Building Good Movement - Part 1

Performance training is about building movements, not muscles.  By focusing on good movement, you will develop the muscles necessary to stabilize, mobilize, and create power.  However, developing muscles individually doesn't always translate to good movement.  This is a fundamental principal in training athletes and preparing them for the field.  There are no barbells or dumbbells on the field, only space.  Gains in the weight room are great but only if it translates to the field.  

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Quality & Quantity.  Traditional training programs only measure movement quantity.  How much weight, how many reps, how far, how fast, how high, etc.  All of these things are surely important.  Equally important is the quality of those reps and the quality of the movement itself.  How well can you squat? How well can you hold your posture? Both quality and quantity are important when training an athlete, one without the other is a disaster.  An athlete with an enormous amount of strength but horrible flexibility and mobility is at a risk of injury.  On the other hand, an extremely flexible athlete, who always moves with great balance but can't produce force quickly enough to meet the demands of competition, is also at a risk of injury.  Both are needed.

2. Saggital, Frontal, and Transverse Planes. Many programs only train muscles to go forward/back or up/down.  Think of your traditional exercises like pushups, pull-ups, squat, and deadlift.  All are in the saggital plane where the body only moves forward/back or up/down.  Building an athlete means that we have to build movement all 3 planes of motion.  Training solely in the saggital plane is outdated.  Even vacuum cleaners can move and turn now!!  Exercises must be done in the frontal plane(lateral movements) and transverse plane (rotational movements) to prepare an athlete.

3. The Movement Matrix.  Break down all movements into an upper push, an upper pull, a hip dominant move, a knee dominant move, or some combination of the 4.  Break down load into two categories: vertical and horizontal.  Break the move down even further into 1 or 2 limbs.  The movement matrix should look like this.  

Choosing A Trainer

We are 3 weeks into the new year, and right about now, people are starting to realize that their fitness goals may need some adjusting.  They are also starting to realize they may need some help.  Its been proven that people who exercise with a personal trainer yield better results than those who exercise on their own, even if the frequency of workouts is the same.  Here is a link from the NIH..

So what makes the difference?  We like to use the T.E.A.M. approach

Teach. Evaluate. Accountability. Motivation

Teach. So many people don't reach their goals simply because they don't know what do.  In this case, one of two things usually happen.  1.  The person will waste their time doing exercises that are ineffective or 2. The person will hurt themselves.  A trainer can help teach you the proper exercises and the appropriate intensity to help you achieve your goals without an injury.

Evaluate. A great personal trainer will evaluate everything, your movements, your goals, your progress, etc.  By evaluating your movements, a personal trainer can identify issues such as balance, mobility, and stability, and come up with a program that will address those needs while keeping you away from exercises with a high potential for injury.  After the initial assessment, a good trainer will continue to evaluate your progress to determine the next appropriate step. 

Accountability. This is probably the most powerful part of hiring a trainer.  It helps make fitness a priority on your schedule, something that you absolutely cannot skip, similar to a doctor's appointment or a big meeting for work.  Its easy to cancel a workout for happy hour with a few friends, but if you know you need to be there for a session you paid for, you are less likely to skip. 

Motivation. People have different goals for different reasons. The goal is not to lose weight and get tone.  That describes "what" you want.  A good trainer will understand "how" to achieve those goals.  A great trainer understands "why" you want to achieve those goals.  Do you have a wedding coming up? A beach vacation? Are you training for a sport or sporting event? Or maybe you just want to feel better about yourself.   

Now that we've gone over some of the reasons to invest in a personal trainer, let's talk about how to find a good one.   Just like in any other industry, the good trainers are many times competing against the bad trainers or the idea of a bad trainer.  You don't want to invest your time and money with someone who doesn't understand you.  

Things to look for..

1. Certification - some of the top certifications include NSCA, ACSM and NASM.  There are some other decent ones out there but these three are universally recognized.  Most good trainers will have multiple certifications.  Stay away: from in-house certifications or programs that are cookie cutter.  These programs and these trainers tend to make the workouts more about them and less about you.  Crossfit would be a prime example of this.  I know a few CFL1 who are great.  They run an awesome program and usually have the education background to accompany CFL1 with proper progressions and regressions.  The problem is these trainers are the exception and not the rule.  I know far too many CFL1 trainers who are horrible.  In their minds, if you can't do something, that's you're fault, and they have no idea how to fix it.  Find someone that can address your needs exactly. 

2. Testimonials - look for a trainer with a wide variety of clients.  Chances are they will have the knowledge to address your needs.  Stay away: from the trainer who looks like the hulk, and all of his clients look like the hulk.  Chances are he may not care about your needs, unless of course you want to look like the hulk. 

3. Facility - you want to find an environment where you will be comfortable.  It could be a traditional health club setting or maybe performance setting with field turf and the sound of bumper plates.  For some, that's extra motivating but for others that can be very intimidating.  Stay away: from facilities or programs that are built around one modality.  If the only thing in the building is a barbell, chances are you will be using a barbell whether its good for you or not.  This goes for anything...TRX, Kettlbells, Reformers, etc.  I love all of these components as a part of a complete program.  They are all versatile tools.  But it doesn't matter how versatile the tool is, its still only one tool.  If you're trying to build a house, you would hire a master carpenter, not someone who is extremely good at hammering nails. 



Coaching Progressions

  1. Technique
  2. Tempo
  3. Force/Load
  4. Velocity/Gamespeed

These are 4 coaching progressions that I learned during a seminar with Keiser Performance.  At TeamEP, we have adopted this method as a way to coach all of our athletes, beginner and advanced.  Coaching a skill or a movement in this order is a great way to teach, introduce and reinforce proper movement mechanics and ultimately get great results.   It can be applied to movement mechanics like acceleration, shuffle cutting, or crossover step, and can even be applied to traditional strength moves like squat.  In this video, you will see 3 basic drills that we use to teach linear acceleration.  

1. Technique - Wall Drill

We use this drill to teach and reinforce proper posture, triple flexion, and triple extension, during a forward lean.  So much of speed is about minimizing deceleration forces and inefficient movement.  Teaching an athlete how to hold the desired position is an effective way of programming it into the brain.  If an athlete can't achieve this isometrically, they surely can't do it dynamically.  

2. Tempo - Wall Drill March

There are many different variations to this drill.  The main idea is to add movement to the lower half of the body, while maintaining stability in the upper half.  This is how we look at core strength.  Abs have everything to do with how well we can develop speed but so many people correlate core exercises with crunches and sit-ups.  An athlete has to have the ability to resist flexion and extension in the spine while forcefully creating flexion and extension thru the hips.  Start off with a slow tempo and increase from there, keeping an eye on the technique.

3. Force/Load

Again, there are many different ways to load this particular movement. In the video, you will see a resisted march using a harness and manual resistance from a partner.  Some other variations including skipping, bounding, sprinting, sled pushes, etc.  For a competitive person like Lorenzo, this particular drill is an extremely effective method, allowing his partner to challenge him.  Be careful not to overload this movement. Being stronger at a movement doesn't always mean being faster.  Any type of resisted run should be executed at roughly 90% of top speed.  Anything less than that means the load is too heavy.  

4. Velocity/Gamespeed

This is where the real fun begins.  Remove all the harnesses, literally and figuratively, and allow the athletes to execute the skill in a game like setting.   This will help them connect a simple drill with real situations, giving validity to the entire process.    


Know your Why

Its easy for me to explain "what" I do, and "how" I do it.  I am a performance coach.  I work on speed, agility, quickness, strength, power, etc.  I am able to develop these qualities using a system of loaded movement patterns, corrective exercises to build mobility and stability, and various methods of conditioning to meet the demands of a given sport.  But to explain "why" is what makes me giddy.  I do this because I love it!  I do this because I get to be a part of someone's journey and everything that goes with it, the struggle, the setbacks, the accomplishments, the inspirations.  Below is a text I received from a proud mother.  Its messages like this that help me define the impact I have on someones life.  Its a truly rewarding experience to know that I was able to help build someone's confidence, the belief that they can achieve the goals they've set. That's what TeamEP is all about.  That's why I love going to work.  In the beginning, the mission is to get faster, get stronger, lose weight, etc.  But in the end, I love what I do, because I get to make people feel good about themselves, celebrate their success, inspire them to do the things they thought were impossible, and then watch as they inspire others to do the same.      

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God is good!

First and foremost, I'd like to thank all of those who have helped me along the way.  I've worked hard and I'm confident that I've done everything on my end, but I also realize that I've been blessed with the right opportunities, at the right time, with the right people. 

  1. Family - My wife has supported me since day 1, even when I was leaving a good paying job to pursue a career that had no immediate rewards.  She has been my driving force and my foundation since the day I met her.  She's made countless sacrifices to allow me to go after opportunities such as education workshops, travel training, and there's no way I could have done it without her.  I've also had the support of a great family that encouraged me to go for it and was quick to brag about my success. 
  2.  Sport &Health, Explosive Performance - This team has allowed my to develop and grow as a trainer and as a person.  I've learned a lot of valuable lessons and forged some lasting friendships with people like Kevin Boyle (EP Director), Rhys Gully (Site Director), and many others.  There is a saying .."you are the average of your 5 closest friends".  My friends at EP have made me better and I only hope that I do the same for them. 
  3. The Athletes - many of the athletes could train anywhere in the world and they choose to train with me.  That's an opportunity that I cherish and I thank them for it.  Some of the guys that really helped me get my name out there include Graham Gano, Lorenzo Alexander, and Antwaan Randle El.  They are more than just clients, they've become close friends of mine and I can't thank them enough.  I'd also like to thank the parents who have entrusted me with their children.  As a parent myself, I know what that means.  Thank you to the coaches who have given me the opportunity to work with their teams and become a part their success story.  Thank you to the physical therapists, doctor, chiropractors, etc. who have referred their clients on to me because they know I will take care of them.  Thank you to Ray Wright and Chad Englehart for giving me an opportunity to fulfill my dream of working with The Washington Redskins.  

I am truly humbled by all the blessings that have been given to me.  It has been a truly rewarding experience.