By Jeff Roux B.P.E; CSCS; TSCC
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller-
Ferris is right, life is fast. It is essential not only to take the time to look around to ensure you don’t miss it but also to make the effort required to maximize your health, fitness and performance in order to make sure you can keep up. Luckily, there are now more ways than ever to get moving, get fit, and maximize your opportunity to keep up with the speed of life.
In many ways fall is the true “New Year” for most families as summer comes to an abrupt end and suddenly school, fall/winter sports seasons, shorter days and cooler temps all create a need for a new goals, new schedules, and new weekly routine. It is the perfect time to re-boot, re-charge and re-focus. It is the perfect time to hit the re-set on all lifestyle habits that can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health and performance. Nutrition, sleep, exercise, and work/school-life balance all must be managed effectively in order to keep getting better every day.
Those who understand the importance of health and fitness understand that being more active and healthy when we are young allows us to handle more, physically and mentally, as we age than was previously thought. As more people understand the importance of holistic nutrition and purposeful, functional exercise we will continue to improve the outcomes of our health and performance as we age.
At Twist, we believe everyone is an athlete. This philosophy and purpose guides everything we do and allows us to help encourage our clients and athletes of all ages and skill levels to think, live and train like an athlete as well. This means setting goals, creating a program with purpose and practical application to each person’s sport and, most importantly to each person’s life. We must consider individual strengths and weaknesses, injuries and dysfunctions that may restrict certain movements, schedules and other limitations that may inhibit success.
Whether it is an athlete re-setting their off-season training program as a new season begins or a adult starting (or re-starting) a new fitness program, the most important step is the first one. Find something that motivates you to get moving, stay moving and keep moving better.
Find Your Why!
The question that every “athlete” must consider when performing any exercise or drill is simple, why? Why am I training? Am I preparing for a specific sport, am I trying to improve specific skills or improve physical limitations? Am I trying to be healthier and more active to be a better role model for my kids or am I just trying to be healthier and happier for me?
What is your why?
Once you know the big picture you can ask the same question when it comes to programming and the details of each specific training sessions and each specific exercise and movement pattern. Why am I choosing this particular exercise? Why am I doing a specific number of sets and repetitions? What is the purpose of each movement? Will it make me better, or just make me tired?
Anyone can train hard and push to or beyond their limits in a given training session. A true
training program should always have a plan and a progression. High Intensity training programs are all the rage as they offer quick, efficient, challenging workouts and can be an excellent part of a training program if prescribed and progressed properly. They have a lot of sex appeal but often the intensity and effort of the workout supersedes the purpose, progression and performance efficiency? Not to mention the injury potential that exists when good technical execution is by-passed for those last few seconds or reps. Following a purposeful, progressive program that has a specific objective, a planned progression and ongoing correction and evaluation will always result in more long-term success than random acts of exercise.
The Secret Recipe for Athletic Performance
There is a lot more to efficient, effective athletic performance than simply pushing physical limits before the proper technical skill is learned. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Training the muscles is the easy part. Training hard is the easy part. Training often is the easy part. Training Smart; learning HOW to move properly and training the neuromuscular connections that create movement patterns is hard. This includes everything from establishing an efficient running gait, learning to stickhandle and shoot on the ice, and perfecting your tennis serve, to learning how to decelerate and change direction on the soccer pitch, and how to properly squat in the weight room.
The brain learns movement patterns quickly and it learns bad ones just as fast, and sometimes even faster, than good ones because dysfunctional movement patterns offer shortcuts and allow the brain to simply hide other dysfunctions that have occurred from injury, mobility restrictions or other inefficient patterns that have already been learned poorly.
As individuals get older, move less, sit more and spend more time ensuring the kids make it to their practices and games than making time for their own strength and conditioning, the ability to move well is inhibited. Injuries and movement dysfunctions begin to settle in and many people put off finding ways to get moving well again. Typical gym programs promote stepping on a specific machine (Treadmill, Elliptical, bike etc.) and heading down the road to nowhere on machines that do most of the work. People need to actually move in order to move better. Improving athletic mobility, maximizing joint stability and enhancing the ability to run, jump, skate, ski, hike, garden, and just play with your kids comes from moving more and moving better.
Whether you are an elite athlete or a stay at home mom, everyone can benefit from moving better. Movement is simply about taking muscles through a full, functional range of motion and expanding that range of motion. It is about stabilizing the joints to handle deceleration and direction changes without injury. It is about developing explosive muscle firing patterns to accelerate quickly and change gears efficiently. It is about developing a variety of energy systems from short burst anaerobic to long duration endurance. Movement challenges your body to stop and go and challenges your heart and lungs to adapt to a variety of conditioning intervals and intensities. Movement will help you perform better in sport and in life.
It is exciting to see strength training making a resurgence over the past few years and to see adults getting excited about getting stronger. One thing that people must realize when it comes to training strength is that moving load is in itself a movement skill and there are many elements that must come together to execute strength training technique besides moving weight up and down. If you cannot perform a movement properly in the first place and you load it and try to move it when it is heavier, injury is inevitable. Athletes must be able to execute proper movement patterns and muscle firing patterns in order to get stronger. People often love training the beach muscles (arms & chest) but don’t spend enough time training the stabilizer muscles (Core, Shoulder girdle, hamstrings, Upper back) that support and leverage athletic movement and protect the body from injury. First, learn to move, then you can load, lift and challenge the movement in different ways.
No matter how hard you work, recovery is when the magic happens. Getting enough rest, getting enough sleep and
fueling your cells with proper nutrition and hydration help maximize digestion and allow enzymes, hormones and all of the organs in your body run efficiently. This is what allows us to adapt to exercise, deal with stress and continue to improve our health and fitness as we age. You can’t outwork poor nutrition or poor sleep patterns. This is when the body adapts, re-charges and gets better.
No diet, lifestyle changes, or training program will work for the long term if it is done is short doses. Our bodies and our brains crave routine and function best when we have consistency in our patterns of exercise, sleep and nutrition. Developing a purposeful and consistent routine allows our systems to stabilize and focus on performing at the highest level possible every day. When this happens health and performance will take care of themselves and we can focus more on being in the moment, having fun and enjoying the journey along the way.
As Ferris says, life moves pretty fast; will you Be Ready!