If you’re a trainer, coach or physical therapist it’s essential to use effective coaching cues. For years we’ve been telling clients to “squeeze this” or “brace that” or a host of other verbal instructions that often weren’t as beneficial as we’d like.
You might know what it feels like to squeeze your glutes during a squat or lunge, but most people don’t – even professional athletes. The problem is that most clients never learn how to correctly activate certain muscles. The key word here is “learn.”
Over the past few decades, Gabriele Wulf, Ph.D., has been a pioneer in the research for determining how people learn complex motor skills. She and her team have studied the effects of different verbal cues for jump height, balance, posture and even golf. I’ll save you the work of thumbing through all her studies on PubMed and get to the bottom line: External cues work better than internal cues.
So what does that mean to coaches, trainers and therapists? It means you could get better results by using different words while coaching exercises that are typically problematic.
The deadlift, for example, is an exercise that requires a good, solid hip hinge. Therefore, we often tell clients to “hinge at the hip” during the descending phase. Or we tell them to “push your hips back as you go down.”
However, those are internal cues because you’re telling them to focus on a body part. Continue reading
Muscle growth requires tension. If you haven’t been gaining muscle, one likely culprit is a lack of high-threshold motor unit recruitment during your sets.
When the tension of your muscle contractions is too low, you’re not stimulating the muscle fibers that have the most growth potential.
This holds true for any muscle group.
However, the calves come to mind here since they’re one of the most notoriously stubborn muscle groups – if you chose the wrong parents. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding he mentioned that one of the ways he got his proportionally puny calves to grow was with super-heavy sets of incline leg press calf raises.
In essence, he forced his calves to produce more tension and they grew because of it. But you’ll quickly run into a wall of fatigue and joint strain if you only add weight to your exercises.
There’s a simpler, safer and more effective way to get more tension and growth out of your sets: the squeeze. Continue reading
This week I decided to answer two questions I recently received from a reader. -CW
Chad, my dermatologist recommended that I stop using whey protein. However, I know you recommend it for pre- and post-workout nutrition. What should I do?
CW: First off, acne is primarily caused by excessive inflammation in the body. So anything that reduces inflammation can help clear up your skin. You can put every acne cream ever invented on your face and it still won’t work nearly as well as cleaning up your diet by adding anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and wild fish.
So the question is: does whey protein increase inflammation? I believe that 99% of them do because the natural immune-boosting nutrients in whey have been destroyed through heating and acidification processes used in most whey protein powders. However, what if whey protein is manufactured the right way, thereby keeping the immune-boosters in tact? From what I’ve experienced with clients, a clean whey protein such as this one will probably decrease inflammation in most people. Continue reading
Muscles get all the attention.
But it’s the dense, fibrous tissue of your tendons that allow muscles to produce the powerful movements that transform your body.
The tendons must be strong enough to endure plenty of abuse because their role is to connect muscle to bone. If your tendons are weak you’ll suffer from strength loss, pain and worst of all you’ll be predisposed to a debilitating injury. It’s time to give tendons the attention they deserve.
In order to understand what can go wrong with tendons it’s important to know the key materials that form them. For the sake of this simple discussion, collagen is the essential protein that can make or potentially break your tendons. There are three primary types of collagen in the human body: type I, type II and type III.
Collagen type I and III are the key players at work in your tendons, but one of them doesn’t belong. You see, type I is the form that makes your tendons stronger and more resistant to tears. However, during the times when a tendon is chronically overstressed with excessive training the body responds by adding more type III collagen within the tendon.
What’s the problem with adding type III collagen to your tendons? It’s an elastic and weak protein that only belongs in your skin and blood vessels. Indeed, your tendons need the super strong proteins found in type I collagen to support explosive contractions. Continue reading
I’ll bet you’ve read an article that quoted intriguing research. Maybe that research was exactly what you wanted to hear: “Group X lost 320% more belly fat than those that didn’t take the pill!”
Sure, you assumed it was too good to be true. But it was a published study, so that must count for something legit, right?
Learning how to identify whether a study is reputable or garbage is an essential part of the information-building process. If you assume any study that’s published is credible, you’ll surely be suckered into believing a product, exercise or workout is reputable when it’s really not.
Today I’m going to cover 8 different categories of research. So the next time you read a story or article where the author bases his position – or sales pitch – on published research, you’ll know whether or not it’s legit. Continue reading
Testosterone is the king of all muscle-building hormones. No other performance hormone has received more press.
So it’s no surprise that athletes will do everything possible to maximize it – even if that means breaking laws or rules.
You’ve probably wondered if there’s anything that can be changed within your training program to produce a significant, natural boost of testosterone?
Last August I started the revered Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Southern California (USC) to further my education and knowledge base. One of the many advantages of being enrolled in the nation’s #1 ranked DPT program is the access I have to some of the smartest doctors and scientists on the planet.
E. Todd Schroeder, Ph.D., associate professor at USC is one of those guys. Dr. Schroeder heads much of USC’s research on muscle and exercise physiology, and one of his specialties is the effects that resistance training has on the almighty testosterone. Continue reading