See The Perfect Lift Before It Happens

What’s going on in your head when you train? Not much?

Don’t be so quick to assume that even though there isn’t a conscious thought, or at least one that you can recall, that this means you aren’t thinking about something.

Top 5 Tips to Performing Rollouts Properly

Alright so we’re talking about roll outs.

And while these are a great exercise I see so many people doing them wrong. So I had to write this post to help all those people with great intentions but mis-guided efforts.

What You Might be Doing Wrong with Your Core Training

If there’s one thing most people like about working out it’s core training.

This transcends age, goal, sport, training history, sex and geographic boundaries. Every client I meet with, whether performance or fitness oriented, expresses a stronger core as one of their goals.

Greater Separation for Better Stride,Core & Sports Performance

With some things in life we want to bring things together.

For example, any time there is a special occasion we invite our closest friends and family for a wedding, a reunion or maybe for the big game. (go Canucks go!)

And sometimes too with finances we want to consolidate loans. And we may want to set up joint accounts for a couple. Or we may direct extra funds at one specific source of debt.

In training as well there are times when we want to bring things together.

But this isn’t that time.

Instead I want to talk to you about creating separation and why that’s important.

Reason #1 Separation is ImportantWe Will Have a Better Stride

Imagine kids going outside to play at recess. They bust through the school doors as though they’ve been freed from incarceration. Their arms swing from cheek to check (backside to face) and their little legs reach forward for as much ground as they can pull under themselves.

And if you had to define how they looked it would look:

* fun

* explosive

* free

Contrast this with how many adults look when they step out for a run.

The arm swing is definitely not from cheek to cheek. Usually the arms are folded up at the chest like a T-Rex from Jurassic Park.

And the legs? Well this is minimal separation of the legs going on. And this changes the mechanics of our running stride. And puts more strain on our joints.

What do adults look like when they run?

* tight

* laboured

* pained

Or as Joan Rivers put it:

The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.
– Joan Rivers

Reason #2 Separation is ImportantMore Core Activity

For each of the following pay attention to the activity of your core and abdominals.

Stand with a slumped posture. Now reach your hands up over head. Now reach as high as possible. Now interlock your fingers and press them to the ceiling or sky.

Did you notice that the longer your spine was the more core activation you had?

And a better functioning core allows for better movement, fewer injuries and an easier time performing skilled tasks.

Reason #3 Separation is ImportantImproved Sports Performance

Imagine the reach of your core as being represented by a band around the torso. If you had a weak poor functioning core this might be like a belt around your waist.

Or if you had a strong, stable core this might be represented as a large hula hoop around your waist.

And if you had developed your core in all planes and directions we can think of this as being represented by a large bubble that extends in all directions. (hello Bubble Boy!)

If you train your limbs for great separation you will extend the boundaries of this bubble so that you will be stable in a large sphere around the body.

And this allows you to extend past your opponent and make great game-changing plays.

How to apply this to your training?

Whenever you are doing a unilateral (one limb at a time) drill or exercise look to separate the two limbs as much as possible.

If you are doing a standing alternating row or press with some tubing reach the non-working hand as far as you can away from the working hand.

Or if you are doing step ups on a bench make sure to finish by driving the moving knee as high as possible while pressing the opposite heel hard into the bench.

You get the idea?

Because as we age we tend to lose our range of motion. And we tend to shorten our stride. And the sphere representing our core shrinks back.

Remember this tip during your training to off-set these effects and get the most out of your workouts.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘always moving forward’

5 Rules to Know What Weights to Use

Today was a great morning. Why? Because when I was at the gym for a couple of sessions the gym was hopping.

And I don’t mean the cardio side of the gym which is normally busy but the weight room side. This brings a smile to my face as it makes me feel the message is starting to get out there to the masses that intense resistance-based workouts is the way to go for weight loss, sports performance or general fitness. Period.

While part of the crowd had to do with it being a Monday morning in January it was still encouraging to see a shift in training approaches taking place.

So what about the rest of the people there?

Why are there still so many cardio kings & queens? Well part of it is mis-information and believing that cardio will yield the best return on their investment. But part of it has to do with intimidation. Or not knowing what load to use.

You see many people would rather go to the gym and feel productive by walking/running on the treadmill than to venture over to the weight room side and feel lost.

So how can you feel confident and safe when selecting your weights for your training session? Here are 4 rules.

Rule #1 On Selecting the Correct Weight – Consider the muscles doing the work

If the first thing you can answer is what part of the body you will be working or what movements you will be performing you will do a better job at choosing the correct weight. For examplen if you were performing a squatting exercise you will be able to handle a heavier load than an exercise for the triceps. Duh, right?

You’d be surprised though to see the number of people that use the same dumbbell to squat with and then go straight into a triceps kickback.

Rule #2 On Selecting the Correct Weight – How familiar are you with the exercise?

What is your max bench? Deadlift or Squat? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answers to these. Unfortunately most coaches and trainers wouldn’t be able to answer this either. Sad, but true.

The point is that if you know exactly how much you can handle on a particular exercise then you should be able to train more aggressively and challenge yourself safely. When you’re not as familiar you have to start a little more slowly and figure things out as you go.

***quick aside…the Year Long Training Plan 2.0 has a 1 rep max calculator that walks you through how to figure your max lifts. It also has a template to plug these values into your workout sheets so your loads are already calculated for you.***

Rule #3 On Selecting the Correct Weight – You use a training journal

Do you deadlift? I’ll assume you do. What was the heaviest load you used on your last set? How many reps did you do? How did it feel? How long ago was that?

If you knew the answers to these questions it would be a whole lot easier to figure out how much load to use. Using a training journal, or the YLTP 2.0, ensures that you can track and progress your loads naturally rather than by your best guess.

Rule #4 On Selecting the Correct Weight – Aim to finish strong

When we lift we don’t want every one of our sets to be 100% effort. Intense training doesn’t mean to try and set a personal best every time you touch the bar.

Instead our goal is to warm up adequately and thoroughly enough that we can give our best effort on our last set. Personally if I’m doing 5 sets of an exercise the first three will be submaximal and gradually building. The fourth set will be more intense and challenging but leaving enough to still do better on the last set.

Rule #4 On Selecting the Correct Weight – How it looked & felt

One of the most basic lessons to learn with training is to listen to your body. When it feels good you run with. When it doesn’t you re-check your form. Sometimes you’ll reduce the range of motion and maybe the load.

But what you always want is for your last rep to feel and look as good as the first. Consider the speeed and tempo of the movement. Consider how the load feels on the targeted muscles. If there is a significant change in either of these on the last rep compared to the first you should reduce the load.

Rule #5 On Selecting the Correct Weight – Leave a little in the tank

Training is about stimulating the neuromuscular system to ellicit a response for growth and repair. This allows you to come back stronger the next day. I like to say ‘better to be 7% under your threshold then 1% over’.

There are no bonus points for overdoing it and actually this will set you back more than it will push you forward. And as long as you note in your training journal how the last set felt you’ll know to try a step up next time if it wasn’t enough of a challenge.

Keep these points in mind the next your wondering what weight to use. And you want a done-for-you program that takes the guesswork out of the equation message me about the Year Long Training Program 2.0.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                 ‘always moving forward’

For the Best Fitness Results You Need to Load to Unload

Movement is an interesting thing. In some ways it comes naturally to us. Think of a baby on its back wiggling the arms and legs. Eventually with enough effort and momentum the baby will be able get a leg across the body, rotate the hips and flip onto their stomach.

But what starts out as an inquisitive exploration of our surroundings can lead to many great abilities in sports and performance. As young kids we are fearless and will do and try just about anything to seek a thrill and have fun.

As we get older life gets a little busier and we get a little wiser about the downside of being hell-bent for speed and thrills. Basically all we have to do is experience one injury to curb our thirst for extreme movement and velocity.

But that doesn’t have to mean sport and movement stops all together. In fact it can’t and is essential for our vitality.

So we must find that balance between fearlessly attacking a sport or activity with reckless abandom and taking ourselves ‘out of the game’ completely.

And this balance comes with being able to load and unload the forces we experience with movement. And we do this most effectively when we have neuromuscular efficiency (NE). This basically means we get the right muscles to fire, at the right time and in the right plane.

Unfortunately success in sport is not as simple as simply having NE because we still need to develop the fitness, strength and power of the relevant muscles. Add to that the demands for reading and reacting to an opponent as well as changing environmental conditions and you can quickly appreciate how skilled high level athletes really are.

In order to develop some of the athletic abilities of the pros look to be able to efficiently load and unload the body. If performing a squat for example you would want the energy you produce by being able to lower your body towards the ground to be completely available to return you to the original position.

But this gets a little more involved. You see at every joint there needs to be a particular reaction occuring. At some joints the goal is to stabilize and at others the goal is be able to mobilize and transfer the energy up our down through the kinetic chain.

When you think of an activity such as skiing on every turn there is a need for the foot to stabilize, for the arch to pronate, for the shin to internally rotate, for the knee to flex, for the femur to internally rotate and the hip to flex.

As I come out of the turn all of these actions reverse starting with the arch supinating, the shin externally rotating…all the way up to the hip extending. (since I don’t make the example too long I have left out the actions of the upper body)

So I can make my ability to turn the ski a little more effective if I can visualize my arch collapsing at the start of the turn and restoring the arch at the completion.

Better than that I can lift my pinkie toe of my right foot when turning left as this facilitates pronation and the ignition of the sequence of events described above.

As you continue on with your gym workouts, or if you get up to the hill, make sure to think about how your joints move from the loading through the unloading phase of the movement. This will make the movement more efficient and effective.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘always moving forward’

When ‘Sport-Specific’ Training Isn’t Specific to Sport

Often times when we step foot in the gym it’s with the intent at getting better at something.  Maybe we want to accelerate our fat loss goals (a big one at this time of year). Or maybe we want to improve our joint function and move a little bit better. And then sometimes the goal is to perform better. Specifically with respect to sports.

And this is my passion. Don’t get me wrong it’s very satisfying to hear of someone who’s had shoulder pain for years tell you how they now sleep through the night because digging their elbow into the mattress to turn over doesn’t wake them up anymore. (hello AV!)

Or someone else who tells you how their hip pain has improved enough they can finally make a trip to their home country where there was not an unbandance of modern plumbing and thus had to be able to maintain a static deep squat. (BG will vouch for me on this one!)

And then there has been countless stories of  the many who have lost pounds and inches off their bodies.  How their confidence and energy are at all time highs and life hasn’t been better for them. 

These are all the things that make getting up when it’s still cold and dark out that much easier.

But when it comes to training for performance there’s no comparison. That’s when it gets fun for me.

And here’s the interesting thing.

Sports performance and sports training are completely different.


How can that be?

Wasn’t sports training supposed to be as ‘sports-specific’ as possible? (I put that term in quotes because it can so many different things to do different people)

Actually no.

Sports training is quite distinct from sports performance. And here’s how.

1. Sports performance is on the balls of the feet whereas sports training is on the heels.  Ever watched a player get burned in a game? They refer to that player as being ‘flat footed’. They weren’t in the athletic position of being on the balls of their feet.

Sports training however, especially the ground based movements, involves driving through the heels to complete a movement.  Imagine pulling a bar off the floor for a deadlift. How would this work for you on the balls of the feet? Not very well would it?


2. In sports performance dorsiflexion is vital. In sports training control of dorsiflexion is. Think of a top multi-directional athlete? In order to accelerate and change directions on a dime they need at least 20 degrees of dorsilexion if not more. Contrast this in the weight room where many are quad dominant and will preferentially load their quads as evidenced by the shin driving forward.

3. In sports performance complete exhaustion may occur. In sports training complete exhaustion should not. When you’re playing in a game situation you want to give your all. Leave it all on the field. In training we want to stimulate but not annihilate. In training it’s always better to do 10% too little and come back marginally stronger or fitter than 1% too much and over reach or over train.

4. In sports performance the conditions are chaotic. In sports training the conditions are controlled. I’m sure every athlete out there has played in a game with terrible weather. And every game with an opponent involves reading and reacting to unpredictable situations. In sports training we aim to minimize the potential for injury and control some of the elements that may potentially increase the chance of injury.

There are many more example we could look at from differences in breathing, to control of acute variables, to isolation or compound movements.

The point is that sports training is vastly different from sports performance.

And if you did try and make your sports training match your sports performance you would be:

* sacrificing potential gains on the weight room floor

* develop over use patterns

* increase the potential for injury.

So if sports training if your goal take a look at your program and ask yourself if it is designed to lead to improved performance on the field of play.

Not sure?

Post a comment regarding your program and I’ll advise you.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ‘always moving forward’