Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top 5 Fixable Problems with Golfers (Pt 2 of 3)

In my last article, we took a look at the main problems golfers face as a result of their participation in their sport.  Now, we are going to take a peak at problem #3 on the list, which might need a little more explanation (and more creative solutions) than problems 1-2.  Problems #4-5 coming tomorrow!

#3: Fluctuating blood sugar and dehydration during the round
Blood sugar problem: From start to finish, the average round of golf should be roughly 4-5 hours.  For some, having lunch at the turn is all they need to get them through the round, keep hunger at bay, and focus on their game.  For others who eat every 3 hours though, the problem they face is those last few holes, when their meal window is larger than usual, before the turn.  Once hunger sets in (assuming they do not have a shake or meal replacement bar with them), their blood sugar is already declining (imagine their game, following the same pattern) and they are more than likely to make a poor decision when they do order lunch.  Ordering a hamburger or hot dog from the grill is only going to spike their blood sugar (thanks to white bread!) and have them crash again after another hour or so. 

This fluctuation would drive me crazy (especially because I cannot stand being hungry), so I choose to plan ahead with the following schedule (using 12p tee time, modify hourly for yourself):
8a: breakfast (egg white omelette with cheddar cheese or avocado)
11a: snack on way to course (peanut or almond butter sandwich, whole wheat bread, with polamer all fruit preserves (2 TBSP))
12p: tee time
2p: meal replacement bar (or shake) such as Zero Impact Peanut Butter and Jelly (notice a pattern?)

5p: dinner or post-round meal (whole wheat wrap, grilled chicken, mixed veggies)

Now, how easy was that?  If you think you will still be hungry, try grabbing a small snack bag of mixed nuts (unsalted) to munch on during the round.  Focus on your game instead of your stomach...!

As for dehydration: steps you can take to stay hydrated (especially now that summer is upon us!): 
---Start drinking water (even when you're not thirsty) 1-2 hours before the round
---Don't like water? Add a little lemon juice (from a freshly squeezed lemon, not from concentrate)
---During the round, bring a decent-sized water bottle to keep refilling (I use a 1-Liter bottle)
---I also take amino acids during the round, helps add flavor and keeps muscles firing for 4+ hours

I truly hope serious golfers can take a look at their nutrition and hydration and realize they cannot perform at a high level without adequate nutrients.  Sometimes people look at an article like this and think this is too much planning, I'm too intense, etc.  These are the same golfers that will take golfing lessons, hire a swing coach, spend 100's of dollars on clubs and equipment and clothing, yet won't take 10 minutes to get prepared for a round of golf. 

In summary, we are looking at the difference between par and double bogey if we are distracted from our game and focused on our stomach.  Take the proper steps before the round (it's simple really: make a sandwich, pack amino acids and a meal replacement bar) and get yourself physically ready to take on the challenging sport of golf. 

Part III coming tomorrow...

-Coach Kev

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top 5 Fixable Problems with Golfers (Part 1)

When it comes down to sports, golf actually fits in a category all to itself.  Think about it: You can drink alcohol while playing this sport (and still drive a golf cart), eat between shots, play without practicing or warming up much, and basically start your golfing 'career' without many prerequisites other sports demand. 

Except for owning golf clubs, shoes and balls, becoming a golfer doesn't take much extraordinary athletic talent (ex: strength, speed, agility etc), but rather, the mental desire to participate in a mostly sedentary sport.  This allows many to participate, but also many MORE to get hurt because they are not physically prepared for the demands (not to mention how difficult the actual game is) and end up with elbow, wrist, back, neck or knee issues (see Tiger Woods).  The other problems golfers face are simple, yet most don't take the time off the course, to prepare for the physical demands of a rather violent movement. 

In this article series, I outline the 5 most common problems golfers face, and in a future article (and product) I will detail the solutions to each.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

1 Food Tip to Increase Metabolism and Fat Loss

Last week, I included an article on planning a day of eating the night before, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks or pre and post workout meals.  You can find that article HERE.

This week, I would like to take the time to add my two cents to that article.  You see, on a consistent basis, people make one of the biggest mistakes without being aware of it (and it's SO simple to correct); even when they write down their meal plans and food journals, most nutritionists, dieticians and trainers ignore this. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

50 Fitness Thank you's

I get a lot of questions from trainers about what books, authors or articles I recommend.  In the back of my head, with every book or article I read, I think to myself:

'Don't believe everything you read, but don't only read what you believe'. 

I think this philosophy has helped shape my own fitness idealogy and helps maintain my learnings while improvising, creating, and still having integrity in the field.  Since I wanted to summarize this list with names (and not products, books, dvd's, etc) I have included this list to help those looking to make their own decisions on what to read and what to believe.  They are truly different!

In true Twitter-fashion (140 characters or less) , I have compiled a list of 50 people in and around the Strength and Conditioning Industry that have impacted my career, learning, programs, business, training, and even from a personal growth standpoint.  Enjoy!

The Perfect Day for Fat Loss

Ah yes, DIET.  I get asked a lot about what I eat, when I eat, and my structure of the meals in general.  Most people assume I follow the 6 meal/day guideline that most fitness professionals follow, and think that I never eat carbs, etc.  So many questions come from so many individuals, from cleanse-fans to low-carb or low-fat enthusiasts, that at times it's hard to keep up.  As a result, I have decided to write out how I look at my day in eating, without times, to help people learn how to schedule their days without a clock, and more with an awareness of time between meals. 

The important thing to notice is that my diet isn't a diet, it's more of a MINDSET.  I need fuel to perform, fuel to coach, and fuel to properly help the connection between my brain to my mouth.  Trust me on that one, my brain-mouth connection needs work.  Anyways, think positively around the fuel you digest, the quality of it, and the quantity usually takes care of itself. 

A few more of my rules before the schedule:

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Trainer Talent Code

Imagine watching a young child playing a clarinet, and seeing her practice a song as she learns it, over and over again.  She struggles with it, learning a few notes, then finding her rhythm until being interrupted again by an error.  When she makes a mistake, she re-starts the song, and focuses her effort on perfecting the song until again, she makes another mistake.  This process repeats itself, painfully, until 5 minutes later.  She stops, thinks, and starts the song again, only this time, it's perfect. 

This process, known as deep practice, is what author Dan Coyle refers to in his book The Talent Code, and Coyle refers to this process as a frequent necessity for any greatness to occur. 

In my experience, this process is critical for trainers to get to become 'experts', and unless this happens, the expertise is never gained.  Recently, Bret Contreras piqued my interest and thought into this topic, as I have my own experience both being a trainer, and managing and teaching over 200 trainers in the span of 3 years while working for a corporate gym.  So how can this process happen?

1) Experience versus Expertise: as Bret says, this is important, but the take-home point of this is not just slaving away, doing 8-10 personal training sessions per day, and considering yourself an expert because you're busy.  Truth is, you probably don't have the time or energy to further your education if you are that busy, and won't be able to further your expertise.  I used to tell my trainers that expertise trumps experience, and I think Bret and I agree on this point. 

2) Humility: In meeting several of the best trainers and coaches the past 5 years, one of the most common trends I notice is that most are extremely down to earth.  Despite being very accomplished, these experts will answer emails, Twitter posts, Facebook messages, open their facility doors for a tour, and even have lunch with you.  Now, take a step in a commercial or corporate gym, and you will find the 'expert trainer' that you've never heard of, training while chewing gum and drinking coffee.  Yes, they are busy, but not humble in their approach, and definitely not displaying that humility.  In many an interview, trainers have presented themselves as experts in their field, despite the fact they cannot program, coach, or train anyone other than themselves, which leads me to...

3) Deep Practice: Coyle refers to this process as: making a mistake, correction, mistake, correction, and the consistent effort to perfect a craft that yields success long-term.  Now, the pre-requisite for this, humility, must be present in order for a trainer to have the awareness to continue practicing programming, coaching, and training with others in order to achieve expert status.  On the contrary, a trainer who does not have humility: they will rarely be aware of the fact they are not as good as they could be, and in turn, will not spend the consistent effort on improvement. 

With Bret's article, I would like to expand on one thought: a trainer who executes training sessions with a purpose, training with a vested interested in the client, and training to consistently improve the clients experience, results, and overall health, will become an expert.  Hands down.  Like Coyle says, they will make a mistake, they will fix it, make a mistake, and then fix it again. 

The difference between the trainer who only does sessions (as Bret says) and the trainer that has the "Deep Practice" mindset, is the latter will involve more study, more inquisition, and eventually more expertise. 
One of the reasons Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove are so successful is because they have the Talent Code mindset, tracking every session, rep, and result.  Imagine:
  • Training a client who recently hurt their hamstring in a flag football game
  • Having a female come in who, before even training, requests to only do bodyweight exercises
  • Training a Wall Street CEO, type A personality, with a history of low-back pain, but consistently trains with poor form, heavy weight, and wants someone to train him one way: his way
As a manager, each client would predictably be set up with a trainer whose personality and experience matches each individual.  However, personality and experience are less important than the 'common denominator': each client needs to be trained with a delicate combination:

1) Experience:  giving client what they WANT initially will yield happy client, and ultimately, they will purchase sessions or packages

2) Expertise: giving client what they NEED will eventually yield a happier client, and ultimately, they will be educated in what they were doing wrong, change those factors, and become a raving fan of your system. 
This will NOT happen if a trainer is NOT in the trenches, learning how to handle different personalities and character traits, and is not in front of the client, adjusting and learning to their movements, programs and sessions.

In summary: I am opening a personal training studio in the NYC in the next few months, and I can say for certainty that I will be hiring trainers that have experience with clients, whether or not it's 'in the trenches' or with online, but perhaps more importantly, the trainers should possess the attitude towards Deep Practice and persistence (Todd Durkin calls this hiring for attitude and training for skill). 

Other qualities and characteristics necessary to become a expert personal trainer:

Character Traits and General Business Skills
  1. Professionalism
  2. Listening ability
  3. Organization skills
  4. Communication skills
  5. Passion for results
  6. Energy (fake it until you make it!)
  1. Program design
  2. Coaching and cueing
  3. Exercise selection (see my article on that, HERE )
  4. Time 'Under-the-bar' (Dave Tate's book)
  5. Continuously educating others, from clients to other trainers
I hope this article provokes more thought on this topic, and perhaps comments and conversation!

Thanks Bret for the inspiration for the article!

-Coach Kev

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pro Programming for Trainers (Part I)

Pro Programming, Exercise Specificity Edition

When it comes to programming, there are so many factors, from sets to reps to exercise selection, that at times it may be overwhelming.  Many a trainer has come to me, blank program in hand like a painters' empty canvas, looking for instructions on how to 'paint'.  In this next series of articles, I will distinguish some variables that may help settle some confusion when designing the program, and help fine-tune those brush strokes. 

Just as a painter will choose colors to evoke certain emotions, I consider exercise selection based on what response the exercise will force upon the body. 

For example: what exercises are best for a 44 year old female with family history of osteoporosis?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Tipping Point

MAYBE it was that bully in middle school who constantly made fun of you.

MAYBE it was the boss who took advantage of your work ethic while they sat in their back office, reading the newspaper in the break room, and not recognizing your efforts whatsoever. 

MAYBE it was the pair of pants that just didn't fit, the suit or dress that was just a little too tight, or the sly little comments from your spouse regarding your shape (or lack thereof). 

Regardless of the reason, it eventually happened: the tipping point. 

The day the bully got embarrassed, you stood up to your boss, and you signed up for a workout program with a trainer or for training sessions. 

It all clicked!  You had enough!  You had been pushed past your limit and it was time to seize the moment. 

Maybe you don't recognize that moment (hopefully you will soon), but we all have it, whether we know it or not. 

My Tipping Point?  7 years ago, May 5th, 2004.   

As an Athletic Training student at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, we dealt with injury after injury in the rehab room.  Ankles, knees, shoulders; you name it and we iced, taped and helped rehabilitate the injury or condition. 
One day, we were called to respond to ‘someone having a seizure’ in the main gymnasium where basketball practice was being held.  A friend of mine, Rich, had fallen and was lying there struggling to breath.  He was suffering from a heart attack at 21 years of age.  No matter what we did, no matter the CPR performed or the AED applied, Rich was gone.  Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged left ventricle, claimed the life of a 21-year-old classmate. 

(article on ESPN here)

It was my tipping point, and it changed my life forever.  I could no longer accept waiting for people to get hurt, working in training rooms, rehab rooms and physical therapy clinics.  This is not to dismiss any of those fields, especially because many of my friends and colleagues excelled at their respective fields, but those fields were not for me.  I struggled with my career choice, doing 5 internships during my college tenure (strength coach, corporate wellness, physical therapy, personal training, athletic training) to help me decide and whittle down my choices. 

Ultimately, it was the pro-active approach that won, and the fact I could change the way people approached fitness, athletics and health led me to find my calling in Personal Training.  As a result of consistently assisting in the prevention of disease, injury or dysfunction, I continue to find the field very satisfying and rewarding. 

Today, my clients' goals = my goals:
  • Help a father keep his cholesterol and blood pressure in check in order to see his grandkids graduate from college, even though his family suffers from a history of heart disease
  • Help a business manager fight off injury and increase his ability to maintain perfect posture, despite remaining on his feet for 12-14 hours a day
  • Help a mother increase her strength, lean body mass, stimulate bone density and prevent lower back pain from pushing a stroller and picking her kids up all day
  • Help a high school kid increase his self esteem through fitness and performance, allowing him to stand taller, and get a college scholarship to play the sport he loves  
  • Help a retired businessman lose more than 75 pounds in order to increase his mobility, decrease his knee pain, and increase his nutritional consistency
  • Help keep an ultra marathoner injury free, well-fed and hydrated as he prepared for a 6 day, 210 mile trek across the Gobi Desert, despite the fact that his injury list is too long to mention
  • Help those looking to keep Alzheimers, diabetes, arthritis, and heart or 'genetic' conditions at bay while other people consider themselves limited by their genetic heritage
My goals, along with those aligned by my client(s), have inspired change in those mentioned above, and will continue to provide structure and a foundation for fitness and function in their lives. 

For most of America (the 67% that are obese or overweight), health and fitness are prescriptions for the diseases they face as a result of their lifestyle choices, and only a reaction to realizing their poor state of health.  Side note /scary thought: this is the first generation EVER to have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation. 

For my clients listed above, their health and fitness prescriptions are for the continued, constant pursuit of excellent health as they take their fitness levels to new heights. 

As a result of my tipping point, I have made many significant changes in my life that I used to think were not possible. 

The real question: When will you recognize your tipping point, and make the change?

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision…”
-Ayn Rand

Take vision, and then that first step past the tipping point; you will be surprised what you find. 

-Coach Kev

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3 Simple Fixes for Faster Fat Loss

A few months back, I was training a lot of clients, writing, and working out a lot, and with the exception of the working out part, everything seemed to be yielding good results.  Programming for clients seemed to be working better than ever before, my articles were getting more hits than ever, and yet, I couldn't get the combination of my workouts, diet and training schedule right.  Just felt, well, off. 

Then, in conversation with a client, I said the following:

"In order to get a result you've never had, you have to do something you've never done."

In the hours that followed, the quote stuck out in my own head (and I'm proud to report, for my client as well), and I began to take a look at things I have never done: