Friday, August 26, 2011

Seeing is Believing

From a parent of one of my high school boys this morning:
Yeah those eyes are slowly opening. In his gym class he has really noticed the difference between his technique you have taught him and the others. I think that was a major milestone for him. He is seeing the benefits and rationale behind proper body position and technique. You have his ear right now. He is trusting you.
There is a method to my madness. They just have to have the patience and persistence to do what the others often don't have the will to do. But first they have to trust and believe in what we are doing.

Being a Good Role Model & Mentor

One of my favorite things is when my athletes send me pictures of the dinners they have cooked or their grocery carts.

It usually takes a while--especially with high school boys. They have to first care about eating and then learn to accept responsibility for preparing their own food. The first step for many guys is making scrambled eggs or their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their lunch or after school snack. This is the fist step in their evolution.

Food shopping and real cooking are not usually high on their list of fun things to do, especially when mom and dad are still around. Not even close to being on the radar.

But then something changes--usually is it going away to college--and WHAMMO, whole foods, lean meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts suddenly become part of their vocabulary and shopping list. They send me pictures of giant salads and stirfrys.

They very excitedly tell me they start to feel the benefits of eating better and they embrace the opportunity to make nutrition part of their training program. They brag about the junk food they've left behind.

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me! If I don't do anything else for these kids, I can at least help them discover the joy in shopping for and cooking their own food and life-long value in eating well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Earning the Right

My friend Kelvin Giles likes to emphasize that athletes must earn the right to progress. I am in full agreement with him.

My kids have to earn the right to progress, especially with the squat. And with very tall, thin athletes, I need to be even more patient to develop the mobility and infrastructure needed to squat with quality movement. I teach my athletes to have respect for the movement, as it is one of the more important things they can do to develop total body strength and power.

We don't chase numbers on the barbell when squatting. We always thoroughly warm up and work up to the work set. Just like 6' 10" Eric Moeller is doing in the picture above.

Every weightlifting coach I have worked with emphasizes the same thing. There is a purpose and a context to the intensity and volume of each set within a training session and within that particular training cycle.

Unfortunately, many others chase numbers on the barbell in the weightroom. You can see their follies all over YouTube. But there are also some very good examples of squat technique and warm up. One of the most impressive is this video of Caleb Williams, former powerlifter-turned-weightlifter, training for the 2006 IPF World Championships in Norway. In weightlifting, Caleb competes in the 69 kg weight class (152 lbs), so I assume in this video he is competing at 67.5. The dude squats 500 lbs x 6 weighing around 150 lbs, with only neoprene knee sleeves, weightlifting shoes and a belt. And he only puts on the belt at 405 lbs.

No macho bullshit necessary. No equipment. No screaming. Just workman-like focus, good form, speed and depth. College and high school football strength coaches, this is what real squatting looks like! You can read more about Caleb on his website.

Monday, August 15, 2011

From the Vault: Melanie Roach 2008 Olympic Prep

Four years ago this week, I recorded Mel's Tuesday morning training session of cleans and clean pulls. From the vaults, August 16, 2007.

This cycle of training is just after her bronze medal performance at the 2007 Pan Am Games.

Beautiful Mobility

You used to be able to do this when you were 2. If you can do it when you are 20, you are ahead of the game.

This is the kind of mobility a weightlifter works toward. It is the kind of sagittal plane mobility that is part of good joint health and good back health. See how the shin and torso are parallel?

Squatting should be part of your movement vocabulary. Find someone to help you learn how to squat.

Start here and work your way into the frontal and transverse planes. Be patient. Be consistent.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Personal & Professional Satisfaction

"Thank you so much for all your help. I thought I was going to have to have surgery."

These are the words from a young patient I discharged yesterday. I saw him 6 times over an 8 week period. He came to me with osteolysis of the R AC joint. Pain with sleeping and any R UE activity. An avid bench presser and upper body lifter, I knew we had to change his mindset and exercise habits if he was going to heal.

He paid for every visit out of his own pocket.

I spent 1 hour with him each session. We talked about the importance of muscular balance and flexibility about the shoulder joint. I stressed that tight lats and pecs weren't going to be beneficial for long term shoulder health.

I taught him a variety of overhead and multi-planar moments, starting initially with basic flexion and limited ROM ab/adduction. Each week we progressed a bit, adding UE exercises in weight-bearing and dumbbell pressing movements. I never once used a modality. The first few visits I did a few joint mobs and some PNF work. The final 4 visits were all movement and lifting-based.

Who knew behind the neck pressing with a barbell could be so therapeutic? Not heavy at all; just quality movement about the shoulder girdle.

No surgery; no meds; no modalities. I just assisted the body in healing itself. More importantly, I earned the trust and respect of the patient in the process. The impetus was on him to follow my direction and take responsibility for doing the necessary work outside of the clinic--not too much, not too little; quality was key. I worked with him, not on him.

This is the type of practice I have dreamed of building for the last 10 years. Not high volume; not high tech. Just the thoughtful, progressive application of movement to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.