How important is your body to you?… Now..How important is being strong to you?…If you are taking the time to read this then I’m assuming both your body’s health and strength are probably a pretty significant aspect in your life. If you are just as passionate about stimulating your body for increased performance and longevity as I am, then you deserve the information on how to maximize your potential. A simple analogy such as “ think of your body as a world class race car” may assist in your athletic development. Understanding how your body’s physiology responds to training is also a prerequisite for steady progress.These concepts will be explained in detail in the following sections and will provide insight on how to make continuous training progress.
Lamborghini Body or Honda Body
Which one would you rather have? Obviously a Lambo right. Well there is a lot you have to invest in order to achieve and maintain this level of athleticism. Your gas and oil (food/supplements/vitamins/hydration) will need to be more intensive thus more expensive than a honda. Your maintenance work (Rest/ flexibility.mobility/strength levels) will be more significant for performance thus more difficult to maintain than a honda. Along with all that, the durability of a lamborghini is dictated on how well you treat it. Meaning, Yes it is a performance car and is designed to be powerful and go fast but you can’t just drive it like you’re in the Indy 500 all the time. You’ll just end up running up the mileage, stressing the engine, and ultimately leading to maintenance issues. You have to learn to put it in cruise control without shifting passed the top gear sometimes. That goes for the body as well.
As much fun as it is to go 100 MPH and bust ass when you train, your body must be previously primed and ready to adapt to the stress you intend to place on it. Basically you must earn the right to train hard. Just like a lamborghini, it better be firing on all cylinders with proper oil, fluids, and up to date on all its parts before entering a street race for pink slips!
As for your body, addressing lagging areas in order to make sure everything is working together is critical for optimal performance. Unfortunately, this process isn’t as easy as simply going to autozone and buying a box of hip mobility or a crate of core strength or even a pack of motor control.
These issues take time to be corrected and must be addressed without the additional stress of stimulus that will hinder progress or exacerbate the issue. For example, if you lack motor control of your lumbar spine, you probably suffer from tight hamstrings due to their efforts to assist in spinal stability. This often displays itself as tight immobile hips and hamstrings when really the culprit is a weak core (transverse abdominus, multifidus, external/internal oblique).
This will hinder your squatting, deadlifting, pressing, and olympic lifting ability. If you keep performing these exercises without taking the time to address your functional issues, not only will those issues worsen, but you will not make any gains on those lifts and are pretty much just stressing your central nervous system and muscular system for nothing. You’re pretty much going nowhere fast. Wouldn’t it be better to go somewhere, even if it is slow? The answer is Abso-freaking-lutely!
Training is a process. There is so much more to your body that you give it credit for. The only way to make sure your body is functioning at its full capability is to train it the way it functions. This is only achieved with a holistic approach that uses subsequent phases that compliment each other. This is also known as periodization. USA weightlifting refers to this term as being
“presented in a cyclical and undulating variation of intensity that is both systematic and progressive. Practice is focused on improved performance—quality over quantity.”
This means true athletic development must address every aspect of human performance through a long term model. This suggests that with the body being a multifaceted organism with hundreds of different processes and functions, training must progressively reflect these components in order to thrive. For instance, your muscles don’t just produce strength and power in a squat, they synergistically absorb, stabilize, and transmit force through a range of motion to move a load a given distance which in turn can grant you strength of the working muscles in that movement.
There are multiple muscles and joints working together in a squat, however each of them have their own job to do. If one of them lacks in doing their job, the entire chain is compromised. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link”. A more applicable example is that if you lack knee stability (balance), your body will find some way to generate stability which in turn manifests itself as tight, immobile ankles/feet and hips (the adjacent joints).
With the exception of some cases, this may cause your squat or deadlift to turn into some kind of loaded stripper pole dance. This applies for every link along the chain. Let’s take your core for example, if you lack core strength and stability, the body compensates by creating stability(or immobility) at the hips and thoracic spine. Now with overactive lats,tight pecs, a weak core, and tight hips and hamstrings, your squat turns into a quasimoto sissy squat with zero glute activation.
Again every case may not be that drastic, but unless your goal is to maintain your current status, you can’t get stronger like that. Training for strength on top of problems only creates more problems and less strength. In order to get stronger you must start from ground zero and address the links hindering the chain. This may mean not kicking your own ass every time you train, but actually introducing the right type and the right amount of stress to your body that will induce a positive adaptation.
Emphasizing stability, force absorption (eccentric strength), and structural integrity for a period of time can assist in welding the chainlinks back together. Systematic rest periods (deload periods) that refer back to these known weaknesses and foundational attributes is the difference of making huge strides forward without making huge leaps backwards. It’s important to step off the gas every now and then and build back up for more strenuous bouts (trust me you will not lose any strength).
Just like periodization suggests, intensity should be administered in progressive intervals (phases) that manifest consequent adaptations that rely on each other. However, it is only through lower stressed intervals that the cellular changes from higher stressed intervals actually come forth and become a permanent adaptation. This is exactly what I have been fortunate enough to apply to the performance programming. Although some may be unconvinced of my methods due to the unfamiliarity of the exercises, I can assure you that they have a purpose in a bigger picture for your ultimate goals.
Are you an Athlete?
On a final note, you are an athlete and should refer to yourself as one, because every body with a body is an athlete. Even if you are a full time lawyer, student, policeman, mom, or crossfitter. You should strive to do what is necessary for longevity instead of for how you feel on a particular day.
Say no to ego training. Just like drugs, it’s not good for you. Sometimes it’s a workout that may seem easy that provides a more positive stimulus than a hard workout. Stick to a plan and understand that it is a process even during light periods. Even if you primarily train/compete crossfit style, you are still a human and need supplementation of other movement. There is so much more to the human movement spectrum that crossfit training can not address but will enhance performance in crossfit if sought after.
This is known and promoted by some of the most highly recognized performance and crossfit coaches out there. So let me ask this, Would you rather be a “crossfitter” that is only good at crossfit, or an “athlete” that is good at crossfit and pretty much everything else athletic? That’s up to you but I will always view and train people as athletes. Happy training and LIV Athletic!