Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Do You Need Direct Core Training?

Expert marketers have long known that two things sell better than most anything else: sex and absolutisms. Unfortunately, dear reader, this blog post isn't either of those. As polarizing and juicy as it would be to write about how you should "NEVER do crunches again" or "the one core exercise EVERYONE should be doing," none of that stuff is true.

The only way to answer the question of whether YOU need direct core training is to identify who "you" are.

Before we do that, though, let's get on the same page about what I mean by the core and direct core training:
  • The core: the anatomical region comprised of the torso, pelvis, and hips, including the abs, obliques, spinal erectors, glutes, hip flexors, hip adductors, transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, etc. As the link between the lower and upper extremities, the role of the core is to transfer, generate, and absorb force between the upper and lower body.

  • Direct core training: any exercise for which the primary purpose is to train the core muscles to improve their size, strength, endurance, or control. Direct core training can come in many forms, from positional breathing to static exercises to dynamic ones, either where the limbs are moving around a stable trunk or the trunk itself is moving. (I'll give a few specific examples of each shortly.)

Now back to the who-are-you question. To aid introspection, here's a smattering of things you should ask yourself to guide your direct core training decision:
  • Are you a competitive athlete? A weekend warrior? A couch potato?
  • Do you want to lose weight? Get stronger? Reduce your risk of injury? Get on stage for a bodybuilding show?
  • Do you already have a strong midsection, or is it your weak link?
  • What types of exercises are you already doing, if any?
  • Do you enjoy direct core training?

In relation to those questions, let's consider some conditions under which you could benefit from direct core training:

Monday, July 9, 2018

How to Design a Workout Program [Free Webinar]

A few months ago, I was asked to deliver the exercise prescription lecture for the 2nd year Doctor of Physical Therapy students at my university.

In preparation for the talk, I spent a good chunk of time reflecting on my own process for designing training programs versus what the textbooks recommend.

I knew this would be one of the students’ only exposures to the topic. So I wanted to pass on as much essential information as I could in the hour and change I had with the students.

The lecture was a hit, so I decided to make a recorded version of it so more people could benefit. Here it is in all its glory. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Monday, May 21, 2018

How to Train More Without Getting Hurt [SimpliFaster]

Training for peak performance is tricky business. Push too hard, and you get hurt. Don’t push hard enough, and you still get hurt (from being unprepared for the rigors of competition).

Luckily, there’s a new way to measure how hard you’re working. And amazingly, the research shows it actually protects against injury. That’s right: sports scientists have finally figured out How to Train More Without Getting Hurt.

I break down all the latest research -- and show how to implement it -- in my brand new article for SimpliFaster:

Monday, May 14, 2018

5 Ridiculous Claims About the FMS

Let me start by saying I’m actually a proponent of movement screening. I even recommend the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) for new personal trainers.

But that doesn’t mean the FMS is blameless -- far from it. When it comes to marketing their product, they put the cart before the horse. They sold certifications and made claims about the screen before they had any evidence to back them up. That’s not good science, and for this people have a right to be peeved.

A new Facebook video by Dr. Greg Rose of Functional Movement Systems (watch it here) is yet another great example of why people get so frustrated with the FMS. Let’s break it down point-by-point, shall we?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Are There Good and Bad Exercises? [Lift the Bar Podcast]

Three years ago, I almost quit school for good. I’d become disillusioned with biomechanics and academia in general. Hardly anyone in my master’s program was talking about the topics I was interested in — athletes and sports science — and it seemed like all the research dollars were going towards geriatrics and disease.

As I took some time off from school to reflect on my career trajectory, my path slowly started to take shape. I realized my true passion was bridging the gaps between training and rehabilitation as well as research and practice.

It wasn’t long after that I met my current mentors and started my PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences — a subject area ideally suited for my aptitudes and interests. 

In this program, I’m able to do the exact research that gets me excited  research on athletes, pre-participation screening, and injury risk. As clich├ęd as it may sound, it hardly feels like work when you’re doing what you love.

One of the coolest parts of this whole process has been taking what I’m learning in the research and sharing it with people in the field who can use it and apply it in their daily work. That’s what it’s all about.

So when Stuart Aitken, host of Lift the Bar podcast, contacted me recently to appear on the podcast and talk about this stuff, I was tickled. Moreover, I was blown away by how thoughtful his questions were. It was like he had ESP in terms of asking me about all the topics I’ve been mulling over for the last couple of years.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Does It Matter If You Can Deep Squat?

A friend asked me an excellent question last night:

“How do you feel about the deep squat as a movement screen and the information you get from it?”

I’ve actually been preparing a talk on movement screening for the upcoming Inland Empire Fitness Conference (April 7, 2018, in Spokane, Washington). So I’ve been thinking a lot about the deep squat (among other movements). As a result, I went a little buckwild with my answer to his question. Here’s what I told him…