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Peak Performance, Less is More, and the true value of learning

On the weekly insistence of a friend and colleague, for like the last million weeks, I finally got myself a copy of Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.  But, being the eternally busy and distracted person I am, I never had a chance to sit down and read it while also being awake and intellectually curious.  Yesterday, however, I did the most brilliant thing:  I downloaded the audio book.

Now, if you don't know who Steve Magness is, let me sum it up in a few sentences:  Steve Magness is to physical training what Carl Sagan is to Cosmos.  He understands more about training and performance in all aspects of fitness than most coaches can remember what's in their gym bag.



And, I wasn't disappointed.  This is not a book specifically about running, or strength training, or even playing the violin (although he brings it up), it is about understanding how to optimize performance of the human body through the same principles that work for all learning.  Ie, knowing w…
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Owning Your Success and How Our Team Won the Conference Lacrosse Championship

We often talk about taking charge of our own success when it comes to training and competing in strength sports.  This also applies to team sports, endurance sports, and pretty much any kind of competition you may engage in. 

But, what exactly, does that mean?

As a last minute assistant lacrosse coach this past season, I actually saw this happen in real life at my son's championship lacrosse game.  I've seen this happen in individual sports before and its pretty cool to watch happen, but seeing it happen for a whole team (of middle school boys no less) is pretty spectacular.



So, Tuesday, after winning the first conference playoff, we knew that we were going to have to play the undefeated team in our conference for the championship.  This team had beaten us twice in the regular season and this would be our third chance to turn the tables.  But, we hadn't figured out just how to do that yet.  We knew our players were just as good, just as fit, and just as strong, but we hadn…

How to get started . . . .

I routinely get messages from people who want to be powerlifters, weightlifters, throwers, or other things involving advanced athletics.  If they want to work with me, I always ask them a series of questions revolving around this central concept:  Where are you now?

In other words, what are you currently doing?  Are you strength training?  Training at all?  Playing a sport?  How is your diet?  What are you eating?  When are you eating?  How much time do you have to train?  What is your job?  Are you in school?  What is your stress level?

It is impossible to plot a course if you don't know where you are starting from.

The next thing I do is very clearly tell them what steps we need to take.  There are usually two very basic steps to take and my new client has to be willing to devote a lot of time to both.  These two things are:
1.  Learn and practice the specific skills involved in the sport or activity they want to train for.
2.  Introduce or continue with basic strength training …

Sit up straight!

Remember getting fussed at as a kid for slouching in your chair?  I do.

These days no one seems to remember the importance of good posture.  Until of course the shoulder, back, and neck pain sets in.  I can't tell you how many new clients I get in their 40's and 50's who are in pain and whose main problem is their posture.

Face it, we mostly sit (slouch) in front of desks, in the driver's seat, and on the couch when we get home.  And when we do exercise, especially when doing cardio, our posture is anything but perfect.

Getting stronger helps develop and maintain postural strength.  BUT, in order to keep those improvements, practice is essential.

And I rarely see people get stronger until they improve their posture.  

So, if you are having back, neck, or shoulder pain, take an honest look at your posture.  If its not perfect, work on it when you are walking, standing, sitting, and working out.  Practice makes perfect and in this case, practice can also ease the pain.

Fo…

Sitting by the river . . .

When you are a coach, you have to be a good listener.  And sometimes its for problems not related to squatting or benching.


For that reason I wrote the following quote on the whiteboard today. 

At first glance, it may seem mean-spirited, but it isn't meant to be.

Often when we are being tormented by others (or someone is tormenting a loved one), we feel powerless and confused as to why its happening in the first place.  Its hard to remember to be kind, or at the very least, disengage. 

However, in my experience, toxic people always show their true colors, steam engines run out of steam, and everyone eventually moves on.  Hopefully all to better places, sometimes the tormenters are just forgotten. 

Regardless, we should all think about how we would be remembered from our interactions.  And whether or not someone would like to remember us kindly.  Most of all, I imagine that no one would like to think that someone is downstream waiting for their body to float by.

“Three things in hum…

Its Like Riding a Bike

One of the hardest things to do as a coach is getting your athletes to listen and do what they need to do in order to improve.  Its often not because they are unmotivated, instead, its because they want to be successful as fast as possible.  They want to run faster, lift more, play better, etc., but unfortunately there just aren't any shortcuts.  The one thing that always works whether you are coaching a sport, or weightlifting, or even chess, is practice.  The mind and body need time, a lot of time, to master the mental and physical coordination to function both accurately and consistently.

Often, in the gym, if a new lifter is still having problem with form or weak spots, they will ask me for accessory work to improve the problem.  If I tell them they aren't engaging their lats, they want to do lat pulldowns.  If their grip is failing, they want to do grip work.  If they can't run 3 miles without stopping, they think they need sprint work.


While all accessories and tools…

The Art of Coaching

My youngest son decided sometime in December that he wanted to play lacrosse for his middle school as a sixth grader.  He had no experience, but a lot of enthusiasm so I encouraged him to go for it.  Apparently, a whole bunch of kids had the same idea and so the team basically doubled in size this year.  Unfortunately, the number of available coaches decreased by about half.  And so, as you may have predicted, for the past three weeks, I've been learning how to be an assistant lacrosse coach for the boys middle school team.  I was really just offering to be another warm body on the field and figured at the very least, I could donate my abilities to yell really loud and make kids do pushups and run laps.  I don't really know anything about lacrosse.



But, . . . plot twist.

The head coach is not just a good lacrosse coach, he is a very good people coach.  You can tell this by how he can get a group of 31 middle school boys to settle down and listen to his every word without raisi…