It’s okay to have help

Great accomplishments take a supporting cast.

If something is important to you, use the resources that you have available to get you to your goals. Do not try to do everything on your own; do not make it about pride, if pride gets in the way of success. There is no shame in wanting to be healthy and free of pain.

On Adding Resistance

Movement is the answer for many health and body issues. Simply put; we do not move enough, and we often do not move correctly.

When starting out, many people rush to train with weight because of the numerous benefits of resistance training. But a body that strains to move correctly (or is dysfunctional to the point of being unable to move correctly) without resistance will exacerbate the problems that it has through the increased intensity. In other words, when you move poorly with weights you add to your troubles even though you may feel that you are improving. Strength without stability and range of motion is not real strength.

So choose your resistance wisely. If a movement is incorrect, use only the amount of weight that encourages proper form. Increase intensity by adding repetitions or reducing recovery until your nervous system learns the movement pattern and you achieve the necessary timing and balance for that pattern.

Get Better Before You Get Hurt

Why wait for an injury to occur when you can improve the situation before it becomes a problem?

Many injuries are caused by repetitive strain (overuse) or poor technique (misuse). Repetitive strain is often indicated by feelings of prolonged fatigue, or a gradual loss of range of motion. Misuse is only obvious when a movement causes pain. IF A MOVEMENT CAUSES YOU PAIN, STOP IMMEDIATELY! When it does not cause pain, poor technique is much harder to detect. A few good indicators are the inability to breath during a movement or a noticeable difference when performed on one side of the body versus the other.

If any of these warning signs are present during your training, consider an alteration of your training until they are not present. Repetitive strain can be overcome easily with more rest, massage, stretching, and/or activation of opposing muscle groups. Misuse requires a shift in focus toward timing and coordination; this is most often accomplished by decreasing the difficulty until neuromuscular control and efficient movement are achieved, and then slowly progressing the difficulty back to previous levels.

Habits Die Hard

Our habits spill over into other parts of our lives.

This can work against us. Having your legs crossed when you sit for long periods of time will work its way into a hip rotation when you move. Rounding your back to look at your computer monitor will make it harder to keep a straight back throughout the day.

But it can also work for us. Good eating decisions while training will lead to better decisions when you aren’t. Being active early in the day will keep your metabolism up for a number of hours afterwards.

So empower years of change by practicing the habits you want to keep, and double up on your improvement by using your motivation to guard against slipping back into habits that contradict what you are working toward.

Train Inside Out

Our tendency is to train ourselves from the outside in. For many of us this comes from an aesthetic motivation to workout; in other words, many train because they want to look better. But the problem with this is that focusing on the outside can leave you frustrated. It can even set you up to be worse than when you started.

Instead try to train yourself from the inside out. Focus on rest, nutrition, and core musculature first; then slowly shift the focus outward to encompass strength, endurance, speed, or aesthetics and body composition. This can be a great boon for anyone that is having trouble because they are intimidated.

Train Everything

Because nothing happens overnight. It takes a while to improve, to adapt.

Focus on your specific goals, because they are your inspiration and motivation. But that does not mean you should exclude everything else.

Include the practices that maintain and improve your body. Your goals will change as you change; and if you have been working a little bit on everything, then you will be that much farther ahead when you take on the next challenge.

Changing Direction

While we are capable of multi-directional movement, many of us choose exercises that only improve our ability to go forward. Instead we should challenge ourselves with training that develops our movement to full capability in every direction.

The most obvious application is running; the ability to stop momentum and change its direction is much more important than how many miles one can run at a moderate pace. The informed athlete will quickly recognize that this can be applied in sport-specific footwork as well as in lunging and jumping.

Another application is in pushing and pulling exercises. In a perfect world, we will always be able to align ourselves to the forces that we must resist. However, the real world is often far from perfect, and the need to push or pull something can often presents itself from any angle.

So whatever your sport, whatever your goal, make sure to include exercises that challenge you to move in multiple directions. And if that is new for you, remember to gradually increase the demands you place upon your body so that it has time to adapt.

Embracing The Process

There are as many different ways to train the body as there are goals that people want to achieve. What is consistent throughout is that dedicated practice is the means by which train methods yield success. What that means to us is that we have to embrace the changes to our mindset and lifestyle.

I bring it up because this time of year usually has a bunch of people jump on the bandwagon to get in shape for weddings, summer races, beach vacations, etc. Where many of these people fail is not in their timing or motivation, but instead is in their short-term commitment to a long-term process. Change does not happen overnight. Issues of which you are now aware have crept up over months or years.

The solution is to look at your training as something that will be around for as many years as you want to move well, for as many years as you want to look good and feel healthy; in short, for your lifetime. Instead of looking for a quick fix, try looking for a practice that you can keep up. Find that base routine that maintains you, and from there you can add or take away practices that help you achieve specific short-term goals as the need arises.

Put It To The Test

Happy June everyone! It’s the first day of the month, and it is time to measure your progress through testing. And while this does not work for lofty and abstract goals, it does work for almost all of the others.

Some of us get nervous about tests, but they really just give you data on something that you have already decided to work on. They also validate the method that you have chosen for improvement. If your goal is to become better, and you have not; then there may be something in how you have chosen to practice. Just look for a trend that is in the direction you want to head. You do not have to hit your goal, but the measurement will tell you if you have taken a step forward.

Remember that they are just numbers; your practice can give you a host of intangible benefits before you see a single quantitative improvement. If you like what you are doing, stick with it. There are always outliers. Months when life gets in the way with stress, sickness, or just too much to do. Test yourself anyways; if nothing else, just to get in the habit of it.