4 Tips for bulletproofing your Athletic body.
Jean LaFleur, Rkin-AT, CAT(c), CSCS, Pn1,P.I.C.P-1, B.HK, Dip SIM
If you’re reading this post, you likely appreciate how you’re training as an athlete relates to your performance, not too mention how you feel and look?
We are how we train, exercise, and what we tell ourselves every morning about this regiment.
Does this thought seem familiar? “Why invest time, energy and strategy into your exercise or training protocols unless you have a plan?
What is your plan? What results are you looking for from your training? Hypertrophy, increased strength, pure conditioning, metabolic training, fat loss?
Or, if you’re over 50 years old, and you’re still in the game, your training and exercise frequency might be about training because you can?
Regardless of age, if you’re a self-proclaimed “athlete”, you’ve already accepted how your life is going to go? And you’re going to “ride that horse” for as long as you can?
So this post is for the athlete who has accepted that training is a part of their life, regardless how hard, or frequent one trains.
Do you schedule your training every week? Or if you’re really “wired in”, do you “zoom-out” your schedule for a month, or 3 months at a time?
Either way, seeing the road ahead, is a good thing!
If you’re looking for a preventative and proactive perspective, you’ve come to the right place?
Experienced athletes may strategize their training, and organize their lifestyle “being an athlete”, among other priorities?
Being an athlete myself, at the age of 53, organizing around my athletic life is what gets me out of bed every morning?
If you “stop moving”, you stop living? As former athletes, or a renewed athlete, you can choose another mantra if you like, as long as you stay in your game, whatever that may be?
This post’s purpose is directed at the practice of sustaining our body’s mobility, stability and ability to move well. When we move well, we use the same movements again, and incur less wear and tear for those parts of the body.
Which leads us to the first tip:
Tip # 1: Appreciate when your energy is low, and if you are pushing through fatigue, stress, or exhaustion to complete your training, reconsider your training session.
If you are repaying an energy deficit close to your scheduled training, think again?
Persisting your training schedule while you are stressed, not well rested, or within a day of your most recent hard day of training,(hence not fully recovered) will simply push your recovery even further back, and affect your future workouts.
Scheduling your active recovery sessions, and passive recovery sessions, is just as important as your hardest training session is?
Now, most of you would agree that training while you’re sore, stiff, and deflated of energy, isn’t being considerate to yourself, or at all strategic, if you’re looking for a payoff from your training.
Respecting your recovery is an integral part of your training!
After completing Joel Jaimeson’s (8-Weeks Out) “Recover to Win” program, I appreciate the rest and recovery in a whole new way now!
The scope of the research articles, the devoted practice of coaches, and trials of application was quite compelling. I was also amazed at how hard I was training myself before taking this course without applying the appropriate recovery practices?
It really helps to understand how heart rate variability works, and understanding your anaerobic ceiling as well. (More about these two subjects in a future post). Most athletes that I run into, are laser-focused on the proactive variables! How many reps, per sets, is recommended, and at what tempo?
For the past 35 years, publications such as Sports Illustrated and bodybuilding magazines (Weider) have been exalting the importance of the implementation of the number of reps and sets to reap the results avid trainees are looking for.
Whether that be hypertrophy, lifting the most weight on a particular lift, or the heaviest Olympic lift, rest intervals did not receive the acknowledgment they deserved. The importance of integrating rest intervals and by extension, optimal recovery as an integral part of an athlete’s periodized training plan has been overshadowed up until now.
Practice good recovery, use a device that monitors HRV (heart rate variability- see Joel Jamieson- 8 Weeks Out program), and be weary of your stress levels before and during training, to maximize your recovery and results.
Tip #2: Train the biomotor capacities appropriate for your sport, along with the appropriate movement pillars.
As athletes, we use our biomotor abilities and pillars of human movement to perform within the sport or activity of our choice.
Every sport or mode of training requires at least one or more biomotor capacities.
The following are your 8 biomotor abilities:
- Strength (Base of Biomotor pyramid)
- Coordination/motor control
The biomotor abilities are then expressed with the pillars of human movement:
- Push (Bench press)
- Pull (Pull-ups)
- Gait (walking, hiking, jogging, running)
- Hinge (deadlifts, swings, cleans, snatches)
- Carrying (loaded carries)
- Rotation (mb tosses, mb slams, rotational mobilizations)
- Counter-rotation ( unilateral D.B carries, tennis forehands, unilateral floor-chest press)
So if you wanted to combine a biomotor capacity with a movement, here is the chain of events leading to your optimal performance..
- Master the movement (Running- motor learning, sport-specific pattern coordination).
- Appropriate training for the predominant energy system/biomotor capacity used. (alactic-pc system, or anaerobic system if over 20-30 seconds.)
- Optimize training for the energy system predominantly used (Sprinting)- using i.e Plyometrics, Weight-lifting, medicine ball work)
- Ensure optimal mobility, and expression of the energy system to create efficiency of movement.
- Optimize recovery to allow adaptations from training.
- Periodize training: balance your weekly volume, intensity and recovery to ensure optimal performance. Consider training blocks of months, not weeks to properly progress your training, and adapt well to your adaptations.
Eniseler-1994, and Boyle- 2004 demonstrate functional training’s positive effect on biomotor properties of pre and post-tests values in soccer players.
Take home points: Once you apply the appropriate biomotor ability to the movement strategy (Power + Pushing= Bench pressing, or standing med-ball chest tosses) give this method at least 4 weeks to reevaluate your performance metric. I.e 3 RM max bench press lift. Moreover, seek the mentorship and guidance from a trusted coach who has experience with the intricacies of training the energy systems of your sport. The mastery and execution of your movements should be a “no-brainer”!.
In addition, appreciate that there are strength requirements for your sport or activity!
Endeavour to strike a balance between your conditioning, and strength work. Focus on particular lifts such as the back squat, deadlift, bench press, and bent-over barbell rows.
As an integrative therapist and Strength coach, I encourage using appropriate strength protocols as a part of the continuum of care in rehabilitation programs. Gone are the days where the athlete or patient is sent home with rubber band exercises to complete.
Effective rehabilitation is training!!
Tip # 3: Organize your body for proper alignment and posture to maximize force production, and minimize potential for injury.
To keep this tip applicable and practical, I will present the 3 B’s.
- Neutral spine (Back)
Lower back pain and weight lifting may go “hand-in-hand” for some novice or intermediate trainees, considering the inexperience with the execution of the motor patterns of the lifts. For the inexperienced, it is recommended to review and practice the motor patterns to proficiency.
The application of applying a neutral spine should be considered in your initial strategy before executing a lift, or strength performance.
A neutral spine is related to the curvature of the lumbar spine when executing a lift, or during a performance. This curvature is controlled by one’s pelvic tilting adjustment to lock in a position between overextension or overflexion of the lumbar spine.
Bracing has been an application for me as a practitioner since 2005. Dr. Stuart McGill implemented the “abdominal brace” as a way of applying just enough abdominal tension to resist a punch to the stomach. This tension is then used to solidify your neutral spine during your lifts and performances, such as hitting a baseball, sweeping a soccer ball, or spiking a volleyball down the line.
The brace application is also adjusted to the required demand of stability for the lift, but also required to be supported by breathing.
Any position you want to put yourself into, make sure to own that position by being able to breathe in that position.
If you are unable to respirate with a certain lift, exercise, or movement, then either you haven’t properly learned the motor pattern, or haven’t practiced breathing and bracing together during the lift. In addition, breathing allows you to regulate your Valsava pressure if properly released through “pursed lips” to let the air pressure out slowly.
Take home points:
- If you are new to lifting, then these points may be likely new to you? This is fine, but please consider the 3 B’s when attempting a deadlift or squat with an appreciable load.
- By all means, you can practice without load, by using bodyweight squats with a wooden dowel or hinge patterns with the 3B’s.
- Breathing and bracing do require some practice, especially under loads. For example, start with a barbell in the highback position of a back squat, and use your bracing and breathing together. Then you can start going through partial ranges of motion as you get more proficiency.
Tip # 4: To prevent injuries, manage your joint and soft tissue restrictions more often than not.
In our age of information, many athletes have adopted DIY (do-it-yourself) practices that can untether, delaminate, release, desensitize, reinfuse (circulation), and mobilize with a little know-how?
If a therapist has recommended that your pelvic tilt is a problem for you to gain access to your glutes, “get out a pen and paper and start taking notes”!
If you wanted to save some hard earned cash from going in to see a Massage therapist, there are applications waiting to be applied by your more than competent brain!
Many soft tissue muscle strains are due to adaptive shortening from prolonged sitting or certain work-related positions or patterns.
The following are easy DIY applications that can be practiced and questioned about if necessary.
These are good DIY examples.
For those who sit all day, your tight flexor muscles (rectus femoris,TFL, more superficial vs. deep hip flexors) will tilt your pelvis down in the front of your body. Both applications will demonstrate the PNF application (contract-relax- reciprocal inhibition) that applies to most good muscle releases and joint corrections.
Here are two good examples:
Use the Couch stretch:
For lower back pain that you feel on one particular side of your spine, this is pelvic related (imbalanced), and quite common.
Use the Pelvic reset:
To wrap things up here, I’d to thank-you if you got this far in the post.
Please feel free to get in contact with me if any of the applications seem confusing.
Stay tuned in for my next post!
The Body Tech
Jean LaFleur Rkin-AT, CAT(c),CSCS, Pn-1, B.HK, Dip SIM
123 Moore Crescent, Ancaster, ON, L9G 4Z8