Have you Hit your Threshold??

September 27, 2008

Inspired by Pat McKinney’s lastest post, this post reflects sort of what Pat was talking about from a different point of view.

In his post, Pat mentions how a modern lifestyle can lead to muscle strength imbalances and muscle recruitment issues. Another cause I’d like to add is the training performed by driven yet misguided trainees (where program design and attention to technique is concerned). Ultimately I’ll be looking at what do these issues lead to.

All of us usually start training in our youth with some sort of bodybuilding inspired routine we learned from someone or somewhere. We do so many things wrong or without considering risk/benefit and yet an interesting thing usually happens: nothing!

Underneath the pain-free facade, our bodies are undergoing postural (structural) changes due to that lifestyle of ours, which leads to altered function; we get compensation patterns. Basically due to the muscle imbalances and recruitment deficiencies that develop, muscles that we want to work might not work as well and others have to pick up the slack to get the job done. And we can remain pain-free for some time using these compensation patterns at least until we hit a threshold level at which point the stress on the compensation pattern is too great and something has to give.

The thing with lifting weights and training is, this accelerates the process. We get stronger faster because we are consciously challenging our bodies to lift more weight or go faster each week. As our numbers go up, we are inching closer to our personal threshold level.

Have you hit threshold?

Have you hit threshold?

Now unless one is knowledgeable about training or has a knowledgeable coach, we’re not aware of our compensation patterns until its too late (when pain results from passing your threshold level). At the time of injury, we naturally think it was an acute thing; that the injury resulted from something we did or didn’t do just a moment earlier. However with these non-contact, “reaching threshold” injuries, they are the result of pushing a compensation pattern too far, so to find out the cause of the injury we have to look further back in time or less obviously, at our lifestyle.

As a coach, this was something that would be in my head as I was observing exercise performance. In essence, I was assessing. If a movement pattern didn’t look as I knew it should, where was the error that I needed to correct to keep them healthy and playing. If the athlete already reached threshold for some pattern (ie. they had an overuse injury currently or in the past), what needed to be fixed to get them healthy long-term so they could continue playing/competing.

To conclude, I guess the point of this is we don’t know we’ve hit threshold until its too late. If you have hit threshold, don’t just look at the immediate past for a cause of injury because its rarely that simple. The other 23 hours in a day impact your body more than the 1 hour in a gym, is there a positive impact or a negative one?



Learning from Experience

September 25, 2008

Being a naturally introverted and good looking man, it has never been very difficult for me to reflect on my exeriences. Howeevr this summer, I started reflecting a lot more frequently…every day I was at the gym for sure, so after working in the gym I’d take the train home and this would give me the perfect opportunity to reflect on my day. I’d go over what I thought I did well, what I could have done a better job of and how, and what I learned.

As the summer went on, I realized that not only was I learning things that I needed to do to be a good coach, trainer, etc, but also things that I would do differently from the scenario that I learned from. That actually seems like an awkward way to describe it.

This point of experience teaching me something I don’t like or don’t want to do has become really clear regarding one of my classes this semester. Its an entrepreurship course, and it is beneficial in the sense that I will leave the course with a greater business sense, but also in that general entrepreneurship and financially assessing opportunities aren’t things that excite me. My entrepreneurial goals are more about the specific technical work I do than about just being an entrepreneur without a technical allegiance.


As many of you that follow sports have probably heard already, last night was the last game held in Yankee Stadium. Watching it on tv, it seemed that the pregame and postgame celebrations as well as having some of the Yankee legends chat with the play-by-play guys really captured the atmosphere that made that stadium synonymous with baseball.

Those that have known me since before I really got into this coaching/training thing know that my first love is baseball and that its been that way since I was 7 years old or so. For the lognest time, thats all I wanted to do when I grew up, and my involvement in baseball lead me to the training and coaching that I do now. I guess its the typical retired athlete staying in sport in some capacity.

Anyways back to last night. To think of all the history and all the great players that have gone through Yankee Stadium, it really will be missed. Howeevr across the street they have the new Yankee Stadium which will have that Yankee mystique move in with the team next season. Undoubtedly, the Yanks will be adding to their history in the new ballpark soon enough…after the Jays finally win another World Series of course!!! (Go Jays)

Its funny, after the last out of big games I always get the feeling of “Now what?” because up until then there was always another pitch, then it starts to sink in that baseball at Yankee Stadium is actually finished…

What’s Going on right now

September 17, 2008

So I just got internet hooked up at my house here at school, which means more frequently updated blog posts amongst other things. However I think for the immediate future I will be writing about things a little differently than I did during the summer:

– Working at SST in the summer gave me that real world application/trial and error experience for which I could formulate blog posts based on something I had learned during the day or week.

– Right now most of my education as it concerns coaching and training is coming from what I read and my own training. I’m still learning via these media however I feel that I learn best by doing something and either succeeding or failing. I don’t want to just be an “internet expert” on coaching so I will keep the vast majority of my posts to areas in which I’m actively involved in the learning process.

As for other updates:

– My nutritional habits have still remained pretty solid as I outlined them in this post…still room for improvement though. Also I think not having a scale in the house here is going to be a positive as I keep striving towards my goal of gaining muscle. I just tend to get very numbers-oriented when I weigh myself, and this can affect my day nutritionally.

– Yesterday I tweaked my back in training. As far as dumb injuries of the day go, this ranks up there. I tweaked it lowering the bar (I was do shrugs) to the floor. Just another reminder to clean up my hip issues, it would be smart of me to listen to this “reminder”

– Speaking of hip issues and low back pain, I’ve recently started incorporating glute activation almost daily and have really noticed that when I do the exercises on my left leg/hip, I don’t feel my glutes activating. Even when concentrating on using the glute to extend this is the case. I’m not sure of easier progressions than the prone hip extensions so I’m in the middle of some experimentation with that.

– Finally being back at university allows me to see no shortage of people do long slow cardio, one method of which is running. Being the observational person that I am, I often look at their posture when they are running. What I see is a lot of less than perfect posture: forward lean/no hip extension, sitting back/also no hip extension, and some people just don’t look like they’re running. Now its great that they’re being active but if you can’t hold proper posture or form is it a smart thing to do?? Its 6:55 pm and I could go on all night about this topic, but for all our sakes I’ll leave it at that.


Our Basement “Gym”

September 9, 2008

One of the things I’m doing this year back at school is NOT training at the university gym. Instead, I am working out with friends at their basement “gym” with whom I live conveniently nearby (right across the street = score for me)

Now it might be an understatement that our gym isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing or filled with all the equipment one could ever need, however already I’ve been able to have a couple quality training sessions there.

We are limited to 300 pounds of cement-filled plates, dumbbell sets of 25-40 pounds, as well as single DB’s below 25 pounds. We have a chin-up bar…with a brand new dip belt, and an ab wheel which pretty much ends our list of equipment.

Just enough equipment though to create some great workouts!

Also with a little creativity, we are able to come up with less conventional uses for our equipment. Such as using rope attached to our chin-up bar to do inverted rows, triceps extensions, rear delt raises, etc.

Here’s what I did in my lower body session about half an hour ago:

A1) Ab Wheel Rollouts 4×15 reps

A2) Barbell Deadlifts amap (as many sets a possible) x 5reps…basically working up to a heavy set of 5 reps. This ended up being 4 sets…probably should have been more though…

B1) Towel Leg Curls 3 x 12 reps…I should get a camera and film these. They are much harder than they look! A little creativity went a long way here.

B2) Single leg squats 3 x 8-10 reps per leg to a lifting bench.

B3) Romanian Deadlifts 3 x 6 reps

To put it both bluntly and in bad grammar: It don’t need to be fancy! Training results aren’t all about the equipment you have or don’t have access to.


So the posts have been pretty non-existent since last weekend, and hopefully not much longer. I am still in the process of getting my internet (along with cable and phone) at my new house here at school. I guess this makes this more of an update than an actual blog post.