Monthly Archives: February 2018
Day in and day out you see golfers in the gym doing “golf” exercises. You’ll see them at the cable machines performing their golf swings with resistance or dumbbells and even standing on a medicine ball to improve their balance. Are they accomplishing anything? Probably not. Last thing, we want to do in any sport, is train for our sport with our sport’s movement pattern in order to improve our balance. We need to fix movement patterns, compensations and strength as a whole. With all that being said, what is the best way to train as a golfer? There are four guidelines that I feel every golf training program should be centered around. They are:
1. Don’t Skip Leg Day
We have all heard this before, but for golfers it’s extremely important. The glutes are the “King” of the golf swing, and because of this, we need to make sure they can handle the stresses of the game. It is also important we train our legs to protect our back and train the “hinge” pattern, which we use in every swing.
2. More Pulls, Less Push
You don’t need a big bench and chest to be a great golfer. What you do need is a strong back and posterior chain. I always like to recommend doing two pulling motions for every push motion you do.
3. Train Anti-Rotation for Rotation
The best way to train rotation is to resist rotation. As many in the golf industry say, you need to earn the right to rotate. This will help us eliminate improper movement patterns and compensations that can lead to injury. I always like to tell my athletes, the more weight you can prevent from rotating, the more weight you are transferring when you rotate.
4. Train Unilaterally
Unilateral movements are key when training for golf. They help in fixing muscle imbalances, improper movement patterns, and injury prevention. My advice when training unilaterally is to find your weaknesses on each side and to start with the weaker side when preforming the exercises. Why is this? The body tends to cheat and compensate, so this allows us to limit that from happening.
There are many ways out there to train. Whatever you do, I suggest you stick to following these four effective and simple guidelines when creating your next golf fitness routine!
Training is feeling pretty good. You are probably blowing through the build up weeks and hitting your rep ranges. Maybe your AMRAP sets are predicting you at a pretty good 1RM in the future. Sure would be a shame if something…came up…and ruined it.
But hey: that would never happen to you. If you are remotely serious about your training, you have probably dumped your significant other, sold all your belonging and resolved all your debt, quit school, and have taken to Uber driving for your income. You have probably even moved into a solid two bedroom apartment next to the gym with three of your other friends. You are an iron sport athlete, by god, and nothing will get in your way of some big three digit deadlift.
Here comes the bad news: the reality is that almost never are the above outlined steps actually as beneficial to lifting as you might think. In fact, the number one cause of derailment comes out of pure ego: the random max out. If you are feeling a little targeted, its likely because you have randomly decided to max out off program. ITS OKAY. I’m not screaming at you or trying to boss you around, but I do want to outline why this isn’t in your best interest over the long term.
From the coaches corner: Every single individual athlete I have worked with has had some goal in mind that they have hired me for. From the very beginning, I draft out what I think their training should be comprised of based on their current abilities and what I need their future abilities to be in order to deem our joint efforts as a success. From there, I pull from a number of factors. The MAIN principles I take into consideration are recovery times, adaptation times, and deterioration times of skills and fitness capabilities. My absolute main objective is to ensure you are training the right way at the right time.
One very foundational principle that we work from is the supercompensation model. New levels of strength, endurance, or general fitness are not obtained in the act of completely smashing yourself into the ground, but rather from applying an appropriate stimulus and then recovering, supercompensating, and adapting. Then we repeat the cycle. Adaptation times can vary: a 1RM deadlift may take 2 weeks to recover from whereas rep work may take 5-6 days. Unweighted dynamic work may be safe to do daily and some skill development is never done to full fatigue, so can be practiced with some frequency. A lot of the specific time frames are impacted by external factors such as age, training age, nutrition, PEDs, cumulative stress, sleep, etc etc. However, generally, we have a few guidelines to go by. I believe most coaches err on the side of caution when it comes to programming recovery.
In a perfect world, the supercompensation curve looks like this:I scribbled this on the white board about 3 minutes ago, so let me explain what is going on here. At the far left side of the diagram, you have your base fitness level, which is what you might consider your starting point. Once a stimulus is applied (lets use a heavy deadlift day as our stimulus example), you see a depression in your fitness level as the recovery process takes place. As mentioned earlier, a heavy deadlift day may take up to two weeks to recover from. When you are on the upswing, you will likely undergo the supercompensation phenomenon, which results in a higher fitness level than prior to the stimulus assuming adequate recovery.
When you jump the gun and decide you need to ad-lib your training to include more frequent max effort lifts, your compensation model may look something like this:So…the same processes take place here, you are just bumping the time frame in which they occur. You have your base level of fitness and the natural depression in abilities that occurs when the recovery process takes place after your heavy deadlifts. However, lets assume this time, you are hitting some dynamic or rep deadlifts, and you are feeling great so you take yet another heavy single. Now, the trench of accumulating fitness continues its downward spiral and the supercompensation we are looking for never has time to take place. You may be able to amp yourself into a PR this time, and maybe the next time, but eventually you will detrain. Additionally, the recovery time frames become completely skewed as the cumulative stress of all this willy-nilly deadlifting never allows you to give from a full cup. Now, a common scenario that I have seen play out is that the athlete will hit these PRs in the gym a few weeks out from their meet and be in a total slump for the actual event their were targeting. There is nothing worse than jumping into a meet and hitting a total that is far less than what you would have been capable of by training intelligently.
OH WAIT, THERE IS SOMETHING WORSE: injury. When you are so far outside the norm of your normal recovery times, its easy to underestimate the impact lifting can do to your body. This breeds a beautiful environment for overexertion, compensating, and breaking down. Now, the odds are that you are a humble and perceptive lifter. I believe you are if you say you are. But I will also tell you that many are not and the ability to walk away from a barbell that is inside your realm of strength generally is a hard pill to swallow.
So what is the answer? Well, it would seem to me that the safest way to prepare for a big lift is to just stick to the plan, and troubleshoot afterwards. This allows at least a solid perch to evaluate from. If you are going to commit to dumping your girlfriend, quitting your job, and ubering around the city in pursuit of the gym goals, apply the same commitment to your program.
The most important place to begin in CrossFit (or any weightlifting sport for that matter) is with proper mechanics. Mechanics refers to the ability to move properly through core movements. This includes moving your body and external objects in the most efficient, effective, and safest manner possible. In simple terms, you must learn proper form first. Taking the time to learn proper movement mechanics will allow for the proper longterm development as a CrossFitter.
Even though CrossFit doesn’t recognize mobility in its 3 part start up definition, it certainly has its place. Consider this, if your shoulders can’t extend to create a locked out position in an overhead press, or if your ankles are consistently a problem when you squat, your body will adapt to those imbalances and create new movement patterns that work around your immobility, this alone will set your body up for an injury.
Consistency has a two fold meaning or ‘application’.
1) You must be consistent in performing the proper mechanics of a movement; and
2) You must be consistent in your workouts.
Both are necessary! If you are only attending classes once or twice per week, you are not going to get the consistent practice you need that is required for your body to develop proper movement patterns.
If you are failing in one or the other of these, chances are you will be setting yourself up for injury.
Once you’ve developed proper movement mechanics and your body has developed the consistent motor patterns to sustain those mechanics, it is only then that we can add in intensity.
Merriam Webster defines Intensity as extreme degree of strength, force, energy, or feeling. For our discussion of CrossFit intensity, this is a relatable definition. However, keep in mind that intensity is relative to our physical and psychological tolerances.
Combining All Four
Proper mechanics is the safest way to train and solid technique is the most efficient and effective road to fitness. Proper movements allow you to lift more weight, perform more repetitions faster, or both. More work in less time means higher average power (force x distance / time = power). Higher average power means higher intensity. Higher intensity means better results.
Proper mechanics are the ideal supports for the bridge to fitness. Without them, your structure is unsupported.
Excerpts taken from CF Journal.
This article was inspired by a sermon by Jason Cook of Fellowship Memphis on February 4th. I’m writing this article for myself to remember, some of you may enjoy it as well.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Bible offers great lessons about how we should live our lives. Stories from the Old Testament provide many examples of people who lived correctly and earned God’s favor and those who did not. The story of King David is the archetype story of how a man should live. David is considered to be “a man of God’s own heart”, he is a leader who is revered by his people, and he is a skilled musician, poet, wise counselor, and a great warrior. He is not without his sin and flaws but when he does sin, he confesses and asks for forgiveness. The story of David starts with humble beginnings with him being the youngest son of Jesse who spent his days shepherding sheep where he protected them from beasts using a sling. He gains favor with the King of Israel through his skills of playing the lyre and becomes an armor bearer for the king. During a battle with the Philistines, a giant by the name of Goliath challenges the Israelites to send out a representative to fight him in single combat. All of the Israelite soldiers were too scared to volunteer. David shows up to bring provisions to the soldiers and volunteers himself to take on Goliath. David refuses any armor and instead faces Goliath with a sling and some creek pebbles, the same weapon he used to fight off the lions and bears that tried to attack his sheep. David then defeats the giant by hitting him in the forehead with a stone from his sling. David goes on to become King of Israel for forty years and his story lives on today. There are many lessons that we can learn from this story. In this article I will focus on two and show how they can be applied to fitness.
Focusing On Outer Appearances Will Leave You Vulnerable
Throughout the Old Testament, people are constantly getting their priorities mixed up. In the story of David, their are several instances in which the people focus too much on outward appearances and not enough on the character of a person. The first example is when the people of Israel appoint Saul to be king “There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulder upward he was taller than any of the people.” While Saul looked the part, he turned out to be a terrible person and a terrible leader. The second example is when Samuel was looking for the next king amongst the sons of Jesse. Jesse doesn’t even consider bringing David in front of Samuel because he is the youngest son and just a shepherd. Samuel looks at the other sons trying to choose one by their outward appearances and the Lord says, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature…man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Finally, during battle with the Philistines, everyone fears Goliath because he is a giant. They fear the outward appearance of Goliath but no one fears David, yet he is the only one brave enough to face the giant and prevail.
As fit people, we would look at Saul and Goliath and say “that’s who I want to be.” Their outward appearance brings them attention and recognition. But with this attention comes pride and pride makes us vulnerable. Goliath had too much pride to acknowledge David as a threat and ended up losing his head because of it. Unfortunately the fitness industry is built off of outer appearances but we can still keep ourselves from becoming too self absorbed. One way would be through our social media. Questioning the underlying reason for why we are posting something will at least make us look inward. I’m not against posting progress pics and training vids but I do think it is unhealthy to post based off a need for validation. If we become addicted to the emotional response we get when someone likes or comments on our post, we are making ourselves vulnerable. What happens when the platform we’ve built ourselves up on crumbles? What happens when our self worth is wrapped up in our performance, or our appearance, or how others perceive us. Training should be a pursuit of self improvement. Likewise, when we choose people to look up to, people to learn from, and people to coach us, we should look beyond their outer appearance. When given the choice between David and Goliath, everyone would choose Goliath as their inspiration and/or their coach. He’s big, he’s strong, and he loves to show it off. His instagram would be filled with videos of him hitting PR’s and pictures of him flexing in the mirror. But an ego makes a coach, and athletes, very vulnerable. A coach must put the client’s needs and success first and likewise a client must be willing to do what the coach says and give credit for their successes. Pride makes this difficult and sets both up to fail.
Courage Through Repetition
When the rest of the Israelite army is afraid of facing Goliath, David volunteers. Why would all the soldiers of an army cower while a young boy who had never been in battle rises up? David had courage because it was not his first time facing this type of adversary. He had spent many years protecting his flock of sheep from lions and bears. How many hours had David spent practicing with his sling before that moment? How many times did David place a rock in his sling and throw it at a tree trunk in practice? The reason for David’s courage was his repetition before hand. Likewise, as lifters we practice our lifts thousands of time before we step on a platform, we practice our poses thousands of time before we step on stage. We practice so that when the moment comes, we are ready. This has much broader applications as well. We save money so that we have the courage to face difficult times or the courage to face someone in need. We practice self defense so that we have the courage to face an attacker. We build up our fitness so that we have the courage to take on the stresses and opportunities of life. Sometimes this repetition can seem mundane. Maybe the warm up drills seem boring, maybe the recover work isn’t very exciting, maybe the mobility work isn’t as much fun as pulling the PR but doing these small things consistently is what will set us up for success while others fall apart. The athlete, the coach, the employee, the boss who is willing to do the seemingly mundane tasks over and over again is the one who will have the courage to take on the giant when the time comes. More over, this builds character. If we think too highly of ourselves, if we think we deserve only the highest of praises, only the best opportunities, if we are unwilling to do the small things because we think they are beneath us, we will fail.
I’ve definitely been guilty of trying to be more like Goliath and Saul than like David in both my ideals of being a man, being a leader, and being in the fitness industry. I appreciate this story as it gives a clear picture of what those ideals should be and a clear path on how to reach them.
A year and a half ago, I took my NBS training partners up to EliteFTS. It was the start of our peak phase for an NBS fitness meet in November 2016. While we were hoping to get in some quality training, we ended up mainly getting torn apart by Dave Tate and some of the other athletes. There are several videos of this that made the cut on the EliteFTS site, by the way. What you’ll see is Dave tearing everyone apart one by one through squat and deadlift. It was very humbling and educational for everyone present. After having a good amount of new cues on squat, I needed to make even more room in my brain for corrections on deadlift. This really caught me off guard since I thought my deadlift was in a good place.
Once upon a time my deadlift was decent for my weight class and I was on the verge of pulling 700 in a competition. Even then there where many areas that were stopping me from accomplishing this goal. My setup was killing me and no one saw it until Dave watched a pull that was roughly 85-90% of my max. Normally my setup had a two part hand placement: I would reach down and take my under-hand grip first and then pull myself down to the bar for my over-hand grip to reach its position. This was my setup for years and Dave thought it was causing me to rotate while pulling, which was happening quite a bit.
Quick dissection of this setup and the errors that showed, usually, is the under-grip will cause that side of your body to drop the shoulder down further because it technically has a longer way to go getting your hand “under” the bar. To allow this, your scapula will shift to allow that extra distance. Unfortunately, when I was reaching over for my overhand grip, I was not needing as much range of motion to grab onto of the bar. Because of this, my scapula was able to stay more “retracted” than my underhand grip. So, what we have is a solid setup but my shoulders are at two different heights, meaning my back is not evenly bearing this load.
To combat this issue Dave suggested a three point grip setup. It would look something like this: While going down to grab the bar, look for the middle of the bar with your overhand first. Pull some slack out which will contract the lat and lock the scapula. Following this, take your underhand grip and lock it in. So now we have our under grip locked in and over grip in the middle of the bar still with some tension on it. We then slide our over grip hand outward quickly allowing it to take position and prepare to pull.
So that’s the simple fix. Turn your two part grip setup on deadlift to a three part setup to keep a more symmetrical position of the scapula. It will be odd at first but I guarantee you it will help greatly decrease, if not eliminate, and twisting you have started to do while pulling heavy deadlifts. I have had success coaching this to several clients alleviating this issue. Give it a shot and let me know how it works!