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conditioning

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Rest is a Weapon

In my opinion, the most overlooked aspect of a training program is rest and recovery. I’ve never been a fan of the “go hard or go home” approach. Working hard is extremely important. In fact, it’s a necessity. But, there’s a time and a place to work hard, and there’s a time and place to recover.

My mindset hinges on listening to the athletes and their bodies. How they feel on a daily basis should have an impact on how you train them that day. Just like any day in any given job, not every day is a good one. Any sort of excessive sympathetic neural activity can hinder an athlete and their performance substantially. Some factors that can cause excessive sympathetic neural activity include:

Stress

Lack of Sleep

Poor Nutrition/Hydration

Poor Training Schedule

...and so forth.

More trainers and their clients can benefit from a basic understanding of the Autonomic Nervous System and how it works.

Let’s break this down:

It’s divided into 2 subcategories: The sympathetic and parasympathetic subdivisions. Think of it like a car. The sympathetic is the gas pedal. The parasympathetic is the brake. They work synergistically to get you to your desired location. And you don’t even need to use the Google Maps app.

Within your body, the sympathetic kicks in when any sort of stress hits your body. Think lifting weights, running, seeing your gym crush, sprinting from bears, stuff of that nature. The parasympathetic is where all the adaptive responses occur. Think of maintaining homeostasis. Bringing your heart rate back to normal, lowering your cortisol levels and a bunch of other sciencey lingo that you can read in thick fancy textbooks.

Got it?

So what happens when a person becomes overly-driven in their sympathetic system?

Well, what happens when you put your car in park and “put the pedal to the metal” for extended periods of time?

A few things:

Absorption of nutrients from food will be limited. Very little adaptive response will occur from training. Cortisol levels will be elevated, which can hinder sleep and may also store fat. The anabolic environment will be low which isn’t conducive to building muscle, and the catabolic environment will be high.

All that HIIT work you’re doing everyday because your trainer said it’s the best thing ever? That might not be helping.

So what’s the ideal way to recover?

Here’s the tricky part...It depends!!! (Coincidentally enough, like everything else in the fitness industry)

Ask yourself this: What do you like? What calms you down? The good news is you have several options.

Since there’s no one around to volunteer, let’s just use me as an example. If you’ve met me, you may have caught onto the fact that there are 7 hamsters running around in my head, all in different directions. They don’t even have a wheel to keep themselves in check. Ever been to a hamster rave? Welcome to my head at 7:24am on a Tuesday.

Personally, yoga has never calmed me down. I am, without a doubt, in the minority of people that it doesn’t work for. The same goes for pilates. I experimented listening to classical music while lying on the floor doing some diaphragmatic breathing. Same result.

The hamsters just keep running. And I don’t even like cardio.

Little bastards.

I recently went to Float YXE to try out their sensory deprivation tanks, in hopes of slowing down my brain. If you’ve never heard of a float tank, the concept is simple.

You float naked. In the dark. In Epsom salt water. Just you and your thoughts.

Sounds weird but compared to other stuff I’ve done…it’s really not. The water is skin temperature so it’s quite warm. In terms of the actual floating, it’s buoyant enough in there that you couldn’t flip yourself over if you tried. Translation…you won’t drown, and you’ll be warm. All sensory inputs are also minimized (no noise, light, or distractions).

I wasn’t sure what to expect but knew there was quite a bit of research to back up their claims of what the tanks could do for recovery…so I was intrigued.

For the first time in as long as I can remember the hamsters stopped running. All of them. All at the same time.

Dreams really do come true.

I was in complete relaxation for the next few hours. And in fact, I noticed the results up to 3 days later.

Mind. Blown.

If you have trouble slowing your mind down, or just want to try something new…give the sensory deprivation tanks a try.

They may or may not be for you. You never know until you try. Life’s like a box of chocolates, right?

The point of this blog post is to find something that helps you relax. Something that lets you shut off from the rest of the world for an hour or two every week. If you’re having trouble losing weight or gaining muscle mass, less may be more. Turn off the sympathetic system and allow yourself to recover.

Hey, if all else fails, at least you can cross off the “being naked in public” box. Cheers. 

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Being Different Isn't Always a Bad Thing

Questions I get asked often…

Do you guys do Crossfit?

You do that functional workout stuff hey?

Josh is prettier than you.

The latter is more of a factual statement but I’ve been giving less pucks lately so I’m not worried about the grammar police. (See what I did there with the hockey pun. Funny, right?)

It’s always tough to explain to people what we do different/why we do things the way we do and, rather than being a broken record, I decided to write a blog.

1. Technique

If you’ve worked out with us or follow us on social media you’re well aware that technique is, and always should be, the first priority. People are paying me money to teach them a life skill. They aren’t paying me to say “good job” on a poorly-executed bodyweight squat and give them a high-five at the end of the workout.

My job—as I interpret it— is to teach people HOW to workout. I’m not only a coach, but additionally an educator. If you don’t learn anything while I train you, I’ve done a poor job. If you want to know how good a trainer is, watch their clients’ workout when he or she is on their own.

I love finding little nuances in people that force them to lift weights just a little bit differently. I’m not a glorified rep counter. I don’t enjoy instructing 20 people in a group who do the exact same thing. There’s nothing wrong with doing this and anything that gets people more active is always a bonus. But, it does have its shortcomings.

This is why our small group training has a maximum of 6 people per group and you have your own program. We base the program off what we see in the initial assessment and what your goals are.

 

2. Programming

“I love my trainer, they never give me the same workout twice and keep me guessing.”

I’m not sure why people think this is good or why this is the norm in the fitness industry today.

Again…there’s nothing wrong with doing this, but it isn’t my cup of tea. Granted, I don’t drink tea.

I’m a big advocate of having a structured plan for each client. This way I can keep track of what they’re doing, how much they’re doing, and where we need to adjust. Having a program doesn’t mean you have to follow it to a T. Think of it more like a compass. It guides us in a general direction but we adjust accordingly, leading you to your ultimate destination. Everyone’s path is a little different.

Your programming should have some sort of structure.  If you throw together random workouts, you lose track of what you did, and how much (things like tracking volume and push to pull ratios are often overlooked).

I’m also a big fan of the basics. They work. Learn to squat, learn to deadlift, learn proper push-and-pull patterns. Push a heavy sled. Develop an aerobic base.

Programming should be simple and effective. We refuse to do circus training to keep clients entertained.  

 

Our bootcamp and individual client programs change every 4-5 weeks. It’s simple and easy to do. It takes up a bit more of my time but at the end of the day, it’s well worth it.

 

3. Collaboration

I’m a firm believer in collaborating with people smarter than myself. I’m a significantly better coach because of it. I was lucky enough to do a practicum in university with renowned physiotherapist Bruce Craven, owner of Craven Sport Services.

Honesty hour: he makes me feel dumb. And I’m very much okay with that. We send all of our clients to him and his staff with the common goal of getting the client moving and feeling better. Some of their staff also workout at our gym so there’s a mutual respect between our businesses, which I love.

He’s sharpened my eye, made me think outside the box, and constantly lets me pick his brain with certain topics. I am in no way a physiotherapist, nor do I have an interest in becoming one. But there is a huge crossover from what we do in the weight room to what they do in their clinic.

I read a great quote from Charlie Weingroff the other day.

“We don’t need to bridge the gap between physios and strength coaches. We need more people to cross it.”

I love that quote.

I also love pepperoni pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Enter Registered Dietitian Alison Friesen, owner of Alison Friesen Nutrition.

She is highly educated with a real degree. She’s not one of the fitness models toting their meal plan on Instagram (and for only $4.99!). So that’s cool.

I’ve learned a lot from her with regards to supplements, detoxes, juice cleanses, and a whole lot of other quackery that plagues the nutrition field.

Other people I love collaborating with are Greg Slobodzian, owner of KYHU Hockey. He does all of our skill work with the hockey players we train.

The gentlemen over at Ignite Conditioning do a fantastic job of training football players.

Lindsay Sutherland of SleepWell Performance came in and gave our athletes valuable information on how to maximize sleep and the role it plays in performance.

Lastly, my girlfriend Joelle. Sometimes the words is hard for me. Luckily she proofreads all of my blogs so I sound smarter. Plus she’s hot. So that’s also cool.

At the end of the day, your success is our success. Be consistent, follow these simple rules, and eat some damn grilled cheese sandwiches along the way.

 

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Hockey Season is Over...Now What?

For many of you, your son or daughter has already finished or is just finishing up their hockey season. This year I’ve had a lot of questions about what they should do after the season is done. This blog post is meant to be educational — one to show the downfalls of hopping right back onto the ice. I’ll also talk about how we do things at JB and why we execute them in that manner.

Early specialization in youth sports has become the norm for families these days. Right after the season, parents usually enroll their son or daughter in Spring and Summer hockey. Late July and early August roll around and it’s time to put them in a few hockey camps. Heck of a summer wasn’t it? Time for tryouts!

If this sounds like you, here is the most recent data on injury rates for youth athletes that play one sport all year round:

In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr. Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injuries. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70-93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports.[i]

Those numbers are staggering and quite frankly, disheartening. As an athlete you only have one body. If you’re injured all the time you’re a liability to your team. Or worse…you’re not an athlete anymore.

If one study isn’t enough to convince you I’ve referenced five more here.([ii])([iii])([iv])([v])([vi]) If you don’t want to read these here is a quick summary of what they say:

·         Early specialization has little to no benefit for elite level athletes

·         Early specialization has shown a substantial increase in the likelihood of injuries happening

·         Early specialization has shown to have a high burn out rate of youth

·         Athletes that play multiple sports seem to excel at the highest levels

We need to start looking at what the research says when it comes to youth sports. Or anything for that matter. People tend to ignore things they don’t want to hear regardless of what the research says. Don’t believe me? Ask Jenny McCarthy about vaccines and Autism (spoiler alert: she’s wrong).

We pride ourselves in taking a scientific approach to our training. This is the reason why we have our athletes OFF the ice until July (and yes, that includes our NHL’ers). This is why we’re not a fan of Spring or Summer hockey. This is why we want kids to play as many sports as possible at a young age.

Here is what we recommend to parents for their son or daughter:

·         Ages 12 and under- Minimum of 3 sports that create a different stimulus for their muscles. Minimum 3 months off completely from each sport.

·         Ages 13-15 - 2-3 different sports. Minimum 3 months off completely from each sport.

·         Ages 16+ - 1-2 different sports. Minimum 2 months off completely from each sport.

These are just our recommendations and DO NOT include skill work. If you play hockey and want to work on your shooting and/or stickhandling (without skating), go for it. If you play basketball and want to shoot free-throws (without sprinting and jumping all day), go hard.

If something hurts, you’re either doing it wrong or doing too much of it.

We wholeheartedly believe in putting the athlete first. This philosophy has undoubtedly lost us some business. Parents and kids don’t like to be told they shouldn’t play one sport all year round. Allowing their body to fully recover, getting them stronger, and teaching them to move better will somehow put them behind the development of other players. Go figure.

Society is telling us that more is always better. Funny how society seems to get it wrong a lot of the time (i.e. detox diets, juice cleanses, toning, women who lift weights will turn into the Hulk’s twin sister…I could go on for days, as most of you probably know) So with regards to youth athlete development, research and science are telling us that this more=better mindset needs to be changed.

Choose whatever side you want, but just make sure you understand the ‘cost of doing business’ if you choose the former. And realize that cost may be your athletic career.

 

[i] Myer, G.D, Jayanthi, N. (2015). Sport Specialization, Part I: Does Early Sports Specialization Increase Negative Outcomes and Reduce the Opportunity for Success in Young Athletes? Sports Health 437-42

 

[ii] Feeley, B.T (2016). When is it Too Early For Single Sport Specialization? Am J Sports Med 234-41

 

[iii] Nyland, J (2014). Coming to Terms with Early Sports Specialization and Athletic Injuries. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 389-90

 

[iv] Hall, R (2015). Sport specialization's association with an increased risk of developing anterior knee pain in adolescent female athletes. J Sport Rehabil 31-35

 

[v] Jayanthi, N (2013). Sports specialization in young athletes: evidence-based recommendations. Sports Health 251-57

 

[vi] Malina, RM (2010). Early Sport Specialization: Roots, , Effectiveness, Risk. Curr Sports Med Rep 364-71

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4 Myths That Need to Stop- Part 2

In Part 1 of this series Batman destroyed the myth that 12-20 reps is how you tone a muscle. It is my understanding that since the post went viral The Toner can’t even get a job as head of security for Tracy Anderson. If you understand that joke we just became best friends. Cue the scene from “Step Brothers.” I also went over and referenced an article by Mike Robertson debunking the myth that high intensity interval training is all you need to do. If you haven’t read part 1, it’s pretty awesome (http://www.jbperformancetraining.com/blog/2014/11/18/4-myths-that-need-to-stop-part-1). Part 2 is dedicated to dissecting the concept of ‘muscle confusion’ and dispelling the myth that Pilates and yoga creates long lean muscles.

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4 Myths That Need to Stop- Part 1

One thing I’ve learned is that everyone and their dog is an expert when it comes to fitness. Because of this, the fitness industry is filled with many myths and misconceptions. You and I can disagree on a few things. For example, we can disagree if the squat or deadlift is the king of exercises (I think it depends on the anatomical make-up of a person). What we cannot disagree on is the actual science. Problems happen when a person’s opinion gets in the way of what the science says. This is part 1 of a 2 part series dedicated to debunking a few of the biggest myths that I hear all the time that truly need to stop.

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The Importance of Cross Training

If you’re one of those crazy parents that has your son/daughter playing hockey or any other sport 82 months of the year you’re not going to like this blog post. But please keep reading as maybe this will inform you of the potential harm you may be putting your child in with regards to suffering an overuse (under-recovery as I like to call it) injury.

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The Evolution of a Young Strength Coach

I look back at the programs I made 5-7 years ago and cringe. That type of cringe you get when your teacher drags her fingernails across a chalkboard. I was young, inexperienced (dumb), and just starting my last year of University. I was a terrible trainer. My main goal was to make my clients as tired as possible in each workout. If they weren’t dripping with sweat the session wasn’t good enough in my mind. I had no structure within my programs and would usually use the same workout with multiple clients that worked out that day.

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