent the night there, still in a daze from the morphine and eating French toast while watching The Simpsons. It was definitely one of the most joyous days of my life.

Stay tuned for Part III!

Give Me Strength!: The Process

It hurts.  The short-term effects from strength training often leads to pushing the body to places the mind may not want to go.  But, if the mind is open and willing, the body can be pushed to places it may not realize are possible.  Strength-training, like any activity, requires a detailed process, which focuses on daily progression.  Below are three tips to help your mind stay right as you get your body tight:

  1. Goal-Setting:  It’s imperative to have daily, weekly, and monthly fitness and strength goals.  These should not just be based on weight loss/gain or amount of weight lifted.  Instead, there should be deliberate practice goals, which focus on progression.  Focus on the process of improvement rather than simply end results. Examples: Daily - Commit to trying one new exercise [pick one to help you put extra emphasis on a weak area or an area you enjoy training] for each daily training session for a month; Weekly - Commit to a weekly schedule of weight training, avoid a haphazard approach... what time does your workout begin? Don't be late!; Monthly - Did you achieve your daily and weekly goals? What does the next month look like, what are you planning to accomplish on a daily level? Is it time to do a quantitative test yet?
  2. Willpower Talk:  Use committed words like “will” over words like “gotta”.  Direct attention to what you will do rather than what you gotta do.  The more you talk about will the more you will get. For example, what is your weakest area that you WILL improve to build muscle and strength? A lower body unilateral exercise, perhaps?
  3. Expectation Scorecard:  Create a scorecard for yourself to grade your mental performance during a strength-workout.  Have categories like attitude, positive self-talk, energy management, etc. so that you will grade your mental-toughness.  This will hold you accountable to maximizing performance.

A couple other things to consider: what is your pre-workout preparation? It probably involves some foam rolling and a warm-up, but are you preparing your mind to take full advantage of the soon to start training session? Are you fully focused when the first set begins?

Like most things in life, success in strength training, fitness, endurance training, fat-loss, etc. is at least 50% mental. The process of engaging in a long term progressive program also teaches excellent (mental) practices that translate into many other areas of life (discipline, goal setting, enjoyment, commitment, etc.).

Strength as a Foundation

On March 15, 2013 I became a regular person - well my perception of regular anyway - and I love it!

Why did I have to relinquish my super-hero status? I’ll leave it at this: I saw my dreams not just faltering, but failing. So, to get back on track, I stopped working two full-time jobs... which I had been doing for years for "fun" versus necessity. I took a break from my love-affair with iron. I also sit more than I have in about 15 years... that's a mega regular person activity!

Well, if we fast forward to today, my big dreams in life are properly realigned and effectively back within reach. But, I want to talk about what has happened to my physical foundation over that time.

SAPT’s methodology is based on the approach of Strength as a Foundation. We use various examples to explain why this is the best approach for building speed and explosiveness, but my favorite is “imagine shooting a cannon out of a canoe” sounds silly, right? Well that’s because it is. Never having operated an actual cannon myself, I can still easily imagine how ineffective and potentially dangerous it would be to try to shoot the thing out of a canoe.

The same concept holds true for performance training. If Strength as a Foundation is ignored, you’ve effectively set yourself or your child up for ineffective and potentially dangerous training.

Okay, so getting back to my little story: since becoming proudly “regular,” I’ve been working out at home and put a huge emphasis on improving my overall fitness. “Fitness” in this case meant I wanted to put a big focus on improving my cardiovascular system's functioning and efficiency. My exercise of choice? Running. And because of time limits I have only been lifting an average of 20-minutes, twice a week... but my running workouts stick around 60-90 minutes, 4-5 days a week.

Do you see where this is heading...?

I've let my foundation crack. My strength foundation. It sort of sucks. But, I planned for this to happen... I guess I just didn't know what it would feel like once I arrived. I've been lifting consistently since I was 19 years old. The longest break I’ve ever taken (up until this year) would have been a MAXIMUM of one week off from lifting. Crazy, but this 20-min/2x per week lifting has been going on for almost 4-months. With several weeks in there taken completely off from lifting.

I’ve been trying to shoot a cannon out of an ever destabilizing canoe. Attempting to keep up such a high volume, frequency, and intensity of running without maintaining my strength foundation is trouble. I’m feeling it now.

My goals have been accomplished in terms of “fitness” but I’ve been surprised what a slippery slope running that much and lifting that little has been. It’s like the losses are compounded. My knees often ache and the muscle mass in my legs (read: glutes and hamstrings) has dropped significantly.

What’s the plan and what’s the lesson?

I need to build muscle and lift weights more frequently. That’s the plan. And the lesson? As advertised, running really is detrimental to strength levels. I’m undecided about how I feel about this. Where I am in my life, running really lines up well with my mentality and goals. I can’t even begin to tell you how many excellent ideas I’ve had while running... SAPT was actually conceived during a run 6-years ago(!). But, I need to prioritize more prehab exercises to keep myself on the trails. In terms of the biggie compound lifts, eh, I’ll probably continue to take a break. 13 years straight of weight training means I’m certain the lure of the iron will pull me back when the time is right. In the meantime, I’ll continue setting a laser focus on building an amazing business and embracing my “regular” side.

Last week I attended a workshop on marketing for the small business owner. It was amazing and led by John Jantsch who is *tha guy* when it comes to this topic. As much as I believe the experience has already had a permanent and positive change on SAPT, I will try to exercise some self-control and stay on-topic. I do mention the experience for good reason: the first - and most tangible - impact from this workshop for our readers is in how we deliver content on the blog. Here are the changes you can look forward to:

  1. Each month will have a theme that each primary (MWF) post will address. This month's theme: Give Me Strength!
  2. We will be attempting to up our quality from an internal standpoint by actually editing posts ahead of time.
  3. All this requires *gasp* planning, so posts should be more reliable with few, if any, missed posts.

Please engage if you like or hate or even have no feeling about what you read here!

Logo-Slogan1-V2
Logo-Slogan1-V2